The Gut Check No. 450: Choose Your Adventure Draft Plan (High Risk) - Footballguys

Matt Waldman creates three choose-your-own-adventure draft plans based on your risk tolerance. He explores the high-risk plan in this post. 

Choose your own adventure books were a big part of my early childhood. And choices are a something we all want — even when we look to others for answers. This year, yours truly has created three draft plans based on your risk tolerance as a fantasy player: conservative, moderate, and high risk-reward.

The players are listed in order of preference by round. Depending on the risk profile of the adventure, some players will be higher or lower in one plan than they are in another.

These plans are best for 12-team, serpentine drafts with PPR scoring and at least 3 receivers and 2 running backs as part of the starting lineup requirements.

Profile of the High-Risk Draft

The conservative draft plan has a series of underlying characteristics that differentiate it from the moderate and conservative plans:

  • This plan has the most players to choose from.
  • Talent has a higher priority than proven production.
  • The plan has no concerns about player age.
  • The plan has several players recuperating from injuries.
  • There are several recommendations to go beyond the player's average draft position in the early and middle rounds.

Most of you will identify with the moderate plan. However, it's often the plans at the far end of each spectrum that give fantasy players the greatest opportunity to excel so it's worth your time to examine these other plans and run a few mock drafts with each to determine where you truly fit.

As is the case with every draft plan, if a player falls from an earlier tier to a later one, he should remain near the top of your list. Spend a few minutes mapping out potential rosters with these lists. I recommend using Draft Dominator mock drafts to determine when it's best to target running backs, tight ends, and quarterback because there aren't as many running back options with this plan as others.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
1.01-1.04
1.05-1.08
1.09-1.12
Round 1 Targets
Antonio Brown
Antonio Brown
Leonard Fournette
Todd Gurley
David Johnson
Melvin Gordon
LeVeon Bell
Alvin Kamara
Odell Beckham Jr
Ezekiel Elliott
DeAndre Hopkins
Michael Thomas
David Johnson
Keenan Allen

Round 1 Commentary: Antonio Brown earns top priority in this plan because high-risk drafters can afford to wait on runners. However, it also accounts for a back like Fournette who is a greater injury risk due to a chronic ankle injury that will only get worse over the course of time — whether it's weeks, months, or years from now. Still, his talent, projected volume, scheme, and youth make him worth the risk here if you're seeking upside at the turn and at this position.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
2.09-2.12
2.05-2.08
2.01-2.04
Round 2 Targets
Davante Adams
Davante Adams
Davante Adams
A.J. Green
A.J. Green
A.J. Green
Travis Kelce
Travis Kelce
Travis Kelce
Rob Gronkowski
Rob Gronkowski
Rob Gronkowski
Devonta Freeman
Devonta Freeman
Devonta Freeman
Jordan Howard
Dalvin Cook
Dalvin Cook
Joe Mixon
Christian McCaffrey
Christian McCaffrey

Round 2 Commentary: It makes less sense to take a tight end at this spot. If you're concerned about missing on a position run of backs early, there are enough of them here worth your consideration. Cook and Mixon have more upside than Freeman, but Freeman's surrounding talent and individual skill makes him a little safer without much of a drop-off.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
3.01-3.04
3.05-3.08
3.09-3.12
Round 3 Targets
Travis Kelce
Aaron Rodgers
Alex Collins
Jordan Howard
Tyreek Hill
Doug Baldwin
Aaron Rodgers
Alex Collins
Amari Cooper
Tyreek Hill
Doug Baldwin
Larry Fitzgerald
Alex Collins
Amari Cooper
LeSean McCoy
Doug Baldwin
Stefon Diggs
Jay Ajayi
Amari Cooper
Adam Thielen
Stefon Diggs
LeSean McCoy
Adam Thielen
Jay Ajayi

Round 3 Commentary: Although McCoy is available in this plan in contrast to the others, he's not a high-priority option due to potential legal woes.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
4.09-4.12
4.05-4.08
4.01-4.04
Round 4 Targets
Alex Collins
Alex Collins
Alex Collins
Marvin Jones
Marvin Jones
Marvin Jones
Jay Ajayi
Jay Ajayi
Jay Ajayi
JuJu Smith-Schuster
JuJu Smith-Schuster
JuJu Smith-Schuster
Demaryius Thomas
Demaryius Thomas
Demaryius Thomas
Golden Tate
Golden Tate
Golden Tate
Jimmy Graham
Josh Gordon
Josh Gordon
Russell Wilson
Jimmy Graham
Jimmy Graham
Tom Brady
Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson
Tom Brady
Tom Brady

Round 4 Commentary: Gordon makes an appearance in this plan. The risk of taking Gordon and missing out on one of Collins or Jones is a tough decision, but I could see taking Gordon over Collins and landing Jones in the fifth round. If you miss, there are enough quality backs to make up for the loss.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
5.01-5.04
5.05-5.08
5.09-5.12
Round 5 Targets
Marvin Jones
Marvin Jones
Marvin Jones
JuJu Smith-Schuster
JuJu Smith-Schuster
JuJu Smith-Schuster
Golden Tate
Golden Tate
Golden Tate
Royce Freeman
Royce Freeman
Royce Freeman
Evan Engram
Evan Engram
Evan Engram
Sammy Watkins
Sammy Watkins
Sammy Watkins
Jimmy Graham
Jimmy Graham
Dion Lewis
Dion Lewis
Dion Lewis
Corey Davis
Corey Davis
Corey Davis
Tom Brady
Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson
Drew Brees
Tom Brady
Tom Brady
Mark Ingram
Drew Brees
Drew Brees
Tevin Coleman
Mark Ingram
Mark Ingram
Delanie Walker
Tevin Coleman
Tevin Coleman
Delanie Walker
Delanie Walker

Round 5 Commentary: This round doesn't differ greatly from the Moderate-Risk plan. The choice of Gordon can be mitigated with Jones and Watkins if you took backs earlier in the draft. If you took receivers, then you can still get Freeman and Lynch.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
6.09-6.12
6.05-6.08
6.01-6.04
Round 6 Targets
Marshawn Lynch
Marshawn Lynch
Marshawn Lynch
Sammy Watkins
Sammy Watkins
Royce Freeman
Corey Davis
Dion Lewis
Sammy Watkins
Drew Brees
Corey Davis
Dion Lewis
Tevin Coleman
Drew Brees
Corey Davis
Delanie Walker
Tevin Coleman
Drew Brees
Tarik Cohen
Delanie Walker
Tevin Coleman
Kerryon Johnson
Tarik Cohen
Delanie Walker
Emmanuel Sanders
Kerryon Johnson
Tarik Cohen
Marquise Goodwin
Emmanuel Sanders
Kerryon Johnson
Michael Crabtree
Marquise Goodwin
Emmanuel Sanders
Chris Hogan
Michael Crabtree
Marquise Goodwin
Chris Hogan
Michael Crabtree

Round 6 Commentary: If you thinking about an Upside Down Draft strategy (UDD), you should consider three of Freeman, Cohen, Lynch, and Johnson in Rounds 5-7. Do some mocks to see if you can land a combination of these options with Gordon and some safer receivers and tight end or quarterback.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
7.01-7.04
7.05-7.08
7.09-7.12
Round 7 Targets
Drew Brees
Marshawn Lynch
Marshawn Lynch
Marshawn Lynch
Kerryon Johnson
Kerryon Johnson
Kerryon Johnson
Sammy Watkins
Emmanuel Sanders
Sammy Watkins
Delanie Walker
Julian Edelman
Delanie Walker
Emmanuel Sanders
Marquise Goodwin
Emmanuel Sanders
Julian Edelman
Jordan Reed
Julian Edelman
Marquise Goodwin
Isaiah Crowell
Marquise Goodwin
Jordan Reed
Kyle Rudolph
Jordan Reed
Kyle Rudolph
Andrew Luck
Kyle Rudolph

Round 7 Commentary: If you've waited to take a calculated gamble on a tight end with elite upside, Reed is a good choice. here.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
8.09-8.12
8.05-8.08
8.01-.04
Round 8 Targets
Robert Woods
Robert Woods
Marshawn Lynch
Jordan Reed
Jordan Reed
Emmanuel Sanders
Isaiah Crowell
Isaiah Crowell
Robert Woods
Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford
Marquise Goodwin
Andrew Luck
Andrew Luck
Jordan Reed
Jimmy Garappolo
Jimmy Garappolo
Isaiah Crowell
Jordy Nelson
Jordy Nelson
Matthew Stafford
Jamison Crowder
Jamison Crowder
Andrew Luck
Cooper Kupp
Cooper Kupp
Jimmy Garappolo
Devin Funchess
Devin Funchess
Jordy Nelson
Robby Anderson
Robby Anderson
Jamison Crowder
Jamaal Williams
Jamaal Williams
Cooper Kupp
Devin Funchess
Robby Anderson
Jamaal Williams

Round 8 Commentary: Want to beat the quarterback run? Take one here. Seeking an underrated wide receiver with top-15 upside? Woods, Nelson, and Kupp all qualify. Is Lynch or Sanders still here? Grab one of them.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
9.01-9.04
9.05-9.08
9.09-9.12
Round 9 Targets
Robert Woods
Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford
Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers
Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes
Jared Goff
Jared Goff
Jared Goff
Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger
Jimmy Garappolo
Jordy Nelson
Jimmy Garappolo
Jordy Nelson
Matt Ryan
Jordy Nelson
Matt Ryan
C.J. Anderson
Matt Ryan
C.J. Anderson
Chris Carson
C.J. Anderson
Chris Carson
Nick Chubb
Chris Carson
Nick Chubb
Jaguars Def
Nick Chubb
Jaguars Def
Rams Def
Jaguars Def
Rams Def
Rams Def

Round 9 Commentary: Do you want back-to-back quarterbacks with top-five fantasy upside but at a mid-round discount. Rounds 8-10 is the safest stretch to make a move.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
10.09-10.12
10.05-10.08
10.01-10.04
Round 10 Targets
Patrick Mahomes
Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers
Allen Hurns
Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes
Chris Carson
Jared Goff
Jared Goff
Rams Def
Allen Hurns
Jordy Nelson
D.J. Moore
Matt Ryan
Allen Hurns
Calvin Ridley
C.J. Anderson
Matt Ryan
David Njoku
Chris Carson
C.J. Anderson
Nick Chubb
Chris Carson
Rams Def
Nick Chubb
Jaguars Def
Rams Def

Round 10 Commentary: If you don't fool with renting a defense, consider one of the top picks. There will some values at running back and wide receiver that I highly recommend for the next 8-10 rounds. Consider taking a defense now and a kicker before the 18th round so you can maximize your haul.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
11.01-11.04
11.05-11.08
11.09-11.12
Round 11 Targets
Allen Hurns
Allen Hurns
Marqise Lee
Chris Carson
Marqise Lee
Giovani Bernard
Rams Def
Giovani Bernard
D.J. Moore
Marqise Lee
D.J. Moore
Calvin Ridley
Giovani Bernard
Calvin Ridley
David Njoku
D.J. Moore
David Njoku
Derek Carr
Calvin Ridley
Derek Carr
Nyheim Hines
David Njoku
Nyheim Hines
Mike Williams
Derek Carr
Cameron Meredith
Kenny Golladay
Nyheim Hines
Mike Williams
Cameron Meredith
Kenny Golladay
Mike Williams
Kenny Golladay

Round 11 Commentary: David Njoku is likely your last-chance opportunity for top-five potential at the position and it's a long shot. If your league has position minimums and you must take a second tight end, Njoku, Watson, and Butt are the three highest recommendations.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
12.09-12.12
12.05-12.08
12.01-12.04
Round 12 Targets
Cameron Meredith
Cameron Meredith
Cameron Meredith
Doug Martin
Doug Martin
Marqise Lee
Mike Williams
Mike Williams
Giovani Bernard
Kenny Golladay
Kenny Golladay
Derek Carr
Michael Gallup
Michael Gallup
Doug Martin
Chargers Def
Chargers Def
Nyheim Hines
Broncos Def
Broncos Def
Mike Williams
Texans Def
Texans Def
Kenny Golladay
O.J. Howard
O.J. Howard
Michael Gallup
Theo Riddick
Theo Riddick
Chargers Def
Broncos Def
Texans Def
O.J. Howard
Theo Riddick

Round 12 Commentary: Cameron Meredith. Peyton Barber. Bilal Powell. LeGarrette Blount. Paul Richardson. Remember these names for the next 3-4 rounds. You can play around with Gallup and Miller but you should have enough receiver talent — and there are better values after the buzzy rookies leave the board.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
13.01-13.04
13.05-13.08
13.09-13.12
Round 13 Targets
Peyton Barber
Peyton Barber
Peyton Barber
Bilal Powell
Bilal Powell
Bilal Powell
Kenny Golladay
Michael Gallup
Michael Gallup
Michael Gallup
Anthony Miller
Anthony Miller
Anthony Miller
Broncos Def
Broncos Def
Broncos Def
Texans Def
Texans Def
Texans Def
Stephen Gostkowski
Justin Tucker
Stephen Gostkowski
Greg Zuerlein
Theo Riddick
Greg Zuerlein
Justin Tucker
Blake Bortles
Justin Tucker
Theo Riddick
Theo Riddick
Blake Bortles
Blake Bortles

Round 13 Commentary: See the advice for Round 12's commentary.

After this point, the conservative, moderate, and high-risk plans will begin to look a lot like because there's greater variability with average draft position and the later you get into the draft the more every plan should embrace depth and upside at non-quarterback positions.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
14.09-14.12
14.05-14.08
14.01-14.04
Round 14 Targets
Peyton Barber
Peyton Barber
Peyton Barber
Bilal Powell
Bilal Powell
Bilal Powell
LeGarrette Blount
LeGarrette Blount
LeGarrette Blount
Paul Richardson
Paul Richardson
Paul Richardson
Anthony Miller
Anthony Miller
Anthony Miller
Cameron Brate
Cameron Brate
Broncos Def
Jordan Wilkins
Jordan Wilkins
Texans Def
Case Keenum
Case Keenum
Justin Tucker
Blake Bortles
Blake Bortles
Cameron Brate
Samaje Perine
Samaje Perine
Jordan Wilkins
Case Keenum
Blake Bortles
Samaje Perine

Round 14 Commentary: Keelan Cole.Peyton Barber. LeGarrette Blount. Paul Richardson. Anthony Miller. I repeat...Peyton Barber. LeGarrette Blount. Paul Richardson. Anthony Miller (if you can't resist the rookie buzz).

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
15.01-15.04
15.05-15.08
15.09-15.12
Round 15 Targets
Keelan Cole
Keelan Cole
LeGarrette Blount
Peyton Barber
Peyton Barber
Paul Richardson
LeGarrette Blount
LeGarrette Blount
Tyrell Williams
Paul Richardson
Paul Richardson
Chris Ivory
Tyrell Williams
Tyrell Williams
Harrison Butker
Anthony Miller
Cameron Brate
Martavis Bryant
Cameron Brate
Jordan Wilkins
Ricky-Seals Jones
Jordan Wilkins
Case Keenum
Dez Bryant
Case Keenum
Chris Ivory
Christian Kirk
Blake Bortles
Harrison Butker
Chris Ivory
Martavis Bryant
Harrison Butker
Ricky Seals-Jones
Martavis Bryant
Dez Bryant
Ricky Seals-Jones
Christian Kirk
Dez Bryant
Christian Kirk

Round 15 Commentary: See Round 14. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
16.09-16.12
16.05-16.08
16.01-16.04
Round 16 Targets
Chris Godwin
Chris Godwin
Chris Godwin
Frank Gore
Frank Gore
Frank Gore
Rob Kelley
Rob Kelley
LeGarrette Blount
DeSean Jackson
DeSean Jackson
Rob Kelley
Spencer Ware
Spencer Ware
Paul Richardson
Chris Ivory
Chris Ivory
DeSean Jackson
Harrison Butker
Harrison Butker
Spencer Ware
Martavis Bryant
Martavis Bryant
Chris Ivory
Ricky-Seals Jones
Ricky-Seals Jones
Harrison Butker
Dez Bryant
Dez Bryant
Martavis Bryant
Christian Kirk
Christian Kirk
Ricky-Seals Jones
Austin Ekeler
Austin Ekeler
Dez Bryant
Christian Kirk
Austin Ekeler

Round 16 Commentary: Who knows how long Godwin, Gore, Kelly, and Cole will be available this late. This is borderline nutty that these options are here because all four are a piece of the starter puzzle and potentially have top-15 value at their positions.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
17.01-17.04
17.05-17.08
17.09-17.12
Round 17 Targets
Chris Godwin
Chris Godwin
Chris Godwin
Frank Gore
Frank Gore
DeSean Jackson
Rob Kelley
Rob Kelley
Austin Hooper
DeSean Jackson
DeSean Jackson
T.J. Yeldon
Austin Hooper
Austin Hooper
Spencer Ware
T.J. Yeldon
T.J. Yeldon
Tyrod Taylor
Spencer Ware
Spencer Ware
Courtland Sutton
Martavis Bryant
Martavis Bryant
Ricky-Seals Jones
Tyrod Taylor
Dez Bryant
Courtland Sutton
Tyrod Taylor
Courtland Sutton

Round 17 Commentary: See Round 16's commentary.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
18.09-18.12
18.05-18.08
18.01-18.04
Round 18 Targets
T.J. Yeldon
T.J. Yeldon
T.J. Yeldon
Ben Watson
Spencer Ware
Spencer Ware
Tyrod Taylor
Ben Watson
Ben Watson
Courtland Sutton
Tyrod Taylor
Tyrod Taylor
Dan Bailey
Courtland Sutton
Courtland Sutton
Matt Prater
Dan Bailey
Dan Bailey
Dede Westbrook
Matt Prater
Matt Prater
Kenneth Dixon
Dede Westbrook
Dede Westbrook
Kenneth Dixon
Kenneth Dixon

Round 18 Commentary: Yeldon, Ware, Watson, and Taylor are safety options with upside. If you waited on a kicker, take one now so you can have more upside picks at receiver and runner to end your draft.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
19.01-19.04
19.05-19.08
19.09-19.12
Round 19 Targets
Ben Watson
Matt Prater
Matt Prater
Tyrod Taylor
Eric Decker
Eric Decker
Dan Bailey
John Brown
John Brown
Matt Prater
Mason Crosby
Mason Crosby
Eric Decker
Vernon Davis
Vernon Davis
John Brown
Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson
Mason Crosby
Ted Ginn
Ted Ginn
Vernon Davis
Jake Butt
Jake Butt
Lamar Jackson
Dante Pettis
Dante Pettis
Ted Ginn
Terrelle Pryor
Terrelle Pryor
Jake Butt
Dallas Goedert
Dallas Goedert
Dante Pettis
Terrelle Pryor
Dallas Godert

Round 19 Commentary: Some of my favorite upside picks are Brown, Pettis, and Jackson. If Robinson is still here and you aren't a believer, it's time to take a risk. You also have to consider options like James Washington of Pittsburgh and Jake Kumerow of Green Bay.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
20.09-20.12
20.05-20.08
20.01-20.04
Round 20 Targets
Demarcus Robinson
Demarcus Robinson
Demarcus Robinson
Eric Decker
Eric Decker
Eric Decker
John Brown
John Brown
John Brown
Mason Crosby
Mason Crosby
Mason Crosby
Vernon Davis
Vernon Davis
Vernon Davis
Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson
Ted Ginn
Ted Ginn
Ted Ginn
Jake Butt
Jake Butt
Jake Butt
Dante Pettis
Dante Pettis
Dante Pettis
Terrelle Pryor
Terrelle Pryor
Terrelle Pryor
Dallas Goedert
Dallas Goedert
Dallas Goedert
Jonathan Stewart
Jonathan Stewart
Jonathan Stewart
Chase Edmonds
Chase Edmonds
Chase Edmonds
John Kelley
John Kelley
John Kelley
Cole Beasley
Cole Beasley
Cole Beasley
Keke Coutee
Keke Coutee
Keke Coutee
Ryan Switzer
Ryan Switzer
Ryan Switzer
Taywan Taylor
Taywan Taylor
Taywan Taylor
Taylor Gabriel
Taylor Gabriel
Taylor Gabriel

Round 20 Commentary: See Round 19.

Early Draft Spot High-Risk Sample Team (1st Spot)

I'm happy with this team. Keelan Cole left ahead of where I initially planned and had to adjust my board to land him in future drafts. As a big believer in the Chiefs offense, I'm willing to take a risk with stocking up — especially with Robinson so late and he's listed as the starting outside receiver ahead of Chris Conley.

  1. Antonio Brown
  2. Travis Kelce
  3. Tyreek Hill
  4. Marvin Jones
  5. Josh Gordon
  6. Royce Freeman
  7. Marshawn Lynch
  8. Kerryon Johnson
  9. Philip Rivers
  10. Patrick Mahomes
  11. Doug Martin
  12. LA Rams Def
  13. Cameron Meredith
  14. Peyton Barber
  15. LeGarrette Blount
  16. Anthony Miller
  17. Harrison Butker
  18. Dante Pettis
  19. Demarcus Robinson
  20. Ricky Seals-Jones

Middle Draft Spot High-Risk Sample Team (7th Spot)

My belief in the Collins-Lynch-Johnson-Barber quartet is a reason why I'll start with receivers early and take a shot on Gordon. Getting Howard is a nice bonus, too.

  1. DeAndre Hopkins
  2. Michael Thomas
  3. Jordan Howard
  4. Alex Collins
  5. Josh Gordon
  6. Sammy Watkins
  7. Marshawn Lynch
  8. Kerryon Johnson
  9. Jared Goff
  10. Philip Rivers
  11. David Njoku
  12. LA Rams Def
  13. Keelan Cole
  14. Cameron Meredith
  15. Peyton Barber
  16. LeGarrette Blount
  17. Harrison Butker
  18. Michael Gallup
  19. Ricky Seals-Jones
  20. Dante Pettis

Late Draft Spot High-Risk Sample Team (12th Spot)

I could have landed Kerryon Johnson instead of McCoy but opted to switch things up because I'd take McCoy at this spot. Rivers was off the board in the 11th round but with Goff in the 10th, I'm comfortable with Luck as my high-upside second passer. I hoped to wait one more round and land Evan Engram in the sixth, but sealed my fate with the Gordon pick in the fifth. However, I like the Reed-Davis combo for my tight ends.

  1. Odell Beckham, Jr.
  2. Keenan Allen
  3. Alex Collins
  4. Marvin Jones
  5. Josh Gordon
  6. Jordan Reed
  7. Marshawn Lynch
  8. LeSean McCoy
  9. Jordy Nelson
  10. Jared Goff
  11. Andrew Luck
  12. Bilal Powell
  13. Frank Gore
  14. Keelan Cole
  15. Denver Def
  16. Chris Godwin
  17. Jordan Wilkins
  18. Harrison Butker
  19. Dante Pettis
  20. Vernon Davis

For more Choose Your Own Adventure Draft Plans, check out the conservative and moderate options.