Expert League’s Auction Afterthoughts

Updated: August 10th 2017

Our Expert League’s sophmore auction concluded at the end of July. Some owners needed to fill most of their roster while others were able to cherry-pick a few players to fill in the gaps. In all, it played out like a usual RSO auction night with several prized players going for exorbinate amounts of money and then some of the more risk adverse owners scooping up the value players with the final few contracts. After a week of deliberation we asked several of the writers to give their thoughts on what some of their favorite (and least favorite) contracts were. The gave their responses and discussed them below.

Terrelle Pryor – 3 years, $15.5MM – Dave Saunders

 Matt “Goody” Goodwin – While I think there is more to the narrative why Pryor is no longer with the Browns, a team he wanted to stay with than what we know, there is definitely a target upside opportunity in Washington in Kirk Cousins’ high-flying passing attack. With Jamison Crowder, Jordan Reed, and Josh Doctson all already injured, Pryor could see plenty of targets. His range of outcomes highlights upside and Top 5 WR potential if he can keep from having an attitude that may have given the Browns brass pause from bringing him back. He definitely has a real reason to be playing for another contract based on his one year NFL deal and flashed some serious big-play potential in his first year as an NFL receiver. I believe that the contract he was signed to in our league is underpriced by at least $8 million a year in what was a shallow free agent pool at the wide receiver position.

Cameron Meredith – 4 years, $9MM – Stephen Wendell

Goody – Stephen got a total steal here. Figures to be targeted frequently and the price is not much less than a 2nd round rookie. His stretch last season demonstrates what he can do and you have to assume the Bears’ game script figures to be one where the team is behind the next few years.

Sterling Shepard – 3 years, $2MM – Kyle English

Goody – I know he’s injured currently, but this contract is basically free for someone who had a knack for finding the end zone last season as a rookie. The Giants offense is too talented for Shepard not to have a healthy amount of targets if he remains healthy. And even if he doesn’t, the price was certainly right.

Jamaal Williams – 3 years, $2MM – Nick Andrews

Goody – While Ty Montgomery was impressive last season in his transition to running back from wide receiver, the Packers used decent draft stock to pick Williams and he already has earned some first team reps. The price is incredibly low and the opportunity in Green Bay is huge, especially given Montgomery’s injury history.

Nick Andrews  – Each year I try to get at least one rookie/project player that I can use a multi-year contract to build value with. As I said in our 2017 Rookie Discrepancies I’m higher than most on Williams and so far my love for him has been rewarded with great reviews from Packers camp. I moved in on Howard last year before he built up his value and it helped me win a championship. My hope is that Williams will follow a similar rookie season and will hold tremendous value heading into 2018. Either way, $2MM is a very low risk, high reward cost to pay.

Danny Woodhead – 1 year, $9MM – Bob Cowper

Bob – I estimate that the split between Woodhead and Terrance West will be similar to that of Woodhead and Melvin Gordon in 2015.  Despite getting about 40 fewer touches than Gordon, Woodhead was more productive with 80 receptions, 1,000+ total yards, and 9 TDs.  In that season, Woodhead was RB3 in PPR scoring per FantasyData.com.  Woodhead haters will point out his age and injury history.  The injuries are worrisome but for me, the age is not because while the tires may be old there isn’t a lot of wear on them.  Over his career, Woodhead has just 770 touches which averages to just 8 touches per game.  It’s also worth noting that Woodhead’s huge 2015 season was coming off a season-ending injury in 2014 so he has experience in managing this type of situation.  If he can avoid re-injury, I expect Woodhead to be a solid RB1 in our PPR league.

Matthew Stafford – 4 years, $37MM – Bernard Faller

Kyle English – This contract is an absolute steal in this Superflex league.  Compared to the other contracts doled out to solid QB options (Mariota 4/$96M, Wentz 4/$89.5M, Dak 4/$74M) this is an excellent value. He is the 18th highest paid QB in our league who should produce for four years.

Nick – As I stated in one of my earlier offseason articles sometimes it’s a blessing or a curse to get the first player at a position in the auction. The market hasn’t set so you can be grossly overpaying or absolutely stealing a player. A QB1 season to season Stafford went for slightly less ($44MM) than what my auction formula recommended. Compared to the cost of the other marquee QBs that were available Stafford was a major steal.

Jordan Howard – 2 years, $30MM – Jaron Foster

Luke O’Connell – Jaron had a remarkable draft netting Jordan Howard and following that up with Dak Prescott for 4 years/$74MM which is below market in our Superflex for an ascending young QB. This made the contrast with my own Ajayi 2yr/$50MM and Mariota 4yr/$96MM a painful lesson on how to bid on players within the same tier.

Rishard Matthews – 2 years, $3MM – Stephen Wendell

Nick – My man crush for Matthews probably borders on lunacy as I have turned down some decent offers simply because he was going the wrong way. It’s too bad that I already had a full roster of WRs because I would have loved to add him in this league. He is a player that is a tremendous value compared to his cost and could mirror what Michael Crabtree has done opposite to a young rookie receiver (Corey Davis) for their first couple seasons.

Kenny Britt – 1 year, $2MM – Bernard Faller

Nick – A great candidate to be a target monster in Cleveland, Britt should have a comfortable floor on a weekly basis. With the league being so shallow (10 teams) values for the mid-tier players can sometimes fluctuate in a way that allows WR2-3s to be forgotten until the end of the auction. Britt should offer Bernard great flex options on a weekly basis and will be a cheap option to shop if he so choses.

Jay Ajayi – 2 years, $50.5MM – Luke O’Connell

Kyle – This one seems really expensive.  Coming into the auction the top three RBs available by most rankings were Ajayi, Howard, and Crowell.  Howard went for 2/$30.5M while Crowell went for 2/$37.5M so any extra $6-10M/yr extra for Ajayi seems steep.  This contract also makes him the highest paid RB in our league for 2017 and 8th most expensive player at any position in 2017 which seems too high to me.

Nick – As I said early it can be hard to buy the first player at a position in auctions and Ajayi was a cautious tale of that. While he has the opportunity to be an RB1 this season the risk associated with RBs being 1-year wonders is all too real. In RSO especially you want to make sure your double-digit contracts are used on players that you know have safe floors. This contract has very little room for upside and a very real chance of being a blunder.

Carson Wentz – 4 years, $89.5MM – Dave Sanders

Marcus Mariota – 4 years, $96MM – Luke O’Connell

Dak Prescott – 4 years, $74MM – Jaron Foster

Nick – Superflex leagues are definitely the way to go for fantasy, especially in smaller leagues, but sometimes the needle swings totally in the other direction in terms of value for QBs. I’m firmly in the camp that Mariota is a serious breakout candidate for 2017 and has a chance to be a QB1 for the next 5-10 years. But for him and the other two young QBs (Wentz, Prescott) they were approaching Aaron Rodgers levels of expectancies from their given contracts. Again, I’m all about finding the value and with these contracts, there is very little room for value and a whole lot of room for disappointment.

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

The Unstable Stable

Updated: November 3rd 2016

Dynasty football and redraft football are nothing alike. What do I mean by that? Well, if we think of fantasy football in meteorological terms we can compare redraft to the Weather, a constantly changing natural phenomenon that so-called “experts” seem to predict no better than you and I. It can be summarized perfectly in this tweet by @CommishTalkBlog. Does this sound like a familiar situation to some of your teams?

Bad RB Tweet

Now if we look at dynasty, it’s more like the Climate, where it takes time to change but there definitely a change nevertheless. Two years ago everyone was SURE Eddy Lacy was a top 5 running back for years to come. Now he might not even make it to a second contract; even if he does it’s not likely with the Packers. People always talk about players and their values as if it’s something that will remain the same year over year. I’ve been playing long enough to notice a one year wonder when I see one.

**Full disclosure I was once the guy in my draft that took Zac Stacy in the 3rd round of my 2014 redraft league**

I’ll admit when I make a mistake, Mr. David Johnson I’m sorry, but I would rather invest in something I know IS good versus paying for something that MIGHT BE great. RSO dynasty emphasizes these mistakes even more by having salaries attached to players. If you miss in a redraft you find a new guy next week on the wire. Miss in RSO, oh boy, you could have a very expensive placeholder on your bench for multiple years.

So here we are midway through the 2016 season and we’ve already had some new and old faces push their way into the fantasy limelight. But we need to think about the long term and with a decent class of talent coming in the way of rookies next year who can we expect to hold a grip on their team and who could be this year’s Zac Stacy? I’m going to go through five (5) teams that I think are likely to draft a running back early next year. I’m not going to list the obvious teams (Patriots and Colts) instead focusing on teams with RB situations that seem stable now but could be very different come May next year.

  • Miami DolphinsMiami Dolphins – Jay Ajayi

Wait what? Nothing says stability like a guy who gets 200 rushing yards in back to back games right? Remember that before the season started this was the same team that tried to sign away C.J. Anderson from the Broncos before he was brought back. Then they went and drafted Kenyan Drake in the 4th round and then added a broken Arian Foster because they still weren’t sure of their starting running back. Ajayi had severe knee issues coming into the league and it was a concern about how long of a career he could have (which is why he fell all the way to the 5th round). He may have hit his max return value right now and if you can sell him for any number of more proven RBs I would be smashing that “accept” button. It would not surprise me if they took an RB before the end of day 2 of the draft in 2017.

  • Minnesota VikingsMinnesota – Adrian Peterson, Jerrick McKinnon

While it wouldn’t be a surprise to see AP moving on after the end of the season people are ready to move McKinnon right into the starting role for 2017. As someone who both owns and owned McKinnon in RSO, I was high on what he could do as the pass catching threat next to AP. Sadly, he still hasn’t been able to shake off Matt Asiata for the lead role after AP’s injury so what makes you think that he could keep an incoming rookie off the pedestal? The Vikings have one of the best defenses in the league and therefore I could easily see them being one of the first teams to take a running back off the board. Honestly, if they get their hands on any of the top four in the class (Fournette, Chubbs, Cook, or McCaffrey) that’s my early prediction for the 1.01 next year.

  • Philadelphia EaglesPhiladelphia Eagles – Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood

Doug Pederson found himself a quarterback in 2016. Many questioned his move up to number two for an unknown project player in Carson Wentz. Nobody is questioning him anymore but what Pederson really thrives with is a smart, shifty running back that can move the ball on the group and through the air. You look at his previous backs and you see shapeshifters like Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy and even all the way back to Brian Westbrook. Darren Sproles is the guy closest to those guys right now but he’s 33 years old and not in their long term plan. Smallwood seems more like a special teams player at this point and we can’t rely on Mathews to be healthy year over year. We could see a similar scenario with Mathews as his former running mate Demarco Murray is right now where they draft someone younger (Henry) and groom him behind the veteran before giving him the full load.

  • Pittsburgh SteelersPittsburgh Steelers – Le’Veon Bell

This one is less based on talent and more on circumstances. One of the best running backs in the league, Bell sure does come with his baggage. Suspended each of the last two seasons for substance abuse he is walking a very thin line in what is quickly becoming known as the “No Fun League”. Skeptics will be quick to remind me of the same problems that were clouding Ben Roethlisberger early in his career and he seems to have turned it around nicely under the management of the Rooney family. However, we’ve already seen glimpses of what Bell is expecting to be paid when his contract expires and while some teams may be more lenient to offer a troubled superstar a boatload of cash I don’t see the proud Steelers franchise being bullied into a contract. They did it when they let Mike Wallace walk to the Dolphins. Maybe they double down on their principles and draft an RB that could be leading the Steelers in the 2018 season.

  • Oakland RaidersOakland Raiders – Latavius Murray, DeAndre Washington

Some people might say that this is an obvious choice to be selecting a running back. But those are also likely the same people that said Murray was going to lose the job this year and Washington was going to be the starter by midseason. Well, we’re halfway through the season and save for a couple of games that he was injured Murray has held a strong lead in the depth chart rankings. That is not to say that it will remain the same next year. This year’s class of RBs had an obvious lack of depth behind Elliot, Henry and maybe now Booker. But next year is a whole different ball game and there may also be a couple of free agents (looking at Lacy) that could be available for the right price. If the Raiders are indeed moving to Las Vegas they may be looking to do the same as the Rams did and make a big splash before moving. They already have the young budding QB to WR combo. Jack Del Rio may be looking to add that final piece to his triumvirate.

Reviewing 2/2/1 RB Draft Strategy

Updated: September 7th 2016

Last week I took a look at the 2-2-1 RB strategy and offered some hypothetical picks for maximum value in the RSO format.  How did the strategy work in reality?  Here’s a rundown of how I used the strategy in three leagues.

RSO Home League – Year 2 – 10 Team, PPR, Superflex

I went into our free agent auction with Jonathan Stewart, David Johnson and Le’veon Bell on my roster.  So, that meant my 2-2-1 strategy would need to be modified to account for the fact that I already had studs in Johnson and Bell.  Rather than look for value, I decided I needed to ensure I was able to handcuff Stewart and Bell because they have clear handcuffs, while Johnson could lose touches to both Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington.  I did manage to get both Cameron Artis-Payne (1 year, $1.5 mil, due to some price enforcing) and DeAngelo Williams (2 years, $7 mil total).  So, in 2016 I’m spending about $5.0 mil to lock down the Steelers and Cardinals backfields – not bad at all considering they were both Top 5 scoring offenses last year.

RSO Experts League – Year 1 – 10 Team, PPR, Superflex

I stuck to some of my original picks in this start up auction and grabbed JStew, CAP, Isaiah Crowell and Ka’Deem Carey.  I also added the tandem of Doug Martin and Charles Sims.  Unfortunately, I missed out on Duke because he went for more than I had budgeted (signed for 1 year, $8.0 mil) but then I spent more on Stewart and Martin than I really wanted to.  Our auction went a little screwy with RB value and was all over the place.  In hindsight, Duke only ended up being the 21st most expensive RB for 2016 but at the time it seemed like a lot.  At the end of the day, starting RBs like Frank Gore, Thomas Rawls, CJ Anderson and Matt Jones all went for between $3.5-6.0 mil.  Faults and all those are real bargains because I will be paying Stewart and Martin about $24 mil combined in 2016.  I probably should have abandoned the strategy mid-auction once I realized the value wasn’t there for me but I ended up sticking with it and the depth of my roster is weaker because of it.

Yahoo Home League – Year 9 – 10 Team, PPR, Superflex, Keep 3

Despite this being a keeper league, I went in with a clean RB slate as I didn’t keep any.  I missed out on the Carolina RBs (being a snake draft I did not have the flexibility I had in the auctions) but did manage to land both Cleveland RBs.  I paired them with the duo of Arian Foster and Jay Ajayi.  I also got two PPR RB steals in Theo Riddick and Giovani Bernard who will end up starting for me at RB2 and Flex until I see how the Miami backfield shakes out.  Between keepers and my first picks, I started with Rob Gronkowski, Allen Robinson, Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin, Russell Wilson and Blake Bortles.  Some draft pick trades meant I did not pick in Rounds 3 through 5 but from Round 6 on, I was concentrating on using my RB strategy to build a solid roster and I think it worked.

 

So, after putting the strategy into practice, what is the final verdict?  I actually really like it.  I was never one for handcuffing, but the knowledge that you have a team’s backfield locked up is comforting – less worry about injuries.  To double down on the idea and handcuff both your RB1 and RB2 just adds to the roster stability.  As long as you keep to teams with a clear handcuff, I think this strategy can work, especially if you’re able to nail the “1” part of the 2-2-1.


Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  Robert works as a recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.

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.

Cashing Out – Players to Sell

Updated: April 18th 2016

In dynasty and RSO leagues, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of staying active year round in trade talks.  Player values fluctuate more than ever during this time of year.  If you’re willing to stomach some risk, there’s an opportunity for profit.  When discussing trades, I often hear that owners are afraid making a move and having it backfire in the long term.  My strategy is a bit different as I’m unafraid to make an aggressive move if I believe I’m getting more value at the time of the trade.  If you accept that you will lose in some trades but believe you will win out more than 50% of the time, be as aggressive as possible.  Right or wrong, I do not just consider deals made to be potential wins or losses.  I also think this way about trade talks that were close, but never materialized for whatever reason.  For example, trades I’ve declined have potential to be wins or losses as well though my roster has remained intact.

In this off-season edition of Cashing Out, I’ll explain which players I’m actively looking to sell before the 2016 season.  

JordanMatthews

Jordan Matthews finished with 997 yards and 8 TDs in 2015

Jordan Matthews WR PHI – One of the most polarizing players in dynasty leagues, Jordan Matthews has an ADP of 26 in Dynasty League Football’s April 2016 mock drafts.  Personally, I wouldn’t draft him within the first four rounds.  Philadelphia figures to run a more conservative offense under Doug Pederson as Kansas City ranked 24th in passing yards in 2015.  Jeremy Maclin managed to have a very strong first season with the Chiefs, but I see him as a far superior talent to Matthews.  When exploring trades for Matthews, I’d attempt to package a 2016 pick with him to land Sammy Watkins, Dez Bryant, Keenan Allen, Alshon Jeffery, Brandin Cooks, Jarvis Landry, or Kevin White.

Marvin Jones WR DET – After signing a 5 year, $40 million dollar deal with the Detroit Lions, Jones is now viewed as the 1a or 1b option in a Lions offense that will have to find ways to replace Calvin Johnson’s production.  Jones’ inclusion on this list has more to do with a lack of confidence in Matthew Stafford than anything.  Fantasy owners have spent the past few years chasing Stafford’s 2011 season in which he threw for 5,038 yards and 41 TDs to be largely disappointed with Stafford’s fantasy scoring.  According to Pro Football Focus’ end of 2015 quarterback rankings, Stafford ranked as the 23rd best quarterback.  While there’s an opportunity for Jones to absorb many of Johnson’s 150 targets in 2015, I don’t have confidence that he’ll be a top 25 WR on a weekly basis.  I’m looking to sell as I believe there will be quite a few owners in my leagues who like him more than I do.

Jay Ajayi RB MIA – While Miami has not be quiet in their attempts to land a running back this off-season, April may be the perfect time to sell Ajayi.  If I owned Ajayi, I’d email every owner and attempt to sell the fact that he’s currently in line to be the lead back.  After the trade with Philadelphia, Miami may have moved back too far to land Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott at pick 13 in the upcoming NFL Draft.  I’d certainly bring this up in trade talks and sell the fact that at worst he will likely split carries with the drafted running back.  I’m also very worried about his ability to hold up and have a long career as his knees caused him to fall to the 5th round of the NFL Draft.  Even with the uncertainty of the NFL Draft a few weeks away, his value is likely higher today than it may ever be.

Alfred Morris rushed for only 751 yards in 2015, averaging 3.7 yards per carry.

Alfred Morris rushed for only 751 yards in 2015, averaging 3.7 yards per carry.

Alfred Morris RB DAL – We’ve all heard the popular narrative that anyone can succeed running behind the Dallas offensive line.  Left for dead, Darren McFadden may have proved this to be correct in 2015 by revitalizing his fantasy value with 1,089 rushing yards on 4.6 yards per carry.  My concern with Alfred Morris is due to his lack of versatility.  Never an option in the passing game, Morris may only see the field on obvious running downs.  I don’t see him getting more than 10 rushes per game and don’t view his as a top 25 RB option to open the 2016 season.  Lance Dunbar, Darren McFadden, and potentially a RB acquired in the draft make the Dallas backfield crowded enough for me to avoid at this point.

Martavis Bryant WR PIT – Bryant’s inclusion strictly has to do with the structure of RSO leagues.  I’m cautiously buying Bryant in standard dynasty leagues where you keep your entire roster from year to year, but I cannot justify rostering Bryant long-term in RSO.  If his contract is for anything more than league minimum, he’s hurting your roster with his cap hit.  As a fan of his immense talent, I own Martavis Bryant in my RSO league.  In that league, he’s entering the 2nd year of a 3 year deal worth approximately $6 million per season.  Not too long ago I considered him to be a huge asset at that price.  Now, I’d be willing to do anything possible to move him since there’s no guarantee he’s reinstated for the 2017 season.  If the history of Josh Gordon and others suspended players teaches us anything, it’s not to assume reinstatement is automatic.  Not only will I be actively looking to move Bryant for nearly anything, I might be willing to move back a few spots in the draft just to unload that contract.  If I can find a buyer, the increased cap space is worth enough to move back a few spots and run the risk Bryant returns and is successful in 2017.  This strategy may prove to be difficult for me after writing this article, which I’m hoping my leaguemates don’t see.

Stay tuned later this month as I’ll explore players that I’m actively trying to acquire in the off-season addition of Open the Wallet – Players to Buy.


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.