RSO Staff Picks: Week 2

Updated: September 17th 2015

062915-SmithMaclin-Image1

Week 1 Results

Week 1 of the 2015 NFL Season is in the books. To refresh everyone, last weeks picks can be found here. It was a bit of a disaster for RSO co-founders Matt Papson and Stephen Wendell, who both went 8-8. Newbie RSO picker Kyle English had a slightly better first week at 9-7, but Matt Goodwin took the week 1 pick crown with an impressive 11-5 record. As for fantasy picks, Kyle took the week with having the best Sleepers and Busts…his Sleeper combo of James Jones and Tyler Eifert scored a combined 35.5 points over their projected totals. Goodwin also nabbed the best Stars with his Brady-Lacy combo. Here is where everything stands after Week 1:

1. Goodwin – 11-5 + 1 fantasy win (Stars)

2. English – 9-7 + 2 fantasy wins (Sleepers + Busts)

3. Wendell – 8-8

4. Papson – 8-8

NFL Game Picks

Game Wendell Papson Goodwin English

DEN @ KC

broncos chiefs chiefs chiefs

DAL @ PHI

eagles eagles eagles eagles

HOU @ CAR

texans panthers texans texans

SF @ PIT

steelers steelers steelers steelers

TB @ NO

saints saints saints saints

DET @ MIN

lions lions lions lions

ARI @ CHI

cardinals bears cardinals cardinals

NE @ BUF

patriots patriots bills patriots

SD @ CIN

bengals bengals bengals bengals

TEN @ CLV

titans titans browns titans

ATL @ NYG

giants giants giants falcons

STL @ WAS

rams rams redskins rams

MIA @ JAX

dolphins dolphins dolphins dolphins

BLT @ OAK

ravens ravens ravens ravens

SEA @ GB

packers packers packers packers

NYJ @ IND

colts colts colts colts

Fantasy Stars, Sleepers, and Busts

Wendell Papson Goodwin English
Star #1 Matt Forte Ravens DST Odell Beckham, Jr. Jordan Matthews
Star #2 Colin Kaepernick Antonio Brown Calvin Johnson Brandin Cooks
Sleeper #1 Jameis Winston Nick Foles Chris Johnson Ladarius Green
Sleeper #2 Danny Woodhead Todd Gurley Lance Dunbar Benny Cunningham
Bust #1 Ben Roethlisberger Cam Newton Phillip Rivers Eddie Lacy
Bust #2 Eddie Lacy Marcus Mariota DeAndre Hopkins LeGarrette Blount

RSO Staff Picks: Week 1

Updated: September 10th 2015

SteelersBenRoethlisbergerPatriotsTomBrady-620x400

RSO Weekly Picks are back and better than ever for 2015. Stephen was the outright winner last year and will look to go back-to-back this year. The competition will be tough though as the fantasy/football gurus Matt Papson (@RealitySportsMP), Matt Goodwin (@mattgoody2), and Kyle English will be gunning for the season long crown. So everyone is aware of who is who, Matt is the President & CEO of RSO, Stephen serves as our COO and co-founded the company with Matt, Kyle is our technology lead, and Matt is our main content provider.

So here is how it is going to work this year. Every week this NFL season, the RSO staff will be making picks for each NFL game and also selecting 2 fantasy sleepers, stars, and busts for the week. We’re competing against each other for all the glory and pride (and a little bit of dough, too), so expect this to be heated. Check out the picks below and let us know your thoughts in the comments and on social media!

NFL Game Picks

Game Wendell Papson Goodwin English

PIT @ NE

steelers steelers patriots patriots

GB @ CHI

packers packers packers packers

KC @ HOU

chiefs chiefs chiefs texans

CLE @ NYJ

jets jets jets jets

IND @ BUF

colts colts colts colts

MIA @ WAS

dolphins redskins dolphins dolphins

CAR @ JAX

jaguars panthers jaguars panthers

SEA @ STL

seahawks seahawks seahawks seahawks

NO @ ARI

saints cardinals cardinals cardinals

DET @ SD

lions lions chargers lions

TEN @ TB

titans bucs bucs bucs

CIN @ OAK

bengals bengals bengals bengals

BAL @ DEN

broncos broncos broncos broncos

NYG @ DAL

cowboys cowboys cowboys cowboys

PHI @ ATL

eagles eagles falcons eagles

MIN @ SF

vikings vikings vikings vikings

Fantasy Stars, Sleepers, and Busts

Wendell Papson Goodwin English
Star #1 Ryan Tannehill Branden Bolden Tom Brady Jordan Mathews
Star #2 DeMarco Murray Cam Newton Eddie Lacy Sam Bradford
Sleeper #1 CAR DST Tyrod Taylor Aaron Dobson James Jones
Sleeper #2 Cole Beasley Ryan Fitzpatrick B. Coleman Tyler Eifert
Bust #1 Andrew Luck Phillip Rivers Justin Forsett Russel Wilson
Bust #2 T. Bridgewater Justin Forsett Cam Newton CJ Anderson

The Matt's Unplugged

Updated: September 5th 2015

DLF RSO

For my last article of the offseason, I figured I’d up the strategy element by doing a back and forth A Tribe Called Quest style with Reality Sports Online President and Founder Matt Papson. Since we’re both Matt’s, I’ll refer to us by our last names. I hope this is a fun look at auction strategy, the season ahead, all things Reality Sports Online and everything in between. We figure most people are about to have their auctions in the next few days.

With that, I’m going to jump right in and put Papson on the hot seat right now.

Editor’s Note from Papson: I’m writing this from 30,000 feet in the air, without wifi, so this piece will have fewer data/facts and more hyperbole than I would typically utilize – basically I’m channeling my inner Stephen Wendell, Chief Operating Officer of Reality Sports Online.

The Player I build my franchise around:

Papson:

  • Veteran: Andrew Luck When we talk about a franchise player in Reality Sports Online, we’re talking about somebody who is going to be the cornerstone of your franchise for at least four years, and maybe even five or six if the player proves to be franchise-tag worthy. And, for veterans, you’re talking about someone who is probably going to be your highest paid player. Right now, there is no safer bet for fantasy relevance in 2018+ than Andrew Luck. The Front Office could change, the coaching staff could change, his weapons could change, but he is a once-in-a-generation player that’s still 2-3 years away from his “prime”. Trust me, I love me some Antonio Brown – I like to think I climbed aboard the train long before most. Last year he was on every single one of my fantasy teams, and many the year before that. In fact, in one of my RSO Experts leagues he’s making just $6.5M this year on my roster. But, I’m hesitant to make a 4-year investment of the magnitude ($20M+ APY) it would take to lock up AB long-term, or almost any RB/WR for that matter. If you look at the last 10 years of fantasy data, I think you’ll find very few WRs or RBs that were in the top 5 in positional Fantasy points for 4-straight years. I think you’ll find many examples for QBs. An elite quarterback who is consistent and in their prime just has more longevity than a wideout who has a shorter window in his prime.
  • Rookie: Todd Gurley This one is really difficult, but I typically like to spend my rookie picks on Running Backs who could end up as fantasy cheap fantasy starters in years 2-4. Gurley is the best RB in this year’s class by far, and I really like the situation he ended up in with the Rams and Jeff Fisher. I expect him to be getting the majority of the touches by the mid-point in the season, and from my perspective, touches (not necessarily extraordinary production) for Rookies is the most you can reasonably ask for.

Goodwin:

  • Veteran: Antonio Brown Interesting. While I love the production and longevity that Luck will provide to owners and the proven track record he’s paved over his first few years, I tend to like my franchise guys to be wide receivers. As a result, I love the consistency and high targets, touchdowns, and production of Antonio Brown, so I’d take him for the next three years of him being a Steeler. He was also tackled at the one yard line four times last year! Big Ben being locked up until 2020 certainly helps matters too. I think that a quality quarterback like Tony Romo could produce in the same ballpark as someone like Luck on a much cheaper, shorter deal and that in given weeks even streaming could yield you a Top 5 quarterback. Of course over the long haul, Luck is the quarterback I’d want, but there’s nothing precluding someone like Marcus Mariota from being in Luck’s ballpark in a year, whereas Brown also is super consistent and at the top of his game right now.
  • Rookie: Todd Gurley As for rookies, I agree with you on Gurley and put my money where my mouth is in my Reality Sports Online/numberFire Writers League auction. I love Gurley’s burst and he just runs with an edge to him. I have zero concerns about his knee long term and agree with you that by midseason Gurley will be getting the lion’s share of running back touches in St. Louis.

Which tight end is a better contract play for you-Travis Kelce or Jimmy Graham?

Goodwin:

  • Based on age (Graham is 28 and Kelce is 25) and Graham’s high perceived value, I’d go with Kelce. I like his Gronk-like characteristics and while both tight ends don’t have a ton of wide receivers on their respective teams to compete with for targets, I think Kelce was used very cautiously last year coming back from microfracture knee surgery. To me, Kelce’s ceiling is higher and he’s already established a predictable floor at a fraction of Graham’s costs in your auction. He’s so good after the catch that I think he’ll be getting the over-the-middle volume that Graham got in New Orleans. Do I think Graham scores 10 touchdowns a season for my in market Seattle Seahawks? You bet-he was brought in to fix the red zone problems that cost them the Super Bowl. However, the team is one of the most run heavy over the past few years and I don’t expect that to let up much. In fact, Graham’s run blocking snaps were higher in the preseason than they were when he was a Saint and the Saints had 200 more pass attempts than the Seahawks last year. That smells like a regression candidate to me fantasy wise.

Papson:

  • Here’s the thing, this is really hard to evaluate without an exact contract comparison. Would I rather have Kelce for $5M than Jimmy Graham for $20M? Sure. But, if we’re talking about Jimmy Graham for 3 yrs/$50M and Kelce for 3 yrs/$40M – give me Jimmy Graham all day. You speak as if Jimmy Graham is ancient! He’s ?28 years old! I don’t want this to be perceived as Kelce-bashing, but I think Kelce really benefited from the extremely weak group of Wide Receivers the Chiefs played in 2014. With the addition of Jeremy Maclin (and maybe even Chris Conley?), and a heavy dose of Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, and De’Anthony Thomas I foresee a significant reduction in total targets and redzone targets for Kelce. I’d be surprised if there’s ever been another top 5 TE in an Andy Reid offense. It seems like there are a lot of people concerned about Jimmy Graham’s transition to Seattle, although I have to say I’m surprised at tempered expectations. Barring injury, if any Tight End other than Gronk and/or Greg Olsen score more fantasy points than Jimmy Graham – I will be shocked.

How would you value Arian Foster based on his injury?

Papson:

  • 2 yrs, $16M Total (that’s what I signed him for in the Expert Auction). At the time I made the referenced signing, the Foster injury had just happened and it really seemed like people were predicting the worst – I/R for the season? I/R Designated for Return? PUP list? Since then, the injury news has steadily gotten better. Most reports now have him slated to return between weeks 2 and 4. I’d rather have the Texans wait than rush him back, but whenever he returns, he’s going to get a ton of touches. I’m not much of an Alfred Blue or Jonathan Grimes guy (I do like Chris Polk), so I think Arian is still a safe bet for 20+ touches in every game in which he plays. He takes great care of himself, and even though we try to be objective, he’s a guy I enjoy rooting for – he’s not your standard NFL personality.

Goodwin:

  • I like the valuation and would love to get a similar valuation for Foster. The key is that he ends the season healthy for your playoff run. I’m also a fan of the two-year deal as that is when he turns 30 and his contract with the Texans ends. At this point based on the news, I think I’d give Foster up to a 2 year, $30 million deal depending on league circumstances. I have no doubt he will be productive when he’s on the field.

Now that Rob Gronkowski is 100% healthy, would you give him a 4 year contract in Reality Sports Online leagues?

Goodwin:

  • I’m not sure on a pure four-year deal to a player with Gronk’s injury history (which granted I think are a series of bad, fluky luck) but I’m basically giving Gronk a four-year deal currently in my third year in the league with the franchise tag options. Luckily for me, the original 2 year, $26M contract that won me Gronk when he had forearm and back injuries heading into the 2013 season just expired following the 2014 season and offered me two separate franchise tag 1 year options. As tight end salaries in my league represent the lowest for a skill position, and Gronk finished last season healthy, I’ll gladly pay $15.9M for my first year franchise tag and if healthy, give him a 20% raise for next year two. Definitely trying to capitalize on my championship window with Gronk in tow. In short, Gronk is so much better at his position than his peer group right now that he is one of the most valuable players in the game, in spite of his injury history.

Papson:

  • I spent a significant amount of time above talking about investing your big-money four-year deals in Quarterbacks, but there are exceptions to every rule. I’ve tried (and failed in a few auctions) to land Gronk, Graham, or Olsen in each of my leagues. In 2015, I see more separation between Tight Ends 1 and 5 than QBs 1 and 5, WRs 1 and 5, and RBs 1 and 5. Think of it this way, if I offered you any of the following bets for a significant amount of money:
    • One Quarterback (Rogers, Luck, etc.) of your choice or “the field” to finish first in points/gm?
    • One Runningback (Peters, Bell, etc.) of your choice or “the field” to finish first in points/gm?
    • One Wide Receiver (Brown, Bryant, etc.) of your choice or “the field” to finish first in points/gm?
    • One Tight End of your choice (Gronk, Graham, etc.) of your choice or “the field” to finish first in points/gm?

    Isn’t the latter, “Gronk vs. the Field” the only bet where that you’d reasonably consider taking a single player versus the field? I think that speaks volumes.

Name a few late auction sleepers you’d consider giving multi-year contracts to and how much would you pay them?

Papson:

  • My favorite place to use my multi-year deals is on cheap sleepers – if you hit, it’s a major win. If you miss, the ramifications for cutting the player before the expiration of the contract are minimal.
    • Michael Crabtree: 2-3 yrs / $4M APY
    • Bryce Brown: 3 yrs / $2M APY (I can’t seem to kick my addiction)
    • Kenny Britt: 2 yrs / $2M APY

Goodwin:

  • I personally like Knile Davis for 2-3 years at around $2M per year. If anything happens to Jamaal Charles, Davis becomes a top running back. Even if not, he has standalone value. In terms of wide receivers, I of course like Jeff Janis on a 3 year deal for $3M per year. I think he’ll work out his chemistry with Aaron Rodgers and become a target in the Packers offense.

Who are guys you are really high on that you think will outperform their expected value heavily?

Goodwin:

  • In terms of receivers, I really like Eric Decker and Kendall Wright. Decker showed flashes when he got his health back last December (finishing strong is always a good thing) and I’m not scared at all by the quarterback situation. As for Wright, he’s already been discussed as Marcus Mariota’s favorite target, the Titans will be down and chucking it in most games, and he’ll see tons of targets. Staying with the Jets, Chris Ivory is a running back that I have high expectations for that others may not feel strongly about. I also really like Danny Woodhead bouncing back from injury and seeing plenty of action in the passing game. No need to shy away from Antonio Gates at tight end. I don’t care about the 4 game suspension, there is plenty of gas left in that tank. There are tons of quarterbacks who should perform well on the cheap. Carson Palmer may come the cheapest, but I like Tony Romo the best of the mid-tier guys based on the Cowboys offense. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong with Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, or Eli Manning either.

Papson:

  • This is my favorite question, because it’s the broadest stroke. I could probably name 50 guys that I expect to outperform their average APY, but I’ll try to keep it to a few.
    • Steve Smith: there are a lot of people aboard the train, so that probably means that it will blow up in my face, but I don’t see any reason why Steve Smith wouldn’t have 1,250+ receiving yards. Also, if you can save some 2015 cap space by giving him a 2-year deal, I would do it. I know he says he’s retiring after this year, but I can’t see him hanging it up until the wheels completely fall off. He’s too competitive to walk away after he puts up once of his most productive seasons of all time in 2015.
    • Darren McFadden: Yes, he’s injury prone. But, count me among the few who expect him to receive the majority of the backfield touches in Dallas in 2015. McFadden is still talented, and will play behind one of the best offensive lines in the league. Also – how did Joseph Randle get the hype by default? Honestly, I know it’s simple-minded of me to think this way, or maybe living in Razorback country has clouded my judgement – but Jerry Jones has been obsessed with Darren McFadden for a decade. There was a 100% chance he signed with the Cowboys this off-season, and I still follow the dollars when it comes to predicting fantasy touches.
    • Owen Daniels: For the skeptics, I share your concern about Virgil Green being a Julius Thomas athletic replica and limiting Daniels playing time and targets. But, I think Daniels is going to average 5 catches & 60 yards per game underneath a lot of Demaryius Thomas/Emanuel Sanders/Cody Latimer routes. And don’t forget the Gary Kubiak isn’t afraid to run double tights.

Which player do you like bouncing back in a big way this year?

Papson:

  • Nick Foles: Sam Bradford has stolen all of the hype from the Rams-Eagles Quarterback swap, but I think Foles is being extremely undervalued right now between QB 20 and 25. Foles looked totally broken in 2014, but I’ve watched every game he ever played in an Eagles uniform, and I still think he’s a playoff caliber NFL Quarterback. I like the Rams offensive weapons from Quick to Britt to Austin to Gurley to Mason to Cook. If you can get Foles as your backup, he could make for excellent trade bait mid-year after someone else realizes they need a starter.

Goodwin:

  • Keenan Allen: People forget that he’s only 23. He’s only on his Chargers rookie deal through 2016, but I wouldn’t hesitate to give Allen something in the $10-$12M a year range, or maybe even higher depending on your league dynamics. Philip Rivers has beamed about how well Allen has performed in camp and I really think his third year is when Allen shines bright, especially in PPR leagues.

Which real NFL free agent will perform best in his new digs?

Papson:

  • I’ve saved this answer until now, although I could have selected him for a few of the prior questions. I’ve been vocal about my prediction for a big year from Jeremy Maclin. It seems like the majority of analysts think being a Chiefs Wide Receiver automatically means Maclin is going to touchdown hell. I’m glad the majority thinks that way, because last year was a combination of a fluke and a less-than-stellar receive corps. I’m honestly not sure there’s a ceiling for Maclin’s finish – I certainly won’t be shocked if he finishes top 5. Alex Smith enters year 3 in this offense and I think the Chiefs are going to be firing on all cylinders.

Goodwin:

  • I agree 100%. Like in Old School and Will Ferrell’s winning debate against James Carville, I will say you just gave the perfect answer. This is how you debate!

Who do you think will be the season’s biggest bust?

Goodwin:

  • On a cheaper scale, I’d say Joseph Randle, but that seems too obvious here. If we are going a bigger name, I’m going to stick to my earlier guns and say Drew Brees. For me it is as much about what left his roster and the team’s desire to be more balanced with the running game as what other quarterbacks who will go for cheaper will do. If you really watched game tape of Brees last season (which I did), you’d see a dinker and dunker who had trouble taking the top off the ball deep. He’s just not worth a top five quarterback investment now contract wise when there are other replaceable options like Romo, Big Ben, Philip Rivers and the like on the cheap.

Editor’s Note: While I think that Brees will be between QB5 and QB8, I love Brandin Cooks this season. He shows so much Randall Cobb like qualities with more speed and came into the league way more accomplished. Cooks is a guy that I’d love to have on his original rookie deal and someone I would be targeting in trades or first year auctions without hesitation. 

Papson:

  • C.J. Anderson – Is he the next Arian Foster? The undrafted guy who found himself in the right situation and thrived for years and years? Or, is he Joseph Addai, Donald Brown, Dominic Rhodes, Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Hillman, etc. – a guy who thrived with Peyton for a year or two but was really just a plug-and-play in a powerful offense. To be honest, I don’t know the answer. But, I know that he’s going to need a lot of touches to be worth anywhere near what he currently costs. Why are we giving up on Montee Ball? It took Knowshon Moreno four seasons to reach his potential – are we really saying the Broncos are done with Montee after 2? The old coaching staff is gone, but the same Front Office that drafted Ball remains in place.

Editor’s Note: I think all of the Davante Adams people were saved by Jordy Nelson injury. It’s not that I don’t like Adams, but I think before the Nelson injury you would have had a hard time getting expected production from Adams. The Packers run a lot of 3+ WR sets, but I think you would have seen a heavy rotation between Adams, Montgomery (who I like), and Janis. Now Adams gets to be the #2 WR.

Name one defense you think will surprise people this season.

Papson:

  • Philadelphia Eagles: I see them ranked between 10th and 15th most places, and sometimes even lower. The Eagles might have more talent on defense than they do on offense. I also think teams are going to be playing from behind against the Eagles, which will give the Eagles an opportunity to leverage their strength rushing the passer and producing turnovers. I feel pretty confident that the Eagles will have a top 7 defense, and maybe even top 5.

Goodwin:

  • Cleveland Browns: You could call me a homer for this pick, but if you know me well, I typically avoid Cleveland players on my fantasy squad like the plague. That said, the Browns have a really good (and potentially elite) secondary who has an eye for creating turnovers. The front seven should be better at rushing the quarterback off the edge and they killed it in the draft with Danny Shelton as a run-stuffer and Nate Orchard as a pass rusher. While the offense is lagging, hopefully you are in a league that doesn’t punish your defense for that.

What’s the craziest Reality Sports Online trade you’ve made?

Goodwin:

  • On Wednesday, I literally traded nothing (insert favorite Seinfeld reference here) for Kendall Wright who has three years remaining on his deal and who I’ll pay $6.6M this season. The other team basically has their entire roster full prior to our auction and needed wiggle room to grab a player on a minimum deal or go for a premium free agent with their remaining money. Like I always say, cap space is an asset and now Reality Sports Online allows trades to happen with no players in return.

Papson:

  • I’ve been a part of a few blockbusters, especially in the Matt Waldman/Rookie Scouting Portfolio Experts league. My affinity for wheeling and dealing seems to amuse Waldman, but I think the rest of the league probably gets annoyed by my constant trade offers. In 2013, I took over a team where the original Owner had left mid-Auction and left me with a lowly roster, but  $60M+ in cap space. Ultimately, I’m really thankful he left and I took over the team I did, because this is now my favorite and most competitive league. After a two-year rebuilding project, I actually think I might be in position to make a run at the title this year. It was a flurry of moves, not really one blockbuster, but it felt like one big trade to me. I’ll have to see if I can dig up the actual terms or find the article where Waldman recapped the moves, but in a two-week window I:
    • Acquired Alex Smith for a future 3rd round pick
    • Assumed the 4-year/$40M+ Aaron Hernandez contract that another team gave out shortly before the incident, so that I could cut him and eat the cap hit. I also received Percy Harvin as part of that deal, who at the time seemed poised for a long, bright future with the Seahawks. Today, it’s the ugliest contract (and my second highest paid player at $14M) on my roster.
    • Traded Maurice Jones-Drew (1-year) and Zach Ertz for Antonio Brown (3 yrs/$18M) and another player

As someone very familiar with the NFL Salary Cap, name one free agent deal you nailed in 2015

Papson:

  • I’m not sure it’s fair to use the term “nailed”, but I got pretty close on Maclin, Murray, McFadden, and the recent Russel Wilson extension.

Goodwin:

  • I got very close on the Cobb deal and predicted right that Green Bay would sign him for a four-year deal around Victor Cruz/Marques Colston money.
  • Is Peyton Manning retiring after this year?

Papson:

  • No way. I think Peyton will make it until at least 2018, and I think Brady hits at least 2020. There’s such a shortage of playoff caliber Quarterbacks right now, that I can’t see either of them being forced out of a starting position in the next 2-3 years. I’m not going to predict that either of them remain with their current teams beyond their current contract, but I think they can both be relevant starters for 5+ years. Would you rather have an aging Peyton Manning or the Browns situation? There will be a place for each of them to start for quite a while, the question is whether they want to keep playing – I think the competitive drive is there to keep going.

Goodwin:

  • I think this is Peyton’s swan song and will be a good one at that. The pieces and the ground game is set up for #18 to make a Super Bowl run this year. However, I think that being a true historian of the game, Manning won’t want to leave after the game has passed him by and that time is around the corner.

Everyone has players on their squad that they are not rational about in terms of trade value, bid price, etc. Who are yours?

Goodwin:

  • For me, Cobb is way up there on the list. I’ve talked myself out of many deals involving me shipping him out. Wilson is someone I love being a local in Seattle too, although I am realistic that he may come down to fantasy earth this season based on less rushing opportunities for him.

Papson:

A couple of guys on my current teams that I wouldn’t give up because of favorable contracts…

  • Antonio Brown – 1 year $6.5M remaining
  • Sam Bradford – 4 years, $20M (I’ve got to see what happens first)
  • Bishop Sankey – 2 years, $10M remaining (I’m among the few that believe he’s going to be good)

My Fantasy Football Mount Rushmore Consists of These Players Owned by My Teams

Papson:

  • I’m going to just go with a list of retired guys from the early 2000’s: Priest Holmes, Ladanian Tomlinson, Daunte Culpepper, Tony Gonzalez, Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison.

Goodwin:

  • For me, it is Cris Carter (I’ve joked with my best friend and RSO leaguemate Fox Sports’ Mark Pesavento) that Carter’s Hall-of-Fame bust should be in my basement for all the damage he did vs. his fantasy squad, Priest Holmes, Aaron Rodgers, Andre Johnson

You recently told me following one of my articles that you love mid-90’s hip-hop and A Tribe Called Quest is one of your favorites. Who ya got-Q-Tip or Phife Dawg?

Papson:

  • (Quoting Phife Dawg from Electric Relaxation)If my mom don’t approve then I’ll just elope…

Goodwin:

  • (Also Quoting Phife Dawg): Picture Phife losing a battle, c’mon, get off it. Put down the microphone son, surrender forfeit… I like Phife’s scrappy, diminutive stature. He’s like the slot receiver of MC’s to Q-Tip’s high draft status.

What is the best part of creating a platform like Reality Sports Online?

Papson:

  • Well, first – in addition to this being a business venture, I built the game because this is kind of fantasy platform I wanted to play on. The business experience has been absolutely awesome. I’ve learned way more in 3-years of running a startup than I did from 5+ years of undergrad & grad school. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a roller-coaster – running any startup comes with the assumption that you’re going to face challenges, give up a lot of free time, test the boundaries of personal and professional relationships, etc. Plus, people take fantasy football very seriously, so once in a blue moon we get a nastygram that makes me wonder if people realize there’s a human on the other side of the screen. But, the customer feedback is overwhelmingly positive and the rush we get from the supportive feedback is indescribable. We’re trying to make ourselves and the platform better every day. I also get to work with my close friend, Stephen, who is probably the only person in the world that is unanimously more stubborn/hard-headed than I am – but he’s also a gregarious personality, the most meticulous worker I know, one of the best people I know, and like an older brother to me. The support we’ve gotten from friends, family, and the fantasy community means the world to me. I also want to give a quick shout-out to Kyle, our tech lead, for all his work, and for being the tie-breaking vote when Stephen and I disagree on something.

Well, that’ll wrap it up for the offseason, folks. Good luck in your auctions. Special thanks to Matt Papson for having such fun and coming strong for this article. Follow him on Twitter @RealitySportsMP and you can find me at @mattgoody2

The Matt’s Unplugged

Updated: September 10th 2015

DLF RSO

For my last article of the offseason, I figured I’d up the strategy element by doing a back and forth A Tribe Called Quest style with Reality Sports Online President and Founder Matt Papson. Since we’re both Matt’s, I’ll refer to us by our last names. I hope this is a fun look at auction strategy, the season ahead, all things Reality Sports Online and everything in between. We figure most people are about to have their auctions in the next few days.

With that, I’m going to jump right in and put Papson on the hot seat right now.

Editor’s Note from Papson: I’m writing this from 30,000 feet in the air, without wifi, so this piece will have fewer data/facts and more hyperbole than I would typically utilize – basically I’m channeling my inner Stephen Wendell, Chief Operating Officer of Reality Sports Online.

The Player I build my franchise around:

Papson:

  • Veteran: Andrew Luck When we talk about a franchise player in Reality Sports Online, we’re talking about somebody who is going to be the cornerstone of your franchise for at least four years, and maybe even five or six if the player proves to be franchise-tag worthy. And, for veterans, you’re talking about someone who is probably going to be your highest paid player. Right now, there is no safer bet for fantasy relevance in 2018+ than Andrew Luck. The Front Office could change, the coaching staff could change, his weapons could change, but he is a once-in-a-generation player that’s still 2-3 years away from his “prime”. Trust me, I love me some Antonio Brown – I like to think I climbed aboard the train long before most. Last year he was on every single one of my fantasy teams, and many the year before that. In fact, in one of my RSO Experts leagues he’s making just $6.5M this year on my roster. But, I’m hesitant to make a 4-year investment of the magnitude ($20M+ APY) it would take to lock up AB long-term, or almost any RB/WR for that matter. If you look at the last 10 years of fantasy data, I think you’ll find very few WRs or RBs that were in the top 5 in positional Fantasy points for 4-straight years. I think you’ll find many examples for QBs. An elite quarterback who is consistent and in their prime just has more longevity than a wideout who has a shorter window in his prime.
  • Rookie: Todd Gurley This one is really difficult, but I typically like to spend my rookie picks on Running Backs who could end up as fantasy cheap fantasy starters in years 2-4. Gurley is the best RB in this year’s class by far, and I really like the situation he ended up in with the Rams and Jeff Fisher. I expect him to be getting the majority of the touches by the mid-point in the season, and from my perspective, touches (not necessarily extraordinary production) for Rookies is the most you can reasonably ask for.

Goodwin:

  • Veteran: Antonio Brown Interesting. While I love the production and longevity that Luck will provide to owners and the proven track record he’s paved over his first few years, I tend to like my franchise guys to be wide receivers. As a result, I love the consistency and high targets, touchdowns, and production of Antonio Brown, so I’d take him for the next three years of him being a Steeler. He was also tackled at the one yard line four times last year! Big Ben being locked up until 2020 certainly helps matters too. I think that a quality quarterback like Tony Romo could produce in the same ballpark as someone like Luck on a much cheaper, shorter deal and that in given weeks even streaming could yield you a Top 5 quarterback. Of course over the long haul, Luck is the quarterback I’d want, but there’s nothing precluding someone like Marcus Mariota from being in Luck’s ballpark in a year, whereas Brown also is super consistent and at the top of his game right now.
  • Rookie: Todd Gurley As for rookies, I agree with you on Gurley and put my money where my mouth is in my Reality Sports Online/numberFire Writers League auction. I love Gurley’s burst and he just runs with an edge to him. I have zero concerns about his knee long term and agree with you that by midseason Gurley will be getting the lion’s share of running back touches in St. Louis.

Which tight end is a better contract play for you-Travis Kelce or Jimmy Graham?

Goodwin:

  • Based on age (Graham is 28 and Kelce is 25) and Graham’s high perceived value, I’d go with Kelce. I like his Gronk-like characteristics and while both tight ends don’t have a ton of wide receivers on their respective teams to compete with for targets, I think Kelce was used very cautiously last year coming back from microfracture knee surgery. To me, Kelce’s ceiling is higher and he’s already established a predictable floor at a fraction of Graham’s costs in your auction. He’s so good after the catch that I think he’ll be getting the over-the-middle volume that Graham got in New Orleans. Do I think Graham scores 10 touchdowns a season for my in market Seattle Seahawks? You bet-he was brought in to fix the red zone problems that cost them the Super Bowl. However, the team is one of the most run heavy over the past few years and I don’t expect that to let up much. In fact, Graham’s run blocking snaps were higher in the preseason than they were when he was a Saint and the Saints had 200 more pass attempts than the Seahawks last year. That smells like a regression candidate to me fantasy wise.

Papson:

  • Here’s the thing, this is really hard to evaluate without an exact contract comparison. Would I rather have Kelce for $5M than Jimmy Graham for $20M? Sure. But, if we’re talking about Jimmy Graham for 3 yrs/$50M and Kelce for 3 yrs/$40M – give me Jimmy Graham all day. You speak as if Jimmy Graham is ancient! He’s ?28 years old! I don’t want this to be perceived as Kelce-bashing, but I think Kelce really benefited from the extremely weak group of Wide Receivers the Chiefs played in 2014. With the addition of Jeremy Maclin (and maybe even Chris Conley?), and a heavy dose of Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, and De’Anthony Thomas I foresee a significant reduction in total targets and redzone targets for Kelce. I’d be surprised if there’s ever been another top 5 TE in an Andy Reid offense. It seems like there are a lot of people concerned about Jimmy Graham’s transition to Seattle, although I have to say I’m surprised at tempered expectations. Barring injury, if any Tight End other than Gronk and/or Greg Olsen score more fantasy points than Jimmy Graham – I will be shocked.

How would you value Arian Foster based on his injury?

Papson:

  • 2 yrs, $16M Total (that’s what I signed him for in the Expert Auction). At the time I made the referenced signing, the Foster injury had just happened and it really seemed like people were predicting the worst – I/R for the season? I/R Designated for Return? PUP list? Since then, the injury news has steadily gotten better. Most reports now have him slated to return between weeks 2 and 4. I’d rather have the Texans wait than rush him back, but whenever he returns, he’s going to get a ton of touches. I’m not much of an Alfred Blue or Jonathan Grimes guy (I do like Chris Polk), so I think Arian is still a safe bet for 20+ touches in every game in which he plays. He takes great care of himself, and even though we try to be objective, he’s a guy I enjoy rooting for – he’s not your standard NFL personality.

Goodwin:

  • I like the valuation and would love to get a similar valuation for Foster. The key is that he ends the season healthy for your playoff run. I’m also a fan of the two-year deal as that is when he turns 30 and his contract with the Texans ends. At this point based on the news, I think I’d give Foster up to a 2 year, $30 million deal depending on league circumstances. I have no doubt he will be productive when he’s on the field.

Now that Rob Gronkowski is 100% healthy, would you give him a 4 year contract in Reality Sports Online leagues?

Goodwin:

  • I’m not sure on a pure four-year deal to a player with Gronk’s injury history (which granted I think are a series of bad, fluky luck) but I’m basically giving Gronk a four-year deal currently in my third year in the league with the franchise tag options. Luckily for me, the original 2 year, $26M contract that won me Gronk when he had forearm and back injuries heading into the 2013 season just expired following the 2014 season and offered me two separate franchise tag 1 year options. As tight end salaries in my league represent the lowest for a skill position, and Gronk finished last season healthy, I’ll gladly pay $15.9M for my first year franchise tag and if healthy, give him a 20% raise for next year two. Definitely trying to capitalize on my championship window with Gronk in tow. In short, Gronk is so much better at his position than his peer group right now that he is one of the most valuable players in the game, in spite of his injury history.

Papson:

  • I spent a significant amount of time above talking about investing your big-money four-year deals in Quarterbacks, but there are exceptions to every rule. I’ve tried (and failed in a few auctions) to land Gronk, Graham, or Olsen in each of my leagues. In 2015, I see more separation between Tight Ends 1 and 5 than QBs 1 and 5, WRs 1 and 5, and RBs 1 and 5. Think of it this way, if I offered you any of the following bets for a significant amount of money:
    • One Quarterback (Rogers, Luck, etc.) of your choice or “the field” to finish first in points/gm?
    • One Runningback (Peters, Bell, etc.) of your choice or “the field” to finish first in points/gm?
    • One Wide Receiver (Brown, Bryant, etc.) of your choice or “the field” to finish first in points/gm?
    • One Tight End of your choice (Gronk, Graham, etc.) of your choice or “the field” to finish first in points/gm?

    Isn’t the latter, “Gronk vs. the Field” the only bet where that you’d reasonably consider taking a single player versus the field? I think that speaks volumes.

Name a few late auction sleepers you’d consider giving multi-year contracts to and how much would you pay them?

Papson:

  • My favorite place to use my multi-year deals is on cheap sleepers – if you hit, it’s a major win. If you miss, the ramifications for cutting the player before the expiration of the contract are minimal.
    • Michael Crabtree: 2-3 yrs / $4M APY
    • Bryce Brown: 3 yrs / $2M APY (I can’t seem to kick my addiction)
    • Kenny Britt: 2 yrs / $2M APY

Goodwin:

  • I personally like Knile Davis for 2-3 years at around $2M per year. If anything happens to Jamaal Charles, Davis becomes a top running back. Even if not, he has standalone value. In terms of wide receivers, I of course like Jeff Janis on a 3 year deal for $3M per year. I think he’ll work out his chemistry with Aaron Rodgers and become a target in the Packers offense.

Who are guys you are really high on that you think will outperform their expected value heavily?

Goodwin:

  • In terms of receivers, I really like Eric Decker and Kendall Wright. Decker showed flashes when he got his health back last December (finishing strong is always a good thing) and I’m not scared at all by the quarterback situation. As for Wright, he’s already been discussed as Marcus Mariota’s favorite target, the Titans will be down and chucking it in most games, and he’ll see tons of targets. Staying with the Jets, Chris Ivory is a running back that I have high expectations for that others may not feel strongly about. I also really like Danny Woodhead bouncing back from injury and seeing plenty of action in the passing game. No need to shy away from Antonio Gates at tight end. I don’t care about the 4 game suspension, there is plenty of gas left in that tank. There are tons of quarterbacks who should perform well on the cheap. Carson Palmer may come the cheapest, but I like Tony Romo the best of the mid-tier guys based on the Cowboys offense. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong with Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, or Eli Manning either.

Papson:

  • This is my favorite question, because it’s the broadest stroke. I could probably name 50 guys that I expect to outperform their average APY, but I’ll try to keep it to a few.
    • Steve Smith: there are a lot of people aboard the train, so that probably means that it will blow up in my face, but I don’t see any reason why Steve Smith wouldn’t have 1,250+ receiving yards. Also, if you can save some 2015 cap space by giving him a 2-year deal, I would do it. I know he says he’s retiring after this year, but I can’t see him hanging it up until the wheels completely fall off. He’s too competitive to walk away after he puts up once of his most productive seasons of all time in 2015.
    • Darren McFadden: Yes, he’s injury prone. But, count me among the few who expect him to receive the majority of the backfield touches in Dallas in 2015. McFadden is still talented, and will play behind one of the best offensive lines in the league. Also – how did Joseph Randle get the hype by default? Honestly, I know it’s simple-minded of me to think this way, or maybe living in Razorback country has clouded my judgement – but Jerry Jones has been obsessed with Darren McFadden for a decade. There was a 100% chance he signed with the Cowboys this off-season, and I still follow the dollars when it comes to predicting fantasy touches.
    • Owen Daniels: For the skeptics, I share your concern about Virgil Green being a Julius Thomas athletic replica and limiting Daniels playing time and targets. But, I think Daniels is going to average 5 catches & 60 yards per game underneath a lot of Demaryius Thomas/Emanuel Sanders/Cody Latimer routes. And don’t forget the Gary Kubiak isn’t afraid to run double tights.

Which player do you like bouncing back in a big way this year?

Papson:

  • Nick Foles: Sam Bradford has stolen all of the hype from the Rams-Eagles Quarterback swap, but I think Foles is being extremely undervalued right now between QB 20 and 25. Foles looked totally broken in 2014, but I’ve watched every game he ever played in an Eagles uniform, and I still think he’s a playoff caliber NFL Quarterback. I like the Rams offensive weapons from Quick to Britt to Austin to Gurley to Mason to Cook. If you can get Foles as your backup, he could make for excellent trade bait mid-year after someone else realizes they need a starter.

Goodwin:

  • Keenan Allen: People forget that he’s only 23. He’s only on his Chargers rookie deal through 2016, but I wouldn’t hesitate to give Allen something in the $10-$12M a year range, or maybe even higher depending on your league dynamics. Philip Rivers has beamed about how well Allen has performed in camp and I really think his third year is when Allen shines bright, especially in PPR leagues.

Which real NFL free agent will perform best in his new digs?

Papson:

  • I’ve saved this answer until now, although I could have selected him for a few of the prior questions. I’ve been vocal about my prediction for a big year from Jeremy Maclin. It seems like the majority of analysts think being a Chiefs Wide Receiver automatically means Maclin is going to touchdown hell. I’m glad the majority thinks that way, because last year was a combination of a fluke and a less-than-stellar receive corps. I’m honestly not sure there’s a ceiling for Maclin’s finish – I certainly won’t be shocked if he finishes top 5. Alex Smith enters year 3 in this offense and I think the Chiefs are going to be firing on all cylinders.

Goodwin:

  • I agree 100%. Like in Old School and Will Ferrell’s winning debate against James Carville, I will say you just gave the perfect answer. This is how you debate!

Who do you think will be the season’s biggest bust?

Goodwin:

  • On a cheaper scale, I’d say Joseph Randle, but that seems too obvious here. If we are going a bigger name, I’m going to stick to my earlier guns and say Drew Brees. For me it is as much about what left his roster and the team’s desire to be more balanced with the running game as what other quarterbacks who will go for cheaper will do. If you really watched game tape of Brees last season (which I did), you’d see a dinker and dunker who had trouble taking the top off the ball deep. He’s just not worth a top five quarterback investment now contract wise when there are other replaceable options like Romo, Big Ben, Philip Rivers and the like on the cheap.

Editor’s Note: While I think that Brees will be between QB5 and QB8, I love Brandin Cooks this season. He shows so much Randall Cobb like qualities with more speed and came into the league way more accomplished. Cooks is a guy that I’d love to have on his original rookie deal and someone I would be targeting in trades or first year auctions without hesitation. 

Papson:

  • C.J. Anderson – Is he the next Arian Foster? The undrafted guy who found himself in the right situation and thrived for years and years? Or, is he Joseph Addai, Donald Brown, Dominic Rhodes, Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Hillman, etc. – a guy who thrived with Peyton for a year or two but was really just a plug-and-play in a powerful offense. To be honest, I don’t know the answer. But, I know that he’s going to need a lot of touches to be worth anywhere near what he currently costs. Why are we giving up on Montee Ball? It took Knowshon Moreno four seasons to reach his potential – are we really saying the Broncos are done with Montee after 2? The old coaching staff is gone, but the same Front Office that drafted Ball remains in place.

Editor’s Note: I think all of the Davante Adams people were saved by Jordy Nelson injury. It’s not that I don’t like Adams, but I think before the Nelson injury you would have had a hard time getting expected production from Adams. The Packers run a lot of 3+ WR sets, but I think you would have seen a heavy rotation between Adams, Montgomery (who I like), and Janis. Now Adams gets to be the #2 WR.

Name one defense you think will surprise people this season.

Papson:

  • Philadelphia Eagles: I see them ranked between 10th and 15th most places, and sometimes even lower. The Eagles might have more talent on defense than they do on offense. I also think teams are going to be playing from behind against the Eagles, which will give the Eagles an opportunity to leverage their strength rushing the passer and producing turnovers. I feel pretty confident that the Eagles will have a top 7 defense, and maybe even top 5.

Goodwin:

  • Cleveland Browns: You could call me a homer for this pick, but if you know me well, I typically avoid Cleveland players on my fantasy squad like the plague. That said, the Browns have a really good (and potentially elite) secondary who has an eye for creating turnovers. The front seven should be better at rushing the quarterback off the edge and they killed it in the draft with Danny Shelton as a run-stuffer and Nate Orchard as a pass rusher. While the offense is lagging, hopefully you are in a league that doesn’t punish your defense for that.

What’s the craziest Reality Sports Online trade you’ve made?

Goodwin:

  • On Wednesday, I literally traded nothing (insert favorite Seinfeld reference here) for Kendall Wright who has three years remaining on his deal and who I’ll pay $6.6M this season. The other team basically has their entire roster full prior to our auction and needed wiggle room to grab a player on a minimum deal or go for a premium free agent with their remaining money. Like I always say, cap space is an asset and now Reality Sports Online allows trades to happen with no players in return.

Papson:

  • I’ve been a part of a few blockbusters, especially in the Matt Waldman/Rookie Scouting Portfolio Experts league. My affinity for wheeling and dealing seems to amuse Waldman, but I think the rest of the league probably gets annoyed by my constant trade offers. In 2013, I took over a team where the original Owner had left mid-Auction and left me with a lowly roster, but  $60M+ in cap space. Ultimately, I’m really thankful he left and I took over the team I did, because this is now my favorite and most competitive league. After a two-year rebuilding project, I actually think I might be in position to make a run at the title this year. It was a flurry of moves, not really one blockbuster, but it felt like one big trade to me. I’ll have to see if I can dig up the actual terms or find the article where Waldman recapped the moves, but in a two-week window I:
    • Acquired Alex Smith for a future 3rd round pick
    • Assumed the 4-year/$40M+ Aaron Hernandez contract that another team gave out shortly before the incident, so that I could cut him and eat the cap hit. I also received Percy Harvin as part of that deal, who at the time seemed poised for a long, bright future with the Seahawks. Today, it’s the ugliest contract (and my second highest paid player at $14M) on my roster.
    • Traded Maurice Jones-Drew (1-year) and Zach Ertz for Antonio Brown (3 yrs/$18M) and another player

As someone very familiar with the NFL Salary Cap, name one free agent deal you nailed in 2015

Papson:

  • I’m not sure it’s fair to use the term “nailed”, but I got pretty close on Maclin, Murray, McFadden, and the recent Russel Wilson extension.

Goodwin:

  • I got very close on the Cobb deal and predicted right that Green Bay would sign him for a four-year deal around Victor Cruz/Marques Colston money.
  • Is Peyton Manning retiring after this year?

Papson:

  • No way. I think Peyton will make it until at least 2018, and I think Brady hits at least 2020. There’s such a shortage of playoff caliber Quarterbacks right now, that I can’t see either of them being forced out of a starting position in the next 2-3 years. I’m not going to predict that either of them remain with their current teams beyond their current contract, but I think they can both be relevant starters for 5+ years. Would you rather have an aging Peyton Manning or the Browns situation? There will be a place for each of them to start for quite a while, the question is whether they want to keep playing – I think the competitive drive is there to keep going.

Goodwin:

  • I think this is Peyton’s swan song and will be a good one at that. The pieces and the ground game is set up for #18 to make a Super Bowl run this year. However, I think that being a true historian of the game, Manning won’t want to leave after the game has passed him by and that time is around the corner.

Everyone has players on their squad that they are not rational about in terms of trade value, bid price, etc. Who are yours?

Goodwin:

  • For me, Cobb is way up there on the list. I’ve talked myself out of many deals involving me shipping him out. Wilson is someone I love being a local in Seattle too, although I am realistic that he may come down to fantasy earth this season based on less rushing opportunities for him.

Papson:

A couple of guys on my current teams that I wouldn’t give up because of favorable contracts…

  • Antonio Brown – 1 year $6.5M remaining
  • Sam Bradford – 4 years, $20M (I’ve got to see what happens first)
  • Bishop Sankey – 2 years, $10M remaining (I’m among the few that believe he’s going to be good)

My Fantasy Football Mount Rushmore Consists of These Players Owned by My Teams

Papson:

  • I’m going to just go with a list of retired guys from the early 2000’s: Priest Holmes, Ladanian Tomlinson, Daunte Culpepper, Tony Gonzalez, Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison.

Goodwin:

  • For me, it is Cris Carter (I’ve joked with my best friend and RSO leaguemate Fox Sports’ Mark Pesavento) that Carter’s Hall-of-Fame bust should be in my basement for all the damage he did vs. his fantasy squad, Priest Holmes, Aaron Rodgers, Andre Johnson

You recently told me following one of my articles that you love mid-90’s hip-hop and A Tribe Called Quest is one of your favorites. Who ya got-Q-Tip or Phife Dawg?

Papson:

  • (Quoting Phife Dawg from Electric Relaxation)If my mom don’t approve then I’ll just elope…

Goodwin:

  • (Also Quoting Phife Dawg): Picture Phife losing a battle, c’mon, get off it. Put down the microphone son, surrender forfeit… I like Phife’s scrappy, diminutive stature. He’s like the slot receiver of MC’s to Q-Tip’s high draft status.

What is the best part of creating a platform like Reality Sports Online?

Papson:

  • Well, first – in addition to this being a business venture, I built the game because this is kind of fantasy platform I wanted to play on. The business experience has been absolutely awesome. I’ve learned way more in 3-years of running a startup than I did from 5+ years of undergrad & grad school. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a roller-coaster – running any startup comes with the assumption that you’re going to face challenges, give up a lot of free time, test the boundaries of personal and professional relationships, etc. Plus, people take fantasy football very seriously, so once in a blue moon we get a nastygram that makes me wonder if people realize there’s a human on the other side of the screen. But, the customer feedback is overwhelmingly positive and the rush we get from the supportive feedback is indescribable. We’re trying to make ourselves and the platform better every day. I also get to work with my close friend, Stephen, who is probably the only person in the world that is unanimously more stubborn/hard-headed than I am – but he’s also a gregarious personality, the most meticulous worker I know, one of the best people I know, and like an older brother to me. The support we’ve gotten from friends, family, and the fantasy community means the world to me. I also want to give a quick shout-out to Kyle, our tech lead, for all his work, and for being the tie-breaking vote when Stephen and I disagree on something.

Well, that’ll wrap it up for the offseason, folks. Good luck in your auctions. Special thanks to Matt Papson for having such fun and coming strong for this article. Follow him on Twitter @RealitySportsMP and you can find me at @mattgoody2

numberFire Writers League Results

Updated: August 28th 2015

RSO writer Matt Goodwin hopes that Todd Gurley's dynasty sign pays off for his team vs. fellow writers.

RSO writer Matt Goodwin hopes that Todd Gurley’s dynasty sign pays off for his team vs. fellow writers.

Everyone had so much fun last year that the writers from Reality Sports Online and numberFire returned for year two of their writers league. Along the way, there with a few other new owners (two writers) and a Law Professor from Baylor– the write-in candidate who responded to our tweets and got the final spot. The 10 of us embarked on both a rookie draft and auction recently for their second year in the league. The three-round, three-year contract rookie draft and auction were held on consecutive Sundays.

The participants rookie picks, auction key wins, and strategies are outlined below, along with player contract values to assist those users who have not had their rookie draft yet or auctions. Also do all these hard working writers a solid and follow us on Twitter. We have writers for all kinds of fantasy sports websites who really believe or were interested in kicking the tires on the unique Reality Sports Online format.

Without further ado, the owners and their rosters….

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

Picks:

1.01 Todd Gurley, RB St. Louis Rams (3 years, $19.2M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: Going for it all last year, I traded my 2014 first round pick Carlos Hyde to SamHerbie for C.J. Anderson and what turned into pick 1.01. I also traded my other two picks at the deadline as part of a deal to get Marshawn Lynch. A week before the rookie draft, I moved my 1.08 pick to Great Odin’s Raven with Jimmy Graham for Rob Gronkowski who costs about $5.0m a year less than Graham for another 3 years. For me this deal was all about flexibility for the huge free agent pool in 2015 in addition to getting the game’s best tight end on a 4 year, $56 million deal. This trade also enabled me to use the franchise tag on Anderson for $28.1 million knowing that the free agent pool would be shallow in the second year of our league (yes, I actually do follow some of the advice I give in my articles).

With that in mind and given that my top three running backs (Matt Forte, Anderson, and Lynch) will all be free agents following the 2015 season, Todd Gurley was the perfect pick for me for a succession plan at running back. I truly believe he is a faster and younger Lynch and that he will be dominant when the team hands over the reins to him. It was hard to pass up on Amari Cooper’s potential immediate impact, but I generally am not confident in the Raiders offense and figured I could replace Cooper’s production in free agency.

Auction Strategy: I had $27 million of cap space going into the auction, the least of any team. While I believe my starting lineup was fairly stacked, I did have to paint around the edges in the auction and stretch dollars as best I could, noting that I’m not necessarily counting on Gurley to contribute to my team much this season. Overall, having Tom Brady on a 1 year, $3.1 million remaining contract from 2014 meant that I had to find a replacement while Brady likely sits due to Deflategate. So getting a productive quarterback on a multi-year deal was a priority, but ranked second to getting my second starting wide receiver. However, when fellow Miami University alum Ben Roethlisberger had his name called in the auction, I moved quickly and signed him to a 2 year, $8.0 million deal. As I noted in a previous article, I’m very high on Big Ben this year with the weapons he has (with or without Pouncey).

Eric Decker was my top wide receiver target and I used my four year deal to grab the New York Jet wideout for 4 years, $14.0 million. I think Decker will be super productive and love that he ranks highly in the valued yards per route run stat from Pro Football Focus’s premium stats. I also value his production down the stretch last season, capped by a 10 catch, 221 yard, 74 yard TD finale vs. the Dolphins. Otherwise, I grabbed a bunch of cheap wide receivers who may be able to start/flex for me, including Kendall Wright (2 years, $5.0 million), and minimum contract vets like Marques ColstonMichael CrabtreeAntonio Gates.

I also could not resist my Seahawks DST for 1 year, $2.0 million as I like not having to think about a defense when the rest of my lineup is strong.

Likely 10 man starting lineup: Roethlisberger, Lynch, Forte, Demaryius Thomas, Decker, Gronkowski, Seahawks DST, Adam Vinatieri, Anderson, Devonta Freeman

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

Picks:

1.02 Amari Cooper, WR Buffalo Bills (3 years, $18.1M)

1.08 T.J. Yeldon, RB Jacksonville Jaguars (3 years, $11.0M)

2.02 David Johnson, RB Arizona Cardinals (3 years, $4.3M)

3.02 Devin Smith, WR New York Jets (3 years, $2.8M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: Knowing Matt was going to take Gurley, I felt like I had three options at 1.02. I entered the draft thin at running back, but decided to go with Amari Cooper. Cooper is pretty clearly the No. 1 option in Oakland and should catch at least 80 passes this season with much higher upside. I didn’t think I’d come as close to Cooper’s production with a wide receiver at 1.08 than I could to come close to someone like Melvin Gordon. Ameer Abdullah was one of the players I briefly considered at 1.02, so my eyes lit up when he was there at 1.07, but he didn’t make it past there. Instead I got T.J. Yeldon at 1.08, who should be a steady contributor and the lead back in Jacksonville by at least next season. I like David Johnson’s skillset at 2.02, and he was a hedge on Andre Ellington, the only running back I had on my roster entering the draft, so now I’m hopefully set however the Arizona backfield plays out. Graham is probably going to talk about how much Phillip Dorsett fell, and I agree with him. I would have taken him over Devin Funchess and Jaelen Strong in the second, but I think Devin Smith is a better version of Dorsett. This is a view I had before the NFL Draft and still hold even though Dorsett is paired with a superior quarterback.

Auction Strategy: I entered the auction with Andre Ellington and T.J. Yeldon as my starting running backs, so that needed to change. With the third most cap space entering the auction, but only a few roster spots, I wasn’t afraid to pay a premium for the top guys, especially considering how few there were. I wanted to come away with at least two of the top three backs. I was outbid after a long back and forth for Lamar Miller, so that made me go harder for Justin Forsett and Chris Ivory. I paid a high price for Forsett on a one-year deal, but it’s still less than had I gotten him on a franchise tag for this year. He’s 30 years old with a short track record of success, so I didn’t want to commit years to him. Ivory, on the other hand, should be the clear No. 1 in New York and is 28, making me feel better about a two-year deal at $19 million.

I also added Shane Vereen for $5 million, should I’ll have some options at running back. From the past two rookie drafts I’m pretty young and deep at wide receiver (Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant, Cooper, Josh Gordon in a year), so I was able wait and grab John Brown for three-years and $28 million. It’s a high price, but with his age and my lack of big long term commitments, it was a risk I felt I could take.

Likely 10 man starting lineup: Cam Newton, Forsett, Ivory, Vincent Jackson, Brown, Graham, Texans DST, Dan Bailey, Vereen, Watkins

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

Picks:

1.03 Nelson Agholor, WR Philadelphia Eagles (3 years, $17.6M)

2.03 Jameis Winston, QB Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3 years, $4.2M)

3.03 Matt Jones, RB Washington Redskins (3 years, $2.8M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: I play in a lot of dynasty leagues. And the most important thing for me was realizing this isn’t a dynasty league. These guys get guaranteed money (though modest), and the rookie contract only provides a three-year discount from market for a producing player. Combine that with the unfortunately shallow rosters (considering the deep starting lineups) and the unfortunate state of the team I inherited, it didn’t seem wise to use my first two picks on project players. Instead, I targeted players likely to produce and contribute at a level above their salaries. Nelson Agholor would have been my top pick in this format regardless, as I think he has a high ceiling and fairly low three-year floor in that offense and competing with that depth chart. The same is true of Jameis Winston, as I’m going to carry a backup QB behind Drew Brees in his final contract year. Winston is priced perfectly for that role, and I like his upside as a great backup or potential platooner thereafter. I took my flier in the third round with the near-minimum salary.

Auction Strategy: There was only so much I could do in the auction. When I acquired the team, my best RBs were Gio Bernard and Tre Mason. In a ten-team league.  And Julian Edelman was my WR1. The free-agent pool contained no true stars.  So while, generally, longer-term contracts may be best utilized to discount the per-year impact of the highest salaries, I took  a different approach and looked for long-term contracts that might end up being market-value homeruns and set me up for next year and beyond, where I’ll have cap room and access to stars. The rest of the draft was simply looking for values and arbitrage while compiling a respectable starting lineup. I was able to keep $37 million in cap room, sign solid multi-year contracts, and get on the brink of a respectable starting lineup.  I was thrilled with the Golden Tate price 3yr-14million. I wanted Markus Wheaton for 4 years at near-minimum because I think he is wildly undervalued and a much better football player than Martavis Bryant. My only regret was losing connectivity during the Doug Martin bidding because he was my other 3-year target. Had to settle for Torrey Smith at 3yr-6.5 million.

Likely 10 man starting lineup: Brees, Frank Gore, Jonathan StewartT.Y. Hilton, Tate, Martellus Bennett, Jets DSTMatt Prater, Edelman, Agholor

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

Picks:

1.04 Melvin Gordon, RB San Diego Chargers (3 years, $16.9M)

2.04 Devin Funchess, WR Carolina Panthers (3 years, $4.2M)

3.04 Chris Conley, WR Kansas City Chiefs (3 years, $2.8M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: Let’s just say I wasn’t picking from 1.04 because I traded to get there. My team has a ton of holes, and I wanted the best players I could get. I assumed the first three to go would be Gurley, Cooper, and Melvin Gordon, so I was debating between Agholor and Abdullah. Getting Gordon here was easy, even though I’m not totally sold on him and think Danny Woodhead will be a nuisance for him this year.

In round two, it was between Funchess and Strong for me. I have Strong in another dynasty, and diversifying was my goal here. I like both, so I figured why not? In round three, I was absolutely torn between Chris Conley and Dorsett, but given that rookie deals are only three years, I thought that Conley might have the best chance to be a go-to guy in an offense in that span as opposed to Dorsett, who could be a weekly headache despite being in one of the best offenses in the NFL for years to come. Conley has the physical traits to be a huge threat, and I’m hearing good things about him in camp prior to his injury. I’m all in on Conley, which seems a bit of an unpopular position.

Auction Strategy: Going into the draft, I didn’t have too many bench spots open, so I just wanted to wait on things. I didn’t place an actual bid until after my first two nominations. I also wanted to make sure I got a quarterback on a minimum deal so that I could stream quarterbacks, defenses, and kickers without the penalty of cutting a guaranteed deal.

I was aiming hard for Jeremy Maclin, Danny Woodhead, and another running back or receiver I thought was a value. I felt like I was getting bid up on Maclin, so I dropped it on Sam Herbie even though I really expect big things from Maclin. I also got into a bidding war with Leo Howell over Woodhead and wasn’t going to stop until I got him. Charles Johnson at a modest deal is okay with me. I got Colin Kaepernick, whom I’ve been targeting, for the 1-year, $500k minimum, so that was also a win for my strategy.

Likely 10 man starting lineup: Kaepernick, Alfred Morris, Gordon, Alshon Jeffery, Johnson, Travis Kelce, Rams DSTMatt Bryant, Woodhead, Ryan Mathews

Team: Discount Double Check (Daniel Lindsey, TBD) @BitterPackerFan

Picks:

1.05 Kevin White, WR Chicago Bears (3 years, $15.9M)

2.05 Jaelen Strong, WR Houston Texans (3 years, $4.1M)

2.08 Jay Ajayi, RB Miami Dolphins (3 years, $4.0M)

3.05 Maxx Williams, TE Baltimore Ravens (3 years, $2.7M)

3.08 Mike Davis, RB San Francisco 49ers (3 years, $2.7M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: My draft strategy ended up being like a series of unfortunate events. I had a plan, but the dominoes started to fall the day my star running back Arian Foster hurt his groin. Before Foster got hurt, my plan was to just go BPA in the rookie draft – I figured I would be able to take Agholor and that’s who my initial target was. Once Foster went down, I was hoping for Gordon at 5, but I wasn’t expecting it either – especially when Kevin White got sidelined. But I was hoping a team that is contending for this year would still take him as a flier. That ended up being me as I missed out on both Agholor and Gordon. However, I was still hoping to land either David Johnson or David Cobb. Johnson went a couple picks before me and I thought about Cobb at 2.05, but thought he would still be there at 2.08. Missed out on him too and settled for Jay Ajayi over Buck Allen, someone I thought would last until the third round. Alas, he didn’t either and now I hope to strike gold in the FA Auction draft.

Auction Strategy: One of the biggest regrets I have from the auction draft is not putting Knowshon Moreno on IR to open up one more roster spot. Given that I took over a team from last year and my five draft picks this season, I had a much bigger bench than most teams. After bidding on a bunch of running backs (I only got two of who I wanted) and nabbing Peyton Manning kind of by accident (I was seeing how much I could push his price) I realized I had a shorter bench to fill than just about everyone else.

My strategy was to land Mark Ingram and Forsett to make up for no RB to start the season and my flubs in the rookie draft. Ingram was my top get – didn’t matter how much I had to pay for him. Forsett was getting bid up and I wasn’t wanting to play ball (but I should have). My next targets were Rashad Jennings, Doug Martin and Latavius Murray. I was hoping to land two of them, but ended up with Murray (and Joseph Randle, again by accident).
I then found myself in an odd bidding war for Russell Wilson. With most people set with a quarterback and I only had Robert Griffin III, Johnny Manziel and then Manning with a 1 year contract, I threw out some contracts for Wilson because I still had a 4 year contract left. And then as the bidding started to ramp up, I realized I could use this to my advantage – having Manning and Wilson for one year may seem odd at first (and totally not me) but I can definitely pick my matchups with elite quarterbacks. Then I’d still have Wilson for three more years. I paid a hefty price in the end (and wasn’t pleased with the obvious price gouging, but now I can attempt to compete this year and really start building my wide receivers corps after Odell Beckham Jr. over the next couple years. I’d love to trade Manning, but don’t see that happening after looking at the waiver wire. But who knows – maybe it pays off.
Likely 10 man starting lineup: Manning or Wilson, Ingram, L. Murray, Emmanuel Sanders, Beckham Jr., M. Williams, Bills DSTStephen Gostkowski, Randle, Michael Floyd

Team: Funky Monks (Graham Barfield, Rotoworld, numberFire, & RotoAcademy) @GrahamBarfield

Picks:

1.06 Breshad Perriman, WR Baltimore Ravens (3 years, $14.1M)

2.06 Duke Johnson, RB Cleveland Browns (3 years, $4.1M)

3.06 Phillip Dorsett, WR Indianapolis Colts (3 years, $2.7M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: At 1.06, I got my first dynasty share of Breshad Perriman this offseason. I’ve been trying to buy him everywhere and have had to settle for other options in most drafts (like Agholor and Abdullah). I’m a sucker for his ceiling and available opportunity — plus it definitely doesn’t hurt he’s my WR5 on this squad. At 2.06 I landed Duke Johnson (another guy I have wanted to own in dynasty, but hadn’t landed yet). I loved him coming out of Miami — but just wasn’t thrilled with his landing spot in a muddy backfield. I still think he’s quite possibly the most versatile RB on the Browns with Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West not exactly light the world on fire in their rookie seasons. Finally, I was shocked Phillip Dorsett fell to me at 3.06. I legitimately did a little dance in my desk chair when he fell in my lap. He’s been going late-1st/early-2nd all summer, and since TY Hilton re-signed, his dynasty stock has taken a hit. I’ll take a slice of the Colts high-powered offense at a discount where ever I can.

Auction Strategy: My strategy in this auction was to secure one running back and attack a mid-priced option to fill in my No. 2 RB slot. Some of the backs I was expecting to go for cheaper prices went for more than I expected, so I pivoted to spending on veteran depth like Reggie Bush on a mininum deal and buying Tyler Eifert.

Likely 10 man starting lineup: Andrew Luck, Lamar Miller, Bush, Dez Bryant, A.J. Green, Jason Witten, Dolphins DSTMason Crosby, Jordan MatthewsKeenan Allen

Team: Sam Hauss (Sam Hauss, numberFire) @Real_Hauss

Picks:

1.07 Ameer Abdullah, RB Detroit Lions (3 years, $12.4M)

2.07 David Cobb, RB Tennessee Titans (3 years, $4.0M)

3.07 Marcus Mariota, QB Tennessee Titans (3 years, $2.7M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: Going into the rookie draft I felt much more comfortable at the wide receiver position than I did at running back with Jordy Nelson, Brandon Marshall and Kelvin Benjamin (of course the draft happened before he both Nelson and Benjamin tore their ACLs) locked in as starters even if I was unable to upgrade in the auction. I wanted to target a running back and, honestly, was very surprised to see Abdullah fall as far as he did. He is an explosive back who is a plus in the passing game, is expected to have a major role this season and could be the Lions primary back of the future. I was also thrilled to grab David Cobb since I don’t really trust Bishop Sankey to keep the job in Tennessee and Cobb is an incredibly talented runner who could steal this job sooner rather than later. Once I got my two running backs I was just looking for the most upside left on the board in the third which is why I took Marcus Mariota. If he pans out, I may not have to worry about the quarterback position for years to come, even though I don’t think he’ll be all that valuable this season.

Auction Strategy: With Benjamin and Nelson lost for the year before the season started, I knew I had to go into the draft with the goal of grabbing at least two viable starting wide receivers. However, I felt the remaining wide receiver pool had significantly less value than the pool of running backs who were available to draft. With that in mind, I figured I could snatch up as much running back depth as I could with an eye on making a few mid-season deals to round out my receiving corps. I was able to get two of my favorite running back targets in Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount. If all pans out the way I hope, Martin and/or Abdullah — who I took in the rookie draft — will hit big early and I’ll be able to trade one as Blount gets eased back into the Patriots’ offense following his suspension.

 With all that said, there were two mid-tier starting wide receivers that I wanted to target — Andre Johnson and Anquan Boldin — and I made sure that I paid what I had to in order to grab them both given my lack of depth at the position. I also added Steve Johnson and Brian Quick to add depth at the position. I didn’t plan on spending much if anything on the quarterback or tight end positions given the fact that I already had guys who I felt were viable starters at each position already on my roster, however, I am extremely high on Ryan Tannehill and was able to get him for excellent value to lock him up for several years to come.

Likely 10 man starting lineup: Tannehill, Eddie Lacy, Johnson, Boldin, Julius Thomas, Cardinals DSTJustin Tucker, Abdullah, Brandon Marshall

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

Picks:

1.09 Tevin Coleman, RB Atlanta Falcons (3 years, $10.8M)

3.09 Sammie Coates, WR Pittsburgh Steelers (3 years, $2.6M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: After a successful draft last year that left me with Mike Evans, Teddy Bridgewater and Allen Robinson as a foundation for the future, I wanted to add a couple of complementary pieces this year. Picking near the end of the first round, I went with Tevin Coleman of the Falcons. I have two older running backs under long-term contracts (DeMarco Murray and Jamaal Charles), but wanted to take a shot on a younger player in a decent situation. Coleman doesn’t have a high bar to clear to become the main ballcarrier in the ATL. I didn’t have a second-round pick, but got a guy I may have taken in the second with my third round selection in Sammie Coates. He’s not as tall as I normally like for a young receiver to be, but he has special athletic ability and time to learn and grow with the Steelers, and I’m hopeful he can become a contributor sooner rather than later.

Auction Strategy: I entered the auction with a pretty stable foundation, with Charles, Murray, Evans, Antonio Brown and DeAndre Hopkins already on board. I didn’t need a ton of help at skill positions, and had the quarterbacks I wanted in Matthew Stafford and Bridgewater. But I didn’t have a great tight end, which led to my big acquisition of Greg Olsen. He’s not a long-term asset, but there are few tight ends who will see the volume and consistent production Olsen will this season. I also picked up Knile Davis to “handcuff” to Charles, but also because he’s a terrific athlete who will do well if he gets touches. It just so happens I have the guy he’d take touches from, so it works out to be a positive for me either way. (But please stay healthy, Jamaal.) I took a flier on Percy Harvin, hoping he’d carve out a role and make some big plays with the Bills, and I scooped up Jeff Janis, as I believe he’ll play a role in filling Jordy Nelson’s shoes in Green Bay.

Likely 10 man starting lineup: Stafford, D. Murray, Charles, Evans, Brown, Olsen, Patriots DST, Blair Walsh, Hopkins, Allen Robinson

Team: gingersauce4u (Tyler Buecher, numberFire) @gingersauce4u

Picks:

1.10 DeVante Parker, WR Miami Dolphins (3 years, $9.76M)

2.10 Javorius “Buck” Allen, RB Baltimore Ravens (3 years, $10.3M)

3.10 Justin Hardy, WR Atlanta Falcons (3 years, $2.6M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: Drafting from the 10-spot, I was pleasantly surprised to see DeVante Parker fall to the end of the first round. Seeing him go as high as #3 overall, the 6′ 3″ Louisville product brings size and some unbelievable college productivity to the table. Javorius Allen has been a post-draft favorite of mine as I loved the fit with him in Baltimore. A productive receiving back at USC, Allen should jive well with Marc Trestman’s offense while spelling the soon to be 30-year old Justin Forsett. If Forsett were to miss any time, I think Allen could jump in immediately and provide fantasy value. At 3.10 and the last pick of the draft, I decided to take the NCAA’s all-time receptions leader in Justin Hardy. The former walk-on only has to beat journeymen Leonard Hankerson and return specialist Devin Hester to see significant playing time as the slot receiver, and Hardy should be able to do that with ease. I’m not expecting immediate results with Hardy, but he’s a stash I’m happy to hold onto and monitor closely as the season progresses. Thankfully my roster doesn’t require any of these players to have significant contributions in their rookie years, but I’m happy with the building blocks I acquired in our league’s second rookie draft.

Auction Strategy: Heading into the auction with an already well-stacked roster at RB (Le’Veon Bell and LeSean McCoy) and WR (Julio Jones, Randall Cobb, and Brandin Cooks), my intentions were to just find some good depth at running back and get a quality starting tight end. I was aggressive in our startup draft last year, and my cap space certainly reflected that as I had the second-lowest amount to start the draft. I was able to land C.J. Spiller (1-year, $8.5 mil) and a cheap Joique Bell (1-year, $1 mil), but the first two weeks may be rough for my team if some of these injured running backs are slow to return. I was continuously in bidding wars trying to land Greg Olsen, Jason Witten, and Tyler Eifert, but was out-muscled due to my cap space. I ended up getting Delanie Walker (1-year, $1.5 mil) and Dwayne Allen (1-year, $1 mil) as two later bargains, but I fell short of my goal trying to land one of my higher ranked tight ends.

The only other big play of the night I made was acquiring DeSean Jackson (2-years, $10 mil) as a fourth wide receiver. Already owning a stable core, DJax could be the one to help give my team some big weeks from the flex position. Heading into the season I’m a lot less confident (thanks Chip for exiling Shady to Buffalo) than last year where I was able to score the most points en route to a championship, but I believe this is still a playoff-worthy team.

Likely 10 man starting lineup: Tony Romo, Bell, McCoy, Jones, Cobb, Walker, Colts DST, Connor Barth, Cooks, Jackson

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

Picks:

2.01 Dorial Green-Beckham., WR Tennessee Titans (3 years, $4.3M)

2.09 Cameron Artis-Payne, RB Carolina Panthers (3 years, $3.9M)

3.01 Tyler Lockett, WR Seattle Seahawks (3 years, $2.8M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: Having already traded this year’s first round pick for Carlos Hyde, I planned to go receiver at the top of the second round. Abdullah is the only RB I would have considered there had he been available. Comfortable with Dorial Green-Beckham, as he has a lot of upside and came at a cheap price tag as the first pick in round two. The Cameron Artis-Payne pick came down to the names above his on the Panthers RB depth chart. Even if Stewart does stay healthy (…unlikely), this squad is going to have a tough time winning ballgames this year. Its young talent should get some good burn and, more importantly, experience for ’16 and ’17. My last pick came at the top of the 3rd where I strongly considered taking Mariota. Head won over heart in this case, though – Tyler Lockett should get a lot of targets in Seattle’s slot, especially with Graham often demanding two defenders. Lockett is dynamic and has in him a lot of what Randall Cobb brings to the field.

Auction Strategy: My roster is rather top heavy with nearly $71MM tied up in three players (Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson). Luckily my RB core is intact with AP, Hyde and Jeremy Hill, which felt like enough cushion to avoid the gold rush on running backs that came during the first half of the auction. Once I landed Rashad Jennings at $4.5MM, which may go down as a huge bargain, my entire focus shifted to wide receiver. Coming into the auction I definitely had my eye on Maclin and had prepared to pay a premium. But I felt much more comfortable paying $15MM for one year of Maclin after investing just $7.5MM for two years of Jarvis Landry, who is about to break out. My lone regret comes in the form of Brandon LaFell ($1.5MM), as it would’ve been nice to have another minimum contract on the books… Damn New England roots. In all, I executed my auction gameplan far better in 2015 than I did in our league’s inaugural session.

Likely 10 man starting lineup: Rodgers, Peterson, Hill, Calvin Johnson, Maclin, Charles Clay, Broncos DST, Cody Parker, Hyde, Landry

Mastering Year 2 On RSO

Updated: August 21st 2015

Chasing Quarterbacks is one strategy not to follow in your second year league.

Chasing Quarterbacks is one strategy not to follow in your second year league.

This article is dedicated to those owners in their second year of their Reality Sports Online leagues. If you are in your first year of your Reality Sports Online league, my high level advice is to not get too caught up in the hype of the auction. Make sure you are spending your big dollar contracts on players as close to birds in the hand as possible. If you ask anyone who plunked 3 years and $85 million on Trent Richardson a few years ago, they’d tell you the biggest objective in year one is basically what I tell my young kids-“don’t wet the bed”. Matt Papson’s  7 Basic Auction Principles and Bo Wulf’s Four Years of Commitment are essential reading for the rookie Reality Sports Online GM.

If you are in your third year, you have things pretty much figured out by now and are looking forward to some of the two-year studs from your rookie season being available in the auction. Teams in rebuild mode are hyped about rookies and sleepers and championship contenders are going all out to win the league for the first (or maybe even second or third) time.

To me, the second year is the most difficult year in terms of team strategy. Several of the top players are still locked into multi-year deals, so there may be slim pickings in your auction. The rookie draft is really the only way to get a player you want without competitive market dynamics but if you’re in the back of the draft that may not even be possible.

So let’s walk through some scenarios of potential challenges a second year owner may face. I won’t go too deep into rookie draft strategy, because let’s face it, I essentially did my best to drop the mic with my What’s A Rookie Draft Pick Worth? article a few weeks ago.

1) Don’t Go Chasing Quarterbacks

The best part of being one of the potential owners who doesn’t have a quarterback locked up long term is that your counterparts do. While some of them may try to price enforce to make sure that you are having to pay fair value for your quarterback, if you get into the scenario where you and maybe two other owners in a 10-12 team league is searching for a signal caller, it doesn’t necessarily matter which one you grab, so long as you get them on a good contract. Those other price enforcer owners know they don’t want to get left holding the bag on two starting quarterbacks, especially if your league doesn’t have many teams that trade often. This strategy landed me Russell Wilson on a 3 year, $26 million deal as I was one of two teams out of twelve needing a quarterback.

Additionally, if you are one of these owners who had a one year contract quarterback last year and there are plenty of suitable starters in the free agent market, franchise tagging a quarterback is essentially bidding against yourself. I don’t care if you can have Drew Brees for another year, don’t bid against yourself when Ben Roethlisberger will be just as good and a fraction of the cost.

So make it one of your top priorities to get a quarterback you are happy with on a term and contract value you are good with. There should be no shortage of those candidates this year as in most leagues, you’ll only need to start one quarterback.

2) If You Didn’t Have a Strategy in Year One, Figure Your Strategy For Year Two Out Quick

You may have taken year one to get acquainted with the platform and didn’t want to wet the bed. Year two is when you start formulating your multi-year plan on how your team can capitalize on its championship window, whenever you see that being. The offseason is the ideal time to do that and you may still have a few days left to shape that strategy with your franchise tag and before your rookie draft.

The type of moves that teams may take depends on where you finished last year and what talent remains on your team. However, there are several tactics that a team can use to rebuild on the fly. The first of which is to trade a high-priced player. Burned by Adrian Peterson last year, turn his big salary into free cap space and a draft pick and use that money to get three guys who can help you over the long term.

3) Don’t Be Afraid Of One Year Contracts

Just because Reality Sports Online leagues are customizable in the number of multi-year deals you may offer in your auction doesn’t mean you need to use them all or every one you use needs to be on a marquee player. Year two may not have that deep of a free agent pool in your auction, but I guarantee you that year three will. My upcoming third year league has 7 of the top 10 ten scoring running backs available heading into the auction. To take advantage of a similar situation next year, second year owners may want to keep their future year cap flexibility open and not overcommit on a second year free agent crop that frankly may not be that appealing.

Basically, most of the players entering free agency are players that other teams weren’t confident enough to sign to multi-year deals in your first year of the auction or guys picked up during the season on free agent deals. While some of those players like Justin Forsett and C.J. Anderson may have been franchise tagged or will be the marquee free agents this year, they do come in with question marks based on not having the proven track record others on multi-year deals may have. So the question, similar to the ABC Show, becomes “What Would You Do?” if you had to choose between signing Forsett to a two year, $30 million deal or grabbing Lamar Miller on a one year deal for $17 million. I’d take Miller (who is a 2016 NFL Free Agent), who will most likely be both more productive and give you a flexible cap for 2016 without batting an eyelash.

Another strategy on the one year players is to follow the “Old Guys Rule” strategy. Other owners may not think much of Frank Gore or Andre Johnson, but the two former teammates from “The U” are perfect one year candidates who buy you a share in the explosive Colts offense. So if you have a solid core that already screams playoff contender, you can paint the edges with older players and contend if you don’t have the budget or inclination to go after the big names in second year free agency.

4) The Franchise Tag May Be Your Friend

If you are in Year Two and the contracts doled out in year one at certain positions isn’t overly ridiculous (or even if they are), if you are one piece away from a championship in your head, go for the gold, especially in a year where the pickings are slim in free agency. I’ve already tackled Franchise Tag strategy deeply in my Giving Up the Franchise? article.

This period may have passed in some of your leagues or is rapidly approaching. Trading for someone else’s franchise tagged player is certainly a possibility as well and those teams looking to rebuild may be able to get something for a player they were planning on not getting anything for by doing this. Just make sure you hammer out your details and look into the website platform timing to execute the trade around the restrictions and trade deadlines between the period three days before the rookie draft and three days before the free agent auction.

5) Use One Multi-Year Deal on a Developmental Player

The tendency in formats like this is to grab studs on long-term deals and combine those with your rookies to have the best chance of winning a championship. However, there are multiple ways to win the championship and one strategy I really like is to use at least one of your multi-year deals (assuming an allotment of 3 two-year deals, 2 three-year deals and 1 four-year deal) on a developmental prospect who either didn’t get picked in your rookie draft or a free agent.

You’ll have to do your homework on who those players are for you. Last year, I used my second year multi-year deals on Lance Dunbar (2 years, $4.5 million), Aaron Dobson (3 year, $8.5 million) and the undrafted in our two-round rookie draft Teddy Bridgewater (2 years, $1.5 million). As I mentioned before I already had Wilson as my starting quarterback and was able to trade Bridgewater and Larry Fitzgerald early last season for a one year Alshon Jeffery rental.

While those players may not jump out at you and other than Bridgewater didn’t really pan out last year, they didn’t cost me much and both Dunbar and Dobson have potential to play significant roles in excellent offenses this year. If I need to drop them, I can do it without much hesitation, but they also offer upside.

Conversely, some of my league mates were getting into long term deals with players like Reuben Randle for 4 years and $25.0 million. While others were successful in nabbing DeAndre Hopkins on a four year deal for $28.5 million (we essentially didn’t have a rookie draft in year one so owners could get a good feel for the league, something I’d actually advise against which made Hopkins available in 2014), those home runs were few and far between in last year’s auction. That’s what happens when guys like Toby Gerhart and Shane Vereen fetch big dollars in free agency as some of the top second-year free agent players available.

These are really just some examples as full disclosure, I did not win my league in my second year as I lost in a playoff game in which Julio Jones destroyed me. I still retain a core that I’m super excited about for the next two years, years which I basically consider my championship window.

Basically, year two is about cementing your strategy and executing on it. Figure out when your championship window is and go get it! Thanks for reading and I’m really appreciative of all those who reach out to me with questions/comments on Twitter @mattgoody2