At the beginning of every season, in every sport, the trendy thing to do is make predictions.
Pick your favorite TV or radio sports network, and every host or expert will offer his or her take on which teams will win, lose and which will receive lovely parting gifts.
It’s pretty easy to make predictions. All you need is an opinion and a place to shout it from.
What’s not so easy is to make accurate ones.
Unless Marty McFly shows up in the DeLorean with next year’s sports almanac, a prediction is just a guess dressed up to take out in public. And they are almost always wrong.
Back in August, I made 10 predictions for the then unwritten fantasy season.
They were hyped up as “bold” predictions. That would be “bold” as in the first dictionary definition: Fearless and daring; courageous.
What they turned out to be were “bold” as in definition No. 2: defiant, scorning or ignoring the rules; impudent.
I had hoped for a .500 record out of the deal. That would have been good enough to get my Nostradamus decoder ring. Alas, it was not to be.
Here’s how I did.
1: Bills RB C.J. Spiller is the next great fantasy superstud.
COULD YOU BE ANY MORE WRONG?: Hey, I really thought Spiller was going to remind people of Marshall Faulk. Instead, he reminded us of Peter Falk. You could blame some of his woes on an injured ankle, but not all. Even when healthy, he was outperformed by backfield mate Fred Jackson.
I believed the hype so much, I drafted Spiller with my first pick in my league. What saved my behind was I also drafted Jackson. .. And a fellow named Peyton.
2: Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell will be a second-half savior.
GIVE THAT MAN A CIGAR! He missed three games with an injury and still managed 860 yards and 8 TDs. What was really impressive, and bodes well for his fantasy future, is he got stronger down the stretch, scoring four TDs in his last five games. Plus, he is used extensively in the passing game.
3: Chargers RB Ryan Matthews will be a top-15 fantasy back.
I’M ON A ROLL! Matthews finished 12th among RBs in fantasy points, so this prediction was a definite win. But if you take out his lackluster first half, he was actually a top-5 back when it counted most. He scored five TDs in this last seven games, and topped 100 yards four times. In Weeks 14-16 — fantasy playoff weeks — Matthews scored each week and put up rushing totals of 127, 103 and 99 yards.
4: Colts WR T.Y. Hilton will catch 10-plus TDs this year.
EHHHH. THAT WOULD BE NO: He came in at half that with five touchdowns. One could make the argument Hilton would have reached 10 if Reggie Wayne didn’t get injured. He had all five TDs by Week 9 when defenses started shifting their attention to him. But that’s not a good excuse. As the new No. 1 WR for the Colts, you’d expect him to find the end zone in the season’s second half more than .. oh, never!
5: Cardinals RB Stepfan Taylor will be your lifeboat Week 12.
NO IS NOT A BIG ENOUGH WORD: A stat line of 36 carries for 115 yards would make a pretty good game. But those were the numbers Taylor put up for the season. The idea was, Cardinals starter Rashard Mendenhall would start to wear down and miss a few games. Taylor would step into the breech and be a nice bye week replacement. Well, Mendenhall did miss time, but it was another rookie, Andre Ellington, who made a fantasy splash while Mendenhall mended. Taylor was an afterthought.
6: Panthers RB Kenjon Barner will be useful late in the year.
I’M EMBARRASSED TO KNOW ME: It depends on how you define useful. Helping pick up shoulder pads after practice? Refilling the Gatorade? … Barner could have been quite useful for the Panthers. On the field, he was just the opposite. Six carries for 7 yards? That’s pretty much non-existent.
7: Don’t forget about Seattle WR Doug Baldwin.
WE’LL COUNT THIS AS A YES: With Percy Harvin out, prevailing wisdom was Golden Tate would step into the No. 1 WR role. I thought Baldwin would be that guy. Technically, it was Tate who put up better numbers, but they weren’t that much better. Tate had 898 yards and Baldwin 778. Both finished with five TDs. And during a six-game stretch late in the year, Baldwin had four TDs and five games with double-digit fantasy points. Not superstar numbers, but he did come with some value.
8: The Browns will be a Top 10 defense:
WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG: Cleveland started the year strong defensively but fell apart faster than a family reunion with Kim Jong-un. In the end, the Browns failed to build on a strong 2012 and finished 21st among fantasy defenses.
9: Saints WR Kenny Stills will be worth owning.
FOR A WHILE, THE ANSWER WAS YES: As with most rookies, Stills got off to a slow start. By midseason, he was beginning to make an impact with four touchdowns over a five-week period. Then, he fell off the table. Maybe defenses began to take notice of him. Maybe he hit the “rookie wall.” Who knows. Either way, he WAS worth owning. For a while, anyway.
10: Seahawks RB Christine Michael will win you a fantasy title.
HOW COULD I BE SO STUPID? Well, if Michael sat in on your draft and advised you to take Peyton Manning, he could have helped. He just wasn’t the late-season factor I thought he’d be. Part of the issue was Marshawn Lynch stayed healthy for most of the year. I figured age and workload would take their toll. Didn’t happen.
OK, so this one wasn’t included in the preseason “bold predictions,” but it came in the “what we learned after the first game” column. And since I’d like to end on a positive note, I’m including it anyway.
“Nick Foles is the Eagles QB you want:
Watching Monday night’s Eagles-Redskins game brought two points to mind: 1 - There are fantasy points a’pletnty in that Eagles offense, and, 2 - Michael Vick is going to take a beating. His history has never been one of durability, so you just know, at some point Foles is going to get the keys to that offense – maybe for good.”
See, that one was dead on. Throw in that bonus prediction, and I finished the season at 5-6. Now, where’s my decoder ring?