Early RSO Contracts: TEs

Updated: August 16th 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. We move to the tight end position, probably the shallowest group in fantasy football.  There are few teams in the NFL who feature the tight end position in the passing game and many of the top options at the position have struggled staying on the field.  Let us take a deeper look at the position to sort out where we can find value.

When they are Healthy…

Two players stand out from the rest in the tight end fantasy landscape when on the field, Rob Gronkowski and Jordan Reed.   The problem for each player over their career is staying on the field.  Reed has never played a full season and Gronkowski has not played a full season in 6 years.

“Gronk” dominates in a way that is almost indescribable when on the field and he is used in ways unlike other players at the position.  He is a true downfield threat and incredibly difficult to tackle one-on-one by defensive backs.  The New England powerhouse leads active tight ends in yards per reception at 15.0 (the next highest is Travis Kelce at 12.8) and receiving yards per game at 69.3 (the next highest is Travis Kelce at 58.4) while also accumulating 68 touchdowns.  Antonio Gates, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Brandon Marshall are the only active players with more touchdowns and each has played 10+ seasons in the league.  Remarkably, Gronkowski accumulated his touchdown total in only 88 career games or 5.5 full seasons.

Not to be outdone, Jordan Reed firmly placed his name in contention for best at the position with his performance over the last two seasons.  The Washington tight end produces in a different manner than Gronkowski as a classic move tight end relying on beautiful separation skills and tremendous ball skills in the short game.  He owns a high 76% catch rate over his career.  Reed finished as the overall TE1 in fantasy points per game for PPR leagues each of the last two seasons despite being used as a decoy in multiple games last year after separating his shoulder (which he amazingly played with in multiple games).  Taking out those shoulder injury games last year, Reed’s 16-game average in 23 games played over the last two seasons looks like this:

102 receptions / 136 targets / 1101 yards / 11 touchdowns       Those are WR1 numbers in PPR leagues.

While not on the level of Gronkowski and Reed for fantasy purposes, Tyler Eifert is another player worth mentioning in the oft-injured group.  The Cincinnati tight end offers tremendous weekly upside as one of the premier red zone threats in the entire league.  The former first round pick scored 18 touchdowns over the last two seasons in only 21 games.

Even when taking into account the additional injury risk associated with each of these players, they are all well worth their current costs.  Each of these players displayed the ability in past seasons to make up the current average cost in only half a year’s worth of play and each will be a huge value-win if they play close to a full season.

Best of the Rest

Travis Kelce finished as the overall TE1 last season.  His reception and yardage total have increased each season in the league and he is the de facto top receiver in Kansas City with a bunch of unknowns at wide receiver.  The limitations of Alex Smith and the Chiefs offense limit his upside, particularly in the touchdown department, but he is a safe high-end starter for your RSO team.

Greg Olsen remains as one of the only reliable targets in Carolina.  There is a lot of unknown as to what the Panthers’ offense will look like after drafting two offensive weapons in the first two rounds of the NFL draft, running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver Curtis Samuel.  Similarly to Kelce, Olsen is limited by his quarterback play which caps his upside to a certain degree.

One of the more surprising stories from 2016 was the quick return of Jimmy Graham from a patellar tear, historically one of the worst injuries for NFL players.  Graham faded in the second half of the season and will never see the target load that he saw in New Orleans, but is still a dynamic receiving threat for the Seahawks.  Look for a nice season as he moves farther from his injury and is more incorporated into the Seattle offense.

Expect some Regression

Kyle Rudolf is not what one would call a dynamic receiving weapon.  He is a slow (4.88 forty time) un-athletic tight end who averages just under 10 yards per reception and only 6.3 yards per target for his career.  Rudolf demolished his career highs in yardage (840, previous high: 495) and receptions (83, previous high:  53) thanks to a massive increase in targets (132, previous high:  93) which lead to his overall TE2 finish in PPR leagues.  This big usage increase was largely the result of an awful offensive line which could not pass protect or run block. With limited weapons at both receiver and running back, quarterback Sam Bradford was forced to dink and dunk at Rudolf throughout the year.  The Vikings addressed both deficient areas in the offseason adding offensive linemen Riley Reiff and Mike Renners, running back Latavius Murray, and wide receiver Michael Floyd in free agency.  Minnesota also drafted 2nd round running back Dalvin Cook.  With last year’s first round wide receiver Laquon Treadwell likely seeing more action, look for a significant step back from Rudolf.

The Tennessee massively upgraded the receiving core drafting Corey Davis with the 5th overall pick and taking Taiwan Taylor in the 3rd round, while also adding Eric Decker in free agency thanks to the New York Jets overhaul.  These moves are great for Marcus Mariota and the Titans offense but not so good for Delanie Walker’s fantasy prospects in a run-first scheme.

Streamers and Matchup Plays

There are some names RSO owners should keep in mind for those who like to stream the tight end position in shallow leagues or employ a cheap multi-tight end matchup based system from week to week.  Few players disappointed as much as Coby Fleener last season given his sky-high expectations last season.  He still finished as the TE15 last season.  With Brandin Cooks gone, Fleener could see 100 targets in the high-volume Saints passing attack.  He is a bargain at his TE22 cost as one of the only players in this range with legitimate TE1 upside.  Charles Clay (TE29) performed as a mid range TE2 each of the last two seasons and finished last season on a strong note as the overall TE3 in the last month.  Clay does not possess much upside but he is a useful player on a team without much in receiving weapons.  When you are looking at weekly plays an RSO owner wants touchdown upside and nobody on the low-cost list has as much as Jesse James (TE27).  He is a massive target and could see lots of red-zone looks on a Pittsburg offense which could be among the league’s best.

 

Average RSO Tight End 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.

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

Start Counting from 100

Updated: July 20th 2016

On my 21st birthday my friends bought me tickets to go skydiving over a patch of land we had driven through, around, and past many times.   It is, by any account, as unassuming and potent a patch of land as you might find anywhere in America.  Throw a ball, plant some crops, or leap from a fully functioning airplane thousands of feet overhead.  Many people prefer to stay “grounded,” but my frenemies made friends helped me to take a leap.   Over a series of articles I want to take you through the potential of an RSO offseason, and help you look at your roster differently.  We will consider the RSO values of players 100-1 in June’s dynasty ADP.  These articles should help you to scrutinize the contracts on your team with a perspective that differs from ground level and give you a helpful vantage point as you construct and offer trades during the offseason.   When I went skydiving I had no frame of reference, no experience that anticipated strapping myself to a Greek stranger and rocking out the gaping side of a biplane somewhere above a field in Maryland.   In an RSO league you are oddly free from the wealth of information that saturates other formats, and this demands that you pick and choose the things that will help you make sense of what is coming.   Over the next ten articles I will evaluate each group of ten players and highlight the best value and player to target in a trade.

Consider the following ten players (all Data courtesy of My Fantasy League. Trade calculator values are derived from current average draft position and historical trade market via the Rotoviz Dynasty ADP App):

91 Fitzgerald, Larry ARI WR 46 91.4
92 Jones, Marvin CIN/DET WR 47 91.8
93 Green, Ladarius SDC/PIT TE 7 92.1
94 Walker, Delanie SFO/TEN TE 8 93
95 Booker, Devontae DEN RB 31 94.4
96 Roethlisberger, Ben PIT QB 9 95.5
97 Fleener, Coby IND/NOS TE 9 96.1
98 Ebron, Eric DET TE 10 98
99 Agholor, Nelson PHI WR 48 99.4
100 Fuller, Will HOU WR 49.5 100.9

 

In June, savvy drafters, addicts, and the sommeliers of fantasy football vintage (you are one or many of these things if you are reading fantasy football articles in July) selected ninety players before this gang of ten came off the board in dynasty startup drafts.   This information gives us a baseline, but demands we translate that into a helpful value as we hurtle towards free agency auctions in an RSO league.   These players constitute the field, so lets identify  for what players you want to trade.

Initially we have to dismiss Fuller and Booker from our consideration.   They currently register as the 11th and 14th rookies taken in dynasty rookie drafts, so you can use your league’s rookie contract settings to attach a value to their 3 or 4 year deals.  That leaves us with eight players to consider.   The player with the most years remaining on the average RSO contract may surprise you.   Nelson Agholor checks in with a solid average of 2.4 years remaining, reflecting the rookie contracts of last year.  He also registers the highest remaining salary for a non QB in the 91-100 field across RSO leagues, with a robust figure north of twelve million (12,074,270).   For owners of Agholor this means you are probably stuck with him unless you have an Eagles fan that is willing to ignore his alleged terrible-personness.   His lack of production, and the likelihood of seeing the wrong side of Goodell’s hammer suggests he is a prime cut candidate for most RSO GMs, given that the cost is not prohibitive and the production replaceable.  Marvin Jones offers the screaming value here, and as an owner you can likely hold or package him and his delightfully light 1.6 years and four million if you are one of the relatively few RSO GMs that locked him up to a multi-year contract before his impending NFL free agency and newfound Detroit opportunity.  Larry Fitzgerald is a very reasonable 7.7 million at just over a year across RSO leagues as well.   This suggests that three of the four receivers in this tier are tradeable assets, with Marvin Jones representing the highest reward, lowest risk if you can target him in a trade.

The real value here is tight end.   All four players figure to soak up the majority of their teams’ TE targets and carry a similar contract cost.  The young guys find themselves in favorable situations.  Eric Ebron saw significant targets depart with the Lions’ best receiver, and can be had for 1.7 years at nearly 12 million dollars.   Ladarius Green and Coby Fleener sit at an identical 1.7 average years remaining.   However, Fleener is the gem of this tier with his move to a Saints offense that targets tight ends at highest rate in the NFL, and a salary south of 7 million remaining.    Ladarius moves the needle to nearly ten million which seems to price him too high to make a viable trade target considering Delanie Walker can be had for 1.3 years and under 8 million.  Given the community’s relatively low investment in draft equity, it seems that these players can be had with a reasonable offer.   Walker and Fleener, in particular serve as the best options in this ten man field.

As we gripped the bars on the side of an airplane and prepared to hurtle ourselves into the morning sky, my tandem instructor/savior/guide yelled to me over the engine drone: “don’t worry, I am not like those things you hear about Greek men.”  Ladies and gentlemen, readers and fantasy GMs, I submit to you my man could have been Alexander the Great, and I his sworn Persian enemy, as long he was strapped tight and knew when to rip that cord and took me safely into the field below.


Bio: Luke @FantasyDocOC is husband, father, doctoral student, and teacher slowly building a reality dynasty league comprised entirely of daughters. Following in the footsteps of Saint Francis, “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” CUA. Hoya Saxa.