numberFire Rookie Draft Results '16

Updated: August 22nd 2016

Welcome to year three of their writers league featuring writers from Reality Sports Online, numberFire, ESPN and FantasyGuru.com. Ironically, our defending champion is the only non-writer in the league, Rory Ryan, a Law Professor from Baylor, a write-in candidate from last year. Only one team turned over this year and is now owned by Reality Sports Online founder and president Matt Papson, who inherited a squad rich with assets and picks hence his team name being Hospitable Takeover. The three-round, three-year contract rookie draft was held on Sunday, August 7th and was completed in record time (less than 15 minutes).

The participants rookie picks and strategies are outlined below, along with player contract values to assist those users who have not had their rookie draft yet. Please follow us all on Twitter as we definitely love talking fantasy football.

Without further ado, the 2016 Rookie Draft.

Team: University of Phoenix Online (Brandon Gdula, numberFire) @gdula13

Picks:

1.01 Ezekiel Elliott, RB Dallas Cowboys (3 years, $20.8M)

2.01 C.J. Prosise, RB Seattle Seahawks (3 years, $4.7M)

3.01 Wendell Smallwood, RB Philadelphia Eagles (3 years, $3.1M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: My team needed everything, if we’re being honest, and at 1.01, I had no choice but to take Ezekiel Elliott. Dallas liked him enough to take him fourth overall, and he might lead the league in carries in 2016. What’s not to like? C.J. Prosise is a receiving back with some rushing ability in a run-first offense in Seattle. Thomas Rawls’ injury concerns me, and Prosise could wind up as a starter as a rookie. Even if not, he should secure the third-down role. I didn’t like any receivers left at the start of the third and was targeting DeAndre Washington, but I settled on Wendell Smallwood. He might be able to be a three-down back given that there is not much certainty ahead of him on the depth chart as a rookie.

Team: The Quickie Martin (Sam Hauss, numberFire) @Real_Hauss

Picks:

1.02 Corey Coleman, WR Cleveland Browns (3 years, $19.6M)

2.02 Kenneth Dixon, RB Baltimore Ravens (3 years, $4.6M)

2.09 Pharoh Cooper, WR Los Angeles Rams (3 years, $4.3M)

3.02 Austin Hooper, TE Atlanta Falcons (3 years, $3.0M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: With Elliott off the board and a big hole at the wide receiver position, I opted for Corey Coleman with the second pick of the first round. Coleman should be in store for a big role early in his career, even with Josh Gordon returning to the Browns, and has as much upside as any wide receiver in this draft class. My second pick was a bit trickier, because I really wanted to nab another wide receiver, but I liked the value much more at running back, hence my selection of Kenneth Dixon. The Ravens backfield is up for grabs and Dixon may already be the most talented of the bunch. He could emerge as the starter in a Marc Trestman offense as soon as this season. After taking a running back second I went back to the well at wide receiver, selecting Pharoh Cooper of the Rams. While I’m not sure where he’ll fit into the offense this season, I needed to add depth at wide receiver and Cooper is an explosive athlete with a lot of upside over the next few seasons. Some of you may be surprised to see me select the Falcons’ Austin Hooper with my fourth pick before Hunter Henry, however, in this league format rookie contracts are three year contracts and Hooper simply has a more clear path to fantasy value over the next three seasons than Henry. Henry is still playing behind Antonio Gates and will struggle to stay on the field as a full time player until he becomes a better blocker. Meanwhile, Atlanta has a huge number of targets to fill behind Julio Jones and, depending on what your opinion of Mohamed Sanu is, there really isn’t much competition to fill that void. Hooper has a rare chance to be a major contributor as a rookie at the tight end position and is a much safer choice in the short-term than the aforementioned Henry.

Team: Hospitable Takeover (Matt Papson, President and Founder, Reality Sports Online) @RealitySportsMP

Picks:

1.03 Laquon Treadwell, WR Minnesota Vikings (3 years, $19.1M)

1.09 Will Fuller, WR Houston Texans (3 years, $11.7M)

2.03 Leonte Carroo, WR Miami Dolphins (3 years, $4.6M)

3.03 Braxton Miller, WR Houston Texans (3 years, $3.0M)

Rookie Draft Strategy:  I inherited/took-over, what I believe to be, the bones of a well-balanced, championship-potential roster. The team isn’t deep at any one position, but it’s not overly shallow anywhere either. It’s also set up well for me from a contract perspective, with Russell Wilson’s $13.2M cap figure the highest on the team. Several promising young players, including Jay Ajayi, Kevin White, Maxx Williams, and Odell Beckham Jr. are still on affordable rookie contracts.

I was hoping to land Treadwell third overall, so-as not to over-invest in the Robert Griffin III experiment (on my roster), and was fortunate to have Coleman go off the board 2nd. I would have taken Derrick Henry in the 9 slot if he had lasted. With Henry off the board, I decided to hedge my Jaelen Strong ownership by selecting Philly-native Will Fuller. I didn’t love my option at 2.03, and wish I could have traded back to gain an extra selection in the late 2nd/early 3rd given how things turned out, but went with Leonte Carroo. With Smallwood off the board at 3.01 (who I had ranked right after Carroo), I had to decide between Hunter Henry (I already have a high pick invested in Williams and need a veteran), Paxton Lynch/Jared Goff (but need a backup to Wilson who can play now in case RG3 re-busts), and my actual selection — Braxton Miller. I went with Miller’s high upside, and him being a super-hedge to Strong and Fuller. If a clear #2 emerges behind DeAndre Hopkins in Houston, he’s on my roster.

Team: Great Odin’s Raven (Dan Pizzuta, numberFire) @DanPizzuta

Picks:

1.04 Josh Doctson, WR Washington Redskins (3 years, $18.3M)

2.04 Jordan Howard, RB Chicago Bears (3 years, $4.5M)

3.04 Hunter Henry, TE San Diego Chargers (3 years, $3.0 M)

3.09 Chris Moore, WR Baltimore Ravens (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: 

I’ve drafted second overall the past two years in this league, so sitting at pick No. 1.04 made me feel like I was waiting around forever. It didn’t matter though, because I got the player I would have taken second overall anyway, knowing Elliott is the obvious first overall pick. I think Josh Doctson is the best wide receiver in this class and even if he doesn’t have an immediate impact his rookie year, there’s going to be a lot of good to follow.

I didn’t really like how the board fell to me in the second round, so I went with Jordan Howard to pair with Ka’Deem Carey to possibly get two-thirds of a potential RBBC for the Bears. It’s faulty, but that was my logic taking David Johnson in the third round of this draft last year and that worked out pretty well.

Heading into the third I was targeting Hooper, who I viewed as the top rookie tight end before the NFL Draft, but he went two picks ahead of me, which I was not expecting. I went with Henry because I could see San Diego throwing a lot and Antonio Gates is 36-years-old, but man, I really would have liked Hooper. I also had the ninth pick in the third round from a late season trade and took Chris Moore from Baltimore. I’m a big fan of Moore’s skillset — he can get down the field, create separation and win at the catch point — and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him contribute sooner rather than later for the Ravens, especially considering the unknown health/quality of Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace.

Team: Team: gingersauce4u (Tyler Buecher, numberFire) @gingersauce4u

Picks:

1.05 Sterling Shepard, WR New York Giants (3 years, $17.3M)

2.05 DeAndre Washington, RB Oakland Raiders (3 years, $4.5M)

3.05 Mike Thomas, WR Los Angeles Rams (3 years, $3.0M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: Heading into our third year of this league, I’ve learned not to value positions of need as badly as I used to. Rookies beyond the first round are typically dart throws, but I have some optimism with the three players I drafted here. Sterling Shepard enters a terrific situation in his rookie season in an offense that has 100-plus targets up for grabs. Settling in behind Odell Beckham Jr. should allow Shepard plenty of single-coverage looks and allow him to truly shine out of the slot — an area he dominated in college. I love what the Raiders have done this offseason beefing up their offensive line with the addition of Kelechi Osemele and their additions on defense. It lines up for Oakland to have a more balanced attack, and something that rookie DeAndre Washington could take advantage of in his rookie year. Latavius Murray struggled with efficiency in 2015 with his success largely a byproduct of volume. Washington could carve out an early third-down/change-of-pace role that could expand into more touches as the season goes on. I’m not as high on Mike Thomas as a lot of others, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to grab him here in the mid-third round. Thomas was this year’s most notable Combine snub, after shining his final collegiate season with a 71-1,391-14 stat line for Southern Miss. He had an unlucky landing situation with the Rams, a team that ran the fewest plays per game last year and had the fifth-lowest passing play percentage. Fortunately, the receivers there have yet to establish any consistent production, so he may find a quicker path to playing time than if went somewhere else. 

Team: SamHerbie (Sammy Light, Reality Sports Online) @SamHerbie

Picks:

1.06 Devontae Booker, RB Denver Broncos (3 years, $15.2M)

2.06 Malcolm Mitchell, WR New England Patriots (3 years, $4.4M)

3.06 Paxton Lynch, QB Denver Broncos (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: While most would think about wide receivers at this point in the rookie draft, I really like what Devontae Booker brings to the table. He’s a versatile every down back playing for a coach who he can thrive under and even though C.J. Anderson re-signed this offseason, he’s had a history of not holding up health-wise. I love Malcolm Mitchell’s big play ability and it didn’t take him long in the preseason to demonstrate some of that. Word is he’s projected to start as the Patriots “X” receiver. In the final round, I took Paxton Lynch as the first QB off the board.

Team: Cleveland’s Award Tour (Matt Goodwin, Reality Sports Online & numberFire) @mattgoody2

Picks:

1.07 Michael Thomas, WR New Orleans Saints (3 years, $13.5M)

2.07 Paul Perkins, RB New York Giants (3 years, $4.4M)

3.07 Jared Goff, QB Los Angeles Rams (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: My strategy typically changes a bit in this league due to the 3 year rookie contracts vs. 4 years in my other leagues. To that end, I always try to get players who are fantasy ready in their rookie years. Michael Thomas fits that bill. He’s gotten glowing reviews in training camp and has earned quarterback Drew Brees’ confidence. He also fits a pretty big need for me at wideout. I was really hoping in the second round that Washington would be available as I think he could have an immediate impact in the Raiders offense as a pass-catcher, but like in Round 1, Tyler grabbed who I would’ve wanted. So I went with Paul Perkins, a versatile back out of UCLA. While all indications in New York point to a crowded backfield and Perkins probably being a year away, I have a little time to wait for someone scouts compared to Jamaal Charles. This strategy worked for me in the past with Devonta Freeman and this late in the draft, Perkins could be a steal.

In the last round, I was really open to anything. I originally was targeting a wide receiver who will have to wait until the auction potentially, but the opportunity to take the first overall pick in Jared Goff proved tantalizing. I’m not expecting much out of him this year, but could have a cheap and productive fantasy option for years 2 and 3 in a league that doesn’t tend to pay a premium quarterbacks. If Goff ends up being a startable fantasy quarterback in year two (i.e. Top 12 option), I can spend bigger at the other positions while paying Goff roughly $1M a season. I love his pocket presence and quick release. Hopefully I’ve picked the next elite Cal quarterback.

Team: Leo Howell (Leo Howell, ESPN) @LeoHowell8

Picks:

1.08 Derrick Henry, RB Tennessee Titans (3 years, $11.9M)

2.08 Alex Collins, RB Seattle Seahawks (3 years, $4.3M)

3.08 Rashard Higgins, WR Cleveland Browns (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: The rookie draft wasn’t really a major event for me due to my lackluster selection for finishing well last year. I was surprised to see Derrick Henry fall to me, and since I was in full “best player available” mode, he made the most sense. Of the guys on the board, he’d easily be the highest for me in a redraft setting, and I feel like I can win now. I was tempted to go with Paxton Lynch in the second round, but thought he’d fall to me in the third… he didn’t. Still, happy with Alex Collins, who is a job away from being productive in a great system. Ended up with a bit of a biased pick, as Rashard Higgins hails from my favorite FBS college team. I doubt he makes an impact, but I’m banking on the big plays I’ve watched him make for the Rams.

Team: Funky Monks (Graham Barfield, FantasyGuru.com & Rotoworld) @GrahamBarfield

Rookie Draft Strategy: I sat the rookie draft out after an aggressive first year in the league. I traded my picks last year in an effort to win the championship and came close, losing in the finals. I traded my 1st round pick for Arian Foster, my 2nd round pick for Brandon Marshall, and my 3rd round pick for Carson Palmer.

Team: Loss Aversion (Rory Ryan, Baylor University Law Professor) @RoryRyan

Picks:

1.10 Tyler Boyd, WR Cincinnati Bengals (3 years, $11.2M)

2.10 Kelvin Taylor, RB San Francisco 49ers (3 years, $4.2M)

3.10 Tajae Sharpe, WR Tennessee Titans (3 years, $2.8M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: With three-year rookie contracts and rosters that are very shallow, I contemplated bypassing my last two picks. But I decided to risk the cap hit and take two of my guys. I think Kelvin Taylor has an NFL skill set. A pretty good one, actually. The upside with him and Chip in SF is worth the cap risk. I was very sad when Tajae Sharpe got so much good press so early. I’ve been on him for a while, but I wanted the press after my drafts. I knew I wanted both Taylor and Sharpe and drafted Taylor first guessing someone else might take a flier in Taylor but that all would be bored by Sharpe. I ended up getting both of the guys nobody wanted along with Tyler Boyd, who I would take for three years over many of the receivers who go earlier. I see a lot of Allen Robinson in him and there isn’t much in front of him on the Bengals roster.

numberFire Rookie Draft Results ’16

Updated: August 22nd 2016

Welcome to year three of their writers league featuring writers from Reality Sports Online, numberFire, ESPN and FantasyGuru.com. Ironically, our defending champion is the only non-writer in the league, Rory Ryan, a Law Professor from Baylor, a write-in candidate from last year. Only one team turned over this year and is now owned by Reality Sports Online founder and president Matt Papson, who inherited a squad rich with assets and picks hence his team name being Hospitable Takeover. The three-round, three-year contract rookie draft was held on Sunday, August 7th and was completed in record time (less than 15 minutes).

The participants rookie picks and strategies are outlined below, along with player contract values to assist those users who have not had their rookie draft yet. Please follow us all on Twitter as we definitely love talking fantasy football.

Without further ado, the 2016 Rookie Draft.

Team: University of Phoenix Online (Brandon Gdula, numberFire) @gdula13

Picks:

1.01 Ezekiel Elliott, RB Dallas Cowboys (3 years, $20.8M)

2.01 C.J. Prosise, RB Seattle Seahawks (3 years, $4.7M)

3.01 Wendell Smallwood, RB Philadelphia Eagles (3 years, $3.1M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: My team needed everything, if we’re being honest, and at 1.01, I had no choice but to take Ezekiel Elliott. Dallas liked him enough to take him fourth overall, and he might lead the league in carries in 2016. What’s not to like? C.J. Prosise is a receiving back with some rushing ability in a run-first offense in Seattle. Thomas Rawls’ injury concerns me, and Prosise could wind up as a starter as a rookie. Even if not, he should secure the third-down role. I didn’t like any receivers left at the start of the third and was targeting DeAndre Washington, but I settled on Wendell Smallwood. He might be able to be a three-down back given that there is not much certainty ahead of him on the depth chart as a rookie.

Team: The Quickie Martin (Sam Hauss, numberFire) @Real_Hauss

Picks:

1.02 Corey Coleman, WR Cleveland Browns (3 years, $19.6M)

2.02 Kenneth Dixon, RB Baltimore Ravens (3 years, $4.6M)

2.09 Pharoh Cooper, WR Los Angeles Rams (3 years, $4.3M)

3.02 Austin Hooper, TE Atlanta Falcons (3 years, $3.0M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: With Elliott off the board and a big hole at the wide receiver position, I opted for Corey Coleman with the second pick of the first round. Coleman should be in store for a big role early in his career, even with Josh Gordon returning to the Browns, and has as much upside as any wide receiver in this draft class. My second pick was a bit trickier, because I really wanted to nab another wide receiver, but I liked the value much more at running back, hence my selection of Kenneth Dixon. The Ravens backfield is up for grabs and Dixon may already be the most talented of the bunch. He could emerge as the starter in a Marc Trestman offense as soon as this season. After taking a running back second I went back to the well at wide receiver, selecting Pharoh Cooper of the Rams. While I’m not sure where he’ll fit into the offense this season, I needed to add depth at wide receiver and Cooper is an explosive athlete with a lot of upside over the next few seasons. Some of you may be surprised to see me select the Falcons’ Austin Hooper with my fourth pick before Hunter Henry, however, in this league format rookie contracts are three year contracts and Hooper simply has a more clear path to fantasy value over the next three seasons than Henry. Henry is still playing behind Antonio Gates and will struggle to stay on the field as a full time player until he becomes a better blocker. Meanwhile, Atlanta has a huge number of targets to fill behind Julio Jones and, depending on what your opinion of Mohamed Sanu is, there really isn’t much competition to fill that void. Hooper has a rare chance to be a major contributor as a rookie at the tight end position and is a much safer choice in the short-term than the aforementioned Henry.

Team: Hospitable Takeover (Matt Papson, President and Founder, Reality Sports Online) @RealitySportsMP

Picks:

1.03 Laquon Treadwell, WR Minnesota Vikings (3 years, $19.1M)

1.09 Will Fuller, WR Houston Texans (3 years, $11.7M)

2.03 Leonte Carroo, WR Miami Dolphins (3 years, $4.6M)

3.03 Braxton Miller, WR Houston Texans (3 years, $3.0M)

Rookie Draft Strategy:  I inherited/took-over, what I believe to be, the bones of a well-balanced, championship-potential roster. The team isn’t deep at any one position, but it’s not overly shallow anywhere either. It’s also set up well for me from a contract perspective, with Russell Wilson’s $13.2M cap figure the highest on the team. Several promising young players, including Jay Ajayi, Kevin White, Maxx Williams, and Odell Beckham Jr. are still on affordable rookie contracts.

I was hoping to land Treadwell third overall, so-as not to over-invest in the Robert Griffin III experiment (on my roster), and was fortunate to have Coleman go off the board 2nd. I would have taken Derrick Henry in the 9 slot if he had lasted. With Henry off the board, I decided to hedge my Jaelen Strong ownership by selecting Philly-native Will Fuller. I didn’t love my option at 2.03, and wish I could have traded back to gain an extra selection in the late 2nd/early 3rd given how things turned out, but went with Leonte Carroo. With Smallwood off the board at 3.01 (who I had ranked right after Carroo), I had to decide between Hunter Henry (I already have a high pick invested in Williams and need a veteran), Paxton Lynch/Jared Goff (but need a backup to Wilson who can play now in case RG3 re-busts), and my actual selection — Braxton Miller. I went with Miller’s high upside, and him being a super-hedge to Strong and Fuller. If a clear #2 emerges behind DeAndre Hopkins in Houston, he’s on my roster.

Team: Great Odin’s Raven (Dan Pizzuta, numberFire) @DanPizzuta

Picks:

1.04 Josh Doctson, WR Washington Redskins (3 years, $18.3M)

2.04 Jordan Howard, RB Chicago Bears (3 years, $4.5M)

3.04 Hunter Henry, TE San Diego Chargers (3 years, $3.0 M)

3.09 Chris Moore, WR Baltimore Ravens (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: 

I’ve drafted second overall the past two years in this league, so sitting at pick No. 1.04 made me feel like I was waiting around forever. It didn’t matter though, because I got the player I would have taken second overall anyway, knowing Elliott is the obvious first overall pick. I think Josh Doctson is the best wide receiver in this class and even if he doesn’t have an immediate impact his rookie year, there’s going to be a lot of good to follow.

I didn’t really like how the board fell to me in the second round, so I went with Jordan Howard to pair with Ka’Deem Carey to possibly get two-thirds of a potential RBBC for the Bears. It’s faulty, but that was my logic taking David Johnson in the third round of this draft last year and that worked out pretty well.

Heading into the third I was targeting Hooper, who I viewed as the top rookie tight end before the NFL Draft, but he went two picks ahead of me, which I was not expecting. I went with Henry because I could see San Diego throwing a lot and Antonio Gates is 36-years-old, but man, I really would have liked Hooper. I also had the ninth pick in the third round from a late season trade and took Chris Moore from Baltimore. I’m a big fan of Moore’s skillset — he can get down the field, create separation and win at the catch point — and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him contribute sooner rather than later for the Ravens, especially considering the unknown health/quality of Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace.

Team: Team: gingersauce4u (Tyler Buecher, numberFire) @gingersauce4u

Picks:

1.05 Sterling Shepard, WR New York Giants (3 years, $17.3M)

2.05 DeAndre Washington, RB Oakland Raiders (3 years, $4.5M)

3.05 Mike Thomas, WR Los Angeles Rams (3 years, $3.0M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: Heading into our third year of this league, I’ve learned not to value positions of need as badly as I used to. Rookies beyond the first round are typically dart throws, but I have some optimism with the three players I drafted here. Sterling Shepard enters a terrific situation in his rookie season in an offense that has 100-plus targets up for grabs. Settling in behind Odell Beckham Jr. should allow Shepard plenty of single-coverage looks and allow him to truly shine out of the slot — an area he dominated in college. I love what the Raiders have done this offseason beefing up their offensive line with the addition of Kelechi Osemele and their additions on defense. It lines up for Oakland to have a more balanced attack, and something that rookie DeAndre Washington could take advantage of in his rookie year. Latavius Murray struggled with efficiency in 2015 with his success largely a byproduct of volume. Washington could carve out an early third-down/change-of-pace role that could expand into more touches as the season goes on. I’m not as high on Mike Thomas as a lot of others, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to grab him here in the mid-third round. Thomas was this year’s most notable Combine snub, after shining his final collegiate season with a 71-1,391-14 stat line for Southern Miss. He had an unlucky landing situation with the Rams, a team that ran the fewest plays per game last year and had the fifth-lowest passing play percentage. Fortunately, the receivers there have yet to establish any consistent production, so he may find a quicker path to playing time than if went somewhere else. 

Team: SamHerbie (Sammy Light, Reality Sports Online) @SamHerbie

Picks:

1.06 Devontae Booker, RB Denver Broncos (3 years, $15.2M)

2.06 Malcolm Mitchell, WR New England Patriots (3 years, $4.4M)

3.06 Paxton Lynch, QB Denver Broncos (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: While most would think about wide receivers at this point in the rookie draft, I really like what Devontae Booker brings to the table. He’s a versatile every down back playing for a coach who he can thrive under and even though C.J. Anderson re-signed this offseason, he’s had a history of not holding up health-wise. I love Malcolm Mitchell’s big play ability and it didn’t take him long in the preseason to demonstrate some of that. Word is he’s projected to start as the Patriots “X” receiver. In the final round, I took Paxton Lynch as the first QB off the board.

Team: Cleveland’s Award Tour (Matt Goodwin, Reality Sports Online & numberFire) @mattgoody2

Picks:

1.07 Michael Thomas, WR New Orleans Saints (3 years, $13.5M)

2.07 Paul Perkins, RB New York Giants (3 years, $4.4M)

3.07 Jared Goff, QB Los Angeles Rams (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: My strategy typically changes a bit in this league due to the 3 year rookie contracts vs. 4 years in my other leagues. To that end, I always try to get players who are fantasy ready in their rookie years. Michael Thomas fits that bill. He’s gotten glowing reviews in training camp and has earned quarterback Drew Brees’ confidence. He also fits a pretty big need for me at wideout. I was really hoping in the second round that Washington would be available as I think he could have an immediate impact in the Raiders offense as a pass-catcher, but like in Round 1, Tyler grabbed who I would’ve wanted. So I went with Paul Perkins, a versatile back out of UCLA. While all indications in New York point to a crowded backfield and Perkins probably being a year away, I have a little time to wait for someone scouts compared to Jamaal Charles. This strategy worked for me in the past with Devonta Freeman and this late in the draft, Perkins could be a steal.

In the last round, I was really open to anything. I originally was targeting a wide receiver who will have to wait until the auction potentially, but the opportunity to take the first overall pick in Jared Goff proved tantalizing. I’m not expecting much out of him this year, but could have a cheap and productive fantasy option for years 2 and 3 in a league that doesn’t tend to pay a premium quarterbacks. If Goff ends up being a startable fantasy quarterback in year two (i.e. Top 12 option), I can spend bigger at the other positions while paying Goff roughly $1M a season. I love his pocket presence and quick release. Hopefully I’ve picked the next elite Cal quarterback.

Team: Leo Howell (Leo Howell, ESPN) @LeoHowell8

Picks:

1.08 Derrick Henry, RB Tennessee Titans (3 years, $11.9M)

2.08 Alex Collins, RB Seattle Seahawks (3 years, $4.3M)

3.08 Rashard Higgins, WR Cleveland Browns (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: The rookie draft wasn’t really a major event for me due to my lackluster selection for finishing well last year. I was surprised to see Derrick Henry fall to me, and since I was in full “best player available” mode, he made the most sense. Of the guys on the board, he’d easily be the highest for me in a redraft setting, and I feel like I can win now. I was tempted to go with Paxton Lynch in the second round, but thought he’d fall to me in the third… he didn’t. Still, happy with Alex Collins, who is a job away from being productive in a great system. Ended up with a bit of a biased pick, as Rashard Higgins hails from my favorite FBS college team. I doubt he makes an impact, but I’m banking on the big plays I’ve watched him make for the Rams.

Team: Funky Monks (Graham Barfield, FantasyGuru.com & Rotoworld) @GrahamBarfield

Rookie Draft Strategy: I sat the rookie draft out after an aggressive first year in the league. I traded my picks last year in an effort to win the championship and came close, losing in the finals. I traded my 1st round pick for Arian Foster, my 2nd round pick for Brandon Marshall, and my 3rd round pick for Carson Palmer.

Team: Loss Aversion (Rory Ryan, Baylor University Law Professor) @RoryRyan

Picks:

1.10 Tyler Boyd, WR Cincinnati Bengals (3 years, $11.2M)

2.10 Kelvin Taylor, RB San Francisco 49ers (3 years, $4.2M)

3.10 Tajae Sharpe, WR Tennessee Titans (3 years, $2.8M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: With three-year rookie contracts and rosters that are very shallow, I contemplated bypassing my last two picks. But I decided to risk the cap hit and take two of my guys. I think Kelvin Taylor has an NFL skill set. A pretty good one, actually. The upside with him and Chip in SF is worth the cap risk. I was very sad when Tajae Sharpe got so much good press so early. I’ve been on him for a while, but I wanted the press after my drafts. I knew I wanted both Taylor and Sharpe and drafted Taylor first guessing someone else might take a flier in Taylor but that all would be bored by Sharpe. I ended up getting both of the guys nobody wanted along with Tyler Boyd, who I would take for three years over many of the receivers who go earlier. I see a lot of Allen Robinson in him and there isn’t much in front of him on the Bengals roster.

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. 

SOS Targets

Updated: August 7th 2016

Fantasy players frequently must choose between players they have rated closely for the upcoming season. Looking at the schedule of those players might assist us making the choice between them.  Knowing the schedule helps fantasy owners because good defenses tend to give up less fantasy points to opponents than poor defenses do.  Strength of schedule (SOS) is not the overriding trait that determines player value but provides one factor we should consider.  Defensive personnel and coaching changes must also be taken into account.  I give a few examples of similarly ranked players I am targeting and avoiding below, in part due to SOS.

*SOS ranks listed below were taken from Scout Fantasy SOS at the time of writing.

*Running back ranks listed below were taken from Fantasy Pros PPR ADP at the time of writing.

Fade Ryan Tannehill (QB22, SOS: 28th), Target Jay Cutler (QB25, SOS: 6th)

Both Tannehill and Cutler present fine cheaper options for backups/streamers in 1QB leagues or second starters in 2QB leagues. New Miami head coach, Adam Gase, is widely considered a coaching guru for his work with Manning in Denver and Cutler in Chicago (though Manning is Manning and Cutler’s “resurgence” was somewhat overblown).  The fantasy results for Cutler, however, were not particularly good with Gase as the offensive coordinator.  Cutler lost 78 attempts resulting in a reduction in yardage and touchdowns from the previous season.  Cutler ended the season as just the 27th ranked fantasy quarterbacks in PPG.  Tannehill could likewise see a reduced workload this season with Miami emphasizing the run game more.

Miami’s schedule also projects poorly for its quarterback. Tannehill faces one of the more difficult intra-division schedules in the league for quarterbacks with the Jets, Buffalo, and New England all projecting as bad matchups.  The out of division schedule also includes tough games against Cincinnati, Seattle, and Arizona.  The fantasy playoff schedule only makes matters worse for Tannehill with poor matchups from week 14 on.

Chicago and Cutler receive a “cupcake” schedule by comparison playing the NFC East as its intra-conference division and the AFC South for its inter-conference division. The Bears play just three games (two against the Packers and one versus Houston) against defenses with defensive passer ratings inside the top 14.  We should also remember Cutler played last season without all of his receiving weapons for a good portion of the year.  Chicago’s top five expected targets going into the season (Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte, Martellus Bennett, Kevin White, and Eddie Royal) all missed significant time due to injury.  Expect a nice bounce back campaign from Cutler this season.

Fade Carlos Hyde (RB17, SOS: 25th), Target Ryan Mathews (RB24, SOS: 15th)

You can read my bold prediction for Ryan Mathews, but I will concentrate on Hyde here.  The third year running back faces a tough challenge this year.  San Francisco projects as one of the worst offensive teams in the league with questions at quarterback and lack of playmakers at wide receiver.  The offensive line also graded out as one of the worst run-blocking units in the league last year.   Game flow may reduce the expected Chip Kelly induced bump in volume for Hyde with the 49ers predicted to be behind in so many games.  Hyde provides very little in the passing game with just 23 receptions in 21 career games averaging a meager 5.3 YPC.

The schedule does not present any favors to San Francisco either.  Hyde and the running attack face multiple “avoid” matchups including Seattle (2), Arizona (2), Carolina, and the Jets.  The beginning of the year is particularly brutal with the Rams, Carolina, Seattle, Dallas, and the Cardinals in the first five contests.

Hyde is a player to avoid in fantasy at his current price. The situation in San Francisco offers little scoring opportunities and probable game script dictates a projected workload that is less than many expect.  The bad offensive line and tough schedule should keep Hyde’s efficiency low.  Hyde’s lack of prowess in the receiving game and the situation around him present an atrocious weekly floor and a low ceiling that fantasy player should not want a part of.

Fade Tyler Lockett (WR34, SOS: 17th), Target DeSean Jackson (WR38, SOS: 8th)

The Lockett hype exploded this offseason along with his cost. There is a lot to like about Lockett including smooth acceleration and easy separation from defenders.  Target volume works against Lockett however.  He will likely need another thirty targets on the season to move into the consistent WR3 core.  Part of the narrative is that Seattle will abandon their run-first mentality and start airing out the ball more.  Don’t count on it.  Seattle is the only team that has maintained a run percentage greater than 50% over the last two seasons.  The Seahawks are unlikely to suddenly become a pass dominated offense, particularly with the incredible defense they possess and after taking multiple running backs in the draft.  Russell Wilson, who had an outstanding season last year, could see a small jump in attempts to cross the 500 threshold but probably will not see a big boost in attempts

There are not many unaccounted for targets from last year especially if Jimmy Graham comes back from his patellar injury. Seattle re-signed fellow wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse to long term deals this offseason.  The Seahawks also drafted running back C.J. Prosise in the third round who is expected to be a major contributor in the passing game.

Desean Jackson has conversely seen his draft capital sink to the WR4 range after an injury-plagued 2015. He provides one of the better values in fantasy football this season.  Jackson is still the preeminent deep-threat in the NFL with smooth, top-end speed that few corners can match.  There should be plenty of volume for Jackson with Washington expected to rely heavily on the pass next season.  There is very little talent in the backfield with Washington seemingly committed to Matt Jones, one of the worst graded running backs from last season, as the lead back.  Washington’s faces a few tough matchups in 2016 as a division winner, but generally sees an easy schedule versus the pass with divisional matchups against the NFC North and AFC North.

Lockett’s price is not bad, but does not really compare to the exceptional value of DeSean Jackson this year. Jackson has proven to be a borderline WR2/3 throughout his career, even with low target numbers.  A fantasy owner who invests in Lockett bets that he makes the jump to what Jackson already is and pays a premium to make the gamble.  Do not be that owner.  Look for Jackson to take advantage of a favorable schedule and produce somewhere around a 60 reception, 1000 yard, 6 TD stat line with upside for more.


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.

Value and Style

Updated: August 7th 2016

I invited one of the best people I have ever met to a formal dance in high school.   I did this based on potential, and comfort.  If this was a fantasy pick we are talking a low-cost proposition in terms of social capital.  No boom or bust, I was her friend, and she knew we would remain so for a long time.   What she could not have known, nor could I, was how much better a high school dance was when enjoyed among friends, rather than spent in a desperate reach for whatever it is that socially awkward high school boys think they are reaching.   The dance of course is a monetary proposition.  Tux, dinner, limo.   My friends lacked money, but not ingenuity.   We decided to roll in our own unique style to spend money on something besides our wheels.   While many of our classmates took to the phones to order all manner of limos: stretch limos, Hummer limos, etc.  We took to the local grocer to get cardboard boxes and paint.   Hours later we had “pimped my ride” and my parents’ rusted Chevrolet Celebrity station wagon  took on the character, or at least caricature, of a limousine with a duct tape and cardboard body work semi-intact.  Our dates emerged in their formal dresses to their “players” in our ill-fitting, garish tuxedos and rolling Station Wagonosine.  Before the dance started we were hardly the most sought out dates, but when we tossed the keys to that beast to the Valet, we had truly arrived.  Limousine style at station wagon prices.

In the first article in the series we looked at the last tier of the top 100 players being selected in dynasty snake drafts through June.   With this sense of the best 100 players from the larger dynasty community, these articles will continue to offer you specific insight into how the players are valued in the RSO community so you can target great contracts in your offseason housekeeping.   The bottom of the 100 offered value to be found the WR position, but potential breakouts at TE provided the best trade targets.  This group of ten is headlined by a young QB being drafted 8th overall at the position, but the primary lesson to be learned is in a game of king of the Hill.  Just as we came to understand that holding out for late value in tight ends may be the way to go after the premier players come off the board, this tier reinforces and highlights a noteworthy aspect of RSO:  don’t overpay for running backs.

Jeremy Hill is almost universally owned across RSO leagues.   This ownership does not come cheap.  To secure the services of the young Bengal owners dropped contracts averaging 2.8 years and 52.29 million dollars.  He lead the league in rushing touchdowns in both 2014 and 2015 with 11 each year. By all means he is a qualified NFL success. Yet, his is a cautionary tale for GMs falling in love with the breakout of first year backs like David Johnson and Thomas Rawls.  Most owners view the return on their massive investment as dubious, because the Bengals have invested heavily in Gio Bernard in the offseason, and in RSO leagues Gio checked in last year at a purchase price of 8.19 million over an average contract length of 1.7 years.   This comparison allows you to evaluate what you are likely to pay at auction for the other backs in this tier: Duke Johnson, Ajayi, and Abdullah.

The young Duke offers the best comparison, slated to play the Gio role in Hue Jackson’s Cleveland odyssey is far less widely owned than either Bengal.   He is valued only fractionally differently by the broader dynasty community, and RSO GMs have him contracted for a nearly identical span (2.4 years) however, the young Brown Duke bears a price tag south of 5 million dollars, likely reflecting the low rookie draft capital and depressed contracts he commanded coming out of college.   Most owners are not selling at that price.  However, Duke and his truly sorry running mate, Isaiah Crowell are available at auction in a high percentage of RSO leagues.   Here is where you can make an informed investment.  Last year in the same time frame Joseph Randle slotted  at the 81st player taken in June ADP.  Randle’s cost in RSO: an average of 14.3 Million dollars over 1.8 years.    That contract is about 7.9 million per year.   If Duke, Ajayi, and Abdullah have lower price tags than that, the obvious play is to move on them while they still face relative ambiguity in their backfields.   However, the surprising find in this analysis is that Isaiah Crowell may actually be the cardboard-bedazzled RB to own.   He will be virtually free, and after seeing his possible range of comparables from Hill to Gio to Duke to Abullah, compare those names to the non-RBs in this tier.  Wouldn’t you rather spend that precious cap money on something besides the dubious wheels of Cincinatti, Cleveland, and Detroit?

(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):

81 Hill, Jeremy CIN RB 26 81.1
82 Johnson, Duke CLE RB 27 81.6
83 Crabtree, Michael OAK WR 43 82.4
84 Bernard, Giovani CIN RB 28 83.7
85 Ertz, Zach PHI TE 6 84.7
86 Boyd, Tyler CIN WR 44 84.8
87 Ajayi, Jay MIA RB 29 85.6
88 Abdullah, Ameer DET RB 30 86.2
89 Funchess, Devin CAR WR 45 91.1
90 Roethlisberger, Ben PIT QB 8 89.7

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.

Guide to Starting RSO League

Updated: July 22nd 2016

Thinking of starting a Reality Sports Online league, but aren’t sure of what settings may create the best experience?  You’re in the right spot!  This piece will walk through the settings that I believe to be ideal for creating a new RSO league!

ROSTER REQUIREMENTS

Number of teams: 10
Roster Spots: 15
IR: Unlimited
I typically avoid 10 standard team leagues as the player pool is not deep enough for my liking, but I’m very fond of the format presented here.  These settings provide a balance of increasing the size of the player pool, while still forcing owners to face difficult lineup decisions on a week-to-week basis.  All of the leagues that I run offer unlimited IR slots.  Once you’ve designated a player to the IR in RSO leagues, they cannot be removed from that slot until the following season.  Placing the injured player on the IR saves you 50% of the player’s cap hit and frees up a roster spot.  Losing a player for the entire season is enough of a disadvantage to not also have to burn a roster spot and their full cap hit for the remainder of the season.

STARTING LINEUP

QB
QB
RB
RB
WR
WR
WR
TE
RB/WR/TE
RB/WR/TE
Bench
Bench
Bench
Bench
Bench
I’ve grown to be really fond of the 2QB format.  Quarterback may be the most important position in all of sports, but it’s far from that in standard fantasy football.  The strategy of drafting a QB late continues to gain momentum.  As the NFL has become more of a passing league, many QBs (not just the elite few) have seen an increase in production.  2QB or even Superflex leagues that feature an offensive player position to be filled with any QB/RB/WR/TE create a greater demand for QBs as they are the highest scoring position in fantasy football.  Forcing your league to start 20 quarterbacks makes the elite more valuable and eliminates the possibility of landing top 10-15 QBs at the end of your draft.
I’ve also eliminated the kicker and DEF/ST positions as I find them to be less strategic and more random positions to draft and evaluate on a week to week basis.  For more on my push to retire the DEF/ST positions, please read my column titled #NoMoreDEFST.

SCORING SETTINGS

Passing TD 4
Passing Yards .04 per yard
Interception -1
Rushing/Receiving TD 6
Rushing/Receiving Yards .1 per yard
Reception 0.5
These scoring settings are fairly standard.  While I prefer PPR to standard scoring, I believe that 0.5 points per reception is the best way to play.  It rewards players for their involvement in the passing game, but doesn’t equate to the same value as 10 yards rushing or receiving.  Pass-catching running backs are elevated in this format, but not as drastically as they are in full PPR scoring.

HOW MANY LONG-TERM CONTRACTS SHOULD BE AVAILABLE TO EACH OWNER?

I’m a fan of the standard settings for long-term contracts in the Free Agency Auction – one 4-year contract, two 3-year contracts, three 2-year contracts, and unlimited 1-year contracts.  While more may seem appealing, it’s important to have quality players available in the Free Agency Auction every year.

STARTUP SCHEDULE

Once you’ve created a RSO league, you’ll need to schedule the Rookie Draft.  As a startup league, you have no previous season to use as a basis for the draft order. Randomly assigning the order can create an imbalance in your league since the difference between Ezekiel Elliott and Paul Perkins is drastic.  I recommend making players drafted in the 1st and 2nd round of the NFL Draft ineligible for your inaugural Rookie Draft.  These ineligible players would then be available in your first Free Agency Auction.  Proceeding with the rookie draft in a randomized order/snake format should level the playing field.

OFF-SEASON SCHEDULE

In all keeper and dynasty leagues, communication is very important to keep the league moving forward, to maintain interest, and to get input from all owners.  Sending bi-weekly or monthly emails, even throughout the offseason, has worked for many of my leagues.  During the season, you can post Power Rankings, discuss the Standings, or recent trade activity.  In the offseason, you can develop a plan to replace any non-returning owners, schedule Owners’ Meetings (possibly as a conference call) to discuss the direction of the league, and discuss the rookie draft and trade market as teams get their rosters for the next season.

If this format interests you, please reach out to me on Twitter @DaveSanders_RSO!  I’ll be forming a new league with readers and my Twitter followers in August.  This is a great opportunity to try RSO for the first time!


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.