Early RSO Contracts: QBs

Updated: July 31st 2017

Knowing the types of contracts given out by other fantasy teams can give the alert reader a big advantage when your own RSO free agency auction arrives.  Your league settings and available players will have a big impact on the size of contracts given out at various positions, but looking at the relative contracts within position groups provides some useful information.  To that end, I begin a new series examining early RSO auctions starting with a look at quarterbacks.

The Elite

Aaron Rodgers comes in as the most expensive quarterback by more than four million per season for a good reason.  He finished as the QB1 or QB2 every health season except for one (he finished as the QB7) while he was a starter.  There is not a safer player in all of fantasy football in my view. Historically, Rodgers has not been among the league passing attempts leaders, which sometimes limits his yardage totals.  He more than makes up for lack of volume with massive yearly touchdown totals do to extreme efficiency and extensive red-zone usage.  The Packer star also adds nearly mistake-free play, not throwing double-digit interceptions for seven seasons.  With all of the gushing praise just put on Rodgers, I will not own him in many leagues.  The drop-off from Rodgers to more cost-friendly options is not enough for me to justify the enormous premium placed on Rodgers in most instances.

Andrew Luck is the next quarterback at $5.5 million more per season than the third QB.  Luck finished as the QB2 and QB5 in PPG for 2014 and 2016.  The talent and upside are undeniable but his current price does not reflect the risk involved of a quarterback with multiple shoulder injuries who is not throwing the ball yet.  There are others available for a much cheaper cost (Russell Wilson for example) with similar upside and without the injury concerns.

Youth vs Veterans

The youth movement appears to be in full effect for quarterbacks in RSO leagues.  Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, and Dak Prescott come off the board next.  Carr and Winston, in particular, represent purely speculative projections at this point.  Carr paved the way to his best fantasy finish as the QB10 in PPG while Winston has not finished better than the QB19.  Tampa Bay added premier deep-threat DeSean Jackson and the first tight end taken in the NFL draft, O.J. Howard this offseason where Oakland took a more modest approach on the receiving spectrum adding tight end Jared Cook and return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson.  None of these additions warrant the cost of these players.

Moving down our table we find Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Matt Ryan as the QB9 through QB11.  This seems like a bargain for the QB2, QB3, and QB5 from last season even taking into account the expected regression from the group in 2017.  Ryan obliterated his previous career highs in essentially every statistical passing category and the Falcons lost their offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan who moved on to coach San Francisco.  Less discussed is Brady’s likely regression coming into his age 40 season.  The Patriots’ quarterback put up his best season since his 50-touchdown performance in 2007 with a campaign that included a crazy 28-2 touchdown to interception ratio.  Brees, on the other hand, had a very normal Brees-type season.  He is among the most consistent quarterbacks in the league.  One must look all the way back to his time in San Diego for a finish outside the top 6.  Expect another one in 2017 with around 5,000 passing yards.

The Bargain Bin

There are many less expensive, quality alternatives to be found for those looking to go cheap at quarterback in either 1-QB 2-QB/Superflex leagues.  Phillip Rivers is a rock solid borderline QB1/QB2 who consistently provides value at his mid-QB2 cost.  Andy Dalton provides a lot of upside at the QB18 position.  He finished as the QB3 in 2013 and was the QB4 through week 13 in 2015 prior to an injury which ended his season.  The Bengals signal-caller carries more volatility than most with a revamped offensive line that struggled in 2016 and arguably lost its two best linemen in free agency.  This is balanced by a loaded skill position group which gets two of Cincinnati’s most dynamic playmakers back from injury, tight end Tyler Eifert and wide receiver A.J. Green.  The Bengals also added two of the top offensive talents in the draft, wide receiver John Ross and running back Joe Mixon.  For my money, Tyrod Taylor represents the best value among quarterbacks in 2017.  He finished as as a QB1 in PPG the last two season thanks in large part to his dynamic rushing ability.  His limitations as a pocket passer likely prevent him from being a top end performer, but the ability to get a solid starter at backup money is what makes an RSO team.

Rivers, Dalton, and Taylor all cost less than Philadelphia Eagles Carson Wentz for some reason.  Wentz predictably struggled mightily as a rookie finishing outside the top-24 quarterbacks in passer rating and QBR.  He was let down by one of the worst receiving groups in the NFL and a coaching staff that asked far too much of a rookie forcing Wentz to throw the fifth most attempts in the league.  Wentz has the physical tools to become a good quarterback, but there is not much reason for an RSO team to gamble with a significant, long-term investment on an unknown when there are plenty of cheap, reliable alternatives.

 

Average RSO Quarterback Contracts

 


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.

The Watch List: AAC Preview

Updated: July 24th 2017

Welcome to The Watch List, a resource to help RSO owners identify the players, storylines and matchups from the college game that deserve your attention.  Check back throughout the Summer for previews on each conference and my preseason Heisman predictions.  During the regular season, The Watch List will continue to update you on who is fantasy relevant and worth your draft capital next year. 

Players to Watch

  • Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU: Do you want the good news or the bad news first?  Let’s start with the good news.  Sutton has a big, NFL-ready frame at 6’4″ and 215lb; some recent combine comps at that size would be Mike Williams and Kenny Golladay from 2016 and AJ Green and Martavis Bryant from past seasons.  Sutton put up lines of 49-862-9 and 76-1,246-10 in the last two seasons respectively (he received a medical redshirt in 2014 after just two receptions).  In addition to solid season-long totals, it’s clear that Sutton can dominate a game as evidenced by a 13-252-2 game against North Texas and a 12-166-2 game against East Carolina in back-to-back games.  In that standout game against North Texas, Sutton had two highlight reel touchdown catches.  The first was a hail mary which he came down with surrounded by four defenders.  The second was an acrobatic toe-tapping catch in the back of the end zone that he was able to secure despite a PI penalty.  Now onto the bad news… All five of Sutton’s 100+ yard games in 2016 came against subpar defenses.  Those big games came against USF (122nd out of 128 by average receiving yards per game allowed), ECU (62nd), TCU (77th), Baylor (71st) and North Texas (26th).  The North Texas ranking was surprising but judging by the highlights I watched of that game it’s likely due more to their opposition than their talent.  Conversely, the one top passing defense they played, Temple (3rd), led to a 4-43 game for Sutton.  In addition to some highlight reels of Sutton, I checked out Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room episode dedicated to Sutton.  Waldman has concerns with Sutton’s hand placement and his tracking of the ball.  I’m a big fan of Waldman’s and have come to trust most of his evaluations and after watching his study of Sutton I found myself questioning some of the film I had already watched.  Phil Steele has Sutton as his 3rd ranked draft eligible WR; WalterFootball.com has him as the 4th; DLF has him as their 1st WR and 3rd overall prospect.  Concerns or not, Sutton is shaping up to be a top RSO draft pick in 2018 so he deserves your attention.
  • Quinton Flowers, QB, USF: Flowers will battle Memphis QB Riley Ferguson for the title of best AAC quarterback this season.  Because of his dual-threat ability and experience at the FBS level, I give the nod to Flowers.  Unfortunately, DraftBreakdown.com only has one film available on Flowers, and it’s from 2015, so I instead found myself searching Youtube.  I did not want to just watch a highlight reel because I feel that is even less illustrative for QBs than RBs or WRs.  I came across a Youtube channel called OneHourFootball which I would definitely suggest you check out for commercial free game footage.  On their channel, I found footage of USF vs Memphis from 2016 which was perfect because that would let me see peak Flowers as it was his best of the season.  In that game he went 24-29 for 263 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INTs; he also added a crazy 210 yards rushing and 3 TDs.  The USF offense under former coach Willie Taggart (now at Oregon, see below) is purely run out of the shotgun and featured a lot of quick pass patterns, spread runs and jet sweeps.  So, in other words, it doesn’t give much of a glimpse of Flowers in an NFL setting.  Flowers definitely had the quick release required by the offense but there were multiple times when his accuracy suffered as he rushed to get the ball out and did not have a great handle.  I was impressed with his smarts as a rusher – he knows when to turn it up the field and hit the hole, when to slide and when to get out of bounds.  On one key 2nd quarter 4th down, he took the snap on a designed run, momentarily waited for his blocks after a jet sweep fake and hit the hole at full speed for a 45 yard touchdown.  It was a great play and really showed his ability as a rusher.  Unfortunately for Flowers, the Bulls don’t have a marquee Power 5 matchup on the schedule this year and he played rather poorly in the two biggest games of his career against Florida State (combined 17-38 for 285 yards, 3 TDs and 3 INTs).  Ultimately, I fear that Flowers will be too small to be seriously considered by NFL teams.  Since 2010, there have been twelve QBs at the combine who measured 6’0″ or smaller.  Just one of those, Russell Wilson, blossomed into a solid NFL player; the second best on the list would be Johnny Manziel.  If Flowers can continue to improve his numbers and hit the 3,000 yard and 25 TD marks in 2017 he will likely find himself drafted in the late rounds or as a priority free agent for a team needing a backup for their mobile quarterback.  If he does end up in a landing spot like that he could be a cheap and valuable handcuff to your expensive franchise quarterback (a tactic that I think is under-utilized in a dynasty contract format).
  • Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis: Anthony Miller will be the next Antonio Brown.  No, not really (but if he is, then I definitely meant it) but he does compare favorably to Brown’s size and speed.  Miller is 5’11” and 190lb and NFLDraftScout.com has him down for an estimated 4.53 40 yard dash.  Miller put in a strong line in 2015 as a sophomore with 47-694-5 and followed that up with a great 95-1,434-14 line in 2016.  His senior year is shaping up to be even better but it remains to be seen if it will be enough for him to come out early.  While I was watching film on Flowers, one play from Miller really stood out.  He made an incredible one-handed catch that reminded me of the iconic Odell Beckham Jr. catch against the Cowboys.  I came into my research of Miller not expecting much but now I’m thinking he is somebody that will creep up NFL and RSO draft boards into the third round range for 2018.
  • Ed Oliver, DT, Houston: An honorable mention, as he’s not even draft eligible in 2018, but somebody you should try to watch at least once this season.  As a true freshman he had 65 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, 5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.  He came in as #4 on ESPN’s top recruiting list and has a grade of 92 by their scouts.  Watch just one highlight reel and you’ll be impressed with his athleticism, pursuit and speed.

Storylines to Watch

  • #POW6R: The AAC desperately wants you to think that college football features a “Power 6” rather than a “Power 5.”  Until the College Football Playoff committee recognizes the change I doubt fans will, but that isn’t stopping the AAC from trying.  Right now, the AAC is considered part of the “Group of 5” which also includes the Mountain West, MAC, C-USA and the Sun Belt.  Honestly, I do feel that the AAC is a step above those four in overall quality but they are not on the level of the Big 12, who I would consider to be the weakest “Power 5” conference right now.  The Big 12 seems to agree that the AAC is a step down; they were considering expansion last year and a whopping seven AAC teams applied for the openings (Cinci, Houston, SMU, USF, Tulane, UCF and UConn) but ultimately no teams were added.  I give the AAC and their administration credit for their dogged determination.  After the draft, they tried trolling the Big 12 on social media by using the hashtag #POW6R because more of their players were drafted to the NFL.  They also gave their teams “P6” helmet stickers to wear at times last year (ironically, they had to delay the roll out until after it was announced that nobody would be jumping to the Big 12, that would have been embarrassing).  The AAC can gain some more ground this year because they’ll likely have two Day One or Day Two draft picks in WRs Courtland Sutton and Anthony Miller.  AAC teams also feature a number of games against big “Power 5” names (including Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Michigan, TCU, West Virginia and Oklahoma) so a few upset victories could help too.
  • The Coaching Exodus from AAC: A sign of the improving quality of the AAC brand is that their coaches keep leaving for bigger and better jobs.  After last season the league lost coaches to Baylor (Matt Rhule), Oregon (Willie Taggart) and Texas (Tom Herman).  College football writer Kevin McGuire pointed out on Twitter that in the last twelve months, 9 of the 12 teams have had a coaching change; ESPN had a good article about the exodus as well.  Part of me believes that this is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy though: the more people write about the promotions (myself included), the more likely they are to happen.

Games to Watch

  • September 15, Illinois at USF:  USF is the AAC’s best hope at a New Years Six bowl game so it’s disappointing to see their weak non-conference schedule this season.  If the Fighting Illini were the easiest Power 5 team on the schedule, that would bode well for USF’s chances to climb the ranks but instead Illinois is the only Power 5 test.  Don’t let the Power 5 label fool you, Illinois will not be good in 2017 and a loss would sink the Bulls’ season before the conference schedule starts.
  • September 21, Temple at USF: If USF survives the Friday night spotlight game against Illinois they won’t have long to rest before the next biggest game of their season.  That’s because they’ll be back at it the following Thursday against Temple.  Luckily both games are at home for USF so there is no travel involved and Temple has the same Friday/Thursday turn-around.  Temple beat USF 46-30 last year which ended any big bowl hopes for Quinton Flowers & Co.
  • October 7, Air Force at Navy: I continue putting service academy games in these previews because I think it’s important that these athletes get the recognition they deserve. Many will be going on to serve our country in far more important ways and games like this are a great way to put aside our differences and celebrate their sacrifices.  Will it be the best game of the day?  Definitely not (looking at you Michigan State at Michigan) but it’s worth at least a few minutes of your time.
  • November 3, Memphis at Tulsa: It’s doubtful that either team is in the running for the conference title come early November, but this is still a game that you should circle because it will feature a few potential pro prospects.  As I mentioned above, Memphis WR Anthony Miller has a chance to be a second or third round pick in 2018, and the guy slinging him the ball, Riley Ferguson will get some draft consideration too.  Ferguson is a former Tennessee recruit who went the JUCO route before moving onto Memphis last year; he’s tall at 6’4″ and put up good numbers to close out 2016.  Tulsa RB D’Angelo Brewer is small (5’9″ and 185lb; would be sixth lightest RB at the combine since 2010) and has missed a few games to injury, but he has put up 2,272 yards, 13 TDs and a 5.33 ypc average over the last two seasons.  Tulsa averaged the fifth most rushing attempts per game last year in the FBS, so while Brewer may be far from a guarantee to get drafted the Tulsa offense will feed him and give him opportunities to shine.

 

Note: When watching film for a player, I typically pick two games at random to watch.  If game film is not available I will search for highlight reels, but keep in mind these are the best plays that player had all season so they really need to jump off the screen.  I do not necessarily want to watch games where they did very well or very poorly as that may not be a great illustration of their true ability.  If possible, when comparing players at the same position I also like to watch film against common opponents.  Full disclosure, I am not watching film of every single game any player plays, instead I am looking for a representative sample.  When researching college players I use a number of resources, I would recommend bookmarking the below sites…

  • Stats: espn.com, sports-reference.com, cfbstats.com
  • Film: draftbreakdown.com, youtube.com (but be wary of highlight only reels)
  • Draft info and mocks: draftcountdown.com, nfldraftscout.com, walterfootball.com, mattwaldmanrsp.com, ESPN’s First Draft podcast, draftek.com
  • Draft history: drafthistory.com
  • Combine info: pro-football-reference.com, espn.com, nflcombineresults.com
  • Season preview magazines: Phil Steele, Lindy’s, Street and Smith’s

Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  Robert works as a recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.

FA Expectancy: Marshall & Decker

Updated: July 24th 2017

Throughout the offseason, I will be preparing a collection of articles that will focus on free agents and trade candidates. The articles will discuss the player in question, and what the move does to their value, as well as what their landing spot means for their new and old teams.

Like the Raiders of the 2000’s, the Jets might be the worst place for NFL talent to go this decade. Despite having career years in 2015 Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker were unable to propel the Jets back to playoffs for the first time since 2010. Then last year, an injury ended Decker’s season before October and Marshall’s stats came crashing back down due to the poor quarterback play of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith and Bryce Petty. Both receivers were released and the Jets are once again in rebuilding mode. Both players are over 30 years old now (Decker 30, Marshall 33) but still have fantasy value for the right price and while the Jets are expected to have an awful record they do have some interesting young receivers that could benefit from garbage time points and be savvy plays week to week.

Marshall to New York 2.0

It made sense that Brandon Marshall would want to stay in New York with his frequent appearances on Inside the NFL and luckily the Giants are trying to keep their playoff window open. Therefore, it was a mutually beneficial acquisition. The Giants are looking to build on their playoff appearance last year but needed more than just Odell Beckham Jr. to beat the Falcons, Packers, Seahawks, and Cowboys. Marshall is no stranger to playing in an offense that features a #1 and 1A receiver, though he’s usually been the first option so it will be interesting to see what his role will be as the #2. There shouldn’t be a decline in production from Odell’s standpoint and much like Mike Evans the addition of another passing option should help keep safeties from shading one side of the field. Expect another top 10 fantasy production season in 2017.

Probably the player that has been most affected by this addition is sophomore receiver Sterling Shepard who looked like he may be coming into his own during the final games of last season. While the Giants have been one of the more consistent teams to run 3 WR sets their WR3 the last two seasons has not been fantasy relevant scoring only 101 PPR points. Shepard may be one of the better buy-low candidates because of his long term upside but for RSO owners it would be difficult without there being an injury to Marshall. Because of the RSO rookie contract format, he was likely a 1st round rookie pick last year which means that he will be under contract for as long as Marshall is in town. He may have the opportunity to regain his WR2 role after 2 years but then he will be back in your auction in 2018 or 2019. If you think he will be a great receiver moving into the next decade or you do not trust Marshall to stay healthy he should be easy to acquire. It will also be unlikely that he asks for a large salary with the new resign feature so it would be possible to hold him for another 5-7 years. Otherwise, if you drafted him last year and you want to have value now it’s probably best to get at least a 2nd round return for him before he loses more value.

Eli Manning should benefit from having another weapon to get the ball to in the end zone as they lacked a running game to finish off drives last year. Marshall has been one of the better targets in the end zone having 8 or more touchdowns 4 out of the last 5 years. Any given week Manning has the upside to be a QB1 but often manages to disappoint owners in easy matchups and therefore can be a headache to start. There are several other QBs that would cost the same or slightly less (Taylor, Rivers, Stafford) that I would rather pick up in the auction. Let others be frustrated with the highs and lows a typical Eli season.

Decker’s Move to the Music City

Decker Titans

Much like Marshall’s ties to New York, it made sense that Eric Decker would move to Nashville to be closer to the country music scene where his wife, country singer Jessie James works. It probably also helped that the Titans are shaping up to be a pretty good team in the AFC South and could be the sleeper team to win the division this season.

There are two pressing questions that are holding down Decker’s fantasy value for owners in 2017. The first is his health and whether at 30 years old he will be able to continue to play at a high level coming off of shoulder and hip surgeries. Adam Schefter reported that he was medically cleared back in June and the Titans would have done their due diligence before signing him. Still, they only signed him to a one year deal which could suggest that he was brought in to see what’s left and act more as a mentor to their young receiving core of Corey Davis, Taywon Taylor, and Tajae Sharpe.

The second question is what Decker’s role will be in the “smashmouth” offense of Head Coach Mike Mularkey and whether Corey Davis/Rishard Matthews can be the primary receiver. When Decker was able to operate as the second option behind Demaryius Thomas (2012, 2013) and Brandon Marshall (2015) he was able to take advantage of the coverage and averaged 84 catches, 1100 yards and 12 touchdowns in those three seasons. His 2014 season with the Jets he had to function as the primary receiver and he only had 5 touchdowns and less than 1,000 yards. In an offense that has two powerful redzone RBs and another receiver (Matthews) that also operates as a redzone threat, it might be difficult for Decker to accumulate the scores that he has been known to do over the last 5 seasons. Luckily, no one should be drafting Decker to expect his 2012-2013 stats but his 2015 season (less a few touchdowns) could be a reasonable expectation. He presents WR2 upside so he should be a value in auctions between $4-8MM. Just don’t get carried away and offer more than 1 year as we don’t know what his situation will be this time next year.

Low Flying Jets

The Jets cleaned house after a 4-12 season letting go of several key players on both sides of the ball. The team is unlikely to have a lot of wins in 2017 but luckily for fantasy, there are always garbage points. With the top two options gone the depth chart is also wide open for a receiver to accumulate these points. Quincy Enunwa is thought to be the first choice for fantasy owners as he played the most snaps last year of the remaining receivers and he showed fantasy value for deeper leagues. He has the size and athleticism (6’2”, 225lbs) that you would want from an X receiver which is where most people think he fits best. Playing opposite to Marshall last season he didn’t have to face many double teams and blanket coverages which could be a problem if he is unable to win off the line or create space for himself. WR3 is probably a ceiling for Enunwa but he also has the highest floor of any Jet receivers. I acquired him in my first auction of the season for $14MM/4yr and he earned $17.5MM/3yr in my home league. I expect at least one owner in each league to value him in about this range. Depending on how late in your auction he is nominated he may go for even less.

For those who don’t want to spend the same money on Enunwa, you can add Robby Anderson who I also got at the end of the auction for $1MM. Anderson is the opposite of Enunwa, a lighter receiver (190lbs) that is likely going to be playing mostly out of the slot. Depending on whether the QB that wins the starting job likes to press the ball downfield or wants to throw short, underneath routes will likely determine whether Anderson has any fantasy value in 2017. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Jets games where Anderson gobbles up curl and drag route catches in the 4th quarter to turn 3 point games into 10 point games in PPR. Predicting these games will require a little bit of luck but for what is essentially a free player you can see what he has and then move on during the season if need be.


Make sure to continue to read more Free Agency Expectancy articles throughout the offseason to be prepared for your summer Auctions. Have a player that you want me to evaluate? Leave me a message on Twitter @naandrews19.

FA Expectancy: Kyle Shanahan

Updated: July 23rd 2017

Throughout the offseason, I will be preparing a collection of articles that will focus on free agents and trade candidates. The articles will discuss the player in question, and what the move does to their value, as well as what their landing spot means for their new and old teams.

Kyle Shanahan – HC, San Francisco 49ers

I want to take a different approach to my FA Expectancy than I normally do and look at new 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan. More specifically, I want to see what type of coach he is and what his presence brings to the 49ers from an offensive standpoint. I also want to examine what his departure means for several high profile Falcons’ players.

A Team Saviour?

Shanahan began his coordinating career in Houston with the Texans from 2008 till 2010. His two seasons with the Texans he executed a balanced offense with 21 and 29 passing TDs to 16 and 13 rushing TDs respectively. In 2010 Shanahan was hired as the offensive coordinator underneath his recently unretired father, Mike, in Washington. For the first two seasons, they were a terrible offense. Led by Donovan McNabb (2010) and Rex Grossman (2011) they averaged only 18.5 points per game and failed to score 10 rushing TDs in either season. Then in 2012 Washington infamously traded for Robert Griffin III and the offense exploded around him and fellow rookie Alfred Morris. The Shanahan’s did an excellent job of keeping the offense simple and allowed both Griffin and Morris to control the game one the ground. The team finished with 22 rushing TDs (2nd overall) and averaged over 27 points per game, good for 4th overall.

Unfortunately, the offense took a step back in 2013 finishing average to below average in offensive statistics. This was likely due to the injury that Griffin suffered in the playoffs the season before as he became unable to execute the scramble drill that allowed the offense to make big, downfield plays. Both Kyle and his father were fired at the end of the season. Kyle became the offensive coordinator in Cleveland for the 2014 season and while awful in the passing game the team did have success running the ball, ranking 4th with 17 rushing TDs.

In 2015 Shanahan moved to join the newly hired Head Coach Dan Quinn in Atlanta. Quinn was the defensive coordinator of the Legion of Boom Seahawks that went to two Super Bowls and combining him with Shanahan was praised throughout the league. The team went through growing pains in their first season after starting off undefeated through the first month but failed to make the playoffs. Much like their record stated the offense was average with rankings of 21st in scoring, 23rd in passing and 13th in rushing. Then the offense exploded last season finishing top 3 in all three categories on their way to the team’s second Super Bowl appearance. The day after the Super Bowl Shanahan used his success to land the head coaching job in San Francisco, a team that was 27th in scoring in last season.

Having laid out his 8-year career as an offensive coordinator the below graphs show how Shanahan led offenses have done since 2008. For context, I have also listed the QB-WR-RB combo that led each team.

 

 

 

Kyle Shanahan Offensive Standings
YEAR Team SCORING S. RANK S. AVG PASSING P. RANK P. AVG RUSHING R. RANK R. AVG
2016 ATL 33.8 1 22.8 38 2T 24.6 20 3T 13.8
2015 ATL 21.2 21T 22.8 21 23T 26.3 13 13T 11.4
2014 CLE 18.7 27 22.6 12 32 25.2 17 4 11.9
2013 WAS 20.9 23 23.4 20 24 25.1 14 13T 12.8
2012 WAS 27.3 4 22.8 24 13T 23.7 22 2 12.5
2011 WAS 18 26 22.2 19 23 23.3 8 26 12.5
2010 WAS 18.9 25 22 21 22 23.5 9 24T 12.5
2009 HOU 24.3 10 21.5 29 5T 22.2 13 18 13.4
2008 HOU 22.9 17 22 21 13T 20.2 16 11T 14.9
AVG   22.9 17.1 22.5 22.8 17.4 23.8 14.7 12.7 12.9

 

Featured Starters
YEAR QB REC RB
2017 Brian Hoyer Pierre Garcon Carlos Hyde
2016 Matt Ryan Julio Jones Devonta Freeman
2015 Matt Ryan Julio Jones Devonta Freeman
2014 Brian Hoyer Andrew Hawkins Terrance West
2013 Robert Griffin III Pierre Garcon Alfred Morris
2012 Robert Griffin III Josh Morgan Alfred Morris
2011 Rex Grossman Jabar Gaffney Roy Helu
2010 Donovan McNabb Santana Moss Ryan Torain
2009 Matt Schaub Andre Johnson Steve Slaton
2008 Matt Schaub Andre Johnson Steve Slaton

 

Suffice to say that other than last year’s juggernaut Falcons and a magical season from a pair of rookies in 2013 his offenses have been pretty pedestrian. Matt Kelley of RotoUnderworld discussed how backward it is to assume that coaches who have had generational talents at a position are somehow going to make mid-tier to mediocre talent into fantasy stars. He even specifically talks about this infatuation with Kyle Shanahan and his Coach Klein-like advantage of motivating and play calling. If you want to listen to his full discuss you can find it here. Be warned that it does include some NSFW language.

What to Expect in San Francisco?

Football wise the 49ers were in complete shambles last season which is reflective in their two wins and 31st overall finish. Shanahan and new first-time General Manager John Lynch brought in veterans Brian Hoyer and Pierre Garcon, both of which Shanahan has worked with in the past, to have some stability in the passing game. I have already looked into the passing game in my Pierre Garcon article and discussed how Hoyer and Garcon can have appeal as low-cost options in 2017. Looking deeper into past seasons my 2017 prediction would be that the offense will fall somewhere between Shanahan’s 2013 Washington team and his 2014 Cleveland Browns. This would suggest that passing TDs would be hard to come by and therefore Garcon will need to rely heavily on collecting targets to hold WR3 value.

As we can see from above other than Matt Ryan the options at QB have been below average at best. This, along with the reputation his father had to turn any athlete with two legs into a 1,000-yard rusher, may be an indication as to why most Shanahan led offenses lean more heavily on the run. For those that are concerned that negative game script will force Shanahan to have to pass more frequently it has shown that even with mediocre teams Shanahan has always stuck with his running game. There is definitely fantasy appeal to having a Shanahan led backfield.

The question now becomes, “Who will be the primary back once the season opens”? They inherited Carlos Hyde who has been a workhorse back when healthy and also drafted Joe Williams in the 4th round. Apparently, Shanahan was adamant that the team take Williams for him to use in his offense. This has many thinking that Williams is the guy to own in San Francisco which has moved his rankings to the mid-second round in rookie drafts believing that his time will come sooner rather than later. But there has been news out of San Francisco that undrafted RB Matt Breida is looking better than Williams in practice and again Matt Kelley (in a separate discussion) mentioned back in May about how he was skeptical about Williams being ahead of Brieda on the depth chart come week 1. Have a listen here if you want the 3-minute conversation (again NSFW). Because of this for 2017 you want to stay the course with Carlos Hyde and try and acquire him from any panicky owners that don’t think he will return his usually RB2 value.

Will Atlanta suffer a Super hangover without Shanahan?

Other than Shanahan leaving the offense stays relatively the same. They still have Julio Jones who is top 3 of everybody’s receiver rankings. They still have Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman who make up one of the best 1-2 backfield combos in the league. And they still have Matt Ryan who is an ascending QB talent in the prime of his career. Regression probably is expected but that’s what happens when you have a record setting offense. Hopefully, not as bad as Cam Newton and Carolina last year but regression is expected nonetheless. Let’s be clear though that it won’t be because of Shanahan leaving. Remember that the team was middle of the road with Shanahan in his first season, statistically so we should expect the team to be somewhere between their mediocre 2015 season and their outstanding 2016 season.

If you are looking to acquire value from this team out of the previously mentioned players I would be trying to acquire Tevin Coleman. Devonta Freeman’s contract ends after this season and depending on what he is asking for it might be more economical if the Falcons let him go and draft another RB to pair with Coleman. This could open up the whole backfield in a strong offense to Coleman making his 2018 stock skyrocket. Worst case scenario Freeman signs a new contract and Coleman is in the same place he is now, a mid RB2 value in PPR leagues.

 

Make sure to continue to read more Free Agency Expectancy articles throughout the offseason to be prepared for your summer Auctions. Have a player that you want me to evaluate? Send me a message on Twitter @naandrews19.

FA Expectancy: Jeremy Maclin

Updated: July 16th 2017

Throughout the offseason, I will be preparing a collection of articles that will focus on free agents and trade candidates. The articles will discuss the player in question, and what the move does to their value, as well as what their landing spot means for their new and old teams.

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

The first big surprise, post draft, of the offseason was the Chiefs releasing veteran wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. After having consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in 2014 and 2015 Maclin dropped of statistically last season because of injury. In 2016 Maclin had less than 45 catches and only 2 touchdowns. For these reasons and believing that he may have “lost a step” going into his age 29 season, the Chiefs decided to move on. The Ravens swooped in and picked up Maclin on a 2 year/ $11MM deal. This has had a positive influence on several players’ value (including Maclin’s) which makes a re-evaluation of the position on both teams necessary.

What does this do for Baltimore?

The two stats that kept getting thrown around regarding Baltimore this offseason was that they had the highest amount of pass attempts last season (672) and have one of the highest amount of vacated targets from last season with the departure of Steve Smith. Translation: any receiver that joined the Ravens would become highly sought after on volume alone. Now with Jeremy Maclin opposite to Mike Wallace Baltimore has a similar, albeit older, possession-to-speed wide receiver combo like in Tampa Bay, which I applauded in my last article. From that article, you should be able to take away that I don’t think that Wallace will see a significant drop in targets and fantasy value. Joe Flacco on the other hand needed a receiver more consistent than Wallace to be the team’s WR1 and it should increase the usability of Flacco in fantasy, especially in Superflex/2QB. Breshad Perriman is the player that most people have pointed to as the loser in this scenario but I think people’s expectations of what Perriman was going to be was too high to begin with. He could have bye week/flex appeal for a period this season but I don’t see him being more than a WR4/5 this season. I have never been high on Perriman and saw him and Phillip Dorsett of Indianapolis as similar one-skill players. The window to sell Perriman is closing with the signing of Jeremy Maclin.

Does this help Maclin’s value?

jeremy-maclin-baltimoreJeremy Maclin came into Kansas City as the savior that could remove the stink of not having a receiver catch a touchdown in 2014. Some were skeptical that he was a product of Chip Kelly’s offense and would not have the same stats with Andy Reid. He answered with 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns and saw a big spike in his value. This lead to a number of RSO owners signing him to a multi-year deal at auction last offseason. Stephen Wendell and I even complemented RSO frontman Matt Papson last season on his 4 year/$26MM contract for Maclin in the Writer’s League. Unfortunately for all Maclin owners last year they were left wanting with his underwhelming 2016 season. Depending on how deep one invested they may have been able to trade out or just release Maclin earlier this offseason. If you did hold him through the low point you might as well hold him now till we see how he fits with the Ravens and what his value will bounce back to. In auctions, I will be treating Maclin much like I did Ryan Matthews last year where he could be a buy for a contending team that has the extra cap space this year but doesn’t want to commit money to the future for a sexier receiver. He should max out at $14MM for 2017, $25MM/2 years for those that really love the landing spot.

A “Hill” to die on in KC

No player has been more talked about (positively or negatively) in the 2017 offseason than Tyreek Hill. The rookie became the must waiver add midway through last season and many people were projecting his role to only increase heading into this season. Now with Maclin out and no obvious top option on the roster Hill will be locked in as one of your auction’s longest lasting bids. If you think Hill will be THEE player to get on your team be prepared to be spending over $15MM/year. If you are not a big Hill fan he’s definitely a player you want to nominate and watch other owners spend their cap on.

**As a tip I find that the first players at each position nominated actually go for less than their expected value since everyone is mildly hesitant to spend right away. Try not to nominate Hill (or any player you want out as a decoy) in the first round of selections. Instead, wait for a second or third pass to make owners set the market. **

Of course, the other Chiefs receivers have seen a bump in their value and are all worth acquiring, for the right price. Albert Wilson, Chris Conley, and even Jehu Chesson have a chance to be the WR2 (or WR1) in this offense but the Chiefs are not a team that is known for producing multiple fantasy relevant receivers. The drafting of Patrick Mahomes likely signals the change at QB from Alex Smith in the next year or two which could increase the depth of passes and overall aggressiveness of the offense. Ultimately there may be value in any three of these receivers if they can become a flex contributor. However, I would rather wait till the preseason to see which player looks like they will be playing the most snaps and pay the premium. Wilson and Chesson are likely available in your auction and could be bought near the end for close to the minimum. Conley has been gaining interest from the dynasty community and will be the most expensive of the three to acquire. A late second should be the ceiling that you pay to acquire him before we know more in August.

Make sure to continue to read more Free Agency Expectancy articles throughout the offseason to be prepared for your summer Auctions. Have a player that you want me to evaluate? Leave me a message on Twitter @naandrews19.

Questionable Offseason Moves

Updated: August 22nd 2017

Every season NFL teams make questionable moves in the offseason which makes one wonder what the team is thinking. Poor personnel decisions, salary cap management, and lack of coherent team direction cause major headaches both during the season and for the future.  I take a look at a few of these situations and examine the implications for both NFL teams and your RSO leagues.

Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars: A hope and a prayer at quarterback

I felt confident each of these teams would address the quarterback position bringing in quality veteran competition. Instead, Houston traded up in the draft for Clemson’s DeShaun Watson to compete with incumbent Tom Savage and Jacksonville stuck with Blake Bortles only resigning perpetual backup Chad Henne.

The Texans have wasted a J.J. Watt led defense which has finished eighth or better in Football Outsider’s DVOA metric for defensive efficiency each of the last three seasons. Despite the strong defense and playing in a poor division, Houston finished just 9-7 in the last three seasons primarily due to incompetent quarterback play.  Now the Texans are left with the uninspiring choice of relying on either Tom Savage or rookie DeShaun Watson.  Savage did not throw a single touchdown pass and managed only 6.3 yards per attempt (close to Blake Bortles and Carson Wentz who were among the bottom of the league) in three appearances.  The Texans managed just 21, 12, and 17 points scored in those contests.  The other option is starting first round pick Watson.  The odds of rookie quarterbacks performing well are not good.  For every Dak Prescott, there is a Jared Goff, Ryan Leaf, and E.J. Manuel who produce very little.

The Jaguars, meanwhile, maintained the status-quo by keeping Blake Bortles as the starting quarterback. Jacksonville possesses an ascending young defense built from multiple high draft picks and expensive free agent additions.  Quarterback play doomed this team to awful finishes over the last few seasons where the Jaguars won only 11 games over the last three years.  You can read about Bortles’ struggles with more detail. Simply put, Bortles has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL over his three year career.  Jacksonville then compounded the problem by inexplicably picking up Bortles’ fifth-year option at $19 million for 2018.  There is no upside to picking up the option and lots of downside.  The odds of Bortles suddenly making a significant jump in the fourth season are extremely low.  There is practically zero chance Bortles would make anything close to $19 million on the open market in 2018.  The contract also becomes fully guaranteed if he suffers a catastrophic injury which prevents him from playing in 2018.  The Jaguars probably look for a new quarterback in 2018.

RSO Consequences: Look for more of the same in Houston.  This has been among the most run-heavy offenses in the league since head coach Bill O’Brien arrived and that is unlikely to change.  Lamar Miller and rookie D’Onta Foreman should see plenty of volume.  DeAndre Hopkins and the rest of the Houston receiving core will likely be limited by poor quarterback play and low volume once again.  Neither Savage nor Watson will be fantasy relevant.

Jacksonville, on the other hand, looks to completely change the script.  They invested heavily in fourth overall pick running back Leonard Fournette and will want the running game to carry the offense.  Expect a sharp decline in Blake Bortles pass attempts this season from the over 600 for each of the last two years.  Things have gone terribly wrong for the Jaguars if Bortles throws the ball much more than 500 times.  This reduction in volume, while good for Jacksonville, likely means less production from Allen Robinson and the rest of the Jaguars’ receivers.  Bortles should provide QB2 production when playing but could easily be benched later in the season due to performance and/or the fifth-year guarantee to prevent injury.

Kansas City Chiefs: Contender or Rebuilder?

Another team making a big move on draft day, Kansas City gave up 2017 first and third round picks in addition to a 2018 first to take quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs decided to gamble on a possible future quarterback upgrade where they could have added premium playmaking talents.  Kansas City then released Jeremy Maclin, the only proven wide receiver on the roster.  No other wide receiver on the roster broke the 600 yard mark for the Chiefs.  These are moves typically made from a team rebuilding for the future, not from a team which has won 23 games over the last two seasons.  I would not say the Chiefs are sabotaging Alex Smith’s likely last season as a starter in Kansas City, but it is clear Kansas City is not providing Smith with all the tools possible to succeed and the Chiefs are questionable to make the playoffs given how the offseason has gone.

On a side note, waiting until June to release Maclin was a classless move on the part of the Chiefs. Kansas City certainly has salary cap issues but they have known about these cap issues before the free agency period began and nothing new has happened to change their mind about the move.  There is no good reason for the Chiefs to release Maclin, who has been nothing but a model citizen and teammate, this late in the offseason after teams have spent most of their cap space in free agency.  This is an issue I foresee many agents addressing in top players’ contracts next season forcing teams to make an earlier decision on player cuts.

RSO Consequences: Tight end Travis Kelce maintains his role as the dominant receiver in this offense.  The wide receiver position is a free for all.  Rookie sensation Tyreek Hill’s dynamic freshman campaign was largely supported by some, likely unsustainable, huge runs resulting in an absurd 11.2 yards per carry and a bunch of manufactured touches near the line of scrimmage in the passing game.  Will this usage continue or will another receiver step up for Kansas City?  Historically Alex Smith supported, at most, one fantasy relevant wide receiver and the upside is not extremely high considering the limited volume in the Kansas City passing attack.  Maclin should be a quality second wide receiver for the team that lands him but his fantasy value will largely be determined by where he lands.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Doug Martin Contract

By most accounts, Tampa Bay improved considerably this offseason offensively highlighted by free agent acquisition DeSean Jackson at wide receiver and first round draft pick O.J. Howard at tight end. One player who will not contribute at the start is running back Doug Martin who will miss the first three games as part of a four game suspension for performance enhancing drugs.  Martin’s production has been extremely spotty in his five year career, accumulating less than 500 rushing yards in three out of five seasons with injuries playing a key role.  He is in the second year of a five year contract which pays him a little under $6 million this season (7th highest cap hit of any running back) and around $7 million for the remaining three seasons.

The running back market has changed since Martin signed his contract. Not a single back, including high profile names Eddie Lacy, Marshawn Lynch, and Adrian Peterson, signed for more than $4 million during free agency.  Clearly, Martin’s contract is out of line in today’s market for a 28 year old back with his overall lack of production and injury/suspension issues. The Buccaneers were given an out, however, as Martin’s suspension voids the 2017 salary guarantees in his contract.  This is a golden opportunity for Tampa Bay to, at a minimum, renegotiate Martin’s contract to a level more commensurate with the market.  An outright release is also not out of the question given the current options on the team and options likely available in trade or free agency.   It is a mystery why Tampa Bay has not addressed the situation yet.

RSO Consequences: The running game was ugly in 2016 with Tampa Bay averaging over four yards per carry against only a single opponent (San Francisco’s awful run defense).  The situation could be a mess in 2017 and is one of the most unpredictable in the league.  Rodgers, Sims, and rookie McNichols could all see significant looks without Martin in an offense that could score plenty if Jameis Winston takes another step forward.  Martin’s outcomes range from being cut to taking over the lead role in an offense with many scoring chances.  I generally steer clear of heavy investment in large, uncertain running back committees and this group is not an exception unless you can get pieces on the cheap.


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.