12 high risk fantasy players to draft with caution
We’re getting closer and closer until the Fantasy Football season kicks off. Every year we all have this “master plan” heading into our drafts hoping all of our guys somehow miraculously fall into our laps. Well news flash it doesn’t happen that way because the other 9, 11 or 15 other guys in your draft are thinking the exact same way. Some people might have already drafted, others of course are smarter and definitely learned from last years injuries to players such as Jordy Nelson and Kelvin Benjamin that waiting to have your draft could pay off. Last season positions such as tight end and running back were a desert, and it was difficult searching for a player in the waiver wire to depend on a player to help you win your week. If you were one of the guys who spent a first round pick on a guy like Jeremy Hill or C.J. Anderson trust me I know your pain, and know how a move like this could throw you off. Of course with all the injuries we also saw studs make the most of an opportunity due to injury of another player David Johnson, Devonta Freeman etc. So with that said I will give you my top 12 risky players to think about when it comes to drafting.
1. Sammy Watkins (BUF)
Watkins has all the talent in the world and has proven he can put up the numbers to be a true elite number receiver when healthy, but that’s a big “when”. Foot injuries are never a good sign for a receiver, and playing on an injured foot on a weekly basis gives no player the chance to fully recover until the off-season. Even though Watkins has passed his physical, any re-injury could sink his stock, and we could see him slide more and more down the board come draft day. Not saying he’s going to last past the sixth or seventh round, but the Sammy Watkins issue is one worth monitoring. He’s either going return value to you if you can get him in a later round, or burn you if you take him in one of the earlier round to only see him miss some time with a lingering injury.
2. Jordy Nelson (GB)
At 31 years old Nelson seems to somehow be a safe pick when it comes to your draft. A lot of that has to do with the offense he plays in with the play calling of McCarthy and not to mention he has a guy by the name of Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball just in case you haven’t heard of him. All jokes aside we all know about last year’s ACL tear, but he’s now experiencing tendonitis in his other knee. Rodgers did go on to say on Monday that he expected Nelson to be back on the field next week, and while that’s a good sign things like this I always have to keep an eye on. I like Nelson this year if he can come into the season healthy, but it’ll be hard drafting him over guys like Brandon Marshall, Mike Evans and Keenan Allen who are currently going after him.
3. Julian Edelman (NE)
With only playing one full season in the NFL, Edelman is going to be one of the guys I really think hard about when I come across him this year on my board. Of course depending on what round it is and how my strategy is going so far the former Kent State QB has always had injury concerns. Last season Edelman went down with a left foot injury in which he’s had two surgeries on since. Edelman was finally activated off the PUP list on Sunday, but it was reported yesterday that he went down in practice to another injury as he “slammed his helmet to the ground”. The injury hasn’t been announced as of yet, but it was to his left foot. With Edelman going as early as the third and fourth round thus far in mocks the red flags are there, and definitely make sure you WR core is strong before you consider Edelman.
4. Kelvin Benjamin (CAR)
I love Benjamin this year. Yes he’s only played one season in the NFL before going down to a torn ACL last season, but look at his numbers in his rookie year. Over 1,000 yards and 9 TD’s? I’ll take that all day. It does hurt me to say that it won’ be easy repeating that, especially coming off of injury so that does make him one of the most riskiest WR’s in the Top 20. What gives me hope in taking Benjamin early is seeing what Cam Newton was able to do last year with players like Ted Ginn and Devin Funchess to name a few. Greg Olsen was there, but getting to 15 wins with that receiving core gives me hope that Benjamin is going to be just fine. It’s just that not having seen enough of him on the field might impact where he goes in a draft.
5. Devonta Freeman (ATL)
If you didn’t handcuff Freeman behind Tevin Coleman in last years draft and had to watch someone else snipe him from the waiver wire well my condolences to you. I happened to be one of the guys who managed to steal Freeman from the waiver wire and rode him to the playoffs as he finished as the best fantasy back of 2015. Going into 2016 the odds are stacked against them for numerous reasons. It’s going to be hard to repeat what he did last year in his historic run, not to mention he ended up losing the starting role to Coleman in last years off-season. The Atlanta coaching staff is looking to get Tevin Coleman more involved this season making Freeman a risky pick in this years draft. Currently he is going late in the first and early in the second. If you end up with Freeman as your RB1 you’re going to have to reach early to handcuff Coleman to make sure you end up with the starter as the year goes on.
6. Carlos Hyde (SF)
I will never forget watching Hyde lase season in that Monday night opener against Minnesota. He lit up the scoreboard, and served me a week one loss as the guy I was going against had Hyde who managed to put up close to 30 points in that performance. After that we never heard from him again. The 49ers have one of the most toughest NFL schedules in 2016, and with Hyde coming back from a foot injury that put him on the shelf in 2015 would be hard for him to return to that same player we saw on Monday night last year. He is playing under a new coaching staff in 2016 under Chip Kelley, but Hyde will be running behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. With all the risk coming along with Hyde I’m staying away from him personally.
7. Thomas Rawls (SEA)
Last year a healthy Rawls filled in nicely for ‘Beast Mode’ when Lynch was out, that was until he broke his ankle and got a late start to camp. Seattle is in need of a dependable RB1 with Marshawn Lynch retiring this off-season and a lot of pressure is going to be on Rawls. Besides his injury the fact that Seattle drafted three running backs in this years draft makes Rawls more of a riskier pick as he is one of the current players going early in drafts. He hasn’t done much on the field to prove that he’s the guy in Seattle yet alone will I depend on him as my RB1 in my draft. The upside is definitely there with Rawls, but I would pass on him and try to get him later on if I could.
8. Jamaal Charles (KC)
I love me some Jamaal Charles. He’s a player I would always target early in the past and would draft with confidence, but after going down due to a 2nd ACL tear last season it’s going to be hard depend on Jamaal to have the same impact and workload he’s had in the past. Jamaal is a guy that I’ve been monitoring during training camp and will continue to see how he progresses as the preseason looms. What’s even more frustrating is deciding which guy to handcuff with whether it be Spencer Ware or Charcandrick West as both backs did an excellent job filling in for Charles when he was out.
9. Tyler Eifert (CIN)
If you drafted Eifert last year chances were you took him way late in the draft and you were probably loving life as he stayed consistent throughout the season. It pains me to say that he’s going to be one of the risky players this year coming back from injury and odd one at that. Now ankle injuries are common in the NFL, but Eifert knew about his injury and waited quite a while before he decided to get surgery. Despite missing three games Eifert lit up the scoreboard and led all tight end’s in touchdowns with 13. He was money when it came to his red-zone targets. With that said it’s no surprise that he’s due to a regression this year when it comes to touchdowns, and his late off-season ankle surgery most question marks around this athletic freak when it comes to drafting him.
10. Latavius Murray (OAK)
Ehh now this is as ugly as it gets when it comes to the position. Last year everybody targeted Murray in their drafts. What wasn’t to love about him? He has the size, speed and had that one huge performance against the Chiefs in that Thursday night game two season ago. Murray put on the 11th most fantasy points scored from a back last season, but mind you that was due to a lot of other players being out with injury and most of his games that were in double digits all featured him scoring at least one TD making Murray heavily touchdown dependent. Although he would be behind a stellar line and solid defense that coaching staff has come out and question his efficiency on the field which isn’t a good sign. We could see Murray put all that past him and be relevant this year, but he’s not a guy I’m reaching for early on.
11. Jeremy Langford (CHI)
With Matt Forte out and a member of the NY Jets it seems as if Langford is the clear number one RB1 in Chicago right? Not so fast. Langford is surrounded by questions and concerns headed into the 2016 season. Looking back at his stats and highlights he only forced seven missed tackles. I know it feels like we’ve seen him make some big plays, but Langford only had two-runs that were over 15 yards and managed 1.8 yards after contact per attempt making him the worst out of 100 running backs. Langford is currently facing viable competition with rookie Jordan Howard, and if I miss out on Langford which I’m not worried about at all Howard is a guy I’m targeting in the later rounds.
12. Arian Foster/Jay Ajayi
Ok yes, if you read the headline correctly I did say 12 players not 13, but hear me out this is as confusing and risky as it gets. Early in the off-season it seemed as if Ajayi was going to be the clear RB1 after Lamar Miller signed with Houston. When the season starts Foster will be 30 and his body seems to be made of clay as he always seems to be trying to hurdle over an injury. This changes everything if you planned on going WR heavy early and taking guys like Ajayi and Abdullah later on (like me) well now you have concerns. To begin with it seems that the Miami coaching staff are not sold 100% on Ajayi, but even with them bringing in Foster you still can’t feel good about taking him as your RB2 or whenever you take him. Not only that if you somehow end up with Foster it immediately become your priority to take Ajayi with you very next pick! If you don’t agree then don’t draft him, because Ajayi won’t last another 2-3 rounds you hope to get him in as a guy such as myself would come in like a snake and steal him away. Not only that with Foster being injury prone you would want to have the RB1 in Miami that being Ajayi being the next man up. This is a situation I’m staying away from, but then again let’s not be fooled with what Foster can do, and excitement he can bring to your team when he’s healthy.
Orlando Torres covers the NFL for MyFantasySportsTalk, you can follow him on Twitter @itslandoyo