A Comprehensive Guide to Extension Decisions

Updated: September 27th 2017

With a ground-breaking extension feature getting rolled out next week (for more details from the league office, take a look here) Reality Sports Online GMs have been scurrying around for inside information like the Duke brothers seeking out the Frozen Concentrated O.J. insider crop harvest report in Trading Places. While this article may not have much about the “secret sauce” that factors into what offer your expiring players are receiving from Weeks 5 to 13 this season, treat this as a comprehensive strategic approach to making contract extension decisions.

These are my opinions and advice based on the information I have about extensions. Just like you, I’m not swimming in insider information. I have, however, put a lot of thought into devising the methodology to approach this decision with. Feel free to use these thoughts, critique them, ignore them and question them on Twitter . Either way, remember that the RSO guys have created something innovative based on the Moneyball mindset that may require a few kinks to be worked out early on. So if you encounter any type of issues, please be kind and patient (and refrain from social media negging) because this platform is infinitely better than what you were playing before and I’m saying that as a customer.

As a disclaimer, I’m not certain I’ll be using my one league voted in-season extension this season as I tend to be a free-market guy who would prefer to see what is going on in the auction. Being somewhat conservative, I haven’t yet been saddled with many “bad contracts” in my leagues that I haven’t been able to get out of, and ultimately that’s the biggest risk an owner faces with these extensions. The biggest risk the RSO guys face with extensions is actually the polar opposite-having the algorithm spit out too kind of a deal for extensions. Remember that when you see your initial offers.

  1. The Airline Ticket Purchase Analogy– When you are looking at taking a trip and booking flights, you don’t keep searching prices after you’ve already purchased the ticket. Likewise, you don’t get on the plane and ask the person sitting next to you how much they paid for their ticket.

So, in similar fashion, if you have extensions enabled in your league and you like the price/years offered for an expiring player the first week it is offered (note that only your team can see the offers your player is getting on your team page) and have the requisite cap space in future years to do it, pull the trigger and don’t look back.

Also, with the “everything is an asset” in an RSO league caveat-if you as an owner are transparent about what your player offers are to other owners, you may be able to work out a favorable trade with them.

  1. What’s Your Benchmark?- Since the only other viable extension opportunity for you is the franchise tag, that is a number you are now forced to know like the back of your hand for every position you have on your roster. If you haven’t calculated the Top 5 positional average for players in your league under contract for 2018 yet, you are already behind. If you are behind, don’t worry, it is not hard to calculate that average by position.

Remember, that the franchise tag for your player by position is the HIGHER of the Top 5 positional average or 120% of your current year salary for that player. The franchise tag does have a term limit of being used twice and obviously has a multiplier effect of 120% if you’ve used it once already.

That said, you should always be comparing your annual average value of your extension offer to your franchise tag cost for the upcoming year. If the extension offer is cheaper for the player of need, that may be an indication that you want to extend that player.

I’ll predict that with potentially high extension price tags and future increases to auction prices (see #3) that the franchise tag will be a more strategically used asset across leagues in the future.

  1. Predicting Future Auction Prices- I’m saying this for those who have been on the RSO platform for a short period of time where the talent in free agency hasn’t turned over much in leagues due to rookie contracts not expiring, etc. Just like you have certain expectations of what someone should cost prior to the auction via your prep, the real auction takes twists and turns and gets more unpredictable as players like Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski become free agents for the first time in your leagues. Add that into a dynamic market where several teams are coming into the auction with significant ($100m +) cap space and you get scenarios like my main league where Brown went on a huge contract for 4 years, $243.5m.

Then, when a few players trickle back into the auction and teams have bountiful cap space, you see overpayments being made for players who don’t deserve as much as they are getting. That’s where your perception of where future auction prices are headed can benefit you in looking at extending players. I’ll talk about this more in a bit, but it really is about getting over the initial “sticker shock” of the extension offers.

  1. Sticker Shock and What To Do With It- When you’ve paid a rookie that you sneakily drafted early in Round 2 of your 2014 rookie draft like I did with Devonta Freeman around $1.5m a year for four years, any contract extension offer is going to seem astronomical. Don’t let it be. Of course, Freeman’s rookie contract is well under market value and his extension offer may be more than what you perceive market value to be. Likely, it will fall somewhere in between.

So you’ll likely need to “check down” against what someone like Freeman’s franchise tag # would be in 2018 (of course that’s the summer vs. an in season extension). This is exactly what I’m going to do in Week 5 when the initial offers come out.

Here is an inside look at a spreadsheet I use in my main league to look into future use of franchise tags and extensions. If you don’t have a template like this, you don’t have to be an Excel whiz to set one up. Note that my calculation for Freeman’s tag is based on the Top 5 positional average for running backs. I’ll try to explain more about Allen Robinson later as I’ve already been approached by one owner who is trying to figure out what to do with him this season (NOTE: I have not seen any offers for Robinson and just put these salaries in as a placeholder that may not be realistic).

  1. Players with Small Sample Size (Rookies and Breakouts)

For current rookies or players without much history on their side that have performed well thus far this season, the algorithm has a very small sample size and the offers are likely to be outside of your comfort zone. If you think that someone like Tarik Cohen has league star written all over him, feel free to accept the offer coming his way. I personally would lean on a larger sample size and take my chances in an auction, but one thing you have that the others in your league don’t is current control over that player.

  1. Age Matters

From what I gather, age of player is a definite component of the algorithm that determines extension values and contract lengths being offered. If you’ve seen players like Brandon Marshall fail to separate from DB’s lately, you’ll know that you don’t want to give too many years or dollars to someone on the backside of their career.

At the same time, consider some pivotal ages for your wide receivers and running backs. I typically would view 33 year-old receivers as one year guys with few exceptions (this is when a player like Andre Johnson experienced his decline). In terms of running backs, I’m not giving any running back over the age of 27 more than two years. If you’ve noticed the running back leaders this season in fantasy points, you’ll see that rookie running backs and guys like Todd Gurley and Freeman sit atop the board and they are all 25 and under.

I know there are exceptions to every rule/player, but remember you are in essence via the extension bidding against yourself here and not the market.

  1. I’m All About Value

With likely high prices across the board for extension players, to hit a home run on one, you’re likely to be taking on significant risk or finding value in the marketplace. With that, I think creativity is important and that would include taking a look at players who were already injured this season and are out for the season. Guys like Cam Meredith and the aforementioned Robinson. Let’s dig deeper on Robinson since I’m facing this very decision.

The good: he doesn’t turn 25 until next August, has a monster season under his belt that was two years ago (80-1,400-14), already had surgery a day after his ACL injury with no other structural damage and is a potential real-life NFL free agent this offseason.  He also has no other NFL injury history. His 2017 stats were 1 catch for 17 yards before his unfortunate injury.

The negatives other than the fact that he was injured include his quarterback Blake Bortles not being able to optimize his talents, his 2016 stats being a down year (73-883-6), his Jacksonville Jaguars head coach being uber-focused on the running game, and this injury.

However, from an extension standpoint, there may be an opportunity to arbitrage here as most of Robinson’s negatives can be viewed as positives from an extension standpoint.

Taking into account that Robinson hasn’t produced at an elite level in two years would seem to mean that you could be getting him at an extension number that shows there’s future uncertainty in his outcomes. Yet, Robinson figures to be back playing for the start of the 2018 season and potentially on a new team (or with a new QB other than Bortles). He could be on a “one year prove it deal” with Jacksonville or elsewhere and based on his size, speed and skills, should be able to get back to being a top 20 wide receiver.

So taking into account the likely lack of fluctuation in his weekly offers due to his 2017 being over, his subpar 2016, and some future uncertainty, you may be able to get Robinson for way less than if he was coming off of an all-pro season. Additionally, since you can extend players who occupy your injured reserve space, you can get the benefit of not having to occupy a valuable 2017 roster spot with Robinson.

Not sure what the offers will be for Robinson, but I think anything over $20m a year starts to get me out of my comfort zone based on the fact that much of his uncertainty won’t clear up until the offseason and you have to decide by Week 13 what you are doing with him.

Other than injured players, you may want to look a mid-tier tight ends for potential extension value as well as the position is typically viewed as having less skill.

OK, folks, hopefully this methodology guide on how to approach extension decisions will be helpful to you this season and down the line. Remember, you don’t have to use the extension, so make the decision that best works for your team’s current and future success.


Matt Goodwin is in his fourth season as senior writer for Reality Sports Online and is in year five of his main league. He also contributed for numberFire for several years. He is an avid sports fan from Cleveland, Ohio who would count a Cleveland Indians World Series victory a close second behind getting married to his wife Renee and the births of his children, Jory (7 year old son) and Lainie (3 year old daughter). 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 and take his side when he’s debating player value with @RobertFCowper.

Into the Regular Season

Updated: September 7th 2017

The preseason brings lots of excitement for those of us deprived of the NFL for so long.  It also leads to some of the worst analysis from fantasy “experts”.  Reviewing stat lines from preseason games is mostly meaningless.  Touch sample sizes are typically incredibly small with starters playing very limited snaps.  Teams usually incorporate very “vanilla” play calls which may not be similar to what happens during the regular season.  Backups compete against second and third string players or worse.  While much of what we see in preseason play is essentially worthless in predicting fantasy value for the upcoming season, examining player situations and delving deeper into game tape can provide some useful observations for the coming season.

Moving Up

The most significant mover of the preseason is Chiefs’ running back Kareem Hunt.  The devastating torn PCL and LCL injury to Kansas City starting running back Spencer Ware opens the door for the third round rookie.  Hunt finished as one of Pro Football Focus’ highest ranked backs in college at Toledo and flashed nice plays throughout the preseason (along with some not-so-nice “rookie” moments).  The Chiefs are left only with Hunt, Chancandrick West, and re-signed C.J. Spiller as the only running backs on the roster.  Hunt should see plenty of work for Kansas City this season.

Perhaps no player benefits more from a quarterback change than Miami wide receiver Devante Parker.  Gone are the days of Ryan Tannehill force-feeding short passes to Jarvis Landry with Tannehill out for the season.   In comes Jay Cutler at quarterback with the arm talent to aggressively attack defenses down field.  The former Bear also has the mindset to throw into tight coverage and allow his physically gifted receivers to make plays on their own.  Parker is set up for a big third season in the NFL.  Cutler also solidifies deep threat Kenny Stills’ value while at the same time likely limiting the volume Landry has seen over the course of his career.

Questions about Kelvin Benjamin’s role in the new Carolina offense with two high draft pick offensive weapons and his ballooned weight in training camp depressed his fantasy value to the point that Benjamin moved all the way down to WR38 in early RSO auctions.  Second round draft pick Curtis Samuel was slowed by injury and no other receiver emerged during the preseason.  Benjamin clearly appears like the Panthers’ WR1 right now.  Early Benjamin buyers could have received quite the steal.

Wait and See Mode

Seahawks’ backfield historically holds good fantasy value during the Russell Wilson era in Seattle.  Wilson’s ability as a rusher prevents teams from keying on running backs opening running lanes for the back.  Last season Wilson suffered early injuries limiting his mobility throughout the season.  Wilson’s injuries and some horrendous run blocking by Seattle’s inexperienced offensive line inevitably led to a big decline in the Seahawks’ rushing game effectiveness.  Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, and C.J. Prosise competed for first-team duties this offseason but all suffered from minor injuries during the preseason.  Rawls and Lacy likely split rushing down carries limiting the fantasy appeal of either.  You will want to avoid this backfield early in the season until injuries take hold or someone emerges as the clear top option.  Prosise will hold value as a low end flex play, especially in PPR leagues, as the passing down back and only real receiver out of the backfield.  This is particularly true early in the season with an extremely shallow receiving core behind starters Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson.  Tyler Lockett will be eased back into the receiving rotation after a gruesome leg injury late last year.

The Green Bay backfield was ugly last season.  Converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery filled in admirably in a limited role last year after injuries destroyed the running back core but did not receive enough volume to be a consistent fantasy option.  I was hoping someone would stand out in the preseason to take over the primary back role.  No one did.  Montgomery was limited with injuries throughout the preseason and struggled with pass protection once again.  All three Green Bay running backs drafted this year (Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones, and Devante Mays) made the 53-man roster.  None consistently showed enough to earn a big role.  Montgomery starts as the “lead” back and his receiving skills should make him a solid flex play but it remains to be seen whether his health and pass protection struggles will allow enough time on the field for enough volume to be a consistent RB2 option.  Williams makes for a nice stash in case Montgomery misses time.

Moving Down

Expectations for Terrelle Pryor and Tyreek Hill were extremely high this offseason with both being typically drafted as high to low-end WR2s. Many thought each had WR1 upside.  The preseason showing from both should dampen those expectations.  Both had massive problems catching the football with drops galore, a huge issue on teams whose passing game relies primarily on short, high percentage throws.  Pryor also continued his very raw route running skills from last season.  The Washington and Kansas City offense will undoubtedly run through superstar tight ends, Jordan Reed and Travis Kelce.  Pryor could easily end up as the third most targeted player in Washington behind Reed and Jamison Crowder.  Hill is due for negative touchdown regression this year and will be fighting for touches behind Kelce on a low volume Kansas City passing attack.  Consider both players boom-or-bust WR3s as of now.

The unknown timetable of Andrew Luck’s return moves all Colts down in the rankings to start the season most notably T.Y. Hilton.  Backup quarterback Scott Tolzein looked horrendous this preseason, so much so that Indianapolis traded for Patriots’ third string quarterback Jacoby Brissett to eventually take over backup duties.  This could lead to prime buy-low opportunities for Hilton and Luck.

Blake Bortles remarkably is still the starting quarterback in Jacksonville.   Chad Henne was unable to supplant Bortles in a bizarre one-week open competition for the starting spot.  Bortles might be benched at any time this season and the backup is not much of an improvement.  The dreadful quarterback situation means bad things for any Jaguars player’s fantasy fortunes including Allen Robinson and Leonard Fournette.  The Jacksonville offensive line displayed little improvement this preseason and Fournette is already dealing with a foot injury.  Just stay away from this offense.


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.

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

Ranking NFL’s Best Young QBs

Updated: October 9th 2016

The past three NFL draft classes have supplied with the league with a great crop of talented, young quarterbacks.  These quarterbacks include Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Trevor Siemian, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Paxton Lynch, and Dak Prescott.  From a keeper and dynasty football standpoint, I often advocate investing in proven veterans because of their reasonable cost of acquisition.  That said, rebuilding teams or those in two quarterback or superflex leagues may want to attach themselves to the next Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, or Russell Wilson.  For those folks, I’m here to help as I’ve ranked these quarterbacks in terms of fantasy value for the next three seasons.  

  1. Derek Carr – He has already become a borderline top 10 fantasy quarterback in his third season.  With Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, Oakland’s building a great team around Carr.
  2. Jameis Winston – He has all the physical tools and has shown why Tampa Bay selected him first overall in 2015.  Though he ranked 34th of 37 quarterbacks in terms of accuracy percentage in 2015 according to Pro Football Focus, Winston has shown plenty of promise in his first two seasons and is paired with the best young WR besides Odell Beckham Jr. in Mike Evans.
  3. Carson Wentz  – He’s quickly becoming the breakout star of 2016.  Expected to remain on the sidelines until 2017, Wentz was named the starter immediately following the Sam Bradford trade.  Many expected that he wouldn’t be ready after missing most of the preseason with a rib injury.  Instead of running a conservative scheme and attempting to hide their QB while he develops, Pederson has put a lot of trust in Wentz – best exemplified by the Eagles opening drive Week 2 against the Bears on Monday Night Football where Wentz opened the game, play after play, in an empty back set.  His weapons don’t compare to Carr, Winston, or Bortles, but Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Nelson Agholor have potential to develop into reliable targets.
  4. Blake Bortles – Coming into this year, we knew Blake Bortles’ remarkable 2015 season was largely aided by negative game-script.  However, that may not go away anytime soon.  The Jaguars should continue to struggle and fall behind as their defense has not improved as quickly as some may have hoped.  Receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns will make Bortles’ at least a high end QB2 each of the next three years, but Bortles makes far too many mistakes, hasn’t shown much growth in year 3, and likely is a better fantasy QB than NFL QB.
  5. Marcus Mariota – There’s no denying Mariota has disappointed in 2016.  The Titans have the worst WRs in the AFC and recently demoted free-agent signee Rishard Matthews for 35 year-old Andre Johnson.  Mike Mularkey’s “Exotic Smashmouth” scheme has lacked creativity and seems focused on protecting Mariota rather than developing him. I’m still a fan of Mariota, but definitely would be concerned as a Mariota owner.
  6. Jared Goff – There’s so much unknown surrounding Jared Goff.  It’s very curious that he couldn’t beat out Case Keenum or Sean Mannion in training camp.  Even when he’s eventually handed the reigns, Goff will join the least creative offense in the NFL that is currently struggling to get the most out of star RB Todd Gurley.  LA has the worst pass catching options in the NFL, led by gadget player Tavon Austin.  There are many reasons Goff was considered the top prospect in the NFL draft by many, but I’ve cooled on him since the April draft.
  7. Paxton Lynch – Considered more of a project than Goff or Wentz, Paxton Lynch has played fairly well in limited action.  He has excellent physical tools and is built to run Gary Kubiak’s offense.  Like Wentz, his running ability should aide his fantasy value, potentially making him a top five fantasy QB during his best seasons.
  8. Dak Prescott – Through four games, Dak Prescott looks like he belongs.  With no turnovers through four games, Prescott has kept the Cowboys afloat without veteran QB Tony Romo.  He may lack the ceiling as a passer of Carr, Winston, and Wentz, but has showcased his abilities enough to be considered a potential long-term starter in the NFL and likely the Cowboys QB in 2017.  The Dallas offensive line and presence of a healthy Dez Bryant could make Prescott a high end QB2 by the end of 2016, assuming Romo doesn’t return.
  9. Teddy Bridgewater – Coming into 2016, I was very down on Teddy Bridgewater and even sold him for Tavon Austin in one of my dynasty leagues.  Let’s not forget that the Vikings ranked 31st in passing yards in 2015 and 25th in yards per attempt according to Pro-Football-Reference.  I don’t love his arm strength, especially in the NFC North where he’ll have to play outdoors in Green Bay and Chicago.  Depending on how the 2016 Vikings season ends, Sam Bradford may not have to give back the starting QB job when Bridgewater returns.
  10. Trevor Siemian – He likely isn’t a long-term long-term NFL starter, but is showing he belongs at least as a backup in the NFL.  He has lesser physical abilities than fellow Broncos QB Paxton Lynch and likely is on a short-leash, but has impressed enough this season to warrant being on the radar of fantasy owners.

I want to hear from you!  Which players ranking do you agree or disagree with most?  Let me know 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

Ranking NFL's Best Young QBs

Updated: October 9th 2016

The past three NFL draft classes have supplied with the league with a great crop of talented, young quarterbacks.  These quarterbacks include Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Trevor Siemian, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Paxton Lynch, and Dak Prescott.  From a keeper and dynasty football standpoint, I often advocate investing in proven veterans because of their reasonable cost of acquisition.  That said, rebuilding teams or those in two quarterback or superflex leagues may want to attach themselves to the next Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, or Russell Wilson.  For those folks, I’m here to help as I’ve ranked these quarterbacks in terms of fantasy value for the next three seasons.  

  1. Derek Carr – He has already become a borderline top 10 fantasy quarterback in his third season.  With Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, Oakland’s building a great team around Carr.
  2. Jameis Winston – He has all the physical tools and has shown why Tampa Bay selected him first overall in 2015.  Though he ranked 34th of 37 quarterbacks in terms of accuracy percentage in 2015 according to Pro Football Focus, Winston has shown plenty of promise in his first two seasons and is paired with the best young WR besides Odell Beckham Jr. in Mike Evans.
  3. Carson Wentz  – He’s quickly becoming the breakout star of 2016.  Expected to remain on the sidelines until 2017, Wentz was named the starter immediately following the Sam Bradford trade.  Many expected that he wouldn’t be ready after missing most of the preseason with a rib injury.  Instead of running a conservative scheme and attempting to hide their QB while he develops, Pederson has put a lot of trust in Wentz – best exemplified by the Eagles opening drive Week 2 against the Bears on Monday Night Football where Wentz opened the game, play after play, in an empty back set.  His weapons don’t compare to Carr, Winston, or Bortles, but Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Nelson Agholor have potential to develop into reliable targets.
  4. Blake Bortles – Coming into this year, we knew Blake Bortles’ remarkable 2015 season was largely aided by negative game-script.  However, that may not go away anytime soon.  The Jaguars should continue to struggle and fall behind as their defense has not improved as quickly as some may have hoped.  Receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns will make Bortles’ at least a high end QB2 each of the next three years, but Bortles makes far too many mistakes, hasn’t shown much growth in year 3, and likely is a better fantasy QB than NFL QB.
  5. Marcus Mariota – There’s no denying Mariota has disappointed in 2016.  The Titans have the worst WRs in the AFC and recently demoted free-agent signee Rishard Matthews for 35 year-old Andre Johnson.  Mike Mularkey’s “Exotic Smashmouth” scheme has lacked creativity and seems focused on protecting Mariota rather than developing him. I’m still a fan of Mariota, but definitely would be concerned as a Mariota owner.
  6. Jared Goff – There’s so much unknown surrounding Jared Goff.  It’s very curious that he couldn’t beat out Case Keenum or Sean Mannion in training camp.  Even when he’s eventually handed the reigns, Goff will join the least creative offense in the NFL that is currently struggling to get the most out of star RB Todd Gurley.  LA has the worst pass catching options in the NFL, led by gadget player Tavon Austin.  There are many reasons Goff was considered the top prospect in the NFL draft by many, but I’ve cooled on him since the April draft.
  7. Paxton Lynch – Considered more of a project than Goff or Wentz, Paxton Lynch has played fairly well in limited action.  He has excellent physical tools and is built to run Gary Kubiak’s offense.  Like Wentz, his running ability should aide his fantasy value, potentially making him a top five fantasy QB during his best seasons.
  8. Dak Prescott – Through four games, Dak Prescott looks like he belongs.  With no turnovers through four games, Prescott has kept the Cowboys afloat without veteran QB Tony Romo.  He may lack the ceiling as a passer of Carr, Winston, and Wentz, but has showcased his abilities enough to be considered a potential long-term starter in the NFL and likely the Cowboys QB in 2017.  The Dallas offensive line and presence of a healthy Dez Bryant could make Prescott a high end QB2 by the end of 2016, assuming Romo doesn’t return.
  9. Teddy Bridgewater – Coming into 2016, I was very down on Teddy Bridgewater and even sold him for Tavon Austin in one of my dynasty leagues.  Let’s not forget that the Vikings ranked 31st in passing yards in 2015 and 25th in yards per attempt according to Pro-Football-Reference.  I don’t love his arm strength, especially in the NFC North where he’ll have to play outdoors in Green Bay and Chicago.  Depending on how the 2016 Vikings season ends, Sam Bradford may not have to give back the starting QB job when Bridgewater returns.
  10. Trevor Siemian – He likely isn’t a long-term long-term NFL starter, but is showing he belongs at least as a backup in the NFL.  He has lesser physical abilities than fellow Broncos QB Paxton Lynch and likely is on a short-leash, but has impressed enough this season to warrant being on the radar of fantasy owners.

I want to hear from you!  Which players ranking do you agree or disagree with most?  Let me know 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

2018 Player Rankings

Updated: August 7th 2016

You’re probably thinking, “Did I read that right? 2018 rankings?”  Yes, yes you did.  In dynasty leagues, we often project a player’s long-term upside by evaluating the perceived ceiling for that player.  But rarely do we give much thought to when that career year may occur.

When participating in a start-up draft or auction, I’ll typically target players that should have at least 3 production left or will enter their prime within the next 3 years  – call it my “Rule of 3”.  For example, I’ll rarely draft or bid on a running back over 30 years old like Adrian Peterson, but likely also won’t target a quarterback like Carson Wentz who may not even start in the NFL during his rookie year.

Having a three year plan in dynasty is as important as planning for the upcoming season. Having your team projected to finish .500 is not where you want to be.  If in contention, I’m always going to seek opportunities to buy.  If I realize by-mid season or before that a championship isn’t probable this year, I’ll reach out to each owner in my league and shop the players least likely to help me in future seasons.  Taking a small step back could result in your team take a huge step forward in the years to come. With all that said, let’s dive into my WAY TOO EARLY rankings for the 2018 season…

Quarterbacks

1) Andrew Luck
2) Russell Wilson
3) Cam Newton
4) Derek Carr
5) Aaron Rodgers
6) Jameis Winston
7) Marcus Mariota
8) Blake Bortles
9) Jared Goff
10) Matthew Stafford

*We’re seeing the dawn of a new era for the elite fantasy quarterbacks.  For plenty of years, we grew familiar with seeing Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees occupy the top tier of quarterbacks.  It’s now time for a similarly prolonged stretch for Luck, Wilson, and Newton.  Baring injury, I don’t see anyway these quarterbacks aren’t top 10 in 2018.

Running Backs

1) Ezekiel Elliott
2) Leonard Fournette
3) LeVeon Bell
4) Todd Gurley
5) David Johnson
6) Nick Chubb
7) Derrick Henry
8) Lamar Miller
9) Dalvin Cook
10) TJ Yeldon

*What is there not to like about Ezekiel Elliott?  He’s one of the best running back prospects to enter the league in a long time, plays behind the best offense line in football, and excels as a receiver and in pass blocking.  He should be a true three down back for an offense that will give him as much work as he can handle.  See, DeMarco Murray‘s workload in 2014.  Derrick Henry should take over for DeMarco Murray as the Titans‘ primary ball carrier in 2017, if not sooner.  He should immediately become a top 10 RB once given 250 carries in a season as a potential touchdown machine.  However, Henry won’t be too involved in the passing game and should be lowered slightly in rankings for PPR leagues.

Wide Receivers

1) Odell Beckham Jr.
2) DeAndre Hopkins
3) Amari Cooper
4) Sammy Watkins
5) Allen Robinson
6) Keenan Allen
7) Julio Jones
8) Mike Evans
9) Brandin Cooks
10) Donte Moncrief

*This group of wide receivers is special.  Pay what it takes to acquire any of them…you won’t regret it while they’re filling up the stat sheet for the next 5+ years.

Tight Ends

1) Rob Gronkowski
2) Jordan Reed
3) Tyler Eifert
4) Zach Ertz
5) Ladarius Green
6) Travis Kelce
7) Coby Fleener
8) Clive Walford
9) Hunter Henry
10) Austin Hooper

*It’s Gronk and everybody else.  I’m a huge fan of Jordan Reed who’s basically a 6’2″ wide receiver playing the tight end position, but his injury history scares me.  He could be #1 or #2 on this list or could just as easily fall completely outside of the top 10.

Let me know your thoughts on Twitter @DaveSanders_RSO!  Would love to hear who you think I am too high on or should have included in my Top 10s!

My next article will explore the likelihoods that rookie QBs, RBs, WRs, and TEs put together a top 10 season within their first 3 years in the NFL.  Look for that to drop later this month!

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.