The NFL season is still only a few weeks old and we have already seen a considerable amount of starters essentially get benched, such as Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman and Broncos rookie running back Royce Freeman. Rookies and backups have proven to be better options and some teams have already pulled the trigger. However, we don’t think the turnover is even close to finished. This article will look at a number of current NFL starters (as of the end of Week 2) who we believe will be benched by the end of the season. The NFL is a cutthroat business — it could happen to anyone.
12. Robert Woods – Los Angeles Rams
While Robert Woods is a solid player, there are many great wide receivers in Los Angeles right now. Currently, Woods lines up alongside Brandin Cooks as the starting WRs on the Los Angeles Rams. Woods had an amazing season last year, but so did Cooper Kupp. Kupp’s rookie season was great, he has a ton of potential, and he has great chemistry with quarterback Jared Goff. Woods will definitely still play, but we see Kupp overtaking him as the second starter very soon. Cooks was brought on to be “the guy” in Los Angeles, so we don’t see him losing his spot as a starter anytime soon.
11. Sam Bradford – Arizona Cardinals
In these first few weeks of the NFL season, the Arizona Cardinals have been one of the worst teams in the NFL. In particular, their offense has looked sluggish, slow, and downright terrible. While there are many areas that you could point to for the lack of production, a lot of the blame has to fall on starting quarterback Sam Bradford. Bradford has been around the league for many years, but has struggled a lot over the last few years with injuries and subpar play. He signed a two-year deal with the Cardinals back in March, but don’t be shocked to see first-round pick Josh Rosen take over the starting job sooner rather than later — especially if the Cards continue to lose.
10. Pierre Garcon – San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers ended last season on a great winning streak and this offseason, they only got better. They added running back Jerrick McKinnon, but unfortunately he is out for the season with an ACL tear. As a result, there is more pressure on the rest of the offense to perform. In particular, many fans are looking to the wide receivers to step up. While they don’t have a superstar, Marquise Goodwin and Pierre Garcon are a serviceable starting two. However, they picked a high-upside player in WR Dante Pettis in the 2018 Draft, and we feel he will be able to take Garcons spot in the starting line-up. Garcon, now 32-years-old, hasn’t been the most impressive so far — just six catches for 78-yards over two games.
9. Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders
Marshawn Lynch is a legend at the running back position, especially while playing for the Seattle Seahawks, but is simply past his prime in 2018. He is still just as strong as ever, but the game is passing him by, and we believe that his role in the Oakland Raiders offense is going to dwindle over the next few weeks. We see Jalen Richard taking over before the end of the year. He is already the man in passing situations, and has shown that he is capable of starting for the team. With this potentially being Lynch’s last season (he’s 32 and this is the final year of his current contract), we wouldn’t be shocked to see the team start Richard later in the year to see if he can take over as the starter of the future, or whether they need to investigate other options in the offseason.
8. Mohamed Sanu – Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons have had one of the most high-powered offenses in the NFL over the last few seasons. Their team is made up of several great players at nearly every offensive position, headlined by wide receiver Julio Jones — one of the best in the entire league. However, they made their offense even better this offseason when they drafted Calvin Ridley, who many think is the best wide rookie wide receiver out there. While he isn’t starting right now, but he has shown some flashes of brilliance (four catches for 64-yards and one TD so far), and will likely take Mohamed Sanu’s spot as second starter before the end of this season.
7. Tyrell Williams – Los Angeles Chargers
With the likes of WR Keenan Allen and RB Melvin Gordon, the Chargers have one of the best offenses in the NFL. While there is a bit of a drop off after those two players, they have several other pieces that complement quite nicely. One in particular is second year wideout Mike Williams. He is a huge target in the red zone and isn’t afraid to work hard. Currently, Tyrell Williams is the second starter at WR (at least until Travis Benjamin returns), but with how valuable Mike Williams can be, it won’t be long until the Chargers start him.
6. Joe Flacco
Back in 2012, Flacco had one of the best playoffs of any quarterback ever when he led the Ravens to a Super Bowl win. However, since then the Ravens (and Flacco himself) have been painfully average, at best. That is why the Ravens went out and drafted their QB of the future in 2018. With the final pick of the first round, the Ravens selected Lamar Jackson, who they hope will light a fire under Flacco. While many think Jackson will wait to start (Flacco is under contract until the end of 2021), we feel that the Ravens are a little fed up with the so-so play of Flacco. It could mean that Jackson will be thrust into the starting spot.
5. Carlos Hyde – Cleveland Browns
While the Cleveland Browns haven’t won a game in over 600 days, they have made some massive improvements to their team, most notably on the offensive side of the ball. They added new QBs, a new WR, and a few new RBs. The current starter for the team is Carlos Hyde and while he is still a solid player, he is not their most talented running back. That distinction goes to the rookie Nick Chubb, who really should be the future of this team. We see Chubb ending this season getting the majority of touches. With Duke Johnson being the primary pass catcher out of the backfield, we don’t see Hyde getting a ton of chances.
4. Adrian Peterson – Washington Redskins
A few months ago, Adrian Peterson was retired from the NFL and now, he is the starter for the Washington Redskins. He has played well (especially in Week 1), but Chris Thompson (who is the backup on the depth chart) has played better. He is already the pass-catching back, but Thompson could start to see every-down work as the season goes on. Peterson will have a role this year, but at 33-years-old he could be seeing the starting job slip through his fingers. Also, with second round pick Derrius Guice coming back from injury in 2019 and Peterson only signing a one-year deal that expires after this season, it looks like Washington only wanted him as a temporary band-aid starter anyway.
3. Tyrod Taylor – Cleveland Browns
This is the second Cleveland Brown on this list, and that really shouldn’t shock you. While Tyrod Taylor can be a solid starter at times, if the Browns continue to lose you can be sure that their fan base will be clamoring for first overall pick Baker Mayfield to start. Mayfield has shown he is ready to step into the job and if the Browns’ experiment with Taylor doesn’t work, you can be sure they will be ready to make the switch sooner rather than later. Mayfield is undoubtedly the future of this team (at least right now), so it would be shocking if they let Taylor start all season and have their first overall pick sit.
2. Eli Manning – New York Giants
Eli Manning has been a starter in this league for well over a decade, but is currently 37-years-old. He is one of the most recognizable figures in the NFL, but is a low tier quarterback at this point in his legendary career. He isn’t the worst, but isn’t capable of being the player he was even a few seasons ago. Plus his terrible offensive line continues to allow Manning to get physically punished every game. While the future Giants’ QB likely isn’t on the team right now, don’t be shocked to see the team go with Kyle Lauletta or even Alex Tanney for a few games — just to see what he’s got. Of course, if they’re in the playoff race this might not happen. But if they are struggling, why wouldn’t they try someone new? Manning’s career is definitely coming to an end, so they might as well begin the rebuilding process sooner rather than later.
1. Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons
This might be a shock to some, as Freeman is one of the best running backs in the world. But so is his backup. For years, Tevin Coleman has been the backup in Atlanta, filling in for Freeman when he is hurt. Coleman always puts on a good show and wows fans, only to go back to the bench when Freeman returns. Freeman is already hurt this season and Coleman is doing a great job replacing him. Because of this, we believe this might be the season where they officially hand him the reigns. Also, with this being a contract year for Coleman, many teams are likely interested in him as their starter for next year. As a result, don’t be shocked to see the Falcons use him a lot this year, whether to get their money’s worth or evaluate if they should bring him back.