Mock Draft Trends

Updated: July 23rd 2017

Does anybody else have Mock Draft Fever yet?  I sure do.  I’ve been checking out various mocks around the interwebs and have noticed two trends that I think are important for RSO owners to keep in mind as we head into the combine season.  Will things change as we progress through the combine and pro-days, certainly, but starting your research now is still a good idea.  Here are two story lines that RSO owners need to pay attention to as they start their mock draft and rookie research.

Offensive Line is Almost Historically Weak

Since 1999, an offensive lineman was not taken in the Top 10 just twice: 2015 and 2005.  Ultimately, like the quarterback position, I think team need will supersede talent and somebody will reach for whomever they feel is the top graded tackle.  You may be asking yourself, who cares, I’m not drafting Cam Robinson regardless of where he goes in the NFL draft.  Of course, but I think this is important for two reasons…
  1. The later the first offensive lineman is taken, the higher the potential that star offensive skill position rookies get drafted higher (i.e. by worse teams)
  2. The earlier the first offensive lineman is taken, the more likely a “run” on them starts because teams are worried they will get stuck with a third-rate tackle
Let’s use a real example to illustrate both ideas and how they could play out.  If the Jaguars, who arguably need both OL and RB help, take RB Leonard Fournette at #4, the next likely landing spot for the first OL would be the Chargers, Panthers or Bengals at #7-9.  If they all skip on OL too, it’s possible we may not see an OL taken until #14 and the Colts who desperately need to protect Andrew Luck.  If the Jaguars go OL first, maybe Fournette falls to #8 and the Panthers, which would look A LOT better for his rookie RSO prospects than the Jaguars.  If the Jaguars do go OL and it causes any of the next ten teams to panic and grab their own over a skill position player, it could mean somebody like WR Corey Davis falling to a better offense like the Titans or Bucs to pair with their young franchise QBs.

2017 Could be the Year of the 1st Round RB

Depending on which mock draft you look at, we will likely have multiple RBs taken in the 1st Round, probably three.  Fournette will undoubtedly go first followed by Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffery.  The draft fortunes of RBs has fluctuated over the last twenty years but over the last five years specifically, the demand for rookie RBs has trended downward.  We could argue if that has more to do with the talent of the players or the importance of the position to NFL teams but that is a conversation for another day.

The last two years gave us Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon, but 2014 and 2013 gave us zero 1st Round backs.  2012 was the last time that three RBs were drafted in the 1st Round but two of those were at #31 and #32.  You’d have to go back to 2010 to see a stronger crop with #9, #12 and #30.  Looking back at the 1st Round names before the 2013-14 drought is scary: Trent Richardson, Doug Martin, David Wilson, Mark Ingram, CJ Spiller, Ryan Mathews and Jahvid Best.  The best of this group, Martin and Ingram, are viable RB1s in RSO formats today but they have had bad seasons along the way and aren’t without question (you could throw Gurley and Gordon in that mix too – of course Elliot is a step above them all).  Spiller, Richardson and Mathews have had varying levels of success but none proved to be dynasty assets.  Wilson and Best were both out of the league prematurely due to injury.  Should you be scared of drafting a 1st Round RB for your RSO dynasty?  Probably if his name is not Leonard Fournette.

I think 2017 should probably be a two RB year in the NFL Draft’s 1st Round: Fournette and Cook.  After seeing the success of Elliot in 2016 though, I would not be surprised if some team who thinks their OL is on the rise tries to recreate that magic, albeit with a lesser back.  I predict somebody will reach for McCaffery in the 24-30 range and would not be surprised to see either Joe Mixon (despite his off field issues) or Wayne Gallman (after all of Clemson’s success the last two years) get a nod at #32 if the Patriots trade out which they often do.  Your RSO draft of course will look different with only skill position players but at this point in the process, I would be hesitant to take Cook higher than 1.05 and for McCaffery/Mixon I would wait even a few picks later (of course that could all change based on who drafts these guys).

*Note: When researching college players I use a number of resources, I would recommend bookmarking the below sites…

  • Stats: espn.com, sports-reference.com, cfbstats.com
  • Film: draftbreakdown.com
  • Draft info and mocks: draftcountdown.com, nfldraftscout.com, walterfootball.com, mattwaldmanrsp.com, ESPN’s First Draft podcast
  • Draft history: drafthistory.com/

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

2017 Top 25s: WRs and TEs

Updated: July 16th 2017

Since RSO has rolled over to 2017, now’s the perfect time to revisit your rosters and start planning for the next season!

Do you have any players on your team that warrant a franchise tag?  Is it time to shop a player who’s 2016 didn’t meet your expectations and now burdens you with a high salary contract?  My “way too early” PPR rankings, known as my 2017 Top 25s, are here to help with those decisions!

If you missed part 1, I explored quarterbacks and running backs.

In part 2 of my 2017 Top 25s, I’ll finish by examining the wide receiver and tight end positions:

 

Top 25 WRs for 2017

While several of the top WRs didn’t pan out in 2016, I wouldn’t shy away from a WR-heavy strategy in 2017. The top 7 in my rankings have shown year-over-year consistency, which should ease the minds of those recently burned by Hopkins and Robinson. In 12 team leagues, I’d want to leave the auction with at least 3 WRs from this list. since the depth from 13 to 25 is much stronger at WR than it is at RB.

 

Top 25 TEs for 2017

In 2017, I plan to target Gronkowski, Kelce, and Reed with AAV (average annual values) over $10 million per season. If I strike out on the three of them, I’m likely to wait and select 1-2 TEs from the 9-18 range of my rankings and hope that one can turn into someone I’m comfortable starting on weekly basis.

My Recommendation

Take an hour this weekend and send out personal emails to all of your fellow owners. Get the trade conversations started because they likely won’t come knocking down your door to acquire one of these players you’re looking to vanquish from your roster. Explain what you’re looking to accomplish, who interests you on their team, and provide an idea of how a potential deal could be reached. If you’re in an active league, you’ll be surprised at the quality of responses you receive.

I followed this recommendation last year, revamped one of my teams almost from scratch, and ended up winning the league.  Have a few minutes?  Read my article on Pressing the Reset Button to find out more about how this strategy can work for you.


Bio: An avid fan of all things NFL, Dave has been playing fantasy football since 1999.  Though Dave participates in all types of fantasy football including redraft and daily, he prefers keeper and dynasty leagues as talent evaluation and scouting are integral components of each.  Follow him on Twitter @DaveSanders_RSO

2017 Top 25s: QBs and RBs

Updated: July 16th 2017

Since RSO has rolled over to 2017, now’s the perfect time to revisit your rosters and start planning for the next season!

Do you have any players on your team that warrant a franchise tag?  Is it time to shop a player who’s 2016 didn’t meet your expectations and now burdens you with a high salary contract?  My “way too early” PPR rankings, known as my 2017 Top 25s, are here to help with those decisions!

In part 1 of my 2017 Top 25s, I’ll explore the quarterback and running back positions:

 

Top 25 QBs for 2017

Aaron Rodgers is in a tier of his own, making him an elite asset in Superflex and 2QB leagues. Tony Romo and Jimmy Garoppolo are two of the most intriguing names on this list. Over the next few months, we should find out where they’ll play in 2017. If either lands in Denver or Houston, expect their values to rise even higher up this list.

Top 25 RBs for 2017

Le’Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliott, and David Johnson form the elite trio of RBs that should command the highest AAV (average annual value) of any players in free agency auctions. Rookies Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette could be RB1s in the right situation. Coming off major injuries, veteran RBs Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson just missed the top 25. If they appear healthy as the season approaches and have promised roles, both could be underrated RB2s that will be undervalued in many free agency auctions.

My recommendation

Take an hour this weekend and send out personal emails to all of your fellow owners. Get the trade conversations started because they likely won’t come knocking down your door to acquire one of these players you’re looking to vanquish from your roster. Explain what you’re looking to accomplish, who interests you on their team, and provide an idea of how a potential deal could be reached. If you’re in an active league, you’ll be surprised at the quality of responses you receive.

I followed this recommendation last year, revamped one of my teams almost from scratch, and ended up winning the league.  Have a few minutes?  Read my article on Pressing the Reset Button to find out more about how this strategy can work for you.


Bio: An avid fan of all things NFL, Dave has been playing fantasy football since 1999.  Though Dave participates in all types of fantasy football including redraft and daily, he prefers keeper and dynasty leagues as talent evaluation and scouting are integral components of each.  Follow him on Twitter @DaveSanders_RSO

5 Overlooked 2016 Performances

Updated: July 16th 2017

While 2016 produced more fantasy football content than ever, I believe these 5 players performances flew under the radar.  This piece will highlight the productive seasons of Pierre Garcon, Cole Beasley, and Carlos Hyde, while exploring Breshad Perriman and Dorial Green-Beckham‘s second seasons in the NFL.  Let’s dig in…

Carlos Hyde RB SF

2014  83 carries – 333 yards – 4.0 YPC – 4 TDs

2015  115 carries – 470 yards – 4.1 YPC – 3 TDs

2016  217 carries – 988 yards – 4.6 YPC – 6 TDs

Being a member of a dreadful 49ers team has not prevented Carlos Hyde from being a productive fantasy asset.  Though an arbitrary measurement, he’s one of eight running backs since 1970 to average over 4 yards per carry in each of his first three seasons (min. 80 carries per season).  Others include Herschel Walker, Thurman Thomas, Fred Taylor, DeAngelo Williams, and Jonathan Stewart.  For San Francisco, there’s nowhere to go but up.  If the 49ers become more competitive, Hyde could vault himself into a weekly RB1 lock.

Pierre Garcon WR WAS

2013  113 receptions – 181 targets – 1,346 yards – 11.9 yards per rec – 5 TDs

2014  68 receptions – 105 targets – 752 yards – 11.1 yards per rec – 3 TDs

2015  72 receptions – 111 targets – 777 yards – 10.8 yards per rec – 6 TDs

2016  79 receptions – 114 targets – 1,041 yards – 13.2 yards per rec – 3 TDs

2016 was Pierre Garcon‘s best season since his 181 target outlier season in 2013.  On 3 more targets than 2015, Garcon improved his Y/R by nearly 2 1/2 yards and increased his catch percentage by almost 5%.  Garcon enters free agency as one of the best available receivers.  Regardless of where he signs this off-season, Garcon has re-established himself as a fantasy relevant player and someone I’d offer a 1 or 2 year RSO contract.

Cole Beasley WR DAL

2014  37 receptions – 49 targets – 420 yards – 11.4 yards per rec – 4 TDs

2015  52 receptions – 75 targets – 536 yards – 10.3 yards per rec – 5 TDs

2016  75 receptions – 98 targets – 833 yards – 11.1 yards per rec – 5 TDs

Cole Beasley quietly finished the 2016 season as the #33 WR in PPR scoring, according to ESPN Scoring Leaders.  With a career-best and team-high 98 targets, Beasley‘s role expanded from valuable role player to the team’s #2 WR.   In my opinion, there’s no reason to expect his role to diminish as he enters his age-28 season because Dallas has many needs to address on the defensive side of the ball this off-season.

Breshad Perriman WR BAL

2015  n/a

2016 33 receptions – 66 targets – 499 yards – 15.1 yards per rec – 3 TDs

While Perriman‘s dynasty value is at an all-time low, his 2016 season encouraged his owners as he was able to suit up for all 16 games.  Playing third and sometimes fourth banana in Baltimore, Perriman finished 2016 with 499 yards.  The yardage may not seem impressive, but Perriman flashed his upside with several big plays.  Let’s not forget he ran a 4.24 at the 2015 NFL Combine.  His potential remains the same as when he was drafted.  Sure we have more awareness of his injury history, but I consider this to be a great time to buy Perriman.  He should enter next season as one of Baltimore’s best options in the passing game and can hopefully take that next step after participating fully in OTAs and training camp.

Dorial Green-Beckham WR PHI

2015 w/ Titans 32 receptions – 66 targets – 549 yards – 17.2 yards per rec – 4 TDs

2016 w/ Eagles 36 receptions – 74 targets – 392 yards – 10.9 yards per rec – 2 TDs

With plenty of opportunity on an Eagles team dearth of receivers, Green-Beckham failed to earn a prominent role in Doug Pederson’s offense.  This is best exemplified by his 13% target share in the 15 games he played last season.  Green-Beckham‘s yards per reception plummeted from 17.2 to 10.9 after failing to show much route versatility besides the slants he so frequently ran.

Among 2nd-year receivers with 70+ targets, Dorial Green-Beckham has the 9th lowest Yards/Target since 1970.  As the Eagles look to bolster Carson Wentz‘ supporting cast, DGB is no lock for a prominent role in 2017.

*All stats from www.pro-football-reference.com


Bio: An avid fan of all things NFL, Dave has been playing fantasy football since 1999.  Though Dave participates in all types of fantasy football including redraft and daily, he prefers keeper and dynasty leagues as talent evaluation and scouting are integral components of each.  Follow him on Twitter @DaveSanders_RSO

Can the Seahawks Make a Run?

Updated: July 23rd 2017

As someone living in Seattle who closely monitors the Seahawks every season, this season feels very different. There is no consistent, dominant defense, no running game, and the team has committed very little financially to the offensive line. Yet as of right now, Las Vegas is still giving the Seahawks 12-1 odds to win the Super Bowl, which is the exact same as the Atlanta Falcons. Here’s three reasons why it won’t happen.

1) The Void of Earl Thomas

While Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett may be the most vocal on the Seahawks defense, Earl Thomas is their clear defensive leader. The defense clearly hasn’t been the same since Thomas sustained his broken leg in Week 13 vs. Carolina. To wit, they’ve given up an average of 24.5 points a game in the four games since Thomas got hurt and that total would be considerably higher if they didn’t happen upon the anemic Rams offense in one of those weeks. You can beat this team through the air of late as Steven Terrell does not hit like Thomas, nor have the awareness to provide the right help as evident in this Davante Adams 66 yard touchdown and this 80 yard touchdown bomb to J.J. Nelson.

Additionally, the leadership qualities that Thomas brings in the huddle and on the sidelines are clearly missing and now distractions like Richard Sherman’s supposed media boycott are interfering with the play on the field. This is the type of situation that doesn’t get questioned when teams are winning handily and humming along, but when teams start to show cracks, issues like this become common. To me, this is one sign that the writing is on the wall for the Seahawks.

2) The Running Game

By now you have probably seen this Beast Mode video, but if you haven’t yet thank me later. Aside from a 72 yard touchdown run by C.J. Prosise earlier in the year, there haven’t been many highlights in the run game of late for the Seahawks. In fact, the team finished the season with three straight games rushing for under 100 yards.

The problem here is twofold: first, injuries have hampered Russell Wilson’s ability to run the read option which had previously produced success for both Wilson getting yardage in chunks as well as running backs like Thomas Rawls. Second, the offensive line has been abysmal from a blocking perspective, as noted in this Football Outsiders table which shows the Seahawks offensive line ranked second-to-worst in the NFL in running up the middle and 29th running to the left end. With these stats, maybe there’s a reason Wilson threw the ball from the goal line against the Rams.

While all indications are that both Wilson and Rawls are at their healthiest since the season began, the Seahawks defense, plus the power run game/read option all have to be working like clockwork for the team to be dominant. Perhaps the Seahawks are gearing up for this in the playoffs, but can the line hold up and can the Seahawks stop opposing offenses routinely too? Seems doubtful.

3) The Opponents After This Week/The Kicking Game

As I predicted in the Reality Sports Online Wildcard Predictions Article, the Seahawks should hold serve at home and win this weekend against the Lions behind the raucous home crowd and playing a suspect Detroit Lions defense. After that, the road gets incredibly difficult.

Personally, I think the Seahawks path ends next week in Atlanta, a team that frankly should have beaten the Seahawks in Seattle earlier in the season. Matt Ryan passed for 335 yards and 3 touchdowns in a narrow 26-24 defeat and Julio Jones had his way with Sherman (7 catches for 139 yards and a TD). The Falcons got little in the run game that week behind Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, but the Falcons offense is humming right now and with the game being played potentially in the Georgia Dome, the Falcons opportunistic defense would make enough plays to beat the Seahawks.

To me the road ends in Atlanta, but if it doesn’t, it would likely end in Dallas or with a loss in the Super Bowl. It would take Russell Wilson going on an Aaron Rodgers type run for me to believe the Seahawks can go all the way this season.

Added to which, if any game gets close, kicker Stephen Hauschka missed six extra points this season (he was very accurate field goal wise, going 33 for 37). He also only made one 50+ yard field goal the entire season.

For all these reasons, and unless Wilson can take his team on a magical carpet ride, I think the Seahawks will be out in the divisional round.


Matt Goodwin is entering his third season as a writer for Reality Sports Online and is in year four of his main league. He also contributes for numberFire. He is an avid sports fan from Cleveland, Ohio who would count a championship for a Cleveland major sports team a close second behind getting married to his wife Renee and the births of his children, Jory (6 year old son) and Lainie (2 year old daughter) and the Cleveland Cavaliers have finally provided that reality! Matt loves mid 90’s hip-hop, playing pick-up hoops, traveling, Ohio State football and Arizona basketball, watching Glengarry Glen Ross for the millionth time and being outside the few months it doesn’t rain in Seattle where he lives. He can be found on Twitter @mattgoody2 and hopes you continue to read his In the Zone articles.

Preseason Predictions Revisited

Updated: May 28th 2017

During training camp five of the RSO writers took on the challenge of looking ahead to the 2016 season and planted our flags on who we expected to take home end of season awards. We also made one BOLD prediction on something happening this season that others were skeptical about. With the fantasy season now behind us let’s revisit these predictions and see how we did.

Comeback Fantasy Player of the Year

Goodwin: Victor Cruz – Cruz was on a role the first month of the season scoring double-digit fantasy points in his first four games. Unfortunately, the fairy tale ends there as he only reached those numbers twice in the final eleven games. All the while rookie Sterling Shepard began to find traction and looks like him and Odell Beckham Jr. could be forming a nice 1-2 combination for Big Blue in 2017. We may have seen the last of the salsa dance.

Luke: Tony Romo – Poor Tony. The butt end of every football joke couldn’t even make it to regular season healthy. An injury to his back in the third preseason game led to a rookie QB from Mississippi State named Dak Prescott having to start the first half of the season. He, along with fellow rookie of the year candidate Ezekiel Elliot, revitalized the Cowboys and now is the new face of what Dallas fans hope will be a Super Bowl Champion. As for Romo barring an injury to Prescott in the playoffs, 2016 will be his final season in Big D.

Bernard: Eddie Lacy – The Packers took a little while to get the steam train rolling but after a guaranteed turnaround from front man Aaron Rodgers they are one win away from being the NFC North Champs. But while everyone else in green and gold is having a comeback season Lacy remains the same as 2015 Eddie Lacy. He started off the year slow, with only one double-digit performance before injuring his ankle in week 6. In his contract year and having two stinker years on his resume it’s likely a change would be good for both the Packers and Lacy.

Jordy NelsonDave: Jordy Nelson – People wondered if Nelson was the glue that held the Packers together and sure enough they were right. He had over 15 points in 12 of his 15 games and averaged 26 points in the playoffs. He is the PPR WR2 and looks to be back to full health. Anyone who was able to grab him or Rodgers for a discount was mighty pleased with Nelson’s return.

Nick: Dez Bryant – As expected there were a lot more “Xs” being thrown up in Dallas this season but it might not have as much as what Bryant owners were expecting. Bryant missed games due to injury from weeks 4 through 7 which might have put owners in a big hole going into the second half of the season. He was able to manage over 15 points/game in his 12 games played but anyone who made the playoffs with him was likely bounced early with a 2 point stinker against the Giants in week 14.

Overvalued Player of the Year

Goodwin: Thomas Rawls – Coming into the season everyone was giving their two cents on which 2015 breakout running backs were good and which were a mirage. Turns out that Goody got this one right as Rawls couldn’t shake the injury bug that ended his 2015 season and missed a significant amount of time in 2016 due to various other injuries. His lone 2 touchdown game against Carolina in week 13 was the only week he eclipsed more than 12 fantasy points but that was likely too little too late for owners. It will be interesting to see whether C.J. Prosise has passed Rawls on the depth chart when training camp opens in 2017 and what sort of role Rawls will have moving forward.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo BillsLuke: Le’veon Bell – Those who stuck with Bell through both the suspension and the injury concerns were likely treated to a fantasy championship this season based on his performance and consistency. Once returning from his three-game ban Bell scored 18+ points in 12 of 13 games including a 50 burger in week 14. There is still concern over the long term contract situation in Pittsburgh but owning Bell in 2016 was like printing money.

Bernard: Donte Moncrief – Touchdowns are a hard thing to predict year over year but Moncrief was one of the most consistent players in 2016. He scoring one touchdown in 7 of his 8 games played and average 12.8 points/game played. The emphasis though is “games played” as he missed 7 games throughout the season. Meanwhile, T.Y. Hilton played in all 15 games for the Colts, averaged 17.2 points/game and had four games where he scored over 26 points. If he can stay healthy Moncrief could be a sneaky buy-low for 2017.

Dave: Jordan Matthews – Depending on your expectations of Matthews he was either an incredible asset to have or the bane of your fantasy lineups. Those who saw Matthews as their high-upside WR2 with WR1 potential would have been disappointed with his inconsistent production. But using him as a Flex or WR3 was a nice safe blanket to have averaging 12.2 points/game. Where he likely hurt you though was the last two weeks where he only offered 11.9 points total for weeks 15 & 16. Still, in leagues with more than two starting wide receivers or large flex options Matthews was a low-cost option to fill out an open slot.

Nick: David Johnson – This is simply egg all over my face. Not only did David Johnson not bust the way I had predicted he became the most consistent player for 2016 while also becoming the first player since L.T. to go over 400 fantasy points in a season. Johnson never scored less than 16 PPR points in any game and had 10 games with over 25 points. Both he and Ezekiel Elliot will be considered 1 and 1A in terms of dynasty rankings heading into 2017.

2016 BOLD Predictions

Goodwin: Charles Sims will outscore Doug MartinDavid Johnson

Sadly, both Martin and Sims were a huge disappoint despite the Bucs taking steps forward this season to being playoff ready. Both had injuries reduce their playing time to the point that Jacquizz Rodgers was the Bucs leading rusher with only 485 yards. For this prediction though Sims (69.9) failed to outscore Martin (87.5).

Luke: David Johnson will be the RB1

Luke clearly saw something that I did not and accurately predicted Johnson to be the RB1 for 2016. Johnson did one better by being the highest scoring fantasy player with 406 points.

Bernard: Ryan Mathews will be a top 10 RB

Mathews was plagued with injuries and inconsistency throughout 2016. His first month offered a promising return for those who took a chance on him in free agency however Darren Sproles ended up being the highest scoring running back in Philly. Mathews failed to be even an RB2 for the season.

Dave: Adrian Peterson will NOT be a top 10 RB

Whether Dave was expecting Peterson to succumb to a season-long injury or not he nailed Peterson failing to make the top 10 running backs. It was another tough year for Peterson owners who were trying to milk one more good season before the end of a stellar career. While he is not going to be retiring this season his days in Minnesota are likely over due to salary and performance not lining up. This was also probably Peterson’s last chance to be an every-down back in the NFL.

Nick: Giovanni Bernard will have the most receptions and scrimmage yards for an RB

This was looking to be a good prediction before his injury midway through the season. No, he wasn’t going to be leapfrogging David Johnson in what is a stellar year for him but Gio was doing well catching almost 40 passes out of the backfield and adding another 330 yards in the air. He received a four-year contract extension before training camp which should prevent him from rushing his rehab and risking further injury. If he can return in a similar capacity to Jordy Nelson this year, Gio could be an excellent buy-low candidate during drafts.