It's hard to pick star players to fail because they all at some point were among the top tier of their peers. However, age, injury, and team changes all effect specific star players' seasons. It can even ruin some star players' careers for good. Here are the ten stars,ranked in order of most likely to fail, with red flags for 2014.
1. Marshawn Lynch SEA - Lynch has had a great run with the Seahawks. Even since his huge 2011 season with Seattle he has ascended to stardom and is widely considered among the league's best running backs. Lynch, has many problems to deal with 2014 though. He has carried the ball over 300 times in consecutive seasons. This statistic is known as the running back killer. Carrying that much of a worklaod often ends in bad injury and fatigue for a player.
He has a lot of miles on his wheels and unfortunately I think "beast mode" will unravel in 2014. He is near the dreaded age of 29 in which running backs usually drop off dramatically. Not only can he not handle another 300 carry season, but he is also looking for a new contract from a team who does not look poised to pay big money for a "non essential" position in today's NFL. They have a future star in Christene Michael who looks to take quite a few carries from Lynch this season. If Lynch decides to show up to training camp, he may find himself in a 60-40 timeshare with Christene Michael for the Seahwaks to keep him fresh.
2. Wes Welker DEN - Welker has not been the same since his first concussion a few years back. Following the two he had last year his health is his biggest red flag for 2014. One more concussion will most likely end his career at his age.
He also is surrounded by so much talent in Denver he may not get the 100 catch opportunities he once had in New England. Welker struggled to get separation last year and onyl had big success in the end zone for the most part. If he cannot repeat his touchdown output from last year, Welker will look to be in for a subpar 2014 campaign.
3. Larry Fitzgerald ARI - This all time Cardinals great is a sure fire Hall of Fame receiver. I feel bad putting him on this list, but Fitzgerald has consitently shown signs of slowing down. He has been plagued by numerous inuries as time winds on and does not have the acceleration or moves he once possessed.
Fitzgerald has also seen his catches decrease in four of the past five seasons, from 97 to 90 to 80 to 71; up until last year when he hauled in 82. He also has two straight seasons in which he failed to record 1,000 receiving yards, which is the first time this has happened in his career.
Put this all together with the fact that he plays six games a season against the likes of Richard Sherman, Patrick Peterson, and Janoris Jenkins, and you have a recipe for declining aged receiver. He still possesses great hands, but Michael Floyd is primed to steal the show in Arizona in 2014.
4. Cam Newton CAR- Cam Newton has the odds stacked against him in 2014. He will go into training camp this week with nine new receivers on the roster; with zero returning from last season. His lack of receiving talent ahould greatly reduce his numbers from years prior. He may be able to salvage some rushing touchdowns once again, but there is no way 4,000 yards is achievable for Newton in 2014.
He also has major recent injury history with his offeason ankle surgery. If this at all limits his mobility throughout the year it will cast even further doubt on his success this season. If the Panthers ever have to play catch up they will most certaintly struggle with argueably their best receiver being a slow and poor route running rookie. It is going to take time for Newton to build a rapport with an entire new receiving corps, and he and the Panthers offense is sure to struggle this season.
5. Andre Johnson HOU - This year should mark the fall from stardom for Andre Johnson. After a lackluster touchdown year in 2013, Johnson goes into 2014 with an even more grim quarterback situation. With Fitzpatrick as the starter and Savage awaiting on the bench, Johnson will have very limited resources to get him the ball.
All of this is dependent on if Jonnson will even show up for camp. He had been demanding a trade for some time and all indications point to him not wanting to be a part of the Texans' rebuild process on offense. He has hinted towards a hold out and it will be interesting to see what he decides. It's going to be hard to trust an old receiver with declining skills who does want anything to do with the team he is on.
6. Vernon Davis SF - Davis will be hurt this year by a few big threats in 2014. First, Crabtree will be back and healthy and is the absolute favorite target of Kaepernick. Secondly, the 49ers have three legitimate wide receivers with the addition of Steve Johnson. These other targets will no doubt take away from Davis's targets all over the field and especially in the red zone. The days of his double digit touchdown seasons appear to be numbered.
He is apparently holding out for a new contract this yet and that will only further hurt his value. He wants Jimmy Graham money, but the 49ers cannot afford that.
7. Reggie Bush DET- Bush should be able to be a force in pass game in 2014, but all indications point to the emergence of Joique Bell in the run game for 2014. Bush was very inconsistent running the ball last year and the Lions had more success in most situations with Bell as the ball carrier.
This may have more to do with Bell's talent than with Bush's lack of talent, but this no doubt hurts Bush this year. He may have mumbers this year that more relate him to Darren Sproles, than a real number one running back with the way Detroit throws the ball. Other than the big play Bush can offer here and there he is more suited for a third down role in the new Jim Caldwell offense. Look for a decline in total touches and incline in such for Bell.
8. Frank Gore SF - Gore year after year has defied the odds of breaking down like all the old used up running backs. He may not be done yet, but the depth in the backfield in San Francisco is concerning.
Signing Carlos Hyde was the first indication the 49ers were going to lighten the load on Gore. Hyde is the most talented back in this year's watered down class, but is still a bruising physical specimen. He may keep Gore more fresh by taking in roughly 8-10 carries a game, but this still figures to limit the production of Gore. Gore is near the end of the road and because he offers nothing in the receiving department as well, his chances of 1,000 yard seasons and great success seem all but over.
9. Nick Foles PHI - After his shocking success in 2013, Foles seems a prime candidate to regress in 2014. His quarterback rating of over 110 and touchdown to interception ratio of 12-1 were among some of the best in league history.
Not to diminish these numbers, but Foles really does not appear to be that consistent of a threat. He appears to be a product of the Chip Kelly offense that limits mistake throws. However, like all good things NFL offenses do, NFL defenses find a way to adjust and shut down that previous success. The same will happen to Foles this season. NFL teams now have tape of his to study and formulate a plan to stop him and Chip Kelly.
10. Peyton Manning DEN - I only put him on here because it is controversial and he had the greatest year ever in 2013. There is no way he can get better, it can only get worse. He may be the greatest ever at his position, but he is 38 years old and suffering from several brutal neck injuries.
He has several factors around him that could hurt him in 2014 as well. He lost one of the best running back pass protectors in Moreno for the new starter Montee Ball who haa struggled to pass block. Manning also lost big receiving threat Eric Decker who is now replaced by underwhelming Emmanuel Sanders and rookie Cody Lattimer.
Biggest of all is the declining skills and health of Wes Welker. Numerous concussions and big hits have dampered his production of late and he only seems to be trending downward. With Manning's bad neck seemingly taken away all of his arm strength; any struggles he endures could hurt this team tremendously with turnovers. Seattle exposed Manning and his offense in the Super Bowl and I expect more similar game plans in 2014 to limit his production.