Slicing ’17 Rookie Class into 12 Tiers

Updated: July 23rd 2017

According to a recent poll on our RSO Twitter feed, about 50% of RSO leagues have not yet conducted their rookie drafts.  As you’re continuing your preparation, I’m here to provide my tiered rankings of the top 50 rookies.  Navigating three to four rounds of a rookie draft isn’t easy.  My tiers are designed to help you know when to buy or sell so you can accumulate the best possible rookie class, at great value!

So let’s begin…

Tier 1

1. Corey Davis WR TEN

While Corey Davis may not be quite the same level of prospect as recent 1.01/1.02 picks Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, and Todd Gurley, he’s undoubtedly the best prospect in this class and the only receiver I’m willing to bet will be a true NFL #1.  Putting my money where my mouth is, I already have 3 shares and am aiming for more.

Tier 2

2. Joe Mixon RB CIN
3. Christian McCaffrey RB CAR
4. Leonard Fournette RB JAX

To say you can’t go wrong with picks 2, 3, and 4 would be inaccurate. In a few years, all three will have differing values. But at this point, the margins between each are razor-thin.

Consistent with my general strategy, I’m going to often choose the most talented player regardless of their potential non-talent-related downfalls such as injury history, off-the-field issues, etc. I’ll take Joe Mixon at 2.  He’s the only RB in this class that I believe truly has an elite RB1 ceiling. My rankings 3rd and 4th ranked players differ depending on your scoring system. PPR -> Christian McCaffrey. Standard -> Leonard Fournette.

Tier 3

5. Dalvin Cook RB MIN

While a sub-10th percentile SPARQ score terrifies me, Dalvin Cook‘s college tape tells a different story. I firmly believe that he’s the most talented back on the Minnesota Vikings and it isn’t remotely close. How soon he will earn playing time may be another story. He will need to improve drastically in pass-protection and ball security to earn playing time.

After the 1.05 pick, this draft class falls off a cliff. If you’re slated to pick 6th or later in the first round of a rookie draft this year, I’d advise shopping that pick for help now or 2018/2019 picks.

Tier 4

6. Mike Williams WR LAC

Back injuries are scary. Back injuries are especially scary when learning a NFL playbook for this first time, getting acclimated to a NFL playbook, and completing for playing time among a crowded group of talented receivers. Even if he fully recovers from this injury in time for the season, he’s unlikely to contribute in a meaningful way this season. Still my 1.06, I’d only make that pick if I’ve exhausted every trade possible without coming to an agreement. If Mike Williams struggles for playing time, but appears healthy when on the field, he might be a buy-low target at the trade deadline or during the 2018 off-season

For more info on his injury and the potential need for surgery if the non-surgical route doesn’t work, I’d recommend listening to the AUDIBLE LIVE! Podcast from June 8th as Jene Bramel (@JeneBramel on Twitter) provides great insight.

Tier 5

7. Alvin Kamara RB NO
8. John Ross WR CIN
9. David Njoku TE CLE
10. Evan Engram TE NYG
11. Samaje Perine RB WAS
12. O.J. Howard TE TB
13. Kareem Hunt RB KC

Even if he doesn’t develop as an inside runner, Alvin Kamara will still be a very productive pass-catching back in the NFL. The Saints offense is very RB friendly and neither Adrian Peterson or Mark Ingram are locks for the Saints’ 2018 roster.

Love John Ross‘ talent, but hate the landing spot. Andy Dalton isn’t the ideal QB for him, especially behind a poor offensive line that may force them to focus on getting the ball out of his hands quickly.

My tight end rankings are based on my belief in their long-term upside. Love David Njoku‘s talent and his situation isn’t as bad as many believe, especially with the release of Gary Barnidge. Evan Engram should settle in as a big slot receiver, though classified as a TE, for the Giants once they release he can’t handle the typical blocking duties of an in-line TE.

O.J. Howard likely will end up as the best NFL TE, but I’m worried that his talent as a blocker may limit his fantasy potential.

Samaje Perine doesn’t feel like a 1st rounder to me.  I would do everything possible to trade the 1.11 pick for a random 2018 1st. He was graded by many as a late 2nd or early 3rd round pick dynasty rookie pick, but has catapulted into the 1st round due to his promising landing spot in Washington. Betting on him to the next Jordan Howard is dangerous. Barring that type of breakout, I expect Washington to be in play for signing a free agent or drafting a top RB prospect in 2018.

Rounding out this tier is Kareem Hunt – a running back who dazzled on tape, but disappointed at the NFL combine. Joining a Spencer Ware in the Kansas City backfield, many believe Hunt will overtake Ware for the majority of carries by mid-season. I believe this is far from a lock and would expect Ware to lead KC in carries this year, by a 2:1 ratio.

Tier 6

14. JuJu Smith-Schuster WR PIT
15. Chris Godwin WR TB
16. Carlos Henderson WR DEN
17. James Conner RB PIT
18. Zay Jones WR BUF
19. Curtis Samuel WR CAR

Higher on Carlos Henderson than most, I love his ability after the catch. It’s also worth mentioning that aging receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders aren’t long-term barriers to playing time in Denver.

Tier 7

20. Taywan Taylor WR TEN
21. D’Onte Foreman RB HOU
22. Jeremy McNichols RB TB

Loved Taywan Taylor pre-draft and couldn’t have hoped for a much better landing spot.  Great target in the late 2nd or early 3rd round of your draft.

Tier 8

23. Melvin Mack RB IND
24. Kenny Galladay WR DET
25. ArDarius Stewart WR NYJ
26. Gerald Everett TE LAR
27. Joe Williams RB SF
28. Josh Reynolds WR LAR
29. Chad Williams WR ARI

This group includes several recent ADP risers: Kenny Galladay, ArDarius Stewart, Joe Williams, and Chad Williams. In each of my drafts, I want to land several players from this tier.

Tier 10

30. Jamaal Williams RB GB
31. Aaron Jones RB GB
32. Patrick Mahomes QB KC

In both redraft and dynasty, Ty Montgomery is the back I want in Green Bay though it’s hard to ignore the fact that the Packers drafted 3 running backs. If everything breaks right for either rookie back, Williams and Jones could be featured in one of the NFL’s best offenses. That alone makes them solid values in the 3rd round.

If early rookie drafts are any indication, I’m going to be heavily invested in Patrick Mahomes. While he’ll need to be more consistent to succeed at the next level, I can’t help but drool at his raw ability. His landing spot, under Andy Reid’s tutelage, could not be better. Let’s not forget that Andy Reid used to be criticized during his Eagles days for passing too much.  Mahomes will be put into position to not only succeed, but also develop into a QB1 in fantasy.

Tier 11

33. Cooper Kupp WR LAR
34. Wayne Gallman RB NYG
35. Amara Dorboh WR SEA
36. Deshaun Watson QB HOU
37. Adam Shaheen TE CHI
38. DeShone Kizer QB CLE
39. Mitchell Trubisky QB CHI

Tier 12

40. Ishmael Zamora WR OAK
41. Jonnu Smith TE TEN
42. Josh Malone WR CIN
43. Jehu Chessen WR KC
44. Chad Kelly QB DEN
45. Dede Westbrook WR JAX

Tier 13

46. Shelton Gibson WR PHI
47. Jake Butt TE DEN

48. Elijah McGuire RB NYJ
49. Brian Hill RB ATL
50. Donnel Pumphrey RB PHI


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 dynasty and keeper leagues as talent evaluation and scouting are integral components of each.  Follow him on Twitter @DaveSanders_RSO

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.

2017 Free Agency Preview

Updated: July 16th 2017

Welcome to 2017! Hopefully, 2016 was a success in regards to your fantasy teams. We are less than one week away from the start of the NFL Combine which officially starts the NFL offseason activities. While many people will have their attention focused on the incoming rookies, rightfully so, this will also offer the first major opportunity for the rumor mill to start for players set to hit free agency on March 9th. We will have to wait and see which players are ultimately tagged by their team but this could be a great year for dynasty owners that like to take risks on relocating free agents. Along with these free agents, there may be a star-studded group of players that are cut. Once the draft comes around there should be a large number of big names that will be changing uniforms.

To prepare you, the owners of RSO, for the whirlwind that is NFL free agency I’ve gone to the liberty of making a list of the most fantasy relevant players that are either free agents or could be moving teams next season.

QB RB WR TE
Colin Kaepernick (Cut) Adrian Peterson (Cut) Adam Thielen (RFA) Cameron Brate (ERFA)
Jay Cutler Alfred Morris (Cut) Alshon Jeffery Gavin Escobar
Jimmy Garoppolo (Trade) Andre Ellington Brandon Marshall (Cut) Jack Doyle
Josh McCowan (Cut) Benny Cunningham Brian Quick Jared Cook
Kirk Cousins Chris Thompson (RFA) Cordarrelle Patterson Jermaine Gresham
Mike Glennon Christine Michael Danny Amendola (Cut) Jordan Cameron
 Tony Romo (Cut) Danny Woodhead DeSean Jackson Julius Thomas (Trade)
Tyrod Taylor (Cut) Darren McFadden Eddie Royal (Cut) Lance Kendricks (Cut)
DeAngelo Williams Eric Decker (Cut) Larry Donnell
  Doug Martin (Cut) Kamar Aiken Luke Willson
  Eddie Lacy Kendall Wright Martellus Bennett
  Isaiah Crowell (RFA) Kenny Britt Ryan Griffin
Jamaal Charles (Cut) Kenny Stills Vernon Davis
  James Stark (Cut) Markus Wheaton
Jonathan Stewart (Cut) Marquess Wilson
Latavius Murray Michael Floyd
  LeSean McCoy (Cut/Trade) Pierre Garcon
  LeGarrette Blount Robert Woods
Le’Veon Bell Taylor Gabriel (RFA)
  Mike Gillislee (RFA) Terrance Williams
Rashad Jennings (Cut) Terrelle Pryor
Rex Burkhead Willie Snead (ERFA)
Ryan Mathews (Cut) Victor Cruz (Cut)
Terrance West (RFA)
 

Coaches

 

New

 

Former

Anthony Lynn Chargers (HC) Bills (OC/HC)
Chris Ballard Colts (GM) Chiefs
Doug Marrone Jaguars (HC) Jaguars (OC)
Kyle Shannahan 49ers (HC) Falcons (OC)
Mike McCoy Broncos (OC) Chargers (HC)
Sean McDermitt Bills (HC) Panthers (DC)
Sean McVay Rams (HC) Redskins (OC)

 

Throughout the offseason I will be working on a collection of articles focusing on some of these players as they sign new deals (either with a new team or their current team) and the impact they will they have as well as what this means for the players around them. I will also look at a couple of coaching and management changes that you should be aware of and what it means for your players that aren’t moving.

In the meantime make sure to buy-in to your leagues and start those trade conversations again with other owners. The best way to prepare for free agency is to have a list of what other owners may be looking for before your rookie draft. As players begin to sign with new teams having an open communication with your league mates will put you atop their list of first contacts when they want to start trading.

If you want to start a conversation about what any player’s impact could be if they move to a new team reach out to me on Twitter @naandrews19.

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.

The Unstable Stable

Updated: November 3rd 2016

Dynasty football and redraft football are nothing alike. What do I mean by that? Well, if we think of fantasy football in meteorological terms we can compare redraft to the Weather, a constantly changing natural phenomenon that so-called “experts” seem to predict no better than you and I. It can be summarized perfectly in this tweet by @CommishTalkBlog. Does this sound like a familiar situation to some of your teams?

Bad RB Tweet

Now if we look at dynasty, it’s more like the Climate, where it takes time to change but there definitely a change nevertheless. Two years ago everyone was SURE Eddy Lacy was a top 5 running back for years to come. Now he might not even make it to a second contract; even if he does it’s not likely with the Packers. People always talk about players and their values as if it’s something that will remain the same year over year. I’ve been playing long enough to notice a one year wonder when I see one.

**Full disclosure I was once the guy in my draft that took Zac Stacy in the 3rd round of my 2014 redraft league**

I’ll admit when I make a mistake, Mr. David Johnson I’m sorry, but I would rather invest in something I know IS good versus paying for something that MIGHT BE great. RSO dynasty emphasizes these mistakes even more by having salaries attached to players. If you miss in a redraft you find a new guy next week on the wire. Miss in RSO, oh boy, you could have a very expensive placeholder on your bench for multiple years.

So here we are midway through the 2016 season and we’ve already had some new and old faces push their way into the fantasy limelight. But we need to think about the long term and with a decent class of talent coming in the way of rookies next year who can we expect to hold a grip on their team and who could be this year’s Zac Stacy? I’m going to go through five (5) teams that I think are likely to draft a running back early next year. I’m not going to list the obvious teams (Patriots and Colts) instead focusing on teams with RB situations that seem stable now but could be very different come May next year.

  • Miami DolphinsMiami Dolphins – Jay Ajayi

Wait what? Nothing says stability like a guy who gets 200 rushing yards in back to back games right? Remember that before the season started this was the same team that tried to sign away C.J. Anderson from the Broncos before he was brought back. Then they went and drafted Kenyan Drake in the 4th round and then added a broken Arian Foster because they still weren’t sure of their starting running back. Ajayi had severe knee issues coming into the league and it was a concern about how long of a career he could have (which is why he fell all the way to the 5th round). He may have hit his max return value right now and if you can sell him for any number of more proven RBs I would be smashing that “accept” button. It would not surprise me if they took an RB before the end of day 2 of the draft in 2017.

  • Minnesota VikingsMinnesota – Adrian Peterson, Jerrick McKinnon

While it wouldn’t be a surprise to see AP moving on after the end of the season people are ready to move McKinnon right into the starting role for 2017. As someone who both owns and owned McKinnon in RSO, I was high on what he could do as the pass catching threat next to AP. Sadly, he still hasn’t been able to shake off Matt Asiata for the lead role after AP’s injury so what makes you think that he could keep an incoming rookie off the pedestal? The Vikings have one of the best defenses in the league and therefore I could easily see them being one of the first teams to take a running back off the board. Honestly, if they get their hands on any of the top four in the class (Fournette, Chubbs, Cook, or McCaffrey) that’s my early prediction for the 1.01 next year.

  • Philadelphia EaglesPhiladelphia Eagles – Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood

Doug Pederson found himself a quarterback in 2016. Many questioned his move up to number two for an unknown project player in Carson Wentz. Nobody is questioning him anymore but what Pederson really thrives with is a smart, shifty running back that can move the ball on the group and through the air. You look at his previous backs and you see shapeshifters like Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy and even all the way back to Brian Westbrook. Darren Sproles is the guy closest to those guys right now but he’s 33 years old and not in their long term plan. Smallwood seems more like a special teams player at this point and we can’t rely on Mathews to be healthy year over year. We could see a similar scenario with Mathews as his former running mate Demarco Murray is right now where they draft someone younger (Henry) and groom him behind the veteran before giving him the full load.

  • Pittsburgh SteelersPittsburgh Steelers – Le’Veon Bell

This one is less based on talent and more on circumstances. One of the best running backs in the league, Bell sure does come with his baggage. Suspended each of the last two seasons for substance abuse he is walking a very thin line in what is quickly becoming known as the “No Fun League”. Skeptics will be quick to remind me of the same problems that were clouding Ben Roethlisberger early in his career and he seems to have turned it around nicely under the management of the Rooney family. However, we’ve already seen glimpses of what Bell is expecting to be paid when his contract expires and while some teams may be more lenient to offer a troubled superstar a boatload of cash I don’t see the proud Steelers franchise being bullied into a contract. They did it when they let Mike Wallace walk to the Dolphins. Maybe they double down on their principles and draft an RB that could be leading the Steelers in the 2018 season.

  • Oakland RaidersOakland Raiders – Latavius Murray, DeAndre Washington

Some people might say that this is an obvious choice to be selecting a running back. But those are also likely the same people that said Murray was going to lose the job this year and Washington was going to be the starter by midseason. Well, we’re halfway through the season and save for a couple of games that he was injured Murray has held a strong lead in the depth chart rankings. That is not to say that it will remain the same next year. This year’s class of RBs had an obvious lack of depth behind Elliot, Henry and maybe now Booker. But next year is a whole different ball game and there may also be a couple of free agents (looking at Lacy) that could be available for the right price. If the Raiders are indeed moving to Las Vegas they may be looking to do the same as the Rams did and make a big splash before moving. They already have the young budding QB to WR combo. Jack Del Rio may be looking to add that final piece to his triumvirate.

Fantasy Impact Sam Bradford Trade

Updated: October 7th 2016

In a trade that changes the direction of two NFL franchises, the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings agreed to a blockbuster deal on the morning of Saturday, September 3rd.  It had been clear for months that Sam Bradford‘s days in Philadelphia were numbered, but there wasn’t a market for him after QB-needy teams made other plans during the 2016 NFL Draft. That all changed when the Vikings promising QB Teddy Bridgewater suffered a devastating injury that will cause him to miss at least the 2016 season.  Acquiring Bradford keeps Minnesota’s 2016 hopes alive as they fancy themselves a Super Bowl competitor.  This move also clears the way for Philadelphia to hand the reigns over to rookie QB Carson Wentz.

With these two teams changing starting quarterbacks, the fantasy values of other skill position players in each offense will be impacted.

Let’s start with the Eagles

  • Carson Wentz slots in as my #21 QB in redraft leagues. His ability to extend plays in the pocket and execute read-option plays should make him relevant during his rookie a season as a possible streamer.  Long-term, he’s my favorite quarterback of the 2016 class and seems to be way ahead of Rams #1 overall pick Jared Goff.
  • The Eagles running game, and most importantly Ryan Mathews, should be largely unaffected by this move. I’m very high on Mathews in 2016 as he’s my #12 RB in redraft.  He should see plenty of carries behind the 7th best offensive line according to Pro Football Focus.
  • Jordan Matthews & Dorial Green-Beckham are the only receivers worth considering in fantasy. I’m lower on Matthews than most, but can’t deny that he’ll have plenty of opportunities.  DGB could be a contributor as a reserve wide receiver in fantasy that fills in during bye weeks and gives you a chance at a TD every week. After a poor preseason, Nelson Agholor should be left on waivers in all but the deepest of leagues.  Contrary to the popular narrative, tight ends actually do not see an increased target share with rookie QBs according to an excellent study by TJ Hernandez.  That said, Zach Ertz remains a top 8 TE in 2016.

Moving on to the Vikings

  • Sam Bradford joins a Minnesota Vikings team that features better skill position talent than the Eagles. His value receives a slight boost from this trade, but he’s still not a top 20 QB in 2016.
  • Adrian Peterson‘s value returned to where it was several weeks ago, before the injury to Bridgewater. I’m concerned about his age and lack of involvement on 3rd downs.  I’d rather be out one year too early than one year too late so he won’t be on any of my rosters this year.  If you’re more optimistic, this trade should benefit Peterson as he would have likely seen many more eight man boxes if Shaun Hill was the QB.
  • Vikings pass catchers could be a bit more productive with Bradford than they may have even been with Bridgewater. Let’s not forget that Bradford finished 2015 playing his best football in a long time, while Bridgewater has only thrown for 14 passing touchdowns in each of the last two years.  In redraft, Stefon Diggs is the only WR worth rostering.  He’s my #38 wide receiver.  Laquon Treadwell projects to be better in the long run, but it may be some time before he contributes in a meaningful way.

While this trade doesn’t have major fantasy implications, fantasy leagues are often won by the smallest of margins.  Garnering a very slight edge in trades and free agent acquisitions repeatedly is how great teams are built and RSO dynasties are formed.

Let me know how you think the Bradford trade will impact the Eagles and Vikings by reaching out to me on Twitter @DaveSanders_RSO!


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