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6 Players That Won’t Have 1,000 Yards This year

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Long before fantasy football became mainstream, the 1,000 yard benchmark was something of an exclusive club that signified a successful individual season for players. With fantasy football being so much about statistics, 1,000 yards naturally transferred over and became a general rule for beginners to determine which players were worthy of starting over a full season.

Here are six players we don’t anticipate reaching 1,000 yards even though much of the fantasy world is. While touchdowns are often what separate the good from the elite, it’s the yards total that often dictates which players are consistent enough to be worth drafting, and if you don’t have at least 1,000 yards, you are bound to let your fantasy owners down during the course of a season.

#6 Stevie Johnson

Over the last three seasons in Buffalo, Stevie Johnson has been the model for consistency as a third receiver in fantasy. He’s cleared 76 catches and the 1,000 yard mark in each season, with the difference between his best and worst season in that period being just 6 catches and 69 yards. His success, though, coincided with the arrival of Chan Gailey’s spread offense and developing strong chemistry with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Both are now gone.

Ability-wise, we can expect the same Stevie Johnson to show up, but the landscape surrounding him has changed entirely. Fitzpatrick was thoroughly mediocre in Buffalo and many called for his head, but it’s unlikely that Kevin Kolb or rookie E.J. Manuel will even match Fitzpatrick’s numbers. Additionally, the Bills’ new head coach preferred to heavily run the ball in college and has alluded to plans to continue that trend in the NFL with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson in tow.

Stevie Johnson won’t disappear entirely, just brace for a mild statistical hit with all the elements working against him this season. He was already just barely breaching 1,000 yards previously, it would be more reasonable to project him for 900 yards in 2013.

#5 BenJarvus Green-Ellis

Last offseason, the Bengals went out and signed BenJarvus Green-Ellis to replace Cedric Benson as their feature back. At the time, it seemed like a lateral move, with both runners being slow-footed big men who offer little in the passing game. Green-Ellis appeared to fill that role admirably, finishing with 1,094 yards rushing, good for 12th in the NFL.

After the season though, it was reported Cincinnati was not pleased with Green-Ellis’ lack of playmaking ability (who knew?) and sure enough took the first running back in this year’s draft with Giovani Bernard. Any time an organization, publicly or privately, voices concern over a player and then spends a high pick on a potential replacement, it’s not a good sign of things to come and fantasy owners have to be on alert.

For the time being, Green-Ellis should hold onto the starting job at least until the first few games of the season, but Bernard, who has been compared to LeSean McCoy and Ray Rice, will certainly see the field often. Realistically, the best-case scenario for Green-Ellis is he keeps majority share in the rotation and finishes with around 850 yards and some touchdowns in the redzone. Worst case, though, Bernard takes over and Green-Ellis ends up with half those numbers.

#4 DeSean Jackson

Prior to landing on injured reserve last season, DeSean Jackson had never finished with fewer than 912 yards (his rookie season), and averaged a shade over 1,000 per year, not including his rushing stats which are often under-appreciated in fantasy. All reports suggest Jackson is fully healthy now, but with Andy Reid out of town and Chip Kelly replacing him, Jackson’s fantasy stock faces scrutiny.

Reid was notoriously pass-happy during his era in Philadelphia, and to that Jackson owes much of his success. Reid was often aggressive in play-calling and caught defenses sleeping with deep shots to Jackson, sometimes on the very first play from scrimmage in games. The major concern with Jackson is that his new coach will not be so aggressive passing the ball. There are still mysteries about what Kelly’s NFL offense will look like, but the coach ran the ball more than just about anyone else during his last stop in college and inherits two young and talented running backs in LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown. Popular speculation is that the Eagles will ride that duo heavily and limit passing opportunities with their shaky quarterback play, whether it be Michael Vick or Nick Foles. Obviously this conception, if true, hurts Jackson’s chances of reaching his usual production.

That’s not the only concern with Jackson. Jackson is good-to-go for now, but has not played a full slate of games since his rookie season due to various ailments. Jackson is one of the frailest receivers in the league and health is always a risk. 14 or 15 games in a run-first offense, Jackson may be capped at about 900 yards this season.

#3 Mike Wallace

Mike Wallace’s spectacular campaigns in 2010 and 2011 are fresh enough in memory that it’s easy to forget he actually did not have 1,000 yards in 2012. He didn’t even have 900, nor 850. The exact number: 836. It’s true, Wallace did miss a game, and his quarterback missed several. However, the real root of such a disappointing season was a new offense that did not emphasize Wallace’s deep ball talents.

After averaging close to 19 yards a catch over his first three seasons, Wallace was thrust into more of a short passing-game system where he steeply dropped to 13.1 yards per catch. Now, Wallace will be playing in the Dolphins’ West Coast system that is akin to the Packers’ and has not historically pushed the ball downfield often. He’ll also be playing with a new quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, who promises, at least for now, to be a clear downgrade from Ben Roethlisberger. With those things in mind, it’s hard to picture things getting significantly better for Wallace compared to last year.

We suppose the counter-argument is that Miami knows the kind of player they bought and will plan to accentuate his skills, especially since they let go of possession receiver Davone Bess, but we’ve seen countless times in free agency that teams will overlook schematical fit to fill an area of desperate need with a star name. We fear that’s how this story will turn out, and see Mike Wallace more in the 900 yard range for 2013.

#2 Darren McFadden

Darren McFadden is one of those tantalizing players that was a tremendously talented and accomplished college player, was drafted highly into the NFL with lofty expectations, has flashed rare ability now in the big league, but just can’t stay on the field. This leads to the (empty) promise every year in fantasy “Maybe this is the year he stays healthy!” Yeah, probably not.

It doesn’t feel that long ago, but this will actually be McFadden’s sixth NFL season. There is enough track record here to say that he no longer deserves the benefit of doubt and it should be assumed he will not stay healthy. McFadden averages 11 games played per season with his career-high being 13. He has hit the 1,000 yard mark just once in four tries as a starter. Yet, after all this, McFadden is still being pegged as a top 20 running back in drafts.

If we must take a leap of faith on one of our starting backs, we’d much rather hitch our wagon on the opportunity of guys like Lamar Miller or David Wilson than the health of Darren McFadden. 1,000 yards for McFadden would be an upset, and depending on the exact number of games he misses, he may not even come close.

#1 Wes Welker

Everyone is so accustomed to Wes Welker averaging 112 catches for 1,243 yards per season in New England with Tom Brady, that they are expecting similar magic when it’s Peyton Manning pulling the trigger in Denver. The problem is Welker was the driving force of a Patriots system that was either bare at talent in the backfield or outside the numbers during his stay, leading to Brady force-feeding the slot man at a ridiculous rate to move the chains — Welker helped masked other deficiencies in the Patriots offense.

This will no longer be the case for Welker, as the Broncos have two budding stars out wide in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, who combined for 2498 yards and 23 scores a year ago. Welker will likely take a small bite out of that total, but Thomas and Decker should remain highly productive, leaving Welker fighting for scraps. While it’s true that Welker put up good numbers alongside Randy Moss during their tenure together, Moss was almost exclusively a deep threat and redzone target for the team, and for that reason had practically no impact on what Welker provided to the offense. With Thomas and Decker on the outside, we’ve got quite a different story that goes beyond just “more talent,” and into the realm of overlapping utility. And no, Peyton is not simply going to start throwing more to make sure Welker gets his numbers.

We have occasionally seen an offense get three receivers to the 1K mark, most recently Kurt Warner’s Cardinals in ’08, we’re just not betting on it happening here. Playing the odds, one part of this trio will miss out, and barring injury, it’s probably the guy that just arrived. Don’t overdraft on name value, set your Welker expectations closer to 900-950 yards.

Who do YOU think will fall short of 1,000 yards in 2013?

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