Compiling a Fantasy Football roster consists of evaluating the risk/reward of each player drafted and their overall value. Value can be determined by the round a player is drafted compared to the potential or ceiling that player can feasibly reach. For instance, last season Doug Martin came into the year with health questions from the previous 2 seasons. Therefore, he came with substantial risk if you were to select him in the second round, but as it turned out Martin fell in many drafts to approximately the fourth round. Drafting Martin in the fourth round was tremendous value as he ran for 1,402 yards in 2015, second in the league behind Adrian Peterson. Fast forward to your 2016 fantasy drafts and there are many players that you will have to shrewdly evaluate to determine the risk/reward of selecting them and at which point in the draft the players’ value outweighs the inherent risk. Here is a list of some of the riskiest players going into the 2016 Fantasy Football season:
Alshon Jeffery – The uber talented fifth year receiver had a rash of injuries (calf, hamstring, groin) preventing him from displaying his talent as a true number 1 receiver. Not only did it hamstring (pun intended) his potential but it also hurt him secure a long term deal this offseason with the Bears opting to go with a one year franchise tag. Many fantasy fans speak on the pace Keenan Allen was on last season but Jeffery’s 16-game projected stats if healthy would have made him the number 3 receiver in fantasy football. Jeffery played in 7 full games last season in which he produced 54 catches for 807 yards and 4 touchdowns. Jeffery is a straight beast on the field with his ability to come down with tough catches with defenders draped all over him. If you are an owner that is willing to take calculated risks for a big payoff then you should target Jeffery, just hope Mr. “Soft Tissue” can make it through NFL games and give you a big play, dynamic WR1 on your fantasy teams.
Eddie Lacy – I’m sure all the Sherman Klump cheeseburger type jokes are getting old to Eddie Lacy. He totally ate his way out of fantasy lineups and torpedoed seasons and potential earnings for owners. How can you trust him after that? There are a couple of reasons why Lacy could be due for a major comeback after a minor setback. Number one reason for hope is Lacy re-dedicated himself by losing the pounds he packed on by working extensively with P90X founder Tony Horton. Lacy was last reported weighing in at 240 pounds in OTAs which is 20 pounds less than his 260 pound frame last season. Secondly, if football is not Lacy’s motivation to be the old Eddie Lacy then money might be. Lacy enters the last season of his rookie contract and if he plays to his 2013-2014 form then he is line for a big pay day. Last but not least Jordy Nelson is back. Nelson is a big play receiver that will take the coverage and pressure off of everyone else on the Packers roster, boxes will definitely be lighter with the Packers’ number 1 receiver back in the fold. Currently Lacy is not showing any substantial ill affect in his average draft position after a disastrous 2015 season with him being selected in the 2nd round of drafts. Just understand the risk that comes with drafting him.
Sammy Watkins – True of False…Sammy Watkins has only missed 3 games in his 2 year NFL career? Well even though it’s hard to believe, the injury prone receiver has only missed 3 games. That’s pretty impressive if you factor in all of his ailments; rib injury, groin injury, hip injury which led to hip surgery last off-season, hamstring injury, calf injury, ankle injury, and the big one foot injury. Watkins has missed the entire off-season after having yet another surgery, this time to repair a broken foot. My first thought is that Watkins is a tough MFer and secondly what numbers can he truly put up if he can stay healthy in 2016. The talent has never been the question but there are a couple factors working against Watkins. The Bills offense is as run heavy as it gets, Rex Ryan wants to run the ball and when he is done running he wants to run it even more. Also, although I love Tyrod Taylor as a football player he is not the passing weapon like other quarterbacks in the league who consistently throw for over 250 yards a game. Even with those obstacles in his way Watkins can come at a great value in your fantasy draft with the potential of producing numbers like he did in the last 6 games of 2015, 36 catches 679 yards and 6 TDs.
DeMarco Murray – What a roller coaster last two seasons DeMarco Murray has had in his career. He went from a season for the ages with the Dallas Cowboys to a season to forget with the Philadelphia Eagles. Now the question is “Will the real DeMarco Murray please stand up?” In 2014 he played behind one of the best, if not the best, offensive line in football and spearheaded the Cowboys success rushing for 1845 yards (Cowboys single season leader) with 13 touchdowns and an unheard of 393 carries (7th all-time) in this era of football. He cashed in that off-season as the NFC East rival Eagles and Chip Kelly signed the free agent to a 5-year $42 million contract, $21 million guaranteed. Murray flopped in 2015 rushing for a meager 702 yards 3.6 yards per carry as Kelly’s spread offensive style of play did not mesh well with Murray’s skillset. After the firing of Kelly the Eagles decided to cut their losses by trading Murray to the Titans where he will now have a fresh start in a power running offensive scheme he has grown accustom to. Everything seems to be on the up and up for a rejuvenated Murray in 2016, so why is he a risky selection you may ask? Two words…Derrick Henry! The former Heisman Trophy winner is a bad man. Henry is a younger, bigger, faster, more powerful Murray. I believe the new Exotic Smashmouth offense in Tennessee will feature Murray initially and early in games but as the season goes along and the games get into the 4th quarter, Henry will become the focal point of the offense. If you are a fantasy owner and believe you will be in contention for a playoff push and go deep into the fantasy playoffs, I don’t think Murray will be the guy at that point in the season as Henry will phase Murray out from the RB1 duties.
Arian Foster – When healthy Arian Foster was a Top 5 running back in the league playing in a zone blocking running scheme that was tailored made for his cut back prowess. In 4 out of the last 6 seasons, Foster has run for at least 1200 yards and 8 touchdowns. The 2 seasons he didn’t accomplish that feat; he only played in 12 games total due to an assortment of soft tissue injuries, a herniated disc in his back and last season’s torn Achilles. Now a member of the Miami Dolphins, Foster has picked up momentum in the fantasy community and could be the starting back in Adam Gase’s offensive system. If you believe Foster is the guy in Miami and will unseat Jay Ajayi then determining the risk vs reward will be essential in selecting which round you should pull the trigger on the 30-year-old back with a lot of wear on his tires. Currently, Foster is landing in the 5th round as a possible RB2 for teams, this to me is absolutely too high for my liking as other backs such as Jonathan Stewart and Ryan Mathews can be had in the 5th round. Foster will be an interesting name to target in your draft as he has the talent to exceed my expectations and be an excellent value pick; but risky is an understatement for an injury prone back not playing in the system that made him a NFL star.