How RSO Rookie Drafts Differ

Updated: August 30th 2016

After participating in several RSO rookie drafts, I began to think about how much these differ from standard dynasty league rookie drafts that are the industry standard throughout the fantasy community.  Rankings and Average Draft Positions that you’ll see on sites like Dynasty League Football are intended for standard dynasty leagues, where you can keep the selected rookies on your roster for an unlimited amount of time.  The presence of 3 to 4 year rookie contacts may create a market inefficiency with owners not shifting their draft strategy away from standard dynasty to match the uniqueness and realism RSO provides.  Retaining that player past their rookie contract will likely force that owner to pay the average of the top five salaries at that position, meaning that the player must become elite at their position by the end of their rookie deal to warrant the tag.  It’s worth noting that some leagues implement limits on the number of times a player can be tagged before he has to return to the free agent auction.  Sure, the player can be re-acquired in the free agent auction, but his cap hit will now be determined by the open market.

The Research

I set out to determine which positions should be prioritized in RSO rookie drafts by providing the best return on investment (ROI).  To do this, I created a sample of QBs, RBs, WRs, and TEs that in the last three years (2013, 2014, 2015) posted a season that was “start worthy”.  For simplicity, I defined “start worthy” as players who finished among in the top 10 QBs, top 25 RBs, top 25 WRs, and top 10 TEs for the 2013, 2014, or 2015 seasons in standard scoring, data courtesy of Pro Football Reference.  The sample created a player pool consisting of 19 QBs, 47 RBs, 48 WRs, and 20 TEs.  With my sample pool selected, I began tracking how quickly each player put together a “start worthy” season by recording the results from their first four seasons in the league.

The Results

Start Worthy Chart

Quarterbacks

95% “Start Worthy” by year 4 – Before conducting this research, I expected quarterbacks to take longer to become “start worthy” and was surprised to see 18 of 19 did that in their first 4 seasons.  On average, it took these QBs 2.61 years to put together such a season, meaning this usually happened in years 2 and 3.  Those numbers alone may not mean a lot, but let’s see how it compares to other positions.

Running backs

1.91 years, the average time it takes a running back to become “start worthy” – For a variety of reasons (most of which I agree with), RBs are devalued in dynasty leagues.  However, I believe we should think differently about running backs in RSO as they typically become “start worthy” by year 2 at a ROOKIE SALARY!  This past off-season, I went out of my way to acquire additional second round picks to have more chances of hitting on one of these cost-effective productive young RBs.

Wide receivers

2.02 years, the average time it takes wide receivers to become “start worthy” – WRs are the stars of dynasty football, the prized assets that command huge trade returns.  Becoming “start worthy” by year 2 confirms that WRs are still very valuable in RSO, but might not hold as drastic of an edge over RBs as in standard dynasty leagues.

Tight ends

5% = the lowest % increase in becoming “start worthy” from year 3 to year 4 – By year 3, you may know what you have with your TE prospect.  80% of the sample put forth “start worthy” seasons by year 3, with only 1 TE waiting until year 4.  Important to note, TEs also took the longest time to produce an ROI with an average of 2.53 years to become “start worthy”.

What does this mean to RSO players?

Personally, I wouldn’t select a rookie QB in the 1st round of a rookie draft unless the format is 2QB or Superflex.  With that said, I do feel more comfortable with selecting the top QB prospects in the 2nd or 3rd round of rookie drafts after discovering that the breakout QBs almost always do so by their fourth season.  RBs and WRs should be heavily prioritized in RSO rookie drafts, given that they’re the quickest to produce “start worthy” seasons after entering the league.  While I’d give WRs a slight edge over RBs since they’re more consistent year to year, RBs close the gap a bit in RSO by becoming “start worthy” the soonest.  TEs, on the other hand, should be widely ignored in rookie drafts.  It frequently takes too long for these players to develop into starting caliber options.  Sure, there are outliers – Rob Gronkowski comes to mind.  But strategies built on the outcomes of outliers are doomed to fail.

To summarize, target RBs and WRs in your rookie drafts.  In trades, I’ll typically ask for a 2nd round pick to be added as a thrown in.  While mostly insignificant, I want more chances at hitting on a breakout RB or WR on a multi-year rookie contract.  The RBs and WRs that break out often do so by year 2, which makes it quicker to know when to cut bait on a bust and use the roster spot elsewhere.


Bio: An avid fan of all things NFL, Dave has been playing fantasy football since 1999.  Though Dave participates in all types of fantasy football including redraft and daily, he prefers keeper and dynasty leagues as talent evaluation and scouting are integral components of each. 

The 2-2-1 RB Strategy

Updated: August 30th 2016

I recently read a post on Football Guys about the 2-2-1 running back strategy.  To be honest, it was the first time I have heard about it and am not sure how I’ve missed it all these years.  Zero RB is all the rage right now so I thought I would like to try and combine the two strategies.  Since RSO is essentially a dynasty format, I’m going to expand it to 2-2-1-1 to add in a young lottery ticket to help balance the roster for the longer term.  Using average annual contract values and lengths, I identified the following combination of running backs to illustrate the idea.  Whether you need to trade for these players or can snag them in your free agent auction, it shouldn’t cost too much which I think will help keep your dynasty on the championship track.

If you’d like to view the full Football Guys article, click here.

The Picks

  • Jonathan Stewart (Average Remaining Contract Length: 1.6 years; Average Annual Contract Value: $7.3 mil)
  • Cameron Artis-Payne (2.8 years; $1.2 mil)
  • Isaiah Crowell (2 years; $3.5 mil)
  • Duke Johnson (3.2 years; $2.0 mil)
  • Theo Riddick (1.2 years; $1.3 mil)
  • Ka’Deem Carey (2 years; $1.0 mil)
  • TOTAL Salary = $16.3 mil or just under 10% of your salary cap

The Reasons

I decided to double down on the Panthers and Browns backfields – certainly not two popular options.  Based on average annual contract value, Stewart is the 28th highest paid RB and comes in as our RB1.  I don’t mind Stewart here because if we’re spending this little on RB1 we should be stacked elsewhere.  Furthermore, I’d only be tied to him for 1-2 more years which is only about as long as the Panthers will give him anyway (his contract is front loaded, 2018 is just $1 mil base which screams to me that they planned that to minimize the cap hit when they cut him).  Sure he’ll lose goal line work to Cam but he’s good enough for what we’re trying to accomplish here.

Pairing Stewart with CAP is easy because he’s the obvious handcuff for right now and doesn’t have much standalone value so another owner won’t be interested.  If CAP becomes the starter in 2017 or 2018 we would have him under contract on the cheap.  If he doesn’t make it past 2016 on the squad, remember he’s a cheap 5th round pick, our cap hit is minimal.  There’s a decent chance we’d go into 2017 with neither of these Panther running backs but that’s okay; our four other picks are all potentially looking at new contracts with other teams in the near future so if one hits we can use the open spot(s) to grab their handcuff.

Depending on whether you play PPR or not will determine which of the Browns RBs will be your RB2.  Crowell will get a majority of the carries, and goal line work, but Johnson will be more productive on passing downs.  Trying to guess each week which will be better is going to drive you mad so pick one and stick with it.  On bye weeks you can start both since they have value independent of each other but I wouldn’t recommend it each week.  I don’t love having Crowell for two years since he’s a free agent after this year but maybe that motivates him to succeed and lead somewhere next year as the clear starter.

For my first single RB pick, I’d go with Theo Riddick.  I am partial to Riddick since I play in PPR leagues but even without PPR he still has some value.  Some quick math puts his non-PPR value at 6.3 points per game, but add in the receptions and it balloons to 11.3.  If I can sign him for more than one year, I wouldn’t mind having Riddick in a non-PPR also for the fact that his deal with the Lions expires this year so in 2017 he could be the lead back for a team that would actually let him carry the ball.  Riddick only started one year at Notre Dame but averaged more than 14 carries a game that year so he can handle a bigger work load than the 2-3 carries he gets now.

For my second single RB pick, I’d go with Ka’Deem Carey.  I started the preseason sold on Jeremy Langford but that has changed as I’ve done more research.  There’s a good chance Carey sits on your bench with little value this year but there is a non-zero chance that he overtakes Langford and beats out rookie Jordan Howard.  I thought Carey was older than he is – but he was only drafted in 2014.  In 2012 and 2013 at Arizona, Carey totaled 3,814 yards and 44 total TDs.  If I’m going to take a multi-year lottery ticket on a young running back, Carey is it.

RB Insurance: Handcuffs

Updated: August 30th 2016

We purchase insurance in our daily lives to dampen the consequences of unforeseen major detrimental events including accidents, sickness, and natural catastrophes. Should we do the same thing for our starting running backs in fantasy football?   Answering this question and looking at a few handcuff options will be the primary focus of this article.  What is a handcuff?  The definition of a handcuff varies from analyst to analyst.  I will define handcuff as a backup player bought for the purpose of insuring the starting player against games lost.

How much are handcuffs worth?

Our first step in answering our primary question is determining how many games running backs typically miss in a season.   The answer is quite large if we look at only 2015.  The top 12 running backs in points per game (PPG) averaged only 11 games played last season and the top-24 averaged only 12 games.  2015 was an outlier season however.  Top-24 running backs from 2012 to 2014 averaged 14 games played which is much closer to historical norms.  All of this means handcuffs are expected to start about two games per season.

We next need to find out how much production we can expect from our handcuffs when they get the opportunity to play. Unsurprisingly, the results varied drastically between handcuffs in 2015.  Jeremy Langford led all handcuffs with 25.2 PPG in his three starts without Forte.  DeAngelo Williams proved to be everything a fantasy owner wants in a handcuff putting up high-end RB1 numbers for 10 games in Le’Veon Bell’s absence.  On the other end of the spectrum, Alfred Blue (8.7 PPG) and Chris Johnson (10.4 PPG) provided just marginal bye week fill-in value as handcuffs.  Table 1 gives the approximate value* for handcuffs of varying production levels in RSO leagues when playing for the expected two games.

*My standard RSO league for computing each player’s value consists of 12 teams, 1QB/2RBs/3WRs/1TE/1 Flex (RB/WR/TE) starting requirements, and PPR scoring.

RB6 RB18 RB30
PPG 17 13 11
Value $3.5 M $1.5 M Min.
Table 1: Value of Handcuffs

The majority of handcuffs will produce at the RB18 level or worse. Keep this in mind when bidding on backup running backs.  We must remember most handcuffs are less talented than the starters and are backups for a reason.  The volume share of the starting running back tends to be distributed among multiple backs in many cases when the starter goes down with injury or suspension.  This implies most handcuffs will produce at lower levels than the starter.

Handcuff Considerations

There are three key considerations I look at when determining if a handcuff is worth a roster spot.

  1. Certainty of holding the backup job. You generally do not want to invest in a player who might not end up as the backup running back or waste multiple roster spots on backups from the same team.   There are no guarantees, as we saw with Knile Davis last year who was considered by many of the top minds to be one of the safest handcuffs, but certainty at the position is of prime importance.
  2. Expected Production. I take a number of factors into consideration here including player talent, projected volume, and surrounding players particularly on the offensive line. The handcuff must have a reasonable expectation of producing RB2 type numbers for me to roster a backup. Why waste a roster spot on a player who is unlikely to see your lineup if he gets the opportunity to play?
  3. Price. Table 1 shows how little a handcuff is generally worth. You should not pay much more than the league minimum in most instances for a handcuff.

Top Handcuff Options

This list includes players whose primary value is as a handcuff. You will not see players who are expected to have significant roles in the offense, regardless of injury, like Charles Sims, Tevin Coleman, and Derrick Henry.

  1. DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburg Steelers – DeAngelo is the easy choice for the number one spot on the list. Locked in for four games to start the season with Bell’s looming suspension. Produced RB1 numbers for an extended stretch last season with Bell injured. Solid expected volume in both the running and passing game for a high scoring offense.
  2. Alfred Morris, Dallas Cowboys – Give me any back with one of the best offensive lines in football. The team’s top rusher has averaged 4.6 YPA or better over the last three seasons. There is some risk McFadden takes a significant portion of the reps in a committee situation, but this is firmly Morris’ job now with McFadden’s injury. Keep track of this situation going into the year.
  3. Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings – McKinnon is probably the most talented back on this list and would have the opportunity to start for a number of teams in the NFL. The former Georgia Southern Eagle is absolutely dynamic with the ball in his hands producing a robust 4.9 YPA during his career. He will split touches and lose goal line work with Matt Asiata if Peterson goes down however.
  4. James Starks, Green Bay Packers – The longtime Packer checks all of the boxes you want in a backup running back. He is competent in all phases of the game. There is no competition for the backup job on a high-powered Green Bay offense which has plenty of volume in the running and passing game for its running backs. Starks also has a real shot of significant playing time without a Lacy injury, providing possible bye-week and flex value.
  5. DeAndre Washington, Oakland Raiders – The former Red Raider immediately steps in as the likely backup to Latavius Murray in Oakland. Washington impressed many observers so far in training camp with his solid compact frame and explosive lightning-quick moves out of the backfield. Oakland projects to have one of the better run blocking offensive lines in the NFL for 2016. Washington could also earn a passing down role early in this offense.
  6. Tim Hightower, New Orleans Saints – Hightower is strictly a backup, but one who received 21 rushing attempts and 3 receptions per game over the last four games of the season. He plays behind Mark Ingram who has played a full season only once in his career. Hightower likely loses touches to a healthier committee if Ingram goes down but still plays in one of the most offensive friendly systems in the league.
  7. Chris Johnson, Arizona Cardinals – Another backup on a great offense, Johnson put together a 196 carry, 814 yard campaign in 2015 after starter Andre Ellington was injured on multiple occasions. Johnson himself was injured for the season and David Johnson eventually took over. There are a few dangers with Chris Johnson though. Chris likely sees plenty of run volume if the other Johnson is injured but offers little in the passing game accumulating only six receptions last season. He was also thoroughly outplayed by Ellington last season in both the passing and run game so there is the potential to lose significant backup snaps also.

In the end, remember running back handcuffs are backup players unlikely to receive much playing time in your RSO lineups. Price them accordingly when you decide to add handcuffs to your roster.


Bio: Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

RSO Expansion Draft Suggestions

Updated: August 30th 2016

When I first found RSO two years ago and pitched it to members of my various leagues, I have to admit it was a hard sell for most.  The unique format of RSO scared off some prospective owners and ultimately I was only left with seven other guys willing to give it a shot.  We knew immediately that the plan was going to be expansion to ten teams but how we would accomplish that took a lot of consideration.  Luckily, a few months of actively using RSO and it’s format helped us hone our pitch and easily find two new members.  I figured that a write up of how my home league handled expansion would be helpful to other RSO users out there planning to do the same.

The Expansion Draft

We had many discussions about how to properly handle the expansion draft.  Existing owners did not want to lose much of what they had built in the first year of their dynasty but new owners did not want to be severely shorthanded.  Ultimately, this is what we agreed upon:

  • Existing owners would protect three players who were under contract for 2016.
  • New owners would have the opportunity to select up to four players each, with a maximum of one player taken per existing owner.
  • Existing owners would then protect two additional players who were under contract for 2016.
  • New owners would then have the opportunity to select up to four additional players each, with a maximum of one player taken per existing owner.

I believe this was a fair balance for both the new and existing owners.  Ultimately, the new owners didn’t simply go for “best available” and instead selected players based on value, cherry picking some of the players with undervalued contracts.  For example, Doug Martin, Allen Robinson, Jeremy Maclin and Keenan Allen were all selected.  Drafting for “value” didn’t carry over to quarterbacks though, new owners tended to spend big there selecting Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Andrew Luck and Philip Rivers.

Since RSO does not have expansion draft functionality, I ran it manually using a Google Docs spreadsheet.  It was easy to track and allowed the new and existing owners to follow along in real time.

To reflect the expansion draft results on RSO, I simply processed trades from one team to another.  Dropping/adding the players is a possibility but we were requiring the new owners to assume the old contract which would have been messy to do that way.  I did attempt to use RSO’s multi-team trade tool for this purpose but found it easier to just do multiple two team trades.

The Rookie Draft

The rookie draft was a no brainer – even with the benefit of the expansion draft, the new owners had to get first pick at the 2016 rookie crop.

  • New owners were given 1.01 and 1.02 in the rookie draft.
  • The new owners were able to discuss and negotiate who would want first expansion pick versus first rookie draft pick.  Ultimately one new owner wanted each so it worked easily, otherwise we would have done a coin flip.

Did It Work?

So far, so good.  Our free agent auction is scheduled for two weeks from now and that will be the ultimate test.  The new owners obviously have a ton of cap room which could lead to some interesting bidding wars and some overpaid stars early in the auction.  In the end, us existing owners are very happy that we put in the thought and time to expand and are even more excited for 2016 and our new owners are looking forward to learning the new format.

numberFire Rookie Draft Results '16

Updated: August 22nd 2016

Welcome to year three of their writers league featuring writers from Reality Sports Online, numberFire, ESPN and FantasyGuru.com. Ironically, our defending champion is the only non-writer in the league, Rory Ryan, a Law Professor from Baylor, a write-in candidate from last year. Only one team turned over this year and is now owned by Reality Sports Online founder and president Matt Papson, who inherited a squad rich with assets and picks hence his team name being Hospitable Takeover. The three-round, three-year contract rookie draft was held on Sunday, August 7th and was completed in record time (less than 15 minutes).

The participants rookie picks and strategies are outlined below, along with player contract values to assist those users who have not had their rookie draft yet. Please follow us all on Twitter as we definitely love talking fantasy football.

Without further ado, the 2016 Rookie Draft.

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

Picks:

1.01 Ezekiel Elliott, RB Dallas Cowboys (3 years, $20.8M)

2.01 C.J. Prosise, RB Seattle Seahawks (3 years, $4.7M)

3.01 Wendell Smallwood, RB Philadelphia Eagles (3 years, $3.1M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: My team needed everything, if we’re being honest, and at 1.01, I had no choice but to take Ezekiel Elliott. Dallas liked him enough to take him fourth overall, and he might lead the league in carries in 2016. What’s not to like? C.J. Prosise is a receiving back with some rushing ability in a run-first offense in Seattle. Thomas Rawls’ injury concerns me, and Prosise could wind up as a starter as a rookie. Even if not, he should secure the third-down role. I didn’t like any receivers left at the start of the third and was targeting DeAndre Washington, but I settled on Wendell Smallwood. He might be able to be a three-down back given that there is not much certainty ahead of him on the depth chart as a rookie.

Team: The Quickie Martin (Sam Hauss, numberFire) @Real_Hauss

Picks:

1.02 Corey Coleman, WR Cleveland Browns (3 years, $19.6M)

2.02 Kenneth Dixon, RB Baltimore Ravens (3 years, $4.6M)

2.09 Pharoh Cooper, WR Los Angeles Rams (3 years, $4.3M)

3.02 Austin Hooper, TE Atlanta Falcons (3 years, $3.0M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: With Elliott off the board and a big hole at the wide receiver position, I opted for Corey Coleman with the second pick of the first round. Coleman should be in store for a big role early in his career, even with Josh Gordon returning to the Browns, and has as much upside as any wide receiver in this draft class. My second pick was a bit trickier, because I really wanted to nab another wide receiver, but I liked the value much more at running back, hence my selection of Kenneth Dixon. The Ravens backfield is up for grabs and Dixon may already be the most talented of the bunch. He could emerge as the starter in a Marc Trestman offense as soon as this season. After taking a running back second I went back to the well at wide receiver, selecting Pharoh Cooper of the Rams. While I’m not sure where he’ll fit into the offense this season, I needed to add depth at wide receiver and Cooper is an explosive athlete with a lot of upside over the next few seasons. Some of you may be surprised to see me select the Falcons’ Austin Hooper with my fourth pick before Hunter Henry, however, in this league format rookie contracts are three year contracts and Hooper simply has a more clear path to fantasy value over the next three seasons than Henry. Henry is still playing behind Antonio Gates and will struggle to stay on the field as a full time player until he becomes a better blocker. Meanwhile, Atlanta has a huge number of targets to fill behind Julio Jones and, depending on what your opinion of Mohamed Sanu is, there really isn’t much competition to fill that void. Hooper has a rare chance to be a major contributor as a rookie at the tight end position and is a much safer choice in the short-term than the aforementioned Henry.

Team: Hospitable Takeover (Matt Papson, President and Founder, Reality Sports Online) @RealitySportsMP

Picks:

1.03 Laquon Treadwell, WR Minnesota Vikings (3 years, $19.1M)

1.09 Will Fuller, WR Houston Texans (3 years, $11.7M)

2.03 Leonte Carroo, WR Miami Dolphins (3 years, $4.6M)

3.03 Braxton Miller, WR Houston Texans (3 years, $3.0M)

Rookie Draft Strategy:  I inherited/took-over, what I believe to be, the bones of a well-balanced, championship-potential roster. The team isn’t deep at any one position, but it’s not overly shallow anywhere either. It’s also set up well for me from a contract perspective, with Russell Wilson’s $13.2M cap figure the highest on the team. Several promising young players, including Jay Ajayi, Kevin White, Maxx Williams, and Odell Beckham Jr. are still on affordable rookie contracts.

I was hoping to land Treadwell third overall, so-as not to over-invest in the Robert Griffin III experiment (on my roster), and was fortunate to have Coleman go off the board 2nd. I would have taken Derrick Henry in the 9 slot if he had lasted. With Henry off the board, I decided to hedge my Jaelen Strong ownership by selecting Philly-native Will Fuller. I didn’t love my option at 2.03, and wish I could have traded back to gain an extra selection in the late 2nd/early 3rd given how things turned out, but went with Leonte Carroo. With Smallwood off the board at 3.01 (who I had ranked right after Carroo), I had to decide between Hunter Henry (I already have a high pick invested in Williams and need a veteran), Paxton Lynch/Jared Goff (but need a backup to Wilson who can play now in case RG3 re-busts), and my actual selection — Braxton Miller. I went with Miller’s high upside, and him being a super-hedge to Strong and Fuller. If a clear #2 emerges behind DeAndre Hopkins in Houston, he’s on my roster.

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

Picks:

1.04 Josh Doctson, WR Washington Redskins (3 years, $18.3M)

2.04 Jordan Howard, RB Chicago Bears (3 years, $4.5M)

3.04 Hunter Henry, TE San Diego Chargers (3 years, $3.0 M)

3.09 Chris Moore, WR Baltimore Ravens (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: 

I’ve drafted second overall the past two years in this league, so sitting at pick No. 1.04 made me feel like I was waiting around forever. It didn’t matter though, because I got the player I would have taken second overall anyway, knowing Elliott is the obvious first overall pick. I think Josh Doctson is the best wide receiver in this class and even if he doesn’t have an immediate impact his rookie year, there’s going to be a lot of good to follow.

I didn’t really like how the board fell to me in the second round, so I went with Jordan Howard to pair with Ka’Deem Carey to possibly get two-thirds of a potential RBBC for the Bears. It’s faulty, but that was my logic taking David Johnson in the third round of this draft last year and that worked out pretty well.

Heading into the third I was targeting Hooper, who I viewed as the top rookie tight end before the NFL Draft, but he went two picks ahead of me, which I was not expecting. I went with Henry because I could see San Diego throwing a lot and Antonio Gates is 36-years-old, but man, I really would have liked Hooper. I also had the ninth pick in the third round from a late season trade and took Chris Moore from Baltimore. I’m a big fan of Moore’s skillset — he can get down the field, create separation and win at the catch point — and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him contribute sooner rather than later for the Ravens, especially considering the unknown health/quality of Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace.

Team: Team: gingersauce4u (Tyler Buecher, numberFire) @gingersauce4u

Picks:

1.05 Sterling Shepard, WR New York Giants (3 years, $17.3M)

2.05 DeAndre Washington, RB Oakland Raiders (3 years, $4.5M)

3.05 Mike Thomas, WR Los Angeles Rams (3 years, $3.0M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: Heading into our third year of this league, I’ve learned not to value positions of need as badly as I used to. Rookies beyond the first round are typically dart throws, but I have some optimism with the three players I drafted here. Sterling Shepard enters a terrific situation in his rookie season in an offense that has 100-plus targets up for grabs. Settling in behind Odell Beckham Jr. should allow Shepard plenty of single-coverage looks and allow him to truly shine out of the slot — an area he dominated in college. I love what the Raiders have done this offseason beefing up their offensive line with the addition of Kelechi Osemele and their additions on defense. It lines up for Oakland to have a more balanced attack, and something that rookie DeAndre Washington could take advantage of in his rookie year. Latavius Murray struggled with efficiency in 2015 with his success largely a byproduct of volume. Washington could carve out an early third-down/change-of-pace role that could expand into more touches as the season goes on. I’m not as high on Mike Thomas as a lot of others, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to grab him here in the mid-third round. Thomas was this year’s most notable Combine snub, after shining his final collegiate season with a 71-1,391-14 stat line for Southern Miss. He had an unlucky landing situation with the Rams, a team that ran the fewest plays per game last year and had the fifth-lowest passing play percentage. Fortunately, the receivers there have yet to establish any consistent production, so he may find a quicker path to playing time than if went somewhere else. 

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

Picks:

1.06 Devontae Booker, RB Denver Broncos (3 years, $15.2M)

2.06 Malcolm Mitchell, WR New England Patriots (3 years, $4.4M)

3.06 Paxton Lynch, QB Denver Broncos (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: While most would think about wide receivers at this point in the rookie draft, I really like what Devontae Booker brings to the table. He’s a versatile every down back playing for a coach who he can thrive under and even though C.J. Anderson re-signed this offseason, he’s had a history of not holding up health-wise. I love Malcolm Mitchell’s big play ability and it didn’t take him long in the preseason to demonstrate some of that. Word is he’s projected to start as the Patriots “X” receiver. In the final round, I took Paxton Lynch as the first QB off the board.

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

Picks:

1.07 Michael Thomas, WR New Orleans Saints (3 years, $13.5M)

2.07 Paul Perkins, RB New York Giants (3 years, $4.4M)

3.07 Jared Goff, QB Los Angeles Rams (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: My strategy typically changes a bit in this league due to the 3 year rookie contracts vs. 4 years in my other leagues. To that end, I always try to get players who are fantasy ready in their rookie years. Michael Thomas fits that bill. He’s gotten glowing reviews in training camp and has earned quarterback Drew Brees’ confidence. He also fits a pretty big need for me at wideout. I was really hoping in the second round that Washington would be available as I think he could have an immediate impact in the Raiders offense as a pass-catcher, but like in Round 1, Tyler grabbed who I would’ve wanted. So I went with Paul Perkins, a versatile back out of UCLA. While all indications in New York point to a crowded backfield and Perkins probably being a year away, I have a little time to wait for someone scouts compared to Jamaal Charles. This strategy worked for me in the past with Devonta Freeman and this late in the draft, Perkins could be a steal.

In the last round, I was really open to anything. I originally was targeting a wide receiver who will have to wait until the auction potentially, but the opportunity to take the first overall pick in Jared Goff proved tantalizing. I’m not expecting much out of him this year, but could have a cheap and productive fantasy option for years 2 and 3 in a league that doesn’t tend to pay a premium quarterbacks. If Goff ends up being a startable fantasy quarterback in year two (i.e. Top 12 option), I can spend bigger at the other positions while paying Goff roughly $1M a season. I love his pocket presence and quick release. Hopefully I’ve picked the next elite Cal quarterback.

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

Picks:

1.08 Derrick Henry, RB Tennessee Titans (3 years, $11.9M)

2.08 Alex Collins, RB Seattle Seahawks (3 years, $4.3M)

3.08 Rashard Higgins, WR Cleveland Browns (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: The rookie draft wasn’t really a major event for me due to my lackluster selection for finishing well last year. I was surprised to see Derrick Henry fall to me, and since I was in full “best player available” mode, he made the most sense. Of the guys on the board, he’d easily be the highest for me in a redraft setting, and I feel like I can win now. I was tempted to go with Paxton Lynch in the second round, but thought he’d fall to me in the third… he didn’t. Still, happy with Alex Collins, who is a job away from being productive in a great system. Ended up with a bit of a biased pick, as Rashard Higgins hails from my favorite FBS college team. I doubt he makes an impact, but I’m banking on the big plays I’ve watched him make for the Rams.

Team: Funky Monks (Graham Barfield, FantasyGuru.com & Rotoworld) @GrahamBarfield

Rookie Draft Strategy: I sat the rookie draft out after an aggressive first year in the league. I traded my picks last year in an effort to win the championship and came close, losing in the finals. I traded my 1st round pick for Arian Foster, my 2nd round pick for Brandon Marshall, and my 3rd round pick for Carson Palmer.

Team: Loss Aversion (Rory Ryan, Baylor University Law Professor) @RoryRyan

Picks:

1.10 Tyler Boyd, WR Cincinnati Bengals (3 years, $11.2M)

2.10 Kelvin Taylor, RB San Francisco 49ers (3 years, $4.2M)

3.10 Tajae Sharpe, WR Tennessee Titans (3 years, $2.8M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: With three-year rookie contracts and rosters that are very shallow, I contemplated bypassing my last two picks. But I decided to risk the cap hit and take two of my guys. I think Kelvin Taylor has an NFL skill set. A pretty good one, actually. The upside with him and Chip in SF is worth the cap risk. I was very sad when Tajae Sharpe got so much good press so early. I’ve been on him for a while, but I wanted the press after my drafts. I knew I wanted both Taylor and Sharpe and drafted Taylor first guessing someone else might take a flier in Taylor but that all would be bored by Sharpe. I ended up getting both of the guys nobody wanted along with Tyler Boyd, who I would take for three years over many of the receivers who go earlier. I see a lot of Allen Robinson in him and there isn’t much in front of him on the Bengals roster.

numberFire Rookie Draft Results ’16

Updated: August 22nd 2016

Welcome to year three of their writers league featuring writers from Reality Sports Online, numberFire, ESPN and FantasyGuru.com. Ironically, our defending champion is the only non-writer in the league, Rory Ryan, a Law Professor from Baylor, a write-in candidate from last year. Only one team turned over this year and is now owned by Reality Sports Online founder and president Matt Papson, who inherited a squad rich with assets and picks hence his team name being Hospitable Takeover. The three-round, three-year contract rookie draft was held on Sunday, August 7th and was completed in record time (less than 15 minutes).

The participants rookie picks and strategies are outlined below, along with player contract values to assist those users who have not had their rookie draft yet. Please follow us all on Twitter as we definitely love talking fantasy football.

Without further ado, the 2016 Rookie Draft.

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

Picks:

1.01 Ezekiel Elliott, RB Dallas Cowboys (3 years, $20.8M)

2.01 C.J. Prosise, RB Seattle Seahawks (3 years, $4.7M)

3.01 Wendell Smallwood, RB Philadelphia Eagles (3 years, $3.1M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: My team needed everything, if we’re being honest, and at 1.01, I had no choice but to take Ezekiel Elliott. Dallas liked him enough to take him fourth overall, and he might lead the league in carries in 2016. What’s not to like? C.J. Prosise is a receiving back with some rushing ability in a run-first offense in Seattle. Thomas Rawls’ injury concerns me, and Prosise could wind up as a starter as a rookie. Even if not, he should secure the third-down role. I didn’t like any receivers left at the start of the third and was targeting DeAndre Washington, but I settled on Wendell Smallwood. He might be able to be a three-down back given that there is not much certainty ahead of him on the depth chart as a rookie.

Team: The Quickie Martin (Sam Hauss, numberFire) @Real_Hauss

Picks:

1.02 Corey Coleman, WR Cleveland Browns (3 years, $19.6M)

2.02 Kenneth Dixon, RB Baltimore Ravens (3 years, $4.6M)

2.09 Pharoh Cooper, WR Los Angeles Rams (3 years, $4.3M)

3.02 Austin Hooper, TE Atlanta Falcons (3 years, $3.0M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: With Elliott off the board and a big hole at the wide receiver position, I opted for Corey Coleman with the second pick of the first round. Coleman should be in store for a big role early in his career, even with Josh Gordon returning to the Browns, and has as much upside as any wide receiver in this draft class. My second pick was a bit trickier, because I really wanted to nab another wide receiver, but I liked the value much more at running back, hence my selection of Kenneth Dixon. The Ravens backfield is up for grabs and Dixon may already be the most talented of the bunch. He could emerge as the starter in a Marc Trestman offense as soon as this season. After taking a running back second I went back to the well at wide receiver, selecting Pharoh Cooper of the Rams. While I’m not sure where he’ll fit into the offense this season, I needed to add depth at wide receiver and Cooper is an explosive athlete with a lot of upside over the next few seasons. Some of you may be surprised to see me select the Falcons’ Austin Hooper with my fourth pick before Hunter Henry, however, in this league format rookie contracts are three year contracts and Hooper simply has a more clear path to fantasy value over the next three seasons than Henry. Henry is still playing behind Antonio Gates and will struggle to stay on the field as a full time player until he becomes a better blocker. Meanwhile, Atlanta has a huge number of targets to fill behind Julio Jones and, depending on what your opinion of Mohamed Sanu is, there really isn’t much competition to fill that void. Hooper has a rare chance to be a major contributor as a rookie at the tight end position and is a much safer choice in the short-term than the aforementioned Henry.

Team: Hospitable Takeover (Matt Papson, President and Founder, Reality Sports Online) @RealitySportsMP

Picks:

1.03 Laquon Treadwell, WR Minnesota Vikings (3 years, $19.1M)

1.09 Will Fuller, WR Houston Texans (3 years, $11.7M)

2.03 Leonte Carroo, WR Miami Dolphins (3 years, $4.6M)

3.03 Braxton Miller, WR Houston Texans (3 years, $3.0M)

Rookie Draft Strategy:  I inherited/took-over, what I believe to be, the bones of a well-balanced, championship-potential roster. The team isn’t deep at any one position, but it’s not overly shallow anywhere either. It’s also set up well for me from a contract perspective, with Russell Wilson’s $13.2M cap figure the highest on the team. Several promising young players, including Jay Ajayi, Kevin White, Maxx Williams, and Odell Beckham Jr. are still on affordable rookie contracts.

I was hoping to land Treadwell third overall, so-as not to over-invest in the Robert Griffin III experiment (on my roster), and was fortunate to have Coleman go off the board 2nd. I would have taken Derrick Henry in the 9 slot if he had lasted. With Henry off the board, I decided to hedge my Jaelen Strong ownership by selecting Philly-native Will Fuller. I didn’t love my option at 2.03, and wish I could have traded back to gain an extra selection in the late 2nd/early 3rd given how things turned out, but went with Leonte Carroo. With Smallwood off the board at 3.01 (who I had ranked right after Carroo), I had to decide between Hunter Henry (I already have a high pick invested in Williams and need a veteran), Paxton Lynch/Jared Goff (but need a backup to Wilson who can play now in case RG3 re-busts), and my actual selection — Braxton Miller. I went with Miller’s high upside, and him being a super-hedge to Strong and Fuller. If a clear #2 emerges behind DeAndre Hopkins in Houston, he’s on my roster.

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

Picks:

1.04 Josh Doctson, WR Washington Redskins (3 years, $18.3M)

2.04 Jordan Howard, RB Chicago Bears (3 years, $4.5M)

3.04 Hunter Henry, TE San Diego Chargers (3 years, $3.0 M)

3.09 Chris Moore, WR Baltimore Ravens (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: 

I’ve drafted second overall the past two years in this league, so sitting at pick No. 1.04 made me feel like I was waiting around forever. It didn’t matter though, because I got the player I would have taken second overall anyway, knowing Elliott is the obvious first overall pick. I think Josh Doctson is the best wide receiver in this class and even if he doesn’t have an immediate impact his rookie year, there’s going to be a lot of good to follow.

I didn’t really like how the board fell to me in the second round, so I went with Jordan Howard to pair with Ka’Deem Carey to possibly get two-thirds of a potential RBBC for the Bears. It’s faulty, but that was my logic taking David Johnson in the third round of this draft last year and that worked out pretty well.

Heading into the third I was targeting Hooper, who I viewed as the top rookie tight end before the NFL Draft, but he went two picks ahead of me, which I was not expecting. I went with Henry because I could see San Diego throwing a lot and Antonio Gates is 36-years-old, but man, I really would have liked Hooper. I also had the ninth pick in the third round from a late season trade and took Chris Moore from Baltimore. I’m a big fan of Moore’s skillset — he can get down the field, create separation and win at the catch point — and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him contribute sooner rather than later for the Ravens, especially considering the unknown health/quality of Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace.

Team: Team: gingersauce4u (Tyler Buecher, numberFire) @gingersauce4u

Picks:

1.05 Sterling Shepard, WR New York Giants (3 years, $17.3M)

2.05 DeAndre Washington, RB Oakland Raiders (3 years, $4.5M)

3.05 Mike Thomas, WR Los Angeles Rams (3 years, $3.0M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: Heading into our third year of this league, I’ve learned not to value positions of need as badly as I used to. Rookies beyond the first round are typically dart throws, but I have some optimism with the three players I drafted here. Sterling Shepard enters a terrific situation in his rookie season in an offense that has 100-plus targets up for grabs. Settling in behind Odell Beckham Jr. should allow Shepard plenty of single-coverage looks and allow him to truly shine out of the slot — an area he dominated in college. I love what the Raiders have done this offseason beefing up their offensive line with the addition of Kelechi Osemele and their additions on defense. It lines up for Oakland to have a more balanced attack, and something that rookie DeAndre Washington could take advantage of in his rookie year. Latavius Murray struggled with efficiency in 2015 with his success largely a byproduct of volume. Washington could carve out an early third-down/change-of-pace role that could expand into more touches as the season goes on. I’m not as high on Mike Thomas as a lot of others, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to grab him here in the mid-third round. Thomas was this year’s most notable Combine snub, after shining his final collegiate season with a 71-1,391-14 stat line for Southern Miss. He had an unlucky landing situation with the Rams, a team that ran the fewest plays per game last year and had the fifth-lowest passing play percentage. Fortunately, the receivers there have yet to establish any consistent production, so he may find a quicker path to playing time than if went somewhere else. 

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

Picks:

1.06 Devontae Booker, RB Denver Broncos (3 years, $15.2M)

2.06 Malcolm Mitchell, WR New England Patriots (3 years, $4.4M)

3.06 Paxton Lynch, QB Denver Broncos (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: While most would think about wide receivers at this point in the rookie draft, I really like what Devontae Booker brings to the table. He’s a versatile every down back playing for a coach who he can thrive under and even though C.J. Anderson re-signed this offseason, he’s had a history of not holding up health-wise. I love Malcolm Mitchell’s big play ability and it didn’t take him long in the preseason to demonstrate some of that. Word is he’s projected to start as the Patriots “X” receiver. In the final round, I took Paxton Lynch as the first QB off the board.

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

Picks:

1.07 Michael Thomas, WR New Orleans Saints (3 years, $13.5M)

2.07 Paul Perkins, RB New York Giants (3 years, $4.4M)

3.07 Jared Goff, QB Los Angeles Rams (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: My strategy typically changes a bit in this league due to the 3 year rookie contracts vs. 4 years in my other leagues. To that end, I always try to get players who are fantasy ready in their rookie years. Michael Thomas fits that bill. He’s gotten glowing reviews in training camp and has earned quarterback Drew Brees’ confidence. He also fits a pretty big need for me at wideout. I was really hoping in the second round that Washington would be available as I think he could have an immediate impact in the Raiders offense as a pass-catcher, but like in Round 1, Tyler grabbed who I would’ve wanted. So I went with Paul Perkins, a versatile back out of UCLA. While all indications in New York point to a crowded backfield and Perkins probably being a year away, I have a little time to wait for someone scouts compared to Jamaal Charles. This strategy worked for me in the past with Devonta Freeman and this late in the draft, Perkins could be a steal.

In the last round, I was really open to anything. I originally was targeting a wide receiver who will have to wait until the auction potentially, but the opportunity to take the first overall pick in Jared Goff proved tantalizing. I’m not expecting much out of him this year, but could have a cheap and productive fantasy option for years 2 and 3 in a league that doesn’t tend to pay a premium quarterbacks. If Goff ends up being a startable fantasy quarterback in year two (i.e. Top 12 option), I can spend bigger at the other positions while paying Goff roughly $1M a season. I love his pocket presence and quick release. Hopefully I’ve picked the next elite Cal quarterback.

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

Picks:

1.08 Derrick Henry, RB Tennessee Titans (3 years, $11.9M)

2.08 Alex Collins, RB Seattle Seahawks (3 years, $4.3M)

3.08 Rashard Higgins, WR Cleveland Browns (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: The rookie draft wasn’t really a major event for me due to my lackluster selection for finishing well last year. I was surprised to see Derrick Henry fall to me, and since I was in full “best player available” mode, he made the most sense. Of the guys on the board, he’d easily be the highest for me in a redraft setting, and I feel like I can win now. I was tempted to go with Paxton Lynch in the second round, but thought he’d fall to me in the third… he didn’t. Still, happy with Alex Collins, who is a job away from being productive in a great system. Ended up with a bit of a biased pick, as Rashard Higgins hails from my favorite FBS college team. I doubt he makes an impact, but I’m banking on the big plays I’ve watched him make for the Rams.

Team: Funky Monks (Graham Barfield, FantasyGuru.com & Rotoworld) @GrahamBarfield

Rookie Draft Strategy: I sat the rookie draft out after an aggressive first year in the league. I traded my picks last year in an effort to win the championship and came close, losing in the finals. I traded my 1st round pick for Arian Foster, my 2nd round pick for Brandon Marshall, and my 3rd round pick for Carson Palmer.

Team: Loss Aversion (Rory Ryan, Baylor University Law Professor) @RoryRyan

Picks:

1.10 Tyler Boyd, WR Cincinnati Bengals (3 years, $11.2M)

2.10 Kelvin Taylor, RB San Francisco 49ers (3 years, $4.2M)

3.10 Tajae Sharpe, WR Tennessee Titans (3 years, $2.8M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: With three-year rookie contracts and rosters that are very shallow, I contemplated bypassing my last two picks. But I decided to risk the cap hit and take two of my guys. I think Kelvin Taylor has an NFL skill set. A pretty good one, actually. The upside with him and Chip in SF is worth the cap risk. I was very sad when Tajae Sharpe got so much good press so early. I’ve been on him for a while, but I wanted the press after my drafts. I knew I wanted both Taylor and Sharpe and drafted Taylor first guessing someone else might take a flier in Taylor but that all would be bored by Sharpe. I ended up getting both of the guys nobody wanted along with Tyler Boyd, who I would take for three years over many of the receivers who go earlier. I see a lot of Allen Robinson in him and there isn’t much in front of him on the Bengals roster.