With the NFL season to start in earnest Sunday (after the Broncos edged the Panthers Thursday night) we started thinking about making award predictions — NFL MVP, most improved player, etc. But these designations don't really matter to most football fans. It's the stats that matter.
So, as a fan service, here are our predictions for which players will be the top performers in fantasy football this season:
Most touchdowns, wide receiver: Antonio Brown
We really, truly believe Brown will be a bona-fide fantasy dynamo — scoring as many as 20 touchdowns. If he's on your roster he should be an auto-start every week.
Most touchdowns, running back: Adrian Peterson
With Sam Bradford now making the passing game viable (OK, a little viable) following the ugly injury to Teddy Bridgewater, Peterson will have a little more room to operate and will once again lead the NFL in rushing yards and touchdowns.
Most points, quarterback: Russell Wilson
Wilson is due for a breakout, MVP-caliber season and we are betting this is the one. If you nabbed Wilson in a mid-round this year, good move. He can run and pass and has the weapons to rack up the points.
Most points after Week 4: Tom Brady
When Brady's suspension ends, watch out NFL. He could win an MVP award in 12 weeks.
Most points, defense: Cardinals
Yea, we are buying the Cardinals this year. With a potent offense usually the first thing people notice in Arizona, it will be their turnover-making, get-off-the-field defense that will lead them — potentially — to the promised land this year.
Top fantasy rookie: Ezekiel Elliott
We are picking the Cowboys' Elliott for obvious reasons. Behind that Dallas offensive line, watch out. He's half a step ahead of New York's Sterling Shepherd, who will create a mad waiver wire dash when he explodes onto the scene.
Biggest fantasy bust: Devonta Freeman
He had one of the best half-seasons in recent memory for Atlanta last fall, but his extreme drop-off and Tevin Coleman — originally the No. 1 last year — will eradicate any opportunity for a repeat performance.