Some people believe in the sophomore slump while others don’t. A sophomore slump can be defined more than one way, just depends on who your talking to. My version of a sophomore slump isn’t where a second year player does so bad that you wouldn’t even want him on your fantasy football roster.
Mine is where the sophomore gets predicted to do better due to his low performance he had in his rookie year, or the same if not better if he had a great rookie season. Would I draft someone who I’m expecting to have a slump? Sure, if I could get them for the right price in the later rounds of a draft.
For example, last season San Diego Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen had 1046 yards and eight touchdowns. Does he have the skill set to put those kind of numbers up again in 2014? Yea, but with quarterback Phillip Rivers being a guy that is known for spreading the ball around it is unlikely he will reach those numbers again. Not saying it won’t happen but just be cautious setting the bar that high for a second year player.
Think of it this way, when a rookie plays their isn’t much tape to go off to slow him down. You can go off college tape but the NFL is so much faster that odds are it will help you very little. Now teams have had a whole off-season to study tape on these players and will be ready to slow them down.
I’ll start with my fifth ranked player which I think has the least chance of going into a major sophomore slump and work my way to number one, the greatest chance for a sophomore slump.
#5 Deandre Hopkins, WR, HOU
Deandre Hopkins is a very talented second year receiver, and has the chance to have a big year depending on two scenarios. One, Pro-Bowl running back Arian Foster stays healthy and opens up the passing game for the Houston Texans. Two, Ryan Fitzpatrick finds out quick that Hopkins can make him look like an above average quarterback if he gets him the ball. If both those scenarios can pull through, I expect Hopkins to have more yards than the 802 he put up last year and more than the two touchdowns he scored. The team doesn’t have backup Ben Tate anymore to keep them going if Foster goes down again, and Fitzpatrick, according to ESPN.com, has thrown an interception on 3.4% of passes since 2008, which is tied for second worse among qualified quarterbacks. That doesn’t bode well for the passing game of the Texans if the opposing defense doesn’t have to worry about a run game. I have him ranked 38 in my 2014 Fantasy Preseason Rankings. I would still draft Hopkins somewhere between rounds 10 and 13, no earlier!
#4 Tavon Austin, WR, STL
Tavon Austin had 418 yards receiving last season and 138 of those yards came in week 14 on the road against the Indianapolis Colts. Meaning Austin only averaged 18.6 yards per game over the other 15 games. He had two games where he scored two touchdowns but those where his only touchdowns of the year, besides one rushing touchdown. I’m not saying that Austin is going to have a worse year than last, just think his production won’t increase that much. I believe his yardage and touchdowns will go up this year but not drastically, maybe 600 yards and 6 touchdowns. Until Austin can prove to me that he is consistent on a week-to-week basis, I’m staying away from him unless he is still there at the end of the draft. Odds are though, someone is going to reach and take him five or six rounds earlier than need be.
#3 Jordan Reed, TE, WAS
I have two big questions with the Washington Redskins Jordan Reed. Can he stay healthy without any lingering concussion issues that kept him out the last seven games of last season? Will he get enough attention with the receiving corp the Redskins will put on the field this season? The Redskins have a new head coach in Jay Gruden and his offenses are knew for passing down field a lot. That is good news for Reed, the only problem is the guys going down field will be Deshawn Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Andre Robert. I have a feeling Reed will mostly get Robert Griffin III dump off passes. Last year in Gruden’s offense in Cincinnati, Tyler Eifert had 445 yards and just two touchdowns and Jermaine Gresham had 458 yards and 4 touchdowns. There is a very good chance Reed comes out and scores eight touchdowns this year with 900 yards, but don’t expect it unless injuries start to plague the Washington wide receivers. If Reed is still sitting in your green room around the thirteenth round of your draft, take him. There is plenty of other tight ends out there this year if you miss on him.
#2 Zac Stacy, RB, STL
With the 75th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams select Tre Mason. I don’t know if that was a curve ball for you but it sure was for me. Last year Zac Stacy ran for 973 yards and seven touchdowns, also getting a touchdown and 141 yards through the air. So why draft a running back in the third round? I don’t know but I do know that mason will be on the field this year with the Rams drafting him that high. Stacy should still get the ball most of the time if not all the time. We just don’t know. The Rams have placed Mason fourth on the depth chart to start camp, but is expected to take the back-up job. Be very cautious when drafting Zac Stacy, especially within the first six rounds. If you can steal him after that go for it. Stacy might be the biggest hit or miss this season just due to the Rams 2014 draft. I have Stacy ranked 18 now but as mason moves up the depth chart, Stacy will move down in the rankings.
#1 Robert Woods, WR, BUF
I strongly believe Buffalo Bills wide receiver Robert Woods will have the worst 2014 Sophomore slump! The Bills got Mike Williams from Tampa Bay this off-season, and drafted Sammy Watkins in this years draft. I don’t see Woods even coming close to bettering his stats from last year. Now he did only have 587 yards and three touchdowns but he is going to be taking a back seat to Watkins and should still get more catches than Williams. But the quarterback situation in Buffalo needs to gain some stability before I would say Woods goes over 500 yards again. With new additions at wide receiver it is going to take away catches as the Bills will be able to spread the ball out more this year than in years past. I don’t draft Woods at all this season, maybe pick him up along the way if you run into needing a bye week replacement but that’s it.
Featured image via (CBSSports.com)