Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
With the start of the 2011 fantasy football season just around the corner, I thought I would make a few bold predictions based on what I've seen over the summer lockout and through the preseason.
1) Chris Johnson will not live up to expectations. The entire holdout situation reminds me of the year 2007 when Larry Johnson held out for a big contract in Kansas City after rushing for 1,789 yards and 17 TDs the previous season. He arrived at camp in the final week, was used sparingly over the first three weeks of the regular season as they worked him into playing shape and played his last game of the year in Week 8 after a foot injury. Workout shape is absolutely not "game shape." Beware of taking him this year or at the very least you must handcuff a backup with him (TBD between currently injured Javon Ringer and rookie Jamie Harper).
2) Arian Foster will disappoint fantasy owners. Once you start suffering hamstring pulls, they have a tendency to return, particularly when you attempt to come back and play too soon. Foster is already on hamstring pull No.2 and we're not out of the preseason. His determination to return for Opening Day could be his and your downfall. The Houston Texans roster includes former 1,000-yard rusher Derrick Ward and second-year running back Ben Tate who should see more action this season after showing off his considerable talent in preseason while rushing 20 times for 147 yards. Tate was a second-round selection last year (No.58 overall) who missed all of 2010 with an ankle injury.
3) Matthew Stafford will outscore both Texas quarterbacks - Tony Romo and Matt Schaub. This one is particularly gutsy because Stafford has yet to get through a season in one piece. We know he has the talent and we also know that the Detroit Lions love to throw the ball. They passed it 633 times last season primarily with backups Shaun Hill and Drew Stanton under center. If we add a healthy Stafford to the mix, this is certainly believable. Stafford has a top- three wideout in Calvin Johnson, a solid veteran in Nate Burleson, a talented rookie in Titus Young, two good receiving tight ends in Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler and Jahvid Best catching passes out of the backfield.
4) Miami quarterback Chad Henne will be hugely undervalued. Henne is currently the 27th quarterback off the board (fantasyfootballnerd.com ranking 191), but is in a good situation. He has two very talented receivers in Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess, a solid tight end in Anthony Fasano and the team added pass- catching running back Reggie Bush to the mix. Henne threw 490 times in just 14 starts in 2010 and that was with a run-first offense centered around Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Henne has a decent schedule and only faces the New York Jets once in the fantasy season as the team's second meeting is in Week 17 after most fantasy seasons are over.
5) Willis McGahee will score more fantasy points than Knowshon Moreno. Moreno may be the starter in Week 1, but McGahee might actually be the better running back. We know for certain that McGahee will be the goal line workhorse because the team already confirmed that fact and given head coach John Fox's propensity for a shared backfield (see DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart), McGahee should get equal playing time everywhere else.