The 69th Emmy Awards airs 8 p.m. Sunday on CBS, hosted by Stephen Colbert.

While you were shoring up your Fantasy Football roster, much cooler people were drafting their own heavyweight predictions for this Sunday’s Emmy Awards.

That’s right, folks. It might be football season, but it is also television season -- and in this arena, the Super Bowl of TV awards shows is already here.

This year’s Emmys is absent its reigning juggernaut Best Drama winner, HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” which premiered out of the nomination window, so the field is wide open for a new show to steal the throne. Meanwhile, the Best Comedy race has the benefit of some fresh blood that could provide competition to some repeat winners.

Here’s how we think some of the races will turn out:

Outstanding Drama Series

Should and will win: Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Dark horse: NBC's "This Is Us"

The clear winner here is HBO's “The Leftovers,” except it was famously shut out and not even nominated despite it’s beautifully crafted and exceptionally acted third season being an existential journey through the final stage of grief: acceptance. In lieu of its egregious snub, Hulu seems primed to take its first major award for its timely, dystopian tale of a society where women are enslaved to be surrogates for powerful men. Tapping the vein of unrest in the current political climate with Margaret Atwood’s source material, "The Handmaid's Tale" was powerful and unsettling in all the right ways for voters. It’s biggest competition is NBC’s family drama “This Is Us,” TV’s most sob-worthy new show; and Netflix’s nostalgic and buzzy “Stranger Things” -- though neither likely resonated as much as "The Handmaid's Tale."

Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series

Should and will win: Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us”

Following his win last year for playing Christopher Darden in FX’s “The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story,” Sterling K. Brown came out like a bolt of lightning in NBC’s three-hanky drama “This Is Us.” With material that took him from reconnecting with his biological father to losing him, Brown turned in a powerhouse performance that propelled an already good show into something great.

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series

Should and will win: Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Dark horse: Claire Foy, "The Crown"

Seeing as how Carrie Coon was not nominated for “The Leftovers,” perhaps the most stringing of its snubs, this should be a breeze for Elisabeth Moss who already has good will with the Television Academy for her work on “Mad Men.” As “The Handmaid’s Tale’s” Offred, she ran the spectrum from broken to defiant, and raw nerve to quiet leader -- nailing the complex portrait of a woman analyzing her options in a society looking to silence her. Her only true threat is the excellent Claire Foy from Netflix’s “The Crown” the kind of elaborate, impeccably dressed period piece that the Academy salivates over. But Moss seems to have this one locked down.

Outstanding Comedy Series

Should Win: FX’s “Atlanta”

Will win: HBO’s “Veep”

The Television Academy loves to rubber stamp a show it feels checks a few boxes and HBO’s political satire “Veep” fills that mold: a side-splittingly funny cast, a dynamic and fearless lead, and a sense of humor unmatched on television. In this politically drenched climate, “Veep” could easily repeat -- and deserves it. But it’s FX’s “Atlanta,” about the rap scene in the Georgia capital, that resonated more on a human level than its competitors. One of many stellar auteur-created half-hours this year, it boasts a great ensemble and a different point of view the Academy would be smart to recognize and honor.

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy

Should and will win: Donald Glover, “Atlanta”

Dark horse: Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent”

Jeffrey Tambor has rightfully taken this award for the past two years for his affecting portrayal of a transwoman coming out to the world and herself on Amazon’s “Transparent.” He is still great on the show and shouldn’t be counted out, but it’s Donald Glover who should hear his name called Sunday. With FX”s “Atlanta,” Glover has created and leads what feels like a true and honest representation of the black community. As its center, Glover gives the story heart, humor and heft -- while never losing his grip of the realism.

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy

Should win: Ellie Kemper, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”

Will win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”

In three seasons on Netflix’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” Ellie Kemper has taken the once-eternally chipper kidnapping escapee on a journey that has left her a more realized and complex person grappling with her insecurities but always bolstered by her endless motivation. It is truly inspired character growth in Kemper's hands. Unfortunately, she doesn't stand a chance against the brick wall that is Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who has won five consecutive years for her role as Selina Meyer on HBO’s “Veep.” Don’t get us wrong, Dreyfus is brilliant as the sharp-tongued, spiteful former president. But at this point, it’s time to step aside and let another woman succeed her.

Outstanding Limited Series

Should and will win: HBO’s “Big Little Lies”

Leading this category are two stunning limited series about the powerful bond between women and we should be eternally grateful. While FX's "Feud: Bette and Joan" is a master class in acting, HBO's "Big Little Lies" is likely to reign supreme Sunday for its tale of murder, affluence and, most importantly, the intricacies of female friendship. With a star-studded cast and insightful director in Jean Marc-Vallee, "Big Little Lies" was a powerful case for the limited series platform and proved -- though it shouldn't have to -- that we need more stories about women on TV.

Outstanding Actor in a Limited Series/Movie

Should win: Riz Ahmed, “The Night Of”

Will win: Robert De Niro, “The Wizard of Lies

Robert De Niro as sleazy financier Bernie Madoff is the kind of television movie roles this category was made for, and he is perfectly fine in HBO's "The Wizard of Lies." But the far more impactful performance this year came from Riz Ahmed in the cable network's "The Night Of." As a Pakistani-American man accused of killing a white woman, Ahmed spirals from a naive student to a hardened man forced to change everything about himself to survive jail. It's a breakthrough role from an actor on the verge of being a big star -- the kind of ground-level recognition the Academy loves to take credit for.

Outstanding Actress in a Limited Series/Movie

Should and will win: Nicole Kidman, “Big Little Lies”

Dark horse: Jessica Lange, "Feud"

Has a category ever been more stacked with talent? Jessica Lange, Susan Sarandon, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Carrie Coon and Felicity Huffman will all vie for this prize, each playing a woman as complex as she is fascinating. But the edge goes to Kidman, whose "Big Little Lies" character Celeste must come to terms with and plan an escape from her increasingly abusive husband. It's a brittle, emotional role that Kidman absolutely nails -- one that would put her in contention for an Oscar had it played out on the big screen.

Other predictions:

Supporting Actor in a Drama: John Lithgow, "The Crown"

Supporting Actress in a Drama: Ann Dowd, "The Handmaid's Tale"

Supporting Actor in a Comedy: Alec Baldwin, 'Saturday Night Live"

Supporting Actress in a Comedy: Kate McKinnon, "Saturday Night Live"

Television Movie: "Black Mirror: San Junipero"

Variety Sketch Show: “Saturday Night Live”

Variety Talk Show: "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee"

Reporter Hunter Ingram can be reached at 910-343-2327 or Hunter.Ingram@StarNewsOnline.com. Hunter is a member of the Television Critics Association.