Monday - Apr 22, 2019

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Sophomore Slump or Second-Year Jump?

Last season we were treated to a very exciting crop of rookie quarterbacks. Now, as expected, there has been much discussion over their projections for this season. Who was a “one-hit wonder?” Who is poised for another great year? Who will surprise you this year? Who will make you pull your hair out?

These are all questions being asked on fantasy boards all over, so let’s look into it. If we just take our time and look at all the information available, we should be able to thoroughly confuse ourselves even more than we already have (that was sarcastic but I do tend to be a classic over-thinker).

Nonetheless, even if this “Shark” does tend to overanalyze, I will present you with some great “points to ponder” to help you make your draft day decision easier.

The question remains: Are last year’s rookies due for a sophomore slump, a second-year breakout, or (with all due respect to Dennis Green), are they “who we thought they were!” Let’s dive in.

Andrew Luck

Mr. Polished, a great arm, an incredible pedigree and much more. We heard it all preseason and then he went out and backed it up. Luck’s rookie year was a solid one especially when you consider the hype surrounding him and the shoes he had to fill.

That being said, I am not as high on Luck this year as most people are. First and foremost he is switching offenses. But it’s the same offense (and offensive coordinator
Pep Hamilton) that he had at Stanford, you say. This is true, but
Andrew Luck
is not a one-man offensive machine. He has a team, a team that stepped up strongly for him last year. This offense is new to most of them. He will only be as good as the team he is working with and they are all in a new offense.

His biggest playmaker
Reggie Wayne
, who accounted for 33 percent of his passing yards and 22 percent of his touchdowns, will turn 35 this season. Statistically speaking this does not bode well. The following 10 wide receivers are arguably the top 10 of all-time: Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin, Andre Rison,
Randy Moss
, Steve Largent, Isaac Bruce,
Terrell Owens
, Cris Carter, James Lofton and Marvin Harrison.

I won’t bore you with all the statistics, but of these 10 amazing receivers, only two, Carter and Lofton, increased their output from their 34th year to their 35th year and both fell off the face of the statistical earth the very next year. The rest were not even close, and some were not even playing at age 35. It seems possible that 35 is an end-of-the-line year for wide receivers much like 30 is for running backs.

Even the greatest ever, Rice, did not match the numbers that he compiled at 34 years old, (though he still had many respectable years after that), and, even more telling, his 34-year-old season was an almost 600-yard drop from his 33-year-old season.

Let me put it to you straight.
Reggie Wayne
will not repeat last year’s numbers. Couple that with the fact that the organization has already announced that they are going to run the ball more this year. To add insult to injury, eight of their games are against defenses ranked in the top-9. Two of the other games are against the Tennessee Titans, who are ranked 13th.

Breakdown: Ten games against top 15 defenses, a new offense and offensive coordinator and his biggest playmaker hitting a “statistical wall” year. Many people love the value they are getting by picking him up late (seventh to eighth round); there is definitely something to be said for that strategy, but temper your expectations as he will not have as good a year statistically as he did last year.

Slump, not huge but a definite decrease.

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