RSO Rookie Picks Pt. 2

Updated: July 23rd 2017

The RSO salary cap and contract structure provides a unique setting when compared to other fantasy platforms.   A superior player with more expensive contract will be worth less in many instances than a lesser producing player with a cheaper contract for RSO leagues.  RSO rookie deals give owners access to cost-controlled, long-term contracts.  The question is whether rookies produce enough of the time to be worth the costs involved.  This article continues our examination of RSO rookie draft picks from Part 1 looking at the basics of evaluating picks for RSO leagues.

Part 2 expands upon this by comparing the expected production value of rookie picks with the associated RSO rookie contract costs. We can then ascertain where the best bargains can be found and relate draft pick costs to veteran spending.  While there is no superbly accurate means of determining how a rookie will turn out given the many variables outside the control of the player and the host of intangible player traits which determine success, but the model below should give the reader an idea of how to value rookie picks.

The Technical Aspects

This section details the technical aspects of my value formulation. As a quick reminder, the values obtained come from shallow, non-PPR leagues.  The reader may refer to part 1 for more information about the data.  I first converted the player values in part 1 to dollar values based on the salary cap and league settings specified above.

My next step involved weighting player values by the year in which production occurred using a 20% yearly discount rate unless noted otherwise. People generally prefer production in the present when compared to production in the future.  An example may help to illustrate the point.  Given one rookie who produces only in year 1 of a rookie contract and another rookie who produces equally but only in year 4 of the rookie deal, most RSO GMs prefer the rookie who produces in year 1.  There is another more tangible reason to discount the production in future years.  You might not be in your RSO league in future seasons.  Maybe the league breaks up.  Maybe your life circumstances change so that you are no longer able to compete in the league.  As shown in part 1, draft picks tend to produce more after the rookie season.  The RSO GM is generally receiving less production in the rookie season compared to later years but paying the same price as a percentage of the salary cap.  I finally summed the time-weighted values to form an associated present day value for each player.

Lastly, I estimated player values for each draft position using a linear-log regression model. The estimation utilized players selected from 2007 to 2013 rookie drafts.  Players selected from 2014 to 2016, included in part 1, were excluded in this analysis as they have not completed their rookie contracts.

Contract Value vs Cost

Reality Sports Online posts rookie contract costs for drafts up to five rounds. Similarly to player values, I converted contract costs to present day dollars in order to compare rookie draft costs to values.  There are a few key items worth mentioning after examining the costs.  First, there will be a sharp drop in rookie costs from the last pick of the first round to the first pick of the second round.  Second, contract costs remain relatively “flat” after the first round.  There exists little difference in costs from 2.1 to 2.10 for example.  Third, contract costs grow yearly at a rate which should adequately approximate the yearly salary cap growth in the NFL.  This means rookie picks should take up approximately the same percentage of cap space for each year of the contract.

The data also presents interesting notions on the relative value of draft picks. The 1.1, for example, is approximately equal in production value to 1) picks 4 and 5 or 2) picks 7 to 9 or 3) picks 9 through 12.  The massive premium attached to top picks seems quite reasonable when looking at the expected production.  If we want a better a look at how good a rookie contract is, however, we need to take into account the associated costs with each rookie deal.  The next section details this further.

Net Contract Value

The net contract value is simply the contract costs subtracted from the contract value. A rookie contract with a net value of zero is expected to produce at the market value rate.  As seen from the chart above, rookie deals as a whole tend to be good contracts to owners with 75% of the picks having positive net values and the remaining picks producing minimal losses.  In particular, rookie picks near the top of the first and second rounds substantially out-produce their contracts.  This is primarily a result of large production from the top picks and the big drop in rookie costs starting with second round picks.

Net Contract Values with Selected Discount Rates

Of course not everyone values future production of players in the same way. It becomes readily apparent from the table above that rookie picks rapidly lose value for those people who sharply discount future production and are focused more on the present.  Be sure to understand your personal situation and timeframe before investing heavily in draft picks.

Other Considerations

The analysis above focused on the production value of rookie picks. Another way to look at the problem is through the lens of what I will call “perceived” value or, put another way, how the rest of your league values draft picks.  It is well documented that many fantasy leagues value draft picks above their production value, particularly around the time of rookie drafts.   RSO owners, particularly those out of the playoff race, might consider trading for draft picks during the season even if the player values traded away is larger than the received draft pick value.  You may be able to translate the short-term loss into a long-term profit near the next rookie draft.

The above values for rookie picks are a solid starting point but we also need to remember that not every draft class is created equal. For example, I consider the 2017 rookie class generally superior to the 2016 class with more high-end talent and quality depth throughout.  Be sure to adjust your valuations accordingly.

Loading up a roster with draft picks can be an effective salary cap management technique. A roster with many low cost rookie picks, particularly after the first round, allows a lot of cap space to spend on high-end starters in the free agent auction.  Misses on rookies (of which there will be plenty) will not have too big of an impact thanks to the low costs involved and gives the RSO GM substantial cap flexibility in the future.

Conclusions

While every RSO GM is different, there are a couple of key points to keep in mind when evaluating rookie picks.

  1. Rookie pick value is maximized near the top of the first and second rounds. Try to trade up, down, or out if you have picks in the bottom portion of the round. Picks at the end of the second round and later are essentially “throw away” picks which have net values near or below market value.  You are better off using your cap space in the free agent market.
  2. Know yourself and the league when evaluating draft picks. Rookie pick values increase substantially in stable long-lasting leagues for owners who hold a longer-term outlook. The RSO team with a shorter window should seriously consider trading away rookie picks.

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.

 

League Configuration and Settings

Updated: July 23rd 2017

Hopefully all of you are enjoying the NFL offseason. Now that you’ve read my article on proposed league scoring settings, let’s get into Part 2 of the Reality Sports Online strategy series on League Configuration and Settings. This article will not address contract settings, as I’ll save that for the last article in the series.

Whether you’re a new owner or a commissioner trying to make your league better, there are some subtle and not so subtle changes you can make to improve your league. So take advantage of all the customization that Reality Sports Online offers.

Here are my five commandments of Reality Sports Online league config and settings:

1) Flex Your Muscles

Regardless of whether you play in a Superflex league (with option to start two quarterbacks), a more traditional league, a PPR one or one with individual defensive players, you want the starting lineup configuration to be as flexible as possible. Keep the strategy flowing by having multiple flex roster spots in your starting lineup. I’d advocate for having at least two flex positions in a starting lineup and even a third if you have ten starters (I’m assuming a league where you start a team DST and not individual players).

Basically, the thought is that by offering multiple flex roster spots in your starting lineup, you can focus your auction and rookie draft strategy on the best available player as opposed to boxing yourself into certain positions. As I mentioned before in the scoring settings article, since the NFL is a passing league, you’ll want players to fill these flex spots that are basically like Swiss Army Knives, who do it all.

My main league has 10 starters-three flex spots (RB/WR/TE) paired with a QB, RB, two WRs, a TE, a K, and a DST. My Superflex league starts 8 players a QB, two RBs, two WRs, a TE, a flex, and a superflex (which is typically a quarterback based on league scoring settings; however there are times where a flex player with a good matchup can outperform the quarterback).

2) Have a Deep Bench

You don’t join a league like this to not have players on your team for a decent period of time. So build a bench that capitalizes on that premise and for roster flexibility. I’d advocate that your bench is somewhat proportional to the number of contracts you can add each season between the rookie draft and free agency. To that end, I recommend that total rosters in non-IDP leagues are between 20 and 24 players in a two-round rookie draft league. Of course if you have 5 rounds of rookie drafts, most leagues would have deeper benches.

You want to have a league that does have something to offer on the waiver wire so as not ever quarterback is on a team at the start of the season, so having the right size bench would account for that. Additionally, you want to have a deep enough roster size wise that you can actively participate in the Free Agency Auction annually whether it be for a handful of players or many.

3) Don’t Base All Playoff Spots on Win/Loss Record

On a platform like this, you want your scouting and preparation to be rewarded. Sometimes that doesn’t always happen in terms of wins and losses on the fake gridiron as weekly variation and luck play into fantasy outcomes.  There is also schedule randomness. Therefore, this is the recommendation I feel most strongly about: have a few wild card spots based on some clear indicator of a really good fantasy team. I most prefer total points scored for the regular season as that really eliminates the head-to-head luck factor. RSO has power rankings which are a hybrid of what your record would be against all opponents in a given week for the season, as well as total points.

Specifically, what I’m recommending is that in a 12 team league that your top four seeds get in on record and the two wild cards get in on total points scored. This keeps virtually every team in the playoff hunt and incentivized strategically through the end of the regular season. It also makes the trade deadline super interesting on whether you as a GM are a buyer or a seller.

It gets trickier for 10 team leagues, because I’m of the opinion that 50% of teams or less should make the playoffs and the odd number makes it hard to do that bracket-wise.

4) No Divisions

In lockstep with #3, I’m a huge proponent against having divisions in fantasy football. You want the schedule to be as random as possible and for everyone to play each other at least once if the league size permits. While you may have a best friend who is your fantasy football “rival”, having divisions and playoff spots for a division winner potentially allows mediocrity to be rewarded via automatic playoff berths for division winners. I’d rather have the playoff teams be the best in the league and not just the luckiest.

5) Say Yes to Injured Reserve

In a platform like RSO, putting a player on IR for the season is a big decision choosing cap space over player availability in most cases due to injury, suspension, or whatever your league rules stipulate. I advocate for having two Injured Reserve spots to manage for all types of scenarios with players, including deferring decisions on whether or not that player is in your future plans.

Remember, unless you have manual changes through your league commissioner on IR-Designated for Return most players that go on IR in RSO are irreversible decisions for the year.


Matt Goodwin is entering his fourth season as a writer for Reality Sports Online and is in year five of his main league. He also contributes for numberFire. He is an avid sports fan from Cleveland, Ohio who would count a Cleveland Indians World Series victory a close second behind getting married to his wife Renee and the births of his children, Jory (7 year old son) and Lainie (2 year old daughter). Matt loves mid 90’s hip-hop, playing pick-up hoops, traveling, Ohio State football and Arizona basketball, watching Glengarry Glen Ross for the millionth time and being outside the few months it doesn’t rain in Seattle where he lives. He can be found on Twitter @mattgoody2 and hopes you continue to read his In the Zone articles.

Top 100: RSO Rookie Rankings

Updated: July 23rd 2017

To answer the question right at the top… Yes, I still have Leonard Fournette as my 1.01.  I’m sure we’ll spill much digital ink over the coming months debating the pick but I think he will be dominant and with so much draft capital invested, the Jaguars will have to stay dedicated.

The lifeblood of every dynasty team are it’s incoming rookies, like Fournette.  The only problem is that few rookies are as well-known as Fournette and so many owners don’t have the time to devote to doing research on who the rookies are and how their landing spot impacts their RSO outlook.  Throughout the last three months, I have done the research for you and have come up with what you will see below: RSO’s top 100 rookies.

This was a fascinating exercise for me because after I started, I realized there were still a number of players even I needed to do more research on.  For example, at one point I realized I was getting the two RB Elijahs mixed up (Hood: UNC and McGuire: LA-Lafayette) despite having opposite skill sets because I had them listed consecutively on my RB ranking (for the record: even though I prefer Hood for his bigger frame and the way he always fights forward, I pushed McGuire above him because of his fit with the Jets and path to touches).  I first started making rankings for each position so I could easily compare players and develop tiers within each position.  Next, I decided how I would value positions based on my league assumptions (see below).  Then, I massaged the positional rankings together using my tiers and positional values to help determine the overall rankings.  Finally, I fine tuned throughout the draft to adjust positional and overall rankings based on team fit.  It was a time consuming exercise for sure, but one I would recommend for RSO owners, just on a smaller scale (I would suggest however many rookie picks your league has + 5).

Before we get to the rankings, a few notes:

  1. I created these rankings assuming the following starting lineup in a 10-12 team league: QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, OFLEX, DL, LB, DB, DFLEX.
  2. I assumed 0.5PPR but otherwise standard scoring (i.e. a slight bump to WR and pass catching RBs).  IDP scoring can vary quite significantly in my experience but I assumed the typical key stats of tackles, sacks and INTs.
  3. If you are in a Superflex or 2QB league, I would recommend moving the QBs up about 10-15 spots.
  4. If your IDP league uses more starters (meaning more will be drafted) you should move IDP players up about 5 spots as the value of the best IDP players will increase.
  5. I ranked at least 10 QB, TE, DL, LB and DB and at least 20 RB and WR.  I figured all but the deepest of leagues would need to go deeper than that at each position.  Determining how some DE/OLB will be listed is tough at this point but when in doubt I used NFL.com’s listed position.
  6. As you go down the list, the amount of research done on a given player admittedly decreases, so to do the strong opinions.  I feel much more strongly about Mixon over Cook than I do about Clement over Pumphrey.
  7. Keep in mind that these rankings are being finalized on Saturday, April 29.  Much can, and will, change before you draft.

Rank First Name Last Name Position Pos Rank
1 Leonard Fournette RB RB1
2 Corey Davis WR WR1
3 Christian McCaffrey RB RB2
4 Joe Mixon RB RB3
5 Mike Williams WR WR2
6 John Ross WR WR3
7 OJ Howard TE TE1
8 Chris Godwin WR WR4
9 Dalvin Cook RB RB4
10 Zay Jones WR WR5
11 Kareem Hunt RB RB5
12 David Njoku TE TE2
13 Marlon Mack RB RB6
14 Curtis Samuel RB RB7
15 D’onta Foreman RB RB8
16 Taywan Taylor WR WR6
17 JuJu Smith-Schuster WR WR7
18 Evan Engram TE TE3
19 Carlos Henderson WR WR8
20 Cooper Kupp WR WR9
21 Jeremy McNichols RB RB9
22 Samaje Perine RB RB10
23 Mitch Trubisky QB QB1
24 Myles Garrett DL DL1
25 Wayne Gallman RB RB11
26 Pat Mahomes QB QB2
27 Jake Butt TE TE4
28 Alvin Kamara RB RB12
29 Solomon Thomas DL DL2
30 KD Cannon WR WR10
31 Malik Hooker DB DB1
32 Deshaun Watson QB QB3
33 Zach Cunningham LB LB1
34 Josh Malone WR WR11
35 Taco Charlton DL DL3
36 Jonathan Allen DL DL4
37 Jonnu Smith TE TE5
38 Haason Reddick LB LB2
39 Jamal Adams DB DB2
40 Jabrill Peppers DB DB3
41 Josh Reynolds WR WR12
42 Amara Darboh WR WR13
43 Jamaal Williams RB RB13
44 James Conner RB RB14
45 Josh Dobbs QB QB4
46 Tim Williams LB LB3
47 Takkarist McKinley DL DL5
48 Malachi Dupre WR WR14
49 Reuben Foster LB LB4
50 Ardarius Stewart WR WR15
51 Charles Harris DL DL6
52 Deshone Kizer QB QB5
53 Nate Peterman QB QB6
54 Joe Williams RB RB15
55 Elijah McGuire RB RB16
56 TJ Watt LB LB5
57 Marshon Lattimore DB DB4
58 Raekwon McMillan LB LB6
59 Gerald Everett TE TE6
60 Derek Rivers DL DL7
61 Isaiah Ford WR WR16
62 Bucky Hodges TE TE7
63 Chad Hansen WR WR17
64 Obi Melifonwu DB DB5
65 Elijah Hood RB RB17
66 Derek Barnett DL DL8
67 Jarrad Davis LB LB7
68 Brad Kaaya QB QB7
69 Brian Hill RB RB18
70 Davis Webb QB QB8
71 Ryan Anderson LB LB8
72 Tyus Bowser LB LB9
73 Marlon Humphrey DB DB6
74 Adam Shaheen TE TE8
75 Jalen Robinette WR WR18
76 Donnel Pumphrey RB RB19
77 Jordan Leggett TE TE9
78 Corey Clement RB RB20
79 Duke Riley LB LB10
80 Dede Westbrook WR WR19
81 Seth Russell QB QB9
82 Aaron Jones RB RB21
83 C.J. Beathard QB QB10
84 Malik McDowell DL DL9
85 Budda Baker DB DB7
86 Carl Lawson DL DL10
87 Marcus Maye DB DB8
88 Jeremy Sprinkle TE TE10
89 Adoree’ Jackson DB DB9
90 Kevin King DB DB10
91 Gareon Conley DB DB11
92 Mack Hollins WR WR20
93 Tarik Cohen RB RB22
94 Chad Williams WR WR21
95 Jordan Willis DL DL11
96 Chad Kelly QB QB11
97 Amba Etta-Tawo WR WR22
98 Chidobee Awuzie DB DB12
99 Kenny Galloday WR WR23
100 George Kittle TE TE11

 

Epic Trades of the Week

Updated: October 17th 2016

The uniqueness of Reality Sports Online lends to EPIC TRADES that you won’t see on any other platform! Each week, we’ll highlight an EPIC TRADE or TRADES submitted by one of our RSO GMs! Want your trade to be featured? Email your trade to Inquiries@RealitySportsOnline. Please include full contract details so our Dave Sanders can provide his insight on the trade. Additionally, we’ll create a Twitter Poll so you can get feedback from fellow RSO GMs.

Featured Trade One

TRADE: Team A traded Jerick McKinnon (3yr/$18MM), Tyrell Williams (1yr/$6.5MM), & Victor Cruz (2yr/$18MM) to Team B for Alshon Jeffery ($1yr/17MM), Clive Walford ($2yr,$5MM), Quincy Enunwa ($1yr/1MM), & 2017 2nd Rd pick.

ANALYSIS: This trade appears to clearly be a match between a team buying and a team selling. If I was trading away Jeffery on a 1 year deal, I would want a player signed through 2018 or a 1st round pick. McKinnon fits that criteria and has impressed since replacing Adrian Peterson as the number one back in Minnesota. I don’t expect Peterson to return to Minnesota next year and would pencil McKinnon in as a RB2 for 2017 and 2018. Tyrell Williams and Victor Cruz could possibly be flipped in a trade later this season as well. From the contender’s point of view, I like this trade as well. Assuming he can stay healthy, which is never a given for Jeffery, Alshon should see a bump in targets with Kevin White lost for the season and become a weekly low-end WR1. Enumwa also should contribute as a WR4 with upside.

Featured Trade Two

TRADE: Team A sent Carson Palmer (1yr/$3MM), Chris Johnson (1yr/$1MM), Charcandrick West (1yr/$1MM), Shane Vereen (1yr/$1MM), James Starks (1yr/$1MM), Lorenzo Taliaferro (1yr/$1MM), Michael Thomas (4yr/$18MM), Martellus Bennett (1yr/$2MM), Jaguars DST (1yr/$1MM), 2017 1st round pick, and 2017 2nd round pick to Team B for Tom Brady (1yr/$4MM), Mark Ingram (1yr/$11MM), Gio Bernard (2yr/$10MM), Fozzy Whittaker (1yr/$1MM), Jordy Nelson (1yr/$4MM), Adam Humphries (1yr/$1MM), Greg Olsen (1yr/$7MM), Jack Doyle (1yr/$1MM), & Giants DST (1yr/$1MM).

ANALYSIS: This is your classic buyer meets seller trade. With their seasons heading in opposite directions, Team B decided it was time to move his most valuable one-year contracts. Team A gave up a 2017 1st round pick (which will be signed to a 4 year deal) and Michael Thomas, who’s signed through 2019 to greatly boost their 2016 team. Adding a top 5 QB, top 15 RB, top 10 WR, and top 3 TE will do that. If Team A wasn’t already the favorite, this trade may have cemented that as it certainly placed a bullseye squarely on this team’s 2016 performance.

Featured Trade Three

TRADE: Team A sent AJ Green, Phillip Dorsett, Ameer Abdullah, 2017 3rd round pick, & 2018 3rd round pick to Team B for Jeremy Langford, TJ Yeldon, Denard Robinson, Josh Doctson, 2017 1st round pick, 2017 2nd round pick, & 2018 2nd round pick.

ANALYSIS: Without the contract info, I’ll have to make some assumptions. First, you can’t go wrong acquiring AJ Green, almost no matter the price. Reestablishing himself as a true WR1 this season, Green can be a true difference maker each and every week. For side A, Josh Doctson is the most interesting piece. It’s fairly safe to assume that he’s on a rookie deal in this league. After making very little impact so far this season, his #RSOfantasy value has likely dropped in many leagues. I’m still a believer long-term and think he could make a sizable impact in 2017 if DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garcon do not return. Now’s a great time to target him if you’re selling as he might be able to be had for an early 2nd round pick.

Most Frequently Franchised in ’16

Updated: October 17th 2016

Back in May, we took a look at the most frequently cut players in 2015 to learn some lessons in advance of our free agent auctions.  Now that we are in season, I thought it would be useful to look at which players were most frequently franchise tagged in 2016.  In my experience, Week 6 seems to be the time when struggling owners first commit to being a seller rather than a buyer for the rest of the season.  Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, you can gain some valuable insight by looking at last year’s franchise tag trends.  I personally did this in my home RSO league – I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold onto him, so I sent my tagged David Johnson to the second place owner for Theo Riddick, a 2017 First and a 2018 Third.

Here’s the list of the top seven most frequently franchise tagged players for 2016 and my takeaways:

  1. Thomas Rawls
  2. Jordan Reed
  3. Rob Gronkowski
  4. Antonio Brown
  5. Tyler Eifert
  6. DEN Defense
  7. Greg Olsen

Make an Offer for a Top TE

Four of the top seven spots went to TEs which shouldn’t be a surprise as Reed, Gronk and Eifert are all injury risks while Olsen is getting up there in age – offering a multi-year deal to these guys is risky.  If you’re making a championship run, take a look at the TE position of your league’s worst teams.  If one of them is holding Olsen, Reed or Gronk, make the offer now without hesitation.  It will help you this year and gives you a viable franchise tag option next year (TE tends to have the most value with so many low priced guys who bring down the average).  Olsen is by far the TE1 in PPR scoring with Reed in second.  Gronk is far down the list due to injury but if anything that might help you get him slightly cheaper.  Zach Miller, Kyle Rudolph and Travis Kelce are averaging 2-4 points per game less than Reed and 7-9 less than Olsen (I’m discounting Martellus Bennett whose 3 TD game buoys his stats and is unsustainable).  Five points or so most certainly will be a factor at some point for you in the playoff push.

Antonio Brown May Be Available in 2017

I was surprised to see Brown on this list.  In both of my RSO leagues he’s on a long term deal so part of me assumed that would be the case across the board.  If you’re doing poorly in 2016 and have an eye to 2017, check on Brown’s contract status.  If he’s franchised in your league, there is a chance he becomes available in free agency (unless of course the owner tags him again so take a look at their 2017 cap space and draft picks to determine if they can make it work) and you can pounce on him.  While others in your league are concentrating on 2016, offload some win-now players on multi-year contracts;  you’ll get picks in return and reduce their 2017 cap space to give you a better shot at the top free agents, including guys like Brown.

Don’t Franchise Tag Jordan Howard!

Granted, Howard was probably drafted in your rookie draft but the point is this: franchising a RB who succeeded as a rookie is a bad idea.  Sure you could end up like me, who used it on David Johnson, or you could end up like all of the Thomas Rawls owners.  Take a look at last year’s top ten rookie RBs in rushing yards if you need a reminder of how quickly the shine can fade:

  1. Todd Gurley
  2. Thomas Rawls
  3. TJ Yeldon
  4. Melvin Gordon
  5. Ameer Abdullah
  6. David Johnson
  7. Jeremy Langford
  8. Karlos Williams
  9. Buck Allen
  10. Matt Jones

At best, half of that list is not startable and a few are droppable.  If any of this year’s valuable rookie RBs are still available, by all means pick them up and ride them for all they are worth this season but don’t make the mistake of franchising them next year, even if they explode late in the season.

Most Frequently Franchised in '16

Updated: October 13th 2016

Back in May, we took a look at the most frequently cut players in 2015 to learn some lessons in advance of our free agent auctions.  Now that we are in season, I thought it would be useful to look at which players were most frequently franchise tagged in 2016.  In my experience, Week 6 seems to be the time when struggling owners first commit to being a seller rather than a buyer for the rest of the season.  Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, you can gain some valuable insight by looking at last year’s franchise tag trends.  I personally did this in my home RSO league – I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold onto him, so I sent my tagged David Johnson to the second place owner for Theo Riddick, a 2017 First and a 2018 Third.

Here’s the list of the top seven most frequently franchise tagged players for 2016 and my takeaways:

  1. Thomas Rawls
  2. Jordan Reed
  3. Rob Gronkowski
  4. Antonio Brown
  5. Tyler Eifert
  6. DEN Defense
  7. Greg Olsen

Make an Offer for a Top TE

Four of the top seven spots went to TEs which shouldn’t be a surprise as Reed, Gronk and Eifert are all injury risks while Olsen is getting up there in age – offering a multi-year deal to these guys is risky.  If you’re making a championship run, take a look at the TE position of your league’s worst teams.  If one of them is holding Olsen, Reed or Gronk, make the offer now without hesitation.  It will help you this year and gives you a viable franchise tag option next year (TE tends to have the most value with so many low priced guys who bring down the average).  Olsen is by far the TE1 in PPR scoring with Reed in second.  Gronk is far down the list due to injury but if anything that might help you get him slightly cheaper.  Zach Miller, Kyle Rudolph and Travis Kelce are averaging 2-4 points per game less than Reed and 7-9 less than Olsen (I’m discounting Martellus Bennett whose 3 TD game buoys his stats and is unsustainable).  Five points or so most certainly will be a factor at some point for you in the playoff push.

Antonio Brown May Be Available in 2017

I was surprised to see Brown on this list.  In both of my RSO leagues he’s on a long term deal so part of me assumed that would be the case across the board.  If you’re doing poorly in 2016 and have an eye to 2017, check on Brown’s contract status.  If he’s franchised in your league, there is a chance he becomes available in free agency (unless of course the owner tags him again so take a look at their 2017 cap space and draft picks to determine if they can make it work) and you can pounce on him.  While others in your league are concentrating on 2016, offload some win-now players on multi-year contracts;  you’ll get picks in return and reduce their 2017 cap space to give you a better shot at the top free agents, including guys like Brown.

Don’t Franchise Tag Jordan Howard!

Granted, Howard was probably drafted in your rookie draft but the point is this: franchising a RB who succeeded as a rookie is a bad idea.  Sure you could end up like me, who used it on David Johnson, or you could end up like all of the Thomas Rawls owners.  Take a look at last year’s top ten rookie RBs in rushing yards if you need a reminder of how quickly the shine can fade:

  1. Todd Gurley
  2. Thomas Rawls
  3. TJ Yeldon
  4. Melvin Gordon
  5. Ameer Abdullah
  6. David Johnson
  7. Jeremy Langford
  8. Karlos Williams
  9. Buck Allen
  10. Matt Jones

At best, half of that list is not startable and a few are droppable.  If any of this year’s valuable rookie RBs are still available, by all means pick them up and ride them for all they are worth this season but don’t make the mistake of franchising them next year, even if they explode late in the season.