Whale Watching: Top 10 Players to Watch in Training Camp

Updated: July 31st 2014

Last Friday, I took my one vacation day of the summer and for the first time ever went whale watching with the family a few hours outside of Seattle, where I live.  For those of you who haven’t been and have geographic access to do this, I highly recommend it as the boat ride provides a calming sense and the opportunity to see something as amazing as humpback whales up close in their natural surroundings is awe-inspiring.  For one day, I put fantasy football by the wayside (well sort of as there was a trade in our league that day that I got emailed about) and enjoyed some quality family time on the open seas on Orcas Island.

Just like I had my eyes out for whales on Friday, you as a Reality Sports Online owner are looking to watch whales too.  Yours just reside on the practice fields at training camp and every report of an injury, coaches speaking about a player in hyperbole, and contract holdout causes you excitement and nervousness, especially as it relates to players you currently have on multi-year deals or ones you are targeting in your upcoming rookie drafts and auctions.

With that, let’s take a look at the Top 10 Players to Watch in Training Camp:

1.  Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Normally, I would not start with a player from the city I live; however, the Marshawn Lynch narrative is becoming the story of the week.  Unfortunately, Lynch is turning more into “Least Mode” than “Beast Mode” with his contract holdout.  Missing Tuesday’s practice resulted in a $275k fine.  Lynch is now up to $455k in fines and his fighting for protection and guaranteed money for 2015 is causing a major distraction in Seattle who tends to have a “next man up” philosophy.  One would have thought that the loss of bonus money on Tuesday would have been incentive enough for Lynch to report to camp.  The Seahawks who have to pay Russell Wilson after the 2014 season are in no hurry to cave into Lynch’s contract demands with two years left on his current deal. This would set a terrible precedent for future team contract negotiations.

Lynch may simply not want to attend training camp and take the physical nicks that go along with it, but the team fine money is starting to add up. While Lynch has been the most utilized running back in the NFL over the past 3 years with 1,002 regular season carries in that span, he is rapidly approaching the 2,000 career carries that signal the decline of most running backs, especially those who run with as little regard for taking punishment as Lynch does.  Also, Lynch is one of the league’s more enigmatic players and it wouldn’t surprise some teammates if he walked away from the game over this contract issue.

Additionally, talented backups Christine Michael and Robert Turbin would seize an opportunity to replace Lynch on a team that is run heavy.  Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and Pete Carroll talked Michael up as a breakthrough candidate all offseason and it seems like Lynch indeed may be facing his last year in Seattle with a $9m cap number in 2015.  Either way, if Lynch does report before the season, I’d have to think that his carries will come down under 300 and Michael would figure to get around 100 carries.  With Percy Harvin back in the fold, the team could explore more unpredictable sets and move away some from being the team that led the NFL in carries and run play/pass play ratio in 2013.

If this is your first Reality Sports Online auction, based on his iffy status and 2015 possibility of being cut, you probably would only want to sign Lynch to a one year contract.  If you are one of the returning owners who have Lynch on an 2.7 year average deal for an annual average contract value of $18.9m, no doubt you are concerned.

2.  Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

The offseason hype machine for Patterson, who finished his rookie season with touchdowns in his last five games, has grown exponentially.  New Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner installed 10 new plays for Patterson in February and has been moving Patterson all over the formation in the offseason to create mismatches with Patterson who strives to be “one of the league’s Top 5 playmakers”.   Playmaker is an accurate description as Patterson scored on kickoff returns, receptions, and rushes last season, so if your league rewards all those scoring categories for individuals, Patterson will hold additional value.   The ceiling for Patterson would be reminiscent of what Josh Gordon did in Year 2 under Turner with the Browns last year, causing much excitement in fantasy football circles.  His floor if he stays healthy would probably be what he did his rookie season.

There are two concerns about Patterson to watch for in training camp.  First, he’s a bit unpolished as a route runner, so get your daily fix of how he’s performing in camp and see how he performs in exhibition games before overpaying for him in a free agency auction.  Second, he’s been slowed with a foot injury that has kept him out of the first few days of camp.

3.  Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons

Now that geriatric Steven Jackson has injured a hamstring and will be out the rest of training camp, the Atlanta Falcons can see what 4th round draft choice Devonta Freeman out of Florida State can do.   Freeman should get the majority of the running back work now this preseason and that screams opportunity.  If you haven’t had your rookie draft yet, expect Freeman’s stock to be moving on up.  He has been graded as the best pass protector of the rookie running backs and was already talked about as the third down back for Atlanta, given that he catches the ball incredibly well and should be featured in the screen game. Atlanta asks its running backs to do a lot in pass protection, so that may be key for continued playing time to a back that has already drawn comparisons to Shane Vereen.

Add in the talk that he is probably the featured back in 2015 and all eyes will be on Freeman now.  Beating out Jacquizz Rodgers is definitely possible and Matt Ryan has already been heaping praise on Freeman’s performance thus far.  Also when you add in the beef up front in Jake Matthews and Jon Asamoah and Freeman becomes even more enticing.

4.  Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots

You don’t have to be an expert to know that when he’s on the field, Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end in the game and certainly the most likely to find the end zone.  What is lost though on Gronkowski is just how much better he makes the Patriots as a team.  Tom Brady and Stevan Ridley benefit most from his fantasy presence and Julian Edelman probably takes the biggest backseat.  Basically Ridley is a 10 plus touchdown, 1,100 yard back with Gronk playing a full season and a 6 TD middling running back when Gronk isn’t playing.  Obviously a lot of what the Patriots do on offense hinges on Gronk and to a lesser extent, Vereen.  Brady scores 7 more fantasy points a game when both Gronk and Vereen play.

So in other words, pay attention to training camp to see if Gronk is having any ACL setbacks.  All current signs point to him playing in Week 1, which should make him the second tight end you bid on in your free agency auction.  Since Gronk was hurt heading into last season, some teams may have taken a one year flier contract on him, so you may be able to get him for cheaper than tight ends like Julius Thomas and Vernon Davis.  If this opportunity presents itself for you, don’t hesitate to pounce on it in your auction.  If you are one of the returning owners who have Gronk on a 3 year average deal for $13.5m annual average, rejoice if he plays the whole season as you’d be getting tremendous value on the risky deal you signed last offseason.

5. Rashad Jennings, RB, New York Giants

When a 29-year-old career backup running back with 387 career carries signs a 4 year, $10m contract with a running challenged team, people take notice.  While the money isn’t astronomical by today’s meager running back contract standards, the years are.  However, for Rashad Jennings and the New York Giants, this free agent signing seemed to be a matter of fit-the perfect running back for the perfect situation and Giants GM Jerry Reese went as far as to call Jennings a “bell cow” type.

That was until David Wilson was medically cleared for training camp from his 2013 neck surgery.  Then all of a sudden it turned into a potential running back by committee with rookie Andre Williams seeing some run with the first team at the goal-line.  Now with Wilson injured again yesterday with a burner (similar to a stinger), the Giants will most likely be back to Jennings as the bell-cow and take precaution with Wilson, who is out at least a week and probably longer if the team treats neck injuries as seriously as the Green Bay Packers.

Jennings as the bell-cow probably stands for good reason.  He had a surprise season in Oakland last season and essentially does all the things well that put Wilson in head coach Tom Coughlin’s early season doghouse before the neck injury.  Basically, Jennings is an excellent pass protector, pass catcher, and between the tackles runner who does well at the goal-line too.  That signals him being on the field for all three downs, something you definitely want in a running back in your leagues.  Additionally, since Jennings broke out last season, he is barely owned, so he should be available in almost all RSO auctions.  Lastly, in coach-speak, Jennings has a lot of “tread” left on his tires with so few career carries, and that storyline certainly worked a few years ago for Michael Turner in Atlanta.

Keep an eye on Jennings this preseason and monitor how the other running backs are getting used.  Surely if Jennings is relegated to between the 20’s work, his fantasy value could take a dip.  Either way, he should be a good value for you in your auctions but be careful on giving Jennings, or any running back for that matter approaching 30 a deal for more than two years.

6. Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins

Robert Griffin III (RG3) can be one of the most electrifying quarterbacks in the NFL with his ability to run the ball and his success in the vertical passing game in his rookie season.  That fell by the wayside in 2013 when RG3 played without confidence after returning from an ACL tear in a playoff game late in the 2012 season.  The storyline that RSO owners will care about this year is how RG3 will bounce back now that he has a bevy of weapons to work with, buoyed by Desean Jackson signing with the team after being booted off the Philadelphia Eagles.

While new head coach Jay Gruden said recently that designed runs for RG3 will be “few and far between”, where Griffin excels is in designed rollouts where he can hit his weapons like Jackson and Pierre Garcon on intermediate to deep routes.  Jordan Reed is also an up and coming excellent tight end option in the seam.   Gruden is not restricting all runs for the signal-caller, but will not be running the read-option employed by former coach Mike Shanahan.  He will give RG3 the green light to scramble when he deems necessary, but Gruden did turn pocket-passer Andy Dalton into one of the top fantasy quarterbacks in 2013.

All of these changes, plus a now healthy, mechanics-focused RG3 point to a bounce-back season which should be more efficient.  In a division with some porous defenses, RG3 could make potential fantasy owners salivate, including our Sam Light who has him in one of his RSO leagues.  Most returning leagues already have RG3 accounted for on an average 3.24 year, $11.1m annual average contract, which should be tremendous value if he comes closer to performing like in his rookie campaign.

7. Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans

With a new head coach in Bill O’Brien and coming off a season ending back injury, Arian Foster comes into this season as someone who finds himself a little under the radar fantasy-wise.  He stepped back on the training camp practice field today after a minor hamstring injury and all accounts are he looked good.  This is great news, considering that Foster is expected to be used heavily as a receiver in the backfield with expectations to return back to the 66 catch level he had in 2010 and backup running back Andre Brown is being cited as an early-down player only.   O’Brien would like to use Foster as a “centerpiece” of his offense, which should be music to the ears of owners entering their season with Foster on their team, who no longer have to contend with Foster sharing carries with Ben Tate, who is now in Cleveland.

Heading into auctions for new owners, definitely check and see how his health holds up and be prepared to offer him a high dollar value one or two year contract if all systems seem a go.

8. Ladarius Green, TE, San Diego Chargers

The offseason hype machine in fantasy football takes some players on a path that boosts their fantasy status to nearly epic proportions before they really have proven themselves 100%.  File San Diego tight end Ladarius Green in that category.  For someone who had 17 catches for 367 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2013, Green is sure getting a disproportionate share of hype given that Antonio Gates is still alive and kicking on the Chargers roster, even if his production has been significantly down the past two years.

Green is noted to make plays nobody else on the Chargers roster is capable of making and is expected to be a fantasy breakout this year, much like teammate Keenan Allen did in his rookie season.  At 6’6, 240 pounds, Green certainly is a big target.  However, he does need to improve on his route running to get more heavy usage in the passing game.  He has Julius Thomas type upside if you are willing to take the risk in your auction.

How he is highlighted in preseason games and noting what is being said about Green by San Diego beat writers is way more important fantasy wise than any positional coach hyperbole.   Green has Julius Thomas type upside if you are willing to take the risk in your auction, but put that in the context of a very deep tight end pool and use training camp as a good barometer for what Green’s value should be, which I’ve previously said in my 26-50 More Time For Some Auction rankings was 2 years, $12m.

9.  Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys

After his second back surgery in two years, Tony Romo’s offseason has been pretty low key.  While he did spend part of his most recent birthday in the DJ booth with my younger brother (true story) and made cameos at games at Cameron Indoor Stadium and the Final Four (the joke around the internet was that whomever Romo showed up to support-often with Jason Garrett lost or had bad luck like the Dukies), Romo’s football offseason has been very quiet.  The noisiest it got is when owner Jerry Jones briefly courted Johnny Manziel around the NFL draft and came close to drafting the local Texas A&M product.

With offensive guru Scott Linehan set to be the play caller for the Cowboys this season, hopefully Romo was in the film room studying ways to use all the weapons he has, which should include boosted roles for deep threat Terrance Williams who flashes some Michael Floyd type upside and Lance Dunbar, who could be the next Linehan pass-catching stud out of the backfield.   That’s not to forget the obvious Top 10 players at their position that Romo has in tow as well-Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray.

Linehan loves slinging the rock and Romo’s 648 pass attempts, which were a career high seem possible if he can hold up health wise behind what is regarded as one of the best offensive lines in football, which has recently been boosted by a long-term deal for offensive tackle Tyron Smith and the team taking Zach Martin (barely) in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

If his back holds up and given the increased focus on grabbing running backs and wide receivers in your auction with a deep QB and TE pool, Romo screams value in your auction if he’s a free agent.  If not, the owners who have him on average deals of 2.6 years and $6.1m annually will be paying keen attention to news out of Oxnard, CA where the Cowboys hold training camp.  Consider ESPN’s Ed Werder your best friend in that regard.

10.  Terrance West, RB, Cleveland Browns

Training camp speak is heating up in Cleveland, which all of a sudden is at the epicenter of the sports universe now that the prodigal son has returned to the Cavs and Johnny Football is engaged in a battle to be the starting QB.  To me, the more interesting story is who wins out between Ben Tate and Terrance West as the Browns starting running back in OC Kyle Shanahan’s one-cut running attack.  Shanahan has only really employed a running back by committee when he has had player injuries, so in theory the winner of the battle on a team that faces the prospect of running often due to a possible year long Josh Gordon suspension is a serious fantasy threat.

There is no shortage of organizational praise for West who new head coach Mike Pettine has already talked up one day into training camp saying he was “shocked” with West’s pass-catching ability and that West “isn’t far behind” Tate, which was based mainly on pass protection.  West did catch 36 passes as a senior at Towson, something that Tate isn’t really adept at.

Further running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery, who himself was a stellar running back and has seen plenty of other ones in his lifetime offered high praise for West even after calling Tate “the guy” in Cleveland.  Per the Akron Beacon Journal, Montgomery noted “he has that lure-you-to-sleep-on-the-sideline move that I can accelerate or play like I’m going to accelerate and come back inside.  Those are traits I haven’t seen in a while.”

All that said, West should be moving up your rookie draft boards as he should figure in with 10 touches a game in a backup role and Tate does have a lengthy history or injuries.  I’d put him towards the end of Round 1 in a 12 team rookie draft, but certainly reach for him as high as 1.06 if you like him.

If West does beat Tate out, expect him to be a future star and one you definitely want locked up for 3 years.  Don’t sign Tate as a free agent to anything more than two years, and keep that contract moderate.  I had previously suggested 2 years, $10m total.

USA Today RSO Experts League

Updated: July 31st 2014

Last week the USA Today RSO Experts league held its Rookie Draft and Free Agent Auction. Some stalwarts in the fantasy industry participated in this startup league, including the following:

  1. Ryan Bonini, USA Today
  2. Cory Bonini, KFFL
  3. David Dorey, The Huddle
  4. Bob Harris, Football Diehards
  5. Russell Clay, Dynasty League Football
  6. Matt Papson, Reality Sports Online
  7. Adam Harstad, Football Guys
  8. Tony Holm, FantasySharks
  9. Matt Deutsch, Sirius XM Fantasy
  10. James Hatfield, Hatty Waiver Wire Guru
  11. Matt De Lima, FFToolbox
  12. Sam Light, Reality Sports Online

Below we have posted the results of the league’s 3 Round Rookie Draft as well as the Free Agency Auction. Lastly, you can see the Contract Overview for every player under contract in the entire league. We want to thank all the guys for participating in what looks to be a very exciting and competitive league for years to come.

Rookie Draft Board

Player Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
1. Sam Light Sammy Watkins Andre Williams Martavis Bryant
2. Cory Bonini Tre Mason Donte Moncrief Lache Seastrunk
3. David Dorey Mike Evans Blake Bortles James White
4. Bob Harris Johnny Manziel Teddy Bridgewater Jace Amaro
5. Russell Clay Brandin Cooks Cody Latimer Paul Richardson
6. Matt Papson Carlos Hyde Austin Seferian-J. Allen Robinson
7. Adam Harstad Jordan Matthews Davante Adams Richard Rodgers
8. Tony Holm Bishop Sankey Marqise Lee Logan Thomas
9. Matt Deutsch Devonta Freeman Ka’Deem Carey Marion Grice
10. R. Bonini Kelvin Benjamin Derek Carr Charles Sims
11. James Hatfield Jeremy Hill Terrance West Jerick McKinnon
12. Matt De Lima Eric Ebron Odell Beckham Jr. Lorenzo Taliafero

Auction Board

auction-board

Contracts Overview

contracts

Rookie Monsters: The Reality Sports Online/numberFire Writer's League Rookie Draft Results

Updated: July 18th 2014

Now that you’ve seen 4th of July fireworks and training camp begins in a few short weeks, if you haven’t started thinking about the 2014 Reality Sports Online fantasy football season, you should probably get on board that train.  With that in mind, the Reality Sports Online/numberFire Writer’s League Rookie Draft was held on Sunday July 13, 2014 with 10 owners picking three rounds of rookies on 3-year deals.

The participants bios, picks, and draft strategies are outlined below, along with player contract values to assist those users who have not had their rookie draft yet.  Also do all these hard working writers a solid and follow us on Twitter. We have writers for NFL teams, guys who bleed football and share the same interests as you.

We can’t wait for our Free Agency Auction to be held on Sunday, August 3rd, which should be posted sometime later that week.

Team:  Leo Howell (Leo Howell, numberFire) @LeoHowell8

Bio:  Wins are not a quarterback statistic. Advocate for PPR leagues and Bilal Powell. Fan of the Buccaneers, bound by location to also root for the other central Florida sports franchises. Lover of soccer, tacos and old school video games. B.S. in Sport Management from Liberty University, working toward a Master of Arts in Communication from Southern New Hampshire. E-mail with any questions, comments, concerns, or Chipotle gift cards.

Picks:

1.01 Mike Evans, WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3 years, $17.4M)

2.10 Teddy Bridgewater, QB Minnesota Vikings (3 years, $3.52M)

3.01 Allen Robinson, WR Jacksonville Jaguars (3 years, $2.57M)

Strategy:  Holding the first pick in the draft definitely provided a difficult decision, but Mike Evans was the best combination of present opportunity and future potential. Knowing that I have to pay Evans right away, given the rules, I didn’t want to pick a player who might have a higher long-term upside, as I want good value over the duration of his contract. Getting Teddy Bridgewater and Allen Robinson at the 2/3 turn was more than I could have hoped for, as I believe Teddy will be an NFL-ready talent very quickly, and Robinson could quickly carve out a role as a touchdown producer at a very low salary. I left myself in need of running backs, but that fits my general style, as handing out three year deals to players at the most volatile position in football doesn’t make much sense to me at all.

Team:  Great Odin’s Raven (Dan Pizzuta, numberFire) @DanPizzuta

Bio:   Dan is an NFL contributor at numberFire and also contributes to cover32 San Diego, because he thought the Chargers would be interesting last season, and his own blog, Between The Twenties. He enjoys all parts of football, getting equal enjoyment from perfect Peyton Manning passes and errant Brandon Weeden passes, though maybe too much enjoyment from Weeden. At just 24 years old he’s already one of those sports writers who loves Bruce Springsteen, but that’s more of a rite of passage from growing up on the Jersey Shore.

Picks:

1.02 Sammy Watkins, WR Buffalo Bills (3 years, $16.34M)

2.09 Martavis Bryant, WR Pittsburgh Steelers (3 years, $3.57M)

3.02 Kadeem Carey, RB Chicago Bears (3 years, $2.55M)

Strategy:  Sitting at the second pick, I had an easy choice taking either Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans, depending on who went first. I was expecting to pick Evans assuming Watkins would go first, but was thrilled with the result. I’m higher on Martavis Bryant than most and believe he’s a great value in the second round with the possibility of being a starter on the outside in Pittsburgh as early as this year. I would have picked him at the top of the second if I had a pick there, but he was my target at the end of round two before the draft started. As the third round came, Ka’Deem Carey was easily the best running back available and might have been as soon as Carlos Hyde was taken. He’s going to be Chicago’s RB2 this season with longer-term upside and I favor his value to a guy like Jeremy Hill, who went in the first round.

Team:  La Morsa Roja (Tyler Buecher, numberFire) @gingersauce4u

Bio:  Tyler is a graduate from Drexel University who grew up in Central Pennsylvania and is an avid fan of all Philadelphia sports teams. While he enjoys nothing more than rooting for the Eagles, his favorite part of the NFL is the offseason. Free agency and the draft are two of his biggest interests, as well as fantasy football. In his free time, Tyler enjoys going to sports games, beerfests, country concerts, and long walks on the beach.

Picks:

1.03 Brandin Cooks, WR New Orleans Saints (3 years, $15.92M)

2.08 Marqise Lee, WR Jacksonville Jaguars (3 years, $3.61M)

3.03 Jarvis Landry, WR Miami Dolphins (3 years, $2.53M)

Strategy:  Prior to the draft I had created my own version of a “big board” of rookies that I had my eye on and where I was willing to draft them. Drafting from the third overall spot, I would’ve been surprised if the big two receivers in Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans were still available. With pick 1.03 I selected Brandin Cooks, NO WR. Cooks enters a great situation playing with Drew Brees and Sean Payton. After the departures of Lance Moore and Darren Sproles, there is a void that needs to be filled in New Orleans’ offense and Cooks could pay immediate dividends. It’s not difficult to imagine the speedster from Oregon State to rack up the catches in Payton’s brilliant offense and I could see him as a low WR3/high WR4 this year in terms of fantasy relevance. Jordan Matthews, PHI WR was also on my eye at this spot but I like the upside of Cooks more in both the short and long term as the heir apparent to Marques Colston who turned 31 this summer. With my second selection in the draft at 2.08, I chose Marqise Lee, JAX WR. Lee had a disappointing final season at USC, but he has the pedigree and talent to be worthy of a high selection. I had hoped to land Devonta Freeman, ATL RB here, but he was taken three spots beforehand. Lee will be a great stash for the future as he and quarterback Blake Bortles grow and develop together in the NFL. At turn 3.03, I had just missed taking running back Ka’Deem Carey, CHI RB and ended up taking Jarvis Landry, MIA WR. I really like the upside of Carey in Marc Trestman’s offense but had to settle for Landry. Landry possesses great hands but a lot of other aspects of his game are in need of some fine-tuning. Landry will be another stash, but it will be interesting to see how new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor capitalizes on his knowledge from his time with Chip Kelly to run Miami’s offense this year. I didn’t plan on selecting three receivers heading into the draft, but when the board presents you with two former Biletnikoff Award winners, it’s hard not to be happy with the results.

Team:  The Johnny Cleveland Show (Ari Ross, numberFire) @aross50

Bio:  Ari Ross is a rising sophomore at Northwestern University studying journalism and economics. He grew up in Cleveland, specifically Shaker Heights, Ohio, and is a fan of all Cleveland sports, the Browns, Cavs and Indians. He vows that at least one Cleveland sports team has to win a championship before he dies. Ari is rarely seen without his Cleveland Indians hat on. Aside from sports, Ari’s interest include movies, some of his favorites include Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean and Draft Day of course, reading and hanging out with friends. He hopes to work one day in either broadcast or print sports journalism.

Picks:

1.04 Cody Latimer, WR Denver Broncos (3 years, $15.28M)

2.07 Tre Mason, RB St. Louis Rams (3 years, $3.65M)

3.04 Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3 years, $2.5M)

Strategy:  In the rookie draft I first tried to target guys who could step right in and produce on their team. These guys, like DaVante Adams or Cody Latimer are guys who can step right in and produce because of the situation their in. I was able to draft Latimer, but missed out on Adams by a pick. Secondly I tried to draft guys who could be good in the future as well, as this is a dynasty league, such as Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Jenkins, with his small contract will be great value 1-2 years down the road. One thing that surprised me is how many QBs were taken. I wasn’t planning on taking a QB as I’d rather have a veteran, but others took them, looking towards the distant future.

Team:  University of Phoenix Online (Brandon Gdula, numberFire) @gdula13

Bio:  Brandon is an NFL and NBA writer at numberFire. He is a former staff member of Penn State’s Daily Collegian and a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown with a Bachelor’s in English Literature. Brandon is currently pursuing a Master’s in Journalism at Point Park University in Pittsburgh. When not writing or reading about fantasy sports, Brandon is either with his girlfriend, Sierra, reading fantasy novels, or watching science fiction, and he is eternally looking for somewhere to play pick-up basketball.

Picks:

1.05 Bishop Sankey, RB Tennessee Titans (3 years, $14.43M)

2.06 Davante Adams, WR Green Bay Packers (3 years, $3.69M)

3.04 Andre Williams, RB New York Giants (3 years, $2.48M)

Strategy:  With pick 1.05, I wanted to balance immediate impact and long-term potential, which is why I opted for Bishop Sankey, who should be able to produce this year. I was torn between Sankey and Jordan Matthews, though. I feel like I’m going to regret it already. My later picks were made with the assumption that they’d be relevant in future years. Davante Adams should be able to stretch the field in the Packers offense, and Andre Williams has shown the ability to be a workhorse in college, attributes I like from my receivers and backs. I never considered quarterbacks or tight ends since I don’t value them very highly.

Team:  Cleveland’s Award Tour (Matt Goodwin, Reality Sports Online & numberFire) @mattgoody2

Bio:  Matt is an NFL writer at numberFire and a writer/contributor at Reality Sports Online. He is a former sports columnist and basketball beat writer of Miami University’s High Street Journal (during the Wally World years) and a graduate of Miami University with a Bachelor’s in Accounting and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis in Finance & International Business. Matt works in finance and analytics and is passionate about sports-especially his hometown Cleveland teams (welcome back, LeBron!) and writing.  When not writing, talking or obsessing about fantasy football, Matt enjoys traveling, hanging with his wife Renee and 4 year old son Jory (another child on the way), coaching or playing pick-up basketball, and getting sucked into the Shawshank Redemption on TNT for the millionth time.

Picks:

1.06 Carlos Hyde, RB San Francisco 49ers (3 years, $12.73M)

2.05 Devonta Freeman, RB Atlanta Falcons (3 years, $3.74M)

3.06 C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE Houston Texans (3 years, $2.46M)

Strategy:  With Bishop Sankey still on the board after 1.04, I was anxiously hoping that he’d make it to 1.06, but he went the pick before me at 1.05.  Overall, I’m higher on my pick at 1.06 Carlos Hyde long-term, based on what he did at Ohio State this past year and given Frank Gore’s impending free agency after the 2014 season.  But I was really was hoping for an immediate starter at the running back position, especially on the cheap as rookie wide receivers usually don’t produce their first year.  I was looking at the best talent available at 2.05, while hoping as a Browns fan that Terrance West would still be available and grabbed Devonta Freeman.  Freeman represents a great handcuff and potential third down back for Atlanta in 2014 behind Steven Jackson, who is over both the 30 year old and 2,000 carry threshold that typically signals the end is near for a running back.  So, at worst, Freeman should be the 2015 starter and seemed to be coveted by several folks in the second round. Lastly, even though Jace Amaro was still on the board, I decided to believe in the upside of Houston tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz who has explicit goals and the size to become the next Rob Gronkowski.  What better player to be the next Gronk than one who plays for Coach Bill O’ Brien, who turned Gronk into the superstar that he is. Serious upside there, and even with other regarded tight ends on the Texans, the team took C.J. in the third round for a reason and so did I.

Team:  SamHerbie (Sam Light, Reality Sports Online)@SamHerbie

Bio: Sam joined the Reality Sports Online team in April as a writer/contributor and is currently a sport & entertainment marketing professional based in New York City. Formerly, he conducted statistical analysis, primarily around college prospects, for the Philadelphia Eagles. It was in Philadelphia, the birthplace of Reality Sports Online, where he first worked with RSO co-founders Matt Papson & Stephen Wendell. Sam originally hails from Boston so he’s luckily seen his fair share of championships, but he’s looking to add to his own mantle with an RSO trophy! A 2010 undergraduate of Union College, Sam recently received his master’s degree in sport business from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Keep a look out for more rookie & free agency content from Sam as football season nears!

Picks:

1.07 Jeremy Hill, RB Cincinnati Bengals (3 years, $11.25M)

2.04 Donte Moncrief, WR Indianapolis Colts (3 years, $3.78M)

3.07 Tom Savage, QB Houston Texans (3 years, $2.44M)

Strategy: When I drew the seventh pick in our inaugural rookie draft, two names immediately came to mind: WR Brandin Cooks & WR Cody Latimer. Convinced the opening run on running backs would hit before pick 1.05, I was comfortable landing either one of the aforementioned receivers in the first round. But four picks in, I was shocked to see the top 3 RBs in the class atop the list of best available. Though I wasn’t as shocked when my favorite of the three, Jeremy Hill, slipped to me – RB Bishop Sankey (1.05) was a hot name coming in, and I knew RB Carlos Hyde (1.06) was a favorite of Matty Goodwin’s. I felt confident coming out of the first round with a running back, knowing how deep the draft was at receiver. The next six picks didn’t phase me much, so it took me about four seconds to submit my Donte Moncrief pick at 2.04. I took Andrew Luck’s new WR toy over Aaron Rodgers’s new WR toy (Davante Adams)… Hope I don’t regret that one. The third round is where my plan went slightly awry. WR Allen Robinson, WR Jarvis Landry, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, RB Andre Williams – some of my favorites in this class, all off the board before I got back on the clock at pick 3.07. Consequently, I decided to take my only pure ‘futures’ pick – QB Tom Savage will eventually get his shot in Houston… and they have talent in Houston.

Team:  King Back (Kenny Cook, numberFire) @K_Cook6

Bio:  I have been a life-long fan of the NFL and NBA. I love to write, discuss, debate and listen to all things sports–especially fantasy football. I happen to be a huge LeBron fan, which is in vogue again in Ohio, where I’m from. I am a proud veteran, who served two tours in Iraq, as a member of the Air Force from 2005-2009. I loved the time that I spent in the Air Force, but I knew that I had to get out and pursue my dreams of becoming a sports writer. I graduated college in 2012, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Communication Studies from Ohio University.

Outside of sports, I am a regular guy who is happily married to my beautiful wife, Erica. We are the proud parents of an 18-month-old princess named Kendalynn Paige! I love The Walking Dead and I am pumped for Season 5’s debut in October!

Picks:

1.08 Kelvin Benjamin, WR Carolina Panthers (3 years, $9.98M)

2.03 Terrance West, RB Cleveland Browns (3 years, $3.82M)

3.08 Jerick McKinnon, RB Minnesota Vikings (3 years, $2.42M)

Strategy:  After second thought, I’m not as upset about taking Kelvin Benjamin ahead of Jordan Matthews because in a dynasty, I do feel that he has more upside than Matthews. Getting WRs and RBs, especially this given the dearth of high-upside QBs/TEs was my strategy.

In the end, I came away with Benjamin, Terrance West–who I feel can and will start for the Browns next year overtaking Tate-and Jerick McKinnon–who is a straight up dynasty stash for post-Peterson life in Minnesota. I was happy with my take; although, I wish I could’ve picked up Carlos Hyde because he is destined to take over as Gore’s replacement in a run-heavy offense out west.
No regrets because I can make up for it in the auction!!! #Can’tWait

Team:  B-Ron’s Ballas (Brian Luzier, numberFire) @TheFFBoss

Bio:  A Fantasy Footballer for more than half my life, I’ve seen my share of titles and tears. I pull for the Ravens and Yellow Jackets, always. I live outside Washington, DC and lived in Atlanta previously, graduating from Georgia Tech with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering. I scout rookies in my spare time, and am in more Dynasty Leagues than Redraft Leagues.

Picks:

1.09 Jordan Matthews, WR Philadelphia Eagles (3 years, $9.76M)

2.02 Eric Ebron, TE Detroit Lions (3 years, $3.86M)

3.09 Jace Amaro, TE New York Jets (3 years, $2.4M)

Strategy:  Unable to participate in the draft, but pre-ranked players and was happy with what he walked away with.  Jordan Matthews is a wide receiver that is in the perfect system for his skills who was highly coveted among the group and Luzier nabbed two of the top tight ends in the rookie class.

Team:  Loco Roco (Ryan O’Connor, numberFire) @IrishChaos

Bio:  No bio yet, which Ryan is using to keep himself as a mysterious enigma heading into the RSO Free Agency Auction.  Could turn out to be the best strategy of all. You’ll be hearing more from Ryan for sure!

Picks:

1.10 Odell Beckham Jr., WR New York Giants (3 years, $9.34M)

2.01 Johnny Manziel, QB Cleveland Browns (3 years, $3.91M)

3.10 Devin Street, WR Dallas Cowboys (3 years, $2.38M)

Strategy:  Love Odell Beckham and see him really emerging as a focal point of NYG offense in next year or two.  Wanted Jordan Matthews and thought i could get him at 2.01.  Shocked to see he went 1.09 as i thought i would be reaching at 2.01.  Johnny Manziel is a no-brainer stash pick.  Running QBs accumulate cheap points and can often mask mediocre production passing.    Devin Street was a homer pick as I went to pick and am excited to see him play this year.

Rookie Monsters: The Reality Sports Online/numberFire Writer’s League Rookie Draft Results

Updated: July 18th 2014

Now that you’ve seen 4th of July fireworks and training camp begins in a few short weeks, if you haven’t started thinking about the 2014 Reality Sports Online fantasy football season, you should probably get on board that train.  With that in mind, the Reality Sports Online/numberFire Writer’s League Rookie Draft was held on Sunday July 13, 2014 with 10 owners picking three rounds of rookies on 3-year deals.

The participants bios, picks, and draft strategies are outlined below, along with player contract values to assist those users who have not had their rookie draft yet.  Also do all these hard working writers a solid and follow us on Twitter. We have writers for NFL teams, guys who bleed football and share the same interests as you.

We can’t wait for our Free Agency Auction to be held on Sunday, August 3rd, which should be posted sometime later that week.

Team:  Leo Howell (Leo Howell, numberFire) @LeoHowell8

Bio:  Wins are not a quarterback statistic. Advocate for PPR leagues and Bilal Powell. Fan of the Buccaneers, bound by location to also root for the other central Florida sports franchises. Lover of soccer, tacos and old school video games. B.S. in Sport Management from Liberty University, working toward a Master of Arts in Communication from Southern New Hampshire. E-mail with any questions, comments, concerns, or Chipotle gift cards.

Picks:

1.01 Mike Evans, WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3 years, $17.4M)

2.10 Teddy Bridgewater, QB Minnesota Vikings (3 years, $3.52M)

3.01 Allen Robinson, WR Jacksonville Jaguars (3 years, $2.57M)

Strategy:  Holding the first pick in the draft definitely provided a difficult decision, but Mike Evans was the best combination of present opportunity and future potential. Knowing that I have to pay Evans right away, given the rules, I didn’t want to pick a player who might have a higher long-term upside, as I want good value over the duration of his contract. Getting Teddy Bridgewater and Allen Robinson at the 2/3 turn was more than I could have hoped for, as I believe Teddy will be an NFL-ready talent very quickly, and Robinson could quickly carve out a role as a touchdown producer at a very low salary. I left myself in need of running backs, but that fits my general style, as handing out three year deals to players at the most volatile position in football doesn’t make much sense to me at all.

Team:  Great Odin’s Raven (Dan Pizzuta, numberFire) @DanPizzuta

Bio:   Dan is an NFL contributor at numberFire and also contributes to cover32 San Diego, because he thought the Chargers would be interesting last season, and his own blog, Between The Twenties. He enjoys all parts of football, getting equal enjoyment from perfect Peyton Manning passes and errant Brandon Weeden passes, though maybe too much enjoyment from Weeden. At just 24 years old he’s already one of those sports writers who loves Bruce Springsteen, but that’s more of a rite of passage from growing up on the Jersey Shore.

Picks:

1.02 Sammy Watkins, WR Buffalo Bills (3 years, $16.34M)

2.09 Martavis Bryant, WR Pittsburgh Steelers (3 years, $3.57M)

3.02 Kadeem Carey, RB Chicago Bears (3 years, $2.55M)

Strategy:  Sitting at the second pick, I had an easy choice taking either Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans, depending on who went first. I was expecting to pick Evans assuming Watkins would go first, but was thrilled with the result. I’m higher on Martavis Bryant than most and believe he’s a great value in the second round with the possibility of being a starter on the outside in Pittsburgh as early as this year. I would have picked him at the top of the second if I had a pick there, but he was my target at the end of round two before the draft started. As the third round came, Ka’Deem Carey was easily the best running back available and might have been as soon as Carlos Hyde was taken. He’s going to be Chicago’s RB2 this season with longer-term upside and I favor his value to a guy like Jeremy Hill, who went in the first round.

Team:  La Morsa Roja (Tyler Buecher, numberFire) @gingersauce4u

Bio:  Tyler is a graduate from Drexel University who grew up in Central Pennsylvania and is an avid fan of all Philadelphia sports teams. While he enjoys nothing more than rooting for the Eagles, his favorite part of the NFL is the offseason. Free agency and the draft are two of his biggest interests, as well as fantasy football. In his free time, Tyler enjoys going to sports games, beerfests, country concerts, and long walks on the beach.

Picks:

1.03 Brandin Cooks, WR New Orleans Saints (3 years, $15.92M)

2.08 Marqise Lee, WR Jacksonville Jaguars (3 years, $3.61M)

3.03 Jarvis Landry, WR Miami Dolphins (3 years, $2.53M)

Strategy:  Prior to the draft I had created my own version of a “big board” of rookies that I had my eye on and where I was willing to draft them. Drafting from the third overall spot, I would’ve been surprised if the big two receivers in Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans were still available. With pick 1.03 I selected Brandin Cooks, NO WR. Cooks enters a great situation playing with Drew Brees and Sean Payton. After the departures of Lance Moore and Darren Sproles, there is a void that needs to be filled in New Orleans’ offense and Cooks could pay immediate dividends. It’s not difficult to imagine the speedster from Oregon State to rack up the catches in Payton’s brilliant offense and I could see him as a low WR3/high WR4 this year in terms of fantasy relevance. Jordan Matthews, PHI WR was also on my eye at this spot but I like the upside of Cooks more in both the short and long term as the heir apparent to Marques Colston who turned 31 this summer. With my second selection in the draft at 2.08, I chose Marqise Lee, JAX WR. Lee had a disappointing final season at USC, but he has the pedigree and talent to be worthy of a high selection. I had hoped to land Devonta Freeman, ATL RB here, but he was taken three spots beforehand. Lee will be a great stash for the future as he and quarterback Blake Bortles grow and develop together in the NFL. At turn 3.03, I had just missed taking running back Ka’Deem Carey, CHI RB and ended up taking Jarvis Landry, MIA WR. I really like the upside of Carey in Marc Trestman’s offense but had to settle for Landry. Landry possesses great hands but a lot of other aspects of his game are in need of some fine-tuning. Landry will be another stash, but it will be interesting to see how new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor capitalizes on his knowledge from his time with Chip Kelly to run Miami’s offense this year. I didn’t plan on selecting three receivers heading into the draft, but when the board presents you with two former Biletnikoff Award winners, it’s hard not to be happy with the results.

Team:  The Johnny Cleveland Show (Ari Ross, numberFire) @aross50

Bio:  Ari Ross is a rising sophomore at Northwestern University studying journalism and economics. He grew up in Cleveland, specifically Shaker Heights, Ohio, and is a fan of all Cleveland sports, the Browns, Cavs and Indians. He vows that at least one Cleveland sports team has to win a championship before he dies. Ari is rarely seen without his Cleveland Indians hat on. Aside from sports, Ari’s interest include movies, some of his favorites include Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean and Draft Day of course, reading and hanging out with friends. He hopes to work one day in either broadcast or print sports journalism.

Picks:

1.04 Cody Latimer, WR Denver Broncos (3 years, $15.28M)

2.07 Tre Mason, RB St. Louis Rams (3 years, $3.65M)

3.04 Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3 years, $2.5M)

Strategy:  In the rookie draft I first tried to target guys who could step right in and produce on their team. These guys, like DaVante Adams or Cody Latimer are guys who can step right in and produce because of the situation their in. I was able to draft Latimer, but missed out on Adams by a pick. Secondly I tried to draft guys who could be good in the future as well, as this is a dynasty league, such as Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Jenkins, with his small contract will be great value 1-2 years down the road. One thing that surprised me is how many QBs were taken. I wasn’t planning on taking a QB as I’d rather have a veteran, but others took them, looking towards the distant future.

Team:  University of Phoenix Online (Brandon Gdula, numberFire) @gdula13

Bio:  Brandon is an NFL and NBA writer at numberFire. He is a former staff member of Penn State’s Daily Collegian and a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown with a Bachelor’s in English Literature. Brandon is currently pursuing a Master’s in Journalism at Point Park University in Pittsburgh. When not writing or reading about fantasy sports, Brandon is either with his girlfriend, Sierra, reading fantasy novels, or watching science fiction, and he is eternally looking for somewhere to play pick-up basketball.

Picks:

1.05 Bishop Sankey, RB Tennessee Titans (3 years, $14.43M)

2.06 Davante Adams, WR Green Bay Packers (3 years, $3.69M)

3.04 Andre Williams, RB New York Giants (3 years, $2.48M)

Strategy:  With pick 1.05, I wanted to balance immediate impact and long-term potential, which is why I opted for Bishop Sankey, who should be able to produce this year. I was torn between Sankey and Jordan Matthews, though. I feel like I’m going to regret it already. My later picks were made with the assumption that they’d be relevant in future years. Davante Adams should be able to stretch the field in the Packers offense, and Andre Williams has shown the ability to be a workhorse in college, attributes I like from my receivers and backs. I never considered quarterbacks or tight ends since I don’t value them very highly.

Team:  Cleveland’s Award Tour (Matt Goodwin, Reality Sports Online & numberFire) @mattgoody2

Bio:  Matt is an NFL writer at numberFire and a writer/contributor at Reality Sports Online. He is a former sports columnist and basketball beat writer of Miami University’s High Street Journal (during the Wally World years) and a graduate of Miami University with a Bachelor’s in Accounting and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis in Finance & International Business. Matt works in finance and analytics and is passionate about sports-especially his hometown Cleveland teams (welcome back, LeBron!) and writing.  When not writing, talking or obsessing about fantasy football, Matt enjoys traveling, hanging with his wife Renee and 4 year old son Jory (another child on the way), coaching or playing pick-up basketball, and getting sucked into the Shawshank Redemption on TNT for the millionth time.

Picks:

1.06 Carlos Hyde, RB San Francisco 49ers (3 years, $12.73M)

2.05 Devonta Freeman, RB Atlanta Falcons (3 years, $3.74M)

3.06 C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE Houston Texans (3 years, $2.46M)

Strategy:  With Bishop Sankey still on the board after 1.04, I was anxiously hoping that he’d make it to 1.06, but he went the pick before me at 1.05.  Overall, I’m higher on my pick at 1.06 Carlos Hyde long-term, based on what he did at Ohio State this past year and given Frank Gore’s impending free agency after the 2014 season.  But I was really was hoping for an immediate starter at the running back position, especially on the cheap as rookie wide receivers usually don’t produce their first year.  I was looking at the best talent available at 2.05, while hoping as a Browns fan that Terrance West would still be available and grabbed Devonta Freeman.  Freeman represents a great handcuff and potential third down back for Atlanta in 2014 behind Steven Jackson, who is over both the 30 year old and 2,000 carry threshold that typically signals the end is near for a running back.  So, at worst, Freeman should be the 2015 starter and seemed to be coveted by several folks in the second round. Lastly, even though Jace Amaro was still on the board, I decided to believe in the upside of Houston tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz who has explicit goals and the size to become the next Rob Gronkowski.  What better player to be the next Gronk than one who plays for Coach Bill O’ Brien, who turned Gronk into the superstar that he is. Serious upside there, and even with other regarded tight ends on the Texans, the team took C.J. in the third round for a reason and so did I.

Team:  SamHerbie (Sam Light, Reality Sports Online)@SamHerbie

Bio: Sam joined the Reality Sports Online team in April as a writer/contributor and is currently a sport & entertainment marketing professional based in New York City. Formerly, he conducted statistical analysis, primarily around college prospects, for the Philadelphia Eagles. It was in Philadelphia, the birthplace of Reality Sports Online, where he first worked with RSO co-founders Matt Papson & Stephen Wendell. Sam originally hails from Boston so he’s luckily seen his fair share of championships, but he’s looking to add to his own mantle with an RSO trophy! A 2010 undergraduate of Union College, Sam recently received his master’s degree in sport business from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Keep a look out for more rookie & free agency content from Sam as football season nears!

Picks:

1.07 Jeremy Hill, RB Cincinnati Bengals (3 years, $11.25M)

2.04 Donte Moncrief, WR Indianapolis Colts (3 years, $3.78M)

3.07 Tom Savage, QB Houston Texans (3 years, $2.44M)

Strategy: When I drew the seventh pick in our inaugural rookie draft, two names immediately came to mind: WR Brandin Cooks & WR Cody Latimer. Convinced the opening run on running backs would hit before pick 1.05, I was comfortable landing either one of the aforementioned receivers in the first round. But four picks in, I was shocked to see the top 3 RBs in the class atop the list of best available. Though I wasn’t as shocked when my favorite of the three, Jeremy Hill, slipped to me – RB Bishop Sankey (1.05) was a hot name coming in, and I knew RB Carlos Hyde (1.06) was a favorite of Matty Goodwin’s. I felt confident coming out of the first round with a running back, knowing how deep the draft was at receiver. The next six picks didn’t phase me much, so it took me about four seconds to submit my Donte Moncrief pick at 2.04. I took Andrew Luck’s new WR toy over Aaron Rodgers’s new WR toy (Davante Adams)… Hope I don’t regret that one. The third round is where my plan went slightly awry. WR Allen Robinson, WR Jarvis Landry, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, RB Andre Williams – some of my favorites in this class, all off the board before I got back on the clock at pick 3.07. Consequently, I decided to take my only pure ‘futures’ pick – QB Tom Savage will eventually get his shot in Houston… and they have talent in Houston.

Team:  King Back (Kenny Cook, numberFire) @K_Cook6

Bio:  I have been a life-long fan of the NFL and NBA. I love to write, discuss, debate and listen to all things sports–especially fantasy football. I happen to be a huge LeBron fan, which is in vogue again in Ohio, where I’m from. I am a proud veteran, who served two tours in Iraq, as a member of the Air Force from 2005-2009. I loved the time that I spent in the Air Force, but I knew that I had to get out and pursue my dreams of becoming a sports writer. I graduated college in 2012, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Communication Studies from Ohio University.

Outside of sports, I am a regular guy who is happily married to my beautiful wife, Erica. We are the proud parents of an 18-month-old princess named Kendalynn Paige! I love The Walking Dead and I am pumped for Season 5’s debut in October!

Picks:

1.08 Kelvin Benjamin, WR Carolina Panthers (3 years, $9.98M)

2.03 Terrance West, RB Cleveland Browns (3 years, $3.82M)

3.08 Jerick McKinnon, RB Minnesota Vikings (3 years, $2.42M)

Strategy:  After second thought, I’m not as upset about taking Kelvin Benjamin ahead of Jordan Matthews because in a dynasty, I do feel that he has more upside than Matthews. Getting WRs and RBs, especially this given the dearth of high-upside QBs/TEs was my strategy.

In the end, I came away with Benjamin, Terrance West–who I feel can and will start for the Browns next year overtaking Tate-and Jerick McKinnon–who is a straight up dynasty stash for post-Peterson life in Minnesota. I was happy with my take; although, I wish I could’ve picked up Carlos Hyde because he is destined to take over as Gore’s replacement in a run-heavy offense out west.
No regrets because I can make up for it in the auction!!! #Can’tWait

Team:  B-Ron’s Ballas (Brian Luzier, numberFire) @TheFFBoss

Bio:  A Fantasy Footballer for more than half my life, I’ve seen my share of titles and tears. I pull for the Ravens and Yellow Jackets, always. I live outside Washington, DC and lived in Atlanta previously, graduating from Georgia Tech with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering. I scout rookies in my spare time, and am in more Dynasty Leagues than Redraft Leagues.

Picks:

1.09 Jordan Matthews, WR Philadelphia Eagles (3 years, $9.76M)

2.02 Eric Ebron, TE Detroit Lions (3 years, $3.86M)

3.09 Jace Amaro, TE New York Jets (3 years, $2.4M)

Strategy:  Unable to participate in the draft, but pre-ranked players and was happy with what he walked away with.  Jordan Matthews is a wide receiver that is in the perfect system for his skills who was highly coveted among the group and Luzier nabbed two of the top tight ends in the rookie class.

Team:  Loco Roco (Ryan O’Connor, numberFire) @IrishChaos

Bio:  No bio yet, which Ryan is using to keep himself as a mysterious enigma heading into the RSO Free Agency Auction.  Could turn out to be the best strategy of all. You’ll be hearing more from Ryan for sure!

Picks:

1.10 Odell Beckham Jr., WR New York Giants (3 years, $9.34M)

2.01 Johnny Manziel, QB Cleveland Browns (3 years, $3.91M)

3.10 Devin Street, WR Dallas Cowboys (3 years, $2.38M)

Strategy:  Love Odell Beckham and see him really emerging as a focal point of NYG offense in next year or two.  Wanted Jordan Matthews and thought i could get him at 2.01.  Shocked to see he went 1.09 as i thought i would be reaching at 2.01.  Johnny Manziel is a no-brainer stash pick.  Running QBs accumulate cheap points and can often mask mediocre production passing.    Devin Street was a homer pick as I went to pick and am excited to see him play this year.

More Time For Some Auction (Rankings 26-50)

Updated: July 3rd 2014

You’ve now read my piece about my Top 25 ranked free agents going into the 2014 season.  Now let’s take a look at my 26-50 Free Agent Rankings.  These picks reflect overall rankings and suggested contract values for those players, a lot of which I’m recommending on one year deals:

Rank Player POS % Owned Rec Contract Value
26 Lance Dunbar RB 1% 2yrs, $8m
27 Ben Tate RB 49% 2yrs, $10m
28 Ryan Tannehill QB 26% 3yrs, $15m
29 Donald Brown RB 3% 2yrs, $12m
30 Reggie Wayne WR 31% 1yr, $5m
31 Greg Jennings WR 31% 1yr, $5m
32 Jay Cutler QB 15% 2yrs, $11m
33 Greg Olsen TE 27% 1yr, $6m
34 Ben Roethlisberger QB 11% 1yr, $6m
35 Carson Palmer QB 11% 1yr, $2m
36 Eli Manning QB 41% 2yrs, $11m
37 Ladarius Green TE 0% 2yrs, $12m
38 Danny Woodhead RB 9% 1yr, $7m
39 Ronnie Hillman RB 14% 2yrs, $8m
40 Marvin Jones WR 1% 3yrs, $17m
41 Bryce Brown RB 32% 2yrs, $10m
42 Jarrett Boykin WR 1% 1yr, $5m
43 Cecil Shorts III WR 38% 1yr, $7m
44 Alex Smith QB 18% 1yr, $4m
45 Knowshon Moreno RB 5% 1yr, $4m
46 Brian Hartline WR 9% 1yrs, $4m
47 Golden Tate WR 14% 1yrs, $6m
48 Kenny Stills WR 47% 1yr, $3m
49 Heath Miller TE 4% 1yr, $4m
50 Doug Baldwin WR 0% 2yrs, $8m

26.  Lance Dunbar, RB, Dallas Cowboys

Scott Linehan is the new Offensive Coordinator in the Big D.  That essentially makes Dunbar the Darren Sproles/Joique Bell type in Dallas.  Add in the fact that DeMarco Murray is injury prone and in a contract year, while Dunbar is a restricted free agent in 2015, and Dunbar’s outlook is pretty awesome.  He can play in the slot and be a great PPR option or flex play as well.  Love his upside.

27. Ben Tate, RB, Cleveland Browns

When he was signed by the Browns, most people were way more excited about Tate’s prospects. Then he sat out OTAs and Terrance West was picked in the third round by the Browns.  Tate could have been sitting out as a precaution as new OC Kyle Shanahan likes to lean on a “bell-cow” type running back as no #2 back in Shanahan’s system has had 100 or more carries.  Head coach Mike Pettine recently mentioned a running back by committee and West does have serious upside both this year and in dynasty.  Still, if Tate can stay healthy, he figures to get plenty of run on a team that is more than committed to it in 2014. He’s on a two year deal with the Browns, so in spite of the fact that Tate is 25, he’s a banged-up 25 and shouldn’t get more than two years from any RSO owner in the Free Agent Auction.

28. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins

Bill Lazor was brought in as OC from Philadelphia to spice up the Dolphins offense, which was pass heavy in 2013.  The offensive pace figures to pick up immensely, which should limit the league leading 58 sacks Tannehill suffered last year and result in more deep balls thrown.  2014 is a critical year for Tannehill to make the leap to the first round quarterback that he was drafted to be and a lot of money and draft picks were spent to improve the offensive line this year, which should only help after last year’s mess.

29. Donald Brown, RB, San Diego Chargers

It was quite puzzling that Brown decided on the Chargers crowded backfield when he was coming off a very solid season.  The Chargers want to keep Ryan Mathews healthy in 2014, so Brown may get more carries to keep Mathews’ quality high.  These carries probably come at the expense of Danny Woodhead, who factors in more as a pass catcher.  Brown’s real value will be in 2015 when both Mathews and Woodhead are free agents.  Given the reduced value of starting running backs these days and the contract that Brown signed, he could be the Chargers starter in 2014 or more likely, 2015.  There’s value in that.

30. Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts

No player seems to defy age lately more than Reggie Wayne.  Make no mistake, he is still one of Andrew Luck’s favorite targets on a good offense.  He works incredibly hard and still has some gas in the tank.  He’s certainly worth a one year deal and should still produce around 80 catches and 1,000 receiving yards.

31. Greg Jennings, WR, Minnesota Vikings

Nobody was happier that Matt Cassel was coming back as the potential starter in Minnesota more than Jennings who had his better games with Cassel at the helm.  He had 68 catches for 804 yards and 4 TD’s in 2013, which was a down year, especially when Christian Ponder was at the helm.  In Week 15 last season, Jennings showed he still has serious talent with an 11 catch, 163 yard performance with a touchdown.  With new OC Norv Turner in the fray, Cordarrelle Patterson is viewed as the #1 wide receiver, but Jennings figures to be involved plenty.  He’s still making big money, so look for the Vikings to keep him involved.

32. Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears

By virtue of having one of the best wide receiving tandems in the NFL in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery and an offensive mastermind for a head coach in Marc Trestman, Jay Cutler is a serious upside play for the next few years in fantasy football.    If he can remain healthy, he has Top 5 fantasy points potential at a seriously reduced cost.  Definitely target him if you are coming into your auction without a QB as a “Late Round QB”, but make sure you don’t overpay in dollars, and especially in years.

33. Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers

One of the better tight ends in the NFL and now part of Carolina’s depleted receiving corps.  Olsen had a solid 2013 with 73 catches for 816 yards and 6 touchdowns.  Cam Newton definitely looks his way frequently.  If need be, he’s a Panther for a few more years and you could up the years, but as my rankings reflect, there are lots of options at tight end, so don’t overpay.

34. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Big Ben seems to be getting up to speed in OC Todd Haley’s offense.  He has a good deal of options on offense, headlined by Antonio Brown, complimented by a solid running attack with Le’Veon Bell and free agent signing LeGarrette Blount. Roethlisberger remains a QB2 with upside and definitely worth a look as a backup or spot starter, with the potential to be more.

35. Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals

Similar to Cutler’s situation in terms of offensive weapons and a Head Coach in Bruce Arians that is an offensive genius.  If Palmer gets improved offensive line play with the additions of Jared Veldheer and getting Jonathan Cooper back from injury, he figures to reduce the high amount of sacks he took last year and 22 interceptions which loomed large.  As mentioned in my 1-25 rankings, Michael Floyd is a star in the making and Larry Fitzgerald remains a top option and the coaching staff is comparing rookie John Brown to T.Y. Hilton.  All of these things make Palmer a very attractive cheap option.

36. Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants

Every few years Manning seems to make himself fantasy relevant again.  Manning has good receiving weapons and finally an offensive coordinator in Ben McAdoo (formerly of Green Bay) that figures to open things up a bit.  Look for a bounceback in 2014 and consider the younger Manning brother a potential value this fantasy season.

37. Ladarius Green, TE, San Diego Chargers

After coming on strong at the end of 2013, Green seems to be the heir apparent to Antonio Gates in San Diego.  He shows the ability to make plays that nobody else on the team can and is improving his route running as well.  You probably want to speculate and lock Green up for two years to not miss out on this season’s Julius Thomas at the tight end position, who could also double as the #2 passing option in San Diego behind Keenan Allen.

38. Danny Woodhead, RB, San Diego Chargers

I personally love Woodhead.  He had over 100 carries last season and was a Top 20 fantasy running back, especially in PPR leagues.  He does all the little things and is quite effective despite his size.  The addition of Donald Brown certainly crowds the rushing attempts, so I’m thinking Woodhead will revert more to a third-down back type in 2014.  As such and given that he’s a free agent following the season, I’d stick to a reasonable one year deal for Woodhead.

39. Ronnie Hillman, RB, Denver Broncos

Hillman once was the starter in Denver and then his fumbling issues caused him to lose his job to Knowshon Moreno, who had a career year.  Hillman still has impressive edge speed and is only 23 years old, so if he can shore up his fumbling issues, he could still get a good run in Denver’s offense behind Montee Ball and potentially emerge as the pass-catching back for the Broncos too.  C.J. Anderson stands in his way as the #2 running back position is an offseason battle to pay attention to.

40. Marvin Jones, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Any wide receiver with 10 touchdowns and 4 in the same game that isn’t named James Jones is always on my radar.  Marvin Jones is penciled in as the Bengals #2 starter opposite A.J. Green, one of the top wideouts in the NFL.  He’s only 24 years old and is signed through 2016 and has prototypical height and speed.  Jones also had 8 catches for 130 yards in a playoff loss to San Diego and has proven himself to be able to get open down the field.  A nice multi-year play.

41. Bryce Brown, RB, Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills traded for Brown on draft day more with 2015 in mind as both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are free agents after the 2014 season.  Brown flashes serious upside and did perform well in 2012 in Philadelphia when Lesean McCoy missed time with a serious concussion.  Brown does have some ball control issues, but has significant talent that is worth the risk.  Don’t expect too much for 2014, but remember he is behind two running backs who have a history of getting injured.

42. Jarrett Boykin, WR, Green Bay Packers

Filled in admirably in 2013 when the Packers experienced injuries to their receiving corps, as well as when Aaron Rodgers went down.  Boykin moves to the outside this season, but faces stiff competition from rookie Davante Adams and Jared Abbrederis. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are free agents after the season, but at least one figures to be back.  Don’t overdo it on Boykin, but if he’s around late in your auction, jump on him.

43. Cecil Shorts III, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

Shorts is a 2015 free agent and operates out of the slot.  He’s a PPR machine and should be better now that the Blaine Gabbert experiment is over in Jacksonville.    While the Jaguars did draft two wideouts early in the draft, there should be enough balls to go around for Shorts to be effective.

44. Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

Smith is more of a game manager, but was a solid fantasy QB in 2013.   He had 23 TD’s and only 7 interceptions in 2013 and fares fairly well as a running QB.  The Chiefs schedule gets tougher in 2014, so figure that Smith will have to throw it more.

45. Knowshon Moreno, RB, Miami Dolphins

In spite of a career year in Denver after numerous injury-riddled ones, the Broncos opted not to keep Moreno.  He is very effective as a pass blocker and pass catcher and feasted as a runner when Peyton Manning smartly audibled against 6 or less man fronts.  Just had arthroscopic knee surgery, but should be ready by training camp.  Unfortunately this injury, plus being out of shape has led to Lamar Miller gaining a potential edge as the starter on an Eagles type fast paced offense in 2014.  Definitely not worth a multi-year deal due to injuries and timeshare, but after last season’s breakthrough where he essentially was a Top 5 running back, in spite of being picked near the end of auctions, one has to consider Moreno for their team.

46. Brian Hartline, WR, Miami Dolphins

The pillar of consistency from a receiving standpoint the last two years.  Hartline has had 76 and 74 catches, respectively the past two seasons combined with two straight 1,000 yard receiving seasons.  Hartline did have a PCL injury late in 2013, but figures to be ready by the start of camp.  Not a touchdown maker, but very solid, albeit in a quiet way.

47. Golden Tate, WR, Detroit Lions

Turned a career year in Seattle and a Super Bowl ring into a big free agent contract to be the #2 wideout opposite of Calvin Johnson in Detroit.  Lots of balls to go around for QB Matthew Stafford.  Tate also may be used in the return game if your league rewards that.  Expect similar statistics to 2013.

48. Kenny Stills, WR, New Orleans Saints

The deep threat in New Orleans who should get more looks with Lance Moore gone and Marques Colston getting older.  In fact, Drew Brees’ QBR was the highest in the league when passing to Stills.  He had 5 TD’s and averaged 20 yards a catch.  Definite upside-the question is how the targets will be split between Stills and rookie first round pick Brandin Cooks, even if Cooks plays in the slot.

49. Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers

Don’t be fooled by Antonio Brown’s spike in touchdowns and Heath Miller’s mere one TD last year.  Miller is Big Ben’s security blanket, especially in the red zone.  He’s fully recovered from the late 2012 knee injury and is signed for a few more years.  In a season with tight ends a plenty, Miller is a nice sleeper and good fill-in for Rob Gronkowski if Gronk misses time to start 2014.  Catches good volume and 800 yards and 6 TD’s are definitely within reason.

50. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks

One of the most efficient wide receivers in the NFL.  Baldwin excelled in the Super Bowl and will a spot on the outside as the “X” receiver.  The Seahawks seem like they will keep teams guessing on defense this season, so Russell Wilson may look down the field more and rely less on the power running game this season. Baldwin has good hands and is one of the better route runners in the league.  He recently signed a 3 year, $13m contract, so don’t be afraid to offer him more than a year if need be.