Veteran fantasy football drafters know about risk and reward. They know that waiting on a quarterback is a risk, as you let premier talents like Tom Brady and Drew Brees slip off the board. They know that drafting Peyton Manning, two years, one team change and at least four neck surgeries removed from his last NFL action, represented a huge risk, albeit one with potentially great rewards. Peyton's situation was unique, and there was little precedent to predict how many games he might play, or how well, before the ticking time bomb at the top of his spine went off.
Ultimately, though, there was a place where risk met reward, where Peyton's potential and pedigree overcame the fear of making a team-crippling pick. From March until September, that point was deep in the fifth round in an average 12-team fantasy draft, about 60 picks later than in his pre-injury days.
Fantasy drafters know the thrill and the fear associated with taking such a risk, with little more than pride on the line. What they don't know, and what NFL GMs have to deal with every April, is the weight of betting millions of your employer's dollars on taking (or not taking) a risk like that.
Which brings us to the Rams, and a high-risk, high-reward player like Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore was perhaps the best running back in the country when he had his left knee blown out in 2011. He had surgery and rehabbed it and came back in 2012, only to have his right knee destroyed in a game against Tennessee.
It was an even more severe injury, one that had coach Steve Spurrier offering public consolations like "Good things will happen for Marcus Lattimore. I don't know in what field of life, but … he's going to do well in whatever he does." Comparisons were made to the horrific injury suffered by high school quarterback Jacob Rainey. Irreparable arterial damage in Rainey's leg forced doctors to remove his leg above the knee.
Fortunately, Lattimore escaped the worst, and he decided to enter the NFL draft even though he might not play a down until 2014. And — putting Manti Te'o's all-too-public Rorshach test to one side — he represents one of the biggest risk-reward propositions in the draft. A potential franchise back available at a bargain price. Or potentially a guy who might never play a down of football again.
If you were Les Snead, would you take the risk? Here's what our panel of writers had to say.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.