A few days ago I wrote about the safest players to draft early on. I did it for several reasons, namely because I believe security in early rounds is a skill that is often slightly undervalued, and because it's way easier to pinpoint the riskier players than the safer ones.
So now I'm going to flip it around for the easier version—the players with the most risk.
Because there are so many players that can be classified as "injury-risks" or any other downside for that matter, I'm just going to give you one name per round of ADP (in an ESPN 10-team league) through the eighth round.
It doesn't always mean to stay away from these guys; it just means the buyer has to be aware of their downside. Get my king of safety Ryan Grant in round 2? Then maybe round 3 is a time to roll the dice on Ryan Mathews.
Ultimately, my criterion was the odds that the player mentioned gives you far, far less than you expected.
Round 1: Frank Gore, RB
I imagine this isn't the name most were expecting out of the first round. But of all the picks in this spot, Gore seems the most likely to fall even if he stays healthy. I'm not buying two rookie offensive lineman as the big fix for Gore, who relied on a few long plays for all his yards last year. And it's not like he's Mr. Healthy either—how can you call Steven Jackson or Michael Turner injury-prone when you're comparing them to Gore? Runner up: Michael Turner.
Round 2: Larry Fitzgerald, WR
I'm down on Fitzgerald this year and I think he's risky. He's a great wide receiver, but with so much fluctuation in that offense, and after a bit of down year, what are you expecting from Fitz? I think we just don't know, and that scares me in round two. Runner up: Cedric Benson.
Round 3: Knowshon Moreno, RB
This is almost a cheap pick, because he frankly shouldn't be going this high. But given the injuries to Moreno, he really is a scary third round pick. And the Broncos's signing of LenDale White does not show confidence in their young back. Runner up: Ryan Mathews.
Round 4: Steve Smith (CAR), WR
It's not so much the broken hand that concerns me—it's more the age and a man named Matt Moore. I know Moore and Smith connected well last year but I don't really take away anything from that small a sample size. Smith could be primed for a huge bust season. Runner up: LeSean McCoy.
Round 5: Joseph Addai, RB
Someone once told me he though Joseph Addai had the biggest differential between his fantasy prowess and his skill level. What happens if the Colts start to give Donald Brown more carries, and he takes the bulk of the work from Addai? It's far from certain but there's a chance it could happen. Runner up: Ronnie Brown.
Round 6: Felix Jones, RB
A number of options here, but Jones takes the cake. I don't think anyone doubts Jones's ability—it's his ability to stay on the field that is frightening. And who said Marion Barber's career is over? Runner up: Brandon Jacobs.
Round 7: Reggie Bush, RB
Bush burned his owners in so many weeks last year, it's hard to believe he's going this high. Besides obvious injury concerns, Bush isn't even the starter on his team. There are just so many ways he can hurt his fantasy owners, I don't think the seventh round is the place to take a chance on him. Runner up: Wes Welker.
Round 8: Owen Daniels, TE
I originally wanted to put Hakeem Nicks here because of all the hype he's getting (I love him too, but I could see him not getting enough targets), but given my prompt of considering "downside," Nicks doesn't really fit the bill. From what I've heard, Daniels's recovery has been a little slower than the team would like. Why take a risk on an ACL-recovering guy like Daniels when there are plenty of fine tight end options still out there? Runner up: Santana Moss.