2013 saw career seasons from many different NFL players. However, the past doesn’t always predict the future, and in these players’ situations their 2013 may go down as their best statistical season. Whether it be due to coaching changes, personnel additions, or simply teammates recovering from injury, these players’ statistics are more than likely to regress coming into 2014. Take a look:
QB: Andy Dalton, CIN
2013 Statistics: 4,296 Pass Yds, 33 TDs, 20 INTs
Fantasy Finish: QB4
Personally, this was an easy selection for the All-Regression team. Early in his career, analysts suggested the Bengals would have to “hide” Dalton’s deficiencies (mainly arm talent) with a running game foundation on offense and a very strong defense. Those critics proved correct- seemingly until last season. Jay Gruden unleashed an offense that ranked in the top-8 in pass attempts, and vaulted Dalton to career highs in yards and touchdowns, as well as interceptions.
Gruden and his pass-happy offense have found a new home- Washington. Now calling the shots is the infamous Hue Jackson, a creative play-caller whose offensive philosophy revolves around the running game. With BenJarvus Green-Ellis still on the roster, the drafting of Jeremy Hill and the expected leap of promising sophomore Giovani Bernard, Jackson is going to pound the rock early and often. Let’s take a look at how Dalton’s fantasy prospects coincide with his pass attempts:
|Andy Dalton||Pass Att. Rank||Fantasy Finish|
His attempts have been largely tied to his success- when they are middle of the pack, so are his statistics. Look for both to settle somewhere around his 2011-2012 average of the middle-teens, with room to drop. Not only is Dalton not going to have another top-5 year, considering the massive amount of depth at quarterback this year I’m willing to bet he won’t even sniff the top 12.
RB: Knowshown Moreno, MIA
2013 Statistics: 1,039 Rush Yds, 10 Rush TDs, 60 Recs, 548 Rec Yds, 3 Rec TDs
Fantasy Finish: RB4
Knowshown Moreno had a wonderful run as Peyton Manning’s backfield mate. But as he packed his bags for Miami, he must realize he’s leaving the last place he will be statistically relevant. With ample 6-man fronts to run against last season, Moreno averaged a rather pedestrian 4.3 yards per carry. Teams will Miami to pass after their disastrous 2013, so the next time Moreno will see a 6-man front will be in his memories.
What made Moreno such a valuable asset in fantasy leagues was his role in the passing game- he turned 74 targets into 60 receptions last year- good for 6th in the league among running backs. In Miami, passing attempts are going to be scaled back a massive amount. Chip Kelly-descendent Bill Lazor is now running the show in Miami, and he saw the results when Bill Sherman asked Ryan Tannehill to drop back 588 times behind that offensive line. Tannehill won’t be the league leader in sacks taken again because he won’t have the opportunity to do so. Less pass attempts for Tannehill, less targets for Moreno, less PPR production. Throw in the fact that Lamar Miller is still young and Daniel Thomas is still on the roster, and Moreno is going to regress big-time. Moreno was living the running back’s dream playing for Peyton Manning and the Broncos- he’s now woken up.
RB: Danny Woodhead, SD
2013 Stats: 425 Rush Yds, 2 Rush TDs, 76 Rec, 605 Rec Yds, 6 Rec TDs
Fantasy Finish: RB12
I happen to like Danny Woodhead a lot- he fought for everything he’s got in the NFL, and he’s come a long way since his glory days at NFL powerhouse Chadron State. But while 2013 saw him become an RB1 in PPR leagues, I don’t think 2014 will be as kind for a couple reasons.
First, Woodhead didn’t exactly finish the season on fire. As the Chargers began to lean more heavily on Keenan Allen and Ryan Mathews, Woodhead’s role began to shrink:
Danny Woodhead 2013 Tgts/Gm Rec/Gm Yards/Gm Weeks 1-9 7.1 6.1 49 Weeks 10-17 3.8 3.4 26.8
Second off, the San Diego backfield didn’t get any less crowded with the signing of all-around back Donald Brown, who has historically been serviceable on passing downs as well. Throw in the fact that the Chargers may run the ball more than any team in the league this year while looking for leaps from pass-catchers Keenan Allen and Ladarius Green, there simply won’t be enough to go around for everyone to produce like a fantasy starter. Reading the tea leaves, Danny Woodhead won’t get 87 targets again and sniff RB1 territory.
WR: Anquan Boldin, SF
2013 Statistics: 129 Targets, 85 Rec, 1,179 Rec Yds, 7 TDs
Fantasy Finish: WR15
After an astonishing finish to the 2012 season, Michael Crabtree enthusiasts had their sights set on WR1 production in 2013. Sadly, an early torn Achilles tendon quickly put those hopes to rest. With a severely unproven WR corps behind him, Anquan Boldin went above and beyond the call of duty to by eclipsing 65 catches and 921 yards for the first time since his 2009 season in Arizona.
Sadly, Boldin is probably going back to a 65-875-5 line in 2014. With the return of a healthy Crabtree and Vernon Davis, Boldin isn’t going to see 129 targets again. Although Colin Kaepernick ranked only 21st in pass attempts last season, the 49ers personnel moves have told us they don’t plan to air it out much more this season- like Seattle, they are built on a running game and strong defense. Boldin is still a fantastic real-life receiver, but his days as a fantasy WR1/2 are never coming back.
WR: Eric Decker, NYJ
2013 Stats: 136 Targets, 87 Rec, 1,288 Yds, 11 TDs
Fantasy Finish: WR9
After back-to-back WR9 finishes in 2012 and 2013, Eric Decker was ready to get paid. The New York Jets, desperate for help at the wide receiver position, came calling to the tune of a five year, $36+ million contract. But like his former teammate Knowshown Moreno, he is in for a rude awakening statistic-wise. Gone are the days of seeing single coverage opposite Demaryius Thomas catching passes from Peyton Manning.
Now, he is going to see the likes of Darrelle Revis, Stephen Gilmore, and Brent Grimes playing in the AFC East while catching passes from either Mike Vick or Geno Smith. While he will be the likely red-zone passing-game target of the New York Jets, those opportunities are likely to be few and far between. Like Mike Wallace leaving Pittsburgh for Miami, I think Decker would do well to match Wallace’s 73-930-5 statline on his way to a WR27 finish- not exactly difference-making territory. Those drafting Decker as even a difference making WR3 are probably doing themselves a disservice. His days of winning you weeks are likely gone for a long time in the Jets’ fantasy wasteland.
WR: DeSean Jackson, WAS
2013 Statistics: 126 Targets, 82 Rec, 1,332 Yds, 9 TDs
Fantasy Finish: WR12
2013 was a career year for DeSean Jackson- he shattered career highs in targets (by 5) receptions (by 19), yards (by 165) and tied his career high in receiving touchdowns with 9. With Chip Kelly calling plays and Nick Foles lobbing up passes, Jackson enjoyed an elite season. Sadly, it is likely those good times have come to an end.
While Jackson was far and away the most proven and obvious receiving threat in Philadelpha, in Washington he joins an already-experienced and talented receiving corps. Not only will he be fighting 2013 target-leader Pierre Garcon for receptions, he will also be sharing with Andre Roberts and TE breakout candidate Jordan Reed. Although Jay Gruden is bringing a pass-first offense to town, Jackson is likely to regress to his pre-2013 career averages of 105 targets and 55 receptions. While those 55 receptions are likely to yield chunk yardage, it is highly unlikely that he’ll produce a WR1 PPR season once again. With Alfred Morris, Jordan Reed, Andre Roberts and Pierre Garcon surrounding him, DeSean Jackson will not be force-fed the ball. He will likely make a larger real-life impact than fantasy impact in 2014.