Early-Round Fantasy Football Risks in 2009

Bleacher ReportContributor IJune 7, 2009

In this article I will take a look at potential fantasy picks that could cause you more harm than good. 

It has always been a strategy of mine to take relatively safe picks in the first few rounds of your fantasy draft.

Your first three to four picks should be locks to produce at least an average amount of points for their position.

Remember, a fantasy season is not won in the early rounds, but in drafting late round sleepers that could end the season as must starters. Take your risks late in the draft. 

I will therefore point out some high-risk players who are predicted to be taken in the first, second, or third rounds of this years fantasy drafts.

Keep in mind, these players may only be risks due to their high rankings. 

First I would like to explain three main reason why I suspect a player is a risk to draft:

1.  The player has been injured or is injured 

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2.  They have had only one good season, and it was possibly a fluke

3.  The player is sharing carries with another back 

Ok, let's get started.

Brian Westbrook, RB Philadelphia Eagles 

Brian Westbrook has already had a busy off-season and its only June. Westbrook has undergone two surgeries proving his health may be in question for the 2009 season.

Not only is the 30-year-old back injury-prone, but the Eagles seem eager to replace Westbrook as they drafted LeSean McCoy in the 2009 draft. 

Westbrook began to see a decline in his stats last year as his 1,200-yard rushing streak ended. Expect this decrease to continue into the 2009 season as he continues to get older.

If you decide to take the chance on this first-round pick, it would be smart to grab McCoy in the late rounds. 

Kurt Warner, QB Arizona Cardinals 

Kurt Warner could see a dangerous drop in stats and points this season as a fantasy QB. 

Warner is about to turn 38. You have to wonder if last years season was Warner's last successful stretch.

Leading his team to the Super Bowl last year only to be disappointed, may discourage the QB from performing at his highest level. 

Even two of the most dangerous WRs in the league might not be enough to keep this QB effective. 

LaDainian Tomlinson, RB San Diego Chargers

LT shocked the fantasy world last year by putting up sub-par fantasy stats. You should not expect much of a change in 2009.

Tomlinson was plagued with a knee injury in 2008 and you can expect to see parts of that linger throughout this upcoming season.

Another key reason Tomlinson may be a risk this year is due to the emerging running back, Darren Sproles. Sproles will see more carries this year and further cut away at LT's productiveness. 

If you gamble on Tomlinson be sure to pick up Sproles in the mid-rounds in order to secure the San Diego backfield. 

Brandon Marshall, WR Denver Broncos

Brandon Marshall should see a major dip in his stats this year with the departure of Pro Bowl QB Jay Cutler

With Kyle Orton replacing Jay Cutler, Marshall will definitely see a decrease in his stats.

The star receiver underwent hip surgery this off-season and is also looking to settle contract negotiations. These factors could translate into a decrease of preparation and ultimately production. 

Marshall is currently ranked as the 10th best WR this year. This prediction is strongly based on his outstanding performance last year and barely takes into account the QB change. 

There is little chance Marshall will put up numbers similar to last year and is a high-risk pick this season.

DeAngelo Williams, RB Carolina Panthers

DeAngelo Williams, who enters the season ranked as the fifth RB, could show fantasy owners less production then they may expect. 

Williams had an outstanding 2008 season and you can expect his number to go down at least a little this year.

A major concern with Williams lies in Carolina's backup, Jonathan Stewart. Stewart will see a significant number of carries, taking away from Williams. This alone is enough to scare fantasy owners away from using a fifth pick on this risk. 

Williams is more of a risk due to his high ranking and should put up decent numbers regardless. 

Michael Turner, RB Atlanta Falcons

Saying Michael Turner is a risk may surprise many people, but many clues point to a possible decline in Turner's numbers next year.

It must always be taken into account that Turner is an unproven running back. There is chance that Turner's spectacular 2008 season was simply a fluke. 

Whether Turner was caught up in the Falcons' bounce back season or he was just trying to prove himself as a viable NFL back, it is safe to say Turner won't match his 2008 totals. 

Michael Turner would not be in the risk category if he wasn't the second overall rated player this season. Is it really worth taking an unproven running back as the second overall pick? 

Marques Colston, WR New Orleans Saints

Marques Colston enters the 2009 season after struggling the previous year. 

After a thumb injury held him back in '09, Colston has proven to be an injury-prone receiver.

All fantasy owners need to be wary of drafting Colston due to his inconsistency and unreliable weeks. 

Chris Johnson, RB Tennessee Titans

Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans could be a risky option due to the presence of LenDale White in the backfield.

If Johnson is incapable of breaking for 20-yard scores like he lived off of last year, he will see a significant amount of goal line carries lost to White. 

This, along with the fact that Johnson is entering only his second season, could lead to a decrease in numbers. 

Johnson is a relatively unproven back who made a living off speed in 2008.

It may be a risky move to take this sophomore in the first round of this upcoming draft. 

Now that I have pointed out some possible early round busts, its up to you to decide whether to take the risk on these top-ranked fantasy players.