FA Expectancy: P Garcon & D Jackson

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.

For the last 3 seasons, Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson have been an excellent complement to one another’s skill set, Jackson being the lid-popping over the top receiver and Garcon being the underneath target hog. Despite both turning 31 years old this year there is an expectation for both to continue to produce with their new teams the way they did over the last two seasons with Kirk Cousins in Washington. Jackson will be the first real compliment to Mike Evans in Tampa Bay and Pierre Garcon is reconnected in San Francisco with former Washington offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Despite all this love for the two receivers’ landing spots their ADPs have held in the later rounds of mock drafts, Jackson (91) and Garcon (126). Is there a gross undervaluing that has not been corrected yet with rookie fever on the rise or is the love of two 31-year-old receivers a smokescreen?

What does Jackson bring to Tampa?

When Tampa’s offense had to rely on Adam Humphries and TE Cameron Brate as their second and third receiving options last year you knew they were going to address the position in the offseason, and they did in a big way. By bringing in Jackson, Head Coach Dirk Koetter is embracing the gunslinger mentality that Jameis Winston has shown his first two seasons. While Mike Evans is a big, box-him-out type receiver Jackson has his blazing speed that can help keep additional safeties deep. Not only is that a bonus for Evans to help reduce the number of double-teams he’s used to seeing but should also help the run game by keeping defenses honest with their secondary. The Bucs also drafted TE O.J. Howard and receiver Chris Godwin to work the middle of the field and pose problems for teams trying to only cover Evans and Jackson on the outside.

Overall, the hype that this offense is gaining throughout the offseason is well deserved and could resemble the value that Washington had for fantasy fans. Jackson should have a positive impact on the Bucs offense but you should not expect consistent WR2 production. He’s still a boom-bust player that relies heavily on the long touchdown to have relevant weeks. He has only one season in his nine years where he has accumulated more than 65 catches and has not had more than six touchdowns since 2013. In PPR leagues I would be trying to move him for a more consistent asset while the hype of the offense is keeping him propped up. Once owners realize that he is a 31-year-old receiver that averages more 2 point weeks than 20 point weeks and whose game is purely based on his speed his value will shrivel fast.

What does Garcon bring to San Fran?

If Jackson is the sell because of his skill set Garcon is the definite buy. In Washington, Garcon was a target machine and averaged over 80 catches the last four years. This is encapsulated by his 113 catch season while in Shanahan’s offense back in 2013. This has people drooling at the possibilities for 2017 now that Shanahan has full control of the team’s scheme. There is no real threat to taking targets away from Garcon either as the rest of the receivers feature players such as Marquise Goodwin, DeAndre Smelter, Aldrick Robinson and last year’s “primary” target Jeremy Kerley. While he’s no Kirk Cousins, Brian Hoyer should be a consistent QB that can deliver the ball to Garcon and develop a rapport with him as his go-to receiver. Hoyer has value in 2QB/Superflex for 2017 because of his lack of turnovers and consistent production.

With an ADP of 126, Pierre Garcon has the opportunity to return the greatest value for those that like to take low-risk players in the auction. Unlike how Torrey Smith flopped as last year’s San Francisco sleeper because he did not fit with the offense Garcon should bring a consistency that will be greatly appreciated by midseason. Having 113 catches is probably unrealistic at this point in his career but 70/1,100/6 could be a reasonable benchmark for Garcon to have over the next two seasons. For those that are penny-pinching in your auctions this year, Garcon would be an excellent candidate to place an $10-14MM/2year contract on.

So what does this mean for Washington?

Washington lost two 1,000 yard receivers in the same offseason which should speak volumes to the mess that the organization is with its player management. Just one year removed from winning their division if they cannot find a way to bring back Kirk Cousins they may be the basement dwellers of the NFC East for many years to come.

Coming off back-to-back 4,000-yard seasons Cousins should be able to hold as an undervalued target for 1QB leagues. His receiving core has taken a huge blow but they did bring in Terrelle Pryor and Brian Quick to work alongside former 1st round pick Josh Doctson, fantasy darling Jamison Crowder, and TE Jordan Reed. With Cousins, there is the possibility that any one (or maybe two) of these receivers could reach the 1,000-yard plateau. The difficult is predicting who it will be.

Pryor seems the most likely bet as he showed that he was able to make the transition from QB to WR last year in Cleveland and just barely eclipsed the mark (1,007 yards) last year. Crowder should have the safest weekly floor in PPR leagues as he has established himself as the underneath target for Cousins. He had 67 catches last season with both Garcon and Jackson in the line-up. Those who took Doctson in the top 3 of rookie drafts last season will hope to get more out him this year after missing all of 2016. Depending on how his development as an NFL receiver has been over the last 12 months he could be an effective flex/bye week option in 2017. Jordan Reed is probably the best all-around pass catcher in this offense but it is hard to trust him to stay healthy. Like Rob Gronkowski, when Reed is in on the field he is an advantage to have in your line-up, but that has been far and few between the last couple of seasons. He is one big collision away from never playing football again.

Because RSO forces owners to place a value on players in the auction the question heading into your offseason is how long do you want to continue to invest in this offense? The last two years Washington has been an underrated fantasy goldmine for WR2s/3s and QB/TE1. But if they cannot come to a deal with Cousins and he becomes a free agent next season are they still a 4,000-yard passing offense with a rookie or washed out QB in 2018? Unless you can get any of these players on a very low sum, multi-year contract this is a group of players that I would treat like a redraft and only offer a one year deal. If your league is implementing the new resign figure Cousins, Pryor or Crowder could be excellent candidates if the situation becomes clearer as the season progresses.

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? Look for my polls to cast your vote or send me a message on Twitter @naandrews19.

2017 NFL Draft – Fantasy Outlook

Updated: July 16th 2017

The NFL Draft is something of a hype event but one which draws the most intense of scrutiny and magnification. In the end, it’s only three days in the scope of time despite the enormity it provides to the future and hopes of millions of fans across various states and regions. It’s passing allows us to initiate the analytical process in advance of another season. For fantasy owners, they typically have to wait a bit longer before they can utilize this new information to their benefit, but the RSO platform will have you thinking long in advance of an actual draft date.

The projections covered here aren’t entirely numerical or fantasy-specific from a numbers standpoint. They are preliminary given how far away the season is and in lieu of injury potential, etc. But there were many intriguing, offensive-minded moves by teams in this Draft despite the high volume of defensive stalwarts recognized by “experts.” What follows is a run down of both first and second round prospects along with later round selections who could be worth monitoring as we head toward an active and exciting offseason.

Blue Chippers (Rounds 1 and 2)

The first two rounds of the NFL Draft should probably be examined together as you have kids with similar ceilings but some move down a bit due to injuries and circumstance. Leonard Fournette was the first offensive player selected and his arrival in Jacksonville is going to be met with hope from the tormented fan base within that city. For me, I do not like the offensive line down in northern Florida at this time and while Cam Robinson (Round 2) will help at the RT spot over time and offered good value in this draft, I simply do not see Fournette putting up amazing numbers initially in Jacksonville unless that OL play improves, and especially given who he has at QB. He’ll still be a player that garners plenty of attention at the RB spot in any draft and he offers young legs. But I’m not enough of a believer in what Jacksonville has offensively to fall in love with Fournette as a year one prospect.

Jacksonville foolishly spent an early fourth rounder on a very suspect character guy in DeDe Westbrook and their inability to really add to other areas within their offense probably hurts them in 2017 at least. Within this division, however, the Tennessee Titans acquired a player many people like and admire in Corey Davis from Western Michigan and while the Terrell Owens comparison are obviously quite premature, Davis would seem to be exactly what Marcus Mariota needs right now. It also helps that the Titans went WR/TE in round three and if you are thinking big picture early on, Mariota could morph into a very attractive fantasy option in any format, although the health concerns for someone who runs as much as him will be a limitation. Long story short, Mariota has a plethora of options to work out of the pocket now and he is a guy to watch for in 2017, as is the aforementioned Davis. Rookie WR’s can be a major risk, but Davis is a guy I would certainly look intensely at this season as he really is a special talent.

The aforementioned Mariota came into this league along with Jameis Winston and if anyone should be licking their chops right now, it’s probably Tampa. The Bucs are still young defensively to an extent and the OL needs refinement. But the acquisition of O.J. Howard at pick number 19 may have been the steal of the round and it was a legitimate need as Tampa doesn’t have anyone there now close to the caliber of Howard, who happens to be a strong blocker as well. Chris Godwin is a WR from Penn State who went to Tampa in round three with Boise RB Jeremy McNichols finding his way into the TB backfield in round five. The latter two names might not make an impact early on from a fantasy standpoint, but both are talented and Howard should be monitored as I believe he has a chance to be an offensive ROY candidate within the confines of this already explosive and evolving offense.

Three other offensive guys to note who went on Thursday night were Christian McCaffrey, John Ross and Evan Engram. McCaffrey is a name which will attract sizable attention as we head toward the regular season and Ross is the fastest guy to ever show at the combine. But Engram is the name from that trio which might just have the most fantasy upside in year one for me. McCaffrey is a player who will produce, especially when you factor in the creativity with which he can be used alongside Cam Newton. But his injury concerns early on combined with potentially being overvalued on a team with a rebuilding OL should make you somewhat guarded about pursuing him too early in most fantasy formats. The son of a former NFL stud in Denver and a mother who played soccer at Stanford will be a match-up nightmare and Carolina should be vastly improved, but that doesn’t mean his draft position in some formats will be truly warranted. McCaffrey could end up an overvalued prospect and that is what concerns me. While we are on the subject of these Panthers, Curtis Samuel is a playmaking option and second rounder from Ohio State who could become an effective aspect of this offense as well.

Ross was a big pick-up for Cincinnati and they also snagged a RB we’ll talk about in a later section. They said speed kills and I don’t disagree in any capacity. The Bengals have struggled some the last 1-2 years, but while Andy Dalton isn’t taking them to the Super Bowl any time soon, this is a club which still figures to have a fantastic offense. Ross’ speed element combined with A.J. Green will be something that has to be considered in teams of how Cincinnati can continue to progress. This is a defense which has regressed and so its very likely that the Bengals will be in some higher scoring games once more this season. Ross has the ability to adapt quickly but I don’t know how long it will take for Dalton to adequately judge his speed and that is one thing you’ll want to track the closer we get to preseason football in August.

As for Engram, it’s similar to Tampa Bay in the way they picked up Howard. This is truly one of the most important positions in the league currently and both the Bucs and Giants needed to improve here. Engram has the speed to come into this offense and complement guys like Brandon Marshall and Odell Beckham, but learning this offense won’t be easy for any first year player. The good news from a fantasy standpoint is that quick passing would figure to benefit Engram and that is the backbone of the NYG offense, especially with the OL really struggling these last couple of years. In any event, Engram has definitive long term value in the RSO format for me given the added dimension he offers as a speedy TE who gets to play alongside a veteran QB who is looking to cement his legacy in what really could be a more or less wide open NFC in 2017-2018.

Four players stuck out to me in round two but all of them have questions. The name I actually like the most is that of Zay Jones, the 37th round pick which went to Buffalo. Jones is a Dallas product who attended school in East Carolina. He has good size at 6’2 and made a lot of plays going up and getting the ball in college. Challenges will be more significant at this level, but with Robert Woods now playing in LA with the Rams, Jones is a guy who will reap the benefits of what has been an improving offense as Tyrod Taylor gets more and more comfortable. Taylor, LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins have been injury prone in the past, though and that is the one thing Bills fans probably fear coming into every season. But this is an acquisition which helps them, especially with Watkins not looking like a guy who has the frame to last and succeed in this league over time. Zay Jones might not be the most sought after rookie in the 2017 fantasy season, but he might be a sleeper for a Buffalo club which will probably find itself down at times and in comeback mode while forced to utilize a pass heavy approach.

Joe Mixon s a player who should likely have an enormous fantasy impact in Cincinnati and even if you are not a fan of Mixon the person (with seemingly no one being in that camp) he is a fantasy piece I would likely covet. He is a dual threat and while Dalvin Cook is more hyped, Cook may struggle to stay healthy at this level and is playing behind an extremely shaky offensive line in Minnesota. JuJu Smith-Schuster has the pure talent and speed dimension to catch on and be a real slot option in Pittsburgh and for those reasons, Mixon and Smith-Schuster are two rookies coming out of this draft and playing in the AFC North who hold significant promise to me. These were critical additions for both clubs and, especially in the case of Cincinnati, the combination of now adding Mixon and Ross could make the aforementioned Dalton another QB that has more potential as a 2017 fantasy option despite his limitations when it comes to the most important of games. Ultimately, I’ll pass on Cook and a lot of that relates to where he is headed to.

Later Round Options to Keep Tabs On

Every year there are later round players who make immediate impacts regardless of how many people scoff at the notion that such a player will prove valuable early on. Some guys are young and hungry enough to step up quickly and that is what we’ll be looking for. At the University of Tennessee, Alvin Kamara took on a significant workload and nothing will be any different down in New Orleans under Sean Payton. Drew Brees is a quick passing QB and Kamara is a guy whose athleticism can create problems. The Saints can score with the best of the league regardless as to how bad the defense can look at times and that means Kamara will be a guy to move on in any Draft format as he could have a chance to accumulate numbers as a pass catching back out of different formations. Kamara’s usage and smaller frame are primary factors in his falling to round three and that speaks to the caution you should use in approaching him in 2017. He has to add to his body and has to develop in other areas, but from a talent and “fit” perspective, Kamara is going to have an excellent chance to generate numbers from the jump.

Cooper Kupp (Eastern Washington – 69th overall to Los Angeles Rams) Carlos Henderson (Louisiana Tech – 82nd overall to Denver Broncos) and Amara Darboh (Michigan – 106th overall to Seattle Seahawks) are all bigger and more physical receivers who can help their respective teams. I wouldn’t view them as likely to break onto the scene early because speed limitations obviously hampered each guy’s draft standing to some extent. But these are three players I generally like and if you get a chance to watch the tape on any of them, they each impress me for what they can do at a play-making position. This was a defense heavy draft through those top 60 selections and the league is realizing how critical defensive assets can be given the rules we have in place and the general evolution of offense. But all three of these names were probably second round worthy in my opinion and I’d look for all three to enter situations they can undoubtedly make better, especially in the case of Henderson who will be the third receiver in a Denver offense which is looking for big things from Trevor Siemian in his second year as starter.

One other third round pick who has to be discussed is Kareem Hunt. The Toledo product has the body type to be a real find for someone in this league and Andy Reid generally does his homework. The loss of Jamaal Charles left a void and adding some fresh legs will likely prove to be a good idea. This club still has offensive line concerns which hamper their ability to score effectively in the red zone from time to time. Additionally, I see the Chiefs as a potentially evolving offense which could have short term defensive limitations that make 2017 a rough one for them, especially given the division they play in. But Hunt is still a player whose game I respect. He could prove to be very effective over the long haul, especially if this franchise moves gracefully into the Patrick Mahomes era in a couple of years. Hunt is a player who might not offer much ROI in year one, but I undoubtedly like him down the line.

Speaking of running backs, latter round value can be there for many and Donnell Pumphrey (San Diego St. – 132nd overall to Philadelphia Eagles), Jamaal Williams (BYU – 134th overall to Green Bay Packers) and Wayne Gallman (Clemson – 140th overall to New York Giants) were good pick-ups for teams which needed RB help. Pumphrey was very effective in college against MWC talent and the biggest concern is indeed durability as he is right around 180 lbs. I still like Pumphrey but the “Mark Ingram to Philly” evolving storyline makes you pump the breaks about likely first year impact for someone like Pumphrey. Williams might be the best pure fantasy value, however as he has good physical traits a chance to come in and battle for the starting position in an offense which features Aaron Rodgers. Williams should a target for anyone looking at rookies to fill out their roster and while I actually like Gallman a bit more as a player thanks to his pass catching skills, Gallman’s OL in New York isn’t all that great as noted. I like both Williams and Gallman a lot, though and believe they could be two RB’s you want to pursue in RSO and other fantasy formats.

Hopefully these notes will help, but monitoring team news and roster changes as we head toward the summer months is also critical. Whether utilizing the RSO platform or should you be more involved in other formats, knowledge of rookies and their impact early on can be a major difference maker in a successful fantasy campaign. This league is so injury-prone that depth charts are picked apart from time to time. Rookies are called upon to perform sooner rather than later and knowledge of these first year talents can be critical. We look forward to bringing you coverage of the fantasy landscape as it enters into yet another season and wish you the best in your preparation.

Author: Richard Salvatori (@dickiesalvo)

FA Expectancy: Veteran RBs

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. I decided that we should talk about these three veteran running backs in the same article as I see them fitting similarly with their new teams.

Marshawn Lynch – RB, Oakland Raiders

Marshawn Lynch signed a two-year deal with his hometown Oakland Raiders and I mentioned in my last article what I think he can bring to the team. To save you the full read I think unless you are: a) contending b) desperate at running back AND; c) can acquire him for very cheap I don’t think he’s worth having an investment in before we see something from him on the field.

Adrian Peterson – RB, New Orleans Saints

Adrian Peterson also signed a two-year deal to play with the New Orleans Saints. Mark Ingram owners immediately cursed Sean Payton’s name when the news broke. To go along with that they drafted Alvin Kamara in the third round and now people are scrambling to see what they can get for him. The Peterson signing was an interesting one as the Saints are a “spread’em out, aerial assault” offense that would have been better suited for a shifty pass catching back more like the next RB I am going to talk about. Peterson has always been a downhill runner that benefits more from a lead blocker. This could be a situation where they just don’t utilize him properly, he becomes frustrated with his role and New Orleans becomes just a one year footnote in his otherwise outstanding career (à la Emmitt Smith with the Cardinals).

Jamaal Charles – RB, Denver Broncos

Jamaal Charles signed a one-year deal with the rival Broncos to further question what the resigning of CJ Anderson was for last season. Anderson hasn’t been healthy since he broke out 3 years ago so this makes sense as a cost-saving insurance plan but why not get younger at the position through a draft that featured plenty of running back depth. Unless they think that they are still competing with New England, Pittsburgh and Oakland as favorites to win the AFC and Charles can cover up the obvious limitation of their current quarterback situation it’s a real head-scratcher.

The amount that Charles signed for shows that there wasn’t a market for aging backs that have been banged up this season. Of the three of these backs, I think Charles has the lowest floor. He fits well with what the Broncos usually have tried to do with a zone running scheme but he might not have anything left from his two knee injuries that limited him to a handful of snaps last season. I honestly would have liked to have seen him retire to cement his name atop that yard per carry career record that he deserved during his KC tenure.

So what does this mean for their new teams?

Oakland RaidersIn short, probably not a whole lot. I don’t see the Raiders becoming a ground and pound team but rather using Lynch similar to how the Patriots had deployed LeGarrette Blount recently with a steady diet of touches inside the 20s and to salt game away late. Therefore, it could have a negative impact on the available red zone targets that Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and other receivers earn. It can, however, help keep safeties in the box and away from the deep routes for David Carr to throw passes to. This, of course, is all predicated on Lynch being “Beast-Mode” and not a guy who is over 30 years old and took a year off of playing professional football because of back and other injury concerns.

Saints LogoPeterson probably fills the same role as Lynch and will be very touchdown dependent in 2017. Again, the Saints receivers probably get a downgrade in red zone targets but an uptick in favorable coverage situations. With the amount that Drew Brees works it around, I don’t see it being as big of a knock as it would be to the Raiders pass catchers.

I have no idea what this means for Mark Ingram though. When they signed Peterson I thought that he might slide into a more pass catching role but with the drafting of Kamara, I don’t see how he fits at all. Both he and Jeremy Hill are two veteran runners that I can see playing in a different uniform before the season starts. He could be a smart hold/buy really low in fantasy right now in case they move him before training camp to a team that he could once again be the primary back. He still has valuable talent left but Sean Payton just has what seems like a personal vendetta against utilizing him.

broncosCharles is likely the least impactful to the players around him by signing with Denver. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are still going to produce WR2 numbers whether it’s Charles, Anderson or whoever else is lining up in the backfield. This should still be Anderson job to loose unless Charles returns to 2013 form. Either way, it’s a risky move to invest in anyone from this backfield right now.

So what does this do for their values?

In standard leagues, I think if they are cheap to acquire (both in cap space and in traded assets) then Lynch and Peterson could have some value with their touchdown upside. In PPR leagues I just don’t see either one being more reliable than anything else that you could acquire at auction for much cheaper. If any of these guys are undervalued it’s likely Charles who you might be able to get at the minimum in your auction depending on your league’s perception of him. In all cases, I would just avoid making a move for any of these backs before seeing whether they have something left in the tank. If they show some value and you need a second or third runner for the playoffs you will likely still be able to acquire them for late seconds and even third round picks.

Does this mean anything for their previous team?

All three players were a non-factor for their teams in 2016 which is why they were let go in the offseason. Seattle added Eddy Lacy to complement C.J. Prosise and Thomas Rawls, the Vikings signed Latavius Murray and drafted Dalvin Cook, and the Chiefs drafted Kareem Hunt to go along with Spencer Ware. Of these three vacated situations I would guess that Hunt has the best chance to separate himself and become prominently featured.

It is definitely a murky time to be acquiring running backs. My strategy for RSO auctions this season will be to acquire the cheapest asset from several backfields on one-year contracts and hope that one or two can take the reins by midseason. That way if they hit I have a low-cost starter to leverage spending elsewhere if I need to make a playoff push. Alternatively, I can move them to contenders for middle round picks if my team is floundering during the heavy bye weeks in midseason. Either way, I do not want to be investing too much future capital in high-risk veterans this year and will wait till 2018 to see if any rookies are able to cement a role in their offense.

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? Look for my polls to cast your vote or send me a message on Twitter @naandrews19.

1st Round NFL Draft Trades

Updated: July 23rd 2017

Another NFL draft began with a boom in 2017. We only waited until the 2nd pick of the night for a trade.  But who came up ahead and which teams were the proverbial babies having their candy taken away. I look at some of the trades occurring in the 1st round this year, analyzing the value and implications for each team involved.

My trade values in parentheses below were taken from Kevin Meers study on NFL draft pick values.  The value chart is a modification from the standard NFL Draft Trade Chart (NDFT) utilized by many NFL teams.  There are many different analytical studies on the value of draft picks but most agree that the NDFT tends to significantly overvalue early picks and undervalues mid to late-round picks.  The reliance on the NDFT leads to big overpays for many teams trading up in the draft.

Another issue that comes up when examining trades is how to value future picks. There are two primary problems which present themselves.  First, we do not know where a team will finish in the standings next season.  Second, the value of draft picks (like most things) tends to diminish over time.  The 18th pick in 2017 is generally worth more than the 18th pick in 2018 for example.  To address these issues, I estimated next year’s finish and discounted the pick value by 20% (a somewhat heavy discount).  Now, on to the trades.

San Francisco gives #2 (435.7)

Chicago gives #3 (401.3), 67 (125.8), 111 (87.4), and 2018 3rd (94.4)

There is no other way to put it. Chicago took a pounding on this deal.  The Bears have massive question marks all over the roster including secondary, wide receivers, and tight end.  They simply could not afford to give up this amount of picks, particularly in a draft considered very deep by most analysts, for a quarterback with the amount of question marks associated with Trubisky.  The new Bears signal-caller must become a top-ten quarterback for this trade to work out.

New San Francisco General Manager John Lynch, on the other hand, absolutely nailed his first trade. They crushed the value side (708.9 to 435.7).  The 49ers move down one spot, get the player they were going to take at two, while also accumulating valuable picks on a team needing talent across the roster.  Great trade for San Francisco.

Buffalo gives #10 (299.1)

Kansas City gives #27 (214.7), 91 (102.7), and 2018 1st (182.7)

This was one of the more bizarre moves of the night. Kansas City is one of the more solid teams across the board, but has some big depth issues, particularly on defense.  The Chiefs could have used playmakers on a true contender which has won 23 games over the last two seasons.  Mahomes has major mechanical and decision-making issues plus will need to learn the basics of NFL QB play coming from Texas Tech. There are certainly extraordinary physical gifts, but trading up (at a big cost) for a long-term developmental quarterback is a bit of a head-scratcher.

Buffalo demonstrated that they understood the many holes on their team. The Bills addressed a big need with cornerback Tre’Davious White at the end of the first round, while accumulating more picks for a new coaching staff, and handily won the value game big-time here (a continuing storyline for teams trading down).

Cleveland gives #12 (283.6)

Houston gives #25 (221.3) and 2018 1st (207.4)

This trade was a direct development of the previous two trades for quarterbacks. Houston, without any clear plan at quarterback, panicked after two QBs went early in the draft.  This is what happens when a team has most of the pieces to compete except for the all-important quarterback.  The Texans are hoping for a Dak Prescott-type performance from DeShaun Watson but the odds are against rookie quarterbacks succeeding in the first season.

For Cleveland, this is simply what the new management team does. The Browns trade down for great value and collect future high-end picks.  After taking Miles Garrett at number 1, Cleveland adds one of the more intriguing prospects, safety Jabrill Peppers, at 25.  Peppers is a tremendous athlete who can play a variety of positions at the NFL level.  Cleveland has time to develop and mold the former Wolverine into a true weapon.

Seattle gives #31 (203)

San Francisco gives #34 (170.3) and 111 (87.4)

John Lynch made day 1 of the NFL draft look easy. San Francisco pounced on the hammer-hitting linebacker, Rueben Foster, when he fell down the draft due to character concerns and a diluted drug sample at the NFL combine.   Lynch revealed Foster was a top-3 player on the 49ers draft board.  This is a perfect example of when trading up works.  San Francisco takes a moderate risk and gives up a little draft value for a high-upside player who could easily make up the value difference and a lot more.

The move also makes a lot of sense for the Seahawks continuing their strategy of accumulating mid-round picks for small drops in draft position. Seattle has massive holes on the offensive line and somewhat surprising, only one offensive lineman was off the board when the trade occurred.  Seattle moves back and is guaranteed one the top-4 offensive lineman on their board if that is the direction they choose.

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.

FA Expectancy: Latavius Murray

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.

Latavius Murray – RB, Minnesota Vikings

It is hard to find anyone that the fantasy community is more down on than Latavius Murray in 2017. After letting Adrian Peterson walk the Vikings signed Murray to a 3 year/ $15million deal to theoretically lead their backfield on the first two downs. Many question what Murray can really offer his new team as he was never able to carry the full workload in Oakland in 2016. His move from a top 5 rated Raiders offensive line to a bottom 5 rated Vikings doesn’t really help his cause either. But he is technically the lead back (as of writing this article before the NFL Draft) so he should get a fair share of the touches. Is he a sneaky buy-low candidate?

Tyler Buecher of NumberFire looked at how penalties, specifically pass interference calls, can affect the season end results for fantasy numbers and whether some players were negatively and positively affected because of them. His results can be found here. For running backs, these were the players that received the most benefits from the calls.


1st-and-Goal Penalty TDs

Total TDs

Fantasy Finish

LeGarrette Blount




Latavius Murray




Lamar Miller




Melvin Gordon




Devonta Freeman




Doug Martin




Ezekiel Elliott




Matt Asiata





Murray benefited the second most from pass interferences calls with four of his twelve rushing touchdowns coming from an interference call leading to 1st and goal from the 1-yard line. Since we know that touchdowns fluctuate season-to-season it wouldn’t be surprising to see a decline in his totals, especially with a team that will have less frequent trips inside the red zone. Ironically, Matt Asiata is also on this list which suggests that the Vikings are indeed a candidate for goal line touchdowns to regress next season.

So what does this mean for Vikings players?

The short answer is not much. Murray may or may not be the bruiser back heading into 2017 with Jerrick McKinnon continuing his role as the change-of-pace and satellite receiving back. I expect the Vikings to take a running back in the draft to try and groom into their featured runner once they move on from Murray. If there are any Bishop Sankey truthers still left out there this might be his last opportunity to be a usable NFL running back in case Murray falters or more likely gets injured. In really deep leagues Sankey could be a dart throw that pays off for a couple of games if he shows that he can ward off any potential incoming rookies should Murray be absent from the lineup.

I guess you could call this an upgrade for Sam Bradford who had zero options for handing the ball off last season. It’s unlikely that any coordinator will fear the run game though so the Vikings should expect aggressive blitzes and plenty of nickel and dime packages to cover the receivers and tight end. Murray’s presence could have a negative impact on the receivers scoring opportunities inside the 10 yard line as there were nine passing touchdowns that came within 10 yards of the end zone in 2016 (4 to Kyle Rudolph, and 1 each to McKinnon, Stefon Diggs, Jarius Wright, Cordarrelle Patterson and Adam Thielen).

So what is Murray’s Value?

As previously stated the Murray stock is at an all-time low so if you were ever going to get in cheap now is the time. He’s been moved around in my home league four times already this offseason and I have had several other offers in other leagues with him as a throw in. As Bernard Faller pointed out in his article, “Read the Fine Print” while Murray’s contract may be for 3 years it really works out to be a 1 year deal with additional team option years added on. He essential could be cut at the start of next season and save the Vikings $5.1million in cap space. This is why I expect the team to invest and develop a running back from this loaded class to then hand him the keys in 2018.

If Murray is available in your auction you should be able to get him dirt cheap as a 1-year rental player that could be used for decent matchups. Otherwise, unless Murray is on a steal of contract I wouldn’t value him for more than a third round pick. There are too many lottery ticket running backs that could increase their value by 2018 in the second or third round to settle for a low floor RB2/3 like Murray.

So what does this mean for the Raiders?

The Raiders have been linked to bringing the corpse of Marshawn Lynch back for weeks now and while playing behind that offensive line would give him some value I just don’t see it being worth it for real or fantasy purposes. Bringing in fresh legs from the draft would be the best option for the team and any player they select will see his rankings shoot up the rookie ADP rankings. DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard were nice waiver wire additions last year and they still hold value right now especially if a back isn’t selected by the end of day 2. However, Washington wasn’t a high selection either (5th Round) and Richard was an UDFA so the Raiders do not owe them anything for playing time. They are both savvy players to watch for in your auctions but don’t get carried away in a bidding war for mediocrity.

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? Look for my polls to cast your vote or send me a message on Twitter @naandrews19.

The Kaepernick Question

Updated: July 23rd 2017

One of the more interesting debates this NFL offseason revolves around why former San Francisco quarterback does not have a job yet. The arguments tend to range primarily around 1) declining football skills versus 2) bias due to his political stance last season but also move into somewhat bizarre areas such as his vegan diet. This article focuses the discussion to the football realm and whether his football abilities, recent production, and market forces dictate he should indeed possess a starting job.

What Kaepernick is as a Quarterback

Before we examine where the free agent quarterback is in his development, we need to look at how he was viewed early in his career. Perhaps no statement demonstrates the sky-high expectations for Kaepernick better than a certain ESPN analysts’ famous quote (one I am sure he would like to take back) leading into the 2013 NFL season.

“I truly believe Colin Kaepernick could be one of the greatest quarterbacks ever,” – Ron Jaworkski.

Obviously this quote seems silly now but Jaworski was not alone in thinking Kaepernick could be a game-changer at the quarterback position. Kaepernick displayed a rocket arm combined with a tremendous athletic profile which was showcased during his spectacular 2012 playoff run in which he made one big play after another leading San Francisco to the Super Bowl.

So what happened? The most basic answer is that Kaepernick never evolved as a passer in the league.  Looking back at a few weaknesses reported in his NFL Draft Profile sheds some insight into the issue: “Has not been asked to make NFL progressions and reads. Misses too many short passes. Doesn’t have consistent touch on the deep ball. Release is somewhat elongated and can dip down to sidearm at times.”  Sound familiar?  It should if you have watched many San Francisco games.  Kaepernick still has major accuracy issues, struggles to make the most basic NFL-level reads, and never addressed his throwing motion.  In addition, he also breaks out of the pocket far too often from imagined pressure.  But do his weaknesses on film show up on in his production?  We can take a look at the numbers below.

We can clearly see his career play deteriorating from Table 1 below. QBR (ESPN) and DVOA (Football Outsiders) are respective measures of quarterback value per play from each site. Both measures are publicly available and rely on play-level data to assess quarterback play taking into account surrounding circumstances.  QBR, for example, splits responsibility for drops and yards per reception among quarterbacks and receivers on each play.  QBR and DVOA listed in Table 1 reflect Kaepernick’s QBR and DVOA rank among qualified NFL quarterbacks over the past five seasons.  His DVOA rank went from one of the best during his rookie season to one of the NFL’s worst over the last couple of seasons among starting quarterbacks.

Colin Kaepernick Jay Cutler
Year Games QBR Pass DVOA Games QBR Pass DVOA
2012 13 N/A* N/A 3 15 22 25 27
2013 16 8 25.5 7 11 3 35 13
2014 16 17 30.3 29 15 16 32.6 22
2015 9 29 0.4 35 15 10 45 9
2016 12 23 -0.3 30 5 N/A** N/A N/A
Table 1: Kaepernick vs. Cutler
*Not enough plays to qualify but ranked 4th.
**Not enough plays to qualify. QBR was far below Kaepernick’s and DVOA one spot ahead.

Possibly even more indicative of his struggles as a quarterback over the last couple of seasons is examining his expected points added on passing plays (Pass in Table 1). Kaepernick, quite literally, added practically no expected points in the passing game during the 2015 and 2016 seasons where he ranked at the bottom of the league.  To put this in context, he provided far less value as a passer in 2016 than other much-maligned starting quarterbacks including Brock Osweiler, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Case Keenan.

So what does Kaepernick bring as a quarterback? The answer is clearly the ability to take over games with his legs where his athletic abilities can truly shine.  The 49er accumulated more expected points from rushes than any other quarterback during the 2016 season despite playing in only 12 games.  He can bring value to a team relying on the run game where Kaepernick can be utilized substantially on play action passes limiting his deficiencies as a pocket passer and also on zone-read schemes to further emphasize the rushing attack.

The Market for Kaepernick

As detailed in my report on possible quarterback landing spots, Kaepernick faced a market loaded with players available who have starting NFL experience.  In addition, the former 49er’s limited passing abilities make him a niche player in the league with only a handful of coordinators and coaches willing to structure an offense around his skills.  Most rebuilding teams prefer a more traditional pocket passer to match with developing young receivers. This left very few teams in a position to utilize Kaepernick’s skills with coaching staffs willing to restructure their offense around him.

We also need to look at Kaepernick’s remaining completion for a starting job. Let us begin with Jay Cutler, another spited quarterback on the unemployed block.  Referring again to Table 1, it is fairly clear that Cutler has been the superior player in aggregate over the last few seasons.  The former Bear produced QBRs in the top half of the league in each of his last three qualifying seasons (2013-2015), each of which exceeded Kaepernick, while also amassing more production as a passer.  We also need to remember that the NFL draft has not yet occurred and that many teams will be looking toward rookies for near-term and future starters.

The demand for starting quarterbacks has only shrunk since the start of free agency. Buffalo restructured Tyrod Taylor’s contract.  San Francisco (Brian Hoyer) and New York (Josh McCown) signed cheaper short-term stopgaps, likely in preparation for adding a longer-term starter in the near future or further evaluating young quarterbacks on the roster in the Jets case.   Chicago opted for Mike Glennon.  Only Houston and Cleveland remain as viable starting options.  The Browns just released Robert Griffin III, a player with a similar skill-set to Kaepernick, making Cleveland an unlikely landing spot.

Kaepernick’s Expectations

I am not privy to Kaepernick’s thoughts but we can extrapolate his possible initial expectations based on his actions and reports coming out of free agency. Kaepernick opted out of his $14.5 milliion base salary with San Francisco in 2017.  Various reports also had the current free agent initially asking for a starting spot at about $10 million per season while teams signed other starting options for significantly less money.  It becomes fairly obvious that Kaepernick’s contract expectations did not match the thinking of NFL teams.

The Verdict

I do not doubt that some teams may have removed Colin Kaepernick from employment consideration due to his political views, but the data overwhelmingly suggests Colin Kaepernick’s unemployment relates primarily to his football skills. He has not performed as more than a lower-tier quarterback for years and his passing skills never developed in the time with San Francisco.  Kaepernick likely viewed himself as a definitive starter on the open-market where NFL teams probably viewed him as a backup or bottom-tier option competing for the starting job.  His employment opportunities were also likely hurt by the high number of quarterbacks with starting experience available this offseason.  Kaepernick will probably find a job eventually based on his early career success but that opportunity could very well come following the NFL draft where teams firm up their rosters.

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.