Predictions time! Here’s who I think will win all the major awards in 2016…
Offensive Rookie of the Year:
Ezekiel Elliott — RB, Dallas Cowboys
As I mention in my bold predictions, Elliott has the potential to be the best running back in the league this season. Elliott should approach 2,000 all-purpose yards and get well into double-digit touchdowns. Frankly, it’d be a pretty big upset if he didn’t win this award.
Defensive Rookie of the Year:
Jalen Ramsey — DB, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags’ defense is the most up-and-coming in the league. Outside of a strong free agency class, three huge pieces of that will be Dante Fowler (No. 3 overall pick in 2015), Myles Jack (a potential top-10 pick that slipped to the second-round) and Ramsey (No. 5 overall pick many perceive as the best player in the draft). Ramsey is completely ready for the NFL physically and mentally. He’s going to be special.
Offensive Player of the Year:
Julio Jones — WR, Atlanta Falcons
This is going to be a close call with Antonio Brown, but I love Julio slightly more this season. I think both players have the potential to be the first receivers ever to top 2,000 yards in a single season. If I had to give the nod to one, it’d be Jones, which earns him the honors here. I’m also expecting far more that the eight touchdowns Jones had last season. 12-15 sounds more like it.
Defensive Player of the Year:
Khalil Mack — DE, Oakland Raiders
Sure, J.J. Watt’s the easy pick … the guy’s won three of the last four awards. And the sexy pick might be Von Miller after his Super Bowl performance, but Mack is in line for a beast of a season. Look for him to improve upon his 15 sacks and lead a much improved Oakland D.
Coach of the Year:
Bill Belichick — New England Patriots
Ron Rivera and Bruce Arians have been passing the award back-and-forth lately, but let’s not forget about the hoodie. With injuries and a noteworthy suspension of a prominent player you may’ve heard of, Belichick will get the opportunity to prove his genius once again.
Comeback Player of the Year:
Andrew Luck — QB, Indianapolis Colts
Expectations couldn’t have been higher for Luck entering 2015. Injuries made it impossible for him to live up to the hype. This season he’s operating a new offense with a trio of fantastic receivers and a big tight end to target in the red zone. Pending health, a strong bounce back is inevitable. On the defensive side, look for Tyrann Mathieu to be in contention.
Aaron Rodgers — QB, Green Bay Packers
I think the Packers dominate the NFC North and wind up falling just short of the top seed in the conference (which goes to Arizona). With Jordy Nelson back, I think Rodgers returns to a top-tier elite QB, and I’m predicting around 4,500 yards and 40 touchdowns.
Division Winners AFC:
AFC East — Patriots
No Brady, no problem. I think the Pats cruise to another division title and get red hot at the end of the season.
AFC West — Raiders
It could be tight, but the huge step back the Broncos have taken is expected to be matched with a step forward from Oakland. I’m looking for Carr and Cooper to make a big leap to lead the charge.
AFC North — Steelers
Clear-cut No. 2 seed in the AFC behind the Patriots in my opinion. Watch out once Ben/Brown/Bell get clicking.
AFC South — Colts
Luck’s bounce back season obviously has direct correlation with Indy’s W-L record this season, so these picks go hand-in-hand. I think they hold off the defending division champs in Houston and the upcoming Jags.
Division Winners NFC:
NFC East — Giants
This division is always a tough call. To add some excitement, I’ll say Washington and Dallas get off to hot starts and the Giants grind their way back in for a thrilling finish.
NFC West — Cardinals
As I mentioned, their my top-seed in the NFC. I think it’s gonna be a great season in the desert.
NFC North — Packers
Another obvious one with my MVP pick. But I think it’ll be the Packers by a landslide.
NFC South — Panthers
I like the Bucs as an upcoming team and the Falcons look ready to compete. But neither are good enough to catch the Panthers yet in my opinion.
AFC West — Chiefs
I think the Raiders sneak by for the division but this is still a very good team. Solid in all aspects.
AFC South — Jaguars
I think the up and coming Jags sneak in over the likes of the hopeful Bengals, Texans and Jets.
NFC West — Seahawks
Easy pick for me. Still probably the second-best team in the NFC, but tough draw with Arizona in division. I believe Russell Wilson will be in the MVP conversation.
NFC East — Dallas Cowboys
Whoa! The ‘Boys are in by a hair over the Vikings and Bucs in my opinion, but it’s Dak Prescott at the helm, not Tony Romo.
Super Bowl Prediction:
Patriots defeat Cardinals
Prediction: Heavyweight battle for all the marbles will be a Week 1 rematch. Of course, Brady will be on the field for this one. Pats edge Cards by a FG in Houston — where they did the same in 2004 to the Panthers.
Find me on Twitter @julianedlow
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.