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 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. A more recent example is DeAndre Hopkins, who posted 111 catches, 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns during a breakout 2015 campaign. Last season, he finished 36th in fantasy points among wide receivers. Not many people saw that coming.
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 (1985) following what was the best statistical campaign of his Hall-of-Fame career with the Miami Dolphins in 1984.
The point here is that one monster season doesn't guarantee another, even if it 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 2017? Here's a list of 10 players, some of whom have established themselves as great players at their respective positions, who could be on the verge of falling to the dreaded "curse of the magical season."
Oh and just an FYI ... all but one of the 10 predictions from last season would have helped fantasy fans draft a better team.
1. Todd Gurley's 43 receptions: Gurley was a bust overall a season ago, but he did record an impressive 43 receptions on 58 targets. That was up from his 22 receptions on 26 targets in his rookie season. However, reports suggest that at least some of those opportunities in the pass attack could go to Lance Dunbar moving forward. Remember, Alfred Morris and Rob Kelley didn't see a lot of targets under Sean McVay during his time as the offensive coordinator in Washington.
2. Matt Ryan's 347.46 fantasy points: Ryan had the most magical of all the magical seasons in fantasy football, posting career highs almost across the board in 2016. But can he do it again? I doubt it. Let's keep in mind that Ryan hadn't reached the 300-point mark in each of his previous three seasons, and he'd done it just once before (2012) in his entire career. With the unproven Steve Sarkisian now calling the offensive shots, Ryan is a prime candidate to regress in the stat sheets.
3. Davante Adams' 12 touchdown catches: Adams went from three touchdowns as a rookie to one in 2015 before going off for a ridiculous 12 scores a season ago. That was due in large part to the fact that he ranked tied for second with Odell Beckham Jr. and Anquan Boldin in red-zone targets (23) among wide receivers. That total is bound to decline in an offensive attack that has more than its share of great pass-catchers like Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and new tight end Martellus Bennett.
4. Travis Kelce's streak of 100-yard games: Don't get me wrong ... I like Kelce as one of the top tight ends in fantasy football behind Rob Gronkowski. However, he'll still be hard-pressed to record 100-plus receiving yards in four straight games and five of six like he did just a season ago. Before that streak, Kelce had recorded eight or more fantasy points just twice in his nine contests. That included four different games where he posted fewer than six points in standard scoring formats.
5. Mark Ingram's 1,043 rushing yards: Ingram broke the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the first time in his career a season ago, which helped him rank 10th in fantasy points among running backs. The Saints didn't respect that accomplishment much, however, as they added future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson to what projects to be a backfield committee. Unless All Day suffers some sort of long-term ailment, Ingram will have a difficult time getting to even 850-plus rushing yards this season.
6. Julian Edelman's 159 targets: Edelman ranked third in targets among wide receivers a season ago, finishing behind only Mike Evans and Beckham. He turned those opportunities into 98 receptions, which was the fourth-most at his position. But after the addition of Brandin Cooks and the return of Rob Gronkowski (back), there's little chance for Edelman to duplicate the same number of targets again. In fact, he could see his chances decline to the 115-125 range in a crowded attack.
7. LeGarrette Blount's 18 rushing touchdowns: This one is a no-brainer. The veteran out of Oregon rushed for more touchdowns a year ago than he had in his previous two seasons combined (11), and that was as a member of the New England Patriots. Now in Philadelphia, Blount is destined to see fewer red-zone opportunities even if the team releases Ryan Mathews later this summer. While I can still see him scoring six to eight times, Blount has no chance to be the stud he was in 2016.
8. Rishard Matthews' nine touchdown catches: Matthews was one of fantasy football's biggest sleepers a season ago, scoring nine touchdowns while finishing 14th in fantasy points among wide receivers. Not bad for a player who wasn't even drafted in countless formats. But with the addition of rookie Corey Davis in the NFL draft and veteran red-zone maven Eric Decker, Matthews has no chance to duplicate the number of end zone visits from a year ago. In fact, he's now worth a late flier.
9. Latavius Murray's 12 rushing touchdowns: Murray ranked fifth in rushing touchdowns among running backs a season ago, but that was then and this is now. He left one of the NFL's best offensive lines in Oakland to one of the worst in Minnesota (based on 2016 numbers), and the Vikings didn't draft Dalvin Cook in the second round to keep him on the sidelines. Murray, who is also coming off ankle surgery, is likely to see decreases in both opportunities and fantasy value across the board.
10. Tyrell Williams' 1,059 receiving yards: Williams came out of nowhere to rank 13th in fantasy points among wide receivers a season ago, but fans can't expect a repeat of those totals in 2017. The Chargers will have Keenan Allen back from an injured knee, and the addition of rookie Mike Williams sealed Tyrell's fate as a surefire regression candidate. He's still going to be worth a late-round selection in most fantasy drafts, but don't expect another 1,000-yard campaign this season.