Fantasy Football 2014: 5 Stars Who Will Regress This Season
We are just beginning to creep into the start of fantasy football mayhem for the upcoming 2014 season. One mistake people always make in compiling their early rankings is relying too much on the previous season's statistics without remembering that some stars are bound to regress.
Whether it's age, situation, unrealistic expectations or some combination of the three, a few stars will always end up producing at a lower rate than everyone was thinking.
Here are five stars who are bound to regress statistically in 2014. Therefore, you should be wary of taking them in your draft. Let other people overvalue them; find some sleepers of your own.
In 2013, he had yet another productive year in the midst of Peyton Manning's historic campaign. Decker caught 87 passes for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns. In 2012, he had 85 catches for 1,064 yards and 13 scores.
But then he chased the money across the country to New York and will suit up for a Jets offense riddled with question marks. Either Mike Vick or Geno Smith will start at quarterback, but neither of them can be counted on to support a true No. 1 fantasy receiver. Anyone drafting Decker to fill that slot will be sorely disappointed.
Decker was a great player when surrounded by talent like Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Julius Thomas and Knowshon Moreno. Betting on him as the focal point of a new offense would be a fantasy risk that I wouldn't take.
Age is an NFL running back's worst enemy, and Steven Jackson turns 31 in July. His numbers have declined every season since 2009.
He signed with the Atlanta Falcons last spring, and things didn't exactly go as planned. Jackson only played in 12 games and averaged 3.5 yards per carry, although he did score six touchdowns.
Hope of Jackson redeeming himself as Atlanta's feature back took a big hit when the Falcons drafted Florida State running back Devonta Freeman in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL draft (103rd overall).
Freeman is not necessarily a stud prospect, but he has all the ability to siphon carries from Jackson, as does Jacquizz Rodgers. Jackson's days as a weekly starting fantasy running back are over.
After a breakout season in 2013, some people might be expecting even bigger things from DeSean Jackson in 2014.
But Jackson will no longer be part of Chip Kelly's high-octane offense. As a member of the Washington Redskins, Jackson will have to share targets with Pierre Garcon and become subject to Robert Griffin III's production.
Griffin was inconsistent at best in 2013, and there's almost no chance that Jackson repeats his 2013 numbers of 82 catches, 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns.
He may still have some big plays, but Jackson won't be the No. 1 fantasy receiver that many people will try to draft him as.
This inclusion may rub some people the wrong way, but don't get it twisted: Peyton Manning will be a very good starter for fantasy this season.
However, he will not reproduce numbers close to his record-breaking 2013 season, and he should not be a first-round pick, either.
Some people may be temped to select him in the top 10 (or even top five) because of how dominant Manning and the Broncos offense were last season. But one only has to look at some simple facts before realizing that would be a poor gamble.
Manning is 38 years old. He lost Decker and Moreno as weapons. Welker is 33 and has had concussion issues. Nobody saw Brett Favre's demise coming a few years ago, but he unraveled quickly. I'm not saying Father Time will get the best of Manning and make him worthless in 2014, but don't expect his 2013 greatness to be repeated.
Johnson put up huge numbers in 2013 (109 receptions, 1,407 yards, five touchdowns in 16 games), but in the past he's been a guy who struggled to score touchdowns and stay on the field for all 16 games in a season. He's also going to turn 33 in July.
But those caveats aside, one only has to look at the state of the Texans offense to see that things are bleak for Johnson's fantasy outlook. The Texans will either be starting Ryan Fitzpatrick or fourth-round rookie Tom Savage at quarterback, and running back Arian Foster is not what he once was.
And in the meantime, DeAndre Hopkins will continue to be groomed as Houston's next go-to receiver and get more involved in the offense in 2014. If Johnson stays in Houston, he won't be a top-10 fantasy receiver.