Sometimes the decline is gradual. Sometimes there is a rapid and pronounced drop-off. When building your roster you may be able to withstand a player that doesn’t quite reach the expectation that was had at the beginning of the season. What we have to avoid is veterans about to fall off the cliff.
The goal: “Trade a player a year too early rather than a year too late.” Branch Rickey
NFL players take a beating every week and they have been taking that beating ever since they were kids. When asked what it feels like to get tackled, an NFL player once explained it this way.
“Run as fast as you can. Then run into a concrete wall.”
Even Tom Brady eventually reached a point where it didn’t make sense to keep playing the game he loved.
5 Veteran Players About to Fall Off a Cliff
Aaron Rodgers – QB – Jets
I can’t remember back far enough to come up with a year that Rodgers didn’t talk about retirement. He is now 39 years old. Rodgers has been a starting QB since 2008.
If you look at the list of quarterbacks that have been sacked the most you find Brady at No. 1 with 565. He had to play 335 games to rack up that number. No. 2 on the list is Ben Roethlisberger with 554 sacks in 249 games. The quarterback sacked third most in the history of the NFL is Rodgers at 530 times in 230 games. He has played every game for the last five years. That is a lot of wear and tear.
Over the last three years, we have seen that gradual decline I talked about. His completion percentages were70.7, 68.9, and last year 64.6. The average pass in the previous three years was 8.2, 7.7, and 6.8. His interceptions jumped from four in 2021 to 12 in 2022. Rodgers doubled the number of fumbles going from four to three, and then eight last year.
This year he will play in New York behind a line that PFF ranks 23rd. The Packers, the team he left, rank eighth.
With the steady decline in production, the new team, and the new city, this could turn really bad, really fast.
Mathew Stafford – QB -Rams
Compared to Rodgers, Stafford is young. He is only 35 years old. However, he has missed more games. Last spring he missed off-season workouts with an elbow injury. If you look at the Draft Sharks injury history page it’s frightening. Just for 2022, he had an injury to his toe, more elbow problems, two concussions, and a spinal cord contusion. This veteran isn’t holding up very well.
The O-Line that will be protecting him is ranked 28th by PFF.
He does have Cooper Kupp to throw to but that is about it. The backfield has a running back in Cam Akers that got benched last year.
There are just too many red flags for me. With injury issues and his age, I see a quick decline into Fantasy irrelevancy.
Adam Thielen – WR – Panthers
Last year Thielen was targeted over 100 times in a really good offense in Minnesota and could only total 716 yards. He fell from 10 touchdowns in 2021 to only 6. He will be 33 years old when the season starts.
This year he will be with a new team, a rookie QB, and a whole new coaching staff. Thielen will be part of a receiving core that also has D. J. Chark and second-round draft choice Jonathan Mingo. Both of those receivers have some serious upside, especially Mingo.
I can see him moving closer to the edge of the cliff each week. I can envision Thielen as the veteran starter that the rookie QB relies on to start the season. As the season progresses, I can also see the other two receivers taking over, turning him from a WR1 to a WR3 for the Panthers.
Alvin Kamara – RB -Saints
There is that magic age of 27 again. His Fantasy ranking in 2020 was RB1, in 2021 he was RB11, and last year RB20.
This year the Saints signed Jamaal Williams. Williams scored 17 TDs and ran for over 1,000 yards last year while sharing the backfield with D’Andre Swift. Kamara only had 2 touchdowns in 15 games. As recently as 2020 Kamara had 21 TDs. Both are veterans but only one has seen a decline.
This year could be even worse. If Kamara is suspended for any length of time, Williams could take over the RB1 spot for the Saints and not give it back.
We could see the RB1 from a couple of years ago becoming waiver-wire material midway into the season.
Derrick Henry – Titans
Henry is now 29 years old and has had the most carries of anyone in the NFL over the last four years. I know we have been saying he can’t keep up this pace for a while now but I sincerely think this has got to be the year he falls off the cliff.
I wrote this in my workload concern article:
In 2019 and 2020 he averaged 5.1 and 5.4 yards per carry. In the last two years, he averaged 4.3 and 4.4 yards per carry. Another troubling stat is that he had more fumbles last year than at any time in his career.
So the trend downward has started.
This is a bad offense. The QB will either be the pedestrian Tannehill or the untested rookie Will Levis. Treylon Burks is a nice receiver but after him, there isn’t much to get excited about. For this team to do anything they will have to give the ball to Henry. And then give it to him again. The problem with that game plan is the offensive line just keeps getting worse. PFF has them ranked dead last in their projections for this year. He may surprise us again but I think this veteran is another one of those about to fall off the cliff.
For more great rankings and analysis, make sure to check out our 2023 Fantasy Football Draft Kit!
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— Lisa Ann (@thereallisaann) May 6, 2023