Fantasy Football RegressionWith the new season just mere hours away, last minute draft preparation goes into overdrive. Past performance can often be a good way of indicating future success, but don’t just expect the points players got in 2015 to magically make it on to your fantasy squad. Here are five studs from last season that, for one reason or another, will not be as successful this time around.
Doug Martin RB (2015 RB3)
After flattering to deceive since his superb rookie season in 2012, Martin enjoyed a return to relevance last season. His 1402 rushing yards were second only to Adrian Peterson, while his 4.9 yards per carry average was the best of any running back with at least 100 carries. It also made him the first Buccaneers back to post at least two 1400+ yard rushing seasons. His reward for these endeavours is an average draft position of RB11 , right at the end of the second round. But with the team set to firmly put Jameis Winston in the driving seat of the offense, and emphasise the passing game, Martin could lose snaps to fellow back Charles Sims. While Sims is not the equal of Martin as a rusher, he is a superior pass catcher. With the Buccaneers seeing the joint 5th lowest projected win total in Vegas, game script could see Martin banished to the side lines for valuable snaps. I’m not calling him a bust, merely someone for whom expectations should be tempered.
Deangelo Williams RB (2015 RB4)
Williams was able to deliver a top notch season last year in relief of the suspended, then injured, Le’Veon Bell. His 11 rushing touchdowns were his most in a single season since he found the endzone 18 times in 2008, while his 907 rushing yards were his most 2009 (1117). However, it would be lunacy to expect similar results this time around. Even though Bell is continuing his career trick of missing the first few weeks, the Pittsburgh backfield belongs to Bell. When he returns, this will not be a time-share situation. In 2015, when Bell was available Williams carried the ball on average less than four times a game against the nearly 18 attempts he enjoyed when Bell wasn’t around. He was also ignored in the passing game, seeing one target per game with Bell in the backfield and more than four when he ruled the roost. Williams will continue to be a decent handcuff in Bell’s absence, but he will offer very little value when the Bell tolls.
Chris Ivory RB (2015 RB8)
It all came up Ivory with the Jets in 2015, with the former Saint posting career highs in games started (14), rushing attempts (247), yards (1070) and rushing scores (seven). These numbers helped him in free agency, as he earned a five year, $32m contract with the Jaguars. This new home brings new problems, from a fantasy point of view. T.J. Yeldon will be in the same backfield, and while he must bow to Ivory in terms of red zone efficiency (six of Ivory’s scores came from inside the opposition 20 yard line, while Yeldon scored just once on 63 attempts) Ivory is nowhere near the pass catcher that Yeldon is. Yeldon converted 46 targets in 36 receptions for 279 yards (one touchdown) last season, while Ivory has 53 receptions in six seasons as a pro. The division of duties makes selecting either of these Jags backs something of a lottery, while the very real possibility exists that Ivory will miss time due to injury. He has only played in all 16 games in a season once since debuting in 2010.
Doug Baldwin WR (2015 WR7)
Despite being a big part of the Seahawks offense since signing for the team as an undrafted free agent back in 2011 (thanks in no small part to a personal letter from GM John Schenider ), Baldwin had offered very little from a fantasy point of view. After all, from 2012 to 2014, the Seahawks had finished 1st 2nd and 2nd in rushing attempts, and 32nd 3st and 32nd in pass attempts. While this didn’t change dramatically in 2015 (they raised themselves up to 28th in passing tries), they and Baldwin suddenly became more efficient in their usage. After 2757 receiving yards in his first four season, with 15 touchdowns, Baldwin suddenly dropped 1069 yards with 14 touchdowns. He, like Ivory, was rewarded with a big contract after these deeds. While he will undoubtedly remain Russell Wilson’s top target in 2016, it is unwise to expect a repeat of those touchdown numbers. As evinced by their rushing history, this is still a team that will look to run the ball at least as often as they throw it, and with other weapons like the electric Tyler Lockett and the potential return of Jimmy Graham to compete with, it is highly unlikely that another WR1 season awaits Baldwin in 2016
Larry Fitzgerald WR (2015 WR10)
Future Canton resident Larry Fitzgerald reminded everyone just how great a player he has been in 2015, with a career-high in catches (109) helping him to his first 1000+ yard season since 2011. The leader of the Cardinals offense for so long, his conversion to the slot, allied to his excellence as a blocker, saw him retain relevancy even at an age where some wide receivers are content to merely tweet that they could “still do a job”. But his season was one of two parts, the second of which carries a worrying message heading into 2016. Up to Week 11, he was averaging nearly ten targets a game, with over seven receptions and 92 yards. From Week 12 onwards (when rookie running back David Johnson entered the starting lineup) these numbers dropped to eight targets, six receptions and just 48 receiving yards. Projected over a full season, this would mean a 771-yard campaign from 96 receptions and five scores. Decent in a PPR league, but not really challenging top flight WR numbers in fantasy.