Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: 5 Injury-Prone Players to Avoid on Draft Day

Andrew McCluskeyCorrespondent IAugust 29, 2011

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: 5 Injury-Prone Players to Avoid on Draft Day

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    Balancing risk and reward is one of the key strategies to being successful at fantasy football.

    You are at your draft looking over a few names you are considering selecting, with all the factors running through your head about their upside or the team around them.

    One factor that always plays in to that decision each round is the ability of that player to stay healthy, especially in the early rounds when you know you are going to have to spend a relatively high pick to bring in a guy you aren't sure will be able to stay on the field for 16 games.

    Granted, these guys typically will be huge factors in helping you win your league if they do stay healthy. It is all about whether or not you are willing to take that chance and draft them.

    Here are five injury-prone names you may call out on your draft day that could potentially ruin your season.

Darren McFadden

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    Darren McFadden finally lived up to his draft position last year, finishing the season with a total 1,664 yards and 10 total touchdowns.

    We know he has explosive speed and great pass-catching ability out of the backfield. There is zero doubt he has the skill set to be successful in the NFL.

    McFadden's durability is another matter.

    The running back has yet to play a full season in his three-year career. Even last year, after putting up such spectacular numbers, he managed only 13 games. McFadden hasn't had any real nagging injuries, but it is clear he isn't a "pound it between the tackles" kind of back.

    Most drafts have McFadden going in the late first round. If you are in a snake draft league, you will most likely have the chance to grab another high-quality player right away.

    I'd highly recommend that it is another running back.

    McFadden has to prove he can contribute for an entire year before I use a first-rounder on him. If the injuries reoccur, then you are in rough shape.

Dez Bryant

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    Dez Bryant has a whole bag full of other issues that could impact how he contributes to your fantasy team, but his injuries should not be overlooked.

    Bryant went down in his rookie season with a fractured ankle. Flashing back to 2010 before the draft, Bryant didn't run the 40-yard dash due to a hamstring injury, then missed time in training camp as well.

    While his career is still young, Bryant has shown that injuries are going to be a factor. Whether it is because of the type of body he has or whether he has the work ethic to be in peak shape, we don't know.

    What we do know is Bryant is being drafted as a top 20 wide receiver and, in some drafts, higher.

    Bryant certainly has great potential and will see plenty of chances in a high-powered Dallas offense—which is exactly why his draft position has continued to rise.

    If you are going to take a shot on Bryant, make sure you aren't overpaying. Otherwise he could end up being a pick that costs you.

Frank Gore

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    Frank Gore has proven to be one of the more frustrating fantasy backs in the league over the past few years.

    When he is on the field, Gore is a fantastic fantasy option. He is the feature back in San Fransisco and is a threat in the passing game. There aren't many running backs left in the league that get the chances Gore does.

    With that being said, Gore has an awfully hard time putting together a full season.

    He has averaged a little more than 12 games per season over the course of the past three years. While Gore has been productive in the games he has played, his draft position is much too high for a guy who hasn't proven to be durable.

    If you are going to draft Gore, be sure to protect yourself with plenty of running back depth.

    Otherwise, you could be drafting a guy who is going to put a big hole in your running backs at some point during the season.

Matthew Stafford

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    I know you are probably wondering how drafting a guy like Stafford in the mid-to-late rounds will ruin your fantasy season.

    Well, let's break it down this way:

    In a one-quarterback league, you may or may not have a backup quarterback depending on the depth of your bench. So if you are targeting drafting a guy like Stafford in the later rounds, you are committing to letting a lot of top-level quarterbacks go by.

    This leaves you putting a lot of chips on Stafford as your starting quarterback. If he goes down, then you are looking at the David Garrard's and Ryan Fitzpatick's of the world to fill in your starting quarterback slot.

    Now, don't underestimate Stafford's value. I think he has great value at his current average draft position, and I believe he is ready to have a huge season.

    However, he hasn't been able to give the Lions that full season yet.

    It is too early to call him injury-prone for certain. We just need to see a bigger body of work.

    If you plan to make Stafford your starter this year, just be sure to have a solid backup ready in case history follows the young Lions quarterback.

Michael Vick

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    Well, you had to see this one coming.

    Michael Vick has easily been the most-debated fantasy football topic this year. I've heard arguments saying he should be the first player off the board and other articles saying to avoid him completely.

    There is no doubt Vick has the ability to put up massive fantasy football points. Just projecting out his averages from last year over the course of a full season easily makes him the highest-scoring player at any position. His upside is undeniable.

    However, the problem with Vick is you are going to have to spend a first-round pick on him.

    This means passing on that elite running back or passing on another elite quarterback like Aaron Rodgers. By drafting Vick, you are essentially putting your season on his shoulders.

    Personally, I'm a Vick believer. I think if he plays to his level, he can carry you to championship.

    Yet, there is no denying that what makes him so valuable also makes him one of the riskiest picks in the entire draft. If you are going to be the one who decides to roll the dice with Vick this season, be prepared to hold your breath every time he takes off running.

    It is going to be a long season for you.