There are risks involved with any pick you make in your fantasy draft, as no player is immune to having a bad year. While some players are safer than others, it’s that unknown factor that makes us love fantasy football so much.
There are a couple different schools of thought this year. A lot of analysts feel that running back is the only way to go with the first pick, while a smaller group of analysts—led primarily by Matthew Berry—believe Michael Vick is the No. 1 player in fantasy.
In PPR leagues, or more likely 1.5 per catch leagues, receivers can also be considered at No. 1.
With plenty of options with the first overall pick, let’s take a look at the potential downfalls of all 10 guys projected in the first round by ESPN’s consensus rankings. For more complete rankings, you can check out my latest top 50 here.
While Vick did throw three interceptions in his last game, I choose to talk about his injuries because preseason games are largely irrelevant.
Vick missed a little bit of time last year, but with the way he runs around the field, he could easily miss more time. Of course anyone can get injured, but Vick is significantly more likely to go down than most players, and for a first-round pick, it’s a pretty big risk to take.
There is no doubting Vick’s skill set; he improved on his accuracy last season and has become a top-tier passer. Combine that with his unbelievable ability to run the ball and the weapons in that offense, and you have a player who has unlimited upside.
If he can stay healthy, Vick will turn in a great season, but that’s a big "if." Some fantasy owners just won’t be willing to take that kind of risk on draft day, and the one who does is going to cringe every time Vick gets hit. It’s going to be a long, painful season for Vick owners.
Honestly, I couldn’t really find any other reason—but in reality, I don’t really need one.
Andre Johnson plays in a high-powered offense as the clear No. 1 target. He is a freak of nature who routinely beats double-teams.
Arian Foster helps Johnson almost as much as he hurts him because defenses can’t commit as many players to defending Johnson. The Texans still have to pass at the end of games, so Johnson will be targeted plenty.
I guess I could make a case he could be injured, but I think he will rebound nicely and stay healthy this season.
The only thing I can say against Johnson is that he’s a wide receiver. In non-PPR leagues, you just can’t take a receiver in the top three. I, however, would consider Johnson as soon as No. 6, depending on who is left. If Peterson, Foster, CJ, Charles and Rice were all off the board, I would consider taking Johnson if you really like him.
LeSean McCoy is a player who fell into the perfect situation. He’s in a great offense with plenty of other weapons to open up the field for him.
With that said, his potential is limited.
If Michael Vick is to get hurt, McCoy's value plummets. All of the sudden Vince Young is the starter, and teams start putting eight in the box. His value is tied to the performance of Michael Vick, which makes him a dangerous first-round pick.
The other reason why McCoy can’t be taken at No. 1 is his workload limits him. McCoy isn’t built to handle 300 carries, and the Eagles know it. He’ll get his fair share of carries, and he’ll catch a lot of passes out of the backfield, but he won’t get enough carries to make him No. 1.
Personally, I think I would probably take Rodgers over Vick, but I would admit that Vick has more potential. If I thought Vick could realistically play 16 games, I would take him ahead of Rodgers, but I don’t think that’s possible.
Without Vick’s rushing totals, Rodgers can’t skyrocket to No. 1. He’s a great QB, and I think he could provide great value in his first round, but he can’t be No. 1 overall, especially considering his concussion history.
Anyone who has read my fantasy articles knows I really like Ray Rice this year. He has Vonta Leach, Willis McGahee is finally gone and the Ravens run the ball.
The only issue is, Ray Rice doesn’t get into the end zone enough. Even though McGahee is gone, I’m not convinced Rice gets goal-line carries. I’m not sure if Ricky Williams is going to be the one getting the ball, but whoever it is, I don’t think it will always be Rice.
When push comes to shove, you can’t pick a guy No. 1 overall when you aren’t confident he can get you double-digit touchdowns over a 16-game season.
I honestly don’t think MJD should sniff the top 10 this year. I have him pegged at the end of the second round, and I might even drop him lower.
MJD has been an absolute workhorse over the past coupe seasons, and he’s taken a lot of hits. He’s probably too small to be a feature back, and it’s no secret his knees are wearing down.
Besides the fact that Jones-Drew may not be able to handle another full season of work, the offense he plays on is terrible. Marcedes Lewis is a pretty good tight end, but other than that, Jacksonville doesn’t have much on offense.
Mike Thomas is severely below-average as a No. 1 receiver, and David Garrard is below-average at QB. If Blaine Gabbert gets thrown into the fire early, it’s even worse.
Either way Jacksonville’s offense is going to be bad this season. To make things worse, they will likely be behind a lot, meaning the team will be forced to pass.
This year, MJD can’t even be considered No. 1.
Thomas Jones is getting old, and I’m not sure if he can handle the number of carries he did last year.
With that said, I don’t know if Charles can handle the carries either. He’s a speed back who is built to be a playmaker, not an every-down back.
If Charles gets 300 carries, he probably won’t be nearly as effective, and he will also be at risk to sustain an injury.
If that’s not enough, Kansas City has an extremely difficult schedule and an average, at best, passing game. Matt Cassel is OK, but he’s not going to light the world on fire.
I think Charles will have a solid season, but he’s not worth the No. 1 pick.
Chris Johnson is one of—if not the most—explosive players in the NFL today. The issue is, he doesn’t have much talent around him. With a mediocre offensive line and Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback, I can’t see Johnson being the No. 1 overall player.
He’s going to get a lot of work, but I think his consistency problems will carry over from last season. Kenny Britt is a pretty good young player, but he can’t do it alone. That offense is going to struggle.
To make matters worse, Chris Johnson isn’t playing yet. Last season, the Titans gave Johnson a small raise with the promise of more to come this offseason, but a deal hasn’t been made. Not only is Johnson going to have little time to prepare, but there’s a risk this lasts into the season.
The Titans aren’t preparing for the Super Bowl, so CJ2K missing two or three games wouldn’t be the end of the world. However, it would devastate his fantasy value.
With risks like that on the table, I can’t imagine taking Johnson with the No. 1 pick.
Arian Foster had a ridiculous season last year, and no one would argue against that.
The problem is, we don’t really have a very big sample size of his skills. He burst onto the scene last year, and while he was unbelievable, it seems like a lot of people are skeptical of his ability to repeat.
When a guy like Adrian Peterson, who has dominated since he came into the league, is on the board, it’s hard to take a guy like Foster over him, even with the season he had last year.
Foster plays in a great offense; it’s a perfect situation. I don’t expect his backups to eat into his play too much. Foster doesn’t have to repeat his performance from last season to be worth the No. 1 pick, but it’s just hard to predict his numbers at this point.
I know I already used this one for CJ, but I’m going to use it again here.
This year, AP is going to have to do it without any help. He’s done it before, but nothing this bad.
The offensive line in Minnesota is aging. While they’re still a decent unit as a whole, there’s no telling exactly where they fit in this year.
Once we get past the line, it only gets worse. Donovan McNabb was pretty bad last year in Washington, and he’s not getting any better. His glory days with the Eagles are over.
Outside of Percy Harvin, the Vikings have no one capable of handling that No. 2 role. Michael Jenkins, Devin Aromashodu and Bernard Berrian are all solid No. 4 options, but none are capable of starting. It’s not like Harvin is going to draw triple-teams either.
Visanthe Shiancoe is a solid tight end, but he’s nothing special, and Kyle Rudolph probably isn’t ready. With no help through the air and an average line, AP becomes a not-so-safe overall first pick. I still think he has to be taken No. 1, but he is by no means a "safe" pick.
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