Fantasy Football: High-Risk, High-Reward Players to Draft with Caution Next Year

Gordie Gold@ggold3Correspondent IJanuary 30, 2014

Fantasy Football: High-Risk, High-Reward Players to Draft with Caution Next Year

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    Gary Wiepert/Associated Press

    What do Doug Martin, Trent Richardson and Robert Griffin III all have in common?

    All had superb rookie seasons and all of them had sophomore slumps, resulting in many unhappy fantasy football owners.

    High-risk, high-reward players are the ones that can make and break a fantasy football team. When you draft a player in the early rounds that doesn't have much of a track record or is coming off an injury, you have to know what you are getting yourself into.

    Here is a list of high-risk, high-reward players that you should draft with caution next season.

Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts, RB

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    Stephan Savoia/Associated Press

    Was there a bigger disappointment in fantasy football this season than Trent Richardson?

    After scoring 12 touchdowns as a rookie, Richardson was taken in the first round of most fantasy drafts this year. He was the only legit weapon the Cleveland Browns had on offense heading into the season. Clearly the Browns were not impressed with Richardson because they shipped him to the Indianapolis Colts after two games.

    When the Richardson trade took place, fantasy owners everywhere were trying to come up with trades to acquire him.

    He was finally a running back in an offense that had a legit quarterback in Andrew Luck, and there was no doubt that Richardson would shine.

    Turns out, we were all wrong.

    In 14 games with the Colts, Richardson ran for a meager 458 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Not exactly the numbers you want your No. 1 running back putting up.

    Heading into the 2014 season, Richardson's draft position is going to be one of the bigger debates amongst your league. He certainly is no longer worth drafting in the first couple of rounds, but Richardson has a chance of having a bounce-back season.

    The Colts gave up way too much for Richardson to give up on him after one season. Let's remember, Richardson is still only 22 years old. 

Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns, WR

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    I'm not worried about Josh Gordon's ability as a player because he is a flat out stud. What I am worried about is the Cleveland Browns offense in general, specifically the quarterback position. 

    I know what you're thinking. Gordon put up over 1,600 receiving yards with quarterbacks such as Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer. There is no way their next quarterback could be any worse.

    What frightens me about drafting Gordon early on over other top receivers including Demaryius Thomas, A.J. Green and Brandon Marshall, is that this one year could have been a fluke.

    The Browns have a new head coach, and chances are they are going to have a rookie starting at quarterback.

    Remember Braylon Edwards' one remarkable season with the Browns in 2007? Edwards was one of the best receivers in the NFL that year, recording over 1,200 receiving yards, while also scoring 16 touchdowns. After that season, Edwards never recorded over 1,000 yards in a season again and only scored 15 total touchdowns over the next seven seasons.

    I'm not saying Gordon isn't a top-10 fantasy wide receiver. Just make sure you don't draft him over other proven studs with legit quarterbacks.

C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills, RB

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    Gary Wiepert/Associated Press

    Coming off a breakout season in 2012 in which C.J. Spiller ran for over 1,200 yards, while also recording over 450 receiving yards, many fantasy owners drafted him in the top-seven picks.

    It appeared 2013 was going to be the year where Spiller finally took over as the Buffalo Bills No. 1 running back and Fred Jackson would take a backseat to him. Instead, we saw the same old split backfield from the Bills, resulting in many owners' displeasure with Spiller's production.

    Spiller (201 carries, 927 yards) and Jackson (207 carries, 897 yards) had nearly identical stats when it comes to rushing attempts and yards. However, it was Jackson that scored 10 touchdowns to Spiller's mere two.

    Spiller defines a high-risk, high-reward player. You never know what to expect from him each week. One game Spiller could go off for 200 yards and a couple of touchdowns. The next, he completely disappears.

    Next season I am taking Spiller as a No. 2 RB/FLEX, hoping that he gets over 250 carries.

Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins, QB

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    Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

    We saw the effect the ACL injury had on Robert Griffin III this season and it was not pretty.

    RG3 was the talk of the league after a phenomenal rookie season, but after injuring his knee in 2012, no one knew what to expect from him in 2013.

    For any fantasy owners that drafted RG3 early on, I feel for you.

    RG3 was a shadow of the player he was in 2012.

    RG3 was playing so poorly that he was benched towards the end of the season. He lacked the burst and athleticism that made him so dominant his rookie year and now fantasy owners are uncertain if he will ever bounce back.

    There is no way you can write off RG3 just yet. He is going to have a full offseason to work on his mechanics and develop as a quarterback, rather than focusing on rehab.

    He will probably go much later in fantasy drafts this year, but if he does bounce back and return to the form of his rookie campaign, he will be a top-10 fantasy quarterback.

Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens, RB

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    Tom Uhlman/Associated Press

    Has Ray Rice finally hit the running back wall and going downhill from here?

    Rice was arguably a top-three fantasy running back over the last couple of seasons heading into 2013. From 2009-2012, Rice ran for at least 1,100 yards, while also grabbing at least 61 receptions.

    2013 was a completely different story though. Rice looked old and couldn't break any tackles. As a result, he finished with just 660 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

    What fantasy owners need to figure out before next season is whether this was a result of Rice hitting the wall or the Baltimore Ravens having an off year.

    With a new offensive coordinator in Gary Kubiak and the fact that the Ravens have been a perennial playoff team, Rice still has plenty of fantasy value.

    He won't be a first round pick in 2014, but he could be a steal as a No. 2 running back in the second or third round.