With football season and fantasy football season fast approaching, here's my breakdown of players that are unlikely to meet expectations in the coming season. I will outline them in no particular order.
Edgerrin James, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Yes, his 1,222 rushing yards in 2007 looks pretty good. But the 3.8 yards per carry and seven touchdowns don't look so good. James will turn 30 during the season, the age at which running backs tend to begin to decline. His decline has already started since signing with Arizona a couple years back, but this could be the year James' decline gets steeper.
Wes Welker, WR, New England Patriots
Welker is unlikely to replicate his 112 receptions and 1,175 yards from last season. The Patriots could make more of an effort to establish the running game, making Welker and the rest of the passing game unlikely to put up the numbers they did in 2007.
Willie Parker, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Parker is coming off a broken leg and the Steelers drafted RB Rashard Mendenhall in the first round of the draft this year. He only scored two touchdowns in 2007 as well. Mendenhall looks likely to get most of the goal line carries and might get a significant amount of touches otherwise as well.
Parker most likely will never score anywhere near the 13 touchdowns he scored in 2006.
Derrick Mason, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Mason had 103 receptions and 1.087 yards in 2007, to go along with five touchdowns. He is unlikely to get that many catches again with the retirement of QB Steve McNair, who looked to Mason a lot.
Young WRs Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams look likely to get a chance to produce and that could cut significantly into the amount of targets Mason sees as well.
Javon Walker, WR, Oakland Raiders
With second year QB JaMarcus Russell throwing him the ball this year, it is unlikely Walker will produce at the level his big money contract suggest he should or will. Add that to a lingering knee issue Walker has had and a likely to run-oriented offense, and that looks like a recipe for disappointing production.
Jon Kitna, QB, Detroit Lions
With the departure of pass-happy offensive coordinator Mike Martz to San Francisco this past off season, so goes the significant passing stats for Kitna. The Lions have suggested they will try to establish the running game better this year, so Kitna's two consecutive 4,000 yard passing seasons should become three in a row.
There could be a short leash for Kitna this year too, with young QB Drew Stanton possibly getting a chance to play if he's ineffective early in the season.
Terrell Owens, WR, Dallas Cowboys
I know what your thinking, how can a guy who had 1,355 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2007 be a bust this year? I think T.O. will still produce well, but not to the high standard he has set for himself. This could be the year, as he will turn 35 during the season, where the leg injuries Owens has had in his career start to catch up to him.
Dishonorable Mention: Jerry Porter, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars; Jason Elam, K, Atlanta Falcons; Vince Young, QB, Tennessee Titans; Hines Ward, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers; Ryan Grant, RB, Green Bay Packers.