Riskiest Superstar Picks of Your Fantasy Football Draft
Every selection in a fantasy football draft is a risk, some just more than others.
The tough part is veering away from the NFL's superstars, who right now, are the riskiest of all. Mainly because it's easy to get caught up in a player's accomplishments and stature at their respective position.
Take Maurice Jones-Drew for example.
He led the league with 1,606 rushing yards in 2011 and the Jacksonville Jaguars literally had no other legitimate offensive production. Unfortunately, MJD remains a holdout for the 2012 season.
The Jacksonville Jaguars officially wrap up training camp this week. The stalemate between Maurice Jones-Drew and the team shows no signs of ending.
We'll tackle Jones-Drew later but first, let's see other superstars who follow suit as fantasy risks.
Peyton Manning: QB, Broncos
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Yes, it's Peyton Manning who has four NFL MVP awards.
It's also the Peyton Manning who has undergone four neck surgeries.
Obviously the quarterback still has some rough spots to buff out also. Going 4-of-7 with an interception against Chicago in the preseason was his first game since the 2010 AFC Wild Card versus the Jets.
So a little bit of jitters were expected.
As for fantasy, the man has simply been out too long and the Broncos don't present an overly threatening receiving corps. There's no doubt that Manning will make Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker better as well as take pressure off the running game, but to say we're going to see the 2010-and-before Manning is unfair.
Not to mention the Broncos' facing a rigorous schedule all season.
With the entire AFC North and NFC South on the schedule outside the division, Denver also faces New England and Houston. That gives Manning seven playoff defenses from 2011 (five in the first seven games) and we can't discount teams like Carolina and Tampa Bay who are back on the upswing.
Adrian Peterson: RB, Vikings
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The only thing that will put our mind's at ease regarding Adrian Peterson is if he explodes in Week 1.
Then we'll know the real Peterson is back and "risk" becomes a distant memory. Now, all we have to go by is the preseason and it's quite reasonable to steer clear of him early in the fantasy draft.
From an interview with Dan Barreiro of KFAN in Minneapolis via Brad Gagnon of Sports Radio Interviews:
“No soreness. My workload was pretty light (Wednesday), but when I was out there on a couple of runs it felt pretty good. Didn’t feel any weakness or any soreness in the knee at all. Didn’t really get to pass protect as much, so I’m looking forward to doing that.”
“They tell me, ‘Hey, we just want you to run in a straight line,’ but I’m not gonna do that. When I’m out there I’m gonna make sure that I’m getting good work in and I’m out there playing my game.”
Combining the health concerns with the Vikings' schedule now and Peterson becomes an even slightly higher risk.
The NFC North has three potential playoff teams and Minnesota also faces the entire NFC West which has become a stronger defensive division. Regardless of when Peterson takes the field, though, opponents will be zeroing in on him.
Doing so will force Christian Ponder to win games as well as keeping the Vikings' defense on its heels. It's a more favorable approach than allowing Peterson to run wild.
Andre Johnson: WR, Texans
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The past two seasons Andre Johnson has played in just 20 games and scored only 10 touchdowns.
Kubiak expects Andre Johnson to get some reps this weekend vs 49ers. Didn't want to rush him in since he's behind on practice reps. #Texans— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) August 12, 2012
That's good news for fantasy and if you have yet to draft. However, Johnson's health still must get back to consistent during the regular season for him to not be a risk.
Playing in just seven games last season, Johnson played in the first four games and produced emphatically well. But the star receiver appeared in just three more regular season games, one of which was Week 17 against Tennessee.
That's a key concern as some fantasy leagues—even once in the postseason—don't last through the NFL's regular season.
Johnson undoubtedly remains one of pro football's top targets, just know that he hasn't played a full season since 2009, has never scored double-digit touchdowns in a year and is 31 years old.
Randy Moss: WR, 49ers
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Just like Peyton Manning, Randy Moss missed the entire 2011 NFL season.
But, the veteran and still all-star receiver is back and the San Francisco 49ers are a legit Super Bowl contending team.
That said, Moss is a fantasy risk since he's been out for so long and the 'Niners have many other weapons of choice in addition.
However, we can't fully anticipate Moss to put on a show like 2007 or any other year before 2010 for that matter. Also, don't forget about how important the ground game is to San Francisco. Along with Frank Gore the 'Niners feature Brandon Jacobs and rookie LaMichael James.
So that aspect alone will take even more targets away from Moss.
Plus, the last time he played, the 2010 season was spent with three different teams. Therefore, Moss does have to reestablish himself in terms of still being a forceful deep threat at age 35.
Maurice Jones-Drew: RB, Jaguars
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If we've learned anything from holdouts, it was Chris Johnson in 2011.
After totaling 1,609 yards for the Titans in 2010, Johnson held out the following season and despite managing to compile 1,465 total yards by season's end he started off extremely slow.
Through the first eight games Johnson had just one 100-plus yard rushing performance and only 562 total yards at the halfway point.
This is relevant simply because it's basically the same situation Jones-Drew is headed for in 2012.
Oddly enough, the Jaguars have an improved receiving corps and the defense remains top 10 potential—as it was against the run and pass in 2011.
With MJD, Jacksonville has an outside shot to contend for the AFC Wild Card. Holding out only reduces those odds while enhancing his fantasy risk factor. Jones-Drew is the NFL's best running back, but there's no sense in selecting him early until we see the man suit up.
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