The following players were put on this list because of already declining value or because of my subjective opinion on what will occur next football season. Truthfully, the NFL can be very unpredictable. While I thought Kirk Cousins would become an irrelevant player, he burst onto the scene as an electric quarterback with the Redskins. Football is tough to predict, but a large proportion of the players on this list are either getting older or in unfavorable team circumstances.
For those who watched the NFL Draft, the athletes were stoked to be able to finally get the chance to fulfill their life long dreams. Just as veterans will struggle, many rookies will not find their spot in the league and end up a free agent soon enough. Contrarily, there will always be a small number of rookie studs who garner respect from fans and coaches alike. In this usual NFL yearly circumstance, many rookie stars often decline the next season. Maybe the money got to them? Or maybe, they just played too darn well their rookie year and they cannot live up to the hype. Either way, both occur situations are commonalities.
Here are 15 NFL Stars Who Will Fall Off The Map Next Season.
15 Dez Bryant
While Dez is still in a favorable situation, in Dallas, he has been less productive for some time now. Prescott seemed to gravitate towards him somewhat last season, but he also spread the ball around pretty well too. I think Dez is in one of the best situations a WR could be in, but I don't think he will be the guy he once was.
The Cowboys will continue to rely on Elliott for the majority of offensive plays and Prescott has some other talent for him in Witten and Beasley. Having Dez on my fantasy football team last season was very painful. He consistently had maybe 9 points each week, which was small compared to past years, in which he would score upwards of 15 points each week.
14 Adrian Peterson
Peterson, while he was injured last season, struggled when he was healthy to be productive. The Saints have a high powered offense but he will find trouble being recognized as the number one back with Mark Ingram still in New Orleans. Mark Ingram played very well last season, but I assume the Saints brought Peterson in to split carries with the Alabama alum.
Regardless, I find it hard to imagine that Peterson will get a lot of playing time, or rather he will and, consequently, take away time from Ingram. Peterson is aging and he seems to be not the same player ever since the domestic abuse incident.
In addition, the Saints offense will still be built around Drew Brees and the passing game, so you have to wonder how AP's numbers will finish.
13 Alex Smith
Smith was so-so this past season. While he maintained some balance in the organization, the QB is getting long in the tooth. The fact is, Alex Smith is 33. Surely 33 isn't extremely old for a quarterback, but he is in a very unfavorable circumstance. The Chiefs are at the stage where they have the talent to make the playoffs, but and making it past the first round is has now become an expectation. Smith looks like he will remain in Kansas City and this will not benefit him very much. Regardless, there isn't really anywhere else he can go. Smith will struggle next season: not because he is bad or un athletic, but because he has pretty much reached his ceiling whereas the rest of the AFC West is only getting better.
12 T.Y. Hilton
Hilton hasn't been his old self for a while, I feel. While he may still garner respect around the league, he has been struggling in the Colts offense. Truthfully, I think he needs to change teams. Hilton may have had 91 receptions this season, but the Colts struggled to really move the ball efficiently. He is reliant on Andrew Luck, who actually has little blocking help, and hasn't been running the same since his injury.
I predict he will struggle next year. I imagine Hilton having 4 touchdowns and being a non-factor in Fantasy Football. With a struggling Colts offensive approach and coaching staff ignoring obvious problems, Hilton will struggle to find his way next season. Like the Chiefs, the Colts are seeing teams around them in the AFC South getting better and better.
11 Jay Ajayi
Jay had a sick year. The guy had 8 touchdowns and rushed for 1,272 yards. Unfortunately, the Dolphins think the solution is to up his carry count. Wrong.
The Dolphins have done this time and time again, and it is their biggest mistake. Ajayi will be pushed too hard. He may have had an insane year, but his workload of over 230 carries is more than enough. Considering the Dolphins have a limited offensive approach, they would be stupid to put too much weight on Ajayi.
They need to bring in some other receivers and work on signing other blockers. Tannehill, also needs to start taking the offense on his back. He was having a solid season last year but suffered a knee injury late and you have to wonder if the Dolphins will be able to replicate their success from 2016.
10 Tyreek Hill
Let me say this. Tyreek Hill played out of his mind last year. Off of 61 receptions, the guy had 6 touchdowns and 593 yards. Also, he is a beast on the returning end. Here is what I think, though.
Hill will struggle next season due to a couple of things. I think he is being hyped up as a more prominent player. Also, Alex Smith (also on this list), I predict, will truly struggle next year. The Chiefs are one-dimensional, which is a major reason for me believing that they will not make it farther than the first round of the playoffs, if that. Tyreek Hill may be very agile and fast, but he was known for dropping balls last season, anyway. I predict that he will top his 593 yards, due to his late emergence as a star last season, but he won't be nearly as dominant as he was for the short period he was last season.
9 Richie Incognito
While he is a man that is worth questioning in both values and morals (Jonathan Martin situation) Incognito has been a productive NFL Player for a while now. In 2015, he helped the Bills lead the league in rushing yards. He has been a great offensive help to LeSean McCoy and an even better help to under performing Tyrod Taylor. Incognito may have re-created himself after the bullying scandal, but I fear he will struggle this upcoming season. Buffalo lacks depth and he will be surrounded by a young team. The Bills don't have a QB, so Incognito will also struggle to keep motivation. Think about it like this; when Tom Brady had an elite o-line around him, they go really hard because he is Tom Brady and he will help them win. The fact is, having an unproductive QB may make Incognito somewhat regretful of putting such a significant amount of effort forward.
8 Larry Fitzgerald
After a fantastic year, in which he scored 6 touchdowns and ran for 1,023 yards, Fitz will come down a bit next year. The Cardinals have relied on him for a long time and so have I; Larry Fitzgerald has been an integral aspect of my Fantasy Football team for quite some time now. I feel it will be hard for him to beat his 2016 performance; he shocked everyone and managed to have a great year. With Carson Palmer looking dreadful, once more, the Cardinals will rely more on David Johnson (the tank). The Cardinals look like they could possibly make a playoff appearance, but Fitzgerald will struggle to live up to his previous performance during the regular season. The guy killed it last year, but there is no way he does as well next fall.
7 Joe Flacco
Flacco, I feel, has been on the decline for some time. While he is still a Super Bowl champion, the guy is nonetheless very average. Last season, he threw 20 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, and had a passer rating of 83.5. He completed 64.5 percent of passes, and seems to struggle with passing the ball downfield. Also, after losing his best buddy Torrey Smith, he may struggle with finding open receivers.
Flacco has minimal help on the offensive side and deals with an offensive line with little experience. I imagine Flacco having 20 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, a stat line that would be indicative of him passing his prime. Since winning the Super Bowl, Flacco has looked anything but impressive and as a result, the Steelers and Bengals have experienced more success since that year than the Ravens. With even less talent around him now, Flacco may very well fall another notch next year.
6 Blake Bortles
Bortles was quoted as admitting that he needed to stop turning the football over. Right. Bortles threw 16 interceptions last season and 18 before that. While he may be good at throwing the ball down field, he struggled with downfield vision. Blake needs some help as well. The Jaguars lack an offense and rely too much on Allen Robinson, who was proved to be a flop last year.
They need more blockers and a coaching staff that comprehends how Bortles navigates through the o-line. If anything, Bortles will throw more interceptions and the Jaguars will realize that he is NOT the answer in Jacksonville.
The Jags will likely ride newly drafted running back Leonard Fournette as the main spark to their offense, which will bring down Bortles' numbers.
5 Kirk Cousins
After a season that garnered praise from nearly every organization in the NFL, Cousins became one of the most talked about free agents in the NFL. Truly, I think he will flop next season. The Redskins lack leadership and I feel he has an ego that won't help his cause. He threw 25 touchdowns last season and 29 the year before that. While people brag about the Washington Redskins, he did better in 2015.
He has been surrounded with some talent, notably in Jamison Crowder, but he needs to make better decisions, particularly late in games. Cousins succeeded by taking chances, but the team will need to be more dynamic come next football season. We shall see the result, but I will predict it first. He will struggle.
4 Andrew Luck
Luck threw 31 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last season. The year before that, he struggled with injury but threw 12 interceptions. I think Luck peaked in the beginning of his career. After winning Rookie of the Year, the guy was on a hot streak. He made the Pro Bowl and got tons of advertisements, but his fate isn't in the right direction, I feel. While some claim Luck was a top five QB last season, I truly believe he will falter come next fall.
Without a legitimate offense, Andrew Luck will struggle to maintain balance between confidence and athleticism. Frank Gore is on the wrong side of his career, and the coaching staff seems to be more concerned with finding good kickers than blockers.
3 Josh Norman
Josh Norman emerged as one the league's best defensive players within the last couple seasons. While he killed it with the Panthers, he did a little worse in Washington. I predict that he will struggle to be as dominant this season. With controversy swinging around in DC about the Redskins future and questions about the legitimacy of the defense, he will be under pressure.
Norman had a great season in 2015, but I could see him declining starting this year. He is a strong competitor, but the shelf life of talented corners could be very short and Norman still doesn't have an established track record that he could play at an elite level year after year. It doesn't help that he'll be facing OBJ and Brandon Marshall twice, as well as the Eagles, who improved their receiving corps, and of course the Cowboys.
2 Matt Ryan
While the Falcons almost won the Super Bowl last season, Ryan will experience a post Super Bowl hangover. I predict that he will struggle to be as good next season. The Panthers, after getting dominated by the Denver Broncos, were devastated to see Cam Newton struggle the following season.
Keeping history in mind, I can see Matt Ryan being a little out of it next fall. He may find success with Freeman and Coleman, but he may need to try even harder to focus on football; losing the Super Bowl really impacts a QB and team leader. Furthermore, as much as Kyle Shanahan was made a scapegoat for the Falcons' Super Bowl collapse, it was under him that Ryan truly emerged as an elite QB in the league. You have to wonder how losing Shanahan will affect his game.
1 Dak Prescott
Coming off a killer first season, Prescott will experience a "sophomore slump". The Mississippi State QB had a fantastic offensive line and was aided in his success by Elliot. While this could occur again, he will have to prove himself more this upcoming year. Many people consider his fantastic season to be a fluke or just pure luck all together. If Dak wants to solidify himself as an elite quarterback, he needs to step it up a notch this year.
Jerry Jones and the entire coaching staff will do everything they can to keep him at his best spot, but I can realistically see Prescott struggling next season. Regardless, he had a fantastic first season, but sophomore slumps are not uncommon. Fans will see soon enough.