Tech Corner: Early Off-season Additions

Updated: February 9th 2018

Now that I’m full-time here with RSO (more info on that here if you didn’t already see it), it makes sense for you to hear from me more often than you have been.  Changes should be coming faster than they have in the past and you deserve to know what’s been done and what’s coming down the line.  These posts won’t include everything we’ve been working on, but will focus on the items that will affect a large portion of you rather than the dozen bugs we fixed which 99% of you will never know existed.  With that said, here are the items from this update:

Rookie Option

We’ve added in a rookie option.  You can now exercise the option on 1st round rookie picks for the average of the top 10 salaries at the position, similar to what happens in the NFL.  This occurs immediately in the off-season during the same time that you place your franchise tag.  The key is that this happens the off-season one year before their contract expires.  This means that right now this off-season if you have 3 year rookie contracts that the 2016 rookies like Zeke and Michael Thomas are available for the option.  If you have 4 year rookies then the 2015 rookies of Gurley and Gordon would be available now.  Some other quick hitting items on the option:

  • It’s a league setting that is ‘off’ by default.  Your commish will need to turn on the setting in the ‘Draft’ panel of the league settings.
  • Limited to just 1st round picks
  • It doesn’t matter if you’re team drafted them or not.  All that matters is if they are on their draft rookie contract, whether you traded for them or picked them yourself.  If they were picked up in FAAB there’s no rookie option.
  • There’s no limit to the number of options you can exercise.  If they fit all the requirements above you can give them the option.
  • Unlike in the NFL, we are treating these options just like any other contract on the platform which means that the option is 50% guaranteed.  If your league decides they like to follow how the NFL does it, then the commish can easily remove the contract when the time comes from the commish tools with no cap hit.

Off-season/Tag Extension

This is the other big item that has been added this off-season, though this one we’ve talked about a bit in the past.  You can now extend the player that you used your franchise tag on in the off-season.  The first step is finalizing your tag choice, either through the ‘Finalize Tag’ functionality or just waiting for 3 days before your rookie draft.  Only after you finalize the tag will you be able to see the extension option.  From that point, you have until 3 days before your league auction to extend the tagged player or not.  Here’s a few other things you should know:

  • A teams number of extensions used is reset with our site rollover that just happened in February.  This means that last seasons extensions don’t affect your ability to extend this off-season or during the 2018 season.
  • The flip side of that is that if your league only allows one extension and you use it on your tagged player in the off-season, no in-season extensions for your team.
  • Players do use their tagged salary as a bit of a starting point.  Don’t tag someone whose not worth the tag thinking that their extension offer will be much lower…you’ll be sorely disappointed.
  • Unlike the in-season extension, these values don’t fluctuate week to week
  • You can can for a tagged player and then extend them yourself as long as it’s before the auction as mentioned above.  You don’t have to be the team that tags the player to extend them.

Up Next: Updating and re-styling the league pages  ETA: March

More Analysis by Kyle English

Most Frequently Franchised in ’16

Updated: October 17th 2016

Back in May, we took a look at the most frequently cut players in 2015 to learn some lessons in advance of our free agent auctions.  Now that we are in season, I thought it would be useful to look at which players were most frequently franchise tagged in 2016.  In my experience, Week 6 seems to be the time when struggling owners first commit to being a seller rather than a buyer for the rest of the season.  Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, you can gain some valuable insight by looking at last year’s franchise tag trends.  I personally did this in my home RSO league – I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold onto him, so I sent my tagged David Johnson to the second place owner for Theo Riddick, a 2017 First and a 2018 Third.

Here’s the list of the top seven most frequently franchise tagged players for 2016 and my takeaways:

  1. Thomas Rawls
  2. Jordan Reed
  3. Rob Gronkowski
  4. Antonio Brown
  5. Tyler Eifert
  6. DEN Defense
  7. Greg Olsen

Make an Offer for a Top TE

Four of the top seven spots went to TEs which shouldn’t be a surprise as Reed, Gronk and Eifert are all injury risks while Olsen is getting up there in age – offering a multi-year deal to these guys is risky.  If you’re making a championship run, take a look at the TE position of your league’s worst teams.  If one of them is holding Olsen, Reed or Gronk, make the offer now without hesitation.  It will help you this year and gives you a viable franchise tag option next year (TE tends to have the most value with so many low priced guys who bring down the average).  Olsen is by far the TE1 in PPR scoring with Reed in second.  Gronk is far down the list due to injury but if anything that might help you get him slightly cheaper.  Zach Miller, Kyle Rudolph and Travis Kelce are averaging 2-4 points per game less than Reed and 7-9 less than Olsen (I’m discounting Martellus Bennett whose 3 TD game buoys his stats and is unsustainable).  Five points or so most certainly will be a factor at some point for you in the playoff push.

Antonio Brown May Be Available in 2017

I was surprised to see Brown on this list.  In both of my RSO leagues he’s on a long term deal so part of me assumed that would be the case across the board.  If you’re doing poorly in 2016 and have an eye to 2017, check on Brown’s contract status.  If he’s franchised in your league, there is a chance he becomes available in free agency (unless of course the owner tags him again so take a look at their 2017 cap space and draft picks to determine if they can make it work) and you can pounce on him.  While others in your league are concentrating on 2016, offload some win-now players on multi-year contracts;  you’ll get picks in return and reduce their 2017 cap space to give you a better shot at the top free agents, including guys like Brown.

Don’t Franchise Tag Jordan Howard!

Granted, Howard was probably drafted in your rookie draft but the point is this: franchising a RB who succeeded as a rookie is a bad idea.  Sure you could end up like me, who used it on David Johnson, or you could end up like all of the Thomas Rawls owners.  Take a look at last year’s top ten rookie RBs in rushing yards if you need a reminder of how quickly the shine can fade:

  1. Todd Gurley
  2. Thomas Rawls
  3. TJ Yeldon
  4. Melvin Gordon
  5. Ameer Abdullah
  6. David Johnson
  7. Jeremy Langford
  8. Karlos Williams
  9. Buck Allen
  10. Matt Jones

At best, half of that list is not startable and a few are droppable.  If any of this year’s valuable rookie RBs are still available, by all means pick them up and ride them for all they are worth this season but don’t make the mistake of franchising them next year, even if they explode late in the season.

More Analysis by Bob Cowper

Most Frequently Franchised in '16

Updated: October 13th 2016

Back in May, we took a look at the most frequently cut players in 2015 to learn some lessons in advance of our free agent auctions.  Now that we are in season, I thought it would be useful to look at which players were most frequently franchise tagged in 2016.  In my experience, Week 6 seems to be the time when struggling owners first commit to being a seller rather than a buyer for the rest of the season.  Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, you can gain some valuable insight by looking at last year’s franchise tag trends.  I personally did this in my home RSO league – I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold onto him, so I sent my tagged David Johnson to the second place owner for Theo Riddick, a 2017 First and a 2018 Third.

Here’s the list of the top seven most frequently franchise tagged players for 2016 and my takeaways:

  1. Thomas Rawls
  2. Jordan Reed
  3. Rob Gronkowski
  4. Antonio Brown
  5. Tyler Eifert
  6. DEN Defense
  7. Greg Olsen

Make an Offer for a Top TE

Four of the top seven spots went to TEs which shouldn’t be a surprise as Reed, Gronk and Eifert are all injury risks while Olsen is getting up there in age – offering a multi-year deal to these guys is risky.  If you’re making a championship run, take a look at the TE position of your league’s worst teams.  If one of them is holding Olsen, Reed or Gronk, make the offer now without hesitation.  It will help you this year and gives you a viable franchise tag option next year (TE tends to have the most value with so many low priced guys who bring down the average).  Olsen is by far the TE1 in PPR scoring with Reed in second.  Gronk is far down the list due to injury but if anything that might help you get him slightly cheaper.  Zach Miller, Kyle Rudolph and Travis Kelce are averaging 2-4 points per game less than Reed and 7-9 less than Olsen (I’m discounting Martellus Bennett whose 3 TD game buoys his stats and is unsustainable).  Five points or so most certainly will be a factor at some point for you in the playoff push.

Antonio Brown May Be Available in 2017

I was surprised to see Brown on this list.  In both of my RSO leagues he’s on a long term deal so part of me assumed that would be the case across the board.  If you’re doing poorly in 2016 and have an eye to 2017, check on Brown’s contract status.  If he’s franchised in your league, there is a chance he becomes available in free agency (unless of course the owner tags him again so take a look at their 2017 cap space and draft picks to determine if they can make it work) and you can pounce on him.  While others in your league are concentrating on 2016, offload some win-now players on multi-year contracts;  you’ll get picks in return and reduce their 2017 cap space to give you a better shot at the top free agents, including guys like Brown.

Don’t Franchise Tag Jordan Howard!

Granted, Howard was probably drafted in your rookie draft but the point is this: franchising a RB who succeeded as a rookie is a bad idea.  Sure you could end up like me, who used it on David Johnson, or you could end up like all of the Thomas Rawls owners.  Take a look at last year’s top ten rookie RBs in rushing yards if you need a reminder of how quickly the shine can fade:

  1. Todd Gurley
  2. Thomas Rawls
  3. TJ Yeldon
  4. Melvin Gordon
  5. Ameer Abdullah
  6. David Johnson
  7. Jeremy Langford
  8. Karlos Williams
  9. Buck Allen
  10. Matt Jones

At best, half of that list is not startable and a few are droppable.  If any of this year’s valuable rookie RBs are still available, by all means pick them up and ride them for all they are worth this season but don’t make the mistake of franchising them next year, even if they explode late in the season.

More Analysis by Bob Cowper

RSO Off-Season Schedule

Updated: February 1st 2016

hi-res-7297918_crop_north

Welcome to the RSO off-season, where things can get even more interesting and exciting than during the season. Congrats to all of our 2015 league champions! Remember, it is never too early to start strategizing for 2016, and to help you better prepare for the upcoming season, please find some important dates and off-season rules/info below:

January 1st, 2016 to February 14th, 2016 

From now until February 14th, we will be making enhancements and implementing necessary upgrades to our site and mobile app, which will make our platform even better in 2016. If you have any requested enhancements or other suggestions, please don’t hesitate to email us at inquiries@realitysportsonline.com. Your feedback will help us make the site better for you in 2016 and beyond. Additionally, we will be rolling-over existing leagues from the 2015 season to the 2015-16 RSO off-season during this period. While you will be able to access and view your league during this period, lineups will be locked and no transactions will be able to be made.

Week of February 14th, 2016

The week of February 14, 2016 is the expected official start of the 2015-16 RSO off-season. Last season, the NFL announced the 2015 salary cap in late February, and we expect them to do so again this year around the same time. The 2016 NFL salary cap is expected to be anywhere from $150 mm to $153.4 mm. We expect to open the site before the NFL announces the 2016 salary cap, so we will leave the cap at the 2015 level until the NFL announces the new salary cap for 2016. However, once the site is re-open, existing leagues will be able to commence the RSO off-season, meaning teams can make off-season trades and cuts. Additionally, new league creation will be available at this time.

April 28th, 2016 to April 30th, 2016 

These are the dates of the actual NFL Draft. Once the NFL Draft is completed, leagues will be able to conduct their RSO Rookie Drafts and Free Agent Auctions. The NFL Draft is set to end on Saturday, April 30th, 2016, and we expect to have all rookie information updated on the site by Monday, May 2nd, 2016.

February 14th, 2016 to Three (3) Days Before Your League’s 2016 RSO Rookie Draft 

Different for every league depending on the date set for your 2016 RSO Rookie Draft, this is the “franchise tag designation period”. During this period, team owners must decide whether to place a franchise tag on a player whose contract expired in 2015 (the tagged salary for each player can be found by clicking the “Tag” button on the Team-Contracts tab). At the end of this period, players on expiring contracts will be removed from your Team Roster (unless you franchise tag a player). Additionally, at the conclusion of this period, team owners must have enough salary cap space to fill their respective rosters through the Rookie Draft and Free Agency in order to avoid having players automatically dropped from their rosters to create cap space. A Salary Cap Health Overview feature located on the Team-Overview tab contains all the information team owners need to ensure they have enough salary cap space. Note: no trades will be allowed during the three-day period between the end of the franchise tag designation period and your 2016 Rookie Draft. Trading will resume after the conclusion of your Rookie Draft.

February 14th, 2016 to Three (3) Days Before Your League’s 2016 RSO Free Agent Auction

This period is the official duration of the RSO off-season for each league. The length of the off-season is important because of the rules surrounding off-season vs. in-season cuts. This is best explained by example. Assume you have Marshawn Lynch under contract for $15mm in 2016 and $18mm in 2017. If you cut Beast Mode during the 2015-16 off-season (i.e. up and until 3 days before your Free Agent Auction), you will only owe him $7.5mm in 2016 and then $9mm in 2017. If you wait until the off-season concludes before cutting Lynch, you will owe him his full $15mm in 2016 in addition to the $9mm in 2017. Therefore, it is important to assess your roster and make desired cuts before your off-season concludes three days before your league’s 2016 Free Agent Auction.

September 8th, 2016

Likely first NFL game of the 2016 season. It will be here before you know it!

More Analysis by Stephen Wendell

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

More Analysis by Matt Goodwin

Jerry Jones Still Owns the Cowboys

Updated: July 22nd 2015

dez-catch-or-not

Fantasy owners are fortunate that Jerry Jones owns the Cowboys. If Dez Bryant played for a different franchise, one with a shrewder Owner/General Manager, things could have turned out differently. I have read several opinions stating otherwise, but the truth is that the team had all of the leverage in this situation. The Cowboys management surely views the current roster as Super Bowl contenders. They have a ton of young talent on both sides of the ball, but they want to win now. Tony Romo (35) and Jason Witten (33) are not getting any younger, plus Jerry Jones turns 73 this fall. However unlikely it may have been for Dez Bryant to sit out the first nine games of the season, Jerry Jones did not want to risk it. With Dez’s deal in place, not only is Dez a safe bet at WR1 for the foreseeable future, but so are Demaryius Thomas, A.J. Green, and Julio Jones.

It was widely reported that Mike Wallace’s contract was screwing up the Wide Receiver market and was a roadblock in negotiations between the Cowboys and Dez Bryant as well as with the Broncos and Demaryius Thomas. In my opinion, the gap between contract one (Calvin Johnson) and contract two (Mike Wallace) in the Wide Receiver market was a much bigger issue than the fact that contract two was Mike Wallace. Before last Wednesday afternoon, the franchise tag ($12.83M) gave Dez & Demaryius the second highest Average Per Year (APY), despite the fact that the tag is the average of the five highest salaries at the position.

Untitled

Dez & Demaryius both compared favorably to Mike Wallace, Vincent Jackson, and Jeremy Maclin, but were not going to be able to command Calvin Johnson money. So the question became, where should they fit in the $4.2M gap? In a normal situation, the team would be incentivized to sign a franchise tagged player to a long-term deal to realize a savings on the player’s cap figure and annual salary. In this case, the teams were actually getting a significant discount via the franchise tag, as both players reportedly rejected offers of $12M annually during the last few weeks. The teams controlled the players’ rights for two years, at $12.83M for 2015 and $15.4M (120% of $12.83M) in 2016, or an average of $14.1M. Those figures represented pretty strong value for the team side, as the Cowboys would have Dez at age 26 and 27, and the Broncos would have Demaryius at 27 and 28, before the price of a potential third consecutive tag would have been extremely pricey in 2017 (at least $22.2M; the greater of +44% and the Quarterback tender).

For the Broncos, this was probably a particularly attractive option, as Peyton Manning has two years remaining on his contract, and there is a greater combined chance that in 2017 he A) retires or B) leaves in Free Agency than C) plays for the Broncos. While Romo is signed through 2019, when he’ll be 39, it’s hard to say with certainty he’ll still be the Cowboys quarterback at that point.

While the leverage was firmly on the team side, the players did have two points of leverage, although one of those points was not particularly strong. First, both Dez & Demaryius are extremely talented football players, each the best player on their team. Some would argue otherwise for Demaryius (Peyton, Ryan Clady, Von Miller, and DeMarcus Ware are all among the best at their respective positions) and perhaps even Dez (I suppose an argument could be made for Sean Lee, Greg Hardy, Tony Romo, or the Cowboys Offensive Line as a unit). Each player has the opportunity to be the cornerstone of their respective franchises for the next decade plus, especially since it’s likely each of their franchise-pillar Quarterbacks will be done playing long before they are. Statistics aside, you know this if you have watched either of them play: each time either player steps on the field, it greatly increases the probability that their team is going to win. That brings us to the second point of leverage…the possibility of either player not stepping on the field this year despite being under contract.

Dez said (in fact, he swore on his children) that he would not show up without a long-term deal.

Twitter Dez

But, was he actually going to make good on that threat? Well, first of all, the tweet was sufficiently ambiguous about what “there” was that he could have skipped training camp and shown up Week 1 without technically breaking his promise. While it certainly made sense to threaten to sit out games without a deal, if the deadline had passed without a deal, nothing would be accomplished by sitting out, other than giving up millions of dollars for spite. Let’s assume for a second Dez was willing to carry out that threat in both 2015 and 2016; He would have given up $16.6M in game checks ($7.55M in 2015 & $9.05M in 2016). That’s an amount he never would have been able to recoup over the remainder of his career, no matter how much bigger he believed his next contract would be after proving he was willing to sit out.

The Cowboys ended up coming to the table with a very fair offer (especially given their relative position of strength) at 5-years, $70M, with $44M guaranteed (reports of $45M guaranteed include what are essentially two $500k workout bonuses). Check out the full contract details here.

Assuming Dez shows up for workouts, he’ll end up earning $45M over the next three years. The Cowboys could cut him before the fifth day of the 2016 league year, but Dez will have pocketed $31.5M by mid-March, 2016 if the Cowboys do so. That’s almost 90% of the total value of what he would have earned under three consecutive franchise tags. Dez is only set to earn $12.5M in each of the final two years of the deal. I can definitely envision a holdout in 2018. Dez will be $45M richer, and $12.5M annually won’t be anywhere near the top of the market at the position after Julio, A.J., Alshon, DeAndre, and some of the studly 2014 WR class get new deals with a rising Salary Cap. Ultimately, it’s a good deal for both sides, though it certainly would have been interesting had the Cowboys decided to flex a little more muscle. Dez Bryant gets the guaranteed money he reportedly needed, and the Cowboys have purchased time.

Despite all the Tweets claiming that the Cowboys and Broncos colluded because the Bryant and Thomas contracts are nearly identical, it’s simply not true. I’m not saying that Stephen Jones and John Elway didn’t collude; rather, I’m just saying that the matching contracts hardly represent evidence of such. Once the Dez deal was done, he immediately became the best comparable for Demaryius Thomas deal. Though the deal was submitted to the league office roughly an hour before the deadline, I’m sure the NFL management council rushed to interpret the values in the contract and communicated them with the Broncos. The Broncos and Thomas’ representatives would have already had the framework for a deal in place, and with Bryant’s numbers in hand, it was just a matter of haggling over a few finer points in the closing minutes.

In the end, the Dez Bryant deal helped eliminate uncertainty for four of the top 10 fantasy Wide Receivers, as both he and Demaryius are under contract, and now the Bengals and Falcons have clear outlines for Julio Jones and A.J. Green.

Tips for Demaryius and Dez in Your Reality Sports Online League

If you are in a Reality Sports Online fantasy league, here’s my take on Dez and Demaryius for your Reality Sports Online Free Agency Auctions:

Demaryius Thomas

  • Recommended Contract: 2 Years, $58M
  • Rationale: I think it’s fair to expect another two years of consistent production similar to what we’ve seen from DT over the last three years with Peyton Manning. Something to the tune of 100 catches, 155 targets, 1,500 yards, and 10+ touchdowns. But, if you give him anything beyond two years, you’re taking a big risk. If Peyton retires or leaves in Free Agency, it’s not fair to assume DT will acquire a Quarterback on par with Manning. And if Manning keeps playing, the Franchise tag is always an option in your league, though it’s probably fair to assume at least a small decline in productivity if Manning is playing beyond 40.

Dez Bryant

  • Recommended Contract: 3 Years, $85M
  • Rationale: Some have concerns about a down year from Dez after getting paid, but I’m not one of them. I think we’re going to see Dez’s best year yet, and even if the running game isn’t as productive as it was a year ago, I envision that leading to more targets for Dez. Not all that different from Demaryius, 100 catches, 160 targets, 1,450 yards, and 15 touchdowns aren’t unreasonable expectations. I think Dez is a safe bet for at least the first three years of his new contract, but after that, Romo could be gone, and there could be a contract holdout from Dez.
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