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Fantasy football: Ignoring injury risk only hurts yourself

- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 16, 2012

Every player in the NFL is prone to injury. So putting together a team of NFL players is an inherently risky endeavor. But you can mitigate that risk by avoiding players with injury-related red flags.

Sometimes that's not possible in filling out a roster. Sometimes you get stuck. And sometimes the potential is so great that it's worth it, right? Well, no.

Playing it relatively safe will not guarantee you success, but the quickest way to guarantee failure is to ignore reality. And the reality is that some injury-prone players are not worth the risk. This year, those players are:

Andre Johnson, Texans WR: For some inexplicable reason, Johnson continues to be ranked as one of fantasy's top receivers. It was only two years ago he was rated No. 1 at the position (and in hindsight that was wishful thinking), but that may as well have been a decade ago. He can't stay healthy; his legs are shot. And the Texans found out last year they don't need to pass much — or even well — to win. At his current ranking or anywhere in the vicinity, I consider him undraftable.

DeMarco Murray, Cowboys RB: I'll say this about Murray: He's resilient. I'll also say this: I wouldn't draft him if you paid me. He came back from multiple injuries at Oklahoma, and it looks like he'll be ready to go this season after his rookie year ended with a broken ankle. But I wouldn't bet a wooden nickel that he makes it through his second season unscathed.

Adrian Peterson, Vikings RB: Peterson has proved his worth as a fantasy star, and now that he's been removed from the physically unable to perform list, you might think there'd be little risk in drafting him. You'd be wrong. First, he has to avoid any setbacks in practice the next few weeks. And even if he takes the field for opening day, it'll be only a little more than eight months since he underwent major knee surgery. Depending on how far he falls, he could be a value as an RB2 or Flex. But he's off my radar until next year.

Darren McFadden, Raiders RB: I watched McFadden a lot during his three years at Arkansas, and every time I would think to myself, "How is a guy with chicken legs dominating in the SEC?" Well, it appears his disproportioned lower body is having a harder time on the professional level. It doesn't matter how many points he scores when he plays if he doesn't score any most of the time. When he's on, McFadden is the most explosive runner in the league, but he's only started 12 games the past two seasons. He's the perfect example of risk outweighing reward. Unless he falls to the fourth round (and even then you'd need Foster, Rice or McCoy in the fold to make up for any extended absences), stay away.

Michael Vick, Eagles QB: There are many reasons not to draft Michael Vick, but we'll stick to the injury factor. He has not been durable since taking over as the Eagles' starter, missing eight starts the past two seasons. On a related note, you don't become a better player by spending two years in prison. Vick has a better supporting cast in Philadelphia than he ever had in Atlanta, but 2010 was a fluke. He's no longer ridiculously rated as one of the top overall players — as he was in 2011 — but between his consistent inconsistency and the Eagles' weak offensive line, he's still too much of a risk as a No. 1 QB. Plus, the whole dog thing. Don't draft him.

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