Fantasy Football: 10 bold predictions for Week 1 action

Fantasy Football, NFL
NFL Analysis Network

The start of the 2021 NFL season is less than two weeks away, meaning that people are rushing around to try and get their Fantasy Football drafts completed. Bold prediction pieces are aplenty right now ahead of the start of the regular season. While many have pinpointed bold predictions for the entire regular season, I’ll be highlighting some bold predictions through the lens of Fantasy Football.

When creating bold predictions, you do want to determine things that have a higher chance of not happening than happening. But at the same time, you do want to list events that could realistically take shape if everything fell into place.

All of that being said, here are my 10 bold predictions in Fantasy Football for Week 1 of the 2021 season in the NFL.

10. Jalen Hurts is the highest-scoring quarterback in Week 1

The decision for the Philadelphia Eagles to trade for Gardner Minshew isn’t exactly an endorsement for Jalen Hurts. Hurts is slated to start under center for the Eagles in Week 1, but is Philadelphia patient with him early in the year?

While Hurts does need to improve in multiple areas, he’s already a valuable quarterback in Fantasy Football due to his ability to create yards with his legs. And lucky enough for those who have him in their starting lineups, Hurts draws a favorable matchup in Week 1 versus the Atlanta Falcons. The second-year quarterback should have no issues carving up the Falcons in what could be the highest-scoring week from a quarterback in just the fifth start of his career.

9. Sam Darnold produces as a top-five quarterback in Week 1

Sometimes, people tend to flock toward revenge games for players in Fantasy Football. Sam Darnold will be squaring off against his former team in the New York Jets in Week 1 in his debut with the Carolina Panthers. Unlike his stint with the Jets, Darnold will now have an assortment of weapons on the Panthers.

Even though he hasn’t shown much promise in his career, Darnold could have a productive Week 1 against a New York defense that needs time to adjust to Robert Saleh’s system. With D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and Christian McCaffrey at his disposal, Darnold finishes as a top-five performer at the quarterback position in Fantasy Football in Week 1.

8. Patrick Mahomes/Baker Mayfield combine for 50+ fantasy points

Around the NFL, there are a handful of intriguing matchups to kick off the season. One of the most anticipated games is between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cleveland Browns. It’s a rematch of last season’s AFC Divisional Round Game, in which the Chiefs defeated the Browns at home.

While everyone assumes Patrick Mahomes to light it up in Week 1, Baker Mayfield may surprise some people as he enters his second season in Kevin Stefanski’s offense. In what should be an exciting contest, both Mahomes and Mayfield combine for 50+ fantasy points in Week 1.

7. James Robinson is the highest-scoring running back in Week 1

The unfortunate season-ending injury to rookie Travis Etienne definitely changes the outlook of the offense of the Jacksonville Jaguars. With Etienne sidelined in 2021, James Robinson should shoulder a heavy workload for the Jaguars for a second straight season. The undrafted running back out of Illinois State couldn’t have asked for a better matchup in Week 1 as he takes on the Houston Texans.

Houston’s defense is going to be a popular one to target in fantasy football. Even with Alvin Kamara in a positive matchup versus the Green Bay Packers, Derrick Henry facing the Arizona Cardinals, Dalvin Cook going up against the Cincinnati Bengals, and Christian McCaffrey drawing the Jets, Robinson concludes Week 1 as the top performer at his position in Fantasy Football.

6. Boston Scott outscores Miles Sanders

I’ve already spoken about how I believe Hurts is going to have a stellar week for the Eagles to begin the season. But while Hurts operates under center, there’s a discussion to be had on who ends up emerging from the backfield at running back. Miles Sanders is going to start the season alongside Hurts, but reports out of Philadelphia suggest that he could split touches with Boston Scott.

Seeing that Scott is a much better receiver than Sanders, there’s a chance that Scott outscores Sanders in Fantasy Football in Week 1. Scott has become one of my favorite late-round targets in drafts as he could end up having a productive year in the passing game, which should begin in Week 1 versus the Falcons.

5. Najee Harris finishes with fewer than 12 fantasy points

The majority of the Fantasy Football community seems to have this idea implanted in their minds that Najee Harris is a lock to be a top 10 running back in Fantasy Football as a rookie. While I’m a fan of Harris as a player, he’s not going to an ideal situation on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh is going to have a completely new offensive line from a season ago and Ben Roethlisberger isn’t getting any younger.

Teams are going to stack the box often with the Steelers, which could limit the rushing production we see from Harris. Despite his ability to contribute in the aerial game, Harris may not get many carries in Week 1 versus a Buffalo Bills team that can score points in bunches. As a result, Harris ends Week 1 with fewer than 12 fantasy points.

4. Marvin Jones Jr. is the highest-scoring wide receiver on the Jaguars

There’s an ongoing discussion on who will lead the Jaguars in receiving this season, but there should be room for their top three wideouts to be viable in Fantasy Football. Jacksonville should be behind in a decent number of games, leading to more opportunities for Trevor Lawrence to throw the ball.

Even though the Jaguars are favored in Week 1 over the Texans, I expect Jacksonville to air it out often, which favors Marvin Jones Jr. D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault should be involved in the offense, but Jones shouldn’t be lost in the fray. The veteran wide receiver is a perfect target for Lawrence as he excels at creating plays down the field, something that Lawrence was accustomed to doing at Clemson. With Jacksonville looking to get started off on the right foot, Jones outperforms Chark and Shenault in Week 1.

3. Michael Pittman Jr. records 20+ fantasy points

The Indianapolis Colts have experienced a handful of injuries this offseason, with Carson Wentz and Quenton Nelson both undergoing foot surgery. There is now a decent chance we see Wentz and Nelson suit up in Week 1, but T.Y. Hilton is now battling an injury that will sideline him to begin the season.

Amid Hilton’s absence, it is officially go-time for Michael Pittman Jr. Pittman should become a favorite target for Wentz in 2021 as he’s a big-bodied wideout that has soft hands. Against a Seattle Seahawks defense that can be had through the air, Pittman notches over 20+ fantasy points in his first game catching passes from Wentz.

2. Gabriel Davis is the second-leading scorer on the Bills

Stefon Diggs is Josh Allen’s go-to target on the Bills after the team acquired the Pro Bowl wide receiver in 2020. We witnessed Cole Beasley finish as the second-leading wideout on the team last season. While Buffalo signed Emmanuel Sanders this offseason, Gabriel Davis could be given an opportunity to become a key member of the offense in 2021.

Davis had a solid rookie season where he caught seven touchdowns and averaged 17.1 yards per reception. Even with Beasley and Sanders logging snaps in the offense, Davis ends Week 1 as the second-leading scorer at wide receiver for the Bills in Fantasy Football, only behind Diggs.

1. Kyle Pitts explodes for 100+ yards and a touchdown in Week 1

It is extremely rare for a rookie tight end to perform well in his debut season in the NFL. Even though his ADP in Fantasy Football drafts is extremely high, Kyle Pitts is primed to buck the trend of tight ends struggling in their first seasons in the league. Pitts is more than just a tight end as he’s one of the most physically gifted offensive players we’ve seen come out of the draft in quite some time.

Given the departure of Julio Jones, Pitts should be a focal point of Atlanta’s offense. In Week 1, against an Eagles squad that could surrender points in bunches, Pitts will explode for 100+ receiving yards and score a touchdown, proving that he’s going to immediately become one of the best offensive weapons in the NFL.