This outrage was never intended to consider Kaepernick’s politics, but it did serve an important purpose for the machine by allowing his questions of race, class and policing to remain ignored. It allowed the illusion of discussion to isolate the dissenter while reinforcing the authority of an establishment whose calls for “healing” do not translate into police reform. It allowed players to pander without thinking and created enough backlash and fear — anonymous quotes from executives have threatened to essentially blackball Kaepernick from the NFL — to give other dissenters financial pause before protesting.
Meanwhile, Laquan McDonald remains without justice, as do Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile and Tamir Rice. The opportunity to understand Kaepernick’s worldview is all but gone, replaced by a useless referendum on who loves the flag.
Atlanta Falcons: I say Devonta Freeman, last year’s No. 1 running back and currently being drafted as RB5, finishes outside the top 20 at RB. My thinking: A historic and unlikely-to-repeat first half last season masked a very pedestrian second half. More touches for Tevin Coleman plus additional weapons in the passing game lower Freeman’s touchdown total and make him more of a low-end RB2/flex type than a fantasy stud.
Baltimore Ravens: I say Kamar Aiken, currently being drafted as WR54, finishes as a top-25 WR. My thinking: Last season, if you took the best receiver stat line for each game between him and Steve Smith Sr., you get a 101-catch 1,412-yard, 7-touchdown season (for comparison, last season’s WR10 Larry Fitzgerald finished with 109 catches, 1,215 yards, 9 TDs). Smith is 37 years old and, although Mike Wallace got a lot of targets in one preseason game, there’s a reason Wallace is on his third team in three years. Nothing flashy about Aiken, he just keeps getting the job done when given a chance. This season, one way or another, he gets another shot.
Buffalo Bills: I say Tyrod Taylor finishes the season as a top-five fantasy QB. My thinking: He was a top-10 QB on a points-per-game basis last season. Now, coming into the season knowing he’s the starter, having established a rapport with Sammy Watkins and, possessing strong rushing ability, he just needs to play all 16 games.
Because that’s not the point of this column. In last year’s edition, I said, “I say Tyrod Taylor, currently being undrafted, is a top-15 fantasy quarterback.” Technically, I got that wrong. He finished 16th among QBs. But considering that on a points-per-game basis he was a top-10 QB, and certainly he returned tremendous value for anyone who drafted him late, I count that as a “win” and if you’re using this column the right way, so should you.
Among the other not-obvious things I nailed in last year’s column? Big seasons for John Brown, Michael Crabtree and Delanie Walker. Of course, I also predicted big things for Joseph Randle, Charles Johnson and Andre Johnson, among many other misses. This is high-risk, high-reward territory we are entering here.
So again, please use this column as intended: to highlight players I have a strong feeling about one way or the other, to make you feel better about your own predictions and to subtly remind you that I have an awesome premium fantasy football site called RotoPass.com, complete with a fancy box to the right!