Every NFL team has overrated players, that’s just a part of the league. Not every player can live up to the expectations that are attached to them. In fact, most players don’t. Fans, analysts and broadcasters all give players certain expectations, and sometimes, players tend to be hyped up a little too much by various sectors of the NFL, be it from scouts, analysts or fans themselves. Being overrated isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You had to have done a lot of good before people could think there’s more you can do, or, you got paid a lot of money but didn’t play up to that pay. In that case, a team put up high expectations for a player.
It’s just a part of the NFL. Since there’s only one game a week for each team, there’s so much time to dissect players and what people expect them to do each week and in the season. Honestly, there’s probably more discussions about many NFL players than any other sport. It makes it more exciting and gives fans something to talk about.
The 2018 season is practically over, which means we will look at what players were the most overrated. Which players had the highest expectations going into this season, that just didn’t perform as well as everyone thought. It’s exciting to think about because then you see which “star players” aren’t actually considered stars in the eyes of some.
32 Arizona Cardinals - Larry Fitzgerald (WR)
Throughout his career, Larry Fitzgerald has always been considered one of the best wide receivers in the league. Not this season. 2018 has been the worst season of his career, and it really hasn’t been his fault. When someone is considered one of the best each season though, expectations never simmer. Josh Rosen has struggled all season, which has affected Fitzgerald’s numbers. The disappointing part about that is Fitzgerald will likely finish the 2018 season as statistically the worst season of his career.
31 Atlanta Falcons - Tevin Coleman (RB)
If you have Tevin Coleman on your fantasy football team, you probably love him. If he’s the starting running back for your favorite team, you’re probably not thrilled about him. This was Coleman’s chance to shine, considering Devonta Freeman has been out. Rather than really utilizing the opportunity to prove a starter, he’s been the same player as in years past. A really good second running back, but one that clearly can’t take the starting role over by himself. Coleman will likely remain an RB2 throughout his career.
30 Baltimore Ravens - Lamar Jackson (QB)
Lamar Jackson has all the tools to be hyped up - first-round draft pick in 2018, lower expectations, mobile quarterback, former Heisman trophy winner. That is all terrific, but he clearly has his weaknesses, which have been masked by the Ravens deploying a very simple offense, emphasizing his strengths. Granted, he’s smooth on the ground, but he hasn’t proven he can be any better than a Tim Tebow (as a thrower) in this league. There's no way Jackson will be able to sustain his success if he doesn't improve on his throwing mechanics.
29 Buffalo Bills - LeSean McCoy (RB)
When ranking the best running backs in the league, one running back who would consistently pop up every year would be LeSean McCoy. Regardless of the season, he would play well. Well, 2018 is a bit different. He’s sustained a few injuries and hasn’t rushed the ball much. This past season was the first time in McCoy’s career that he’s averaging lower than four yards per carry. It’s been very disappointing for him. We all know how running backs decline fairly quickly, and we may have seen the beginning of LeSean McCoy's.
28 Carolina Panthers - Devin Funchess (WR)
Not that anyone began to be super-high on Devin Funchess, but he was considered a solid wide receiver. Some analysts that study the salary cap believe that Funchess could make around $17 million a year once he hits free agency. It would be expected for Funchess to take another step forward after playing well in 2017, but instead, he’s taken a step back. Injuries have contributed, but so have dropped passes. The Panthers have now transitioned D.J. Moore into being the top targeted wide receiver.
27 Chicago Bears - Jordan Howard (RB)
After Jordan Howard’s rookie season, people kind of overlooked his success. Then after he duplicated his success in his sophomore season, fans began to pay attention. Howard was expected to be one of the better running backs in the NFL. Not this season. Since his rookie season, he has regressed each season. His numbers are lower this year and his role in this new-look Bears offense has taken a dip. It looks more and more that this is going to continue to be a two running back system in Chicago with Tarik Cohen taking more and more snaps from Howard.
26 Cincinnati Bengals - John Ross (WR)
Everyone loved John Ross when he ran that historic 40-yard dash. What has he done in the NFL ever since? The former first-round pick drafted by the Bengals has been a bust. He barely played in his rookie season and the lone saving grace of his sophomore season has been that he's at least displayed a nose for the end zone. He’s been great in the red zone, but he really hasn’t made an impact on the Bengals offense on a consistent basis. He should be having a lot of success considering the amount of time A.J. Green has missed. Ross has been a complete disappointment.
25 Cleveland Browns - Jarvis Landry (WR)
Jarvis Landry received a massive paycheck this offseason, and that is when expectations really raised for him. He was paid big, and he was one of the stars on Hard Knocks. It all set up for all eyes to be on him. Landry's production has taken a dip this season after signing a big extension with the Browns this past offseason. With the way things have played out, this could be the worst season of Landry’s career. He’s playing alright, but the fans expected more.
24 Dallas Cowboys - Tyron Smith (OT)
When speaking about the league's top offensive lines in recent years, the Cowboys would always come up. Since 2014, the Cowboys offensive line has always been praised for being one of the best. This year, it’s been a different story. Changes on the line as well as injuries have hurt, along with Tyron Smith’s struggles. Lately, Smith has been dealing with a lot of ailments, which have really affected his play this season. He was always viewed as the most valuable offensive lineman on that line, but the Cowboys may want to look for his replacement now.
23 Denver Broncos - Case Keenum (QB)
After the Minnesota Miracle that sent the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game last season, Case Keenum was a hot name in free agency. He got paid, and that was left of him. Throughout the first eight games of the 2018 season, Keenum threw an interception in each game, but then went the next four without one. Everyone always thought the Broncos were a quarterback away from being a playoff team, and if that’s the case, Keenum definitely isn’t a starting quarterback.
22 Detroit Lions - Matthew Stafford (QB)
When you think of some of the best passers in the league, Matthew Stafford comes to mind. His arm strength is one of the best in the NFL, and he's usually given his team at least a chance to make the playoffs, despite having a struggling defense. This season, he lost his best wide receiver, Golden Tate. Since then, he’s never really recovered. For a guy who can throw for over 300 yards seemingly with ease, he failed hit that number in a game since Tate was traded. And at this point, many now have to wonder if the Lions have gone as far as they could with Stafford.
21 Green Bay Packers - Randall Cobb (WR)
With Jordy Nelson being released, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams were really supposed to take a leap forward as to becoming the top targets. Adams has been incredible, but Cobb’s season has been filled with injuries and poor play. Cobb is still viewed as a starting receiver in the league, but his production suggests his days as a starter are over. He hasn’t been much help for Aaron Rodgers and has a good chance at parting ways with the Packers this offseason. Not what Packers fans may have expected.
20 Houston Texans - Demaryius Thomas (WR)
Was Demaryius Thomas worth a fourth rounder? Probably not. In the five games Thomas has played with the Texans, he’s shown some flashes of his old self, but that initial resurgence went back down to earth. Thomas wasn’t that great in Denver the past few seasons, and he’s probably played better when he was there than now in Houston. If anything, he is a player to worry about for defenses on top of DeAndre Hopkins, but his production hasn’t proven that. Hopefully, the Texans can get him more involved as the playoffs arrive.
19 Indianapolis Colts - Ryan Grant (WR)
For a fifth-round pick, Ryan Grant has definitely exceeded expectations from when he was drafted. He signed a one-year deal worth $5 million, and fans were expecting him to really take off this season. Last season, he caught 45 passes for 573 yards and scored four touchdowns. Considering he could sneak into that Colts offense with T.Y. Hilton being the primary target, there were some expectations for him to be a really good no. 2 receiver. Grant has not done that at all.
18 Jacksonville Jaguars - Leonard Fournette (RB)
Is Leonard Fournette as good as everyone says? In his first two seasons, he’s averaged less than four yards per carry each season. Injuries led him to miss much of this season, which seems to be an early concern in his career. Fournette was looked at as a top-10 running back in the league, but maybe those analysts should re-think that. Granted, Fourette has seen the box get stacked against him this year due to poor QB play, but it feels like Fournette isn't quite as valuable as many had pegged him last year.
17 Kansas City Chiefs - Sammy Watkins (WR)
When you get the big bucks, you’re expected to make the big plays. Watkins signed a three-year deal worth $48 million, with $30 million guaranteed this offseason. That is No. 1 wide receiver money, which Watkins hasn’t performed like. Some analysts believed he just needed the right fit, but playing in back to back seasons on the top offenses in the NFL haven’t helped. Watkins recorded just 40 catches for 519 yards and scored three touchdowns in the regular season. Whoever made the decision to pay Watkins as much as they did needs to be fired.
16 Los Angeles Chargers - Antonio Gates (TE)
Antonio Gates is absolutely an NFL legend. But there's a reason why the Chargers cut Gates in the offseason and only brought him back due to Hunter Henry's ACL tear. Analysts love to hype up big names, even if they haven’t been that great lately. Gates is 38 years old, so there should’ve been minimal expectations. Gates is no longer a focal point in the Chargers passing game and it's looking like his last season in the NFL, and definitely as a Charger.
15 Los Angeles Rams - Marcus Peters (CB)
Don’t let the interceptions fool you, Marcus Peters has been disappointing this season. Peters has been aggressive for the football all season, but has also blown coverages like crazy. With the acquisition for Peters and Aqib Talib, the Rams were supposed to have an elite defense. With Peters struggling and Talib out for most of the season, that hasn’t been the case. Maybe his struggles lead to a cheaper contract, but the Rams would like to see an overall improved cornerback.
14 Miami Dolphins - Kenyan Drake (RB)
This year was supposed to be the year Kenyan Drake took off. With Jay Ajayi traded to the Eagles, this would-be Drake’s team. Well, not yet. Drake got a majority of the carries the first two games, but then they really resulted to Frank Gore being the starting running back and using Drake more in the passing game. While the numbers look good for Drake, this was someone whom everybody believed he had superstar potential. Instead, he’s a specialty running back that contributes a lot in the passing game (and miracle plays).
13 Minnesota Vikings - Kirk Cousins (QB)
Cousins was one of the biggest free agent quarterbacks in recent memory when he hit the market this offseason, and maybe there was a reason that his old franchise gave up on him. Don't let the raw numbers deceive you - Kirk Cousins is overrated. Many analysts believed he couldn’t succeed due to the team around him in Washington, but now he has a team loaded with talent. While the offensive line hasn’t been great, he needs to be better. He’s getting paid enough money that when they need him to make a big-time throw, he should be able to make it.
12 New England Patriots - Rob Gronkowski (TE)
If Rob Gronkowski were any other tight end, we would be talking about how the Patriots badly need an upgrade at tight end. Since he’s considered the best receiving tight end of his era in the NFL, he’s not playing like it. A good season for the Patriots tight end is catching over 1,000 yards, which he seems like he will be far off. Gronk has fallen well short of his usual production this season and really looks like he's lost a few steps. It wouldn't be a surprise if Gronk were to retire after this season.
11 New Orleans Saints - Marcus Davenport (DE)
When you trade up to draft a player in the first round, you expect immediate help. In the 2018 NFL Draft, the Saints traded a 2018 fifth-round pick and a 2019 first-round pick to move up to the 14th overall pick, where they would draft Marcus Davenport. Davenport managed only four sacks this season, two of which, came in one game against the Vikings. Not that Davenport isn’t good, but he isn’t as good as fans would’ve expected right away.
10 New York Giants - Landon Collins (S)
Landon Collins was looked at as one of the best safeties in the league the past two seasons, but didn't look so great this season. Collins was very good against the run but struggled in coverage. With Collins entering free agency, his value may go down due to a struggling season, on top of a season-ending injury. With the offense adding more weapons, the defense was expected to be as dominant as it once was. Unfortunately, that didn't work out.
9 New York Jets - Sam Darnold (QB)
Considering all the players Sam Darnold was compared to, you would expect him to be playing a lot better. Many analysts compared him to Tony Romo, and maybe he is, due to the fact that they both turn the football over a lot. For the third overall pick, he hasn’t been as good as expected.
He’s had some flashes where he looks really good, but he’s really been the forgotten quarterback of this draft. Darnold was originally projected to be the first quarterback off the draft boards, but he hasn’t played like it.
8 Oakland Raiders - Jordy Nelson (WR)
As a former wide receiver of the Green Bay Packers, Jordy Nelson had high expectations with new scenery in Oakland. Before Amari Cooper was traded, Nelson would be a reliable No. 2 receiver for Derek Carr. That didn’t work out. Nelson has been inconsistent all season. He’s had a few really good games, and then some really bad games. It’s got to a point where there are reports that Nelson will retire if he has to play with the Raiders again next season.
7 Philadelphia Eagles - Golden Tate (WR)
Besides the Amari Cooper trade to the Cowboys, the wide receiver acquisitions didn’t work out too well this season. Many thought the Eagles got the better deal by trading a third-round draft pick for Golden Tate. However, whether it's been Carson Wentz or Nick Foles throwing the ball, Tate really hasn’t made much of an impact. If you compare his production in Philly then to when he was in Detroit, it almost seems like he became a completely different player. The trade for Tate seems like a disappointment.
6 Pittsburgh Steelers - Ben Roethlisberger (QB)
Compared to past seasons, Ben Roethlisberger is actually playing better in certain situations. The problem is, he hasn’t played well when the Steelers really need him to. He’s made some key turnovers when the Steelers need to close out games. Some of his best games help wipe away his bad games. The biggest problem right now, is the Steelers are moving to the end of their championship window and continue to underachieve. If Roethlisberger had made some smarter decisions this season, there’s a good chance the Steelers could've been a higher seed going into the playoffs.
5 San Francisco 49ers - Nick Mullens (QB)
Following a blowout win on a Thursday night against the Raiders, Nick Mullens became a star for about a week. Analysts believed he could have a future in the NFL. He was all over television. It lasted only for a week though, as he’s struggled the rest of the way. Well, maybe he did, compared to the expectations that were put on him. He’s played well for a backup quarterback, but analysts put him at a level that would be impossible to achieve.
4 Seattle Seahawks - Doug Baldwin (WR)
Doug Baldwin has been the no. 1 receiver for the Seahawks, all but this year. Injuries have definitely hurt him, but this has been his worst season since 2012. Maybe it’s age, or maybe it's just a sign of the transition taking place in Seattle. All that is known, is Baldwin was considered one of the better receivers in the league but hasn’t played like it whatsoever this season. With all the big names the Seahawks moved on from last offseason, one has to wonder if the Seahawks will restructure their receiving corps.
3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Peyton Barber (RB)
Considering Ronald Jones II wasn’t able to understand the playbook, Peyton Barber took over the role as the starting running back. Fans started to really like Barber, but has he played all that great? For a backup running back, he hasn't had that bad a season, but he definitely hasn't produced like a bonafide starter. Perhaps it's just a case of the Buccaneers sorely lacking in the backfield, so anyone placed back there will be overhyped. We'll see what the Bucs do to fix it.
2 Tennessee Titans - Marcus Mariota (QB)
For some odd reason, fans are still sold on Marcus Mariota. It doesn’t make much sense as to why though. Besides 2016, Mariota has struggled throughout his career. He turns the ball over too much and struggles to make the necessary throws to win ball games. His 2018 season has been the same story. His touchdown to interception ratio is concerning and it seems that the Titans are only successful when their running game is clicking. It's very rare that we've seen the team win with Mariota carrying the team with his arm.
1 Washington Redskins - Paul Richardson (WR)
This offseason, the Redskins thought they found their new No. 1 wide receiver, Paul Richardson. They agreed to a five-year contract worth $40 million, including $12.5 million guaranteed. Richardson was a deep ball threat in 2017 but wasn't providing the same kind of production this season. Prior to going on IR earlier this season, he had caught 20 passes for 262 yards and scored two touchdowns in seven games. Washington is still sorely lacking production from their wideouts and it doesn't seem like Richardson was the answer.