A couple days ago, we looked at wide receivers who would have much better seasons than the year prior. Today, let’s look at some receivers who will do the opposite: have a much worse season than expected.
Allen Hurns, Dallas Cowboys
After being released by the Jaguars, the Cowboys signed Allen Hurns to a two year, $12 million deal. The expectation seems to be that with no clear cut #1 receiver on the roster, Hurns would become Dak Prescott’s main target. However, there are some things getting in the way of that. Hurns peaked in 2015, with 1031 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Despite doing this with a below average quarterback in Blake Bortles, Hurns was in a good situation to succeed. He didn’t have to be the #1 guy, as Allen Robinson emerged as Bortles’ #1 guy with 1400 receiving yards. Since then, Hurns has failed to reach 500 receiving yards in each of the last two seasons and has failed in a combined 21 of 32 games, struggling with injuries. His 46.1 yards per game the last two seasons is also much lower than his 68.7 yards per game in 2015. The most notable thing that changed in those two seasons was Robinson’s drop in production. Robinson fell to 883 receiving yards in 2016 and then got hurt in the first game last season. This suggests that Hurns is a #2 receiver at best, as he needs a true #1 receiver opposite of him to attract all the attention away from him. Therefore, he is likely to fail to meet expectations as a #1 receiver next season for the Cowboys.
Jordy Nelson, Oakland Raiders
For years, Jordy Nelson was one of the game’s best receivers. However, after a strong start with quarterback Aaron Rodgers last year, Nelson’s production fell off a cliff without him. He finished the year with only 482 receiving yards and six touchdowns and all six touchdowns were with Rodgers. Green Bay saw this downtrend in production and decided it was best to go ahead and release him. Despite all of the red flags previously mentioned, Jon Gruden saw something in Nelson, as Oakland signed him to a two year, $13 million contract. Oakland released wide receiver Michael Crabtree to sign Nelson, so the expectation has to be to have a better season than Crabtree had last year. That means eclipsing 706 receiving yards (Crabtree had 618 in 14 games) and 9 touchdowns (Crabtree had 8 in 14 games). Considering Nelson had just 252 receiving yards in 11 games without Rodgers, putting him on pace for 367 receiving yards, these may be too high of expectations for him. Expect him to continue to regress without Aaron Rodgers throwing him the football.
Danny Amendola, Miami Dolphins
After trading away star receiver Jarvis Landry to the Browns, the Dolphins desperately needed to acquire some receiver help. They settled on Danny Amendola, signing the 32-year-old to a two year, $12 million contract. Despite just starting in 8 games and being part of a crowded Patriots receiving corps, Amendola still put up 659 receiving yards and two touchdowns last season. Therefore, in an extended role, Amendola can be expected to put near Landry’s 987 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns, right? Wrong. Amendola goes from a perfect situation in New England- having Tom Brady as his quarterback with attention on their other offensive weapons- to an awful situation in Miami, where his quarterback will be Ryan Tannehill and he’ll be one of the main weapons. Add in the fact he’s entering the normal age of regression at 32 and probably isn’t at the point of his career to be a normal starter, and this looks like a recipe for disaster.
Jimmy Graham, Green Bay Packers
After releasing Jordy Nelson, the Packers decided to replace him by signing tight end Jimmy Graham to a three-year deal worth $30 million. The expectation is that Graham will give Rodgers an elite red zone threat with Nelson gone and will be Rodgers’ first good tight end since JaMichael Finley. However, Rodgers doesn’t have a very good history with tight ends. Last year, Green Bay signed Martellus Bennett to be a red zone threat for Rodgers. Instead, he averaged 38.8 yards a game with Rodgers and didn’t have a single touchdown. How about Richard Rodgers, who peaked with 510 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns, but then regressed heavily with just 431 receiving yards over the next two seasons with 3 touchdowns. In fact, Finley had one great season, where he had 767 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns, but he never came close to that type of production again. It seems to be that while Rodgers can take a mediocre tight end and turn him into a pleasant surprise, he can’t take a known commodity to the next level. There’s also question marks with Graham. After a dominant stretch with the Saints where he averages 1099 yards and 12 touchdowns between 2011 and 2014, Graham went on to average just 663 yards and 6 touchdowns as a Seahawk the next three seasons. He also is now 31 years old and looks to be simply a red zone threat. Considering the Packers already have a better red zone threat in Davonte Adams, Graham will likely disappoint and not produce as one of the game’s best tight ends like his contract would indicate.
DJ Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars
Drafted in the second round by the Jaguars, DJ Chark has a chance to be a very solid receiver with his blazing speed and 6’3” frame. However, he’s not in a great situation to do so. Chark is far from the finished product, as he currently has a very limited route tree, isn’t very physical, and isn’t a great ball tracker. He needs an offensive minded coach and a good quarterback to help him develop. Instead, he’s stuck in Jacksonville, with their outdated offensive scheme, and with Blake Bortles as his quarterback. Needless to say, it may take Chark longer to develop as a Jaguar than it would as a Saint or an Eagle. He could eventually overcome this poor situation and become a solid #2 receiver, but the time isn’t now.