Sometimes a player does so well in fantasy one year that it's hard to live up to the same expectations the next year. There's only so much that a player can do consistently.
This list isn't about players who are going to have bad production in 2013—it's a list about players who won't be able to match what they did in 2012.
In 2011, Ray Rice was the leading fantasy scorer amongst running backs. Last season, his output decreased by an exceptional margin. He had 447 less total yards and five less touchdowns. He still had a great season, but he didn't match his production from the previous year.
Here are seven players who won't be able to match their output from 2012. They appear in no particular order.
Last season, the debate about the best Denver Broncos receiver was between Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. The debate ended up being pointless because both receivers finished in the top 10 in both standard and points per reception (PPR) leagues.
This season, the debate is between Decker and free-agent acquisition Wes Welker.
Welker had 100 receptions in five of his last six seasons. He’s a talented receiver who is going to steal catches away from Thomas and Decker.
The reason Decker is on this list instead of Thomas is because Decker plays more inside like Welker and catches short passes. In 2012, Thomas had 29 receptions of 20 yards or more, which was second only to Calvin Johnson.
When a team has three receivers as talented as Thomas, Decker and Welker, there are only so many targets to go around. It will be hard for Decker to duplicate the success he had in 2012 when two other great receivers will be playing with him.
Brandon Marshall was a dream for fantasy owners in 2012. His reunion with Jay Cutler led to a fantastic season where he finished third in receiving yards and fourth in receiving touchdowns. He also had his first 100-reception season since 2009.
His second year in Chicago should still be great, but it will be difficult to match his 2012 production. Alshon Jeffery should be more of a factor if he can stay healthy, which was a problem for him in his rookie season. Also, the arrival of tight end Martellus Bennett gives Cutler another offensive weapon.
Last year, Marshall finished second in the NFL in targets. Bennett and Jeffery will cut into those targets and take some pressure off Marshall.
Alfred Morris came out of nowhere last season with the Washington Redskins. The sixth-round pick from Florida Atlantic came on strong as a rookie and finished second in rushing behind Adrian Peterson.
Now heading into his second year, Morris is a candidate for the sophomore slump. Why? Because it’s hard to duplicate a 1,600-yard season. Only 12 players in NFL history have more than one 1,600-yard season in their career.
Morris will also share carries with Roy Helu, who is coming back from injury, and fifth-round pick Chris Thompson. ESPN’s Adam Schefter said that the Redskins wouldn’t take a running back in the draft if they didn’t love him.
Last season was Stevan Ridley’s breakout year, as he rushed for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns. His performance made him a top-10 fantasy running back, and he exceeded people’s expectations.
The Patriots have a crowded backfield heading into 2013. They lost Danny Woodhead but added Leon Washington and LeGarrette Blount. They already have Shane Vereen (who is expected to have an increased role this season) and Brandon Bolden, who showed promise last year.
Vereen started to emerge late last season, which could lead to a significant role for him in 2013. Ridley also had a fumbling problem last season, which is always bad news for running backs. There are a lot of risks for Ridley heading into his third season, and his success may not continue.
Ever since Week 1 of the 2010 season when Arian Foster ran for 231 yards and three touchdowns against the Colts, the Houston Texans running back has been a dominant force in fantasy football.
Last year, he finished second amongst fantasy running backs behind Adrian Peterson. He also took a beating, carrying the ball a league-high 351 times. He also had 40 receptions, which means he had 391 touches total. There’s a curse in the fantasy world of 370 carries, and even though 351 isn’t 370, it’s relatively close.
James Jones was huge last year when he led the NFL in touchdown receptions with 14. We saw this happen in 2011 with Jordy Nelson, as he caught 15 touchdowns and then caught just seven the next season. It also happened to Dwayne Bowe in 2010 when he caught 15 touchdowns and only five in 2011.
Touchdowns were the only reason why Jones was able to finish in the top 20 for wide receivers last year. His 784 receiving yards were just 44th in the league. Even with Greg Jennings gone, Jones is still the third option in Green Bay behind Nelson and Randall Cobb.
Jones’ touchdowns will decline in 2013, making him a decent option instead of an every-week starter.
It feels weird putting Adrian Peterson on this list because he’s expected to have another big year in 2013, but it’s hard to see him putting up the same production as we saw last season.
In 2012, Peterson fell just nine yards shy of the single-season rushing record. That’s because near the end of the season the Minnesota Vikings were trying to put him in position to break it. In the last seven games, Peterson saw about seven more carries per game than in the first nine weeks of the season.
Expect the Vikings to pass the ball more this season. They acquired Greg Jennings through free agency and traded up in the draft to select Cordarrelle Patterson, and second-year receiver Jarius Wright showed promise at the end of 2012.
Peterson may believe he’s getting 2,500 yards this season, but don’t expect that. He’s still a high draft pick in fantasy, but don’t expect him to put up the numbers he did in 2012.
Chicago Bears Defense
The Chicago Bears defense is likely to take a fall this year in scoring after their \productive 2012 season, but defenses aren't as important as position players. Just remember never to take a defense too early.
Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers
At 30 years old in a crowded backfield, Frank Gore may receive less touches, but he'll still manage to get close to what he did in 2012. Gore has been getting it done for years now, and he'll be a valuable player for San Francisco in 2013.
Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers
It seemed unfair to put Heath Miller on this list because his status for the next season is up in the air after tearing his ACL, MCL and PCL in Week 16 last year. With Mike Wallace gone, more attention will be placed on Miller, who had career highs in yards and touchdowns in 2012.