Sophomore Slump or Surge? Part 1

I wanted to take a quick look at last year’s rookie class to see who may be in line for a sophomore slump, or inversely, ready for a strong second season.  These slumps and surges could be a result of circumstance, injury or simply a matter of a player needing a year to adapt to the NFL game after showing some promise as a rookie.  I will start with a handful of players I strongly believe will not be able to match last year’s production.

SLUMPERS:

Robert Griffin III – RG3 had a magical first season, taking the NFL by storm.  I have him on this list because I worry about the knee and his health for the season.  In addition, teams should be better able to adjust to the Redskins offense this season, especially if RG3 cannot run as much or as well.  I like Pierre Garcon and Fred Davis and there are some other solid players, but if teams can stack the box against Alfred Morris and the run game, RG3 might not have places to throw the ball.

Alfred Morris – While RG3 was expected to make an impact in the NFL last year, Alfred Morris literally came from nowhere (Florida Atlantic more specifically) to run for over 1600 yards and 13 scores.  As stated above, teams may be better able to defend the Skins top ranked rushing attack this season, particularly if RG3 is not 100%.  Add to this that Morris had only 11 receptions last season and a mere 30 in his 4 year college career, and he may have to leave the field in passing situations.  I really see no way he replicates his numbers from last season.

Blair Walsh – It might seem weird to pick on a kicker but Walsh had an outstanding season last year and I don’t think he can copy that same success this year.  Walsh went 35 for 38 on field goal attempts, including 10 for 10 from beyond 50.  Both his number of field goal attempts and his percentage of kicks converted are a bit on the high side and should see a regression this season.  In addition, the Vikings added Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson to the offense in an attempt to score more touchdowns not more field goals.  Another thing that factors into my inclusion of Walsh on this list is his erratic tendencies while in college.  At Georgia his field goal completion by season was 65%, 90%, 87% and then only 60% as a senior.

Justin Blackmon – Blackmon is suspended 4 games.  While he has tremendous talent and an improved situation around him, missing 1/4 of the season is no way to increase your standing.  865 yards and 5 touchdowns were the numbers from last year.  Blackmon absolutely could do it, he has the talent, but 72 receiving yards per game for him, from a team that only averaged 217 passing yards per game last season will be very hard.

Doug Martin – I hope I am wrong on this one for fantasy football purposes, but the Muscle Hamster touched the ball nearly 370 times for almost 2000 total yards as a rookie, after never seeing as many as 300 touches in a college season.  Some could say he has plenty of tread left on the tires but others could say that is a heavy jump in usage, one that he may not be able to handle for a second full season.  766 of Martin’s yards and 6 of his 12 touchdowns came in a 4 game mid-season surge against Vikings, Raiders, Chargers and Panthers and he followed that with a 4 game stretch in which he only totaled 250 rushing yards (128 of which came against the hapless Eagles).  While I think Martin is a very talented player, between the wear and tear of the NFL, the lack of another talented back to help ease the load, and the inconsistent nature of Josh Freeman and the rest of the Buccaneers offense, I just do not know that he can pile up another 2000 yards of offense.

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