For NFL veterans, the 2015 NFL Draft can be the equivalent of a man in a hooded robe waiting to take older players to the afterlife.
Sometimes, a rookie can start to edge a veteran out of Fantasy Football relevancy.
But oftentimes, age and bad circumstances are the major culprit of a veteran’s decline in Fantasy Football production.
We’re here to help you prepare for 2015 Fantasy Football drafts.
Let’s take a look at who is on their way out of Fantasy Football relevancy.
NFL Veterans in Trouble
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Cutler doesn’t face any immediate competition to start the season, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t find a comfy spot on the bench at some point during 2015. In regards to Cutler starting the season as the field general, Head Coach John Fox recently stated that “We have to start the race with some kind of lineup, and we have not discussed that in depth.” As Michael Wright’s article states, Cutler has gone through four offensive coordinators, two head coaches and two general managers in six seasons, which helps to account for some of Cutler’s woes throughout the years.
While the depth chart for the Bears is relatively thin, Cutler was still benched in favor of Jimmy Clausen in Week 16 of the 2014 season. It’s unlikely that the Bears will land a franchise quarterback in this draft, and Fox is known for favoring veterans over less experienced players. Marcus Mariota did visit the Bears, but it’s standard for teams to work out players that it might not even draft just to get a look at them. Having said that, new general manager Ryan Pace was essentially stuck with Cutler, and while we may not see immediate changes, Cutlers’ career looks a little less bright each day.
Insider Buzz: Chicago Bears eyeing Marcus Mariota, hoping Titans will take Jay Cutler http://t.co/Hv5CTrRFHO
— Bleacher Report NFL (@BR_NFL) April 6, 2015
Josh McCown, Cleveland Browns
After backing up Cutler in Chicago, McCown looked absolutely abysmal as the starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He wasn’t going to be an exciting option in Cleveland, but it already looks like he won’t even win the starting quarterback job. From rumors of interest in Sam Bradford, to trying to trade up for Mariota, the Browns are obviously still trying to find their franchise quarterback. There is also that Johnny Manziel guy hanging around, so this could be the last season McCown would receive any meaningful playing time.
Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles
With the addition of DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews, I have no idea where Sproles will fit into the offense. Sproles is smaller than Mathews and Murray, and Murray and Mathews are also pass-catching backs. Chip Kelly said he wanted to get the 31-year old back onto the field more in 2015, but that doesn’t seem feasible with all of the talent currently at the position. Sproles finished as the 27th-highest scoring back in 2014, and I think he will have a hard time making it into the top 30 with Murray and Mathews now on the team. Sproles is one of the NFL veterans who could be in big trouble this for season.
Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills
Even with injuries and C.J. Spiller taking away carries over the last few years, the 34-year old Jackson just kept chugging along to Fantasy relevance almost every season. Rex Ryan loves to run the ball, which is promising for the veteran back, but LeSean McCoy will be running the show. Jackson hauled in 501 receiving yards in 2014, which allowed him to finish with 1,000 all purpose yards, but most of those receptions will now go to McCoy. Bryce Brown and Anthony “Boobie” Dixion are still on the roster as well, so this may be the end of the road for Jackson’s Fantasy Football relevance.
Bills surgeries this offseason: Carpenter, Dixon, Gilmore, Gragg, Hogan, Jackson, McKelvin, Watkins, A. Williams, Chris Williams
— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) April 6, 2015
Mike Wallace, Minnesota Vikings
In terms of competition, Wallace may have his hands full. Even though he didn’t have the explosive seasons with the Dolphins that he did in Pittsburgh, Wallace still recorded three seasons of 800 or more receiving yards and two seasons of eight or more touchdowns. While it may appear that the 28-year old receiver is a nice fit for Mike Zimmer’s offense, Wallace could still face barriers to having a successful Fantasy Football season.
He may be an additional weapon for Teddy Bridgewater, but that doesn’t mean the former Dolphins’ receiver will see enough looks to post productive Fantasy totals. With the emergence of Charles Johnson, a healthy Kyle Rudolph and the potential for a new receiver to join the Vikings from the 2015 NFL Draft, Wallace could see a real decline in production. Also, the rushing attack will take priority if Adrian Peterson returns to the team. I think Wallace could have a good football season, just not a good Fantasy Football season.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
Fitzgerald is currently an eighth-round pick in mock drafts, so I think the Fantasy Football community is well aware of Fitzgerald’s decline.
2011 was the last time we saw a 1,000-yard season from the 31-year old veteran, and with new competition, it doesn’t appear things will get much better for Fitz. Although Fitzgerald led the team in receptions, he finished with fewer receiving yards than Michael Floyd, and finished with fewer touchdowns on as many total targets as John Brown. Andre Ellington also saw a nice chunk of work in the passing attack, with 46 receptions for 395 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns. Fitzgerald may be able to improve on his two touchdowns from this past season, but it’s doubtful he will be a major threat moving forward for the Cardinals’ offense.
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
In terms of receiving yards, Witten posted his lowest totals since his 2003 rookie season. At 6’6″, backup tight end Gavin Escobar is an impressive target who will most likely inherit the reins upon Witten’s retirement. Despite only recording nine receptions, four of those receptions were hauled in for touchdowns. Witten, on the other hand, caught five touchdown passes.
Even if Dallas selects a running back in the 2015 NFL Draft, it will be hard for the Cowboys to replicate Murray’s 450 touches. Tony Romo will most likely need to throw more, which will create a few more opportunities for a player like Escobar. It will also place more stress on Witten to protect Romo, so it will be important to allow the 32-year old to take a few plays off so he won’t wear down.
I’m not solely placing a potential decrease in Witten’s production on Escobar’s shoulders however, as Witten’s age is a concern for Fantasy Football players. In terms of his fantasy football success, Witten is an NFL veteran headed for a decline.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
Of all the NFL veterans who in trouble for the 2015 Fantasy Football season, Walker ranks high on the list.
— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) April 1, 2015
This isn’t a knock on his talent, as the 30-year-old tight end posted the best receiving totals of his career in 2014. What I’m more concerned with is Zach Mettenberger leading the offense, as Walker’s production fluctuated wildly under his lead. The Titans finished the season with only two wins, and the offense ranked 22nd in terms of passing yards. Even with a stellar 2015 NFL Draft, it will still take time for the Titans to rebuild, and inconsistent quarterback play will bring down Walker’s numbers in 2015.
Jay Cutler image courtesy of Mike Morbeck
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