Expectations are hard to meet on a yearly basis in the NFL. The season is so short so every play and game is magnified, bringing even the slightest of slip-ups into perspective. Avoiding disappointment is nearly impossible to do across the roster with every team having at least one player who underperformed in 2016.
Whether it’s Blake Bortles or Todd Gurley, or someone else who ruined your fantasy season, there were a whole bunch of disappointing players in football this season. Here are the top choices for every team, which is a list a player doesn’t want to find his name on.
Arizona Cardinals: Carson Palmer
The Cardinals came into this season with an absolutely loaded roster on both sides of the ball. They were set at running back, wide receiver, defensive back and other positions, but the biggest question was the play of Carson Palmer. Needless to say, he and his 87.0 passer rating have been a huge disappointment. He has just 23 touchdowns and 13 interceptions despite having a great supporting cast around him.
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Atlanta Falcons: Ra’Shede Hageman
Ra’Shede Hageman came into the league in 2014 with character questions, and they’ve failed to dissipate since. Not to mention, his play on the field hasn’t exactly been eye-popping. The Falcons could easily cut ties with the third-year defensive tackle in the offseason, ridding themselves of his tumultuous past which involved a domestic violence incident.
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Baltimore Ravens: Joe Flacco
The Ravens had a down year in 2015 due to injuries, but they were expected to bounce back with a healthy Joe Flacco at the helm. Unfortunately, he’s had one of the worst seasons of his career. The Ravens had a decent year, but Flacco undoubtedly held them back with less-than-stellar play.
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Buffalo Bills: Marcell Dareus
Marcell Dareus began the season with a four-game suspension, and it hardly got any better after he returned. He has 3.5 sacks – up from his two in 2015 – but he’s hardly the weapon he was in 2014, when he had 10 sacks. Not to mention, his off-field issues are concerning, as is his lack of leadership on the field.
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Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton
If I told you before the season began that the reigning MVP, Cam Newton, would have the fourth-worst passer rating in the NFL, you’d call me crazy. But that’s where we are with just one game remaining. It’d be unfair to expect him to put together another MVP-like season, but this was a huge letdown for a player that led his team to the Super Bowl in February.
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Chicago Bears: Alshon Jeffery
Alshon Jeffery had plenty to prove in 2016 under the franchise tag. The overwhelming thought was that he’d put together a Pro Bowl-caliber season and earn a lucrative long-term deal in free agency. Yet, all he did was struggle throughout the year and get tapped with a four-game suspension for PEDs. Not the campaign he or the Bears expected, to say the least.
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Cincinnati Bengals: Jeremy Hill
Jeremy Hill burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2014, rushing for 1,124 yards on a healthy 5.1 yards per carry. He came back down to earth last season, which was somewhat concerning but not overly worrisome. That trend continued this season, which might mean 2014 was more of a fluke than an indicator of future success. He’s averaged 3.8 yards per carry and has struggled in an increased role with Giovani Bernard out.
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Cleveland Browns: Joe Haden
At one point, Joe Haden was considered to be a top pure cover cornerback. Injuries have obviously impacted him recently, but his play has fallen off of late. Haden has been a disappointment for the Browns this season despite picking off three passes. He struggled to shut down No. 1 receivers which is part of the reason for Cleveland’s lowly ranked defense.
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Dallas Cowboys: Demarcus Lawrence
The Cowboys essentially ignored the defensive end position this offseason, banking on Randy Gregory and Demarcus Lawrence to contribute. Both were suspended, but Lawrence’s was only four games. He hasn’t been a ghost, but to say he’s had a big impact would be an overstatement. One sack in nine games isn’t exactly great.
Denver Broncos: Trevor Siemian
Trevor Siemian beat out both Mark Sanchez and Paxton Lynch for the starting job this offseason, seemingly rewarding John Elway and Gary Kubiak for their faith in him. However, he’s struggled mightily this year and is among the many reasons for Denver’s terrible offense.
Detroit Lions: Ezekiel Ansah
Ezekiel Ansah racked up 14.5 sacks in 2015 – good for third in the NFL. This season, he has two. Two measly sacks on a defense that’s desperate for a pass rush. Granted, he missed five games, but his disappearance has been one of the biggest surprises of the year.
Green Bay Packers: Randall Cobb
Randall Cobb struggled as the No. 1 receiver a year ago with Jordy Nelson on the shelf. This season, Nelson returned, but Davante Adams also supplanted Cobb in the offense. He has just 60 receptions for 610 yards and four touchdowns – all of which are the fewest in his past three seasons. He’s simply not the offensive weapon he once was.
Houston Texans: Brock Osweiler
Brock Osweiler may very well be the biggest disappointment in the NFL this season. Even before he was benched, Osweiler was arguably the worst quarterback in football, despite the Texans’ above-.500 record. The Texans paid him like a franchise quarterback, and will continue to do so in 2017, but he’s hardly that. He might just be a backup.
Indianapolis Colts: Dwayne Allen
Dwayne Allen was a huge receiving threat as a rookie in 2012. He showed flashes of that again in 2014, but he has struggled to return to that form ever since then. He didn’t do much for Andrew Luck this season, catching just 32 passes for 372 yards while getting passed by Jack Doyle on the depth chart.
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Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles
So much for Blake Bortles being the next great quarterback, huh? He looked like anything but that this season, going backwards in just about every statistical category over last year. The Jaguars’ next head coach could opt to move on from him in the offseason.
Kansas City Chiefs: Jeremy Maclin
The Chiefs knew when they signed Jeremy Maclin two years ago that he had injury questions. However, he stayed healthy in 2015 before getting hurt this season. But the worst part of it all is that he hasn’t even been effective when healthy in 2016. He has just 40 catches for 483 yards and two touchdowns this season.
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Los Angeles Rams: Todd Gurley
“His offensive line is terrible.” “He doesn’t have a quarterback.” Yeah, we’ve heard every excuse in the book, but David Johnson is dominating behind a terrible Cardinals line. So what’s Gurley’s excuse now? At some point we have to talk about him just not being nearly as effective this season and looking a step slower with decreased quickness.
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Miami Dolphins: Mario Williams
Miami thought it was replacing Olivier Vernon with a cheaper – albeit, not by much – option in Mario Williams. He’s making $8.5 million per year, which averages out to about $5.7 million per sack. He has just 1.5 of those this season, which is terrible – even for a player of his age. Williams is a shell of himself and may never be an effective pass rusher again.
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Minnesota Vikings: Jerick McKinnon
It’s hard not to point at the Vikings’ running game as the biggest disappointment of the season for Minnesota. Jerick McKinnon had huge shoes to fill with Adrian Peterson out, but he and his 3.1 yards per carry were well below average. Had he been effective as a running back, the Vikings may have been able to make a run at the playoffs.
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New England Patriots: Danny Amendola
The Patriots have endured a bevy of injuries on offense, the latest of which involved Danny Amendola. His loss seemed crushing on the surface, but he’s been relatively ineffective this year. In 12 games, he has just 23 catches for 243 yards and four touchdowns, giving way to Malcolm Mitchell as the more reliable and consistent option.
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New Orleans Saints: Coby Fleener
It was thought that Coby Fleener would add a wrinkle to the Saints’ already potent offense this season. However, outside of one 100-yard game and two others where he was over 70 yards, he’s been ineffective – despite Drew Brees’ willingness to spread the ball around. It wasn’t a terrible season by any means, it just wasn’t what the Saints expected.
New York Giants: Eli Manning
The Giants are a good team with several issues on offense, the biggest of which is Eli Manning. He’s held back the offense with sub-par play and terrible decision making, and without Odell Beckham Jr. there’s no telling how bad he would be. Manning has just not been as good as he was expected to be.
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New York Jets: Darrelle Revis
Darrelle Revis could very well be done as an NFL cornerback. The Jets will entertain the possibility that he’ll play safety next year as a result of his poor play this season. He’s a step slower and can’t stick to receivers the way he used to, which might just be the fact that he’s, well, getting older – as we all do.
Oakland Raiders: Sean Smith
It’s hard to pick out a majorly disappointing player on a team that’s surpassed every expectation, but Sean Smith hasn’t been the shutdown cornerback they paid him to be this offseason. The Raiders have one of the worst pass defenses in the league, and Smith has played a role in their struggles. If he were paid like a No. 2 corner, it wouldn’t be nearly as bad. But he’s paid like a No. 1 guy.
Philadelphia Eagles: Nelson Agholor
The Eagles knew they had issues at wide receiver before the year began, but they were confident in second-year pro Nelson Agholor’s development. Now 16 weeks in and the Eagles were obviously wrong. He’s watched his role diminish thanks to drops and ineffectiveness, which is part of the reason for Carson Wentz’s struggles.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Sammie Coates
Martavis Bryant’s suspension was a significant blow to the Steelers, but Sammie Coates was believed to be a viable replacement. He’s done a decent job as a deep threat, but beyond that, he’s struggled. Le’Veon Bell is far and away the team’s second-best receiver, and he’s a running back whose missed three games – so that says enough.
San Diego Chargers: Philip Rivers
No quarterback, not even Ryan Fitzpatrick or Brock Osweiler, has more interceptions than Philip Rivers. He’s thrown 19 of those this season despite having 31 touchdowns, and his inability to protect the football late in games has doomed the Chargers on numerous occasions.
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San Francisco 49ers: Torrey Smith
Torrey Smith has played 12 games this season, but he has just 20 catches for 267 yards and three touchdowns. The offense hasn’t been particularly favorable around him, but the once-big-play receiver has fallen off in a huge way this year.
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Seattle Seahawks: Thomas Rawls
I realize Thomas Rawls has been injured and played only eight games, but on 46 more carries last season, he had an additional 495 yards. He’s averaged just 3.3 yards per carry compared to 5.6 last year, and has failed to give the Seahawks the running game they desperately need.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Doug Martin
Doug Martin defied previous perception by staying healthy for all 16 games last season, rushing for 1,402 yards. This season, he’s been injured and looked like the Doug Martin we saw from 2013 to 2014 – and that’s not a good thing. He was a healthy scratch this past week in the Bucs’ biggest game of the year, which is telling of his status on the depth chart.
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Tennessee Titans: Kendall Wright
Kendall Wright has been a relatively reliable receiver for the Titans in recent years, but he disappeared this season. He’s caught 29 passes for 416 yards in 11 games and was even benched for missing team meetings. Marcus Mariota could have used a possession receiver in the slot like him this season, but he was hardly a playmaker.
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Washington Redskins: Matt Jones
With Alfred Morris joining the Cowboys, Matt Jones was going to be vaulted into the starting lineup in his second season. He got his opportunities, but failed to make the most of them, fumbling three times in seven games. Rob Kelley is obviously the better back, and it’s why he’s taken over as the starter.