9 Fading Heroes: Cause for Concern in 2016
This is Part 2 of a two-part article looking at late-season performance in 2015 and what it might mean in 2016. In Part 1, we discussed several players who performed well down the stretch, Late-Season Bloomers. Here in Part 2, I'll identify several players who struggled during the second half of the season. These are our Fading Heroes.
I split the 2015 season stats into two parts – first half (Weeks 1-8) and second half (Weeks 9-17) – then calculated each player’s points per game (PPG) and fantasy points per attempt, which was pass attempts (PA) for quarterbacks, touches for running backs and receivers, and receptions for tight ends.
The tables are sorted by PPG percent difference, and only include players who played at least four games in both halves of the season. I also limited the table to fantasy-relevant players, so if there are names missing, that’s probably the reason why. Players at the bottom of each table fared much worse in the second half of the season -- these are our Fading Heroes.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots
One of these years, Brady just isn’t going to have it anymore. Could this be the season? He’s 39 years old now, and although he’s coming off an MVP-caliber season, late-season statistics suggest he slipped a bit down the stretch. He averaged only 17.55 fantasy points per game over the second half of the season, which is still very good, but pales in comparison to his league-leading 25.54 points per game during his first eight outings. Brady’s completion percentage, yards per game, and touchdowns all regressed last year, and he threw six of his seven interceptions over the final nine games of the season – a span that also featured all four of the team’s losses. It’s hard to bet against Brady, but with a four-game suspension and his late-season drop in production, it’s hard to justify his 7th-round ADP.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Much like Brady, it’s hard to discount a guy as talented as Brees. Brees experienced a 10.26% reduction in fantasy points per game last year though, and he’ll be 38 years old in January. Brees’ numbers are a bit skewed because of a seven-touchdown performance against the Giants during Week 8, but it’s still concerning to see his numbers dip as the season progressed. In all likelihood, Brees will continue to be a great fantasy quarterback this season in an offense that has finished in the top three in passing yards every year since 2010, but it’s worth keeping an eye on him again this year to see if there’s any further regression. His 6th-round ADP might be a bit high with so many good quarterbacks available late.
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
After a good start to the year statistically, Rivers dropped from 20.18 fantasy points per game all the way down to 14.43 over the second half of 2015. While much of that could be attributed to injuries along the offensive line and losing his top receiver Keenan Allen, it’s concerning to see such a massive drop in production. We’re talking about going from a top-10 option to a bottom-10 option in the same season. Rivers wasn’t just worse per game, he was also 19.76% worse per pass attempt. The Chargers throw the ball a lot, and they added some help in the passing game with speedy free agent receiver Travis Benjamin and rookie second-round tight end Hunter Henry, so Rivers could rebound from a disastrous stretch run. He’ll be 35 years old in December though, and may be starting to decline after years of steady production. Rivers is not a bad option at his 10th-round ADP, but I wouldn’t reach for him.
- Jay Cutler also struggled down the stretch with a 13% reduction in fantasy points per game after mid-season. It’s hard to gauge whether or not that was more a factor of the talent around him, or an actual decline in skills, but he’ll be a guy looking to get back on track this year.
- Alex Smith had a subtle decrease, but he’s already a value QB in most fantasy rankings.
- Aaron Rodgers stands out with a 24.16% reduction in points per game, but he may have been banged up and the Packers struggled with injuries in the receiving corps as well. I wouldn’t read too much into it.
- Carson Palmer slipped from 20.65 to 18 fantasy points per game, but was still performing at an elite level.
|Player||Team||Wk 1-9 Games||ATT||FP||FP/Game||FP/ATT||Wk 10-17 Games||ATT||FP||FP/Game||FP/ATT||PPG Diff||FB/ATT Diff|
Continue reading for three RB, two WR, and one TE fading heroes and a few other players who could regress.
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