It’s been a long offseason, but the wait is officially over. Week 1 is here. The summer has been spent analyzing players to death just to change our minds or not get them on draft day. It seems like every writer does this, so I may as well take my crack at it. Here are three bold predictions for 2018.
Three rookie running backs will finish in the top 15- I’ve been saying it for months. Teams aren’t spending first and second round picks on these rookie running backs to have them sit on the bench. Running backs wear down quickly so there is no reason not to give them heavy workloads from the beginning. Saquon Barkley seems like a virtual lock to reach this status. Royce Freeman also appears to have a very good opportunity. Beyond these two, Kerryon Johnson, Sony Michel, Rashaad Penny, and Ronald Jones are all likely to see featured roles at some point. This class also has tremendous depth with Nick Chubb, Jordan Wilkins, and Nyheim Hines all expected to have roles. Call me crazy, but I think these guys are going to get a lot of work. Three in the top 15 may not even be a stretch.
Marquise Goodwin will be a top 15 wide receiver- Goodwin was merely a late round flyer five weeks ago. He’s been shooting up draft boards ever since, but he’s still undervalued in my opinion. Goodwin has a chance to be elite in this San Francisco offense. He has finally given up track and his focus is squarely on football. Jimmy Garoppolo clearly has a great connection with him, which we saw in the final five games last season. Make a trade offer for Goodwin, because it’s going to be too late pretty quick. He is the type of player that could win you your league.
Tom Brady will not be a top 10 quarterback- I know, this is really bold. However, age has to catch up with him eventually, and there are other signs. The Patriots drafted a running back in the first round this year, and they appear to be planning to run the ball more this season. However, the biggest reason is quite clear. Bill Belichick wanted to move on from him. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The only reason the Patriots traded Garoppolo was owner Robert Kraft. Kraft has never told Belichick how to run his team, but his love for Brady was just too great. Kraft couldn’t bear to watch his Patriots without Brady at the helm. The fact that Belichick wanted to move on, and then promptly drafted a running back in the first round is all I need to know. Brady will start to make the change to game manager this season.