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.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

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
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
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.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

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.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

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.

More Analysis by Bernard Faller

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.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

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)

More Analysis by Richard Salvatori