SOS Targets

Updated: August 7th 2016

Fantasy players frequently must choose between players they have rated closely for the upcoming season. Looking at the schedule of those players might assist us making the choice between them.  Knowing the schedule helps fantasy owners because good defenses tend to give up less fantasy points to opponents than poor defenses do.  Strength of schedule (SOS) is not the overriding trait that determines player value but provides one factor we should consider.  Defensive personnel and coaching changes must also be taken into account.  I give a few examples of similarly ranked players I am targeting and avoiding below, in part due to SOS.

*SOS ranks listed below were taken from Scout Fantasy SOS at the time of writing.

*Running back ranks listed below were taken from Fantasy Pros PPR ADP at the time of writing.

Fade Ryan Tannehill (QB22, SOS: 28th), Target Jay Cutler (QB25, SOS: 6th)

Both Tannehill and Cutler present fine cheaper options for backups/streamers in 1QB leagues or second starters in 2QB leagues. New Miami head coach, Adam Gase, is widely considered a coaching guru for his work with Manning in Denver and Cutler in Chicago (though Manning is Manning and Cutler’s “resurgence” was somewhat overblown).  The fantasy results for Cutler, however, were not particularly good with Gase as the offensive coordinator.  Cutler lost 78 attempts resulting in a reduction in yardage and touchdowns from the previous season.  Cutler ended the season as just the 27th ranked fantasy quarterbacks in PPG.  Tannehill could likewise see a reduced workload this season with Miami emphasizing the run game more.

Miami’s schedule also projects poorly for its quarterback. Tannehill faces one of the more difficult intra-division schedules in the league for quarterbacks with the Jets, Buffalo, and New England all projecting as bad matchups.  The out of division schedule also includes tough games against Cincinnati, Seattle, and Arizona.  The fantasy playoff schedule only makes matters worse for Tannehill with poor matchups from week 14 on.

Chicago and Cutler receive a “cupcake” schedule by comparison playing the NFC East as its intra-conference division and the AFC South for its inter-conference division. The Bears play just three games (two against the Packers and one versus Houston) against defenses with defensive passer ratings inside the top 14.  We should also remember Cutler played last season without all of his receiving weapons for a good portion of the year.  Chicago’s top five expected targets going into the season (Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte, Martellus Bennett, Kevin White, and Eddie Royal) all missed significant time due to injury.  Expect a nice bounce back campaign from Cutler this season.

Fade Carlos Hyde (RB17, SOS: 25th), Target Ryan Mathews (RB24, SOS: 15th)

You can read my bold prediction for Ryan Mathews, but I will concentrate on Hyde here.  The third year running back faces a tough challenge this year.  San Francisco projects as one of the worst offensive teams in the league with questions at quarterback and lack of playmakers at wide receiver.  The offensive line also graded out as one of the worst run-blocking units in the league last year.   Game flow may reduce the expected Chip Kelly induced bump in volume for Hyde with the 49ers predicted to be behind in so many games.  Hyde provides very little in the passing game with just 23 receptions in 21 career games averaging a meager 5.3 YPC.

The schedule does not present any favors to San Francisco either.  Hyde and the running attack face multiple “avoid” matchups including Seattle (2), Arizona (2), Carolina, and the Jets.  The beginning of the year is particularly brutal with the Rams, Carolina, Seattle, Dallas, and the Cardinals in the first five contests.

Hyde is a player to avoid in fantasy at his current price. The situation in San Francisco offers little scoring opportunities and probable game script dictates a projected workload that is less than many expect.  The bad offensive line and tough schedule should keep Hyde’s efficiency low.  Hyde’s lack of prowess in the receiving game and the situation around him present an atrocious weekly floor and a low ceiling that fantasy player should not want a part of.

Fade Tyler Lockett (WR34, SOS: 17th), Target DeSean Jackson (WR38, SOS: 8th)

The Lockett hype exploded this offseason along with his cost. There is a lot to like about Lockett including smooth acceleration and easy separation from defenders.  Target volume works against Lockett however.  He will likely need another thirty targets on the season to move into the consistent WR3 core.  Part of the narrative is that Seattle will abandon their run-first mentality and start airing out the ball more.  Don’t count on it.  Seattle is the only team that has maintained a run percentage greater than 50% over the last two seasons.  The Seahawks are unlikely to suddenly become a pass dominated offense, particularly with the incredible defense they possess and after taking multiple running backs in the draft.  Russell Wilson, who had an outstanding season last year, could see a small jump in attempts to cross the 500 threshold but probably will not see a big boost in attempts

There are not many unaccounted for targets from last year especially if Jimmy Graham comes back from his patellar injury. Seattle re-signed fellow wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse to long term deals this offseason.  The Seahawks also drafted running back C.J. Prosise in the third round who is expected to be a major contributor in the passing game.

Desean Jackson has conversely seen his draft capital sink to the WR4 range after an injury-plagued 2015. He provides one of the better values in fantasy football this season.  Jackson is still the preeminent deep-threat in the NFL with smooth, top-end speed that few corners can match.  There should be plenty of volume for Jackson with Washington expected to rely heavily on the pass next season.  There is very little talent in the backfield with Washington seemingly committed to Matt Jones, one of the worst graded running backs from last season, as the lead back.  Washington’s faces a few tough matchups in 2016 as a division winner, but generally sees an easy schedule versus the pass with divisional matchups against the NFC North and AFC North.

Lockett’s price is not bad, but does not really compare to the exceptional value of DeSean Jackson this year. Jackson has proven to be a borderline WR2/3 throughout his career, even with low target numbers.  A fantasy owner who invests in Lockett bets that he makes the jump to what Jackson already is and pays a premium to make the gamble.  Do not be that owner.  Look for Jackson to take advantage of a favorable schedule and produce somewhere around a 60 reception, 1000 yard, 6 TD stat line with upside for more.


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.

Value and Style

Updated: August 7th 2016

I invited one of the best people I have ever met to a formal dance in high school.   I did this based on potential, and comfort.  If this was a fantasy pick we are talking a low-cost proposition in terms of social capital.  No boom or bust, I was her friend, and she knew we would remain so for a long time.   What she could not have known, nor could I, was how much better a high school dance was when enjoyed among friends, rather than spent in a desperate reach for whatever it is that socially awkward high school boys think they are reaching.   The dance of course is a monetary proposition.  Tux, dinner, limo.   My friends lacked money, but not ingenuity.   We decided to roll in our own unique style to spend money on something besides our wheels.   While many of our classmates took to the phones to order all manner of limos: stretch limos, Hummer limos, etc.  We took to the local grocer to get cardboard boxes and paint.   Hours later we had “pimped my ride” and my parents’ rusted Chevrolet Celebrity station wagon  took on the character, or at least caricature, of a limousine with a duct tape and cardboard body work semi-intact.  Our dates emerged in their formal dresses to their “players” in our ill-fitting, garish tuxedos and rolling Station Wagonosine.  Before the dance started we were hardly the most sought out dates, but when we tossed the keys to that beast to the Valet, we had truly arrived.  Limousine style at station wagon prices.

In the first article in the series we looked at the last tier of the top 100 players being selected in dynasty snake drafts through June.   With this sense of the best 100 players from the larger dynasty community, these articles will continue to offer you specific insight into how the players are valued in the RSO community so you can target great contracts in your offseason housekeeping.   The bottom of the 100 offered value to be found the WR position, but potential breakouts at TE provided the best trade targets.  This group of ten is headlined by a young QB being drafted 8th overall at the position, but the primary lesson to be learned is in a game of king of the Hill.  Just as we came to understand that holding out for late value in tight ends may be the way to go after the premier players come off the board, this tier reinforces and highlights a noteworthy aspect of RSO:  don’t overpay for running backs.

Jeremy Hill is almost universally owned across RSO leagues.   This ownership does not come cheap.  To secure the services of the young Bengal owners dropped contracts averaging 2.8 years and 52.29 million dollars.  He lead the league in rushing touchdowns in both 2014 and 2015 with 11 each year. By all means he is a qualified NFL success. Yet, his is a cautionary tale for GMs falling in love with the breakout of first year backs like David Johnson and Thomas Rawls.  Most owners view the return on their massive investment as dubious, because the Bengals have invested heavily in Gio Bernard in the offseason, and in RSO leagues Gio checked in last year at a purchase price of 8.19 million over an average contract length of 1.7 years.   This comparison allows you to evaluate what you are likely to pay at auction for the other backs in this tier: Duke Johnson, Ajayi, and Abdullah.

The young Duke offers the best comparison, slated to play the Gio role in Hue Jackson’s Cleveland odyssey is far less widely owned than either Bengal.   He is valued only fractionally differently by the broader dynasty community, and RSO GMs have him contracted for a nearly identical span (2.4 years) however, the young Brown Duke bears a price tag south of 5 million dollars, likely reflecting the low rookie draft capital and depressed contracts he commanded coming out of college.   Most owners are not selling at that price.  However, Duke and his truly sorry running mate, Isaiah Crowell are available at auction in a high percentage of RSO leagues.   Here is where you can make an informed investment.  Last year in the same time frame Joseph Randle slotted  at the 81st player taken in June ADP.  Randle’s cost in RSO: an average of 14.3 Million dollars over 1.8 years.    That contract is about 7.9 million per year.   If Duke, Ajayi, and Abdullah have lower price tags than that, the obvious play is to move on them while they still face relative ambiguity in their backfields.   However, the surprising find in this analysis is that Isaiah Crowell may actually be the cardboard-bedazzled RB to own.   He will be virtually free, and after seeing his possible range of comparables from Hill to Gio to Duke to Abullah, compare those names to the non-RBs in this tier.  Wouldn’t you rather spend that precious cap money on something besides the dubious wheels of Cincinatti, Cleveland, and Detroit?

(all Data courtesy of My Fantasy League. Trade calculator values are derived from current average draft position and historical trade market via the Rotoviz Dynasty ADP App):

81 Hill, Jeremy CIN RB 26 81.1
82 Johnson, Duke CLE RB 27 81.6
83 Crabtree, Michael OAK WR 43 82.4
84 Bernard, Giovani CIN RB 28 83.7
85 Ertz, Zach PHI TE 6 84.7
86 Boyd, Tyler CIN WR 44 84.8
87 Ajayi, Jay MIA RB 29 85.6
88 Abdullah, Ameer DET RB 30 86.2
89 Funchess, Devin CAR WR 45 91.1
90 Roethlisberger, Ben PIT QB 8 89.7

Bio: Luke @FantasyDocOC is husband, father, doctoral student, and teacher slowly building a reality dynasty league comprised entirely of daughters. Following in the footsteps of Saint Francis, “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” CUA. Hoya Saxa.

Guide to Starting RSO League

Updated: July 22nd 2016

Thinking of starting a Reality Sports Online league, but aren’t sure of what settings may create the best experience?  You’re in the right spot!  This piece will walk through the settings that I believe to be ideal for creating a new RSO league!

ROSTER REQUIREMENTS

Number of teams: 10
Roster Spots: 15
IR: Unlimited
I typically avoid 10 standard team leagues as the player pool is not deep enough for my liking, but I’m very fond of the format presented here.  These settings provide a balance of increasing the size of the player pool, while still forcing owners to face difficult lineup decisions on a week-to-week basis.  All of the leagues that I run offer unlimited IR slots.  Once you’ve designated a player to the IR in RSO leagues, they cannot be removed from that slot until the following season.  Placing the injured player on the IR saves you 50% of the player’s cap hit and frees up a roster spot.  Losing a player for the entire season is enough of a disadvantage to not also have to burn a roster spot and their full cap hit for the remainder of the season.

STARTING LINEUP

QB
QB
RB
RB
WR
WR
WR
TE
RB/WR/TE
RB/WR/TE
Bench
Bench
Bench
Bench
Bench
I’ve grown to be really fond of the 2QB format.  Quarterback may be the most important position in all of sports, but it’s far from that in standard fantasy football.  The strategy of drafting a QB late continues to gain momentum.  As the NFL has become more of a passing league, many QBs (not just the elite few) have seen an increase in production.  2QB or even Superflex leagues that feature an offensive player position to be filled with any QB/RB/WR/TE create a greater demand for QBs as they are the highest scoring position in fantasy football.  Forcing your league to start 20 quarterbacks makes the elite more valuable and eliminates the possibility of landing top 10-15 QBs at the end of your draft.
I’ve also eliminated the kicker and DEF/ST positions as I find them to be less strategic and more random positions to draft and evaluate on a week to week basis.  For more on my push to retire the DEF/ST positions, please read my column titled #NoMoreDEFST.

SCORING SETTINGS

Passing TD 4
Passing Yards .04 per yard
Interception -1
Rushing/Receiving TD 6
Rushing/Receiving Yards .1 per yard
Reception 0.5
These scoring settings are fairly standard.  While I prefer PPR to standard scoring, I believe that 0.5 points per reception is the best way to play.  It rewards players for their involvement in the passing game, but doesn’t equate to the same value as 10 yards rushing or receiving.  Pass-catching running backs are elevated in this format, but not as drastically as they are in full PPR scoring.

HOW MANY LONG-TERM CONTRACTS SHOULD BE AVAILABLE TO EACH OWNER?

I’m a fan of the standard settings for long-term contracts in the Free Agency Auction – one 4-year contract, two 3-year contracts, three 2-year contracts, and unlimited 1-year contracts.  While more may seem appealing, it’s important to have quality players available in the Free Agency Auction every year.

STARTUP SCHEDULE

Once you’ve created a RSO league, you’ll need to schedule the Rookie Draft.  As a startup league, you have no previous season to use as a basis for the draft order. Randomly assigning the order can create an imbalance in your league since the difference between Ezekiel Elliott and Paul Perkins is drastic.  I recommend making players drafted in the 1st and 2nd round of the NFL Draft ineligible for your inaugural Rookie Draft.  These ineligible players would then be available in your first Free Agency Auction.  Proceeding with the rookie draft in a randomized order/snake format should level the playing field.

OFF-SEASON SCHEDULE

In all keeper and dynasty leagues, communication is very important to keep the league moving forward, to maintain interest, and to get input from all owners.  Sending bi-weekly or monthly emails, even throughout the offseason, has worked for many of my leagues.  During the season, you can post Power Rankings, discuss the Standings, or recent trade activity.  In the offseason, you can develop a plan to replace any non-returning owners, schedule Owners’ Meetings (possibly as a conference call) to discuss the direction of the league, and discuss the rookie draft and trade market as teams get their rosters for the next season.

If this format interests you, please reach out to me on Twitter @DaveSanders_RSO!  I’ll be forming a new league with readers and my Twitter followers in August.  This is a great opportunity to try RSO for the first time!


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. 

Bait and Switch: RBs

Updated: July 22nd 2016

A few notable running backs switched teams this offseason. The problem becomes how do we evaluate these running backs on new teams, with new coaches, new offensive lines, and a bunch of other new considerations?  The folks at Football Outsiders provide one tool that helps separate the offensive line’s contribution to the running game called Adjusted Line Yards (ALY).  I created another metric called Isolated Yards per Carry (ISO) to measure the running back’s contribution to the running game by subtracting the ALY from a running back’s YPC.  ISO and a host of other relevant factors give readers a sense of how these players might perform in their new locations.

*Running back ranks listed below were taken from Fantasy Pros PPR ADP at the time of writing.

Matt Forte, New York Jets, 12th RB

The former Bear takes his talents to New York signing a 3 year, $12 million contract after 8 seasons in Chicago. Forte has been one of the true dual threat players at the running back position over the course of his career averaging 1,075 yards rushing, 515 yards receiving, and 61 receptions per season.  He has used his excellent vision, patience, and cut back ability to exploit defenses over the years.  Despite Forte’s historical success, I will be avoiding Forte in fantasy leagues this year at his current cost as a low end RB1.

There are a number of factors working against Forte this season. His 8 seasons in the NFL and over 2000 carries have taken a toll on his productiveness as a rusher.  Forte earned the lowest ISO (-0.02) of any running back who has accumulated 300 carries over the last two seasons.  He is not going to give the Jets much more than what the offensive line gives him at this stage in his career.  Speaking of offensive lines, Forte goes from Chicago’s 7th ranked unit in adjusted line yards last season to the Jets 26th ranked unit in 2015.  New York’s line is not getting any younger with three projected starters who will be in their 30s next season.

The third part of our puzzle involves the Jets other running backs. New York resigned Bilal Powell to a new 3 year, $11.25 million contract which was virtually identical to Forte’s deal.  Powell produced one of the better under the radar seasons for any running back last year excelling as both a rusher and a receiver.  The former fourth round pick from Louisville collected 47 receptions in just 11 games while also displaying dynamic running ability and quickness, ending with the 8th highest ISO of any back with 50 or more carries.  The Jets also brought in Khiry Robinson from New Orleans who likely sees a substantial portion of the goal line work, an area where Forte has struggled throughout his career.

Overall, there is not much upside with Forte as the 12th RB off the board.  He probably does not approach his career averages in yardage and receptions plus the touchdown potential is rather small.  People seem to be generally discounting the workload his teammates will receive (I really like Powell as the 45th RB off the board).  Add in the fact that Geno Smith is currently the starting QB and this is a situation I will be avoiding.

Chris Ivory, Jacksonville Jaguars, 33rd RB

Sometimes the arguments against a player just turn to the bizarre. Such is the case for Chris Ivory who signed a massive 5 year, $32 million contract with Jacksonville this offseason.  I have heard many analysts suggest Ivory was signed as a backup to T.J. Yeldon or as a goal line back.  This argument is ludicrous.  Teams simply do not give this kind of money to a running back whom they project to be a marginal role player.  Ivory will certainly take many of Jacksonville’s goal line carries, an area the Jaguars and Yeldon were atrocious in, but he also provides so much more.  Another common argument is that the Jaguars had a bunch of excess cash they needed to spend and just decided to use it on Ivory.  Jacksonville was a team that won only 5 games last season and had needs across the board on defense and holes on the offensive line.  The team chose to put a large portion of the available cash into Ivory.  The last major detrimental point about Ivory is that he is “injury prone”.  This thought seems to have lingered from his first three seasons in the NFL when he missed significant time.  Ivory missed exactly two games the last three seasons combined and has little wear with less than 900 career carries.

So what does the former Jet bring to Jacksonville?  The answer is a productive, power back the Jags are sorely in need of.  He routinely breaks tackles, pushes the pile, and powers through defenses complementing Yeldon’s less violent, gliding style of running.  Ivory averaged a strong 4.6 yards per carry over his career and finished last season with an ISO of 0.75, good for 11th among backs with over 100 carries.  There is little risk with Ivory at his low end RB3 price (which is somehow lower than Yeldon’s).  You are paying for the bottom of probable outcomes as a 180-200 carry committee back with upside for much more as the primary back. Take this bargain where you can.

Lamar Miller, Houston Texans, 7th RB

The best move for fantasy value this offseason might be Lamar Miller moving to Houston. One of the few game breakers at the running back position, Miller is among the handful of lead backs in the NFL who can outrun safeties and corners once he gets to the third level.  This makes Miller a threat to score from any part of the field as evidenced by 85 and 97 yard scoring runs over the last two seasons.  His running style involves little dancing in the backfield, instead accelerating to top speed rapidly and gaining positive yards.  All of this speed comes in a prototypical 5’-10” 225lb frame that has been very durable, not missing a single game over the last three seasons.

The former Hurricane has also quietly been one of the most productive backs in the NFL over the last couple of seasons. Averaging 4.8 YPC despite playing for one of the worst rushing offensive lines in the NFL, Miller generated the largest ISO (1.04) of any running back playing the last two seasons and accumulating 200 carries over that span.  The 25 year old has also steadily improved in the passing game increasing his receptions and YPA over the last two seasons.  These skills will be put to good use in the Bill O’Brien led Houston offense which has been top 5 in rushing attempts (averaging 511) over the last two seasons and also uses running backs extensively in the passing games.  Miller is looking at a big workload increase with even a very conservative 50% volume share.

There are no sure things at the running back position when players switch teams, but Lamar Miller is one of the best bets to succeed for the near future.   He has tremendous physical skills, great proven performance, limited wear and tear, plus moves to a run-heavy offense that also throws the ball a lot to the running backs.  He should be a safe RB1 with legitimate top-5 upside.

Demarco Murray, Tennessee Titans, 19th RB

Murray’s moves to Tennessee from what was a disaster in Philadelphia.  New coach Mike Mularkey promises an “exotic smashmouth” style of football this year and the Titans bolstered that claim by adding Murray in free agency, first round draft pick offensive lineman Jack Conklin, and 246lb Heisman winning running back Derrick Henry in the second round.  Contradicting the heavy running claim is that Tennessee ran the ball only 172 times over the last 8 games (21.5 attempts per game) of 2015 when Mularkey was the interim head coach. The Titans were behind in too many games to effectively run a rushing dominated offense.  That situation is unlikely to change in 2015 as the defense is not good enough to support a run based offense.

Murray moved from one of the best offensive lines in Dallas to one of the worst in Philadelphia resulting in his YPC plummeting. At the same time, his production remained very similar.  While Murray’s YPC dropped from 4.6 with Dallas to 3.5 with the Eagles, his ISO remained nearly identical (0.30 vs 0.33).  Expect his yards per carry to increase closer to four next season in what will be a better offensive line than Philly.

Murray is priced fairly right now. He is in that large group of backs with questions about volume, workload split, and/or performance.  Tennessee’s schedule gives Murray the chance to establish himself as the lead back.  They will not face a single rushing defense ranked inside the top 10 against the run on a per carry basis from 2015.  Volume may be the problem in Tennessee.


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.

2016 Writers’ Bold Predictions

Updated: July 22nd 2016

Training camp is just days away! Only a short few weeks till the Hall of Fame Game which means that it’s time to start making some projections. The writers here at RSO have passed around five (5) topics about what we are keeping an eye out for in 2016. The list includes players to stash, players to be wary of as well as one bold prediction for fantasy this season.  Let it begin!

Interesting team/position group to watch for in fantasy

Matt Goodwin: I like the Cleveland Browns receivers to be better than advertised. Let’s not underestimate head coach Hue Jackson. The Browns will likely be trailing in most games and the team invested high draft capital in Corey Coleman, who I peg to eclipse 1,000 yards and 80 catches and 6 touchdowns this season. Andrew Hawkins is healthy and while the team will throw to running back weapon Duke Johnson and tight end Gary Barnidge plenty (don’t expect a steep drop-off in targets for Barnidge), this offense will be considerably better than people think. If Josh Gordon manages to come back too (the Browns brass seem like they’ve moved on and would likely trade their maligned star wideout), this offense could be somewhat dare I say, dynamic.

Coaching Changes

A change in Philly could be good for two cities

Luke O’Connell: The most fascinating fantasy position group has to be the San Francisco 49ers and their ragtag band of WRs: Torrey Smith, Deandre Smelter, Bruce Ellington.  Owners salivate over the projected negative game scripts for the 49ers and the sheer volume that Kelly might generate. Monopolizing these players at the beginning of the year and dropping the losers of the fantasy gold rush seems a viable strategy for owners.

Bernard Faller: Perhaps no team completely remade their offense as much as Houston did in the offseason.  The Texans instantly transformed from one of the slowest offensive skill position groups to one of the fastest.  Hopkins and Miller have top-5 potential plus Oz could be a sneaky play in 2QB and Superflex leagues with all the new weapons around him.

Dave Sanders: 49ers’ passing game under Chip Kelly is intriguing. As one of the slowest paced teams in 2015, they’ll see a drastic increase in snaps per game. For the 2016 season, I’m buying Torrey Smith as a low-end WR3 and whichever QB lands the job as a QB2.

Nick Andrews: Maybe it’s because I have actually conversed with Doug Pederson in the past (who is hilarious by the way) but I want to see what he can do running the show in Philadelphia. Being very different from former Eagles coach Chip Kelly I want to see what he can get out of his skilled positions, specifically Ryan Matthews, Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz. We know what he could do with the Chiefs last year making Maclin a seriously underrated WR1 each week and turning any RB into a fantasy commodity. Assuming either Wentz or Bradford can be an average, stable QB (à la Alex Smith) we could see a better-motivated offense coming out of PA.

Rebound/Comeback Player of the Year

Goodwin: Obviously Jordy Nelson brings the vertical threat back to the Packers and should once again thrive in Green Bay. Seems too obvious. Going out of the limb for me would be Victor Cruz. I rightfully get the Sterling Shepard hype, but with Cruz slated to be the Giants #3 receiver, I think his price is so low that he represents significant value and upside, especially if injuries occur. Cruz has always been a solid route runner and if the calf if really healthy, can easily exploit weaker defensive backs in the slot.

Dez and Romo

Big things cooking in Big D this year?

Luke: The last ride of Tony Romo is one in which fantasy owners should be interested.  He has a stacked line, an explosive rookie RB as a pressure valve, and the enigmatic Dez Bryant catching passes.  He could, perhaps even should, be the comeback star.

Bernard: You could put any Packer here but I will go with Eddie Lacy.  The consensus “safest” RB last season struggled with poor offensive line play, injuries, and poor play due to weight issues.  Lacy ended 2015 as the RB47 in PPR PPG.  Look for a contract year Lacy to be in prime condition and improve greatly, along with the rest of the Green Bay offense, with the return of Jordy Nelson.

Dave: I’m all in on Jordy Nelson this year.  He’s my WR7 this year in PPR leagues after having a full calendar year to recover from his torn ACL.

Nick: There will be a lot more “X” being thrown up in the end zone in 2016. Dez Bryant said he is good to go this season after missing half of last season with a foot injury and missing his QB for the other half. Before last season Bryant had three straight seasons with 1,200+ yards receiving and 12+ touchdowns. The man plays the game with a competitive fire that won’t let him have back-to-back down seasons. Throw that “X” up!

Who do you think the fantasy community’s Overvalued POTY will be?

Goodwin: Thomas Rawls and it isn’t close. The Seahawks secret sauce in the past has been pounding Beast Mode. However, with a different offensive line and receiving weapons, the Seahawks seem better equipped to turn the keys over to Russell Wilson like they did down the stretch in 2015. I feel Rawls resembles a 2014 C.J. Anderson and while I agree that if I’m paying lots of money for running backs, I want them young; however, if I’m buying young I want the pedigree too (high draft capital) or a larger sample size. Rawls has neither of these while the Seahawks invested in C.J. Prosise in the draft and Rawls is coming back from a significant injury. To invest long-term in him with $20+ million a year when the Seahawks can so easily walk away from him seems to be incredibly irresponsible.

Luke: Le’veon Bell rapped “I’m at the top and if not I’m the closest/Ima need 15 a year and they know this,” in his track “Focus.”  Viewed by many as the top RB in fantasy, the risk is starting to outweigh the reward.  Rumors of missing drug tests, a reconstructed knee, and contract negotiations via albums dropped on twitter…Le’Veon Bell will not toll for this GM.

Bernard: This is Donte Moncrief for me.  I spoke to many people who expect Moncrief to take over as the #1 WR in Indianapolis and possibly produce low-end WR1 numbers.  Many people will be disappointed this year.  Moncrief was quietly one of the most inefficient WRs in the NFL last season with or without Luck.  T.Y. Hilton is still the #1 target in Indy and will be for some time.

Dave: Count me out on Jordan Matthews.  According to Fantasy Football Calculator, he’s currently going 27th among WRs in PPR, but places 47th in my PPR WR rankings for this season.  After OTAs, Matthews is expected to remain a slot WR in Doug Pederson’s offense that will operate at a much slower pace in 2016.

Nick: Running back is one of the trickiest positions to understand as a fantasy player. New names seem to come out of the woodwork each week only to disappear before you can even put in a waiver claim.

Unproven RBs

Two sophomore RBs that may be too good to be true

This year’s hot name is David Johnson who took the NFL by storm with a 3 TD, 200 total yards performance against Philadelphia in the fantasy playoffs. Last I checked though Chris Johnson is coming back for another season and before CJ2K’s injury in week 12 David had seen a total of 27 carries. I’ve been burned one too many times from early round redraft RBs (Zac Stacy, C.J. Anderson) to invest heavily in another.

 

Who do you think could be the Underrated POTY?

Goodwin: Tyrod Taylor. While there seem to be a multitude of options at quarterback this season, Taylor’s versatility with his legs and another year of experience in a contract year will only benefit him. The Bills have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, a now healthy Robert Woods and assuming Sammy Watkins’ health; I expect huge things from this tandem. I wouldn’t be surprised if Taylor finishes as a Top 5 fantasy quarterback this season.

Underrated QBs

A pair of waiver wire QBs that could be a cap saver in 2016

Luke: Alexander the Great, while rolling and conquering much of known world, had time to learn philosophy from Aristotle and drop lines like this one: “As one lion overcomes many people and as one wolf scatters many sheep, so likewise will I, with one word, destroy the peoples who have come against me.” The lion that may prove to overcome many this year is Matthew Stafford.   In traditional redraft leagues His ADP puts him down in 14th round. However, with a ceiling that projects favorably to Big Ben and Drew Brees (5/6th round picks) you can save crucial salary cap money and destroy the league that comes against you.   If analysis based purely on cost isn’t your cup of tea, know that Jim Bob lets Stafford sling it inside the 10 yard line.  Stafford led all passers in the NFL with 21 touchdowns last year and was by far the most efficient, completing 75% of his passes inside the 10 yard line despite being one of the league leaders in attempts.

Bernard: Dwayne Allen is currently coming off the board as a mid-range TE2.  He could finish much higher.  Coby Fleener and Andre Johnson left Indianapolis with 162 targets.  Expect Allen to pick up a big chunk of those targets.  Allen is also a nice target near the goal line on a team without much in the way of red zone threats.  Do not be surprised if Allen hits double digit TDs on a high powered Colts offense.

Dave: I’m higher on Kevin White for this season and in dynasty than much of the fantasy community.  He’s currently going 37th among WRs in PPR leagues this season (30th in my rankings) and 21st among WRs in July dynasty startups according to DLF July ADP. If Jeffery misses time, White could quickly jump into the WR2 conversation.

Nick: If Giovani Bernard isn’t the ideal buy low target in fantasy this season I don’t know who is. The Bengals lost over 150 targets in Marvin Jones and Mohammed Sanu and Tyler Eifert looks like he could miss games to start the season with yet another injury. With only A.J. Green to help Dalton consistently in the passing game I can easily see a scenario where Gio becomes the number two. A schedule that includes the Jets, Dolphins, Patriots, Bills and Broncos along with two divisional games against the Steelers and a better Ravens squad will make for close scoring games.

Your 2016 Fantasy Bold Prediction

Goodwin: I felt like I just gave one with Taylor, but I’ll go something different. Here goes-Charles Sims outscores Doug Martin in fantasy points this season. Sims is already slated for more carries than his 107 totes in 2015 (higher than you’d think given Martin’s season) and is the Bucs receiving back. While Martin got the big money deal, Sims to me is too talented to keep off the field, especially if the game script is in his favor.

Luke: Perhaps it’s just too much “All or Nothing” on Amazon, but my bold prediction is that David Johnson will be the highest scoring RB in all formats this upcoming year.  His starting workload from last season projected over an entire year is a Cardinal virtue for BA’s team.

Ryan Matthews is the new Jamaal Charles

Ryan Matthews is Doug Pederson’s new Jamaal Charles

Bernard: Ryan Mathews finishes as an RB1.  Mathews has been a very productive back throughout his career, averaging 4.5 YPC, despite playing with some bad offensive lines.  Injuries have also been Mathews undoing far too frequently.  The former Charger is by far the most talented lead back on the roster mixing prototypical size, speed, and power.  He is the clear #1 back on an offense that will be run heavy with new head coach Doug Pederson.  Mathews stays mostly healthy on his way to a big year.

Dave: Adrian Peterson will not finish 2016 as a top 10 RB in PPR scoring.  Peterson’s never been a huge part of the passing game and is now finding himself on the sidelines often in 3rd and long situations according to Pro Football Focus.   Entering his age 31 season, I’d rather be out one year too early than one year too late.

Nick: The new NFL features more passing and requires versatile running backs that can both run between the tackles and catch passes down the field. Because of this I boldly predict that Giovani Bernard will lead all running backs in receptions while simultaneously having the most scrimmage yards of any running back in 2016. Management and the coaches clearly saw Bernard being a big part of their offense by extending his contract through 2019. They could have just as easily let him play out the season and see what’s available in free agency as well as the 2017 draft. With the inconsistencies of Jeremy Hill on the ground and the lack of receiving options in the air, Gio should be used in the same role as fellow AFC North running back Le’veon Bell.

2016 Writers' Bold Predictions

Updated: July 22nd 2016

Training camp is just days away! Only a short few weeks till the Hall of Fame Game which means that it’s time to start making some projections. The writers here at RSO have passed around five (5) topics about what we are keeping an eye out for in 2016. The list includes players to stash, players to be wary of as well as one bold prediction for fantasy this season.  Let it begin!

Interesting team/position group to watch for in fantasy

Matt Goodwin: I like the Cleveland Browns receivers to be better than advertised. Let’s not underestimate head coach Hue Jackson. The Browns will likely be trailing in most games and the team invested high draft capital in Corey Coleman, who I peg to eclipse 1,000 yards and 80 catches and 6 touchdowns this season. Andrew Hawkins is healthy and while the team will throw to running back weapon Duke Johnson and tight end Gary Barnidge plenty (don’t expect a steep drop-off in targets for Barnidge), this offense will be considerably better than people think. If Josh Gordon manages to come back too (the Browns brass seem like they’ve moved on and would likely trade their maligned star wideout), this offense could be somewhat dare I say, dynamic.

Coaching Changes

A change in Philly could be good for two cities

Luke O’Connell: The most fascinating fantasy position group has to be the San Francisco 49ers and their ragtag band of WRs: Torrey Smith, Deandre Smelter, Bruce Ellington.  Owners salivate over the projected negative game scripts for the 49ers and the sheer volume that Kelly might generate. Monopolizing these players at the beginning of the year and dropping the losers of the fantasy gold rush seems a viable strategy for owners.

Bernard Faller: Perhaps no team completely remade their offense as much as Houston did in the offseason.  The Texans instantly transformed from one of the slowest offensive skill position groups to one of the fastest.  Hopkins and Miller have top-5 potential plus Oz could be a sneaky play in 2QB and Superflex leagues with all the new weapons around him.

Dave Sanders: 49ers’ passing game under Chip Kelly is intriguing. As one of the slowest paced teams in 2015, they’ll see a drastic increase in snaps per game. For the 2016 season, I’m buying Torrey Smith as a low-end WR3 and whichever QB lands the job as a QB2.

Nick Andrews: Maybe it’s because I have actually conversed with Doug Pederson in the past (who is hilarious by the way) but I want to see what he can do running the show in Philadelphia. Being very different from former Eagles coach Chip Kelly I want to see what he can get out of his skilled positions, specifically Ryan Matthews, Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz. We know what he could do with the Chiefs last year making Maclin a seriously underrated WR1 each week and turning any RB into a fantasy commodity. Assuming either Wentz or Bradford can be an average, stable QB (à la Alex Smith) we could see a better-motivated offense coming out of PA.

Rebound/Comeback Player of the Year

Goodwin: Obviously Jordy Nelson brings the vertical threat back to the Packers and should once again thrive in Green Bay. Seems too obvious. Going out of the limb for me would be Victor Cruz. I rightfully get the Sterling Shepard hype, but with Cruz slated to be the Giants #3 receiver, I think his price is so low that he represents significant value and upside, especially if injuries occur. Cruz has always been a solid route runner and if the calf if really healthy, can easily exploit weaker defensive backs in the slot.

Dez and Romo

Big things cooking in Big D this year?

Luke: The last ride of Tony Romo is one in which fantasy owners should be interested.  He has a stacked line, an explosive rookie RB as a pressure valve, and the enigmatic Dez Bryant catching passes.  He could, perhaps even should, be the comeback star.

Bernard: You could put any Packer here but I will go with Eddie Lacy.  The consensus “safest” RB last season struggled with poor offensive line play, injuries, and poor play due to weight issues.  Lacy ended 2015 as the RB47 in PPR PPG.  Look for a contract year Lacy to be in prime condition and improve greatly, along with the rest of the Green Bay offense, with the return of Jordy Nelson.

Dave: I’m all in on Jordy Nelson this year.  He’s my WR7 this year in PPR leagues after having a full calendar year to recover from his torn ACL.

Nick: There will be a lot more “X” being thrown up in the end zone in 2016. Dez Bryant said he is good to go this season after missing half of last season with a foot injury and missing his QB for the other half. Before last season Bryant had three straight seasons with 1,200+ yards receiving and 12+ touchdowns. The man plays the game with a competitive fire that won’t let him have back-to-back down seasons. Throw that “X” up!

Who do you think the fantasy community’s Overvalued POTY will be?

Goodwin: Thomas Rawls and it isn’t close. The Seahawks secret sauce in the past has been pounding Beast Mode. However, with a different offensive line and receiving weapons, the Seahawks seem better equipped to turn the keys over to Russell Wilson like they did down the stretch in 2015. I feel Rawls resembles a 2014 C.J. Anderson and while I agree that if I’m paying lots of money for running backs, I want them young; however, if I’m buying young I want the pedigree too (high draft capital) or a larger sample size. Rawls has neither of these while the Seahawks invested in C.J. Prosise in the draft and Rawls is coming back from a significant injury. To invest long-term in him with $20+ million a year when the Seahawks can so easily walk away from him seems to be incredibly irresponsible.

Luke: Le’veon Bell rapped “I’m at the top and if not I’m the closest/Ima need 15 a year and they know this,” in his track “Focus.”  Viewed by many as the top RB in fantasy, the risk is starting to outweigh the reward.  Rumors of missing drug tests, a reconstructed knee, and contract negotiations via albums dropped on twitter…Le’Veon Bell will not toll for this GM.

Bernard: This is Donte Moncrief for me.  I spoke to many people who expect Moncrief to take over as the #1 WR in Indianapolis and possibly produce low-end WR1 numbers.  Many people will be disappointed this year.  Moncrief was quietly one of the most inefficient WRs in the NFL last season with or without Luck.  T.Y. Hilton is still the #1 target in Indy and will be for some time.

Dave: Count me out on Jordan Matthews.  According to Fantasy Football Calculator, he’s currently going 27th among WRs in PPR, but places 47th in my PPR WR rankings for this season.  After OTAs, Matthews is expected to remain a slot WR in Doug Pederson’s offense that will operate at a much slower pace in 2016.

Nick: Running back is one of the trickiest positions to understand as a fantasy player. New names seem to come out of the woodwork each week only to disappear before you can even put in a waiver claim.

Unproven RBs

Two sophomore RBs that may be too good to be true

This year’s hot name is David Johnson who took the NFL by storm with a 3 TD, 200 total yards performance against Philadelphia in the fantasy playoffs. Last I checked though Chris Johnson is coming back for another season and before CJ2K’s injury in week 12 David had seen a total of 27 carries. I’ve been burned one too many times from early round redraft RBs (Zac Stacy, C.J. Anderson) to invest heavily in another.

 

Who do you think could be the Underrated POTY?

Goodwin: Tyrod Taylor. While there seem to be a multitude of options at quarterback this season, Taylor’s versatility with his legs and another year of experience in a contract year will only benefit him. The Bills have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, a now healthy Robert Woods and assuming Sammy Watkins’ health; I expect huge things from this tandem. I wouldn’t be surprised if Taylor finishes as a Top 5 fantasy quarterback this season.

Underrated QBs

A pair of waiver wire QBs that could be a cap saver in 2016

Luke: Alexander the Great, while rolling and conquering much of known world, had time to learn philosophy from Aristotle and drop lines like this one: “As one lion overcomes many people and as one wolf scatters many sheep, so likewise will I, with one word, destroy the peoples who have come against me.” The lion that may prove to overcome many this year is Matthew Stafford.   In traditional redraft leagues His ADP puts him down in 14th round. However, with a ceiling that projects favorably to Big Ben and Drew Brees (5/6th round picks) you can save crucial salary cap money and destroy the league that comes against you.   If analysis based purely on cost isn’t your cup of tea, know that Jim Bob lets Stafford sling it inside the 10 yard line.  Stafford led all passers in the NFL with 21 touchdowns last year and was by far the most efficient, completing 75% of his passes inside the 10 yard line despite being one of the league leaders in attempts.

Bernard: Dwayne Allen is currently coming off the board as a mid-range TE2.  He could finish much higher.  Coby Fleener and Andre Johnson left Indianapolis with 162 targets.  Expect Allen to pick up a big chunk of those targets.  Allen is also a nice target near the goal line on a team without much in the way of red zone threats.  Do not be surprised if Allen hits double digit TDs on a high powered Colts offense.

Dave: I’m higher on Kevin White for this season and in dynasty than much of the fantasy community.  He’s currently going 37th among WRs in PPR leagues this season (30th in my rankings) and 21st among WRs in July dynasty startups according to DLF July ADP. If Jeffery misses time, White could quickly jump into the WR2 conversation.

Nick: If Giovani Bernard isn’t the ideal buy low target in fantasy this season I don’t know who is. The Bengals lost over 150 targets in Marvin Jones and Mohammed Sanu and Tyler Eifert looks like he could miss games to start the season with yet another injury. With only A.J. Green to help Dalton consistently in the passing game I can easily see a scenario where Gio becomes the number two. A schedule that includes the Jets, Dolphins, Patriots, Bills and Broncos along with two divisional games against the Steelers and a better Ravens squad will make for close scoring games.

Your 2016 Fantasy Bold Prediction

Goodwin: I felt like I just gave one with Taylor, but I’ll go something different. Here goes-Charles Sims outscores Doug Martin in fantasy points this season. Sims is already slated for more carries than his 107 totes in 2015 (higher than you’d think given Martin’s season) and is the Bucs receiving back. While Martin got the big money deal, Sims to me is too talented to keep off the field, especially if the game script is in his favor.

Luke: Perhaps it’s just too much “All or Nothing” on Amazon, but my bold prediction is that David Johnson will be the highest scoring RB in all formats this upcoming year.  His starting workload from last season projected over an entire year is a Cardinal virtue for BA’s team.

Ryan Matthews is the new Jamaal Charles

Ryan Matthews is Doug Pederson’s new Jamaal Charles

Bernard: Ryan Mathews finishes as an RB1.  Mathews has been a very productive back throughout his career, averaging 4.5 YPC, despite playing with some bad offensive lines.  Injuries have also been Mathews undoing far too frequently.  The former Charger is by far the most talented lead back on the roster mixing prototypical size, speed, and power.  He is the clear #1 back on an offense that will be run heavy with new head coach Doug Pederson.  Mathews stays mostly healthy on his way to a big year.

Dave: Adrian Peterson will not finish 2016 as a top 10 RB in PPR scoring.  Peterson’s never been a huge part of the passing game and is now finding himself on the sidelines often in 3rd and long situations according to Pro Football Focus.   Entering his age 31 season, I’d rather be out one year too early than one year too late.

Nick: The new NFL features more passing and requires versatile running backs that can both run between the tackles and catch passes down the field. Because of this I boldly predict that Giovani Bernard will lead all running backs in receptions while simultaneously having the most scrimmage yards of any running back in 2016. Management and the coaches clearly saw Bernard being a big part of their offense by extending his contract through 2019. They could have just as easily let him play out the season and see what’s available in free agency as well as the 2017 draft. With the inconsistencies of Jeremy Hill on the ground and the lack of receiving options in the air, Gio should be used in the same role as fellow AFC North running back Le’veon Bell.