With the season kicking off tonight, it is time for us at FanDuel to get our predictions in writing. We’ve compiled our well informed projections (okay, maybe they’re just guesses) for Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year, Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year, Most Valuable Player, Super Bowl participants and champion. Without further ado, and at risk of embarrassment at season’s end, here are our picks starting with my own.
Josh Shepardson (Fantasy Football Cafe):
Offensive ROY: Julio Jones- He’s an explosive playmaker with a talented signal caller and an elite wide receiver opposite him to prevent teams from double covering him. The Falcons are going to put points on the board and should win a lot of games, putting Jones firmly in the spotlight where he’ll thrive.
Defensive ROY: Brooks Reed- If I told you a pass rush outside linebacker was going to win the Defensive ROY award, most would likely immediately think I was talking about Von Miller, but it is Reed I like for this award. He wreaked havoc on opposing passers in college at Arizona, and steps into a revamped Texans defense led by new Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips. With opposing offenses having to play keep up with the high octane Texans offense, look for Reed to have plenty of passing plays to get after the quarterback.
Offensive POY: Matt Ryan- All the weapons in the world at his disposal and a schedule that allows him to play the bulk of his games indoors. Unlike other elite signal callers, he won’t have to deal with the worst mother nature has to offer. The Falcons did little to address their defensive concerns that reared their ugly head in the NFC Divisional playoff matchup with the Packers, so the burden is on the offense to continue to outscore opponents. Good news for Ryan rolling up eye popping numbers.
Defensive POY: LaMarr Woodley- James Harrison (often for the wrong reason) and Troy Polamalu may garner the bulk of the headlines for an outstanding Steelers defense, but Woodley is a nightmare for opponents as well. An extra sack or two here, an extra interception or fumble forced there, and Woodley finds himself in the conversation for this award.
MVP: Matt Ryan- If he puts up the eye popping numbers he’ll need to in order to win the Offensive POY award, and the Falcons win a bunch of games, he has to be the winner.
Super Bowl: PACKERS defeat TEXANS
Nope, that’s not a typo, that is the Houston Texans in the Super Bowl. As the 2008 Arizona Cardinals can attest, sometimes you just have to get to the dance and get hot at the right time. Peyton Manning’s murky playing status and David Garrard’s release from the Jaguars leaves the AFC South wide open. They have a high powered offense, and some exciting players for Wade Phillips to work with on defense. The Packers won last year’s Super Bowl and welcome back Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley making them even stronger. They are so talented, showed the resilience to play through injury, and even have a capable backup quarterback (Matt Flynn) in the event Aaron Rodgers were nicked up and had to miss a few games. They repeat.
Offensive ROY: Mark Ingram- The former Heisman Trophy winner plays on a high-powered offense that will force opposing defenses to defend the pass, which will open up some big running lanes underneath.
Defensive ROY: J.J. Watt- Houston defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will get the most out of his new, high-motor five-technique.
Offensive POY: Tom Brady- One of the most efficient players in the history of the NFL, Brady should roll up big-time numbers with a healthy Wes Welker and new addition Chad Ochocinco.
Defensive POY: Ndamukong Suh- It won’t be easy, but the Lions are going to make a run at the playoffs this year. Suh will be the guy who sets the tempo.
MVP: Philip Rivers- He put up sick numbers last season but his team failed to make the playoffs. A return to the postseason is inevitable, but this year’s statistics will be through the roof with a healthy Malcom Floyd and a new contract-driven Vincent Jackson.
Super Bowl: SAINTS defeat PATRIOTS. Elite coaching, top-flight quarterbacks and solid defenses. These two teams have it all.
Chet Gresham (Razzball Football):
Offensive ROY: Mark Ingram- I’m on the Ingram train here. He was drafted to score touchdowns and thankfully the Saints can move the ball down to the goal line. If he can stay healthy I wouldn’t be surprised with 15 TDs.
Defensive ROY: Von Miller- Hard not to like Miller in Denver. Quick and powerful off the snap and it will be hard to double him with Elvis Dumervil on the other side.
Offensive POY: Phillip Rivers- Rivers is poised for another nice season and now with Vincent Jackson back he can stretch the field even further. And IF, and this is a big if, Antonio Gates stays healthy he could have one million yards passing.
Defensive POY: Ndamukong Suh- Suh is fun to watch. I’m not a defensive minded guru by any means, but he could rip the head off a horse. I’m afraid of him.
MVP: Philip Rivers- The numbers could be huge like I mentioned earlier. One million yards was not hyperbole.
Super Bowl: STEELERS defeat SAINTS
The Steelers and the Packers are on paper the best teams in the league, but I’m hard pressed to predict a repeat in the NFL. The Steelers look to be improving on offense with the emergence of Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. Couple that with the always great defense and you have the recipe for a great season. I see them facing the Saints in a high scoring match to the finish and the Steelers coming out on top.
RJ White (Fantasy Football Cafe):
Offensive ROY: Denarius Moore- Moore has the edge over A.J. Green in terms of QB play and over Julio Jones in terms of splitting targets; Oakland is desperate for WR talent.
Defensive ROY: Von Miller- This is a linebacker award, and Miller looks like he’ll notch double-digit sacks off the bat to go with solid tackle numbers.
Offensive POY: Drew Brees- Healthy running backs will boost the rushing game, leading Brees to throw few picks and more yards while statistically repeating 2008.
Defensive POY: Trent Cole- Quarterbacks will have nowhere to throw the ball, which is good news for one of the premier pass rushers in the game.
MVP: Ben Roethlisberger- The Steelers look like the class of the league this year, and I see a 13-3, 14-2 or 15-1 season in their future, giving Big Ben the leg up on the MVP.
Super Bowl: FALCONS defeat STEELERS
The old Pittsburgh defense holds up for another year, while Atlanta catches fire late to win the NFC from a Wild Card slot. The Falcons fit the pattern of recent Super Bowl winners, so I’m sticking with them here in our official predictions.
Offensive ROY: Julio Jones- Jones is an elite talent who should be heavily involved in the offense right away. With all the double-teams that resident stud Roddy White is bound to see this season and what I believe will be a general increase in the number of passing attempts (and yardage) for Matt Ryan, Jones will finish with big numbers and draw comparisons to a young Randy Moss.
Defensive ROY: Mason Foster- The instinctive yet coachable Foster takes over Barrett Ruud’s spot in the middle of the Buccaneers 4-3, and he stands to create a few turnovers and backfield stops from that position. He’s not a great sideline-sideline guy, but he is a playmaker who could be an IDP standout against teams willing to pound the middle of the field. The tackle totals won’t be outrageous given his limited lateral prowess, but he still could easily rack up 100-plus tackles and get some junk points.
Offensive POY: Aaron Rodgers- The RB situation is too tenuous and subjective to select a clear frontrunner. So while I considered both Philip Rivers and Tom Brady, I think Rodgers will toss the most TDs and get his team to the Super Bowl – a winning combo when it comes to Offensive POY and MVP candidacy.
Defensive POY: DeMarcus Ware- Rob Ryan’s aggressive scheme could mean epic numbers (and 20-plus sacks) for Ware, who’s a pass-rushing/tackling/ball-hawking madman on par with Lawrence Taylor and the rest of the greatest OLBs of all time. If he stays healthy, he could be in for a monster campaign.
MVP: Aaron Rodgers- If a QB takes down Offensive POY, he’s gotta be MVP, right?
Super Bowl: PACKERS defeat CHARGERS
I think the Chargers have the most firepower in the AFC and a defense that’s tough enough to blast through the division, but the Packers are a more complete team with a better big-game coach. It’ll be close (like 31-28 close) but the Pack gets the edge.
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