There are all kinds of strategies to assembling a Fantasy Football team, but an approach I seem to find myself sticking to across all Fantasy Sports is ensuring to balance my high risk picks with what I consider safe and reliable options. And that’s why I started writing my 2013 Fantasy Football All-Risk Team.
For the purpose of this post, players who aren’t projected to be starters at their positions based on FantasyPros consensus rankings and standard league roster formats aren’t included.
For example, we all know that Rashard Mendenhall enters 2013 with a significant injury history, but is also projected to be the starter for Arizona and is being labeled a three-down back. Mendenhall is a risky pick, with some upside for sure, but because he isn’t currently projected as a starter he isn’t included on this list.
Furthermore, Chris Johnson, DeMarco Murray, Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden are noted risky players who have been talked about at length in other places. Their upside is significant and each comes with inherent risks, so I’m going to focus on 4 others here.
2013 Fantasy Football All-Risk Team: Running Backs
David Wilson, New York Giants
The former 1st rounder out of Virginia Tech, went off in Week 13 against a horrible Saints defense and all of a sudden he is being considered a #2 fake running back. He has fumbling and blocking issues, competition in the backfield and has a career high of just 15 rushing attempts in a game. He is largely unproven, to say the least.
With all that to consider, which should be enough to raise caution, there is also the flip side, which is you’re getting a high-end talent who could explode in the well-rounded Giants’ offense. Wilson is largely considered to be the breakout back of 2013 and no one is questioning his talent. In fact, many are projecting a 2014 1st round ADP.
The largest risk currently involving Wilson is his price tag above all else though. He may not get enough touchdowns with Andre Brown proving to be a solid goalline back and capable runner in his own right and therefore, a committee is a certainty. Wilson would be my ideal third RB and if he is sitting there in the 4th round, there is too much upside to pass on, but know there are risks.
Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Bell is the man in the backfield for the Steelers, but what happens if he doesn’t rise to the occasion early, pick up blitzes or the play-book, or simply cannot handle the lead role? His competition wasn’t exceptional last year, but they didn’t fall flat on their faces either. So Bell will have to perform and you can bet Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman will be motivated to cut into his workload.
Furthermore, Bell wasn’t considered the best talent available when he came off the board in April’s NFL Draft, instead, it is his opportunity in Pittsburgh, which is influencing his fantasy ranking the most. With that being noted, Bell is a duel threat out of the backfield and a well-rounded back that lead the Big 10 in rushing last season. He is also generally considered capable of being a 3 down back at the highest level.
I’m taking Le’Veon Bell first, of all rookies at any position, but there are inherent risks and Bell isn’t going to throw down a Doug Martin season. With that being said, a Ryan Mathews rookie season seems well within reach and that was good for a 30th best fantasy season among running backs and that should be considered his floor.
Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins
Mr. Miller from the U, is climbing up the draft rankings and is largely considered a big time sleeper heading into 2013 Fantasy drafts. Fantastic, he has the explosive burst and elusiveness to bust out in a big way and Reggie Bush is in Motor City now.
As good as all that sounds, Miller is still largely unproven in the NFL as a feature back. Last season, he only carried the ball 51 times total and his single game high was 10. If that doesn’t raise a few concerns, you should double check the definition of risk, especially as it pertains to the losing of an investment part. Miller is currently being selected as a #2 fantasy RB.
There is a little competition too, rookie Mike Gillislee is largely considered a deep sleeper and Daniel Thomas was once highly regarded, so what happens if there is a committee? Many are also pointing to an improved offense in Miami, but I’m taking a wait and see approach there too. There is upside, but he wont be a sleeper on draft day and don’t draft blindly, without assuming some risk.
Updated Thoughts on Fantasy RBs
In the All-Reliable Team breakdown, I mentioned my inclination to go RB early and often and ideally one of the above 3 would be a perfect 3rd running back. The point of this All-Risk and All-Reliable series is to highlight complimentary players to maximize upside, without selling your tractor for fuel, or the farm entirely.
As I’ve been doing some drafts, auctions and mocks, I’ve found that I am ending up with Le’Veon Bell a lot as my 3rd back, Steven Jackson as my first and luckily even my 2nd sometimes. There are risks associated with almost every back outside the top 10 rankings and even those inside it, so you shouldn’t neglect this position in the early going.
I have been handcuffing my running backs more than ever this season too, while also targeting Giovani Bernard and Bryce Brown. They’ve got all kinds of talent and upside, while currently costing just a mid round price tag. I’ll also be updating the All-Reliable team, as there have been some significant changes since that article.
I’m a Loyal Leafs, Cubs, and Cowboys fan for decades. I wear the C for The Fake Hockey, in addition to contributing to The Fake Baseball and The Fake Football in more of a Timmy Try Hard role. You can also find my work here at davidgonos.com and can reach me on Twitter @naparker77.