NFL Trade Deadline Moves

Updated: November 2nd 2017

The NFL trade deadline usually produces as much excitement as eating tuna fish out of the can for lunch. Early trade deadline date, hard salary cap, and rules curbing trades for cap space tend to limit the amount and scale of trades which occur.  This year saw the most action on the trade front in years.  I take a look at some of the most fantasy relevant trades that potentially impact your RSO teams.

The NFL trade deadline usually produces as much excitement as eating tuna fish out of the can for lunch. Early trade deadline date, hard salary cap, and rules curbing trades for cap space tend to limit the amount and scale of trades which occur.  This year saw the most action on the trade front in years.  I take a look at some of the most fantasy relevant trades that potentially impact your RSO teams.

Jay Ajayi

Philadelphia receives RB Jay Ajayi

Miami receives 2018 4th Round Draft Pick

Miami head coach Adam Gase clearly was not happy with the offensive performance of the Dolphins this season giving an epic post-game tirade following the 40-0 beat down against Baltimore.  The shakeup starts with Miami moving Ajayi to Philadelphia.  What does Philadelphia get with AJayi?   They obtain a player who forced more missed tackles over the last two seasons than any other running back in the NFL.  It is a low-risk move for a player on a cheap 5th round rookie contract that runs through the 2018 season giving up only a likely late fourth round pick.  The move is somewhat odd in that Ajayi joins a crowded backfield including LeGarrette Blount (who is quietly having a very productive season), Wendell Smallwood, and Corey Clement on a team which has never really featured a running back under head coach Doug Pederson instead relying on a committee approach.

What does this mean for Ajayi?  The third year pro’s situation improves drastically moving from the lowest scoring team in the league with one of the worst offensive lines to one of the highest scoring teams in the NFL with the best record so far.  Philadelphia Ajayi’s role this season seems questionable given the depth in the backfield and lack of traditional “workhorse” role on the Eagles but the upside is tremendous on a high-powered offense if he were to assume a primary role.  His longer-term prospects look good on a solid team led by an ascending quarterback.  This move correspondingly reduces Blount’s value to minimal at best.

Also remember Ajayi’s likely replacements in Miami, Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake.  While neither is a priority in shallow leagues on this low-scoring offense, any potential starting running back has some value in deeper RSO leagues.

Jimmy Garoppolo

San Francisco receives QB Jimmy Garoppolo

New England receives 2018 2nd Round Draft Pick

In another interesting trade, San Francisco presumably gets their quarterback of the future in exchange for an early second round pick.  The move gives San Francisco a lot of flexibility in next year’s draft, including potentially setting up the 49ers to receive a ransom in draft capital in exchange for one of the top picks in the first round.  New England receives one of the most valuable picks in the entire draft on a cost-benefit basis with the high second pick.  One must wonder if New England maximized Garoppolo’s trade value if earlier reports from this offseason were true about teams making first round-plus offers but it is still solid value for a player of no immediate use on an expiring contract.  The Patriots are clearly committed to Brady for the near future with no backup plan for the future.

Garoppolo was originally a second round pick by New England and has performed superbly in his professional appearances so far, albeit in a very limited sample size.  He goes to a team with one of the most highly-thought-of offensive minds in the game, Kyle Shanahan, leading them.  The trade also imparts risk on Garoppolo though.  He almost certainly would have received a large contract this offseason based on very limited work in the NFL.  Garoppolo might receive substantially less from San Francisco or in free agency if his performance in the last portion of the season does not meet expectations.  This is a move that could go very poorly for the 49ers.  San Francisco gave up a premium draft pick on a team going nowhere this year for a player in the final year of his contract.  This move potentially looks very foolish in the offseason if the 49ers a) do not sign Garoppolo or b) are forced to franchise tag him at high costs (see the ongoing Kirk Cousins saga).

Garoppolo holds little value in RSO leagues this season with a difficult schedule to finish the season and likely not assuming starting duties until after San Francisco’s bye in week 12.

Kelvin Benjamin

Buffalo receives WR Kelvin Benjamin

Carolina receives 2018 3rd Round Draft Pick and 2018 7th Round Draft Pick

It has been one strange season for the Buffalo Bills.  In what many considered a rebuilding year, the Bills find themselves at 5-2 just behind the New England Patriots for first place in the AFC East.  The roster makeover at wide receiver continues with the addition of Benjamin after Buffalo traded for WR Jordan Matthews in the preseason and trading away former 1st round WR Sammy Watkins prior to that.

This is not a good move fantasy-wise for the hulking receiver this season.  Benjamin goes from a team with the 10th most passing attempts to the one with least attempts in the entire NFL.  Even the most targeted wide receiver in Buffalo has little fantasy value on a run-first offense.  What value there is in the passing game is centered on the running backs and tight ends where running back LeSean McCoy leads the team in targets and receptions almost doubling the next leading receiver, tight end Charles Clay, who has been out of action for weeks.  Jordan Matthews’ limited fantasy value is gone in all but the deepest of leagues with the arrival of Benjamin.  Charles Clay gets bumped down.  Tyrod Taylor is likely the only fantasy relevant player helped with this trade.

Duane Brown

Seattle receives OT Duane Brown and 2018 5th Round Draft Pick

Houston receives 2018 3rd Round Draft Pick and 2019 2nd Round Draft Pick*

Seattle bolsters their offensive line with left tackle Duane Brown after seeing him first-hand this past weekend.  Brown is a massive upgrade at left tackle for the Seahawks, replacing PFF’s worst graded tackle on one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL.   The move tremendously helps Russell Wilson and also potentially upgrades the Seattle run game.  Quality, blind-side tackles rarely become available because there are so few in the league.  The steep price could be well worth the cost to Seattle if they address Brown’s contract issues.

Brown’s contract demands, for which he sat out the first six weeks in the season and were never addressed by the Texans, and his resentment toward Houston’s owner eventually led to the trade.  The Texans received fair value for a player who clearly was not excited about staying in Houston.  The loss of a premium left tackle will be felt, especially by a developing young quarterback, but is somewhat mitigated Deshaun Watson’s mobility out of the pocket.

*Note this trade originally included CB Jeremy Lane who reportedly failed a physical.

A.J. McCarron

In a trade that failed to go through, the Cincinnati Bengals agreed to trade A.J. McCarron to the Cleveland Browns.  Unfortunately the Browns, as only the Browns could do, failed in reporting the trade to the NFL office by the trade deadline.  McCarron is left as a backup in Cincinnati and Cleveland continues to make even the most basic NFL mechanisms look difficult.


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.

Rounding Out the Lineup: Week 7

Updated: October 19th 2017

Most of us in competitive RSO league are not great at every position.  The nature of salary cap leagues forces many teams into gambles which might not have paid off.   Below you will find a few trade targets for competitive teams along with their current points per game ranking in PPR leagues who might shore up those RB2/WR2 and deeper flex spot gaps which did not pan out so far.  There are a variety of floor plays and ceiling gambles at various price points.  I would not consider these players “league winners” but all have the chance of helping your team going forward.

Running Backs

Doug Martin RB16 – Some questioned Doug Martin’s role once inserted into the lineup.  Martin has out-attempted Jacquizz Rodgers 13-3 and 14-3 in the two games since his return from suspension scoring once per game in the process.  This is clearly Martin’s backfield in the run game.  Charles Sims remains a fixture on passing downs with 5 and 4 receptions in the two games since Martin’s return compared to 1 in each game for Martin.  Sims’ role severely caps Martin’s work in the receiving game which will make for some limited fantasy outputs when Martin does not score.

On the plus side, there should be somewhat consistent scoring opportunities in Tampa Bay from Football Outsider’s 8th ranked passing unit.  Martin makes for a nice RB2 on those teams in need of running back help. His limited work so far might present an opportunity to pick up Martin.  He is also an attractive option on teams with limited RSO salary cap space to maneuver with as his suspension to start the year likely lowered his salary in many leagues.

Duke Johnson RB17 – The environment in Cleveland is not pretty.  The team is 0-6 with one of the worst offenses and defenses in the league and an uncertain, at best, quarterback outlook.   This is generally not the type of situation I am looking for when investing in running backs.

Duke Johnson has a few items working in his favor, however, when examining his rest-of-season outlook.  Cleveland already lost the top two wide receivers heading into the season to injury.  Johnson remains as the de facto WR1 currently leading the Browns in receiving targets, receptions, and yards.  He has at least three receptions in all but one game this season and accumulated at least 53 receptions each of his first two seasons.  Johnson fills the needs of RSO teams looking for solid floor plays out of the flex spot or RB injury/bye weeks.  He also provides some upside as a handcuff to fellow Browns’ running back Isaiah Crowell or if CLE decides to give Johnson more work do to Crowell’s ineffectiveness.

Jay Ajayi RB35 – No other running back on this list supplies more variance on a given week than Miami running back Jay Ajayi.  The “boom” portion comes largely from his enormous weekly rushing potential.  Ajayi produced an amazing three 200+ yard rushing performances in 2016.  He already has three games of 25 or more rushing attempts in 2017 and averages over 20 attempts per game.  The “bust” potential stems primarily from Ajayi’s lack of receiving game effectiveness.  The Dolphin running back averages only 1.7 receptions and 8.7 receiving yards per game over the last two years highlighted by a comically bad 3.3 yards per reception this season in which Ajayi has not managed a single game with at least 10 receiving yards.

If you are a gambling person, Ajayi imparts perhaps the highest ceiling option on this list of players.  He is the only player in the NFL with 100 or more rushing attempts and zero touchdowns.  Jay Cutler has been ugly so far but the Miami passing game could improve considering how late Cutler joined the Dolphins.  Positive touchdown regression could very well be on the horizon for Ajayi.  The defense also played well enough to keep Miami in games despite the offensive woes.  Consider him a high variance RB2 going forward.  Ajayi likely went for a costly salary if he was in your RSO free agent auction this year so fitting him under your cap could be an issue but teams might be more open to a trade because of that high salary.

Wide Receivers

Pierre Garcon WR24 – I believe if you told most people you could get the 6th ranked wide receiver in targets plus the 8th in receptions and yardage for minimal cost, they would jump at the chance.  Such is the case with San Francisco wide receiver Pierre Garcon.  Garcon’s zero touchdowns lower his fantasy output so far which could give you the ability to pounce.  The volatile quarterback situation with rookie C.J. Beathard taking over for Brian Hoyer certainly carries some risk but Garcon is the only established NFL receiver on the roster.  Garcon is a very tempting target for your flex spot who likely comes at a sharp discount especially with a rookie quarterback taking the helm.

Danny Amendola WR28 – Amendola filled the small slot receiver role in the New England offense beautifully so far looking extremely quick, getting open at will, and catching everything.  Amendola’s per game targets are right in line with the leading non-Gronk Patriot receivers with at least 3 receptions, 5 targets and 40 yards in each game this season.  Injuries are always a concern for smaller players with heavy workloads over the middle of the field, especially for a player who missed games in all but two seasons in the NFL.  Amendola likely was picked up on waivers in your league which should make for a very cheap way to get your hands on a piece of the high-powered New England offense.  He is a nice floor play for those in need of reliable points out of their flex spot.

Sterling Shepard WR37 – The Giants pulled players from the practice squad and off the street to fill starting receiver slots last week after New York lost Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Dwayne Harris, and Shepard to injury.  Shepard should return shortly but the others are lost for the year leaving Shepard with a golden opportunity for a big work load.  There is some danger going forward with regards to workload.  Head coach Ben McAdoo gave up play-calling duties last week resulting in the Giants completely flipping the script on the pass-heavy offense, going with 32 carries to only 19 passes.  With that said, Shepard is the only wide receiver on the roster with significant past production and figures to dominate targets along with rookie tight end Evan Engram.  I would feel very confident with Shepard in my flex when he returns and WR2 production is entirely possible.


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.

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.