Like any good season, 2013 featured no shortage of breakout stars and late bloomers. But for every Alshon Jeffery and Jordan Cameron, there was a Trent Richardson or Danny Amendola. Players who, for whatever reason, couldn’t meet the hype or expectations. The reasons for disappointment ranged from age to injury to plain-old ineffectiveness. We’ll delve deeper into the how and why for some of these inglorious 25 in this year’s What Went Wrong? series. This is not an all-encompassing list, while players aren’t necessarily ranked in order of “most disappointing.” There were more than 25 disappointing players in 2013, and "disappointment" is a nebulous concept that means different things to different people. I also thought it would be a bit mean to include David Wilson and his career-threatening neck injury. With all that said, here are 25 players who didn’t answer the bell in 2013.
1. Trent Richardson
Richardson’s failure was so staggering, so comprehensive, that it’s hard to know where to begin. There isn’t a fantasy owner alive who doesn’t know the gory details, so instead of an avalanche of ugly numbers, we’ll begin with a comparison. Richardson is a first-round pick twice over. Andre Ellington was the No. 187 selection of last April’s draft. Ellington led the league with 5.52 yards per carry. That was nearly double what T-Rich averaged as a Colt, 2.91. Now you could consider this an arbitrary observation. T-Rich and Ellington are two very different players. But if that’s arbitrary, T-Rich’s numbers are capricious. He averaged 25.5 rushing yards per game over Indy’s final nine contests. He rushed for more than 40 yards four times in 14 games. His season high was 64. He averaged 4.0 yards per carry exactly once. In the playoffs? Richardson had as many lost fumbles (one) as yards (one). We’ll explore the “why” of Richardson’s 2013 in a future What Went Wrong?, but the “where” is unambiguously clear: In a gutter all by itself.
2. Ray Rice
One of the few players who feared to tread in Richardson’s slum of ineptitude? Rice. But therein lies the first difference between two extremely disappointing seasons: Tread. As in, a lot of it had already been peeled off of Rice’s tires coming into 2013. Whether it’s wear and tear, advancing age, Baltimore’s shockingly poor line play or Rice’s hip injury that’s to blame for his subterranean campaign, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that it happened, and that amongst qualified rushers, Rice’s 3.08 yards per carry bettered only three players (yes, Richardson was one of them). Logical explanations or not, that’s an impossibly-bad number for a player who was the No. 7 pick by ADP. Rice has given fantasy owners many good years, but it’s possible he’s tapped out after taking the ball 1,527 times before his 26th birthday. Here’s hoping he’s not.
3. Robert Griffin III
Early in the season, Griffin didn’t “disappoint” so much as fail to meet unreasonably high expectations. This, after all, was a player rushing back from the second torn right ACL of his football-playing career. But then instead of rallying for a strong finish, RGIII snowballed, playing genuinely bad football over his final four starts. His reward was an unceremonious — and misguided — benching for Kirk Cousins. Cousins’ stark failure has spared RGIII the indignity of a talk-radio quarterback “controversy,” but he’s on the spot instead of on the rise.
4. Eli Manning
A much worse — and much harder to explain — implosion took place 225 miles up the northeast megalopolis from RGIII. Manning’s 27 interceptions were the most by any player since Brett Favre tossed 29 in 2005. Manning has now thrown 42 picks over his past 32 games, and posted a 4:10 TD:INT ratio over five December starts. Adding to Eli’s figurative limp into the offseason was a literal one, as he suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 17. Forgetting the inane debate over Manning’s “eliteness,” it’s impossible to argue that his Giants tenure has been an unsuccessful one. But if Peyton’s little brother doesn’t find more success in 2014, succession planning will begin in earnest for one of the league’s most intelligent franchises.
5. Roddy White
White entered 2013 as a model of consistency who had never missed a game. He exited it a 32 year old with sudden injury issues. White suffered a high-ankle sprain in training camp and never recovered, missing the first three games of his career while being held below 1,000 yards for the first time since 2006. Along the way were hamstring and shoulder issues. Finally healthy in December, White closed on a 43/502/2 tear. But that was without Julio Jones to siphon targets, and after White entered the season’s final month with just 20 grabs for 209 yards. White’s finish hints that perhaps his year was an Andre Johnson 2011-style aberration. But gambling on a soon-to-be 33 year old’s resurgence in 2014 will be risky business. Once players get to the cliff, they typically fall of it instead of pulling back.
Don't forget, for the latest on everything NFL, check out Rotoworld's Player News, or follow @Rotoworld_FB or @RotoPat on Twitter.