Into the Regular Season

Updated: September 7th 2017

The preseason brings lots of excitement for those of us deprived of the NFL for so long.  It also leads to some of the worst analysis from fantasy “experts”.  Reviewing stat lines from preseason games is mostly meaningless.  Touch sample sizes are typically incredibly small with starters playing very limited snaps.  Teams usually incorporate very “vanilla” play calls which may not be similar to what happens during the regular season.  Backups compete against second and third string players or worse.  While much of what we see in preseason play is essentially worthless in predicting fantasy value for the upcoming season, examining player situations and delving deeper into game tape can provide some useful observations for the coming season.

Moving Up

The most significant mover of the preseason is Chiefs’ running back Kareem Hunt.  The devastating torn PCL and LCL injury to Kansas City starting running back Spencer Ware opens the door for the third round rookie.  Hunt finished as one of Pro Football Focus’ highest ranked backs in college at Toledo and flashed nice plays throughout the preseason (along with some not-so-nice “rookie” moments).  The Chiefs are left only with Hunt, Chancandrick West, and re-signed C.J. Spiller as the only running backs on the roster.  Hunt should see plenty of work for Kansas City this season.

Perhaps no player benefits more from a quarterback change than Miami wide receiver Devante Parker.  Gone are the days of Ryan Tannehill force-feeding short passes to Jarvis Landry with Tannehill out for the season.   In comes Jay Cutler at quarterback with the arm talent to aggressively attack defenses down field.  The former Bear also has the mindset to throw into tight coverage and allow his physically gifted receivers to make plays on their own.  Parker is set up for a big third season in the NFL.  Cutler also solidifies deep threat Kenny Stills’ value while at the same time likely limiting the volume Landry has seen over the course of his career.

Questions about Kelvin Benjamin’s role in the new Carolina offense with two high draft pick offensive weapons and his ballooned weight in training camp depressed his fantasy value to the point that Benjamin moved all the way down to WR38 in early RSO auctions.  Second round draft pick Curtis Samuel was slowed by injury and no other receiver emerged during the preseason.  Benjamin clearly appears like the Panthers’ WR1 right now.  Early Benjamin buyers could have received quite the steal.

Wait and See Mode

Seahawks’ backfield historically holds good fantasy value during the Russell Wilson era in Seattle.  Wilson’s ability as a rusher prevents teams from keying on running backs opening running lanes for the back.  Last season Wilson suffered early injuries limiting his mobility throughout the season.  Wilson’s injuries and some horrendous run blocking by Seattle’s inexperienced offensive line inevitably led to a big decline in the Seahawks’ rushing game effectiveness.  Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, and C.J. Prosise competed for first-team duties this offseason but all suffered from minor injuries during the preseason.  Rawls and Lacy likely split rushing down carries limiting the fantasy appeal of either.  You will want to avoid this backfield early in the season until injuries take hold or someone emerges as the clear top option.  Prosise will hold value as a low end flex play, especially in PPR leagues, as the passing down back and only real receiver out of the backfield.  This is particularly true early in the season with an extremely shallow receiving core behind starters Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson.  Tyler Lockett will be eased back into the receiving rotation after a gruesome leg injury late last year.

The Green Bay backfield was ugly last season.  Converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery filled in admirably in a limited role last year after injuries destroyed the running back core but did not receive enough volume to be a consistent fantasy option.  I was hoping someone would stand out in the preseason to take over the primary back role.  No one did.  Montgomery was limited with injuries throughout the preseason and struggled with pass protection once again.  All three Green Bay running backs drafted this year (Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones, and Devante Mays) made the 53-man roster.  None consistently showed enough to earn a big role.  Montgomery starts as the “lead” back and his receiving skills should make him a solid flex play but it remains to be seen whether his health and pass protection struggles will allow enough time on the field for enough volume to be a consistent RB2 option.  Williams makes for a nice stash in case Montgomery misses time.

Moving Down

Expectations for Terrelle Pryor and Tyreek Hill were extremely high this offseason with both being typically drafted as high to low-end WR2s. Many thought each had WR1 upside.  The preseason showing from both should dampen those expectations.  Both had massive problems catching the football with drops galore, a huge issue on teams whose passing game relies primarily on short, high percentage throws.  Pryor also continued his very raw route running skills from last season.  The Washington and Kansas City offense will undoubtedly run through superstar tight ends, Jordan Reed and Travis Kelce.  Pryor could easily end up as the third most targeted player in Washington behind Reed and Jamison Crowder.  Hill is due for negative touchdown regression this year and will be fighting for touches behind Kelce on a low volume Kansas City passing attack.  Consider both players boom-or-bust WR3s as of now.

The unknown timetable of Andrew Luck’s return moves all Colts down in the rankings to start the season most notably T.Y. Hilton.  Backup quarterback Scott Tolzein looked horrendous this preseason, so much so that Indianapolis traded for Patriots’ third string quarterback Jacoby Brissett to eventually take over backup duties.  This could lead to prime buy-low opportunities for Hilton and Luck.

Blake Bortles remarkably is still the starting quarterback in Jacksonville.   Chad Henne was unable to supplant Bortles in a bizarre one-week open competition for the starting spot.  Bortles might be benched at any time this season and the backup is not much of an improvement.  The dreadful quarterback situation means bad things for any Jaguars player’s fantasy fortunes including Allen Robinson and Leonard Fournette.  The Jacksonville offensive line displayed little improvement this preseason and Fournette is already dealing with a foot injury.  Just stay away from this offense.


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.

Best Values – Writers' League

Updated: September 7th 2016

Values.  Even in a league comprised of the RSO founders and writers, there are plenty of players that sign for below their projected values.  Many factors contribute to this, including the timing of player nominations, each team’s roster construction, and each team’s remaining room under the salary cap.

As the auction progresses, owners throughout the league felt regret as several players slipped through the cracks for reasonable, team-friendly deals.  After the draft, several owners shared with me which players they felt were the best values in the auction.

Quarterbacks

Aaron Rodgers (4 years, $72 million) Ice Cold Bruschis

“Didn’t realize it during the action, but after the fact this looks like a steal.  He’s still the 5th highest paid QB on a per year basis and the 6th highest in 2016, but he’s almost 9M/yr cheaper than the #1 QB Wilson and a solid 3-4M/yr lower than the other top tier QBs of Luck, Cam, and Brees.  Add in the fact that he’s the only QB locked in for 4 years in this superflex league and this buy looks great.  I personally went into the auction with the strategy of not wanting to target the top QBs, but in hindsight I should have gone after Rodgers at this value.” -Kyle English

“A-Rod also really good to have locked up for 4 years. He will probably have a huge year this year now that Nelson is back in the fold.” -Stephen Wendell

Ben Roethlisberger (2 years, $25 million) Bro-lo El Cuñado

“Ben at 2/$25M was my favorite multi-year QB deal” -Matt Papson

Derek Carr (3 years, $21.5 million) Like The Language

“Derek Carr is a nice flyer at $7.2M per year for the next 3 years. I was already set at QB by the time he came available so I could not get involved.” -Matt Papson

“I am big on Carr and love that contract as well. He will be able to use or trade that at some point this year.” -Stephen Wendell

Blake Bortles (2 years, $18 million) Like The Language

Love the Blake Bortles contract. In a 2 QB league, he is going to be a valuable starter for Kyle’s squad for many many weeks.  -Stephen Wendell

Running Backs

Le’Veon Bell (3 years, $45.5 million) New York Knightmare

“Bell was unbelievably cheap, even with his recovery. I wasn’t prepared to absorb the risk that comes with him, but this has the chance to be the best overall deal signed at the end of the year.”  -Matt Papson

LeSean McCoy (2 years, $22 million) BallinOnABudget

“I fully expect McCoy to deliver big value on this contract.  He is the lead back in a run-heavy Buffalo offense and a dangerous receiving option out of the backfield on a team without many receiving weapons.  McCoy missed some time last year and was one of the first running backs nominated in the auction, which probably explains his low valuation in our league as owners  were waiting on the running back position.” -Bernard Faller

“Matt’s Shady contract could prove to be really good…in a PPR league, I just think he is so undervalued. I bowed out of that signing too early…as an Eagles fan, the whole Shady thing is tough to get through.” -Stephen Wendell

“I’m not a huge McCoy fan in general but given the turmoil his backups are going through, I think it’s safe to say McCoy is looking at 300+ touches this year if he can stay healthy (which he did in 2013 and 2014 don’t forget).  McCoy’s 2016 salary is lower than guys like Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Matt Forte – all three have their own injury histories and I would argue neither has as high a ceiling as McCoy.”  -Bob Cowper

Devonta Freeman (2 years, $26 million) New York Knightmare

“Freeman and Bell are both on solid contracts, though I like Freeman signing more than Bell. The discount was there for Bell for obvious reasons but 4 years is a lot to commit to him given his off the field issues and the age of Big Ben…he goes down and that offense really changes.” -Stephen Wendell

Jeremy Langford (1 year, $4.5 million) $7 Worth of Hoobastank

“Jeremy Langford signing could prove to be a great bang for the buck this season at $4.5mm. Forte was not just a fluke catching dump off passes in the freezing cold all those years in Chicago. Langford will score a bunch of fantasy points…don’t get me wrong, I hate the Bears and Cutler, but this is a good singing I think.” -Stephen Wendell

Thomas Rawls (1 year, $5 million) $7 Worth of Hoobastank

“Rawls at $5MM looks like great value in retrospect. I remember being upset he went for that little.” -Stephen Wendell

Wide Receivers

Josh Doctson (3 years, $3.5 million) Suck It Trebek

“My favorite contract in this league is Suck It Trebek’s (Bernard’s) signing of Josh Doctson for 3 years, $3.5m. Basically, even if Doctson sat out the entire season in 2016, he has the potential to be a superstar and runs the entire route tree. Doctson can win against all types of coverage, especially in the air on a Washington offense full of weapons. Bernard will benefit from this late-auction deal big time in the future years and potentially in OBJ type form if Doctson comes back to full health at some point this season. I personally would have bid higher and had the money to do it or even price enforce a bit, but I was saving my last multi-year deal (only had my 2 year deal left) for Sterling Shepard with OBJ already in tow and being fairly receiver heavy.” -Matt Goodwin

“At the point in the draft where he was selected, many of us were low on salary cap room and/or multi-year contracts. Still, this is incredible value given the contracts many of the other high-upside wide receivers and was a lesson in patience for my trigger-happy bidding style.” -Jaron Foster

Kelvin Benjamin (3 years, $50.5 million) Save Us Carson Wendtz & Kevin White (3 years, $34 million) $7 Worth of Hoobastank

“The receivers got the bulk of the multi-year deals in this league, which is to be expected, but there was some craaaaaazy cash flying around in Free Agency. In the end, I think Kelvin Benjamin and Kevin White have a chance to be really special players for a while.” -Matt Papson

Jeremy Maclin (4 years, $24 million) BallinOnABudget

“I mean just look at this numbers last year to know how good this signing was by Papson – don’t love the length but it is an easy cut decision in 2 years if need be.” -Stephen Wendell

“My value pick has to go to Matt “Papi” Papson and his Jeremy Maclin $26M/4years contract. As his team name would suggest (BallinOnABudget) Matt seemed to be looking for value rather than bidding wars and he definitely found one here. Maclin was quietly one of the most consistent WRs last season and looks comfortable as Andy Reid’s number one option. We will see what his value holds in the fourth year of the contract, he’ll be 31, but at an average salary of just over $6 million he is a significant discount to some of his other WR2 brethren.” -Nick Andrews

Laquon Treadwell (2 years, $6 million) Like The Language

“Treadwell’s contract looks pretty good for that amount of time. He is going to be good.”  -Stephen Wendell

Marvin Jones (1 year, $3 million) Bro-lo El Cuñado

“Jones at that value has a chance for a special year in a Megatronless Detroit.” -Stephen Wendell

Tight ends

Zach Ertz (2 years, $8 million) Bro-lo El Cuñado

“The Ertz contract was easily the TE value of the night. I must have been asleep at the controls for this one.”  -Matt Papson

Let us know on Twitter about some of the best/worst contracts in your RSO league.


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

Best Values – Writers’ League

Updated: October 16th 2016

Values.  Even in a league comprised of the RSO founders and writers, there are plenty of players that sign for below their projected values.  Many factors contribute to this, including the timing of player nominations, each team’s roster construction, and each team’s remaining room under the salary cap.

As the auction progresses, owners throughout the league felt regret as several players slipped through the cracks for reasonable, team-friendly deals.  After the draft, several owners shared with me which players they felt were the best values in the auction.

Quarterbacks

Aaron Rodgers (4 years, $72 million) Ice Cold Bruschis

“Didn’t realize it during the action, but after the fact this looks like a steal.  He’s still the 5th highest paid QB on a per year basis and the 6th highest in 2016, but he’s almost 9M/yr cheaper than the #1 QB Wilson and a solid 3-4M/yr lower than the other top tier QBs of Luck, Cam, and Brees.  Add in the fact that he’s the only QB locked in for 4 years in this superflex league and this buy looks great.  I personally went into the auction with the strategy of not wanting to target the top QBs, but in hindsight I should have gone after Rodgers at this value.” -Kyle English

“A-Rod also really good to have locked up for 4 years. He will probably have a huge year this year now that Nelson is back in the fold.” -Stephen Wendell

Ben Roethlisberger (2 years, $25 million) Bro-lo El Cuñado

“Ben at 2/$25M was my favorite multi-year QB deal” -Matt Papson

Derek Carr (3 years, $21.5 million) Like The Language

“Derek Carr is a nice flyer at $7.2M per year for the next 3 years. I was already set at QB by the time he came available so I could not get involved.” -Matt Papson

“I am big on Carr and love that contract as well. He will be able to use or trade that at some point this year.” -Stephen Wendell

Blake Bortles (2 years, $18 million) Like The Language

Love the Blake Bortles contract. In a 2 QB league, he is going to be a valuable starter for Kyle’s squad for many many weeks.  -Stephen Wendell

Running Backs

Le’Veon Bell (3 years, $45.5 million) New York Knightmare

“Bell was unbelievably cheap, even with his recovery. I wasn’t prepared to absorb the risk that comes with him, but this has the chance to be the best overall deal signed at the end of the year.”  -Matt Papson

LeSean McCoy (2 years, $22 million) BallinOnABudget

“I fully expect McCoy to deliver big value on this contract.  He is the lead back in a run-heavy Buffalo offense and a dangerous receiving option out of the backfield on a team without many receiving weapons.  McCoy missed some time last year and was one of the first running backs nominated in the auction, which probably explains his low valuation in our league as owners  were waiting on the running back position.” -Bernard Faller

“Matt’s Shady contract could prove to be really good…in a PPR league, I just think he is so undervalued. I bowed out of that signing too early…as an Eagles fan, the whole Shady thing is tough to get through.” -Stephen Wendell

“I’m not a huge McCoy fan in general but given the turmoil his backups are going through, I think it’s safe to say McCoy is looking at 300+ touches this year if he can stay healthy (which he did in 2013 and 2014 don’t forget).  McCoy’s 2016 salary is lower than guys like Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Matt Forte – all three have their own injury histories and I would argue neither has as high a ceiling as McCoy.”  -Bob Cowper

Devonta Freeman (2 years, $26 million) New York Knightmare

“Freeman and Bell are both on solid contracts, though I like Freeman signing more than Bell. The discount was there for Bell for obvious reasons but 4 years is a lot to commit to him given his off the field issues and the age of Big Ben…he goes down and that offense really changes.” -Stephen Wendell

Jeremy Langford (1 year, $4.5 million) $7 Worth of Hoobastank

“Jeremy Langford signing could prove to be a great bang for the buck this season at $4.5mm. Forte was not just a fluke catching dump off passes in the freezing cold all those years in Chicago. Langford will score a bunch of fantasy points…don’t get me wrong, I hate the Bears and Cutler, but this is a good singing I think.” -Stephen Wendell

Thomas Rawls (1 year, $5 million) $7 Worth of Hoobastank

“Rawls at $5MM looks like great value in retrospect. I remember being upset he went for that little.” -Stephen Wendell

Wide Receivers

Josh Doctson (3 years, $3.5 million) Suck It Trebek

“My favorite contract in this league is Suck It Trebek’s (Bernard’s) signing of Josh Doctson for 3 years, $3.5m. Basically, even if Doctson sat out the entire season in 2016, he has the potential to be a superstar and runs the entire route tree. Doctson can win against all types of coverage, especially in the air on a Washington offense full of weapons. Bernard will benefit from this late-auction deal big time in the future years and potentially in OBJ type form if Doctson comes back to full health at some point this season. I personally would have bid higher and had the money to do it or even price enforce a bit, but I was saving my last multi-year deal (only had my 2 year deal left) for Sterling Shepard with OBJ already in tow and being fairly receiver heavy.” -Matt Goodwin

“At the point in the draft where he was selected, many of us were low on salary cap room and/or multi-year contracts. Still, this is incredible value given the contracts many of the other high-upside wide receivers and was a lesson in patience for my trigger-happy bidding style.” -Jaron Foster

Kelvin Benjamin (3 years, $50.5 million) Save Us Carson Wendtz & Kevin White (3 years, $34 million) $7 Worth of Hoobastank

“The receivers got the bulk of the multi-year deals in this league, which is to be expected, but there was some craaaaaazy cash flying around in Free Agency. In the end, I think Kelvin Benjamin and Kevin White have a chance to be really special players for a while.” -Matt Papson

Jeremy Maclin (4 years, $24 million) BallinOnABudget

“I mean just look at this numbers last year to know how good this signing was by Papson – don’t love the length but it is an easy cut decision in 2 years if need be.” -Stephen Wendell

“My value pick has to go to Matt “Papi” Papson and his Jeremy Maclin $26M/4years contract. As his team name would suggest (BallinOnABudget) Matt seemed to be looking for value rather than bidding wars and he definitely found one here. Maclin was quietly one of the most consistent WRs last season and looks comfortable as Andy Reid’s number one option. We will see what his value holds in the fourth year of the contract, he’ll be 31, but at an average salary of just over $6 million he is a significant discount to some of his other WR2 brethren.” -Nick Andrews

Laquon Treadwell (2 years, $6 million) Like The Language

“Treadwell’s contract looks pretty good for that amount of time. He is going to be good.”  -Stephen Wendell

Marvin Jones (1 year, $3 million) Bro-lo El Cuñado

“Jones at that value has a chance for a special year in a Megatronless Detroit.” -Stephen Wendell

Tight ends

Zach Ertz (2 years, $8 million) Bro-lo El Cuñado

“The Ertz contract was easily the TE value of the night. I must have been asleep at the controls for this one.”  -Matt Papson

Let us know on Twitter about some of the best/worst contracts in your RSO league.


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

Surprising Uprising: The Top Surprises of The Preseason

Updated: August 21st 2014

Two weeks of preseason games have flown by and with that come some surprises that perhaps we weren’t anticipating.  With that in mind, let’s jump right in to players who perhaps were off your radar but now are squarely a focus for your auctions, rookie drafts, and waiver wire. Since Reality Sports Online Chief Operating Officer (and my de facto editor) Stephen Wendell is as into Top 10 lists as David Letterman, this will be in the format of you guessed it, a Top 10 list. For those of you who don’t know Stephen by now from his recent appearance on Bloomberg TV, he is the person in front of the computer when you log on to the Reality Sports Online website.  Kind of like Steinbrenner in Seinfeld where all you see is the back of his head. So, while Stephen is in search of his calzone, let’s get to the “Surprises in the building!”

1.  Justin Hunter Tears It Up vs. the Saints in Preseason Game 2

Yes, I’m talking about the same Justin Hunter who caught 18 balls for 354 yards and 4 TDs as a rookie.  The high 2nd round draft choice in 2013 out of Tennessee managed to have two 100 yard plus games in his rookie season, which basically showed how much of a zero he was in almost every other game.  However, last week vs. the Saints, Hunter had a coming out party vs. the Saints that made fantasy gurus gush about him with 4 catches for 111 yards and 2 TDs (including a 64 yard “footrace” TD with the twos and a 4 yard TD with the first team offense). Those 4 catches displayed all types of different routes and athleticism including a back of the endzone fade, a back shoulder catch, and over the middle breakaway speed. When someone like Mike Clay of Rotoworld proclaims you “this year’s Alshon Jeffery”, folks who haven’t had their auction yet get really excited.  Temper your expectations some as Hunter is still viewed as the #3 wide receiver on the team as coach Ken Whisenhunt mentioned he still needs to work on route depth and discipline on his releases per ESPN, but his physical gifts will make it hard to keep him off the field this year.  He’s essentially a “cheaper version” of his college teammate Cordarrelle Patterson who I talked about at length in my “Whale Watching” article.

2.  Travis Kelce Gets His “Gronk” On

For the owners who grabbed him in last season’s rookie draft, you’ve waited for this moment.  Granted it is preseason, but Travis Kelce, he of the 6’5, 260 pound frame, is doing his best Rob Gronkowski imitation, busting through the seam for two long touchdowns so far and trucking helpless defenders on the way.  He’s still listed behind Anthony Fasano on the depth chart, but that won’t last long given what Kelce can do now that he’s recovered from microfracture knee surgery.  QB Alex Smith hurled 29 TDs to Vernon Davis when they were teammates and given WR1 Dwayne Bowe’s waning concentration, 1 game suspension, and finger issues, the Chiefs need Kelce’s ability to bust the seam to be successful this year.  This guy is a star in the making and I was “this” close to having him in my “More Time For Some Auction” piece, but after all there are a lot of Tight Ends worthy of consideration in 2014.  Kelce has moved up lots of folks boards, including mine.

3.  In Carolina, It’s All About the Benjamin

When he was drafted in the first round, Kelvin Benjamin was cited as somewhat of a project and an unrefined route runner who would almost exclusively be used as a red-zone threat based on his 6’5, 240 pound frame. However, when you watch the tape of the two preseason games Benjamin has played, he’s faked DB’s out of their cleats on several routes and has already found paydirt.  Cam Newton overthrew him Sunday vs. the Chiefs for what certainly would have been a touchdown as he had clear separation from the defense. While he always had 8 TD potential this season based on his size, he’s turning into quite the football player too.  Word is that he and Cam Newton are “inseparable” and Benjamin will see the most time among all the wide receivers as he’s the best blocking wideout already.  I know that receivers like Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans are going higher in rookie drafts, but Benjamin’s situation screams opportunity and his Calvin Johnson like body frame can make him an elite wide receiver.

4.  And J-Stew, Too

Jonathan Stewart looks pretty good in a baseball cap and sweats on the sidelines.  He looks better when he is actually healthy.  He certainly is available in most of your leagues and appears to finally be healthy for the first time in years and is back from his latest injury (an injured hamstring).  He still has plenty of tread on his tires (he’s only 27 years old) and looked good in a 4 carry, 26 yard and 2 touchdown performance on Sunday vs. Kansas City.  Stewart should be available fairly cheap for you and has had some pretty big seasons in the past with 10 plus TDs twice and heavy receptions in 2011.  Remember that Newton is his biggest threat to steal carries and touchdowns, especially in close, although with the ankle surgery he had over the summer, perhaps the running backs will get more totes in close.  The trade of Kenjon Barner to the Eagles last night should signal that the Panthers are confident in their running back situation.

5. Kenny Britt Is Getting Rave Reviews?

The words “leader” and “#1 receiver” are not what you’d think you’d hear in the same sentence as Kenny Britt.  However, in receiver needy St. Louis, the reunion of Britt with Head Coach Jeff Fisher have brought exactly that so far.  While Britt did exit vs. the Packers with a minor shoulder injury, Britt is getting talked up now that he seems finally healthy from a litany of knee injuries.  For those who think Percy Harvin gets hurt a lot, Britt actually is more injury prone.  He’s viewed as the starting X receiver and Sam Bradford is in a critical year to show that he is the franchise quarterback the Rams thought he’d be when they selected him #1 overall.  Britt is still only 25 years old and has the physical tools and size that top WRs typically display.  He’ll be available for bargain basement prices in your auction and while a one year prove it deal may be best, there is plenty of potential upside for this 2014 training camp surprise.

6. Andy Dalton Gets Huge Deal and Is Living Up to it Thus Far

Fresh off a 7 year, $97 million contract extension, several football writers questioned why the Cincinnati Bengals would give Dalton that kind of money as he hasn’t really lead the team to any playoff success and has been an inconsistent NFL quarterback.  Also, with Jay Gruden now leading the Washington Redskins, Hue Jackson has taken over the reins as offensive coordinator.  Jackson is viewed as a run-heavy coordinator based on his prior experiences in Atlanta and Oakland, but he really hasn’t had the offensive talent that the Bengals do, especially at wide receiver as A.J. Green is a Top 5 elite level wide receiver.  Dalton was 8-8 for 144 yards and a TD vs. the New York Jets (who he owns by the way, including Marvin Jones 4 TD performance in 2013) and overall in the preseason is on fire going 11-13 for 215 yards and the aforementioned 43 yard TD to Mohamed Sanu (who’ll have to step up and perform in light of Marvin Jones foot injury).  More importantly, Dalton hasn’t turned the ball over and has shown the same chemistry with Green in preseason action, as the pair have hooked up early and often.

7. You’re My Boy, Blue

Maybe I should have went with the Eiffel 69 song “I’m Blue” instead of the Old School movie reference, but Texans rookie running back Alfred Blue has shown that he can fill in adequately for Arian Foster, who shows all the warning signs of missing significant time this year, even if nobody is explicitly saying it.  Blue had a touchdown with the first teamers vs. Atlanta on Saturday and showed a good average and caught a few balls vs. Arizona.  The team cut veteran Andre Brown for a reason.  Blue is definitely worth a handcuff and maybe a late round rookie pick if you are in a league that drafts more than 3 rounds of rookies.  It is unclear whether he or journeyman Jonathan Grimes is the handcuff to own right now, but keep your eyes peeled as the rookie from LSU figures to be in the mix and when (not if) Foster goes down, you’ll want one of these guys on your roster.

8. Mark Ingram Flashes What Won Him a Heisman

With the Saints prolific passing game, people treat Sean Payton’s yearly overtures that they will be a more balanced team much like the town treated the boy who cried wolf.  Mark Ingram’s 8 carry, 83 yard, 1 TD performance was an eye opener in the first week of the preseason.  Ingram is a free agent at the end of the season and may not stay with the Saints, but he is certainly earning his keep in the preseason.  Ingram even caught a 23 yard TD vs. the Titans in Week 2 and wants to be more involved in the passing game, ostensibly to be on the field more often and keep competition like Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas on the bench.  Currently, Robinson and Ingram are seeing first team run with Thomas in on passing downs.  There are a lot of footballs to go around in New Orleans and you’ve seen this flash before with Ingram in the preseason so buyer beware.  A one year deal isn’t out of the question, but don’t expect weekly consistent startable production out of Ingram unless he does it for a few weeks in a row in the regular season.

9.  Percy Harvin Isn’t Hurt (Yet) and the Seahawks Are Humming

While he wasn’t used much in Week 1 vs. Denver, Percy Harvin highlighted how wide open the Seahawks playbook looks like with him in the lineup.  The formations and options Russell Wilson have seem limitless when defenses have to concern themselves with where Harvin is lined up on the field.  Harvin is a threat for a bubble screen, fly sweep (reverse) and constant motion, which opens up all type of reads for Wilson, all resulting in big plays last Friday night vs. the Chargers.  For more on that and for those who study film, I highly recommend Bucky Brooks recent article on Seahawks formations with video on NFL.com (for those who follow me on Twitter, I did retweet that and do try to pinpoint meaningful football analysis from some of the best writers and football minds around).  Shameless plug aside, Harvin had 4 catches for 31 yards vs. the Chargers and opened up running lanes for Wilson and Robert Turbin, as well as the seam for Tight End Luke Willson.  Harvin will see some time as a kickoff returner also.  He should factor into the running game too on reverses, probably to the tune of 2 a game.  If healthy, he screams fantasy upside.  Simply, Harvin makes the Seahawks offense so much more balanced and dynamic and with his presence (or even as a decoy), the kid gloves are off the uber efficient Wilson, who will be more than a “game manager” for you in the next few fantasy seasons.  Grab Wilson on a multi-year deal if you can, especially if most of the other QBs in the league are spoken for.  As for Harvin, take caution, but if you can get him for value, a 2 year deal seems about right.

10.  I Think I’m Gonna Have to Go With Blake

If you ever watch NBC’s The Voice, you’ll see countless contestants in their southern drawl say “I think I’m gonna have to go with Blaaaake”-Shelton that is.  After seeing what he can do in the preseason, I’m a big fan of another Blake-Bortles.  He is showing Big Ben type ability and has a talented group of wide receivers to target.  The accuracy has been really solid and the decision making and poise has been better than advertised.  Granted his production has been against second and third string defenses (he just got his first practice reps with the ones), but both Bortles and current starter Chad Henne have played very well in the preseason.  In a weak division, that could signal a surprise season for the Jaguars.  As for your rookie draft, take notice of Bortles and target him in the second round if you need a quarterback as he’s looked best among the rookie signal-callers.

Rookie Monsters: The Reality Sports Online/numberFire Writer’s League Rookie Draft Results

Updated: July 18th 2014

Now that you’ve seen 4th of July fireworks and training camp begins in a few short weeks, if you haven’t started thinking about the 2014 Reality Sports Online fantasy football season, you should probably get on board that train.  With that in mind, the Reality Sports Online/numberFire Writer’s League Rookie Draft was held on Sunday July 13, 2014 with 10 owners picking three rounds of rookies on 3-year deals.

The participants bios, picks, and draft strategies are outlined below, along with player contract values to assist those users who have not had their rookie draft yet.  Also do all these hard working writers a solid and follow us on Twitter. We have writers for NFL teams, guys who bleed football and share the same interests as you.

We can’t wait for our Free Agency Auction to be held on Sunday, August 3rd, which should be posted sometime later that week.

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

Bio:  Wins are not a quarterback statistic. Advocate for PPR leagues and Bilal Powell. Fan of the Buccaneers, bound by location to also root for the other central Florida sports franchises. Lover of soccer, tacos and old school video games. B.S. in Sport Management from Liberty University, working toward a Master of Arts in Communication from Southern New Hampshire. E-mail with any questions, comments, concerns, or Chipotle gift cards.

Picks:

1.01 Mike Evans, WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3 years, $17.4M)

2.10 Teddy Bridgewater, QB Minnesota Vikings (3 years, $3.52M)

3.01 Allen Robinson, WR Jacksonville Jaguars (3 years, $2.57M)

Strategy:  Holding the first pick in the draft definitely provided a difficult decision, but Mike Evans was the best combination of present opportunity and future potential. Knowing that I have to pay Evans right away, given the rules, I didn’t want to pick a player who might have a higher long-term upside, as I want good value over the duration of his contract. Getting Teddy Bridgewater and Allen Robinson at the 2/3 turn was more than I could have hoped for, as I believe Teddy will be an NFL-ready talent very quickly, and Robinson could quickly carve out a role as a touchdown producer at a very low salary. I left myself in need of running backs, but that fits my general style, as handing out three year deals to players at the most volatile position in football doesn’t make much sense to me at all.

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

Bio:   Dan is an NFL contributor at numberFire and also contributes to cover32 San Diego, because he thought the Chargers would be interesting last season, and his own blog, Between The Twenties. He enjoys all parts of football, getting equal enjoyment from perfect Peyton Manning passes and errant Brandon Weeden passes, though maybe too much enjoyment from Weeden. At just 24 years old he’s already one of those sports writers who loves Bruce Springsteen, but that’s more of a rite of passage from growing up on the Jersey Shore.

Picks:

1.02 Sammy Watkins, WR Buffalo Bills (3 years, $16.34M)

2.09 Martavis Bryant, WR Pittsburgh Steelers (3 years, $3.57M)

3.02 Kadeem Carey, RB Chicago Bears (3 years, $2.55M)

Strategy:  Sitting at the second pick, I had an easy choice taking either Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans, depending on who went first. I was expecting to pick Evans assuming Watkins would go first, but was thrilled with the result. I’m higher on Martavis Bryant than most and believe he’s a great value in the second round with the possibility of being a starter on the outside in Pittsburgh as early as this year. I would have picked him at the top of the second if I had a pick there, but he was my target at the end of round two before the draft started. As the third round came, Ka’Deem Carey was easily the best running back available and might have been as soon as Carlos Hyde was taken. He’s going to be Chicago’s RB2 this season with longer-term upside and I favor his value to a guy like Jeremy Hill, who went in the first round.

Team:  La Morsa Roja (Tyler Buecher, numberFire) @gingersauce4u

Bio:  Tyler is a graduate from Drexel University who grew up in Central Pennsylvania and is an avid fan of all Philadelphia sports teams. While he enjoys nothing more than rooting for the Eagles, his favorite part of the NFL is the offseason. Free agency and the draft are two of his biggest interests, as well as fantasy football. In his free time, Tyler enjoys going to sports games, beerfests, country concerts, and long walks on the beach.

Picks:

1.03 Brandin Cooks, WR New Orleans Saints (3 years, $15.92M)

2.08 Marqise Lee, WR Jacksonville Jaguars (3 years, $3.61M)

3.03 Jarvis Landry, WR Miami Dolphins (3 years, $2.53M)

Strategy:  Prior to the draft I had created my own version of a “big board” of rookies that I had my eye on and where I was willing to draft them. Drafting from the third overall spot, I would’ve been surprised if the big two receivers in Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans were still available. With pick 1.03 I selected Brandin Cooks, NO WR. Cooks enters a great situation playing with Drew Brees and Sean Payton. After the departures of Lance Moore and Darren Sproles, there is a void that needs to be filled in New Orleans’ offense and Cooks could pay immediate dividends. It’s not difficult to imagine the speedster from Oregon State to rack up the catches in Payton’s brilliant offense and I could see him as a low WR3/high WR4 this year in terms of fantasy relevance. Jordan Matthews, PHI WR was also on my eye at this spot but I like the upside of Cooks more in both the short and long term as the heir apparent to Marques Colston who turned 31 this summer. With my second selection in the draft at 2.08, I chose Marqise Lee, JAX WR. Lee had a disappointing final season at USC, but he has the pedigree and talent to be worthy of a high selection. I had hoped to land Devonta Freeman, ATL RB here, but he was taken three spots beforehand. Lee will be a great stash for the future as he and quarterback Blake Bortles grow and develop together in the NFL. At turn 3.03, I had just missed taking running back Ka’Deem Carey, CHI RB and ended up taking Jarvis Landry, MIA WR. I really like the upside of Carey in Marc Trestman’s offense but had to settle for Landry. Landry possesses great hands but a lot of other aspects of his game are in need of some fine-tuning. Landry will be another stash, but it will be interesting to see how new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor capitalizes on his knowledge from his time with Chip Kelly to run Miami’s offense this year. I didn’t plan on selecting three receivers heading into the draft, but when the board presents you with two former Biletnikoff Award winners, it’s hard not to be happy with the results.

Team:  The Johnny Cleveland Show (Ari Ross, numberFire) @aross50

Bio:  Ari Ross is a rising sophomore at Northwestern University studying journalism and economics. He grew up in Cleveland, specifically Shaker Heights, Ohio, and is a fan of all Cleveland sports, the Browns, Cavs and Indians. He vows that at least one Cleveland sports team has to win a championship before he dies. Ari is rarely seen without his Cleveland Indians hat on. Aside from sports, Ari’s interest include movies, some of his favorites include Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean and Draft Day of course, reading and hanging out with friends. He hopes to work one day in either broadcast or print sports journalism.

Picks:

1.04 Cody Latimer, WR Denver Broncos (3 years, $15.28M)

2.07 Tre Mason, RB St. Louis Rams (3 years, $3.65M)

3.04 Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3 years, $2.5M)

Strategy:  In the rookie draft I first tried to target guys who could step right in and produce on their team. These guys, like DaVante Adams or Cody Latimer are guys who can step right in and produce because of the situation their in. I was able to draft Latimer, but missed out on Adams by a pick. Secondly I tried to draft guys who could be good in the future as well, as this is a dynasty league, such as Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Jenkins, with his small contract will be great value 1-2 years down the road. One thing that surprised me is how many QBs were taken. I wasn’t planning on taking a QB as I’d rather have a veteran, but others took them, looking towards the distant future.

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

Bio:  Brandon is an NFL and NBA writer at numberFire. He is a former staff member of Penn State’s Daily Collegian and a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown with a Bachelor’s in English Literature. Brandon is currently pursuing a Master’s in Journalism at Point Park University in Pittsburgh. When not writing or reading about fantasy sports, Brandon is either with his girlfriend, Sierra, reading fantasy novels, or watching science fiction, and he is eternally looking for somewhere to play pick-up basketball.

Picks:

1.05 Bishop Sankey, RB Tennessee Titans (3 years, $14.43M)

2.06 Davante Adams, WR Green Bay Packers (3 years, $3.69M)

3.04 Andre Williams, RB New York Giants (3 years, $2.48M)

Strategy:  With pick 1.05, I wanted to balance immediate impact and long-term potential, which is why I opted for Bishop Sankey, who should be able to produce this year. I was torn between Sankey and Jordan Matthews, though. I feel like I’m going to regret it already. My later picks were made with the assumption that they’d be relevant in future years. Davante Adams should be able to stretch the field in the Packers offense, and Andre Williams has shown the ability to be a workhorse in college, attributes I like from my receivers and backs. I never considered quarterbacks or tight ends since I don’t value them very highly.

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

Bio:  Matt is an NFL writer at numberFire and a writer/contributor at Reality Sports Online. He is a former sports columnist and basketball beat writer of Miami University’s High Street Journal (during the Wally World years) and a graduate of Miami University with a Bachelor’s in Accounting and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis in Finance & International Business. Matt works in finance and analytics and is passionate about sports-especially his hometown Cleveland teams (welcome back, LeBron!) and writing.  When not writing, talking or obsessing about fantasy football, Matt enjoys traveling, hanging with his wife Renee and 4 year old son Jory (another child on the way), coaching or playing pick-up basketball, and getting sucked into the Shawshank Redemption on TNT for the millionth time.

Picks:

1.06 Carlos Hyde, RB San Francisco 49ers (3 years, $12.73M)

2.05 Devonta Freeman, RB Atlanta Falcons (3 years, $3.74M)

3.06 C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE Houston Texans (3 years, $2.46M)

Strategy:  With Bishop Sankey still on the board after 1.04, I was anxiously hoping that he’d make it to 1.06, but he went the pick before me at 1.05.  Overall, I’m higher on my pick at 1.06 Carlos Hyde long-term, based on what he did at Ohio State this past year and given Frank Gore’s impending free agency after the 2014 season.  But I was really was hoping for an immediate starter at the running back position, especially on the cheap as rookie wide receivers usually don’t produce their first year.  I was looking at the best talent available at 2.05, while hoping as a Browns fan that Terrance West would still be available and grabbed Devonta Freeman.  Freeman represents a great handcuff and potential third down back for Atlanta in 2014 behind Steven Jackson, who is over both the 30 year old and 2,000 carry threshold that typically signals the end is near for a running back.  So, at worst, Freeman should be the 2015 starter and seemed to be coveted by several folks in the second round. Lastly, even though Jace Amaro was still on the board, I decided to believe in the upside of Houston tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz who has explicit goals and the size to become the next Rob Gronkowski.  What better player to be the next Gronk than one who plays for Coach Bill O’ Brien, who turned Gronk into the superstar that he is. Serious upside there, and even with other regarded tight ends on the Texans, the team took C.J. in the third round for a reason and so did I.

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

Bio: Sam joined the Reality Sports Online team in April as a writer/contributor and is currently a sport & entertainment marketing professional based in New York City. Formerly, he conducted statistical analysis, primarily around college prospects, for the Philadelphia Eagles. It was in Philadelphia, the birthplace of Reality Sports Online, where he first worked with RSO co-founders Matt Papson & Stephen Wendell. Sam originally hails from Boston so he’s luckily seen his fair share of championships, but he’s looking to add to his own mantle with an RSO trophy! A 2010 undergraduate of Union College, Sam recently received his master’s degree in sport business from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Keep a look out for more rookie & free agency content from Sam as football season nears!

Picks:

1.07 Jeremy Hill, RB Cincinnati Bengals (3 years, $11.25M)

2.04 Donte Moncrief, WR Indianapolis Colts (3 years, $3.78M)

3.07 Tom Savage, QB Houston Texans (3 years, $2.44M)

Strategy: When I drew the seventh pick in our inaugural rookie draft, two names immediately came to mind: WR Brandin Cooks & WR Cody Latimer. Convinced the opening run on running backs would hit before pick 1.05, I was comfortable landing either one of the aforementioned receivers in the first round. But four picks in, I was shocked to see the top 3 RBs in the class atop the list of best available. Though I wasn’t as shocked when my favorite of the three, Jeremy Hill, slipped to me – RB Bishop Sankey (1.05) was a hot name coming in, and I knew RB Carlos Hyde (1.06) was a favorite of Matty Goodwin’s. I felt confident coming out of the first round with a running back, knowing how deep the draft was at receiver. The next six picks didn’t phase me much, so it took me about four seconds to submit my Donte Moncrief pick at 2.04. I took Andrew Luck’s new WR toy over Aaron Rodgers’s new WR toy (Davante Adams)… Hope I don’t regret that one. The third round is where my plan went slightly awry. WR Allen Robinson, WR Jarvis Landry, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, RB Andre Williams – some of my favorites in this class, all off the board before I got back on the clock at pick 3.07. Consequently, I decided to take my only pure ‘futures’ pick – QB Tom Savage will eventually get his shot in Houston… and they have talent in Houston.

Team:  King Back (Kenny Cook, numberFire) @K_Cook6

Bio:  I have been a life-long fan of the NFL and NBA. I love to write, discuss, debate and listen to all things sports–especially fantasy football. I happen to be a huge LeBron fan, which is in vogue again in Ohio, where I’m from. I am a proud veteran, who served two tours in Iraq, as a member of the Air Force from 2005-2009. I loved the time that I spent in the Air Force, but I knew that I had to get out and pursue my dreams of becoming a sports writer. I graduated college in 2012, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Communication Studies from Ohio University.

Outside of sports, I am a regular guy who is happily married to my beautiful wife, Erica. We are the proud parents of an 18-month-old princess named Kendalynn Paige! I love The Walking Dead and I am pumped for Season 5’s debut in October!

Picks:

1.08 Kelvin Benjamin, WR Carolina Panthers (3 years, $9.98M)

2.03 Terrance West, RB Cleveland Browns (3 years, $3.82M)

3.08 Jerick McKinnon, RB Minnesota Vikings (3 years, $2.42M)

Strategy:  After second thought, I’m not as upset about taking Kelvin Benjamin ahead of Jordan Matthews because in a dynasty, I do feel that he has more upside than Matthews. Getting WRs and RBs, especially this given the dearth of high-upside QBs/TEs was my strategy.

In the end, I came away with Benjamin, Terrance West–who I feel can and will start for the Browns next year overtaking Tate-and Jerick McKinnon–who is a straight up dynasty stash for post-Peterson life in Minnesota. I was happy with my take; although, I wish I could’ve picked up Carlos Hyde because he is destined to take over as Gore’s replacement in a run-heavy offense out west.
No regrets because I can make up for it in the auction!!! #Can’tWait

Team:  B-Ron’s Ballas (Brian Luzier, numberFire) @TheFFBoss

Bio:  A Fantasy Footballer for more than half my life, I’ve seen my share of titles and tears. I pull for the Ravens and Yellow Jackets, always. I live outside Washington, DC and lived in Atlanta previously, graduating from Georgia Tech with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering. I scout rookies in my spare time, and am in more Dynasty Leagues than Redraft Leagues.

Picks:

1.09 Jordan Matthews, WR Philadelphia Eagles (3 years, $9.76M)

2.02 Eric Ebron, TE Detroit Lions (3 years, $3.86M)

3.09 Jace Amaro, TE New York Jets (3 years, $2.4M)

Strategy:  Unable to participate in the draft, but pre-ranked players and was happy with what he walked away with.  Jordan Matthews is a wide receiver that is in the perfect system for his skills who was highly coveted among the group and Luzier nabbed two of the top tight ends in the rookie class.

Team:  Loco Roco (Ryan O’Connor, numberFire) @IrishChaos

Bio:  No bio yet, which Ryan is using to keep himself as a mysterious enigma heading into the RSO Free Agency Auction.  Could turn out to be the best strategy of all. You’ll be hearing more from Ryan for sure!

Picks:

1.10 Odell Beckham Jr., WR New York Giants (3 years, $9.34M)

2.01 Johnny Manziel, QB Cleveland Browns (3 years, $3.91M)

3.10 Devin Street, WR Dallas Cowboys (3 years, $2.38M)

Strategy:  Love Odell Beckham and see him really emerging as a focal point of NYG offense in next year or two.  Wanted Jordan Matthews and thought i could get him at 2.01.  Shocked to see he went 1.09 as i thought i would be reaching at 2.01.  Johnny Manziel is a no-brainer stash pick.  Running QBs accumulate cheap points and can often mask mediocre production passing.    Devin Street was a homer pick as I went to pick and am excited to see him play this year.

Rookie Monsters: The Reality Sports Online/numberFire Writer's League Rookie Draft Results

Updated: July 18th 2014

Now that you’ve seen 4th of July fireworks and training camp begins in a few short weeks, if you haven’t started thinking about the 2014 Reality Sports Online fantasy football season, you should probably get on board that train.  With that in mind, the Reality Sports Online/numberFire Writer’s League Rookie Draft was held on Sunday July 13, 2014 with 10 owners picking three rounds of rookies on 3-year deals.

The participants bios, picks, and draft strategies are outlined below, along with player contract values to assist those users who have not had their rookie draft yet.  Also do all these hard working writers a solid and follow us on Twitter. We have writers for NFL teams, guys who bleed football and share the same interests as you.

We can’t wait for our Free Agency Auction to be held on Sunday, August 3rd, which should be posted sometime later that week.

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

Bio:  Wins are not a quarterback statistic. Advocate for PPR leagues and Bilal Powell. Fan of the Buccaneers, bound by location to also root for the other central Florida sports franchises. Lover of soccer, tacos and old school video games. B.S. in Sport Management from Liberty University, working toward a Master of Arts in Communication from Southern New Hampshire. E-mail with any questions, comments, concerns, or Chipotle gift cards.

Picks:

1.01 Mike Evans, WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3 years, $17.4M)

2.10 Teddy Bridgewater, QB Minnesota Vikings (3 years, $3.52M)

3.01 Allen Robinson, WR Jacksonville Jaguars (3 years, $2.57M)

Strategy:  Holding the first pick in the draft definitely provided a difficult decision, but Mike Evans was the best combination of present opportunity and future potential. Knowing that I have to pay Evans right away, given the rules, I didn’t want to pick a player who might have a higher long-term upside, as I want good value over the duration of his contract. Getting Teddy Bridgewater and Allen Robinson at the 2/3 turn was more than I could have hoped for, as I believe Teddy will be an NFL-ready talent very quickly, and Robinson could quickly carve out a role as a touchdown producer at a very low salary. I left myself in need of running backs, but that fits my general style, as handing out three year deals to players at the most volatile position in football doesn’t make much sense to me at all.

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

Bio:   Dan is an NFL contributor at numberFire and also contributes to cover32 San Diego, because he thought the Chargers would be interesting last season, and his own blog, Between The Twenties. He enjoys all parts of football, getting equal enjoyment from perfect Peyton Manning passes and errant Brandon Weeden passes, though maybe too much enjoyment from Weeden. At just 24 years old he’s already one of those sports writers who loves Bruce Springsteen, but that’s more of a rite of passage from growing up on the Jersey Shore.

Picks:

1.02 Sammy Watkins, WR Buffalo Bills (3 years, $16.34M)

2.09 Martavis Bryant, WR Pittsburgh Steelers (3 years, $3.57M)

3.02 Kadeem Carey, RB Chicago Bears (3 years, $2.55M)

Strategy:  Sitting at the second pick, I had an easy choice taking either Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans, depending on who went first. I was expecting to pick Evans assuming Watkins would go first, but was thrilled with the result. I’m higher on Martavis Bryant than most and believe he’s a great value in the second round with the possibility of being a starter on the outside in Pittsburgh as early as this year. I would have picked him at the top of the second if I had a pick there, but he was my target at the end of round two before the draft started. As the third round came, Ka’Deem Carey was easily the best running back available and might have been as soon as Carlos Hyde was taken. He’s going to be Chicago’s RB2 this season with longer-term upside and I favor his value to a guy like Jeremy Hill, who went in the first round.

Team:  La Morsa Roja (Tyler Buecher, numberFire) @gingersauce4u

Bio:  Tyler is a graduate from Drexel University who grew up in Central Pennsylvania and is an avid fan of all Philadelphia sports teams. While he enjoys nothing more than rooting for the Eagles, his favorite part of the NFL is the offseason. Free agency and the draft are two of his biggest interests, as well as fantasy football. In his free time, Tyler enjoys going to sports games, beerfests, country concerts, and long walks on the beach.

Picks:

1.03 Brandin Cooks, WR New Orleans Saints (3 years, $15.92M)

2.08 Marqise Lee, WR Jacksonville Jaguars (3 years, $3.61M)

3.03 Jarvis Landry, WR Miami Dolphins (3 years, $2.53M)

Strategy:  Prior to the draft I had created my own version of a “big board” of rookies that I had my eye on and where I was willing to draft them. Drafting from the third overall spot, I would’ve been surprised if the big two receivers in Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans were still available. With pick 1.03 I selected Brandin Cooks, NO WR. Cooks enters a great situation playing with Drew Brees and Sean Payton. After the departures of Lance Moore and Darren Sproles, there is a void that needs to be filled in New Orleans’ offense and Cooks could pay immediate dividends. It’s not difficult to imagine the speedster from Oregon State to rack up the catches in Payton’s brilliant offense and I could see him as a low WR3/high WR4 this year in terms of fantasy relevance. Jordan Matthews, PHI WR was also on my eye at this spot but I like the upside of Cooks more in both the short and long term as the heir apparent to Marques Colston who turned 31 this summer. With my second selection in the draft at 2.08, I chose Marqise Lee, JAX WR. Lee had a disappointing final season at USC, but he has the pedigree and talent to be worthy of a high selection. I had hoped to land Devonta Freeman, ATL RB here, but he was taken three spots beforehand. Lee will be a great stash for the future as he and quarterback Blake Bortles grow and develop together in the NFL. At turn 3.03, I had just missed taking running back Ka’Deem Carey, CHI RB and ended up taking Jarvis Landry, MIA WR. I really like the upside of Carey in Marc Trestman’s offense but had to settle for Landry. Landry possesses great hands but a lot of other aspects of his game are in need of some fine-tuning. Landry will be another stash, but it will be interesting to see how new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor capitalizes on his knowledge from his time with Chip Kelly to run Miami’s offense this year. I didn’t plan on selecting three receivers heading into the draft, but when the board presents you with two former Biletnikoff Award winners, it’s hard not to be happy with the results.

Team:  The Johnny Cleveland Show (Ari Ross, numberFire) @aross50

Bio:  Ari Ross is a rising sophomore at Northwestern University studying journalism and economics. He grew up in Cleveland, specifically Shaker Heights, Ohio, and is a fan of all Cleveland sports, the Browns, Cavs and Indians. He vows that at least one Cleveland sports team has to win a championship before he dies. Ari is rarely seen without his Cleveland Indians hat on. Aside from sports, Ari’s interest include movies, some of his favorites include Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean and Draft Day of course, reading and hanging out with friends. He hopes to work one day in either broadcast or print sports journalism.

Picks:

1.04 Cody Latimer, WR Denver Broncos (3 years, $15.28M)

2.07 Tre Mason, RB St. Louis Rams (3 years, $3.65M)

3.04 Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3 years, $2.5M)

Strategy:  In the rookie draft I first tried to target guys who could step right in and produce on their team. These guys, like DaVante Adams or Cody Latimer are guys who can step right in and produce because of the situation their in. I was able to draft Latimer, but missed out on Adams by a pick. Secondly I tried to draft guys who could be good in the future as well, as this is a dynasty league, such as Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Jenkins, with his small contract will be great value 1-2 years down the road. One thing that surprised me is how many QBs were taken. I wasn’t planning on taking a QB as I’d rather have a veteran, but others took them, looking towards the distant future.

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

Bio:  Brandon is an NFL and NBA writer at numberFire. He is a former staff member of Penn State’s Daily Collegian and a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown with a Bachelor’s in English Literature. Brandon is currently pursuing a Master’s in Journalism at Point Park University in Pittsburgh. When not writing or reading about fantasy sports, Brandon is either with his girlfriend, Sierra, reading fantasy novels, or watching science fiction, and he is eternally looking for somewhere to play pick-up basketball.

Picks:

1.05 Bishop Sankey, RB Tennessee Titans (3 years, $14.43M)

2.06 Davante Adams, WR Green Bay Packers (3 years, $3.69M)

3.04 Andre Williams, RB New York Giants (3 years, $2.48M)

Strategy:  With pick 1.05, I wanted to balance immediate impact and long-term potential, which is why I opted for Bishop Sankey, who should be able to produce this year. I was torn between Sankey and Jordan Matthews, though. I feel like I’m going to regret it already. My later picks were made with the assumption that they’d be relevant in future years. Davante Adams should be able to stretch the field in the Packers offense, and Andre Williams has shown the ability to be a workhorse in college, attributes I like from my receivers and backs. I never considered quarterbacks or tight ends since I don’t value them very highly.

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

Bio:  Matt is an NFL writer at numberFire and a writer/contributor at Reality Sports Online. He is a former sports columnist and basketball beat writer of Miami University’s High Street Journal (during the Wally World years) and a graduate of Miami University with a Bachelor’s in Accounting and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis in Finance & International Business. Matt works in finance and analytics and is passionate about sports-especially his hometown Cleveland teams (welcome back, LeBron!) and writing.  When not writing, talking or obsessing about fantasy football, Matt enjoys traveling, hanging with his wife Renee and 4 year old son Jory (another child on the way), coaching or playing pick-up basketball, and getting sucked into the Shawshank Redemption on TNT for the millionth time.

Picks:

1.06 Carlos Hyde, RB San Francisco 49ers (3 years, $12.73M)

2.05 Devonta Freeman, RB Atlanta Falcons (3 years, $3.74M)

3.06 C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE Houston Texans (3 years, $2.46M)

Strategy:  With Bishop Sankey still on the board after 1.04, I was anxiously hoping that he’d make it to 1.06, but he went the pick before me at 1.05.  Overall, I’m higher on my pick at 1.06 Carlos Hyde long-term, based on what he did at Ohio State this past year and given Frank Gore’s impending free agency after the 2014 season.  But I was really was hoping for an immediate starter at the running back position, especially on the cheap as rookie wide receivers usually don’t produce their first year.  I was looking at the best talent available at 2.05, while hoping as a Browns fan that Terrance West would still be available and grabbed Devonta Freeman.  Freeman represents a great handcuff and potential third down back for Atlanta in 2014 behind Steven Jackson, who is over both the 30 year old and 2,000 carry threshold that typically signals the end is near for a running back.  So, at worst, Freeman should be the 2015 starter and seemed to be coveted by several folks in the second round. Lastly, even though Jace Amaro was still on the board, I decided to believe in the upside of Houston tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz who has explicit goals and the size to become the next Rob Gronkowski.  What better player to be the next Gronk than one who plays for Coach Bill O’ Brien, who turned Gronk into the superstar that he is. Serious upside there, and even with other regarded tight ends on the Texans, the team took C.J. in the third round for a reason and so did I.

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

Bio: Sam joined the Reality Sports Online team in April as a writer/contributor and is currently a sport & entertainment marketing professional based in New York City. Formerly, he conducted statistical analysis, primarily around college prospects, for the Philadelphia Eagles. It was in Philadelphia, the birthplace of Reality Sports Online, where he first worked with RSO co-founders Matt Papson & Stephen Wendell. Sam originally hails from Boston so he’s luckily seen his fair share of championships, but he’s looking to add to his own mantle with an RSO trophy! A 2010 undergraduate of Union College, Sam recently received his master’s degree in sport business from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Keep a look out for more rookie & free agency content from Sam as football season nears!

Picks:

1.07 Jeremy Hill, RB Cincinnati Bengals (3 years, $11.25M)

2.04 Donte Moncrief, WR Indianapolis Colts (3 years, $3.78M)

3.07 Tom Savage, QB Houston Texans (3 years, $2.44M)

Strategy: When I drew the seventh pick in our inaugural rookie draft, two names immediately came to mind: WR Brandin Cooks & WR Cody Latimer. Convinced the opening run on running backs would hit before pick 1.05, I was comfortable landing either one of the aforementioned receivers in the first round. But four picks in, I was shocked to see the top 3 RBs in the class atop the list of best available. Though I wasn’t as shocked when my favorite of the three, Jeremy Hill, slipped to me – RB Bishop Sankey (1.05) was a hot name coming in, and I knew RB Carlos Hyde (1.06) was a favorite of Matty Goodwin’s. I felt confident coming out of the first round with a running back, knowing how deep the draft was at receiver. The next six picks didn’t phase me much, so it took me about four seconds to submit my Donte Moncrief pick at 2.04. I took Andrew Luck’s new WR toy over Aaron Rodgers’s new WR toy (Davante Adams)… Hope I don’t regret that one. The third round is where my plan went slightly awry. WR Allen Robinson, WR Jarvis Landry, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, RB Andre Williams – some of my favorites in this class, all off the board before I got back on the clock at pick 3.07. Consequently, I decided to take my only pure ‘futures’ pick – QB Tom Savage will eventually get his shot in Houston… and they have talent in Houston.

Team:  King Back (Kenny Cook, numberFire) @K_Cook6

Bio:  I have been a life-long fan of the NFL and NBA. I love to write, discuss, debate and listen to all things sports–especially fantasy football. I happen to be a huge LeBron fan, which is in vogue again in Ohio, where I’m from. I am a proud veteran, who served two tours in Iraq, as a member of the Air Force from 2005-2009. I loved the time that I spent in the Air Force, but I knew that I had to get out and pursue my dreams of becoming a sports writer. I graduated college in 2012, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Communication Studies from Ohio University.

Outside of sports, I am a regular guy who is happily married to my beautiful wife, Erica. We are the proud parents of an 18-month-old princess named Kendalynn Paige! I love The Walking Dead and I am pumped for Season 5’s debut in October!

Picks:

1.08 Kelvin Benjamin, WR Carolina Panthers (3 years, $9.98M)

2.03 Terrance West, RB Cleveland Browns (3 years, $3.82M)

3.08 Jerick McKinnon, RB Minnesota Vikings (3 years, $2.42M)

Strategy:  After second thought, I’m not as upset about taking Kelvin Benjamin ahead of Jordan Matthews because in a dynasty, I do feel that he has more upside than Matthews. Getting WRs and RBs, especially this given the dearth of high-upside QBs/TEs was my strategy.

In the end, I came away with Benjamin, Terrance West–who I feel can and will start for the Browns next year overtaking Tate-and Jerick McKinnon–who is a straight up dynasty stash for post-Peterson life in Minnesota. I was happy with my take; although, I wish I could’ve picked up Carlos Hyde because he is destined to take over as Gore’s replacement in a run-heavy offense out west.
No regrets because I can make up for it in the auction!!! #Can’tWait

Team:  B-Ron’s Ballas (Brian Luzier, numberFire) @TheFFBoss

Bio:  A Fantasy Footballer for more than half my life, I’ve seen my share of titles and tears. I pull for the Ravens and Yellow Jackets, always. I live outside Washington, DC and lived in Atlanta previously, graduating from Georgia Tech with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering. I scout rookies in my spare time, and am in more Dynasty Leagues than Redraft Leagues.

Picks:

1.09 Jordan Matthews, WR Philadelphia Eagles (3 years, $9.76M)

2.02 Eric Ebron, TE Detroit Lions (3 years, $3.86M)

3.09 Jace Amaro, TE New York Jets (3 years, $2.4M)

Strategy:  Unable to participate in the draft, but pre-ranked players and was happy with what he walked away with.  Jordan Matthews is a wide receiver that is in the perfect system for his skills who was highly coveted among the group and Luzier nabbed two of the top tight ends in the rookie class.

Team:  Loco Roco (Ryan O’Connor, numberFire) @IrishChaos

Bio:  No bio yet, which Ryan is using to keep himself as a mysterious enigma heading into the RSO Free Agency Auction.  Could turn out to be the best strategy of all. You’ll be hearing more from Ryan for sure!

Picks:

1.10 Odell Beckham Jr., WR New York Giants (3 years, $9.34M)

2.01 Johnny Manziel, QB Cleveland Browns (3 years, $3.91M)

3.10 Devin Street, WR Dallas Cowboys (3 years, $2.38M)

Strategy:  Love Odell Beckham and see him really emerging as a focal point of NYG offense in next year or two.  Wanted Jordan Matthews and thought i could get him at 2.01.  Shocked to see he went 1.09 as i thought i would be reaching at 2.01.  Johnny Manziel is a no-brainer stash pick.  Running QBs accumulate cheap points and can often mask mediocre production passing.    Devin Street was a homer pick as I went to pick and am excited to see him play this year.