Every fantasy football team manager has been
there before; there is a player you are absolutely in love with
and must draft, even if you have to reach a bit for him. On the
flip side there are always players that seem to fall and even if
you aren't totally convinced, you feel compelled to draft them based
on the value they present. There is always a risk/reward factor
you calculate based on many things including past performance, current
situation, injury risk, competition, upside, and value, just to
name a few. The following players stand out to me as having a ton
of potential but also come with big question marks that may make
drafting them at their current ADP a bit too risky.
Note: ADP based on 12-team, standard scoring leagues.
Risk: We all know football is not
played on paper but it is hard to ignore the obvious. Justin Forsett
is 5’8’’ 195lbs and about to be 30 years old. Before last season
he was nothing more than a complementary back who rarely did more
than play on third downs. He blew up last season to end the year
as the eighth best fantasy RB but we have seen many one year wonders
over the years and Forsett has that look about him thanks to his
measurables and resume. Add in ancient Steve
Smith and a drop-prone rookie (Breshad
Perriman) leading the charge at receiver and you have the
makings of a lot of eight-man fronts lining up to stop the run.
With bigger, younger, more powerful backs (Taliaferro and Allen)
waiting in the wing, it would not be a surprise to see this backfield
in more of a committee approach this season, making Forsett an
absolute wasted pick in the late 2nd round.
Reward: Forsett climbed to his
high ranking and didn’t even take over the full-time role until
Week 5. Now he is being drafted on average, as the 12th RB off
the board, talk about value! Perhaps the most impressive thing
about Forsett is the volume, or lack thereof, that he needs to
really make a difference. Forsett only topped 17 carries four
times last season and averaged less than 18 total touches per
game but still produced top 8 fantasy numbers. For comparison,
Forte, widely regarded as a better fantasy back this year,
averaged just over 23 total touches per game and only averaged
a tad over 2 fantasy points per game better than Forsett. The
bottom line is Forsett does a lot with a little (literally) and
with Marc Trestman running the offense this year, Forsett’s receiving
numbers should only rise, possibly pushing him into the top 5
among running backs this season.
Buy or Sell at ADP: If this were
PPR scoring I could certainly see the argument for Forsett being
drafted this high, but in standard scoring I’m a seller on Forsett
in the late 2nd or even 3rd round. The talent and skill-set of
the players behind Forsett, especially Taliaferro and what the
Ravens want to do on offense makes him too risky. While Trestman
as offensive coordinator might mean more targets for the running
backs in general, the Ravens still want to run the ball a lot
and it makes too much sense to share the wealth in that backfield
and use Forsett as more of a receiving option based on the lack
of talent they have at receiver. I could be way off here but I
picture Forsett this season as a 2013 Danny
Woodhead type, that is 8-9 carries and 4-5 catches a game.
In this scenario Forsett is certainly useful as a flex option
player in standard scoring, but nowhere near a RB1 like he is
currently being drafted.
Randle owners will likely have to sweat
a free agent running back over RBs currently on the roster.
Risk: Randle is a bone-head off
the field, has done almost nothing in two seasons, and has competition
McFadden and Lance Dunbar who are both better pass-blockers
and at least in Dunbar’s case, better receivers. Randle’s upright
running style and mediocre at best power and you have a “JAG”
(just a guy) that landed in a situation where he is being over-drafted
as a stud-like player. While the Cowboys have not made a move
yet, there continue to be rumblings about signing a veteran free
Rice to name a few) and if this happens the backfield could
easily turn into a full-on timeshare where there is no consistency
week-to-week for any of the players involved. With so many more
consistent players with similar upside in the 3rd round why waste
a pick on a guy that could easily be 3rd on his own team’s depth
chart by mid-season?
Reward: Sometimes situation means
everything. We have seen, nearly every year, players with average
talent get put in the right spot at the right time and flourish
as a fantasy player. It happens at every position, Nick
Foles a couple years back, C.J.
Anderson last year, and Julian
Edelman ever since Wes
Welker left New England. Someone has to do it this year and
with the departure of Demarco Murray and running behind perhaps
the best offensive line in the league, this situation screams
opportunity. With the Cowboys having an above average passing
game and one of the best receivers in the league in Dez
Bryant, there is so much room to run it would be a crime if
this offense did not produce a 1200-plus-yard back this year.
While it is a mild surprise the Cowboys have not gone after other
RB’s in free agency or the draft, it should just boost the confidence
of those drafting Randle that the team truly has faith in him
as someone that can handle the workload.
Buy or Sell at ADP: Even minutes
before I write this piece I have gone back and forth on Randle
as a buy or sell. With all things being considered, I am all in
as a buyer in the early 4th round, or even late 3rd round. In
a dynasty league I would pass on a player like Randle because
I think he has one year wonder written all over him, but in redraft
leagues I think he is a guy you can get as your RB2 that will
produce as a mid-range RB1. While it was obviously a limited sample
size, Randle averaged 6.7 yards per carry last year, the line
is possibly even a little better this season, and he has had a
full offseason as “the man” to get comfortable in the offense.
Add that to an injury-prone McFadden as his main competition for
early-down work, and you have the makings of a 18 touch per game
back here in a dynamic offense in a division with average defenses.
As the 18th running back off the board Randle could easily out
produce players drafted 2 rounds ahead of him. He’s not risk-free
but this is the type of player that can win you championships.
Risk: The obvious risk here is
the condition of Gurley’s ACL and how fast he can recover and
contribute this season. The Rams will not rush Gurley onto the
field, as they, rightfully so, see him as a long term investment
rather than a short term fix. Gurley is also a rookie who is spending
most of his summer rehabbing rather than getting on-field reps.
Even for a guy as talented as Gurley the transition to the NFL
is a big one and with his concentration being more on getting
healthy, it could be a while before we see him at full speed with
a total grasp of the offense and his responsibilities. The final
risk factor is the situation he landed in. The Rams are an average
offense with an average line, below average receivers and a new
quarterback in Nick Foles who nobody knows for sure if he was
successful in Philly because of the system, or if he is a truly
talented QB (I lean towards the former). With Tre
Mason showing real promise last season, albeit in flashes,
the Rams do not have to rush Gurley back fast, and it is highly
doubtful he would be a workhorse year one even if fully healthy.
Gurley has a lot of natural ability but is being drafted as a
low-end RB2 when he is really more of a wildcard RB3.
Reward: One look at Gurley’s college
game tape and you know this kid is going to be special. Well built,
powerful, fast, decisive are all understatements for a guy that
many scouts are calling the best RB prospect to come out since
Peterson. Gurley has the power to rack up goal-line touchdowns
and the speed to break off homeruns. Gurley projects as a 20 plus
touch workhorse who, based on talent alone, is probably already
a top five runner in the league. The Rams obviously do not think
his injury is a problem, drafting him as high as they did, and
they have not been shy about talking about his potential. While
the Rams offense as a whole is a bit of a question mark, the defense
is very solid and it is very likely that Gurley, once fully acclimated
will be the centerpiece of the offensive gameplan every week.
There are so few backs in the NFL that have the potential to be
given a full workload, and even fewer with as much talent as Gurley
so as the 24th back off the board on average, Gurley could actually
be a steal if the cards fall the right way.
Buy or Sell at ADP: I’m all in on
Gurley in dynasty leagues as a top 10 or better running back but
in redraft leagues for this season I am selling him as a top 25
RB. As talented as he is, I believe there are too many strikes
going against him this year to commit to him in the 4th or even
5th round of drafts. The main issue to me is the workload the
Rams will likely give him. Coach Jeff Fisher is a smart man and
knows that the future is bright with Gurley but rushing him into
a heavy workload in year one could easily damage him for the long
haul. Mason is a capable back and if Nick Foles can just be average,
the offense should be better than last year so there is no reason
to put all the pressure on Gurley in year one when his concentration
will be on rehabbing and making the transition to the pros. I
think the Rams are a team on the rise but playing in a tough defensive
division there are going to be a lot of low scoring affairs and
I can’t envision a lot of explosion out of this offense. Gurley
will have some big plays and probably even a few great weeks but
there are just too many solid, safe, explosive players still available
in the late 4th/early 5th to take a lottery ticket on Gurley that