Jameis Winston has the weapons and the
benefit of friendly schedule to help him finish in the top
A mantra made famous by Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians
during the filming of Amazon’s 2016 All Or Nothing, “no
risk it no biscuit” refers to the idea that to be successful
in life and in a football game, you need to push the envelope with
risky plays or decisions to achieve victory.
The same idea can be applied to fantasy football, as owners should
look for a balance of consistent high floor players mixed with
high upside, risky options that could hit and pay high dividends.
The following five players are high ceiling options that I plan
on owning in 2017. Some of the players listed below are risky
based on the fact that they are injury prone, while others carry
risk because they are long in the tooth or have yet to play a
down in the NFL. But all of the players listed below have the
ability to finish as a top 12 player at their respective position.
The former first overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft has yet to
post a top-12 fantasy season (FFToday.com default fantasy points
per game scoring) in his first two years in the league, with an
18th place finish in 2015 and 15th place finish in 2016. Interceptions
and ball security issues have limited Wintson’s value, despite
back-to-back 4000-yard seasons to begin his career.
With weapons aplenty, an adequate but not great ground game,
and the fifth-easiest strength of schedule for quarterbacks, Winston
has all of the pieces in place to take the next step this season
and become a top 10 fantasy QB. On the other hand, he could continue
to make poor decisions with the football and limit his production
with interceptions and fumbles, making him a bust at his current
ADP of 8.09.
I am approaching this pick based solely on his athletic ability
and production on the field Mixon displayed while at the University
of Oklahoma. I respect the fact that some owners may take Mixon
completely off their board based on his off-field actions.
With that said, Mixon is a complete running back that could take
over the starting role day one for head coach Marvin Lewis. Jeremy Hill and his consecutive sub-4 yard per carry rushing average
over the previous two seasons is not a long-term option for the
Bengals. Giovani Bernard may not be ready to start the season,
and a team would not use a second round pick and subject themselves
to the scrutiny surrounding Mixon only to bench him for an ineffective
runner like Hill.
If given 200-plus touches, including between 25 and 50 receptions,
Mixon has a chance to be a top 12 running back that is currently
drafted in the third round. However, the fact that he has never
played a down in the NFL and he could deal with rookie growing
pains, Mixon could be a home run play that turns out to be a bust.
I cannot think of another wide receiver currently drafted outside
of the fourth round with more touchdown upside than Martavis Bryant.
In 21 career games, Bryant has 14 touchdowns on 76 receptions,
with a 17.3 career yard per catch average.
He returns to the Steelers to assume his role as the deep threat
for Ben Roethlisberger, with the upside of double digit touchdowns
in one of the most potent offenses in the league. With opposing
defenses focusing on stopping Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, Bryant will find single coverage outside against number
two cornerbacks on a regular basis, giving him a viable shot to
lead his team in touchdown receptions.
The risk of Bryant is evident, as the former Clemson star missed
all of 2016 due to violating the NFL’s policy on substance
abuse, and a relapse and subsequent ban are always a concern.
The year away from the field could also limit his rapport with
Big Ben, and the addition of rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster could
eat into his snaps.
Despite these risks, I am willing to use the fifth-round draft
equity required to own Bryant. The reward is worth the risk, as
it is tough to find a double-digit TD threat after round four.
After a disappointing two seasons with Jacksonville, tight end
Julius Thomas returns to play under head coach Adam Gase, the
coach that helped make him a star in Denver. With Gase calling
the plays and Peyton Manning throwing the ball, Thomas posted
back-to-back 12 TD seasons in 2013 and 2014, despite failing to
play in a full 16-game schedule in either year.
Of course, a big reason for Thomas’ success was Manning
throwing the ball, and Thomas will not have a first ballot hall
of famer throwing to him in Miami. But at his current ADP of 13.05
as the 15th tight end off the board, the risk of drafting Thomas
as a second tight end with double-digit TD upside is minimal.
Just be sure to have another tight end option available when
Thomas misses a few games due to injury. He has yet to finish
a full season in his NFL career, and I don’t anticipate
that happening in 2017.
The spectrum of possible outcomes for Marshall might be the widest
of all wide receivers this season. It is possible that with an
injury to Odell Beckham Jr., Marshall could deliver top five wide
receiver numbers as Eli Manning’s primary target. It is
also possible that Marshall could be released by the team mid-season
after becoming a locker room pariah for not receiving enough targets
in the offense.
Unfortunately, I cannot predict the future, but I do know that
Marshall has a history of delivering strong performances in his
first season with a new team (WR28 MIA-2010, WR2 CHI-2012, WR3
NYJ-2015), and he has never played in an offense as potent as
the one the Giants possess. Could he be a bust? Certainly, but
he also could be a double-digit touchdown WR currently getting
drafted behind Jarvis Landry, a receiver that has yet to catch
more than four touchdowns in a season. I would rather invest a
fifth or sixth round pick on Marshall – a player that could
be a difference maker - over a player like Landry that has a defined
role with a low ceiling.