The 2017 NFL regular season is fast approaching. With that in mind, here’s a look at 10 players who won’t be able to duplicate their success from 2016 this season. The following guys are all set to regress this year.
10. Sam Bradford, QB, Minnesota Vikings
Sam Bradford spent his first season with the Vikings surprising most with an efficient showing. The former No. 1 overall pick threw for 3,877 yards with 20 touchdowns and five interceptions. His passer rating of 99.3 was a career-high, as was his Total QBR of 63.0.
Bradford’s numbers will likely decline as the Vikings use the running game with Dalvin Cook this year. Meanwhile, the receiving corps didn’t improve at all, as Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen remain the team’s top targets. A regression is almost certain for Bradford, who has never had back-to-back solid seasons.
9. Casey Hayward, CB, Los Angeles Chargers
After arriving in San Diego as a free agent last offseason, Casey Hayward blew up. He led the NFL with seven interceptions and was named Second-team All-Pro and went to his first Pro Bowl. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely he’ll repeat that performance.
Hayward played far above his ability last season and a regression to the mean is highly likely. He’ll turn 28 in September and his four seasons in Green Bay showed us the kind of player he is.
8. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Evans had his best season as a pro in 2016, posting career-highs in receptions (96), yards (1,321) and tied a career-best with 12 touchdowns. Quarterback Jameis Winston and Evans have become a very solid young pass-catch tandem.
But in 2017, expect Evans’ production to drop. With tight end O.J. Howard and DeSean Jackson on board, Evans will almost certainly see fewer touches. Plus, he’s solidified himself as a No. 1 receiver now and will see far more attention from defenses.
7. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
T.Y. Hilton had a career-year in 2016, he posted career-bests in receptions (91) and yards (1,448). Like Evans, he became a solid No. 1 wideout for Andrew Luck. Unfortunately Luck may not be around for a while this year.
The Colts have not stated whether or not Luck will be ready for the start of the season after offseason shoulder surgery. Without him, Hilton’s numbers will take a massive hit. Additionally, this is an offense without a ton of help for Luck and Hilton. Frank Gore is the running back, and Donte Moncrief is the No. 2 wideout. Hilton is going to face a ton of pressure from opponents.
6. Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott had a charmed season as a rookie in 2016 and was in the conversation for the MVP award at the end of the year. He completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 3,667 yards, with 23 touchdowns and just four interceptions, while adding six rushing touchdowns. But don’t expect the 24-year-old to repeat those results.
The Cowboys are likely to regress as a team in 2017 (see: No. 1) and that will hurt Prescott. Dez Bryant is a prodigious talent but only had 50 receptions on 97 targets last season, Terrence Williams has always been unreliable and Cole Beasley is unlikely to repeat his 75-reception performance from 2016. Additionally, Dallas’ defense took a big hit in free agency, which will put far more pressure on the offense.
Other than his offensive line, Prescott’s supporting cast isn’t as good as it looked last season. Defenses will attack him differently this year and he’ll have to adjust. It won’t be easy to recreate his phenomenal rookie season.