Four Players Who Won’t Bounce Back in 2021

A QB, RB, WR, and TE Make The List

By: Euan Leith

Football fans love a good comeback story. Maybe a player was injured and looks to return to his former status in the league’s upper echelon? Or a fan favorite had a down year but is looking to show the team that he is not done yet. I love those stories. You love those stories. Everyone loves those stories. 

This article is not about those stories. These are the players that will not have sports-movie endings and return to their glory days. They are over the hill and on the other side of the good old days. You should avoid them in fantasy and hope your team moves on from them or doesn’t trade for them in real life. 

Quarterback

Carson Wentz – Philadelphia Eagles

The former first-round pick is entering his sixth NFL season in 2021, and that will be the year the Wentz truthers finally admit defeat. In his sophomore season, Wentz threw 33 touchdowns in 13 games with a 7.5 percent touchdown rate. He was the talk of the league and the MVP-favorite before a knee injury shortened his season while his team won the Super Bowl. However, the rest of his time in the league has not been as fun for the 28-year old. 

It’s beginning to look like that 2017 season was the massive outlier for his career. The Eagles used first-round picks in 2019 and 2020 on wide receivers, but neither J.J. Arcega-Whiteside nor Jalen Reagor have made tremendous impacts on the field in their short careers. I don’t believe the Eagles can improve enough to bring Wentz back to the elite (and somewhat fluky) level of play he showed in that 2017 season. Jalen Hurts is waiting in the wings, and the best years of Wentz in a Philly uniform are not coming back.

Running Back

Kareem Hunt – Cleveland Browns

Many fans (understandably) don’t want to see Kareem Hunt return to his top-notch-production days when he was with the Kansas City Chiefs. However, a lot of people loved his lightning to Nick Chubb’s thunder role in the Browns offense this year. The hype and chatter netted him a season line with 841 rushing yards, 304 receiving yards, and 11 total touchdowns. Don’t get me wrong, those are great numbers for a No. 2 running back in the NFL, but it doesn’t fill me with confidence that Hunt will return to the 1800-yard, 15-touchdown potential he showed in Kansas City. Even with a change in scenery, I’m not sure the 25-year old would thrive. In the four games without Nick Chubb in 2020, Hunt compiled 254 yards on 65 carries (3.91 YPC) and caught 10 passes for 71 yards with two trips to the end zone. It won’t surprise me if this is the running back version of Josh Gordon. Fans and fantasy managers will keep chasing the white whale that was 2017 Kareem Hunt, but he will always evade their grasp. 

Wide Receiver

Adam Thielen – Minnesota Vikings

2019 was a down season for Thielen. He missed six games and only caught 30 passes for 418 yards. However, with Stefon Diggs gone, 2020 would be the return of Thielen as one of the top tiers of receivers in the league. That didn’t exactly come to fruition. Justin Jefferson exploded onto the scene and stole the show in the Minnesota passing game. Plus, Dalvin Cook remained reasonably healthy for a whole season. Thielen is now entering his age-31 season and has seen his yards per target decrease in five straight seasons. Jefferson and Cook are the future of this franchise. Thielen will still be a reliable target, but he will not be the No. 1 wide receiver in the Land of 10,000 lakes. Thielen missed six games in 2019 and was held to 30 catches on 48 targets, and followed it up this season with 74 catches on 108 targets. Those are modest totals, but the days of his 140-target seasons are long gone. Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson are the alphas in the Viking’s offense. 

Tight End

Mark Andrews – Baltimore Ravens

Things that work great in the regular season but don’t lead to playoff success. What is the Baltimore Ravens offense? BINGO. 

After a breakout season in 2019, Mark Andrew’s status rose throughout the league as the next tight end to watch. Fast forward to the end of the 2020 season, and many questions are surrounding the Pro-Bowler. Pro Football reference only dings him with five drops on the year, but if you watch any Raven’s games this year, that number feels awfully low. It’s the second year that Baltimore flamed out in the playoffs with their run-heavy, short-passing offense. It sure got boring at times for a team with some of the most explosive playmakers in the league on their roster. I see the Ravens moving away from their current scheme as they look towards their ultimate goal of raising the Vince Lombardi trophy for the third time this century. That will come at the expense of Andrews in the long term, and I don’t see a year where he tops his 64 catches for 852 yards and 10 touchdowns performance in 2019. 

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