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This is the column where I take bold swings and strike out repeatedly. I'm talking f--ugly. So f--ugly that I'm not linking to it.
I would, but the statute of limitations ran out for what shows up on my recent history of articles. Lucky me.
Most bold calls are f--ugly. It's the nature of the beast, but hit on one, and it can make a huge difference for your fantasy team. Hit on two, and you're winning championships. Hit on more than two, and you're winning every eligible prize your league offers.
Last year's bold predictions may have been a historic disaster, but you must have a cornerback mentality with bold calls. So here I am, Charles Dimry facing Jerry Rice after he has twice rendered me toast, but it's a new play, a new day.
Keaontay Ingram Earns A Kareem Hunt-Like Role to James Conner in Arizona
I'm a fan of Ingram's game. He reminded me stylistically of Hunt because of his quickness, vision, physicality, and pass-catching skills. So, when former Cleveland Browns' Quarterback Coach Drew Petzing joined the Cardinals as the offensive coordinator this year, bringing a more run-heavy scheme to town, the link between Ingram and Hunt rang in my head.
Not the Hunt who finished 48th in the league in rushing last year, and perhaps not when he delivered RB10 production in 2020 with Chubb at RB11, but a fair bit closer to the latter than the former. Conner has only one 15-game season during a 6-year career and it's not likely to get easier for him to play a complete year at 28.
Spelling Conner with Ingram should help. If it doesn't, Ingram will be the bell cow. That may not sound great for an offense that could be a quarterback carousel as it arguably tanks for Caleb Williams or Drake Maye, but Conner was RB19 for a 4-13 Arizona squad last year and averaged the 9th-most fantasy points per game among backs with 15.6 — tied with Tony Pollard.
Ingram could be in that ballpark if forced to take over for Conner and lead the way.
J.K. Dobbins Delivers Top-5 Fantasy RB Production
Dobbins is unproven. Dobbins has never touched the ball enough to predict strong production. He's an injury concern. Lamar Jackson won't let Baltimore runners score enough touchdowns to be high-end fantasy producers. And Jackson doesn't throw enough to running backs.
Blah, blah, blah, blah.
Dobbins never missed a game at Ohio State and touched the ball 796 times in 3 seasons. He suffered a difficult ACL injury that required a cleanup surgery after he rushed back too soon. When he returned, he looked like the same player he was as a rookie in 2020, scoring 9 rushing touchdowns on 134 touches.
Wait, Matt, Jackson doesn't allow Ravens runners to score a healthy total of touchdowns. As my friend Jene Bramel says, "OH, REALLY NOW..."
- In 2019, Mark Ingram scored 10 rushing TDs (7th among RBs) with Jackson under center. The depth chart total was 14.
- In 2020, Dobbins' 9 rushing scores (9th among RBs) paced the depth chart's total of 17 -- good enough for 14th in the league without Jackson's 7 that made the team 2nd in the league in this category.
- In 2021, the Ravens with 9th in rushing scores with 18 -- 14 of them came from the 5 running backs on the depth chart replacing the injured starters Dobbins and Edwards.
- In 2022, the Ravens were 13th in this category with 14 scores -- 9 came from backs, and 3 came from Jackson.
Does this look like Jackson is preventing his running backs from scoring at a healthy rate or does this tired myth need to be relegated to the wastebin of fantasy analysis? The two worst years of the four came with replacement-level backs on the roster.
As for the receiving game, I've always been a proponent of studying the film of the receiver rather than looking at the box score data. This is why I had higher marks for Leonard Fournette, Melvin Gordon, Jonathan Taylor, and other low-volume collegiate prospects who proved they could be productive receivers.
Last year's offense in Baltimore is not this year's offense. This scheme will be spreading the field and using its running backs more often in the passing game.
Dobbins won't be delivering receiving production on par with Austin Ekeler or Christian McCaffrey, but expecting 40-45 targets isn't outlandish for Dobbins in this offense. I'm projecting 50, just under 4 per game, and that doesn't feel bold.
Bold would be 70 targets at just over 4 per game. Certainly plausible for an offense that will spread the field. Considering the variety of skills Dobbins has and the offense he'll be in, there are multiple paths to top-five production.
Dalton Kincaid Threatens Mike Ditka's Rookie TE Production Record
Ditka caught 56 passes for 1,076 yards and 12 touchdowns in 1961. It's still the most productive fantasy season for a rookie tight end in the history of football. I've been reminding subscribers of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio of this for several years so they understand that in most cases, tight end is a patience play for fantasy production.
Not so this year. Kincaid fits the model of several notable tight ends who made the all-time list of rookie producers: Kyle Pitts, Evan Engram, Rob Gronkowski, Jeremy Shockey, Keith Jackson, and Aaron Hernandez.
All six of these options could be split from the formation and win as wide receivers. Kincaid will be used in this capacity more often than he's used as an in-line blocker or receiver.
I expect Dawson Knox to be one of the top 4-5 producers in the passing game. He's a good receiver who blocks well. He'll earn his share of targets underneath and up the seams. He'll also see some time detached from the formation.
However, I expect Kincaid to be one of the top 2-3 producers in the passing game. He's an advanced route runner for his age and size. He's a tackle breaker and tackle evader.
If he meets my baseline projections, Kincaid will likely be in the neighborhood of Evan Engram's 64-catch, 722-yard, 6-TD rookie year. That's top-five production ahead of Engram's 2022 campaign totals and likely the third-most productive option for the Bills' receivers.
If Kincaid meets my upside projections, he's earning 75-80 catches, 1,000-1,100 yards, and 8-10 scores. It would make Kincaid more productive than Gabriel Davis and only behind Stefon Diggs. Considering that Davis is not a match-up player who wins a lot of one-on-one routes and Kincaid is, the idea that Kincaid leapfrogs Davis in the pecking order is far more plausible than many realize.
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