Top 12 NFL Players Sure to See a Production Drop-Off in 2012

Matt Bowen@@IsItGameTimeYetAnalyst IIAugust 18, 2012

Top 12 NFL Players Sure to See a Production Drop-Off in 2012

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    The 2012 NFL season is now just a few short weeks away as fans are devouring preseason action, fantasy football drafts and the hope that this is the year for their favorite franchise. 

    For every player that will have a breakout season there is a guy whose production will take a dip from his 2011 campaign. 

    It may not seem probable because of their outstanding numbers last year, but it's the cold reality of the NFL. 

    What goes up must come down.

    Here are the players sure to see their numbers drop in 2012.

The Extra Point: Will Adrian Peterson Be Ready to Go?

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    Minnesota Vikings' star running back Adrian Peterson is a freak of nature, as he's attempting to return to the game only eight months after a knee injury ended his 2011 season.

    News from Minnesota is that Peterson will begin contact drills as early as next week, which means that he may be ready to go as early as Week 1. 

    But will Peterson be effective in 2011? Will he remain healthy? 

    Because of his will and determination, it's hard to say "no," but fantasy fans should be cautious. It's hard to believe that he'll hit the ground running this season, as it may take five or six weeks before he gets into "game shape." 

    Peterson reached 970 rushing yards on 208 carries in 2011 in just 12 games before his injury. This season will be the first in his career that he won't get 200-plus carries. 

    All NFL fans want to see one of the most dynamic running backs in today's game succeed, but don't expect the star to reach the 1,000-yard plateau this season. 

    2012 Bold Predictions: 4.3 YPC, 782 rushing yards, nine touchdowns

Beanie Wells Won't Have a Repeat 1,000-Yard Season in the Desert

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    Beanie Wells had a breakout season in 2011 for the Arizona Cardinals with 1,047 rushing yards. 

    This was a huge relief to Cardinals' fans, but they shouldn't get their hopes up for a repeat performance in 2012. 

    Wells played through injuries in 2011 and ended up on the operating table to repair his right knee this offseason. 

    He has been active in training camp so far, but it's clear that he's not 100 percent

    For a team that doesn't have a clear No. 1 quarterback and a definite backup running back, the pressure on Wells to produce is immense.

    Unfortunately, he won't match his 2011 production, as the 2012 season seems to get darker by the day for the Cardinals' faithful. 

    2012 Bold Predictions: 4.1 YPC, 689 rushing yards, six touchdowns

Laurent Robinson Won't Catch 11 Touchdowns This Season

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    The Jacksonville Jaguars were desperate for a proven wide receiver to help young quarterback Blaine Gabbert this offseason.

    They decided that Laurent Robinson, who had a surprising 2011 season with 11 touchdowns in Dallas will be their man. 

    The Jags signed Robinson to a five-year, $32.5 million deal and expect him to be their undisputed No. 1 receiver this season. 

    Truth be told, Robinson will be good, but not great. 

    After all, Gabbert only threw 12 touchdowns last season as a rookie. Given, he'll only get better in 2012, but the threat of star running back Maurice Jones-Drew holding out puts all defensive eyes of Gabbert. 

    Expecting another 11 touchdowns from Robinson in 2012 is a bit far-fetched. His other numbers will be up, but his trips to pay dirt will dissipate. 

    2012 Bold Predictions: 72 catches, 1,174 receiving yards, eight TDs

Mike Wallace May Be in Shape, but He's Not in Mike Tomlin's Favor

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    After back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace has decided to hold out. 

    This issue is still unresolved, although the Steelers expect him to report to camp soon.

    Even though Wallace is one of the fastest men in the entire NFL, he won't eclipse his 1,193 receiving yards from 2011 for multiple reasons.

    For starters, the Steelers have a new offensive coordinator in Todd Haley, and Wallace may be in shape, but he's not accustomed to the new offense.  While it's hard to deny his skill set, it will take some time to adjust. 

    Another reason is that there is a giant question mark surrounding the Steelers' running back situation, which puts more pressure on the passing game. With Rashard Mendenhall still recovering from an ACL injury, the Steelers are left with a battered Isaac Redman, unproven Jonathan Dwyer and rookie Chris Rainey to carry the load. 

    Last but not least. head coach Mike Tomlin can't be too happy with Wallace right now. The wide receiver needs to show up sooner than later. 

    2012 Bold Predictions: 59 catches, 1,010 receiving yards, seven touchdowns

The Fact That Frank Gore Won't Match His 2011 Numbers Isn't a Bad Thing

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    Frank Gore has been a dependable beast for the San Francisco 49ers for years now. 

    His 1,211 rushing yards gave his team's tough defense a breather when needed, but he won't have to do as much in 2012. 

    Thanks to the additions of Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James to the Niners' rushing game, Gore doesn't have to put the team on his back anymore. 

    The team also scored big by acquiring receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham this offseason, which has made the 49ers the favorite to come out of the NFC in 2012. 

    Gore will still be the No. 1 running back and make his mark on the stat sheet every week, but he won't get as many touches. 

    He'll take a trip to the Super Bowl any day over personal accolades. 

    2012 Bold Predictions: 4.1 YPC, 943 rushing yards, five touchdowns 

Tom Brady Won't Be the Tom Brady of 2011

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    New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has an impressive 5,235 passing yards in 2011, but that will be the biggest total of his career. 

    The Patriots were dependent on the pass in 2011, but will have a noticeable rushing attack this season because of a plethora of young backs. Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden and Jeff Demps will all get their chance in 2012, as the Pats will take a liking to their stable of horses. 

    Brady will still rack up the numbers, but to truly believe that 5,000 passing yards is a given is a mistake.

    Also, the Patriots offensive line isn't the same unit right now, which will lead to pressure on Brady.

     2012 Bold Predictions: 4,693 passing yards, 34 touchdowns

Victor Cruz Will Find It Difficult to Surpass 1,536 Receiving Yards in 2012

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    Victor Cruz was the biggest surprise in football last season as he salsa-danced his way to 1,536 yards and a Super Bowl. 

    This season will be a bit different because the New York Giants' No. 1 receiver, Hakeem Nicks, is currently injured and Cruz will be the main focus of the Giants' opponents this season. 

    The Giants will ride the momentum that the Vince Lombardi Trophy has given them this season, but don't depend on Cruz for nearly 100 yards per game.  

    This is not to say that Cruz will be a disappointment, but he won't match his 2011 production. 

    2012 Bold Predictions: 71 catches, 1,289 receiving yards, eight touchdowns

Matt Forte Isn't the Only Source of Offense in Chicago Anymore

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    There's no doubt that Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte is an offensive machine, but he's not the only threat anymore. 

    The Bears did a great job this offseason by acquiring fellow running back Michael Bush and wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. 

    Now Forte isn't the only go-to guy in 2012. 

    His production won't be as high as it has been in the past, but he should be happy with bigger numbers in the win column this season. 

    He's a viable threat both in the running and passing games, but his numbers will drop due to the fact that quarterback Jay Cutler has more than just one option this season. 

    2012 Bold Predictions: 4.2 YPC, 882 rushing yards, 42 catches, 345 receiving yards

Roddy White Is No Longer the No. 1 Receiver in Atlanta

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    Move over Roddy White, Julio Jones is now the best receiver for the Atlanta Falcons

    The Falcons rolled the dice by moving up in the 2011 NFL draft to select Jones, and he will show everyone why this season. 

    Moving out of the spotlight will be White, and he has been nothing but classy in accepting this reality. 

    The organization has to love the fact that White has deemed the team's ultimate success more important than his own. 

    Coming off of back-to-back 100-plus catch seasons, White won't top the century mark this season.

    Although he won't be as dominant in 2012, he'll still be a factor.

    2012 Bold Predictions: 77 catches, 1,058 receiving yards, eight touchdowns 

Maurice Jones-Drew Won't Lead the League in Rushing in 2012

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    The fact that Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew is holding out will make it hard for him to lead the league in rushing for a second straight season in 2012. 

    Besides the obvious hurdles it takes to overcome a holdout, the last time a running back led the league in rushing in back-to-back seasons was in 2006-07 from LaDainian Tomlinson.

    Now that the NFL favors the pass, the odds of MJD matching his 1,606 rushing yards from 2011 is doubtful. 

    The Jaguars should be improved in the passing game and backup running back Rashad Jennings is ready to make an impact this season after missing 2011 with a knee injury. 

    MJD will report to the Jaguars before Week 1 and play well, but he won't be tops in the league this season.

    2012 Bold Predictions: 4.4 YPC, 1,166 rushing yards, eight touchdowns 

Jordy Nelson Is Now the Focal Point of the Packers Offense

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    The Green Bay Packers finished the 2011 regular season with a 15-1 record thanks in part to a breakout season from wide receiver Jordy Nelson.

    Finishing with 1,263 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns, Nelson quietly became a star in 2011. 

    While he'll still put up solid numbers, he won't exceed his 2011 production this season. It is now Nelson, not teammate Greg Jennings, that opposing defenses will hone in on to stop. 

    Combined with the fact that the Packers recently signed running back Cedric Benson, giving them added depth on offense, fans shouldn't expect the same numbers from Nelson this year.

    Benson is coming off of three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, which means that he'll get plenty of carries in 2012. He may not reach 1,000 yards because of the prolific arm of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but he won't be too far under that mark.

    Nelson is good, but he now has the attention of the entire NFL. 

    2012 Bold Predictions: 57 catches, 1,101 receiving yards, 10 touchdowns 

Drew Brees Won't Make History This Season

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    New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees had the best season in NFL history last year with 5,476 passing yards. 

    He's a pure juggernaut on the football field, but those numbers won't be repeated in 2012. 

    Everybody knows that the Saints have gone through a difficult offseason. It may not affect the Saints as badly as once projected, but it doesn't help anything. 

    Another reason that he won't best his best season: It's not easy. Come on, he's one of the game's best quarterbacks, but it's not like what he did in 2011 is simple. 

    The Saints will also have a strengthened running game thanks to the trio of Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas. 

    While he won't topple his 2011 stats, fans shouldn't be disappointed in his numbers. 

    2012 Bold Predictions: 4,868 passing yards, 42 touchdowns 

Rob Gronkowski Will Fall Short of His 2011 Totals

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    How does Rob Gronkowski surpass his historic season of 2011? 

    He doesn't, at least not in 2012. 

    Gronkowski's numbers in 2011 were out of this world. He amassed 90 catches for 1,327 receiving yards and a whopping 17 touchdowns. 

    Yes, he appears unstoppable, but those numbers won't be beat this season.

    He appears to be recovering just fine after offseason ankle surgery, but he has yet to take the consistent beating that the NFL provides on a weekly basis. 

    Thanks to his outlandish personality, which may rub NFL defenders the wrong way, everybody will be gunning for him in 2012. 

    While he's still a must-have for any fantasy player, the same production from 2011 shouldn't be expected. 

    2012 Bold Predictions: 74 catches, 1,086 receiving yards, 13 touchdowns