Picking a boom-or-bust player for your fantasy team always has the potential to make your friends envy you as you ride your booming players to the top of the league and eventually a championship.
Then again, the high-profile player could fulfill the latter portion of his description and blow up right in your face.
Rather than take this silly gamble each year, why not sit back and draft guys of similar value that are guaranteed to put up close to the numbers of the boom-or-bust player?
For example, last year you could have taken a risk on Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden. After all, he's an elite talent. He went on to rush for just over 700 yards in 12 games.
Or you could have taken the smart pick in Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte, who played in three more games (he's been consistently healthy) and put up 1,094 yards and three more touchdowns than McFadden.
Don't be the guy or gal who relies on risks to stay competitive in your leagues. Take the smart picks and rest assured you will be in the hunt. The following are players you should avoid, along with better, safer options to consider.
Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns
Josh Gordon is a sexy pick right now, which makes sense. He exploded onto the scene last year with 805 yards and five scores. At only 22 years old and backed by an offense tailored around the running game with Trent Richardson, Gordon's ceiling is unbelievable.
Wrong. Gordon is already suspended the first two games of the season for what he claims is cough medicine, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal:
Not only that, reports are coming out that Gordon's effort has been sparse so far this offseason, at least according to ESPN Cleveland:
Injury or not, Gordon was also scolded during that same practice for not finishing plays or running after the catch. He is frequently the last receiver into position drills and has yet to work with Greg Little and Brandon Weeden after practice, despite the fact that Little and Weeden have worked on routes after every single session thus far.
Is this really a risk you want to be taking?
Better Alternative: Lance Moore, WR, New Orleans Saints
Moore has failed to reach the 50-reception mark just once in the past five years with Drew Brees passing him the ball.
With Joe Morgan out for the year and only the inexperienced Nick Toon and Kenny Stills behind him, Moore could be in store for a career year.
Moore is coming off a 65-reception, 1,041-yard and six-touchdown campaign. That could only get better and is easily better value than Gordon.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears
That does not mean he is going to heavily improve upon his 367 yards and three touchdowns from his rookie season.
There's a new offensive mind in town with Marc Trestman, a man notorious for sacrificing the running game in favor of short passes to the running back and bigger targets.
Brandon Marshall caught 118 passes last season, which should not change much in 2013 with Trestman in at the helm. Forte caught 44, but a more realistic tally with Trestman will be close to his 63 from his rookie season.
The addition of the talented tight end Martellus Bennett will steal some targets from Jeffery as well. Steer clear of him this year.
Better Alternative: Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Sanders reeled in 44 receptions for over 600 yards and one touchdown last year while playing second fiddle to Mike Wallace.
Wallace is now with the Dolphins and Sanders has been promoted to No. 2 receiver. The top two options at tight end next year in Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth are out for extended periods of time, meaning Sanders will see even more looks in the passing game.
Montee Ball, RB, Denver Broncos
As far as rookie running backs go, Broncos back Montee Ball may be receiving the highest amount of unwarranted hype.
Ball is not without talent, but he is stuck in a situation in which it may take a few years before he truly develops into a true No. 1 back and legitimate fantasy threat.
As ESPN points out, Ball is but one back in what is beginning to look like a committee thanks to the presence of both Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno. It's not as if he is receiving the majority of the carries in training camp.
If you're going to take a risk on a rookie running back that has massive potential to break out, you may want to find a better option. There is no point in hinging on the hope that Ball emerges from a thick depth chart in somewhat of a passing offense.
Better Alternative: Danny Woodhead, RB, San Diego Chargers
Bounce across the AFC West and you will find a much safer fantasy option in Chargers running back Danny Woodhead, formerly of the New England Patriots.
Woodhead was superb last season as he rushed for over 300 yards and four scores while he also gashed defenses through the air with 40 receptions for 446 yards and an additional three scores.
In San Diego Woodhead will put up similar numbers as an asset quarterback Philip Rivers has been missing for quite some time. He's a much safer pick than Ball and had plenty of PPR value to boot.
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