Where potential reward outweighs risk
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Technically, every player is a risk in fantasy football due to the nature of the game. Even players that are fully healthy and clearly among the most talented on their team are subject to the whims of the coaching staff (ahem, Gio Bernard).

Of course, certain players are bigger risks than others based on what's happened in the past and fantasy owners must determine which ones are worth the gamble.

With Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, the potential reward isn't high enough justify his 14.9 average draft position (ADP) in fantasyfootballcalculator.com mocks. He's missed at least two games per season and 11 total in his first three years in the NFL. And aside from Weeks 13-16 last season, when he beefed up his numbers against some of the league's worst run defenses, Murray hasn't proven to be a trustworthy RB1.

The following five players, however, are worth it because we know how good they'll be if things go right.

Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans (12.7 ADP) - There were concerns that all the touches Foster accumulated from 2010-12 would cause him to be less effective last season, but he averaged 4.5 ypc and was on pace for 213 fantasy points before injuries ruined his season in Week 7. Just five running backs had more than 198 fantasy points in 2013. New Texans coach Bill O'Brien said he's going to utilize Foster in a three-down role, so it's likely the 27-year-old running back will hit 325 touches if he stays healthy.

Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons (16.3) - Jones, who is one of the top athletes in the NFL, was on pace for 131 catches and 1,856 receiving yards before he had to undergo season-ending foot surgery. Roddy White's sprained ankle was a factor in Jones getting so many targets during that timeframe, but it's not farfetched to think the 25-year-old will be Matt Ryan's top target this season even if White is healthy. It's likely that a healthy season from Jones will lead to 1,400 receiving yards and 8-10 touchdowns.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills (30.8) - A sprained ankle and the pesky reliability of Fred Jackson caused Spiller to be a colossal fantasy bust in 2013, but his season wasn't even that bad statistically. He still averaged 4.6 yards per carry and finished with 1,118 yards from scrimmage in 15 games. However, he scored just two touchdowns (both rushing) while Jackson found paydirt 10 times. Spiller had as many rushing TDs as quarterback E.J. Manuel and just one more than backup QB Thad Lewis and fullback Frank Summers. That's where the risk lies with Spiller. Because he isn't used much in the red zone, he has to rely on big plays to score touchdowns. But he proved in 2012 that, when the big plays come, he can be a RB1 with just 250 touches.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots (31.5) - Gronkowski has undergone at least eight surgeries (Four on his forearm, two on his back, one on his ankle, one on his knee) since college, missed 14 games the past two years and is coming off a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee. He's also produced a per-16- game average of 72 receptions, 1,042 receiving yards and 13 receiving touchdowns in his career.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins (68) - The risk with Griffin is obvious -- he's just 6-foot-2 and 222 pounds but puts his body on the line often and suffered torn ligaments in his knee in January 2013 -- but so is the reward. As a rookie, he threw for 3,200 yards, had a 20/5 TD/INT ratio, 815 rushing yards and seven rushing scores. Griffin had Pierre Garcon for just 10 games that season and even when Garcon played he had to battle through a torn ligament in his foot. This year, Griffin will have a healthy Garcon, fresh off a 113-catch season, DeSean Jackson, Jordan Reed, Alfred Morris and new coach Jay Gruden, who guided Andy Dalton to 4,296 passing yards and 33 TDs a year ago.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.