Mini-camps are wrapping up and we are about to hit the worst time of the year in terms of football news and coverage. As that time hits, I will be diving into the third edition of "Bold Predictions" and look at the NFC South. So, let's get right to it and start with the Dirty Birds.
Atlanta Falcons- Many people forget that Tevin Coleman was hand-picked by the Falcons' current regime and expect Devonta Freeman to be the clear-cut back in Atlanta. Not so fast. Freeman has battled with soft-tissue injuries early in his career, but so has Coleman. I believe this backfield becomes one of those RBBC situations to preserve them both. Don't be surprised if you get some coach speak of, "hot hand" being thrown around. I'm saying that Coleman outgains Freeman this year by way of ground and by air. I'm sure that will be a very unpopular declaration, but that's the way it goes. Also, I look for LSU linebacker Deion Jones to be talks for the Rookie Defensive Player of the Year award in 2016.
Carolina Panthers- Everyone is looking at Kelvin Benjamin's return, and for good reason. He had over 1,000 yards in his rookie season and nine touchdowns. Upon his return, he is going to light it up with Cam Newton at the helm. As long as he can get his drops in order, I would not expect less than 90 catches for 14 touchdowns and 1,500 yards receiving. I'm also going to throw in that UDFA Keyarris Garrett from Tulsa will make the team and score five touchdowns of his own after leading the FBS in reception yards in 2015.
New Orleans Saints- As we head over to New Orleans, I focus on two pass catchers that are making their debuts with the Saints this season. First, I look at Coby Fleener to bring in eight touchdowns and 750 yards receiving in an offense that likes to find its tight end in the red zone. The other that I think makes in impact on the scoreboard is Michael Thomas. I don't necessarily think his yardage is what stands out, but I do believe that he catches at least 10 touchdowns this season. He will be the security blanket that Marques Colston held down for so long and he will put himself in the Offensive Rookie of the Year talks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- This is the part where I swallow my pride and admit that I was wrong for being down on Jameis Winston last year coming out of FSU. I do believe that he improves and performs great in 2016. I'm looking for 4,400 passing yards to go with 400 rushing yards and a total of 37 touchdowns to 15 interceptions. He is going to be a quarterback that someone lucks into late in the draft this year after they held out for a long time to draft one. Also, look for Cameron Brate to make a big leap this year and bring in six touchdowns with over 600 yards receiving after Austin Seferian-Jenkins continues to rub his coaches the wrong way.
This division is always anyone’s guess with the explosive offenses and quarterback play, but I would give the Panthers the edge with their defense being ahead of the others in the south. This will make the Panthers win their third-straight NFC South title in as many years. They begin their NFC defense with redemption against the Broncos in week 1, which I expect them to hang 40 points that night.
*Bonus Prediction: Since I missed it in my first edition of "Bold Predictions", I wanted to state that Jason Pierre-Paul will have at least 20 sacks this season. Hell, he's going to break the sack record this year and laugh at everyone for laughing at him and his hand accident. Joke's on you!
As always, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @FantasyBold, and yell at me for the terrible predictions or even give me words of encouragement, if people still do that these days.