NFL fantasy football: 10 stats you won't see in 2013
By Marcas Grant
Updated: Jan. 24, 2013 at 08:52 p.m.
I'm a skeptic... especially when it comes to fantasy football. When a particular player puts up huge numbers over a certain stretch -- or even during a season -- that player generally becomes the talk of fantasy enthusiasts all throughout the Interweb. But not me. At least not if that player hasn't shown flashes of that level of success before. I tend to acknowledge the greatness, then respond with three simple words: Do it again.
Sometimes guys do, sometimes they don't.
Along those lines, we looked at 10 numbers from the 2012 fantasy season that were just amazing -- both good and bad -- and aren't likely to be duplicated in 2013.
Adrian Peterson's 2,097 rushing yards: There aren't enough superlatives for what A.D. accomplished this season. Rushing for 2,097 yards is an incredible feat for anyone, let alone a player less than a calendar year removed from major knee surgery. But do you know how many times an NFL running back has gone for 2,000-plus yards? Seven. And none of them has even reached 1,500 yards the following season. Peterson is a phenomenal back, who could very well be fantasy's top back again in 2013. But he's not rushing for 2,000 yards.
Robert Griffin III's 815 rushing yards: The first obstacle to RG3 duplicating his big rushing totals is the possibility that he won't be ready for the season opener in 2013. While there have been numerous reports that the young QB is on track to suit up for Week 1, that's a best-case scenario. But even if he is ready to go at the start of the season, there's a whole mess of film available on him and a phalanx of defensive coordinators game planning to slow him down.
Chicago Bears D/ST's 10 touchdowns: You just can't set franchise records every season, which is exactly what the Bears did in 2012. The Monsters of the Midway lived up to their reputation -- especially in the first half of the season -- by returning seven interceptions for touchdowns in the first eight games of the season. Chicago finished the season with eight pick-sixes on defense to go along with a fumble and blocked punt returned for scores. Could it happen again in 2013? Possibly. Will it? No.
James Jones' 14 receiving TDs: This is a lot like last season when Jones' teammate Jordy Nelson had a breakout season with 15 touchdown catches. The following season, he was held to just seven receiving scores. Injury had something to do with it, but defenses were also on the lookout for Nelson. Similarly, teams will scheme to slow down Jones in 2013. The emergence of Randall Cobb as a major factor in the Packers offense should also conspire to keep Jones' numbers down. Before this season, the veteran from San Jose State had never caught more than seven TDs. Look for his numbers to return to those levels next season.
Stevan Ridley's 12 rushing TDs: Ridley surprised plenty of people by taking control of New England's top rushing gig. He made the most of it by scoring a team-high 12 touchdowns -- all on the ground. However, it's not Bill Belichick's style to rely on just one running back for an entire season. At least not when he has other options. One of those options in 2013 will be Shane Vereen, who came out of nowhere to score three touchdowns in a playoff win over the Houston Texans. Vereen likely earned himself a few more carries next season. Plus having Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez healthy should reduce Ridley's red-zone chances.
Calvin Johnson's five receiving TDs: Megatron finished 2012 with the second-lowest touchdown total of his career. That was despite having more than 120 catches and nearly 2,000 receiving yards. He's the undisputed go-to option in the Detroit Lions passing game and it's hard to think Matthew Stafford won't make every effort to get him more involved in the red zone. Plus, Johnson's in his prime and it's hard to envision him being held out of the end zone this much next year.
Larry Fitzgerald's 798 receiving yards: It really can't get much worse. No, really, it can't. Fitz posted his lowest receiving total since he pulled in 780 yards... as a rookie. And his four touchdowns was a career-worst. New head coach Bruce Arians knows his team can't be successful unless Fitzgerald is a major part of the offense. The Cardinals will put the ball in No. 11's hands by hook or by crook next season. He might not be a top 10 fantasy receiver in 2013, but it won't be nearly as bad as this season.
Alfred Morris' 1,613 rushing yards: It was a huge year for the rookie who slayed #Shanahanigans. But simply put, no running back has rushed for 1,600-plus yards in back-to-back seasons since 2005-06, when both Tiki Barber and Larry Johnson pulled it off. Regardless of how much teams are starting to feature running backs, it's still (say it with me) a quarterback's league. Plus, as long as Robert Griffin III is under center, he is going to take some of Morris' carries. The man from Florida Atlantic has proven his worth as a No. 1 running back, but let's not overvalue him just yet.
Vernon Davis' 548 receiving yards: It was a disappointing season for one of the NFL's premier tight ends, but many of those problems coincided with Colin Kaepernick taking over as San Francisco's starting quarterback. Late in the season, Davis admitted that some of his issues had to do with not having a rapport with the new QB. Yet judging from his targets in the postseason, that rapport is growing. Having a full offseason and preseason to work together, expect that relationship to build. Davis could have sleeper appeal for fantasy owners in 2013.
Josh Freeman's 27 touchdown passes: So far in his career, the odd-numbered years haven't been kind to Freeman. As a rookie in 2009, he threw 10 TD passes then upped that number to 25 in 2010. Move ahead to 2011, when Freeman tossed 16 scoring strikes before rebounding for 27 this past season. It would be a surprise to see him take a major step back like he has in previous odd-numbered years, but his struggles at the end of the season don't inspire any confidence that he can match or surpass the career high he set in 2012.