Last week, we broke down the 10 biggest surprise players at the season's quarter pole. We now present 10 players who have fallen well short of expectations.
1. David Wilson, New York Giants
The Giants' collapse has been a true team effort, but we feel comfortable making Wilson the face of the team's stumble to irrelevance. Positioned as a star on the rise, Wilson lost two fumbles in the season opener in Dallas and never recovered. He finally found the end zone in Week 5, then suffered a neck injury that's knocked him out of the lineup. On the plus side, he can do pretty back flips.
2. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
This was the season Dalton was supposed to lift his game to the next level. Instead, he seems like he's still the same guy he was as rookie -- a quarterback capable of making plays, but nobody's example of a franchise star to build around. Colleague Chris Wesseling put it best when he established After Dalton, or A.D., a quarterback scale in which Dalton sits exactly in the middle. Any player before Dalton is a viable franchise quarterback, any quarterback below him is a problem, not a solution. Dalton lives in quarterback purgatory.
3. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
The 54-yard touchdown run on a gimpy ankle was a welcome sign of life, but Spiller remains a disappointment so far. Spiller established himself as a star last season, and many predicted even bigger things in 2013. Instead, Spiller has meandered through the season as the second-best running back on his own team.
4. Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants
5. Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams
A classic pre-draft riser, Austin sparked the imaginations of teams across the NFL with electric NFL Scouting Combine and pro day performances. At one point, a hyperventilating Mike Mayock said Austin "might be the most explosive player I've ever seen in my life." The Rams were in love, and traded up to land the former West Virginia star with the eighth overall pick in April's draft. Austin hasn't done much to reward that investment yet, averaging less than seven yards per catch. Either Austin needs to be better or the Rams need to be more imaginative. Maybe both.
6. Morris Claiborne, Dallas Cowboys
It's still early, but Claiborne has the look of a bust for the Cowboys. The 2012 first-round pick lost his starting job to Orlando Scandrick and is ranked 95th out of 100 qualifying cornerbacks by Pro Football Focus. The silver lining? Claiborne had a fumble recovery and interception Sunday against the Broncos. Of course, he was playing on a defense that surrendered 51 points, so ...
7. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Loyal Cam Newton apologists have to be running out of patience. The Panthers didn't do a good job putting a proper offense around the quarterback in the offseason, but Newton -- now in his third season -- continues to be an enigma. Accuracy remains an issue, and his 79.2 passer rating ranks him directly beneath rookies Geno Smith and EJ Manuel. Newton is supposed to be lifting the Panthers. Instead, he played down to his team's mediocre level.
8. Cortland Finnegan, St. Louis Rams
Bad contract alert! Finnegan was being toasted with regularity this season before heading to the sideline with a thigh injury. Pro Football Focus ranks Finnegan as the league's worst cornerback through Week 5. Perhaps the injury explains the poor play, but Finnegan has been in regression since last season.
9. London Fletcher, Washington Redskins
You figured the time eventually would come when Fletcher would stop performing at an effective level. This might be the year, as Fletcher is ranked 49th among 50 3-4 inside linebackers. Fletcher also is losing playing time to backup Nick Barnett, a sign the veteran could be entering the twilight of a special career.