As fantasy football players, we always need to analyze the level of risk with any given player. Before we draft, we determine which players are safe and which are risky. Some players carry injury, workload or situational risk. Last year Todd Gurley was a popular No.1 overall pick, despite his poor team and situation. Sammy Watkins was taken as a WR2, disregarding the injury risk that he always carries. In 2017, there are risky players in every round of the draft. Below we analyze five players who are the biggest risks in your 2017 fantasy football drafts.
Five Risky Draft Picks
Sammy Watkins, WR, Rams
Sammy Watkins has proven to have NFL talent. After all, he was selected ahead of both Odell Beckham Jr. and Mike Evans back in 2014. But Watkins has two things seriously working against him as a fantasy producer.
First of all, he is a constant injury risk. Over the last three seasons, he has racked up all kinds of injuries. He missed three games in 2015 and eight in 2016. After missing the final eight games of 2016 Watkins received a second foot surgery, so there is hope that the foot injury is behind him. However, it is impossible to know and he has had other injuries as well.
The bigger question mark for Watkins owners is his recent move to the L.A. Rams. Watkins leaves a situation where Tyrod Taylor was a great deep ball thrower and targeted Watkins more than any other receiver. And while Watkins remains the best wideout on the team, his quarterback is now second- year signal caller Jared Goff. Goff is still incredibly young and struggled mightily in his first year. The Rams also plan on continuing to feed running back Todd Gurley, making Watkins opportunity limited. For a fourth round pick, Watkins lacks a talented quarterback, a large number of targets and health certainty.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars
The fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft is guaranteed the team workload. No team is drafting a running back that high and not giving him the work. However, Fournette is risky at his ADP for two reasons.
Number one, will the team stay in enough games to give him sufficient carries? Last season the Jaguars went 3-13 and had one of the worst defenses in the league. If they are unable to stay competitive, then it won’t matter how much they would like to be able to run the ball because they won’t be able to.
The second question is whether he will be effective or not. Fournette has the talent. But the team was unable to run the ball last season and the poor quarterback situation does not help matters. Last season Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon ran for just 904 yards on 247 carries. Which is just over 3.6 yards per carry. If they can improve on this with Fournette, then great. But if Blake Bortles again struggles to keep defenses at bay, the box may be loaded up against Fournette all season.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots
Rob Gronkowski is undoubtedly the number one tight end in fantasy football. This means using a second or third round pick on him in most leagues. However, the target hog is also a bit risky. Gronkowski has missed 22 games over the past five seasons, including ones that are taking a toll. Gronk missed the last eight games in 2016 and had his third back surgery this offseason. While he seems to be healthy, there is no telling if his back will hold up for another full season.
Gronkowski has been the No. 1 fantasy tight end in each season that he has played at least 11 games. So if you can accept him missing games, then go for it. However, him missing at least a couple games seems like a lock, and missing more than a couple is a real possibility. A second or third round pick is a high price for any tight end, let alone one who hasn’t played 16 games since 2011.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans
‘Nuk’ is absolutely a WR1 talent. But his situation is unlikely to lead him to a WR1 finish in 2017. After an explosion in 2015, Hopkins saw all of his number decrease in 2016. The issue with Hopkins is the talent under center in Houston and the team’s offensive strategy. The Texans were 28th in scoring in 2016, and continue to be a run- first, defensive squad. The Texans were No. 29 in the league in yards last season and No. 32 in yards per attempt. With rookie Deshaun Watson and the average Tom Savage under center, this doesn’t look to be changing too much.
While Hopkins will continue getting the largest target share on the team, there is no telling how good or frequent those targets will be. This, in addition to the team struggling to get into the red zone. At his current third- round price, Hopkins is a risky pick that will need a dramatic increase in efficiency and quarterback play to reward his drafters.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
Big Ben has great targets. And the Steeler offense should be explosive with Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and the returning Martavis Bryant at Roethlisberger’s disposal. However, the 35- year old who contemplated retirement after 2016 is full of red flags. For one, Ben gets hurt quite a bit. He has missed six games over the past two seasons and 15 over his last eight.
More concerning though is Big Ben’s play on the road in 2016. Last season Roethlisberger threw 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions in his seven road games. He finished as the No. 18 quarterback last season after being drafted as a QB1. He is again being drafted as a one, going as the 12th quarterback in drafts so far. While he certainly has the potential for big games and a big season, he also has high bust- potential. Ben is getting older and hurt more often, in addition to his poor road play. And considering he has thrown for 4,000 yards just two of the last five years, he is very much a risky pick on draft day.