Arizona Cardinals – John Brown bounces back and tops his 2015 season
Hear me out: Both of Brown’s 2016 issues have been addressed this offseason: spinal cyst removed and a plan to handle his sickle cell trait in place. Floyd is gone, J.J. Nelson is deep-field threat and David Johnson will have defenses scrambling to stop him. Oh, and Larry Fitzgerald is going to continually slow down, as seen in the second half of last year. Brown has the ability to be the team’s top receiver, and back at 100 percent, he’ll be just that in 2017.
Update: This is already blown thanks to Brown nursing injuries. If Brown somehow plays 16 games, this prediction would come true. However, if Brown misses time again, look for Nelson to make a big impact, as he had at least seven targets in each game without Michael Floyd already.
Atlanta Falcons – Matt Ryan is a Top 5 quarterback again
Hear me out: You may be concerned about the transition from Kyle Shanahan to Steve Sarkisian, but Sarkisian plans to run the same offense, and everyone is back. Plus, Ryan finishing fifth would actually be a three-spot decrease from 2016. Julio Jones will enter the season back at 100 percent, Mohamed Sanu is healthy again, the team found a dynamic threat in Taylor Gabriel and Austin Hooper has breakout potential. Don’t forget about Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman out of the backfield. This offense and Matt Ryan simply have too many weapons, which will keep Ryan in the Top 5.
Baltimore Ravens – Jeremy Maclin is back in the Top 25 for receivers
Hear me out: The Ravens made the late offseason move to add Maclin to a needy receiving group. Mike Wallace performed admirably last year as the Ravens No. 1 option, but he’s purely an outside receiver and better for the deep-field plays. Maclin has the ability to line up in various formations, and he’s dangerous out of the slot. The Ravens have seen success with much lesser receivers in that offense and in that role (Kamar Aiken). Maclin wasn’t 100 percent last year, and in the two previous years, he was WR17 (2015) and WR9 (2014). He still has great potential given his ability, and Maclin will see more opportunities with a stronger quarterback. As the Ravens No. 1 receiver, Maclin is going to be a terrific draft value in a bounce-back year.