10 NFL Sophomores Who Will Suffer Fantasy Football Slumps In 2014
Fantasy Football: 10 NFL Sophomores Who Will Suffer Slumps in 2014
In fantasy football, it's typical for players to either break out or bust during their sophomore season. The 2013 NFL season was no exception.
At the quarterback position, the results of the heralded 2012 draft class were a mixed bag. Robert Griffin III struggled for the Washington Redskins. Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson played about as well as expected, but it was Nick Foles who emerged as a weekly starter for fantasy teams. Given the opportunity to start for the Philadelphia Eagles ahead of Michael Vick, Foles was almost unstoppable for the second half of the season, putting up more points than Peyton Manning and Drew Brees for some weeks.
After fantasy owners were treated to a number of historic performances from rookie running backs in 2012, most of them took a step back during their sophomore seasons in 2013. Doug Martin was injured for the second half of the season and was very average when he was on the field. David Wilson struggled with fumbling issues and coach Tom Coughlin's doghouse and now faces questions of whether he is durable enough to be the New York Giants running back in 2014. Alfred Morris, 2012 waiver wire star, played decently but could have been better without all of the turmoil going on in Washington this year. Lamar Miller struggled to get out of a timeshare with Daniel Thomas for the Miami Dolphins all season. And finally, Trent Richardson, who was supposed to be the star of this class of running backs, struggled to pick yards after his trade to the Indianapolis Colts mid-season and faces questions of whether or not he's even a good NFL player. With most owners using a first-round pick on Richardson, he probably was the biggest bust of the 2013 fantasy football season.
While it was nothing but bad news at the running back position, sophomore wide receivers broke out in huge ways in 2013. A position historically known for third year outbursts, wide receivers are increasingly playing bigger roles at a younger age with the NFL becoming more of a passing league. Josh Gordon and Alshon Jeffery both finished in the top five for wide receiver fantasy scoring this season and figure to remain stars in the future. Kendall Wright was consistent all season and gave owners a reason to trust him week in and week out. T.Y. Hilton showed flashes of big play potential, and Justin Blackmon, although suspended for much of the season, played well when on the field. All in all, this class of wide receivers is just proof that there is an endless supply of productive pass catchers in football right now.
Among tight ends, there is one sophomore worth noting. Lardarius Green made an impressive showing in limited playing time this season and with Antonio Gates getting older, Green with his impressive size and pass-catching skills figures to play a bigger role for the San Diego Chargers in the future.
All in all, the sophomores in 2013 pretty much either were breakouts in a major way or flame-outs who ruined some fantasy season. Either way, let's talk about upcoming sophomores for the 2014 fantasy football season. Here are 10 who could suffer the sophomore slump next season.
10. Timothy Wright
Brought in after playing for Greg Schiano at Rutgers, Timothy Wright was good in PPR formats every other week it seemed like. As a guy who is more of hybrid between a wide receiver and a tight end, Wright can catch almost everything that comes his way. However, Wright as a player has limited upside and doesn't really make plays after the catch. His time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could also have been tied to the now-fired Schiano.
9. Jordan Reed
During Weeks 7 and Week 8, many experts were proclaiming Jordan Reed as the next standout tight end for the future and a must-add player for fantasy purposes. It's hard to deny the skill that Reed showed during those two weeks, but following that stretch, Reed has struggled with lingering concussion issues that may continue into the future. With the Redskins franchise as a whole struggling with internal issues and injury concerns, Reed is not someone that I would be comfortable with drafting as an every-week starter at tight end.
8. Tyler Eifert
Brought in as another tight end to complement Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Eifert proved to be the better pass catcher of the two. Although Gresham will probably not be back with the Cincinnati Bengals next season, the inconsistent play and struggles of Andy Dalton in the passing game will continue to prevent Eifert from being a trustworthy tight end option.
7. Terrance Williams
As a wide receiver coming out of Baylor after playing with Robert Griffin III, Terrance Williams surpassed Miles Austin as the No. 2 wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys this season and flourished when Austin missed time with injury. However, when Austin returned to the lineup in Week 9, both players had their production negatively impacted. That does not figure to change next season.
6. Kenny Stills
As a rookie out of the University of Oklahoma, Kenny Stills was pretty much Drew Brees' main deep-threat. Therefore, Stills was a boom-or-bust, inconsistent type of fantasy player, only having value when he caught a long touchdown. With Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints' offense remaining intact for the most part, Brees will continue to spread the ball around to numerous receivers, limiting the chance that Stills makes the sophomore leap.
5. DeAndre Hopkins
DeAndre Hopkins put up a great performance in Week 2 of this season for the Houston Texans with 117 receiving yards and a score. With the thought of playing across the field from Andre Johnson, Hopkins figured to be an exciting player for fantasy owners. However, he only scored one more touchdown the rest of season with the Texans struggling with a rotation of Matt Schaub and Case Keenum at quarterback. The Texans figure to draft a rookie quarterback for 2014, but the quarterback situation will probably limit Hopkins' value despite his evident talent.
4. Aaron Dobson/Kenbrell Thompkins
I'm lumping Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins together for the sake of argument here. In 2013, both rookies manned the outside wide receiver positions for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. It seemed like every week one player would play well while the other would struggle, and this trend would continue all season. Both players also had injury issues and had troubles with either drops or getting separation from coverage. Julian Edelman figures to continue being Brady's favorite wide receiver target and I can foresee Dobson and Thompkins continuing to take fantasy value away from each other.
3. Marlon Brown
Marlon Brown was a waiver pickup early in the season, catching 4 touchdowns in first 3 games of the season. At 6-foot-4, Brown certainly has the size to remain a decent red-zone threat. However, I can't see the Baltimore Ravens offense as a whole improving much next season and that will leave Brown with limited upside.
2. Tavon Austin
Tavon Austin was the first skill position player taken in the 2013 NFL Draft and there were high expectations for him because of that. The St. Louis Rams, however, found it difficult to get him the ball in favorable situations, especially without quarterback Sam Bradford. Austin did show flashes of big play potential, resulting in two big-time games. However, I still don't think the Rams' coaching staff has figured out how to use Austin and he will pretty much be as inconsistent next year as he was in 2013.
1. Montee Ball
Coming into the 2013 season, Montee Ball was supposed to be the most productive rookie running back, playing on the prolific Denver Broncos' offense. However, Ball struggled with fumbling issues for the first couple of weeks while former bust Knowshon Moreno broke out in a big way, finishing third among running backs for fantasy scoring. Ball did play well enough during the second half of the season to earn himself more playing time. With Moreno potentially leaving as a free agent this offseason, many have predicted that Ball would be the one to benefit. However, I still believe that Ball struggles with pass protection, which is a major no-no when playing with Peyton Manning, and quite frankly I don't think he's that great of a talent to begin with.