Greatness is difficult to achieve, and it can be even more difficult to duplicate.
That can often be true in the world of sports, where one season of greatness creates heightened expectations for what the future might hold. Look at Brady Anderson, who hit 50 home runs for the Baltimore Orioles in 1996. He'd never again hit more than 24 taters in a single season the rest of his career. What about former NBA'er Shawn Kemp? He was an absolute superstar for the Seattle SuperSonics back in the 1990s before his statistics tanked (and his weight rose ... a ton).
The NFL has had more than its share of players who have failed to make good after a successful or "magical" season too.
Remember Scott Mitchell? The left-handed quarterback threw for 4,338 yards and 32 touchdowns for the Detroit Lions in 1995. He would never throw more than 19 scores in a season during the rest of his career. A more recent example is Braylon Edwards, who had all the looks of a fantasy superstar when he posted 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns for the Cleveland Browns in 2007. The Michigan product went on to score 15 times ... the rest of his career. There are countless other examples, some of which include gridiron greats. Heck, Dan Marino threw for almost 1,000 fewer yards and 18 fewer touchdowns in 1985 after what turned out to be the best statistical campaign of his illustrious, Hall-of-Fame career with the Miami Dolphins in 1984.
The point here is that one monster season doesn't guarantee another, even if that monster season was recorded by an elite athlete. So, which players who exceeded expectations last season might be in line for a decline in their statistical success in 2016? Here's a list of 10 players, some of which have established themselves as great players at their respective positions, who could be on the verge of falling victim to the curse failing to meet heightened projections after a monster season.
1. Cam Newton's 389.08 fantasy points: Newton was about as close to flawless as a fantasy quarterback can be last season, posting 3,837 passing yards with 45 total touchdowns while throwing just 10 interceptions. Keep in mind though, that recent fantasy point leaders have averaged a decline of between 50-60 points the following year. Newton will still be awesome often, but I wouldn't be surprised if his point total drops to the 320-330 range next season.
2. Devonta Freeman's 14 total touchdowns: Freeman, the top-scoring running back in fantasy football last season, is almost certain to experience a decline in touchdowns. Most of his 2015 end-zone visits came during a five-game stretch where he put up 10 scores, and that's not going to happen again. Freeman, who hit pay dirt just four times in his other 10 games combined, could also lose some work to fellow runner Tevin Coleman in the Atlanta backfield.
3. Doug Martin's 1,402 rushing yards: I have no good reason to doubt that Martin won't rush for another 1,400-plus yards ... I just don't trust him. Plain and simple. He's been a disappointment as much as he's been a fantasy star during his four pro seasons, and he's never been the most durable dude in the NFL. In fact, Martin has missed 15 games over his last three campaigns due to injuries. Charles Sims is also in the mix as a real threat to his touches.
4. Allen Robinson's 14 touchdowns: What a steal Robinson was last season, as he went from a popular sleeper choice and into a superstar both on the field and for fantasy fans. The Penn State product posted 80 catches and 1,400 yards to go along with his 14 scores, which vaulted him to fourth in fantasy points among receivers. But can he score double-digit touchdowns now that the Jaguars added Chris Ivory, who will be used in the red zone? I'm not so sure.
5. Brandon Marshall's 1,502 yards: I liked Marshall a lot more when Ryan Fitzpatrick was named the starter in New York, but I never thought he would put up more than 1,500 yards through the air. If the Jets enter the new campaign with Geno Smith under center, well, Marshall is likely to be a very popular bust candidate. But even if the Amish Rifle is back with the Men in Green soon, it's tough to envision a scenario where Marshall matches his 2015 outputs.
6. Doug Baldwin's 14 touchdowns: Much like Freeman, Baldwin had a ridiculous five-game stretch that saw him score 11 touchdowns. That helped a lot of fans reach and win their fantasy championship. However, Baldwin found the end zone just three times in his other 11 contests. Also keep in mind that leading up to the Week 11 contest where his 2015 streak started, he had found the end zone a combined 18 times in his previous 72 games! I'm not a believer right now.
7. Jordan Reed's 11 touchdowns: Reed was so incredible in the second half of last season that some fantasy owners seem to have forgotten that he has been terribly prone to injuries. In fact, the Florida product missed 12 games in his first two pro campaigns. Couple that with the addition of rookie Josh Doctson, who figures to put a dent into Washington's overall red-zone targets, and it's difficult to see Reed making so many trips to the end zone again.
8. Larry Fitzgerald's 171.50 fantasy points: Fitzgerald was one of the best draft bargains in fantasy football last season, posting 1,215 yards and nine touchdowns. He will be entering his age-33 season though, and the future Hall of Famer had averaged just 121.3 fantasy points per year in his previous two campaigns. Fitzgerald will also be contending with Michael Floyd, John Brown and J.J. Nelson for targets in a pass attack that has a whole lot of mouths to feed.
9. Tyler Eifert's 13 touchdowns: I was worried about Eifert even before news broke that he needed ankle surgery and was a question mark for the start of the 2016 campaign. That's due in large part to the fact that he had missed 19 games in his first three pro seasons due to injuries. Also, he was never going to score double-digit touchdowns in back-to-back seasons. Look at the numbers ... most tight ends who aren't named Rob Gronkowski don't achieve it.
10. Chris Ivory's 172.70 fantasy points: This one is sort of a no-brainer, but it's still notable because Ivory was a top-10 fantasy running back last season. That's not going to happen in Jacksonville, where he's destined to share the backfield workload with T.J. Yeldon. Heck, Ivory isn't even guaranteed to start for the Jaguars. Unless Yeldon is injured, he has little to no chance to duplicate the number of touches or fantasy points he enjoyed last year.