by Matt Soltysiak
We’ve already covered some risers (click here to view) and decliners (click here to view), so today let’s take a look at a few players really could go either way. We’re not ready to write them off just yet, but at the same time we aren’t as comfortable with them as we were say a year or two ago.
- RB Ladainian Tomlinson had the lowest number of rushing yards in his career last year and the least number of touchdowns since his rookie season. Some think injuries the last couple years are catching up to him and his age (30). Others point to Darren Sproles and think he’ll be taking many of Tomlinson’s carries. I tend to be a believer of another sort. Sproles will get some carries, but he’s too small to be an every down guy, he’s not like Michael Turner. Also, I think the biggest reason Tomlinson saw a drop in production is because Phillip Rivers threw more than ever before. If the Chargers focus more on the pass Tomlinson’s numbers would probably remain about what they did last year, but if San Diego evens it up a bit more Tomlinson could do a little better. It’s very doubtful he’ll ever repeat that 2006 season with 1,800 yards and 28 touchdowns, but Tomlinson should still give you solid production as a number one running back.
- WR Terrell Owens is now moving on to his fourth team in seven years. T.O’s production through out his career has been pretty consistent. He works hard on the field and produces. It isn’t a question of how well he can learn a new offense as he did well in his first seasons in Philadelphia and Dallas. The biggest difference this year is that he’s not going to a marquee team. The Bills finished 7-9 last season and their quarterbacks threw for a total of 13 touchdowns (half of what Tony Romo threw in just 13 games last year). Can T.O. still go? Yes, but he needs someone to get him the ball and this is probably the least talented football squad of Owens’ career.
- WR Torry Holt is someone I want to put on the rise, but just can’t do it. His numbers dropped so far last year that the last time he caught fewer passes for fewer yards was back in 1999 when Holt was a rookie. As for his 3, repeat 3 touchdown catches, it was the lowest of his career. The Rams were a team with many problems last year, but Holt’s now in Jacksonville with David Garrard throwing the ball. Garrard showed promise in 2007, but injuries to the Jags’ line last year made them a struggling team as well. Those line issues should be healed, so now it’s a question of Holt and Garrard working together. While I expect Holt to bounce back, there’s no guarantee those numbers will come back up. At age 33, if he’s hitting the wall, the end could come very soon.
- WR Braylon Edwards is another receiver making the list. A year ago many expected him to pick up right where he left off in his sophomore season (80 catches, 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns). His 2008 numbers were the worst of his short career. One reason for the drop in production could be attributed to the inconsistent quarterback play in Cleveland last year (both Anderson and Quinn struggled and battled injuries). Unfortunately that wasn’t the only problem for Edwards as he started dropping too many passes. That falls squarely on the receiver. In order for Edwards to rise again, the quarterback play needs to improve and he has to demonstrate focus by hauling in more balls thrown his way.
- RB Marion Barber was expected to take off last year, but just couldn’t do it. After averaging 4.8 yards per carry in his first two years, Barber saw his role expanded and his carries increased. He battled injury, but still played in 15 games. His numbers weren’t horrible, but they definitely dropped, as did his yards per carry (down to 3.7). Many say he has a brutal running style that takes its toll on the runner, so that is a concern. More troubling is that Felix Jones looked great before injury and Tashard Choice played well in a back-up role, both averaging more than 5 yards a carry. Barber has as much potential as almost any running back out there, but a crowded backfield paints an unclear picture. He still has the potential to be one of your starting running backs, but I’d be sure to handcuff him with Felix Jones.
That’s a look at who’s up, who’s down and who still kind of hanging around. So what do you think? Is there someone we missed or that you disagree with? Let us know, post a comment below.
Make sure to check out our baseball site by clicking here.
Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.