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8 High Risk RBs & WRs (2018 Fantasy Football)

Aug 2, 2018

Rashaad Penny’s situation and backfield competition give him plenty of risk

With the preseason finally upon us, fantasy owners are once again starting to digest a wealth of advice from their favorite experts en masse, and our podcasts and articles have more than enough information to satisfy even the most insatiable fantasy nerd. One subject the community frequently seeks advice on all throughout August is which fantasy-relevant players carry the most risk.

Luckily for you, our featured experts are in tow to give you the skinny on who some of these players may be. Naturally, that can lead to varying opinions like the one you’ll see on Jerick McKinnon below.

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Q1. Which RB comes with the most amount of risk and which player(s) would you rather draft with a lower ADP at his position?

Rashaad Penny (SEA)
“As of now, it appears that Penny has some of the most risk considering where he’s being drafted. There have now been two Seahawks beat writers who are saying that Chris Carson is “easily the most impressive” running back on the team and that he will start Week 1. While they aren’t the end all, be all, fellow rookie Ronald Jones plays on what might be a better offense and has no competition for the starting job. Not just him, but Lamar Miller deserves to be drafted over Penny (D’Onta Foreman will start the season on the PUP). I’d also personally take Sony Michel over Penny, though he doesn’t come without some risk.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Rashad Penny seems to carry an insane amount of risk to me. Pete Carroll is famous for allowing competition regardless of draft capital, and even if Penny is better than Carson, it’s not certain that the touch distribution will reflect that. Furthermore, the Seahawks project to be significantly worse on defense this year than all of Russell Wilson’s career and the Seahawks were already the pass-happiest offense in football in 2017, which would lead to negative game scripts more often than not for whoever becomes the Seahawks lead back. I would rather have Jay Ajayi and Dion Lewis at similar ADPs.”
– Davis Mattek (Fantasy Insiders)

Derrick Henry (TEN)
“Henry isn’t a good bet to pay off his RB17 ADP in half-PPR scoring. Over the past five seasons, just 22% of top-20 half-PPR RBs (11 of 100) have finished with fewer than 25 catches. With a strong pass catcher in Dion Lewis also in the backfield, I have Henry projected for just 17 catches this year. I’d take Lewis straight up over Henry in half-PPR, along with Kenyan Drake, Derrius Guice, Alex Collins and Jay Ajayi.”
– Jared Smola (Draft Sharks)

Alvin Kamara (NO)
“Kamara scares me at his current ADP. The way that he closed the season out in the fantasy playoffs by failing to gain 100 yards from scrimmage in Weeks 15 and 16 feels much more repeatable when the defense can focus more on him and not have to worry about Mark Ingram for the first four weeks. He’s probably not going to average 6.1 yards per carry again, and if he does take on a full workload for 25% of the season, what does that look like? He can certainly be the spectacle that he was last year, but I’d rather target Kareem Hunt or Leonard Fournette a few picks later because they have the lead back experience and more room to improve than Kamara does. ”
– Matthew Bowe (Razzball)

LeSean McCoy (BUF)
“There are quite a few, but the one that jumps out at you is McCoy. The allegations against him were pretty heavy. Even if he wasn’t behind a violent robbery, he was accused of numerous other nasty things. Beyond that, he’s stuck on a bad team with a less than threatening passing game. Color me less than excited. Right behind Shady is McKinnon. He also comes with some risk, but he’s way more appealing due to his elite athleticism and an awesome system in San Francisco.”
– Kevin Roberts (Breaking Football)

Jerick McKinnon (SF)
“McKinnon is the riskiest running back consistently being drafted in the late-second/ early-third round. People will point to the Kyle Shanahan system, but McKinnon has never handled more than 159 carries and has been inefficient each of the past two seasons. Fantasy owners are currently drafting him at his ceiling, asking him to do something he hasn’t done before. I’d comfortably draft Joe Mixon and Jordan Howard ahead of him. ”
– Frank Stampfl (RotoExperts)

Q2. Which WR comes with the most amount of risk and which player(s) would you rather draft with a lower ADP at his position?

Tyreek Hill (KC)
“It’d be difficult to come out and say that Hill will be a bust, but with the additions and subtractions of this offense, a player like Hill will come with some risk. The fact that Hill was able to receive almost 1,200 yards despite only catching 75 passes speaks volumes about his speed and agility, but Travis Kelce nearly doubled everyone on the team in red zone targets. Hill isn’t a red zone receiver, but his other advantages are disappearing as well. He now has to deal with a new starting quarterback, a new offensive coordinator, and Sammy Watkins‘ projected big role in this offense. Give me the always dependable Larry Fitzgerald 13-15 picks later. Fitzgerald is coming off of three-straight seasons of at least 107 catches, 1,000 yards, and six touchdowns. Plus, Bradford should be an improvement on what he’s endured at the QB position in previous seasons.”
– Matthew Bowe (Razzball)

Tyreek Hill at WR14 is a really interesting proposition in the sense that to justify him at that price, you have to believe a few unlikely things are bonafide certainties. Alex Smith performed as the best deep passer in the NFL last season, and Hill certainly has a lot to do with that in both opening up space and converting those deep passes into yards and points, but to automatically suggest Mahomes will perform as well or better than last year’s numbers is not a lock. Furthermore, Hill does not have the profile of a player who is a fantasy WR1. He doesn’t dominate the market share of his team’s targets and is essentially an afterthought in the red zone. As such, he’ll primarily have to continue scoring from 30+ yards out. Hill is the rare case of being someone who is much better for their actual team than fantasy teams; the space and tactical value that Hill creates is almost unparalleled, but if he even runs slightly bad, he’ll be an eyesore week-to-week for your fantasy team. I prefer Demaryius Thomas, Amari Cooper, and Stefon Diggs all to Hill.”
– Davis Mattek (Fantasy Insiders)

“This is easily Tyreek Hill, as his draft position is his ceiling with all the talent they now have on the roster. After dissecting the targets that will go around, it’s hard to anticipate any more than he had last year with Sammy Watkins in town. And don’t expect his efficiency numbers to remain the same as he starts work with a new quarterback, even if there are high expectations for sophomore Patrick Mahomes. Don’t get it twisted, Alex Smith should have been an MVP candidate last year. The list of players who should be drafted before Hill (but are currently not) include Doug Baldwin, Stefon Diggs, T.Y. Hilton, Amari Cooper, and Allen Robinson. There are a few others who should be considered as well, but this is the group that I’d have no issue drafting over him. Targets! Targets! Targets!”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Alshon Jeffery (PHI)
“Jeffery would be overpriced at WR18 even if he wasn’t still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery with a QB coming back from a shredded knee. Jeffery finished 23rd at his position in half-PPR points last year, despite the Eagles leading the league with 38 passing TDs. That came on the back of Carson Wentz’s 7.5% TD rate, which is very unlikely to be repeated. Jeffery’s 15.8% TD rate is also a long shot to be duplicated. In other words, bank on regression in 2018. Give me Demaryius Thomas straight up over Jeffery.”
– Jared Smola (Draft Sharks)

Alshon Jeffery is being drafted in the fifth round, despite dealing with a shoulder injury that could force him to miss the entire preseason and training camp. He was touchdown dependent last season, plus Carson Wentz likes the spread the ball out to his other receivers like Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor. Round 5/6 is filled with a ton of breakout wide receiver options including Chris Hogan, Corey Davis, and Sammy Watkins, all of whom I would draft over Jeffery.”
– Frank Stampfl (RotoExperts)

Josh Gordon (CLE)
“I get the excitement surrounding Gordon, and if he keeps his mind right, he could pay off. However, he hasn’t been the same monster in years, and he literally is taking time away from football RIGHT NOW to make sure he doesn’t trip himself up. That’s at least a mild red flag, and on top of that, you still have to acknowledge the fact that he plays on a team that should try to run the ball a lot. Gordon does have upside, but so does JuJu Smith-Schuster, who can be had a few picks later. He was a beast as a rookie and could be even better this year with Martavis Bryant out of the picture.”
– Kevin Roberts (Breaking Football)

Thank you to the experts for their high-risk players. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and subscribe to our podcast below for all the latest discussions this season.

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