Fantasy Football: Five bold predictions on David Johnson, Tua Tagovailoa, and Tom Brady

We’re spending this week on the Fantasy Football Today podcast giving you our bold predictions for the 2020 season. Jamey Eisenberg — who is calling for Calvin Ridley to make the leap to the elite tier — and Dave Richard — who says Miles Sanders will be a top-five pick after a breakout 2020 — have already given their picks, and we’ll hear from more of the crew this week. 

Everyone’s got a different definition of the phrase “bold predictions,” and you can read Dave and Jamey explain their definitions in their pieces. As for me, a bold prediction is taking the thing I already believe to their logical extremes. I like Tua Tagovailoa; I think David Johnson is being underrated for Fantasy in 2020; I think Josh Allen is a bit of a mess. Those are all pretty reasonable stances to take.

You can hear us discussing bold predictions all week on the Fantasy Football Today Podcast. Listen to Wednesday’s show here and be sure to subscribe for non-stop Fantasy Football content:

For my bold predictions, I’m being a bit unreasonable. But that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in them.

1. Tua Tagovailoa starts from Week 5 on and is a top 12 Fantasy QB

Ryan Fitzpatrick actually was a top-12 QB on a per-game basis in his 13 starts in 2019, and I don’t think I’m telling any tales out of school when I say Ryan Fitzpatrick is no Tua. 

This is a better landing spot than you think for a young quarterback with passing game weapons like DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki, and Preston Williams returning. All three can make plays both down the field or closer to the line of scrimmage, so Tua should have plenty of opportunities to make plays in the passing game. One key will be whether and how much Tagovailoa runs coming off his hip injury. He won’t be Kyler Murray with his legs, but if he can add a few points every week like Gardner Minshew did as a rookie, it only helps his upside.  

Tagovailoa was the most talented quarterback on the board in this year’s draft, and once he proves healthy, he’s going to prove that, too.

2. David Johnson will be a top 12 running back

Johnson hasn’t quite been left for dead, but I’ve been able to get him as late as the sixth or seventh round in our mock drafts this spring, which already makes him one of my favorite values even if he doesn’t hit this prediction. But there are good reasons to think he can.

For one, even in a season when he looked physically diminished, Johnson was still one of the best receiving running backs in the league, averaging 7.9 yards per target and catching 76.6% of his passes even while being targeted more often down the field than nearly any other back. He’s still got that skill set, and it’s hard to believe even Bill O’Brien would go into the season with two elite pass catching backs with no intent to use them.

Of course, you could just draft Duke Johnson if you want a pass catching back. I know David Johnson looked completely finished as a runner in 2019, but think back to how Carlos Hyde looked in 2018; he averaged 3.3 yards per carry with a long rush of 22 yards, with 10 catches for 33 yards. Hyde’s peak wasn’t anywhere near as good as Johnson’s was, and as bad as Johnson looked in 2019, he looked a lot better than Hyde did in 2018. 

Hyde, of course, rushed for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns in 2019 in this Texans offense. Give him that, add on even 35 receptions, 350 yards and a couple of touchdowns, and you’ve got a top-12 back. 

3. The Bucs are going to break your heart

Look, we’re facing two possibilities: Either Tom Brady is washed up, or the Patriots are going to have a historically bad offense in 2020. The skill position talent around Brady wasn’t great, but he also didn’t look like he was elevating the players around him anymore. 

Brady may have enough left in the tank to still put up another great Fantasy season, especially with guys like Chris Godwin and Mike Evans around him. However, he also may prove to be an awkward fit with Bruce Arians’ downfield passing attack, which combined with his apparently diminishing skills means there is significantly more potential for this whole offense to go bust than most want to acknowledge. 

This could look a lot like Peyton Manning’s final season in 2015. Evans and Godwin might have been better off with Jameis Winston returning. 

4. Christian Kirk tops 1,000 yards with eight touchdowns

Interest in Kirk has dropped substantially since the Cardinals acquired DeAndre Hopkins. In 180 drafts on since April 1, Kirk’s ADP is 101.62, and he’s the 40th wide receiver off the board. That might not seem to outlandish to you — after all, Kirk was just the WR38 in PPR leagues last season — and it certainly doesn’t seem outlandish to our trio of experts, who rank him as WR43 on average. Which makes this a pretty bold prediction. 

But I look at it this way: Even if Hopkins is the No. 1 option, and he will be, Kirk should have plenty of opportunities. The Cardinals made a point to get the ball in his hands last season, as he had 118 targets plus carries in just 13 games a year ago. Kirk’s issues mirrored the offense’s as a whole, which held his production back, as he scored just three touchdowns. He’ll need to be more efficient in 2020 to justify another 120 or so opportunities, but it’s not hard to get him to 1,000 yards with that role. If he posts an 8.0 yards per target on 108 targets like he had last season, that gets him to 864 receiving yards; another 10-15 carries could get him to 1,000 overall. 

The addition of Hopkins should create a more efficient Cardinals offense overall, and with Hopkins drawing all of the defensive attention, Kirk is going to take a big step forward in an offense that should sling the ball all over the field. 

5. Picking up Josh Allen‘s fifth-year option becomes a real question for the Bills after 2020

Let’s see … Flawed QB prospect, taken too early, who rides a strong running game and defense to an improbable playoff run? I saw this movie with Blake Bortles in 2017 and Mitch Trubisky in 2018, and both sequels were about as bad as The Rise of Skywalker. Allen’s rushing ability could keep him Fantasy relevant even if (and when) things go south for him overall. However, it’s hard to overstate how flawed Allen still is as a passer, and I think this team is taking a big step back in 2020. That means I guess I also have to predict the Bills will add Nick Foles next offseason. 

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