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8 High Risk Running Backs & Receivers

Aug 9, 2016
Devonta Freeman (RB)

Devonta Freeman showed signs of slowing down last season and may lose touches in 2016

Every year you head into a draft with a plan, hoping players you’re high on will fall into your lap. Unfortunately, it rarely works out that way and we all will face some tough decisions and often times this will occur at the top of a draft where making the right pick can go a long way. The last thing anyone wants is to be the guy who wasted his 10th overall pick in 2015 and took C.J. Anderson. If you hadn’t taken him and went with Rob Gronkowski, how much better would your team have been?

The point is, there were warning signs for taking Anderson early on. Sometimes the warning signs are due to injury and other times it’s because of a shift in coaching philosophy. Regardless of the reason, we asked our featured experts to name their high risk running backs and wide receivers so we don’t potentially get stuck with a wasted pick.

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Q1. What RB with a top 15 ADP is the riskiest player for fantasy owners to draft at their current price tag?

Devonta Freeman (ATL)
“Though Devonta Freeman was the best fantasy back of 2015 when all was said and done, the odds are stacked against a repeat performance in 2016. He wore down near the end of the season, and identifying this, the Atlanta coaching staff is looking to get Tevin Coleman more involved this season. If Coleman can improve as a pass-catcher, it wouldn’t be surprising to see closer to an even split in touches down the stretch. That possibility drops Freeman from RB1 territory and makes him too risky to consider at his current ADP.”
R.J. White (CBS Sports)

Carlos Hyde (SF)
“The 49ers face one of the toughest NFL Schedules in 2016. This will result in a game-flow styled offense with high amounts of passing attempts on one of the least offensively talented teams in the league. During Hyde’s college career at Ohio State, his career high in receptions in a season was 16; his NFL high is 12. To add to this mess, Hyde runs behind of one the worst offensive lines in the NFL. We haven’t even mentioned Hyde’s injury history yet! He pulled a hamstring running the 40 during the 2014 NFL Combine. In his rookie season, he only logged 83 total carries as a backup after sustaining ankle and back injuries. A calf pull limited him during the 49ers offseason program in 2015. He strained his quad in 2015 limiting his Week 2 through Week 4 workload. And the last injury was a Week 7 stress fracture in left foot that ended his 2015 season. You can obviously see our concern here with Hyde entering 2016. His monstrous Week 1 performance against Minnesota last season and Chip Kelly’s offense is construing fantasy owners’ perspective. With all the risk you’re getting with Hyde, we’re passing on him in 2016.”
Tozzi Brothers (Legion Report)

Thomas Rawls (SEA)
“Rawls is coming off a broken ankle and is getting a late start to camp. His injury, combined with the Seahawks selecting three RBs in this year’s draft make him a riskier pick than others in that range. I’d rather take a WR there and wait for a RB like Dion Lewis, Chris Ivory or Duke Johnson several rounds later, as I think their upsides are similar.”
Seth Klein (The Fantasy Fix)

Jamaal Charles (KC)
“Everyone hates to speculate on injuries, because any player could go down, but one would have to be extremely cautious about drafting Jamaal Charles. Not only does he post injury issues, but because of previous injuries, it will play a factor in his numbers for the 2016 season.”
James Hatfield (Hatty Waiver Wire Guru)

Q2. What WR with a top 20 ADP is the riskiest player for fantasy owners to draft at their current price tag?

Sammy Watkins (BUF)
“Foot injuries are never good for a receiver, and playing on an injured foot on a weekly basis affords a player no chance to get healthy until the offseason. That makes Sammy Watkins’ issue this summer one worth monitoring. Even though he’s passed his physical, any re-injury could sink his stock. Considering this, plus his on average low catch totals (before an 11-catch performance in Week 17 last year, he had had just one game with more than six catches all season), and the margins for Watkins to just live up to his current ADP, to say nothing of surpassing it, are incredibly thin.”
R.J. White (CBS Sports)

Jordy Nelson (GB)
“Nelson seems to have the most inherent risk going into fantasy drafts. We all know about last year’s ACL tear, but he’s now experiencing tendinitis in his OTHER knee. On Monday, Aaron Rodgers said he expected Nelson back next week, and while that’s a great sign, things like this can always crop up as the season goes on. I really do like (a healthy) Nelson this year, but not as the 17th overall pick. Brandon Marshall, Keenan Allen and Mike Evans could all outperform Nelson, and you can get them for a little cheaper.”
Seth Klein (The Fantasy Fix)

Kelvin Benjamin (CAR)
“It pains me to write this but Kelvin Benjamin is easily one of the most risky WRs in the top 20. He is coming off of ACL surgery and Cam Newton doesn’t mind spreading the ball around or running it in the end-zone himself. You have to love the upside of Benjamin, but between injury unknown and not having seen enough on-the-field action, you have to be careful with picking him.”
James Hatfield (Hatty Waiver Wire Guru)

Julian Edelman (NE)
“It’s obvious the former Kent State QB has always had injury concerns as he’s only played 1 full season in the NFL. Edelman’s season ended early again last year due to a left foot injury in which he’s had 2 surgeries on since. Edelman was finally activated off the PUP List on Sunday. Within 3 days of practice since being activated, he has already re-injured the same foot as he was forced to leave practice earlier today. The 30-year-old WR has only had one season with 1,000 receiving yards and faces many red flags entering this season which include – the absence of Tom Brady for 4 games of which the two share an inseparable bond on the field, and new additions to the Pats WR corps which include Martellus Bennett (6’6) and Chris Hogan (6’1). Both will definitely threaten Edelman’s TD potential. Edelman’s ADP is creeping into the late 3rd and early 4th this season; the red flags are too concerning this early in drafts.”
Tozzi Brothers (Legion Report)

Thank you to the experts for taking the time to name their high risk players. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and check out our video below for more fantasy advice.

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