Expert League’s Auction Afterthoughts

Updated: August 10th 2017

Our Expert League’s sophmore auction concluded at the end of July. Some owners needed to fill most of their roster while others were able to cherry-pick a few players to fill in the gaps. In all, it played out like a usual RSO auction night with several prized players going for exorbinate amounts of money and then some of the more risk adverse owners scooping up the value players with the final few contracts. After a week of deliberation we asked several of the writers to give their thoughts on what some of their favorite (and least favorite) contracts were. The gave their responses and discussed them below.

Terrelle Pryor – 3 years, $15.5MM – Dave Saunders

 Matt “Goody” Goodwin – While I think there is more to the narrative why Pryor is no longer with the Browns, a team he wanted to stay with than what we know, there is definitely a target upside opportunity in Washington in Kirk Cousins’ high-flying passing attack. With Jamison Crowder, Jordan Reed, and Josh Doctson all already injured, Pryor could see plenty of targets. His range of outcomes highlights upside and Top 5 WR potential if he can keep from having an attitude that may have given the Browns brass pause from bringing him back. He definitely has a real reason to be playing for another contract based on his one year NFL deal and flashed some serious big-play potential in his first year as an NFL receiver. I believe that the contract he was signed to in our league is underpriced by at least $8 million a year in what was a shallow free agent pool at the wide receiver position.

Cameron Meredith – 4 years, $9MM – Stephen Wendell

Goody – Stephen got a total steal here. Figures to be targeted frequently and the price is not much less than a 2nd round rookie. His stretch last season demonstrates what he can do and you have to assume the Bears’ game script figures to be one where the team is behind the next few years.

Sterling Shepard – 3 years, $2MM – Kyle English

Goody – I know he’s injured currently, but this contract is basically free for someone who had a knack for finding the end zone last season as a rookie. The Giants offense is too talented for Shepard not to have a healthy amount of targets if he remains healthy. And even if he doesn’t, the price was certainly right.

Jamaal Williams – 3 years, $2MM – Nick Andrews

Goody – While Ty Montgomery was impressive last season in his transition to running back from wide receiver, the Packers used decent draft stock to pick Williams and he already has earned some first team reps. The price is incredibly low and the opportunity in Green Bay is huge, especially given Montgomery’s injury history.

Nick Andrews  – Each year I try to get at least one rookie/project player that I can use a multi-year contract to build value with. As I said in our 2017 Rookie Discrepancies I’m higher than most on Williams and so far my love for him has been rewarded with great reviews from Packers camp. I moved in on Howard last year before he built up his value and it helped me win a championship. My hope is that Williams will follow a similar rookie season and will hold tremendous value heading into 2018. Either way, $2MM is a very low risk, high reward cost to pay.

Danny Woodhead – 1 year, $9MM – Bob Cowper

Bob – I estimate that the split between Woodhead and Terrance West will be similar to that of Woodhead and Melvin Gordon in 2015.  Despite getting about 40 fewer touches than Gordon, Woodhead was more productive with 80 receptions, 1,000+ total yards, and 9 TDs.  In that season, Woodhead was RB3 in PPR scoring per FantasyData.com.  Woodhead haters will point out his age and injury history.  The injuries are worrisome but for me, the age is not because while the tires may be old there isn’t a lot of wear on them.  Over his career, Woodhead has just 770 touches which averages to just 8 touches per game.  It’s also worth noting that Woodhead’s huge 2015 season was coming off a season-ending injury in 2014 so he has experience in managing this type of situation.  If he can avoid re-injury, I expect Woodhead to be a solid RB1 in our PPR league.

Matthew Stafford – 4 years, $37MM – Bernard Faller

Kyle English – This contract is an absolute steal in this Superflex league.  Compared to the other contracts doled out to solid QB options (Mariota 4/$96M, Wentz 4/$89.5M, Dak 4/$74M) this is an excellent value. He is the 18th highest paid QB in our league who should produce for four years.

Nick – As I stated in one of my earlier offseason articles sometimes it’s a blessing or a curse to get the first player at a position in the auction. The market hasn’t set so you can be grossly overpaying or absolutely stealing a player. A QB1 season to season Stafford went for slightly less ($44MM) than what my auction formula recommended. Compared to the cost of the other marquee QBs that were available Stafford was a major steal.

Jordan Howard – 2 years, $30MM – Jaron Foster

Luke O’Connell – Jaron had a remarkable draft netting Jordan Howard and following that up with Dak Prescott for 4 years/$74MM which is below market in our Superflex for an ascending young QB. This made the contrast with my own Ajayi 2yr/$50MM and Mariota 4yr/$96MM a painful lesson on how to bid on players within the same tier.

Rishard Matthews – 2 years, $3MM – Stephen Wendell

Nick – My man crush for Matthews probably borders on lunacy as I have turned down some decent offers simply because he was going the wrong way. It’s too bad that I already had a full roster of WRs because I would have loved to add him in this league. He is a player that is a tremendous value compared to his cost and could mirror what Michael Crabtree has done opposite to a young rookie receiver (Corey Davis) for their first couple seasons.

Kenny Britt – 1 year, $2MM – Bernard Faller

Nick – A great candidate to be a target monster in Cleveland, Britt should have a comfortable floor on a weekly basis. With the league being so shallow (10 teams) values for the mid-tier players can sometimes fluctuate in a way that allows WR2-3s to be forgotten until the end of the auction. Britt should offer Bernard great flex options on a weekly basis and will be a cheap option to shop if he so choses.

Jay Ajayi – 2 years, $50.5MM – Luke O’Connell

Kyle – This one seems really expensive.  Coming into the auction the top three RBs available by most rankings were Ajayi, Howard, and Crowell.  Howard went for 2/$30.5M while Crowell went for 2/$37.5M so any extra $6-10M/yr extra for Ajayi seems steep.  This contract also makes him the highest paid RB in our league for 2017 and 8th most expensive player at any position in 2017 which seems too high to me.

Nick – As I said early it can be hard to buy the first player at a position in auctions and Ajayi was a cautious tale of that. While he has the opportunity to be an RB1 this season the risk associated with RBs being 1-year wonders is all too real. In RSO especially you want to make sure your double-digit contracts are used on players that you know have safe floors. This contract has very little room for upside and a very real chance of being a blunder.

Carson Wentz – 4 years, $89.5MM – Dave Sanders

Marcus Mariota – 4 years, $96MM – Luke O’Connell

Dak Prescott – 4 years, $74MM – Jaron Foster

Nick – Superflex leagues are definitely the way to go for fantasy, especially in smaller leagues, but sometimes the needle swings totally in the other direction in terms of value for QBs. I’m firmly in the camp that Mariota is a serious breakout candidate for 2017 and has a chance to be a QB1 for the next 5-10 years. But for him and the other two young QBs (Wentz, Prescott) they were approaching Aaron Rodgers levels of expectancies from their given contracts. Again, I’m all about finding the value and with these contracts, there is very little room for value and a whole lot of room for disappointment.

Early RSO Contracts: QBs

Updated: July 31st 2017

Knowing the types of contracts given out by other fantasy teams can give the alert reader a big advantage when your own RSO free agency auction arrives.  Your league settings and available players will have a big impact on the size of contracts given out at various positions, but looking at the relative contracts within position groups provides some useful information.  To that end, I begin a new series examining early RSO auctions starting with a look at quarterbacks.

The Elite

Aaron Rodgers comes in as the most expensive quarterback by more than four million per season for a good reason.  He finished as the QB1 or QB2 every health season except for one (he finished as the QB7) while he was a starter.  There is not a safer player in all of fantasy football in my view. Historically, Rodgers has not been among the league passing attempts leaders, which sometimes limits his yardage totals.  He more than makes up for lack of volume with massive yearly touchdown totals do to extreme efficiency and extensive red-zone usage.  The Packer star also adds nearly mistake-free play, not throwing double-digit interceptions for seven seasons.  With all of the gushing praise just put on Rodgers, I will not own him in many leagues.  The drop-off from Rodgers to more cost-friendly options is not enough for me to justify the enormous premium placed on Rodgers in most instances.

Andrew Luck is the next quarterback at $5.5 million more per season than the third QB.  Luck finished as the QB2 and QB5 in PPG for 2014 and 2016.  The talent and upside are undeniable but his current price does not reflect the risk involved of a quarterback with multiple shoulder injuries who is not throwing the ball yet.  There are others available for a much cheaper cost (Russell Wilson for example) with similar upside and without the injury concerns.

Youth vs Veterans

The youth movement appears to be in full effect for quarterbacks in RSO leagues.  Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, and Dak Prescott come off the board next.  Carr and Winston, in particular, represent purely speculative projections at this point.  Carr paved the way to his best fantasy finish as the QB10 in PPG while Winston has not finished better than the QB19.  Tampa Bay added premier deep-threat DeSean Jackson and the first tight end taken in the NFL draft, O.J. Howard this offseason where Oakland took a more modest approach on the receiving spectrum adding tight end Jared Cook and return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson.  None of these additions warrant the cost of these players.

Moving down our table we find Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Matt Ryan as the QB9 through QB11.  This seems like a bargain for the QB2, QB3, and QB5 from last season even taking into account the expected regression from the group in 2017.  Ryan obliterated his previous career highs in essentially every statistical passing category and the Falcons lost their offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan who moved on to coach San Francisco.  Less discussed is Brady’s likely regression coming into his age 40 season.  The Patriots’ quarterback put up his best season since his 50-touchdown performance in 2007 with a campaign that included a crazy 28-2 touchdown to interception ratio.  Brees, on the other hand, had a very normal Brees-type season.  He is among the most consistent quarterbacks in the league.  One must look all the way back to his time in San Diego for a finish outside the top 6.  Expect another one in 2017 with around 5,000 passing yards.

The Bargain Bin

There are many less expensive, quality alternatives to be found for those looking to go cheap at quarterback in either 1-QB 2-QB/Superflex leagues.  Phillip Rivers is a rock solid borderline QB1/QB2 who consistently provides value at his mid-QB2 cost.  Andy Dalton provides a lot of upside at the QB18 position.  He finished as the QB3 in 2013 and was the QB4 through week 13 in 2015 prior to an injury which ended his season.  The Bengals signal-caller carries more volatility than most with a revamped offensive line that struggled in 2016 and arguably lost its two best linemen in free agency.  This is balanced by a loaded skill position group which gets two of Cincinnati’s most dynamic playmakers back from injury, tight end Tyler Eifert and wide receiver A.J. Green.  The Bengals also added two of the top offensive talents in the draft, wide receiver John Ross and running back Joe Mixon.  For my money, Tyrod Taylor represents the best value among quarterbacks in 2017.  He finished as as a QB1 in PPG the last two season thanks in large part to his dynamic rushing ability.  His limitations as a pocket passer likely prevent him from being a top end performer, but the ability to get a solid starter at backup money is what makes an RSO team.

Rivers, Dalton, and Taylor all cost less than Philadelphia Eagles Carson Wentz for some reason.  Wentz predictably struggled mightily as a rookie finishing outside the top-24 quarterbacks in passer rating and QBR.  He was let down by one of the worst receiving groups in the NFL and a coaching staff that asked far too much of a rookie forcing Wentz to throw the fifth most attempts in the league.  Wentz has the physical tools to become a good quarterback, but there is not much reason for an RSO team to gamble with a significant, long-term investment on an unknown when there are plenty of cheap, reliable alternatives.

 

Average RSO Quarterback Contracts

 


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.

FA Expectancy: Alshon Jeffery

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.

Alshon Jeffery – WR, Philadelphia Eagles

Nobody was really surprised when Alshon Jeffery signed with the Philadelphia Eagles after he was linked to signing with either them or the Tennessee Titans before free agency opened. What was a surprise was the length of the contract, a single year at $9.5 million. I expected there to be some built-in insulation against Jeffery’s past injuries concerns but he still deserved at least some long term commitment. This contract suggests that either there was not as big a market for receivers as many would have thought or the offers were too low for Jeffery’s comfort and he settled for a “prove it” deal to try and cash in next offseason.

Fantasy players seem perplexed also in how to value Jeffery fairly. Nobody is questioning his talent but they are concerned with the consistency issues that separate the first tier of receivers from all others.

Seasons Games Played Rec/GM Yds/GM TDs/GM FP/Game
2013-2014 100% 5.4 79.8 0.5 16.6
2015-2016 66% 5.0 77.5 0.3 14.5

Over the last two seasons, Jeffery has played in 21 of a potential 32 games but played for a full two seasons in 2013 and 2014. So he is capable of being available. Even last year his four games missed were because of a failed PED test rather than an injury. But his per game production has dipped ever so slightly. Some may attribute this to games that he played in but was not fully healthy, or the lack of QB play that he has been paired with in Chicago. Either way, he’s in Fresh Prince Country now and he needs to step up if he is going to get paid in 2018.

So what does this mean for Eagles players?

The Eagles brought in not only Jeffery but Torrey Smith to go along with Jordan Matthews, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Nelson Agholor. There are rumors also that the Eagles could take a receiver early in the draft, with John Ross being the common name given.

Carson Wentz definitely will not have the “lack of talent” excuse that many were affording him during his rookie campaign. He threw for over 600 attempts last season (5th in the NFL) which many are not expecting him to repeat. Coach Doug Pederson would like to have a more balanced offense if he can either find a better back in the draft or get more out of Ryan Mathews. Still with this boost to the talent around him his efficiency (62.4% completion rate) and touchdowns (16) should increase. He will be a solid bye week and matchup-based starter in 1QB leagues and a great second option in 2QB (especially on his rookie deal).

The receiving core will be greater than the sum of its parts, with inconsistency being a fantasy nightmare some weeks. Likely Jeffery is used as the primary receiver both on the outside and in the end zone which should hopefully boost his touchdown totals. Those who have or bought into Jordan Matthews should finally see him move to the slot where he should have always been playing. The lack of talent around him the past two seasons forced him to have to be the primary outside receiver. Target volume and yards after the catch will be his key to success. These two should have between 100 and 130 targets along with Zach Ertz who surprisingly had 106 targets last season. He will be a nice low-end TE1 option in most leagues.

Outside of Matthews and Jeffery, it will be hard for another receiver to carve out a consistent fantasy role on a weekly basis. If you are looking for a cheap option that could get an increased role should Jeffery get injured Green-Beckham would fill his role as the big X receiver. Please, just drop Nelson Agholor already. He’s a spot on your roster and dollars in your pocket that could be spent elsewhere.

Boo! Nelson Agholor

So what is Jeffery’s value?

Before his signing with the Eagles, I moved Jeffery for the 1.07 in the upcoming draft. While that was lower than what I thought I could get from him I was glad to get out from his remaining 2 year/$60M deal. That owner subsequently flipped Jeffery and the 2.06 for Isaiah Crowell, Jeremy Maclin, and a 2018 2nd. Based on these moves and conversation about acquiring costs in other leagues Jeffery seems to be a hold for now. The community is split on whether Jeffery still belongs in that WR1 conversation and his future is still technically unknown as he could be on the move again next season. It is unlikely that owners would be willing to part with more than a late 1st for him. If you want to risk it he could pay dividends to a contender that needs another good receiver.

So what does it mean for Bears Players?

We haven’t talked much about the Bears yet but mostly because the options are limited. Cameron Meredith is a hot take that many fantasy enthusiasts have been propping up as a great 2017 sleeper receiver. Even Markus Wheaton has seen a modest uptick in his ADP by coming over. The Bears could also take another high receiver in the draft but they will likely want to see what they can get out of Kevin White for one more season before hitting the reset button on the position again.  The problem is that none of these players command double coverage which could also hurt Jordan Howard’s value with negative game script and stacked boxes. It will mostly come down to what Mike Glennon can and can’t do in the offense. His ball velocity is one of the weakest in the league and he was a typical game manager during his starts early in his career. One of these receivers will be at least a decent option for deep starter leagues and heavy bye weeks but guessing who that is in April is difficult. Don’t get caught up in a bidding war trying to acquire either Meredith or Wheaton’s services before we learn more in training camp.

Make sure to continue to read more Free Agency Expectancy articles throughout the offseason to be prepared for your summer Auctions. Have a player that you want me to evaluate? Send me a message on Twitter @naandrews19.

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

Open the Wallet: Players to Buy

Updated: December 4th 2016

Though many leagues’ trade deadlines are fast approaching or may have already passed, now’s a great time to get a head start on your plans for the 2017 season. Each year, I spend time during the last few weeks of the season to evaluate my team’s outlook for the next season to determine my off-season strategy and am ready to act as soon as league trading opens.  Strategically, I prefer off-season to in-season trading because trades often revolve around filling needs and replacing injured players during a particular season.  Off-season deals are instead often based on differing opinions on specific players’ values and/or the long-term plans of the two teams involved. In this late season edition of Open the Wallet, I’ll explain which players I’m actively looking to buy before the 2017 season.

Spencer Ware RB KCJamaal Charles‘ days as the lead RB in Kansas City are long gone and Ware appears ready to carry the torch.  His impressive combination of speed with the power to punish defenders renders him nearly match-up proof on a conservative offense, centered around the running game.  This year he’s also proved to be a weapon in the passing game, best exemplified by ranking second in yards per route run (2.35) through Week 8 per Pro Football Focus.

o DLF Nov ADP: 55th
o Advice: Trade a mid-2017 1st round pick to acquire in standard dynasty; Good value at $15 million per season in RSO.

CJ Prosise RB SEA – In just a few games, Prosise has already carved out a role in one of the league’s best offenses. Though he’s out for the remainder of 2016, CJ has shown that his natural pass catching skills have translated from his days at Notre Dame. He’s a top 20 PPR RB entering 2017, with a chance at reaching the top 10 by season’s end.

o DLF Nov ADP: 99th
o Advice: Trade a mid/late 2017 1st round pick to acquire in standard dynasty; Good value at $8 million per year in RSO.

Donte Moncrief WR IND – One of the 20 best dynasty assets, all Moncrief does is score touchdowns – 9TDs in his last 12 games with Andrew Luck, per Matthew Berry.  Expected to play much of his career with Andrew Luck, the yardage will come and he should inch closer to the tier of elite WRs. The price to acquire him will be high, but this is the last chance to buy before he becomes untouchable.

o DLF Nov ADP: 22nd
o Advice: Trade two 1st round picks to acquire in standard dynasty; Good value at $15 million per year in RSO.

Carson Wentz QB PHI – The Eagles offense and Wentz faltering the past few weeks creates a buying opportunity. Carson Wentz likely never will have worse skill position talent than he does right now. Improving the offense should be the first off-season priority of aggressive GM Howie Roseman as the Eagles severely lack reliable targets, let alone skilled playmakers.

o DLF Nov ADP: 148th
o Advice: Trade late 2017 1st round pick to acquire in standard dynasty; Good value at $4 million per on multi-year deal in a 1QB RSO league; $12 million per year on a multi-year in a Superflex or 2qb RSO league.

Kenneth Dixon RB BAL – If you’ve read much of my work this year, you’ve likely noticed that I favor RBs that are involved in the passing game. Less of their value is reliant on weekly TD scoring and their usage is likely to be more consistent as they don’t get lose playing time during games with negative game flow. Dixon was one of my favorite RBs draft in 2016.  A MCL injury slowed his NFL debut, but it only appears a matter of time before he takes over the Baltimore backfield.  In Week 11, Dixon nearly saw the field as much as Terrance West (West 24 snaps, Dixon 21 snaps per Nathan Jahnke of PFF).

o DLF Nov ADP: 96th
o Advice: Trade late 2017 1st to acquire in standard dynasty; Good value at $8 million per year for multiple years in RSO.

Sammy Watkins WR BUF – If you’re willing to stomach the risk of injuries throughout his career, the payoff could be huge. I bought low two months ago in a standard dynasty league, trading Julio Jones for Watkins and 2 late 1st round picks.  Like everyone else I’ve made plenty of trades that didn’t work out as planned this year, but I’ll certainly consider this a success should Watkins return to his 2015 form later this year.  Tyrod Taylor has put together a solid season for the second year in a row, likely establishing himself as the long-term solution at QB in Buffalo. I’ll bet on Watkins undeniable talent, hope he stays healthy, and watch as their offense opens up with their best player back on the field.

o DLF Nov ADP: 17th
o Advice: Trade two 1st round picks to acquire in standard dynasty; Good value at $14 million per season.

Tyler Lockett WR SEA – Trust the talent. With the ball in his hands, Tyler Lockett‘s elusive reputation has followed him from Kansas State to the NFL. Largely considered a disappointment in 2016, Lockett‘s talent should lead to more opportunities in 2017 and 2018. Over the past two weeks, he’s had two of his three best games on the season as a healthy Russell Wilson has regained late-2015 form. It’s also important to keep in mind that while we never root for injuries, the loss of either Doug Baldwin or Jimmy Graham for an extended period of time would clear the path for increased usage. I’d consider him a good buy if his owner is less optimistic about his future.

o DLF Nov ADP: 73rd
o Advice: Trade a 2nd round pick to acquire in standard dynasty; Good value at $5 million per year if signed for multiple years in RSO.

Ladarius Green TE PIT – Likely an afterthought after missing the Steelers’ first 8 games, Green has a chance to emerge as a reliable target for Pittsburgh in 2017. Martavis Bryant is expected to return next year, though that’s far from guaranteed as Karlos Williams reminded us last week. If Green puts it all together – a question fantasy players have been asking for years now – he has the top 5 TE potential. If he doesn’t, the cost to acquire him likely wasn’t enough to severely set you back.

o DLF Nov ADP: 170th
o Advice: Trade an early 3rd round pick to acquire in standard dynasty; Good value at $1.5 million for 2017.

Which of these players are you also targeting in trades? Let me know @DaveSanders_RSO on Twitter!


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

Redrafting the 2016 Rookie Draft

Updated: October 9th 2016

As we’re about a quarter of the way into the 2016 season, plenty has changed since our rookie drafts this past summer.  Values have changed, injuries have occurred, and roles have been more clearly defined.  In hindsight there are many picks that we’re all proud of, but also some that we’re ashamed to look back on.  In this piece, I’m going to redraft the first round of a 2016 Rookie Draft assuming that it took place today.

#1.01 Ezekiel Elliott – RB DAL

2016: 94 car – 412 yards – 3TDs; 6 rec – 44 yards

Analysis: The consensus 1.01 pick throughout the off-season, Elliott has largely delivered on the months of hype that surrounded him.  He’s produced as the number one running back in Dallas, though he has been unluckily vultured at the goal-line a few times.  He’s been less involved in the passing game than I anticipated, but I expect his usage to improve over the next few years.

#1.02 Corey Coleman – WR CLE

2016: 7 rec – 173 yards – 2TDs

Analysis: Coleman, my choice for the 1.02 pick in the off-season, has flashed his immense potential in limited opportunities this season.  The Cleveland offense, headed by Hue Jackson, may no longer be a fantasy wasteland as Isaiah Crowell, Terrelle Pyror, and Corey Coleman have emerged this season as viable fantasy options.  Missing 4-to-6 weeks with a broken hand is unfortunate, but it doesn’t impact my long-term projection of Coleman.

#1.03 Will Fuller – WR HOU

2016: 19 rec – 323 – 2TDs

Analysis: I’m not afraid to admit that I was dead wrong about Will Fuller.  I had him outside of my top 10 and didn’t believe he would be nearly as versatile as he’s proved to be.  Not only a deep threat, Fuller is a weapon in all areas of the field.  His success is currently being limited by poor QB, but the sky’s the limit if Brock Osweiler improves.

#1.04 Sterling Shepard – WR NYG

2016: 20 rec – 263 – 2TDs

Analysis: Of all the 2016 rookies, I have the most shares of Sterling Shepard.  A very polished route runner, I expected Shepard to immediately make an impact especially in PPR leagues.  He has not disappointed and appears on a trajectory towards WR2 status for much of his career.

#1.05 Michael Thomas – WR NO

2016: 21 rec – 229 yards – 2TDs

Analysis: Through 4 games, the 6’3″ sure-handed possession receiver has performed well as many expected.   His quick emergence, as a WR3/WR4 in 2016, make him an excellent value on a 3 or 4 year RSO rookie contract.

#1.06 Derrick Henry – RB TEN

2016: 27 car – 97 yards; 3 rec – 50 yards

Analysis: After a very impressive preseason, I expected that Derrick Henry would be much more involved in the Tennessee offense than he’s been through four games.  Instead, DeMarco Murray has been a true workhouse, leaving little work for the rookie Henry.  In a year or two, Henry should take over the starting job in Tennessee and immediately join the RB1 conversation.  A true physical specimen with a unique combination of size and speed, Henry is one of the most athletically gifted RB prospects we’ve seen in quite some time.  This preseason, he even showed promise catching the ball out of the backfield.  If the Henry owner in your league is growing impatient, now’s the time to buy.

#1.07 Laquon Treadwell – WR MIN

2016: n/a

Analysis: Treadwell was widely considered the consensus 1.02 or 1.03 pick in all rookie drafts, but his value has dropped in the first month of the season.  He’s been a healthy inactive in several games and has seen very few snaps when he’s actually been active.  While the Vikings may want to bring their rookie along slowly, it’s very concerning that he can’t beat out Charles Johnson, Adam Thielen, Jarius Wright, and Cordarrelle Patterson for WR reps.  I’m still a believer in his talent, but red flags have been raised.

#1.08 Kenneth Dixon – RB BAL

2016: n/a

Analysis: Dixon’s expected debut in Week 5 has generated a great deal of buzz in the fantasy community as many expect him to quickly overtake Terrance West.  As a prospect at the draft, I was very high on Kenneth Dixon…love his speed, athleticism, and pass catching abilities.  The knee injury delayed his NFL debut and briefly suppressed his value, but that has now risen likely greater than it was in April and May.

#1.09 Josh Doctson – WR WAS

2016: 2 rec – 66 yards

Analysis: 2016 may end as a lost season for Josh Doctson, but all hope is not lost.  Assuming he enters the 2017 season healthy, he will have a great opportunity to earn a significant target share in Washington.  DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon are both free agents after 2016 and it seems unlikely both will return.  

#1.10 Jordan Howard – RB CHI

2016: 35 car – 178 yards; 9 rec – 77 yards

Analysis: The most interesting aspect of Jordan Howard’s impressive start as a rookie is his usage in the passing game.  Largely considered a 2-down back after catching a total of 24 passes in 32 collegiate games, Howard seemed to lack the upside of more versatile backs but clearly that isn’t the case.

#1.11 DeAndre Washington – RB OAK

2016: 23 car – 147 yards; 6 rec – 37 yards

Analysis: Throughout the off-season we kept hearing that the Raiders weren’t 100% sold on Latavius Murray as their workhorse back.  DeAndre Washington became a fantasy sleeper soon after the NFL draft.  Though only 5’8”, Washington is a physical back that can run between the tackles, make a defender miss in space, and is adequate catching the ball out of the backfield.  He may be part of a committee in Oakland long-term, but committees are the new norm in the NFL.  Washington is clearly a talent that runs behind one of the best offensive lines in football.

#1.12 Hunter Henry – TE SD

2016: 10 rec – 153 yards – TD

Analysis: Hunter Henry looks like he may turn into what the fantasy community had hoped Ladarius Green would be.  Henry has produced in Antonio Gates‘ absence and has become a reliable target for QB Philip Rivers.

Just missed the first round:

Wendell Smallwood – RB PHI

Carson Wentz – QB PHI

Tajae Sharpe – WR TEN

Tyler Boyd – WR CIN

Braxton Miller – WR HOU

Devontae Booker – RB DEN

Malcolm Mitchell – WR NE

CJ Prosise – RB SEA

Paul Perkins – RB NYG

Dwayne Washington – RB DET

Let me know which of your rookie picks you’re most proud of – 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