Not every player is destined for success as the regular start of the 2017 NFL season approaches. By the end of the year some players will have gone bust. It is an unfortunate, but undeniable fact.
There will be some first-round rookie picks who shined last year in college that find life in the NFL is much more challenging. On the opposite of the age spectrum, some veterans are sure to run face first into Father Time.
There are some burning questions we have, as well. How will the Seattle Seahawks’ newest running back fare? Which player will be most impacted by Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension?
The following players could all go bust in 2017.
Arizona Cardinals: Carson Palmer, quarterback
Palmer, 37, is the third-oldest active quarterback in the league. Unfortunately, he isn’t exactly aging like 40 year-old New England Patriots wonder, Tom Brady. Palmer achieved a 104.6 quarterback rating in 2015 but took a nose dive down to 87.2 last year. He also threw for just 26 touchdowns compared to his career-high 35 accomplished in 2015. The Cards would prefer another 2015-type season out of Palmer. But things could easily keep going south.
Atlanta Falcons: Takkarist McKinley, defensive end
Falcons first-round rookie pick, McKinley underwent shoulder surgery after the Combine. He recovered in time to begin training camp with his team, which was not the original prognosis. The UCLA product tallied 10 sacks in his final college season, ranking No. 3 in the Pac-12. Looking to build on that, McKinley has the bold expectation that he will surpass No. 1 pick, Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, in sacks this year. Lofty expectations sometimes mean a precipitous tumble is in the works.
Baltimore Ravens: Terrell Suggs, linebacker
Suggs is not getting any younger and turns 35 in October. He had offseason surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow, per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. This was following a January surgery to repair torn biceps. The banged up linebacker managed to play in 15 games last year despite the injuries. But eventually, injuries and/or Father Time will get the better of Suggs, who is entering his 15th season as a pro.
Buffalo Bills: Jordan Matthews, wide receiver
We are going to target the elephant in the room here. Matthews was traded to the Bills on Friday where perhaps he will discover some newfound success. In his three seasons playing with the Philadelphia Eagles, Matthews failed to cross the 1000-plus yard threshold once. He scored eight touchdowns his first two years and only managed three in 2016. A fresh slate might be just what the doctor ordered for Matthews to revamp his career. But, Matthews curiously makes for the third slot receiver Buffalo has on the roster alongside veteran Anquan Boldin and rookie Zay Jones and could be the odd man out.
Carolina Panthers: Jonathan Stewart, running back
We saw a splash of Stewart’s dynamic rookie teammate, Christian McCaffrey, in the Panthers’ first preseason game. And we liked what we saw. McCaffrey was lightning fast, tallying 33 rushing yards on seven attempts. McCaffrey’s presence on offense is bound to phase out the 30-year old Stewart, despite the Panthers’ commitment to keep him involved. We don’t envision Stewart scoring anywhere near the nine touchdowns he managed in 2016.
Chicago Bears: Kevin White, wide receiver
At this point, White is a bust until he can prove otherwise. The Bears spent a seventh overall pick on White in 2015, only to see him miss his entire rookie season and play in just four games in 2016. He caught just 19-of-36 targets for 187 yards and zero touchdowns. Health issues have plagued White, which are not his fault. But, it was reported by Rich Campbell of The Chicago Tribune that the team had White watch his West Virginia highlights to help remind him of the dynamic player he is. That’s not a good sign.
Cincinnati Bengals: Adam Jones, cornerback
This feisty corner, who turns 34 in September, will open the season serving a one-game suspension. Jones’ production was down in 2016 when he tallied just one interception and defended seven passes, ranking him 113th at his position according to Pro Football Focus. He also saw reduced role in his punt and kick returns in 2016. We sense an even further decline Jones’ production this year.
Cleveland Browns: Joe Haden, cornerback
Are Haden’s Pro-Bowl days are behind him? The 28-year-old corner underwent groin surgery in April but has since said he “feels healthy,” according to Browns beat writer Nate Ulrich. His struggles in 2016 were noticeable as he played through the injury. Haden also missed 11 games the previous year. If he is as healthy as he claims, Haden will have some work cut out for him to prove he’s a top corner.
Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott, quarterback
What goes up oftentimes comes down. Prescott was nothing but brilliant in his rookie season, establishing a 104.9 quarterback rating after passing for 3,667 yards, scoring 29 total touchdowns and tossing only four interceptions. He could continue with this run of success, but the breaking news of running back Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension is a big factor here. The Cowboys are a run-first team. Prescott and Elliott won’t play together until Week 8 following the team’s Week 6 bye. Do the math.
Denver Broncos: Devontae Booker, running back
Many might have expected us to list Jamaal Charles here. But if Charles returns to his Pro-Bowl caliber playing self, Booker will be the odd man out. Running back C.J. Anderson is already ahead of the game after having a healthy training camp. Meanwhile, Booker is losing traction while he recovers from a July wrist surgery. Booker was expected to have a breakout rookie year, but that didn’t happen. He’s in danger of becoming irrelevant in 2017.
Detroit Lions: Ameer Abdullah, running back
Abdullah is another young running back in danger of donning a bust label. It is unfortunate, because there is so much upside to his potential. The former Nebraska product averaged 5.3 yards per carry in the first two games he played in 2016. Then he hurt his foot and never returned. Abdullah needs a healthy preseason and standout performances ahead of Theo Riddick and Zach Zenner to gain a leg up this fall.
Green Bay Packers: Davante Adams, wide receiver
Sorry to rain on the parades of those targeting Adams in fantasy football, but Adams could go bust in 2017. The fourth-year receiver is not likely to tally those dozen touchdowns he put on the stat sheet last year. Not with so many talented pass-catchers, including new tight end, Martellus Bennett, eager for Aaron Rodgers’ attention. Plus, the Packers want to see fellow wideout Randall Cobb receive more touches, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.
Houston Texans: Lamar Miller, running back
Miller faces the possibility of fading out of the center of Houston’s offense with new rookie running back D’Onta Foreman in town. Foreman was very impressive, rushing for 76 yards on nine attempts in the Texans’ first preseason game. Miller literally got nowhere on his two attempts. For now, Miller will be the featured back in Houston. But, his regression in yards per carry to 4.0 last year from 4.5 with the Miami Dolphins in 2016 will need to improve. Otherwise, Foreman will receive more opportunities.
Indianapolis Colts: Vontae Davis, cornerback
Davis dealt with one ailment after another in 2016 and churned out some career-low stats in the process. The 29-year-old cornerback will need to do better than the one interception, 10 defended passes and 37 combined tackles he produced last year. Davis said that he’s feeling healthy and has “never been this excited for a season,” according to Stephen Holder of The Indy Star. With the Colts’ woes surrounding quarterback Andrew Luck, they need all star players, including Davis, at 100 percent this fall.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles, quarterback
Bortles enters his fourth year on thin ice with the team’s brass. He needs a rebound season to secure his job in Jacksonville moving forward. Last year, Bortles regressed from the 35 touchdowns he passed for in 2015 to just 23 last year. He also tossed 16 interceptions along the way. Nobody would love to see more scoring and less turnovers more than Bortles himself this fall. Fortunately, Bortles is surrounded with some pretty awesome talent on offense. It is up to him to take advantage.
Kansas City Chiefs: Spencer Ware, running back
Ware had a career season last year. But he wasn’t exactly tearing up opposing defense. Ware’s yards per carry dropped from 5.6 two seasons ago to 4.3 last season. He also scored just five total touchdowns. He faces stiff competition against rookie running back Kareem Hunt, who Chiefs beat writer Pete Sweeney says could win the starting job.
Los Angeles Chargers: Russell Okung, left tackle
The Chargers went all in on Okung when they offered him a four-year, $53 million deal. This was after he played just one season with the Denver Broncos in 2016. Pro Football Focus graded Okung as the 41st-ranked offensive tackle last year. Okung is still an upgrade for Los Angeles considering he played all 16 games last season. Time will tell if Okung helps Philip Rivers get sacked less than the 36 times he did in 2016. We’re not holding our breath.
Los Angeles Rams: Robert Woods, wide receiver
Woods failed to ever break out after being selected by the Buffalo Bills in 2013, scoring only 12 times in four years. Now, the 25-year-old receiver will look to stand out playing on the opposite coast. The big red flag here is Woods will be catching passes from quarterback Jared Goff, a quarterback that managed just five passing touchdowns in seven games. Fingers crossed that Woods takes his game to the next level. He’ll also compete for targets with his old Bills teammate, Sammy Watkins.
Miami Dolphins: Jay Cutler, quarterback
Despite a preliminary report that Cutler has been a superstar so far with his new team, this is Cutler we are discussing. The 34-year-old quarterback will either excel under head coach Adam Gase or crash and burn. In addition to his interception-happy ways, Cutler is coming off a year in which injuries held him to only five games last season. Hang on tight. The Cutler roller coaster ride launches soon.
Minnesota Vikings: Laquon Treadwell, wide receiver
The Vikings have a nice bit of depth on their roster at the receiver position that could push Treadwell down the ranks in 2017. The second-year player desperately needs to prove he was worth the first-round pick the Vikings spent on him last year. He played in just nine games, catching just one pass for 15 yards. Treadwell will almost need fellow receivers Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Michael Floyd to stink things up so he can stand out.
New England Patriots: Stephon Gilmore, cornerback
It is hard to pick a bust from a team that runs as precisely as a Swiss watch. But Patriots newbie Gilmore is a prime bust candidate. In his final season with the Bills, Gilmore tallied five interceptions but defended just 12 passes and registered 52 combined tackles. A little hot under the collar at times, Gillmore already got into it with fellow teammate Julian Edelman in training camp. He’ll need to put his emotions to better use to succeed with Bill Belichick.
New Orleans Saints: Marshon Lattimore, cornerback
In desperate need for help in the defensive secondary, the Saints nabbed Lattimore 11th overall in April despite injury concerns. The youngster is already being thrust into the starting cornerback role, according to the Saints depth chart. He tallied 41 total tackles, four interceptions and defended nine passes in his final year at Ohio State. Right out of the gate, Lattimore potentially faces covering receivers Julio Jones, Mike Evans and Kelvin Benjamin, twice per season. Good luck with that, kiddo.
New York Giants: Brandon Marshall, wide receiver
We would like to hope that Marshall finds success as he winds down his career. But Marshall is 33 years old and coming off a terrible 788-yard, three-touchdown season with the New York Jets. At least, Marshall has been working diligently with quarterback Eli Manning to memorize on the playbook. But, he also has the young Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard to keep up with, not to mention tight end Evan Engram.
New York Jets, Muhammad Wilkerson, defensive end
Wilkerson is entering 2017 after being called out for not giving the game his all last year. The 27-year-old defensive tackle also took some razzing for some alleged weight gain. Wilkerson refuted the latter and posted a picture of him working out on his treadmill. Will he return to the dominant form that made him a league superstar? Wilkerson had down year in 2016, registering just four sacks compared to the 12 he managed in 2015. The Jets really can’t afford another bust year from Wilkerson.
Oakland Raiders: Cordarrelle Patterson, wide receiver
Patterson was given the opportunity for an expanded role on offense last year with the Minnesota Vikings. He caught 74.3 percent of his targets for 453 yards and two touchdowns. Now with his new team, the Raiders reportedly will be “looking for ways” to utilize Patterson on their offense, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Patterson is electric with the ball in his hands, is very fast and could be a legit threat catching passes from Derek Carr. But, he’ll compete with vets Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, not to mention tight end Jared Cook, for attention.
Philadelphia Eagles: Alshon Jeffery, wide receiver
The Eagles signed Jeffery to a prove-it one-year deal worth $9.5 million. So, the embattled receiver better have a big year to prove he’s worth a long-term contract. One positive is that former teammate, Jordan Matthews, is no longer around soaking up targets. When healthy, Jeffery is monster on the field and capable of some tremendous plays. The negative here is that Jeffery missed 11 games in his previous two years with the Chicago Bears and scored only six times in that stretch. Jeffery needs a stand-out year to save his career
Pittsburgh Steelers: Martavis Bryant, wide receiver
Bryant has a lot to prove after spending the 2016 season on suspension. His 2015 campaign was a promising one, at least. That year Bryant tallied 765 yards on 50 catches and scored 6 touchdowns. During his two total years playing with the Steelers, Bryant averaged a stout 17.3 yards per catch. He could really shine and make some big plays this year, provided he sees his fair share of targets and stays out of trouble.
San Francisco 49ers: Brian Hoyer, quarterback
The 49ers decided to sign a veteran bridge in Hoyer while they wait until next year to draft a rookie quarterback or push harder to acquire Washington’s quarterback Kirk Cousins. Hoyer has just 31 career starts and sports a 16-15 record. The longest stretch Hoyer has played in a season was 14 games for the Cleveland Browns in 2014. He passed for 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in that period. The 49ers believe in him, but do we?
Seattle Seahawks: Eddie Lacy, running back
Lacy has been close friends with the scales and has met his weight-loss incentives so far. This shows dedication on his end as he enters 2017 on a one-year trial deal. But fellow back Thomas Rawls “appears to the the clear No. 1 back” now, according to Seahawks beat writer Bob Condotta. Then there is C.J. Prosise, who will be relied upon in passing plays. Lacy could return to his early-career form when he broke ankles with the Green Bay Packers. Or he could soon be the odd man out.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Doug Martin, running back
With a looming four-game suspension ahead of him, Martin is earning glowing reviews in training camp and is “leading the backfield,” per Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders. A the same time, the Bucs won’t guarantee that Martin will be the starter when he returns. Martin’s career has been a roller coaster of ups and downs. The sixth-year running back needs a solid year to save it.
Tennessee Titans: DeMarco Murray, running back
Murray had a rock star 2016 season, producing a total of 1,664 yards and 12 touchdowns in his first year with the Titans. An encore that matches those impressive totals in 2017 might be challenging. Second-year running back Derrick Henry is waiting in the wings for more touches. It is reported that he could see double the work he had in 2016, according to Cameron Wolfe of ESPN. This is great if we’re talking about preserving Murray’s 29-year-old health, but not ideal for his projected numbers. Fantasy footballers, take note.
Washington Redskins: Jordan Reed, tight end
Reed is a incredible red zone threat when healthy. And he has maintained a commendable catch rate of 75.2 percent in his four-year Washington career. The fact that he is already dinged up and opened training camp on the PUP list is not a good sign. He is expected to be ready to play in Week 1, which is great. But, the chances of him being healthy all season long (something Reed has yet to accomplish) are slim. He will need to make the most of his time on the field in order to compensate for potentially missing games.