Early RSO Contracts: QBs

Updated: July 31st 2017

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

The Elite

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

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

Youth vs Veterans

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

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

The Bargain Bin

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

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

 

Average RSO Quarterback Contracts

 


Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

2017 Top 25s: QBs and RBs

Updated: July 16th 2017

Since RSO has rolled over to 2017, now’s the perfect time to revisit your rosters and start planning for the next season!

Do you have any players on your team that warrant a franchise tag?  Is it time to shop a player who’s 2016 didn’t meet your expectations and now burdens you with a high salary contract?  My “way too early” PPR rankings, known as my 2017 Top 25s, are here to help with those decisions!

In part 1 of my 2017 Top 25s, I’ll explore the quarterback and running back positions:

 

Top 25 QBs for 2017

Aaron Rodgers is in a tier of his own, making him an elite asset in Superflex and 2QB leagues. Tony Romo and Jimmy Garoppolo are two of the most intriguing names on this list. Over the next few months, we should find out where they’ll play in 2017. If either lands in Denver or Houston, expect their values to rise even higher up this list.

Top 25 RBs for 2017

Le’Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliott, and David Johnson form the elite trio of RBs that should command the highest AAV (average annual value) of any players in free agency auctions. Rookies Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette could be RB1s in the right situation. Coming off major injuries, veteran RBs Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson just missed the top 25. If they appear healthy as the season approaches and have promised roles, both could be underrated RB2s that will be undervalued in many free agency auctions.

My recommendation

Take an hour this weekend and send out personal emails to all of your fellow owners. Get the trade conversations started because they likely won’t come knocking down your door to acquire one of these players you’re looking to vanquish from your roster. Explain what you’re looking to accomplish, who interests you on their team, and provide an idea of how a potential deal could be reached. If you’re in an active league, you’ll be surprised at the quality of responses you receive.

I followed this recommendation last year, revamped one of my teams almost from scratch, and ended up winning the league.  Have a few minutes?  Read my article on Pressing the Reset Button to find out more about how this strategy can work for you.


Bio: An avid fan of all things NFL, Dave has been playing fantasy football since 1999.  Though Dave participates in all types of fantasy football including redraft and daily, he prefers keeper and dynasty leagues as talent evaluation and scouting are integral components of each.  Follow him on Twitter @DaveSanders_RSO

Ranking NFL’s Best Young QBs

Updated: October 9th 2016

The past three NFL draft classes have supplied with the league with a great crop of talented, young quarterbacks.  These quarterbacks include Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Trevor Siemian, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Paxton Lynch, and Dak Prescott.  From a keeper and dynasty football standpoint, I often advocate investing in proven veterans because of their reasonable cost of acquisition.  That said, rebuilding teams or those in two quarterback or superflex leagues may want to attach themselves to the next Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, or Russell Wilson.  For those folks, I’m here to help as I’ve ranked these quarterbacks in terms of fantasy value for the next three seasons.  

  1. Derek Carr – He has already become a borderline top 10 fantasy quarterback in his third season.  With Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, Oakland’s building a great team around Carr.
  2. Jameis Winston – He has all the physical tools and has shown why Tampa Bay selected him first overall in 2015.  Though he ranked 34th of 37 quarterbacks in terms of accuracy percentage in 2015 according to Pro Football Focus, Winston has shown plenty of promise in his first two seasons and is paired with the best young WR besides Odell Beckham Jr. in Mike Evans.
  3. Carson Wentz  – He’s quickly becoming the breakout star of 2016.  Expected to remain on the sidelines until 2017, Wentz was named the starter immediately following the Sam Bradford trade.  Many expected that he wouldn’t be ready after missing most of the preseason with a rib injury.  Instead of running a conservative scheme and attempting to hide their QB while he develops, Pederson has put a lot of trust in Wentz – best exemplified by the Eagles opening drive Week 2 against the Bears on Monday Night Football where Wentz opened the game, play after play, in an empty back set.  His weapons don’t compare to Carr, Winston, or Bortles, but Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Nelson Agholor have potential to develop into reliable targets.
  4. Blake Bortles – Coming into this year, we knew Blake Bortles’ remarkable 2015 season was largely aided by negative game-script.  However, that may not go away anytime soon.  The Jaguars should continue to struggle and fall behind as their defense has not improved as quickly as some may have hoped.  Receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns will make Bortles’ at least a high end QB2 each of the next three years, but Bortles makes far too many mistakes, hasn’t shown much growth in year 3, and likely is a better fantasy QB than NFL QB.
  5. Marcus Mariota – There’s no denying Mariota has disappointed in 2016.  The Titans have the worst WRs in the AFC and recently demoted free-agent signee Rishard Matthews for 35 year-old Andre Johnson.  Mike Mularkey’s “Exotic Smashmouth” scheme has lacked creativity and seems focused on protecting Mariota rather than developing him. I’m still a fan of Mariota, but definitely would be concerned as a Mariota owner.
  6. Jared Goff – There’s so much unknown surrounding Jared Goff.  It’s very curious that he couldn’t beat out Case Keenum or Sean Mannion in training camp.  Even when he’s eventually handed the reigns, Goff will join the least creative offense in the NFL that is currently struggling to get the most out of star RB Todd Gurley.  LA has the worst pass catching options in the NFL, led by gadget player Tavon Austin.  There are many reasons Goff was considered the top prospect in the NFL draft by many, but I’ve cooled on him since the April draft.
  7. Paxton Lynch – Considered more of a project than Goff or Wentz, Paxton Lynch has played fairly well in limited action.  He has excellent physical tools and is built to run Gary Kubiak’s offense.  Like Wentz, his running ability should aide his fantasy value, potentially making him a top five fantasy QB during his best seasons.
  8. Dak Prescott – Through four games, Dak Prescott looks like he belongs.  With no turnovers through four games, Prescott has kept the Cowboys afloat without veteran QB Tony Romo.  He may lack the ceiling as a passer of Carr, Winston, and Wentz, but has showcased his abilities enough to be considered a potential long-term starter in the NFL and likely the Cowboys QB in 2017.  The Dallas offensive line and presence of a healthy Dez Bryant could make Prescott a high end QB2 by the end of 2016, assuming Romo doesn’t return.
  9. Teddy Bridgewater – Coming into 2016, I was very down on Teddy Bridgewater and even sold him for Tavon Austin in one of my dynasty leagues.  Let’s not forget that the Vikings ranked 31st in passing yards in 2015 and 25th in yards per attempt according to Pro-Football-Reference.  I don’t love his arm strength, especially in the NFC North where he’ll have to play outdoors in Green Bay and Chicago.  Depending on how the 2016 Vikings season ends, Sam Bradford may not have to give back the starting QB job when Bridgewater returns.
  10. Trevor Siemian – He likely isn’t a long-term long-term NFL starter, but is showing he belongs at least as a backup in the NFL.  He has lesser physical abilities than fellow Broncos QB Paxton Lynch and likely is on a short-leash, but has impressed enough this season to warrant being on the radar of fantasy owners.

I want to hear from you!  Which players ranking do you agree or disagree with most?  Let me know on Twitter @DaveSanders_RSO!


Bio: An avid fan of all things NFL, Dave has been playing fantasy football since 1999.  Though Dave participates in all types of fantasy football including redraft and daily, he prefers keeper and dynasty leagues as talent evaluation and scouting are integral components of each.  Follow him on Twitter @DaveSanders_RSO

Ranking NFL's Best Young QBs

Updated: October 9th 2016

The past three NFL draft classes have supplied with the league with a great crop of talented, young quarterbacks.  These quarterbacks include Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Trevor Siemian, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Paxton Lynch, and Dak Prescott.  From a keeper and dynasty football standpoint, I often advocate investing in proven veterans because of their reasonable cost of acquisition.  That said, rebuilding teams or those in two quarterback or superflex leagues may want to attach themselves to the next Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, or Russell Wilson.  For those folks, I’m here to help as I’ve ranked these quarterbacks in terms of fantasy value for the next three seasons.  

  1. Derek Carr – He has already become a borderline top 10 fantasy quarterback in his third season.  With Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, Oakland’s building a great team around Carr.
  2. Jameis Winston – He has all the physical tools and has shown why Tampa Bay selected him first overall in 2015.  Though he ranked 34th of 37 quarterbacks in terms of accuracy percentage in 2015 according to Pro Football Focus, Winston has shown plenty of promise in his first two seasons and is paired with the best young WR besides Odell Beckham Jr. in Mike Evans.
  3. Carson Wentz  – He’s quickly becoming the breakout star of 2016.  Expected to remain on the sidelines until 2017, Wentz was named the starter immediately following the Sam Bradford trade.  Many expected that he wouldn’t be ready after missing most of the preseason with a rib injury.  Instead of running a conservative scheme and attempting to hide their QB while he develops, Pederson has put a lot of trust in Wentz – best exemplified by the Eagles opening drive Week 2 against the Bears on Monday Night Football where Wentz opened the game, play after play, in an empty back set.  His weapons don’t compare to Carr, Winston, or Bortles, but Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Nelson Agholor have potential to develop into reliable targets.
  4. Blake Bortles – Coming into this year, we knew Blake Bortles’ remarkable 2015 season was largely aided by negative game-script.  However, that may not go away anytime soon.  The Jaguars should continue to struggle and fall behind as their defense has not improved as quickly as some may have hoped.  Receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns will make Bortles’ at least a high end QB2 each of the next three years, but Bortles makes far too many mistakes, hasn’t shown much growth in year 3, and likely is a better fantasy QB than NFL QB.
  5. Marcus Mariota – There’s no denying Mariota has disappointed in 2016.  The Titans have the worst WRs in the AFC and recently demoted free-agent signee Rishard Matthews for 35 year-old Andre Johnson.  Mike Mularkey’s “Exotic Smashmouth” scheme has lacked creativity and seems focused on protecting Mariota rather than developing him. I’m still a fan of Mariota, but definitely would be concerned as a Mariota owner.
  6. Jared Goff – There’s so much unknown surrounding Jared Goff.  It’s very curious that he couldn’t beat out Case Keenum or Sean Mannion in training camp.  Even when he’s eventually handed the reigns, Goff will join the least creative offense in the NFL that is currently struggling to get the most out of star RB Todd Gurley.  LA has the worst pass catching options in the NFL, led by gadget player Tavon Austin.  There are many reasons Goff was considered the top prospect in the NFL draft by many, but I’ve cooled on him since the April draft.
  7. Paxton Lynch – Considered more of a project than Goff or Wentz, Paxton Lynch has played fairly well in limited action.  He has excellent physical tools and is built to run Gary Kubiak’s offense.  Like Wentz, his running ability should aide his fantasy value, potentially making him a top five fantasy QB during his best seasons.
  8. Dak Prescott – Through four games, Dak Prescott looks like he belongs.  With no turnovers through four games, Prescott has kept the Cowboys afloat without veteran QB Tony Romo.  He may lack the ceiling as a passer of Carr, Winston, and Wentz, but has showcased his abilities enough to be considered a potential long-term starter in the NFL and likely the Cowboys QB in 2017.  The Dallas offensive line and presence of a healthy Dez Bryant could make Prescott a high end QB2 by the end of 2016, assuming Romo doesn’t return.
  9. Teddy Bridgewater – Coming into 2016, I was very down on Teddy Bridgewater and even sold him for Tavon Austin in one of my dynasty leagues.  Let’s not forget that the Vikings ranked 31st in passing yards in 2015 and 25th in yards per attempt according to Pro-Football-Reference.  I don’t love his arm strength, especially in the NFC North where he’ll have to play outdoors in Green Bay and Chicago.  Depending on how the 2016 Vikings season ends, Sam Bradford may not have to give back the starting QB job when Bridgewater returns.
  10. Trevor Siemian – He likely isn’t a long-term long-term NFL starter, but is showing he belongs at least as a backup in the NFL.  He has lesser physical abilities than fellow Broncos QB Paxton Lynch and likely is on a short-leash, but has impressed enough this season to warrant being on the radar of fantasy owners.

I want to hear from you!  Which players ranking do you agree or disagree with most?  Let me know on Twitter @DaveSanders_RSO!


Bio: An avid fan of all things NFL, Dave has been playing fantasy football since 1999.  Though Dave participates in all types of fantasy football including redraft and daily, he prefers keeper and dynasty leagues as talent evaluation and scouting are integral components of each.  Follow him on Twitter @DaveSanders_RSO

2018 Player Rankings

Updated: August 7th 2016

You’re probably thinking, “Did I read that right? 2018 rankings?”  Yes, yes you did.  In dynasty leagues, we often project a player’s long-term upside by evaluating the perceived ceiling for that player.  But rarely do we give much thought to when that career year may occur.

When participating in a start-up draft or auction, I’ll typically target players that should have at least 3 production left or will enter their prime within the next 3 years  – call it my “Rule of 3”.  For example, I’ll rarely draft or bid on a running back over 30 years old like Adrian Peterson, but likely also won’t target a quarterback like Carson Wentz who may not even start in the NFL during his rookie year.

Having a three year plan in dynasty is as important as planning for the upcoming season. Having your team projected to finish .500 is not where you want to be.  If in contention, I’m always going to seek opportunities to buy.  If I realize by-mid season or before that a championship isn’t probable this year, I’ll reach out to each owner in my league and shop the players least likely to help me in future seasons.  Taking a small step back could result in your team take a huge step forward in the years to come. With all that said, let’s dive into my WAY TOO EARLY rankings for the 2018 season…

Quarterbacks

1) Andrew Luck
2) Russell Wilson
3) Cam Newton
4) Derek Carr
5) Aaron Rodgers
6) Jameis Winston
7) Marcus Mariota
8) Blake Bortles
9) Jared Goff
10) Matthew Stafford

*We’re seeing the dawn of a new era for the elite fantasy quarterbacks.  For plenty of years, we grew familiar with seeing Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees occupy the top tier of quarterbacks.  It’s now time for a similarly prolonged stretch for Luck, Wilson, and Newton.  Baring injury, I don’t see anyway these quarterbacks aren’t top 10 in 2018.

Running Backs

1) Ezekiel Elliott
2) Leonard Fournette
3) LeVeon Bell
4) Todd Gurley
5) David Johnson
6) Nick Chubb
7) Derrick Henry
8) Lamar Miller
9) Dalvin Cook
10) TJ Yeldon

*What is there not to like about Ezekiel Elliott?  He’s one of the best running back prospects to enter the league in a long time, plays behind the best offense line in football, and excels as a receiver and in pass blocking.  He should be a true three down back for an offense that will give him as much work as he can handle.  See, DeMarco Murray‘s workload in 2014.  Derrick Henry should take over for DeMarco Murray as the Titans‘ primary ball carrier in 2017, if not sooner.  He should immediately become a top 10 RB once given 250 carries in a season as a potential touchdown machine.  However, Henry won’t be too involved in the passing game and should be lowered slightly in rankings for PPR leagues.

Wide Receivers

1) Odell Beckham Jr.
2) DeAndre Hopkins
3) Amari Cooper
4) Sammy Watkins
5) Allen Robinson
6) Keenan Allen
7) Julio Jones
8) Mike Evans
9) Brandin Cooks
10) Donte Moncrief

*This group of wide receivers is special.  Pay what it takes to acquire any of them…you won’t regret it while they’re filling up the stat sheet for the next 5+ years.

Tight Ends

1) Rob Gronkowski
2) Jordan Reed
3) Tyler Eifert
4) Zach Ertz
5) Ladarius Green
6) Travis Kelce
7) Coby Fleener
8) Clive Walford
9) Hunter Henry
10) Austin Hooper

*It’s Gronk and everybody else.  I’m a huge fan of Jordan Reed who’s basically a 6’2″ wide receiver playing the tight end position, but his injury history scares me.  He could be #1 or #2 on this list or could just as easily fall completely outside of the top 10.

Let me know your thoughts on Twitter @DaveSanders_RSO!  Would love to hear who you think I am too high on or should have included in my Top 10s!

My next article will explore the likelihoods that rookie QBs, RBs, WRs, and TEs put together a top 10 season within their first 3 years in the NFL.  Look for that to drop later this month!

Bio: An avid fan of all things NFL, Dave has been playing fantasy football since 1999.  Though Dave participates in all types of fantasy football including redraft and daily, he prefers keeper and dynasty leagues as talent evaluation and scouting are integral components of each. 

Top 5 Remaining Offseason ?s

Updated: June 7th 2016

In the Zone

As the offseason has progressed, there have been some storylines that have continued to linger and others that have been new developments. There are fantasy implications all abound for all of these questions. Here are my top five remaining questions (in no particular order) that will alter the mindset of how players in these situations are viewed. I’m not including Tom Brady’s four-game suspension because the Patriots will be able to game plan for it if it sticks.

1) Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Contract Situation

The New York Jets, according to Spotrac, have only $3.1 million of remaining cap space for its Top 51 players. That provides an interesting conundrum on bringing back Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is coming off a career season with 3,905 yards passing and 31 touchdowns against 15 interceptions.

These numbers far exceed prior contributions from the signal-caller, yet Fitzpatrick only completed 59.6% of his passes last season and had one 300 yard game while the team narrowly missed the playoffs. Fitzpatrick seems to be wanting $12 million a year, possibly on a one year deal, which doesn’t appease the Jets who want to spread out the salary over time for cap purposes.

While the Jets were clearly a better team last year with Fitzpatrick at the helm, how much of that is attributable to a solid ground game and more importantly, renaissance man Brandon Marshall? I’d say a lot. Even with bolstering its offensive line with the trade for left tackle Ryan Clady and the big free agent signing of versatile running back Matt Forte, giving the quarterback the most amount of talent he’s ever had around him by far.

Geno Smith hasn’t effectively been a game manager, but hasn’t really been given the opportunity since the unfortunate broken jaw incident that led to Fitzpatrick starting the season and catching fire. Smith is the starter in OTA’s in Fitzpatrick’s absence and is a free agent in 2017. It would behoove the Jets to see what they have in Smith this year, especially if Fitzpatrick continues to hold out for what he believes he deserves.

What does all this mean for fantasy football? Not much, really. Marshall and fellow wide receiver Eric Decker have performed well no matter who their quarterback is, even if they are showing solidarity for Fitzpatrick. I watched Fitzpatrick frequently miss connections with Decker plenty last season and Decker does have a 200 yard game on his resume with Smith as quarterback. Forte also performed well in Chicago, even at a greater clip without Jay Cutler.

That’s your main concern, unless you are a Jets fan. Let’s face it- you aren’t throwing eight figures at Fitz in your auction or are considering him as a QB2 for any of your leagues.

Conclusion: Proceed as you were. Nothing to see here, people.

2) Sammy Watkins’ Injured Foot

It certainly came out of left field last month when it was announced that third-year wide receiver Sammy Watkins had foot surgery in April. This is the same surgery that impacted Julio Jones, Dez Bryant, and Julian Edelman. The big question that fantasy owners are dying to know is whether Watkins will be back in time for the regular season.

From a Reality Sports Online perspective, and I’ve said this on the record on Twitter, this Watkins news makes his price that much more reasonable and I’d be in buy mode while he’s cheaper. There are a few buckets of owners of Watkins in leagues. First, you have those who have Watkins on a rookie deal, likely around $6.0 million a year currently. That is a steal for a potential top 10 fantasy wideout for the next two years. Those who entered leagues later may have a heftier price tag on Watkins, but if it is anything under $20 million a season, that could be value.

As for me, I traded my final contract year of Randall Cobb (1 year remaining, $17.4 million) for Watkins (2016: $6.4 million, 2017: $7.0 million) and Matthew Stafford (1 year remaining $14.0 million). Basically, while I like Cobb’s potential efficiency to increase this year with the return of Jordy Nelson, I think Watkins ceiling is massive and a cheap price. Stafford is likely a cheap trade or cap casualty as I have Russell Wilson as my starter on a cheaper deal, but that to me was a small price to pay to get a potential superstar (which no doubt Cobb has been as well at times).

The news on Watkins having a screw inserted and prior history with Bryant rushing back and a subsequent Edelman surgery are troubling, but the Bills know what they have in Watkins and won’t make him take unnecessary training camp reps to risk not being ready for the regular season. Even if he starts slowly the first two weeks, his back half of 2015 was dominant on a team that only threw the ball more than 30 times in half of the final eight games.

How dominant you ask-try 41 catches for 732 yards and 6 touchdowns in the final eight games, including four 100 yard games. In fact, in that stretch, when Watkins was targeted 10 or more times, his worst game was 5 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. Further, that’s on a run-oriented team and the team didn’t bring much in the help department for quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the passing game.

Lastly, in the event I haven’t convinced you on Watkins yet, he’s got a potential fantasy playoff slate against Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Miami, all at home in Weeks 14-16 and the Raiders and Jags immediately prior.

Conclusion: Not concerned currently, but pay attention to the news. If you have Watkins, you’re probably holding him and expecting big things. If you have someone who is losing faith on him in your league, pounce on that, especially if the price is right.

3) The Josh Gordon Saga-Will It Continue?

By now you know the narrative about Josh Gordon. Incredibly talented, but can’t stay out of trouble. Those of you who still own him at an average of 1.7 remaining years and $9.3 million remaining contract are sincerely hoping Gordon can put his past (and Johnny Manziel) behind him to tear it up on the gridiron again.

That picture remains unclear, but there is some optimism that when August rolls around, Gordon can be clean and reinstated. The question then is what do the Browns do with him? He certainly would like nice in an all Baylor connection with Robert Griffin III and rookie #1 pick Corey Coleman (who I really like as a Top 3 rookie draft get), but at the same time Browns coach Hue Jackson is emphasizing character and the team is stockpiling Moneyball draft picks for the future.

Conclusion: Wait and see. If you have Gordon at an annual average of 1.7 years remaining and a little over $9.0 million left on his contract, just hope he hits the field, because if he does, he’ll produce anywhere. He still has top five wide receiver potential at close to bye week replacement pricing.

4) Is This the Year to Go Cheap at Quarterback?

Given the popularity of streaming quarterbacks in weekly redraft leagues and similar low dollar values in some daily games, a popular strategy that is now emerging in Reality Sports Online leagues is to spend as little as possible on your starting quarterback. The theory, as adopted by Reality Sports Online’s own Stephen Wendell with a quarterback like Derek Carr is simple: there are only 10-12 starting quarterbacks in each league, so don’t overpay for one while your budget can be used on positions that may require more cap space.

If any a year to adopt this strategy, 2016 seems like a prime one with quarterbacks like Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston in their second year of rookie deals which typically found them as late first or early second round picks in 2015. The same holds true for Carr and fellow third year quarterback Blake Bortles. Both third year signal-callers have plenty of weapons. Heck, even Andy Dalton was playing like a top five quarterback until he got injured last season.

With quarterbacks like Tony Romo, Philip Rivers, and Eli Manning always a possibility to produce, unless quarterback is a position that derives more value in your leagues, it might be smart to not go crazy trying to sign the Aaron Rodgers types for $25 million when one of these quarterbacks can be had for $5 million or less.

Conclusion: 2016 seems like the first RSO league year where the cheap quarterback may really derive an advantage. I’m a firm believer in prime signal callers in the fantasy playoffs, someone you are sure will produce solid numbers even on a bad day. But if you can load up at receiver and get the right running backs under contract, this strategy is an interesting one.

5) Arian Foster: Whose Fantasy Season is he Going to Screw Up?

It is somewhat insane that Arian Foster remains unsigned, but it seems like he wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s close to having a clean bill of health and there are definitely a few potentially needy teams still lurking. Foster likely is looking at a $3-4 million deal with some incentives that could be achieved if he’s healthy and performs well.

To me, the big question isn’t where Foster signs, but which current fantasy starter he’s going to destroy value for?

First off, if you are still holding Foster thinking he may be the same running back he was on Houston when healthy, please temper your expectations. He’s a very accomplished runner with excellent pass catching ability and a nose for the end zone. That’s where he holds the biggest value to teams. I don’t think teams are looking at him to be their bell-cow at this point in virtually any scenario.

I’d expect him to sign with the Miami Dolphins and if he does, Jay Ajayi owners will not be happy. Washington remains a good possibility and they’ve built up a pretty nice offense at this point. Put Foster in a committee and give him pass catching and goal-line responsibilities and he’ll have almost as much fantasy value on efficiency and fresh legs than he did as the featured back on the Texans. I personally don’t buy the New England hype-Dion Lewis is younger, coming off an easier injury to recover from, and under a fairly good contract.

Conclusion: If you haven’t cut Foster yet, hang on and see where this next month takes him. I wouldn’t overpay for him as a handcuff, but I’ve come around on him if he’s in a good situation and used well (10-12 touches a game), he could have Danny Woodhead like PPR fantasy value. If you are holding Ajayi or were hoping that Matt Jones was about to break out this year, get nervous, but wait to see what happens.


Matt Goodwin is entering his third season as a writer for Reality Sports Online and is in year four of his main league. He also contributes for numberFire. He is an avid sports fan from Cleveland, Ohio who would count a championship for a Cleveland major sports team a close second behind getting married to his wife Renee and the births of his children, Jory (6 year old son) and Lainie (18 month old daughter). Matt loves mid 90’s hip-hop, playing pick-up hoops, traveling, Ohio State football and Arizona basketball, watching Glengarry Glen Ross for the millionth time and being outside the few months it doesn’t rain in Seattle where he lives. He can be found on Twitter @mattgoody2 and hopes you continue to read his In the Zone articles.