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tiggerpolice 06-18-2005 11:37 PM

Ten Fearless Predictions for 2005
I wanted to rank Anquan Boldin as a top five wide receiver. That’s what hit me, with some regret, while reading through our new magazine (hint, hint). Boldin is my guy. He has more catches in his first 26 games than any receiver in NFL history. He finished fourth among fantasy wideouts as a rookie while catching passes from Jeff Blake and playing for Dave McGinnis. That’s like winning the league’s rushing title with a placekicker strapped to your leg.

So why didn’t I have Boldin ranked higher? Didn’t have the stones. It didn't fly well in the world headquarters. This article is my second chance; a place to predict the outcomes too shocking for The Man. No matter how bold the predictions, it's comforting to know they won’t approach the impending insanity this season. Just try to remember what people were saying a year ago about Reuben Droughns, Willis McGahee, Larry Johnson, Billy Volek, and Brian Griese a year ago. Nothing. With that in mind, here are ten outcomes we can see unfolding this season.

1. Anquan Boldin will lead the league in receptions and be a top five receiver.

This isn’t so bold. Boldin has played only one full season as a pro. He was a top five receiver at a notoriously difficult position for rookies. Now entering his third year, Boldin is healthy, playing for Dennis Green, and will come cheaply after an injury-marred second season. Back at his natural flanker position, Boldin barely needs a third-year leap to catch over 100 balls and be a monster in points-per-reception leagues.

2. Larry Johnson will score more fantasy points than Priest Holmes.

No, we’d never draft LJ ahead of Priest. We’ve been picking Johnson up as a RB3 or RB4 in the middle rounds of fantasy drafts (6-7). He’s a nice gamble there. That’s because we absolutely question the desire and health of Priest Holmes. Holmes is a player who talks about retirement every offseason. Respected Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock put it succinctly last year, “Holmes suffered a season-ending excuse to sit out the rest of the season,� once his team was out of contention. The Chiefs originally expected Holmes back shortly after his MCL strain, and he missed eight games. No surgery was required. He’ll be huge if healthy, but that isn’t the type of guy we want to use a top five pick on.

3. Brian Griese will be a top eight quarterback.

Here are Brian Griese’s ten 2004 starts projected over a full season: 3,900 yards, 30 TDs, 19 INTs. That’s remarkable considering Griese was with a new team, had a terrible offensive line, and only one decent receiver. He only needs to keep that pace up to make this prediction true. With an improved offensive line and Cadillac Williams in the fold, look for it to happen.

It’s not about Griese anyway. It’s about Gruden. It’s about Gannon. Don’t believe us? Listen to Bill Walsh, who knows something about quarterback play. “Jon's on the cutting edge of offensive football,'' Walsh said. ''I don't think there's anyone more innovative than Jon Gruden and, consequently, I think he has a real edge on a lot of his opposition.�

How about Griese?

''I think he's matured each year, and at this point he's at his very best,'' Walsh said. ''He's at the peak of his career, and I think that'll demonstrate itself this year.''

That’s good enough for us.

4. J.J. Arrington will lead rookie running backs in fantasy points.

It’s all about touches. The “Big Three� rookies (Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams, and Cedric Benson) have productive veterans looming behind them. Thomas Jones will take most of the passing down work from Benson. That could be considerable if they are always trailing. Starting in week five, Ricky Williams could make a forceful running back by committee in Miami. Michael Pittman and/or Charlie Garner will allow the Bucs to ease Cadillac Williams into NFL life.

A lot of fantasy owners are probably thinking right now, “What about Marcel Shipp?� What about him? This is the same guy who lost his starting job to Emmitt Smith. That was before breaking his leg and hurting his ankle last season. Coach Dennis Green has already said he expects big things this season from Arrington. We do too.

5. Brandon Jacobs leads the Giants in touchdowns.

We can already imagine the future message board cries from Tiki Barber owners. Duce Staley owners knew the drill for the first part of last season. Staley did the work, Jerome Bettis got the glory. Based on early reports, the full-bodied Jacobs could be a remodeled Bus - or more. We only have to look back to 2003 to find a season where Tiki gained over 1,700 total yards, but scored only three times.

6. Kelly Holcomb finishes the season as the Bills quarterback.

Honestly, we’re starting to feel bad for dumping on J.P. Losman. He’s impressed teammates with his work ethic this offseason, and obviously the coaching staff believes in him. He’s very talented, but there is a combination of factors working against Losman making it all 16 games. His scrambling style of play and the poor offensive line in Buffalo could result in a ragged first year.

The Bills haven’t made the playoffs this century and are desperate to please their incredible fans. With a very tough schedule in the second half, Holcomb may be Buffalo’s best chance to win, even if Losman is healthy.

7. Travis Henry leads an AFC South team in rushing.

Perhaps this isn’t that bold. But considering we grabbed Henry with the 119th pick in our latest “Expert’s� Draft, not many owners project a trade yet. As a Henry owner, I’d rather see him end up in Jacksonville if Fred Taylor’s status deteriorates. It’s more likely, however, that Henry ends up in Tennessee. The Titans offered a fourth round pick; the Bills want a third-rounder. Chris Brown is an injury waiting to happen and Tennessee’s current backup is … Damien Nash? Henry also has a similar workmanlike style to Eddie George. That appears to agree with Jeff Fisher more than Brown’s boom-or-bust style. Look for Henry to get dealt and make an impact.

8. Tatum Bell leads the AFC in rushing yards.

In Mike Shanahan’s ten seasons as Broncos coach, they finished in the top five in rushing eight times. They’ve finished in the top two four times. Even in a season where Denver was stuck playing their fourth-stringer most of the season (Reuben Droughns), they finished fourth last year. Enter Tatum Bell.

Like Clinton Portis, Bell was drafted in the second-round of the NFL Draft. Bell is now a safe bet to get drafted in the second round of fantasy drafts. It’s a somewhat risky mid-summer pick because of the depth in the Denver backfield. But Shanahan’s history is clear: he doesn’t do committees if he can help it. If Bell stays healthy, he should top 1,500 yards.

9. Ahman Green falls off a cliff.

There’s a lot to like about Ahman Green this year if we just ignore that… 1) After five years of starting and 461 touches in 2003, his body broke down last season 2) He has an excellent backup. 3) He lost two Pro Bowl-caliber guards from his offensive line. 4) His team led the league in passing attempts last season because of their terrible defense. 5) Their defense looks worse than ever.

10. Saints hire Jim Mora Sr. after 1-4 start, and he leads the 'Aints to their first Super Bowl.

We can just imagine his reaction to this prediction, “Super Bowl? Super Bowl? We can't be thinking of the Super Bowl! We're trying to win one game.� Of course, the Saints would ultimately lose Super Bowl IX to New England after a missed extra point by John Carney in the closing seconds.

AllSaints 06-19-2005 12:16 AM

Re: Ten Fearless Predictions for 2005
10. Saints hire Jim Mora Sr. after 1-4 start, and he leads the 'Aints to their first Super Bowl.

We can just imagine his reaction to this prediction, “Super Bowl? Super Bowl? We can't be thinking of the Super Bowl! We're trying to win one game.” Of course, the Saints would ultimately lose Super Bowl IX to New England after a missed extra point by John Carney in the closing seconds.[/quote]

Dude we still have to win a GAME IN THE PLAYOFFS BEFORE THE SUPERBOWL.One playoff win this year and we will build off that next year. it will all come together.

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