Let's face it, every player you draft in fantasy football comes with some level of risk. It's football. Not only is it football, it's the NFL. These are some of the strongest, athletic men on the face of the earth.
Injuries happen. Personal things come up. Surprises occur. It's football and it's life.
Some players come with a little bit more of a risk than others. Let's take a look at 10 of those guys.
1. Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
Coming off reconstructive surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered in the 2012-13 NFL Playoffs, RGIII will not be as valuable in fantasy as he was last year. His playing style shouldn't be hindered, but there's a good chance he doesn't have as many designed running plays from the coaching staff. In 2012, Griffin III threw for less than 220 yards on 10 occasions.
As good as RGIII is, it doesn't appear he will be worth taking in a fantasy football draft until at least the eighth round.
2. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
It appears that Jones-Drew is fully healthy. That's the good news. The bad news is he plays for a Jacksonville Jaguars team that is going to struggle to put up points this year. He is no Adrian Peterson. He can't carry a team like AD did last year. The Jaguars will be playing catch up all year resulting in less carries for Maurice.
If Blaine Gabbert, Cecil Shorts III and Justin Blackmon can shock the world and have success this year, MJD will flourish with them. That's a big if, though.
3. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
When healthy, Gronk is the best tight end in the NFL, hands down. When he's not healthy, he has no value. Now that we've stated the obvious, there is no certainty as to when he will return. If he comes back fully recovered and doesn't have any setbacks, he'll put up the best numbers among tight ends this year.
If he can't stay healthy, you will regret wasting a top-five round pick on the former University of Arizona standout.
4. Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers
Ever since the Packers' Super Bowl run in 2010-11, Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson have had unbelievable chemistry. If Nelson isn't healthy enough to be on the field, Rodgers won't have his favorite target to throw to. Throw in the emergence of Randall Cobb and Nelson's injury he suffered in training camp and you have some serious question marks.
If Nelson can come back by Week 3 and stay healthy all year, Nelson is a WR1 in any league format. If the opposite occurs, you waste an early round draft pick on the six-year veteran.
5. Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders
McFadden has yet to play a full season in his five year career. As lethal as he is when healthy, there is just no point in risking an early round pick on him. He is far too vulnerable to injuries to have on your draft board this year. He's a solid locker room guy and I'd love nothing more than to see him stay healthy and succeed this year with new Raiders quarterback Matt Flynn.
6. Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
CJ2K has gone to CJ?K. We have no idea as fantasy owners who will show up any given week. We could see a week featuring a 99-yard touchdown run, or a week where Johnson carries the ball 15 times for 10 yards. There is no doubt Johnson is one of the fastest guys in the league, but there are doubts involved when you bring up Tennessee's offensive line.
If the big guys in front of him can't do their job blocking, Johnson could be invisible this year.
7. Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers
There is no doubt that Lacy has the talent to be the lead back in Green Bay. His ground-and-pound running style was on display in his preseason debut. His value is in question considering they went out and drafted Jonathan Franklin out of UCLA after Lacy was taken.
If he can continue to prove he deserves to be on the field, there may be no reason to give Franklin equivalent snaps. Don't forget Lacy also has injury concerns.
8. Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Andy Reid does not utilize his running backs to their full potential. Charles is undoubtedly one of the most talented backs in the league. He is explosive and a dual threat to catch as well. His health is always a concern after missing practically the entire 2011 season. He injured his ankle in training camp.
If Reid changes his coaching style while moving to a new team and decides to give Charles the ball as much as he deserves it, he will be a top-five fantasy back if he stays healthy all year. The risk involved here is taking him in the first round. There are less riskier options available to spend your first round pick on.
9. DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Have you seen Joseph Randle run the ball for the Cowboys this preseason? The guy is a potential underground stud. Murray hasn't been reliable in fantasy since breaking out with a 200-yard performance halfway through his rookie season. People elect to draft him within the first three rounds, but at what cost?
Murray was only healthy enough to appear in 10 games last season. He compiled just 663 yards and four touchdowns on the ground for an average of just 66.3 yards per game. The Cowboys do intend to run the ball more in 2013, according to head coach Jason Garrett, but I am not so sure Murray will be able to carry the load as much as fantasy owners would like him to.
10. Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans
Last season, at age 31, Johnson racked up more receiving yards, 1598, than he did in any season during his 10-year career. He hauled in 112 catches but only four of them resulted in touchdowns. You just have to wonder how much he has left in the tank. Now, at 32 years of age, opponents are suggesting he is not as explosive as he has been in the past. The Texans went out and selected DeAndre Hopkins with their first round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
As tough as it is for Texans fans to soak in, Hopkins is the receiver of their future, not Johnson. The price to have Johnson join your team is likely a top-four round pick. Your fantasy team's key performers are usually selected during rounds four and five. Is it really worth betting your marbles on Johnson?
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