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Six players likely to disappoint in 2015

The offseason is a time of hope -- much of it misplaced.

Months of flowery reports tell us that players league-wide are bigger, faster and smarter than ever before.

The reality, though, will be far more grim when too many springtime stars wind up playing like a pack of JAGs come September.

Whether it's overpriced free agents who fail to live up to the billing or journeyman veterans being asked to do too much, plenty of players will disappoint in 2015. Here's the six who top our list:

6. Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs receiver

After setting career highs with 85 catches and 1,318 receiving yards last season, Maclin shifts from Chip Kelly's high-flying attack to Kansas City. He'll struggle to repeat that production against a steady diet of top corners and double teams in 2015. Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce will generate attention, but opponents aren't going to move off Maclin for the rest of that wideout group. While he's a massive upgrade at the position, K.C.'s conservative, run-heavy playbook makes the former Eagle a fantasy risk.

5. Matt Cassel, Bills quarterback

To be fair, we weren't expecting much from Cassel to begin with. Still, he was seen as the presumptive Week 1 starter after the Bills swung a trade for him in March. Today, he's a roster-bubble candidate after Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News called him "easily the worst-looking quarterback" during offseason workouts. We'll see Cassel, Tyrod Taylor and the headache-inducing EJ Manuel all start games in 2015 -- not a winning formula in the NFL.

4. Byron Maxwell, Eagles cornerback

Maxwell was outstanding in Seattle, but he won't have the luxury of playing with Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in Philly. Being paid like a bona fide No. 1 corner, Maxwell is under pressure to prove that he can thrive away from the Legion of Boom. I love his size and technique -- and he's an upgrade over Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher -- but it's fair to wonder how he'll handle Odell Beckham, DeSean Jackson and Dez Bryant in the NFC East.

3. Darren McFadden, Cowboys running back

This is the best fit for McFadden since play-caller Hue Jackson milked 1,000-plus yards out of the ex-Raiders runner in 2010. He's a strong bet to top last year's putrid output, but McFadden's sub-3.5 yards per tote over the past three seasons are no mirage. Topping 155 carries just twice in his injury-riddled career, McFadden is being touted by some as a bell-cow in waiting. I side with Gregg "The Boss" Rosenthal to argue that Joseph Randle will emerge as the far better option.

2. Josh McCown, Browns quarterback

McCown has averaged just 4.1 starts per season over his 12-year career. I don't buy him as a 16-game workhorse in his age 36 campaign. McCown's a leader, but the Browns are in a risky spot, hoping to top last year's 7-9 mark with an aging project under center. Besides, the front office will want to take another look at Johnny Manziel if things go south. Either way, Cleveland is ripe to draft another passer next spring.

1. Nick Foles, Rams quarterback

I'm tempted to put Sam Bradford on this list, but I agree with Chris Wesseling: He's a better fit for Comeback Player of the Year in Chip Kelly's offense. Foles is here because of what we haven't seen in St. Louis under Jeff Fisher: A competent offense. The Rams will run the ball plenty with Todd Gurley and Tre Mason, but Foles will be asked to make his share of plays through the air to one of the league's most uninspiring group of wideouts. He was a statistical revelation two years ago, but Foles no longer operates inside a quarterback-proof offense.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast welcomes back Colleen Wolfe to discuss non-Super Bowl contenders, and an all-new 'Orr You Kidding Me.' Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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