Every year in the NFL, dozens of rising young players become superstars while veteran stars begin to fade. As the 2019 preseason gets underway, here are five particular well-established vets who are likely to decline rapidly in the months to come.
New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees: I include him with great reluctance, but few quarterbacks have ever succeeded beyond 40. Sure, Tom Brady did, but he’s a hell of an anomaly. Brees will soon become only the second player ever to attempt 10,000 career passes, and there are signs he’s slowing down. In his last four games of the 2018 regular season, he threw just three touchdown passes to three interceptions and posted an ugly 84.7 passer rating.
Oakland Raiders WR Antonio Brown: The Raiders really did invest heavily in a declining stock. Brown has made six consecutive Pro Bowls, but his yards-per-game average plummeted from a league-best 109.5 in 2017 to a mere 86.5 in 2018. Now he’ll have less support than ever in his age-31 season.
Jacksonville Jaguars DE Calais Campbell: The four-time Pro Bowler received that honor again in 2018, but his sack total dropped from 14.5 to 10.5. Expect that to plummet further in his age-33 season, as he passes the torch to Yannick Ngakoue and Josh Allen.
Baltimore Ravens RB Mark Ingram: The eight-year veteran will turn 30 this year, which is usually a career death knell for running backs. His rate-based numbers slipped in his final season with the Saints, which is a sign that a greater drop could be coming in his first campaign with the Ravens. Stay away, fantasy peeps.
Carolina Panthers DT Gerald McCoy: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were smart to part ways with McCoy now, because the six-time Pro Bowler showed signs of decline during a so-so age-30 season in 2018. With 123 starts in nine NFL seasons, he can’t have much tread left on his tires. Don’t expect him to be a high-impact player in his new home.