Every year I want to bang my head on a desk when so-called fantasy experts rank severe injury risks so high on their draft sheets. Sure, these players have extreme upside but no one talks about downside.
What is upside and what is downside you ask? Well I grabbed the definitions off of dictionary.com:
Upside: n. An upward tendency, as in business profitability or in the prices of a stock.
Downside: n. A downward tendency, as in the price of a stock.
Fantasy sports is a lot like the stock market. There are "stocks" with potential and "stocks" with dependability. Generally when investing, a stock broker will ask you to invest in some dependable stocks and then you can use your extra money to invest in high risk stocks. I like to look at a draft like this. Keep your early round picks to dependable names and keep your later picks to high-risk, high-upside players. Why would you want to draft someone who has a high probability to only play 12 games anyways?
There are plenty of names out there who can't seem to stay on the field for a whole season and will not help you win a fantasy title, yet they are being drafted early in almost every draft. Let's look into some of these players you should not rely on if you want to win:
Steven Jackson is a first round selection who will produce like a third round selection.
Steven Jackson: I will never draft Steven Jackson in the first round. He might be one of the strongest running backs in the league, and he has a great chance to eclipse 300 carries...if he stays healthy.
His downside is his injury risks. Three years ago he had 346 carries and 90 receptions. That year must have really torn his body apart because after that he hasn't played more than 12 games in one season. Like Marion Barber, he runs in a style that warrants injury. Unlike Barber, if he goes down his handcuff will not produce similar numbers.
Do not draft this so called "stud" in the first round expecting him to be a fantasy cornerstone. He doesn't have the stamina to last an entire year anymore. If you draft him, you'll be crying yourself to sleep on those cold December nights with this one hit wonder.
Frank Gore: I'm still trying to figure out why people look at Frank Gore like a first round player. When has he put up those crazy-good numbers everyone always rants and raves about? Every year I hear something new about him. Either he will be the centerpiece in a new style of offense or his injuries limited him in the past.
I'm sick of hearing excuses about him.
Frank Gore will never be more than a 1000 yd, 8 TD RB with a decent amount of receptions. In PPR leagues, I can see Gore going in the first round. Anywhere else, he should be drafted at the top of the 3rd round.
If you take another look at his career numbers, you will see since 2006 each of his stats slowly decrease. His games per year, carries, yards, receptions, reception yards....If that isn't "downside" I don't know what is.
Brian Westbrook: It pains me to say this but Brian Westbrook is on his last leg. It's a common trend to see RB lose a step when they turn 30 years old and Westbrook will be 30 in September. For the past three years his YPC has fallen considerably and injuries have plagued him. LeSean McCoy was drafted in the second round this year to eventually take over for Westbrook.
He will be taking over sooner than later unfortunately.
All the signs point to the end of Westbrook's career, so do not risk your first round pick on a guy filled with downside. If you can find him at the beginning of the third round he's a worthwhile risk but he won't take care of you near the end of the season when he has lots of ticky-tack injuries.
Dont let the past pull you in, there are many other running backs with more potential than Larry Johnson these days.
Larry Johnson: Once a rusher who lead countless teams to victory, now an old cog in an offense with a new quarterback and many other questions surrounding it. People picking Larry Johnson in the third or fourth round are living in nostalgia.
It doesn't matter how many touchdowns he scored in the past, those won't help you this year.
For the past two years...two years...he could not stay healthy. To add to that, there is an extremely talented runner behind Johnson on the depth charts named Jamaal Charles. Charles has too much talent to be sitting on the bench, so expect him to be getting at least half the carries per game by the end of the year. All you are drafting with Larry Johnson is trouble down the road.
Joseph Addai: I really hate to put his name on this list. I really do. But there is nothing sexy about picking Joseph Addai anymore. Not only does he have problems staying healthy, but he's never carried a full workload in his whole career (college and professional). The Colts finally realized this and drafted a very talented rusher in the first round to suplement Addai.
Here is a newsflash if you haven't figured it out already: professional football teams do not draft players in the first round to let them sit. Even quarterbacks drafted in the first round are expected to produce right away (see Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco). Running back is not a hard position to transition into and expect Donald Brown to steal 10-15 carries a game from Addai (much like Addai did to Rhodes in 2006).
Addai is being drafted in the fourth, fifth and sixth round in many drafts. I wouldn't draft him at all unless he fell to the eighth round or later. Even then, there are probably going to be guys still on the board I'd rather have.
If you have something to say about my predictions here, then let me know with a comment! I encourage any kind of debate. Thanks for reading!