Four weeks into your Reality Sports Online fantasy experience, there have been several surprises. Lesean McCoy has struggled. Adrian Peterson is on paid leave. Tom Brady stinks. While all of these headlines are known to just about everyone, you as an RSO owner are looking for an edge in the regular season. So the first part of this hodgepodge article is a Top 10 Players to Target on Waivers, based on Percentage Owned (any player owned in less than 60% of all Reality Sports Online leagues):
1. Jerick McKinnon, Running Back, Minnesota Vikings (48.3% owned)
If he wasn’t taken in your rookie draft, which his 48.3% owned clip would seem to indicate, pounce on McKinnon following his 18 carry, 135 yard performance in Week 4 vs. the Falcons. He has big play ability and is still a little raw in terms of playing football, but his athleticism is too good for the Vikings to keep off the field. Spending $1-$1.5m of your FAAB dollars on him may be the best investment you spend in free agency this season and if you are rolling in the deep pockets, you can go up another $1 million.
2. Lorenzo Taliaferro, Running Back, Baltimore Ravens (51.7% owned)
The rookie running back has burst onto the scene the past two weeks with two touchdowns and 141 yards rushing. He runs downhill very well and punishes defenders. Keep an eye out to see if Bernard Pierce is slated to return to make the backfield even more crowded with Justin Forsett in the mix as well, but Taliaferro is the best pure rusher of the three.
3. Alfred Blue, Running Back, Houston Texans (59.1% owned)
If you are the owner of Arian Foster, sprint, don’t run or walk to grab Blue off of the waiver wire. Foster’s balky hamstrings are an ongoing concern and the Texans need to mix in the run to keep opposing defenses honest. They can’t rely on J.J. Watt to do everything, right? Blue should be owned in more leagues as an effective handcuff if Foster misses extended time and someone who may get carries to keep Foster fresh as well.
4. Isaiah Crowell, Running Back, Cleveland Browns (59.1% owned)
Yes, another running back, which just shows how the elite running backs have either disappointed, gotten hurt, or both. Crowell has already found a knack to hit paydirt with 141 yards rushing and 3 Touchdowns on the season. I know that Ben Tate is coming back now post bye and Terrance West is in the mix too. However, Crowell has the most talent of any of the Browns running backs and the best ability in Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme. Obviously Tate has had a laundry list of injuries in his career as well, so Crowell certainly should get tote with or without Tate in the mix.
5. Marvin Jones, Wide Receiver, Cincinnati Bengals (57.6% owned)
Marvin Jones had 10 touchdowns in 2013, including a whopping 4 in a single game in 2013. He’s coming back from a leg injury after the team’s Week 4 bye. Look for Jones to establish himself quickly and he would have been a valuable chip in your auction had he not been hurt heading into the season.
6. Eddie Royal, Wide Receiver, San Diego Chargers (32.3% owned)
I know, I know. Royal started hot last season with 5 touchdowns on 10 receptions in his first two games of 2013. Then he burned you when you spent decent FAAB to grab him with a dismal rest of 2013, ceding catches in bunches to then-rookie Keenan Allen. So how do you trust Royal this year after another hot start where he’s totaled 17 receptions on 29 targets for 236 yards and 4 touchdowns, including 4 in the last two games. In this case, you let targets be the indicator and 7 targets a game shows Philip Rivers’ confidence in Royal. Additionally, add in the fact that the Chargers have serious injuries and lack of production in the running game, and Royal becomes a more valuable chip, especially in leagues where you get rewarded for return yardage as Royal is the Chargers primary punt returner, albeit with only 7 returns for 31 yards so far this season.
7. Michael Vick, Quarterback, New York Jets (16.0% owned)
Geno Smith is just not an effective NFL quarterback right now and his turnovers are starting to pile up. Michael Vick still has some gas left in the tank and could be a nice stash on your bench that could pay dividends at some point this season. Imagine the team speed with Vick at quarterback and Chris Johnson at running back.
8. Brian Hoyer, Quarterback, Cleveland Browns (46.8% owned)
My RSO bosses will note that I’m a Browns fan. However, Hoyer’s quick release and offensive efficiency have kept the Browns in games and a few plays away from being 3-0. He has established immediate chemistry with Andrew Hawkins in the slot and makes good decisions. The team just had their bye in Week 4 and should have tight end Jordan Cameron back from a shoulder injury. Cameron should turn into Hoyer’s primary target until Josh Gordon returns at the end of the season. At that point, Hoyer could be very useful to fantasy owners if their starter gets hurt or as a streaming quarterback option.
9. Antone Smith, Running Back, Atlanta Falcons (15.2% owned)
All Smith does is make big plays. He has three touchdowns on the year in limited work and has serious burst in the open field. With Steven Jackson being an older running back, Smith has some flier value as Jacquizz Rodgers and rookie Devonta Freeman haven’t done anything to establish themselves as more than peripheral options. You have to think Smith’s play has earned him more playing time.
10. Houston Texans, Defense/Special Teams, Houston Texans (57.3% owned)
J.J. Watt does everything and now Jadeveon Clowney seems ready to come back in a few weeks. They have made some big plays and also have stopped opposing offenses. Definitely worth considering as a streaming or starting option.
While my team Cleveland’s Award Tour has had a disappointing start from Demaryius Thomas, I feel good about where my team is at following a huge bye week in week 4, as I suffered a close loss to B Ron’s Ballas (Brian Luzier) without Peyton Manning, Thomas, Andre Ellington, Michael Floyd, and the Seahawks DST.
Leo Howell, who does some fantastic writing for numberFire and film study for RotoGrinders and should be followed by all RSO users on Twitter via @LeoHowell8, is undefeated in spite of Jamaal Charles suffering an injury. DeMarco Murray, Antonio Brown, and DeAndre Hopkins have paced Howell thus far and he’s certainly enjoying his debut in a Reality Sports Online league. Luzier has been buoyed by Julius Thomas’ hot start as well as Jordy Nelson, although he was shopping for running backs a few hours ago on the league message board.
La Morsa Roja, led by Tyler Buecher has ridden a hot start from Le’Veon Bell to a 3-1 start, as well as strong WR performances from Randall Cobb and Julio Jones. Lesean McCoy has been disappointing thus far for Tyler, but his team looks formidable after four games. Ari Ross’ The Johnny Cleveland Show would be the #4 seed in the playoffs if they started today in spite of a 2-2 record. Rashad Jennings and Martellus Bennett have been the main contributors to Ross’ early success.
This past weekend, I made my first trade of the regular season in my primary Reality Sports Online league. My league is very unique, so before analyzing any trade, I feel the need to put some context into my team and the competitive landscape. Our league is a 12-team PPR league, where negative plays such as QB interceptions and any player fumbling result in penalties of -5 fantasy points. Additionally, quarterbacks gain 0.5 pts for completions and lose -0.5 for incompletions. We start the following lineups, with an emphasis on flexibility and the fact that the NFL is a passing league: 1 QB, 1 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 DST, 1 K, 3 FLEX (RB/WR/TE). We are in the second year of our league and have 22 man rosters to handle cascading rookie drafts and player contracts in future years.
My team going into the trade was as follows (note I had previously traded for several of these players in 2013 and for A.J. Green in the 2014 offseason (for Colin Kaepernick-3 years, $43.5 million and a 2nd round pick in 2014):
I traded the three players in bold – Larry Fitzgerald, Teddy Bridgewater and Darren McFadden – to a team that entered the league as an early season replacement for a capped out team that was lacking talent in spite of being capped out in 2014. In return, I basically received Alshon Jeffery, for a 1 year, $26.3 million salary. My thought is that in the second year of my league, I have a really good team, especially at wide receiver in a PPR league. Fitzgerald is starting to decline some, but still can be productive, but it was worth it to me to get Jeffery’s upside, even if it is only for a year (he was franchise tagged by other owner). I feel like I have a star at every position, which is important as the league arms race has a few teams that have serious star power as well. While Jeffery has been nursing a hamstring injury, his 100 yard game vs. the Jets on Monday Night Football alleviated any concerns I had about making the deal.
The team I traded with wanted a combination of 2014 cap space, they picked up over $5.0m in the deal, someone they could start this past Sunday (McFadden), a usable good player (Fitzgerald), and most importantly a good future asset on the cheap. Bridgewater’s 2 year, $1.5 million could be a seriously valuable asset to this owner’s team if he becomes a QB1, either to keep or to trade and Bridgewater got off to a great start last Sunday.
I had several players on bye last week, but made a combination of the right starts (other than Kirk Cousins) with Heath Miller and Lamar Miller in my lineup and the addition of Jeffery helped me win last week, raising my record to 2-2 overall (I scored plenty in a Week 1 loss where my opponent put up a league record against me). With the last two playoff spots in our league being determined by Total Points Scored, my star power should alleviate any issues I may encounter from head to head action.
If you want me to dissect any of the Reality Sports Online trades you are contemplating or involved with, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter via @mattgoody2
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