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Fantasy Football: Buying into risky players can give big returns

Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson Credit: Getty

On Sept. 16, 2008, stock in AIG plummeted to $1.25 per share.

But those who took a chance then on the struggling insurer have been handsomely rewarded: AIG’s shares closed at $24.90 on Tuesday.

Similarly, there are some NFL stars who have seen their stocks plunge during training camp. If you’re fearless enough to gamble on any of them, you could potentially land a top talent at a reduced rate. (Just be sure to hedge your bet by grabbing a strong backup at that position.)

Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee
As of press time, Johnson was still holding out of training camp in a contract dispute with the Titans. As owners worry that Johnson could miss games or be susceptible to injury — something that tends to happen to players who hold out — Johnson, previously considered a top-four pick, has slid to the mid-to-late first round. Just two years ago, Johnson amassed 2,500 yards of offense and 16 touchdowns to finish as fantasy’s top-scoring running back.

Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis
Manning was finally activated Monday after undergoing neck surgery in May. There’s a chance the four-time MVP won’t be ready for the season opener, which has caused his average draft position (ADP) in 12-team leagues to fall from early in the third round to late in the fourth. Manning, who has passed for 4,000 yards in 11 of the past 12 seasons, has finished as a top-six fantasy QB every year since 1999.

Johnny Knox, WR, Chicago
The third-year speedster was demoted to the second team in training camp, causing his ADP to fall from early in the eighth round to late in the ninth. Starter Roy Williams’ only good season came way back during the Bush administration (2006), and Devin Hester has never truly panned out as a wide receiver. It could be just a matter of time before Knox, a top-25 wideout last season, returns to the starting lineup.

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia
The wideout returned to practice last weekend after battling a four-month illness and insists he will start in Week 1. Maclin, whose ADP has fallen from the fourth to sixth round, will likely start slowly as he gets back into playing shape. But consider this about Maclin: He caught 23 more passes than Philly’s “No. 1” wide receiver, DeSean Jackson, in 2010, and outscored D-Jax in half the games in which they both played.

Ryan Chatelain is amNY’s fantasy football columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @flexposition.

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