GM’s Guide to Matt Waldman’s RSP

Updated: July 23rd 2017

There are a lot of dynasty resources out there but none of them is as comprehensive as Matt Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio (RSP).  There are two parts to the RSP, the Rookie Scouting Portfolio proper which is released before the NFL draft, and the Post-Draft update. First time readers will undoubtedly be overwhelmed as I was in 2015 when I first bought the RSP but don’t be dissuaded!  After two years, I am far from an RSP expert but I truly believe that the amount of research you do is directly correlated to your long term dynasty success.  Whether you spend an hour with the RSP, cherry picking paragraphs about your favorite players, or power through the full 1,600 page document, you’ll be a more informed dynasty owner because of it.  It should be no surprise that the RSP is not perfect in it’s predictions and conclusions, nothing can be given such a fickle topic, but don’t let that discourage you from purchasing again in the future even if you miss on somebody this season; past issues are a treasure trove of information when players change teams or hit free agency.  Because of the unique cap/contract format of RSO, I thought it would be helpful to present some tips for RSO owners to get the most out of the RSP.  For more information about the RSP, testimonials and details on how to purchase it, click here.

Pair Rookie Productivity Charts with Depth Chart Notes

The RSP has rookie productivity charts for each position.  These charts are based on the last ten years of rookies and show the average production for a player who had a certain threshold of passes/rushes/receptions.  For example, there were 63 RBs in the sample who had at least 100 rushing attempts in their rookie season; those backs averaged nearly 1,000 yards from scrimmage and 6 TDs.  When the threshold increases, obviously so does the production (i.e. a better rookie will end up getting more touches).  I find it interesting that there seems to be a sweet spot in the 150-200 carry range that can net you some great value with your RSO rookie draft picks.  Somebody like Zeke Elliot who is going to be a starter from day one is an obvious early draft pick but does not offer much value.  The key is being able to identify which rookie backs will get the opportunity to fall in that 150-200 carry range where their value is maximized.  In 2016, the rookie backs who did were Rob Kelley (168 carries) and Devontae Booker (174).  Kelly was far off the radar in May of last year for RSO owners, Booker, though, is the real takeaway.  Similar to the Redskins and Matt Jones, the Broncos have been hesitant to commit to CJ Anderson and ended up drafting Booker in 2016.  If you grabbed Booker in your 2016 rookie draft despite him not being the immediate starter, you were rewarded with some decent output and hopefully a future starter.  Jordan Howard ended up exceeding the 200 carry mark, but is a further example of a shaky incumbent leading to a great rookie pick.  By pairing Waldman’s rookie productivity charts with his depth chart notes, you can find rookies like Booker who have a shorter path to meaningful production and draft accordingly in the late 1st and early 2nd rounds of your rookie draft.

Pay Attention to ADP Value Designations

In the Post-Draft update, there is a lot of ADP data.  My favorite way to view this data is through the lens of Waldman’s “value designations.”  These notations are formatted like “over 5” or “under 5.”  What that means is that Waldman feels that that player is either being over- or under-drafted by that many spots.  This data is useful in two ways because it can help you avoid reaching for a player and it can also help you identify a bargain in RSO contract terms.  Out of the top 24 rookies by ADP (so about the first two rounds of your rookie draft), Waldman identified C.J. Prosise, Pharoh Cooper and Kenyan Drake as over-drafted players.  Prosise and Drake have some value but the difference between where you had to draft them based on ADP and where they were valued by Waldman’s research is about $500,000 (or, exactly how much you might need for that mid-season waiver wire savior).  Instead, you could have realized the lack of talent at your pick, traded back, and drafted somebody like Tajae Sharp a little later and received a better return on investment.  Conversely, players like Kenneth Dixon and Malcolm Mitchell were marked as under-drafted heading into 2016.  Getting a bargain on a potential contributor when you draft these guys can help set you up for future salary cap success.

Don’t Fall in Love with Lottery Tickets

Those of you who are college football fans like myself will likely recognize some of the names in the “UDFAs to Watch” and the “Fantasy Waiver Wire Gems” sections in the Post-Draft update.  Undoubtedly it’s a great list for deep dynasty leagues or those with a taxi squad but as an RSO owner it’s easy to get excited by this and suffer from confirmation bias.  Don’t fall in love with them and take their inclusion as confirmation that you should take them in your RSO rookie draft.  Most RSO leagues (check your settings) will not have a deep enough roster to warrant taking these players.  If your league rosters 35+ players, maybe, but anything less and I think you should stay away.  That is not to say that these players will never “hit,” I just mean that they are at least two years away from being relevant and until then it will tie up much needed salary cap space.  It may not sound like much, but that $900,000 you commit to your 3rd round rookie pick could keep you from picking up that free agent RB you desperately need or keep you from completing a trade because you’d be receiving more salary than you have space for.  Even if you have salary cap available, you’re going to be faced with cutting that lottery ticket and you’ll take the cap hit to add insult to injury.  In 2015, one of those guys I fell in love with in the RSP and nearly drafted was Zach Zenner.  On my 23-man roster, I would definitely have been forced to cut him before he became useful for a few games late in 2016.  In 2016, two of those UDFAs I had my eye on were Peyton Barber and Jalen Richard.  Ultimately, Barber offered minimal contribution despite the Bucs RB injuries; Richard looks like he could be a better pro than fantasy asset (especially in standard where his 29 receptions wouldn’t count) because his production was decent but inconsistent.  Don’t forget, RSO is not like other dynasty formats where you can be more patient with a player.  If you’re drawing a salary for my RSO team you better be closer to contributing or I’ll have to find somebody who is.  That “what have you done for me lately” mentality is one of the things that makes RSO so similar to the real NFL.

Be sure to purchase the RSP on April 1 and get a head start on your league.  Check back again after the draft and I will try to apply some of the above lessons to the 2017 draft class.


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.

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

Open the Wallet: Players to Buy

Updated: December 4th 2016

Though many leagues’ trade deadlines are fast approaching or may have already passed, now’s a great time to get a head start on your plans for the 2017 season. Each year, I spend time during the last few weeks of the season to evaluate my team’s outlook for the next season to determine my off-season strategy and am ready to act as soon as league trading opens.  Strategically, I prefer off-season to in-season trading because trades often revolve around filling needs and replacing injured players during a particular season.  Off-season deals are instead often based on differing opinions on specific players’ values and/or the long-term plans of the two teams involved. In this late season edition of Open the Wallet, I’ll explain which players I’m actively looking to buy before the 2017 season.

Spencer Ware RB KCJamaal Charles‘ days as the lead RB in Kansas City are long gone and Ware appears ready to carry the torch.  His impressive combination of speed with the power to punish defenders renders him nearly match-up proof on a conservative offense, centered around the running game.  This year he’s also proved to be a weapon in the passing game, best exemplified by ranking second in yards per route run (2.35) through Week 8 per Pro Football Focus.

o DLF Nov ADP: 55th
o Advice: Trade a mid-2017 1st round pick to acquire in standard dynasty; Good value at $15 million per season in RSO.

CJ Prosise RB SEA – In just a few games, Prosise has already carved out a role in one of the league’s best offenses. Though he’s out for the remainder of 2016, CJ has shown that his natural pass catching skills have translated from his days at Notre Dame. He’s a top 20 PPR RB entering 2017, with a chance at reaching the top 10 by season’s end.

o DLF Nov ADP: 99th
o Advice: Trade a mid/late 2017 1st round pick to acquire in standard dynasty; Good value at $8 million per year in RSO.

Donte Moncrief WR IND – One of the 20 best dynasty assets, all Moncrief does is score touchdowns – 9TDs in his last 12 games with Andrew Luck, per Matthew Berry.  Expected to play much of his career with Andrew Luck, the yardage will come and he should inch closer to the tier of elite WRs. The price to acquire him will be high, but this is the last chance to buy before he becomes untouchable.

o DLF Nov ADP: 22nd
o Advice: Trade two 1st round picks to acquire in standard dynasty; Good value at $15 million per year in RSO.

Carson Wentz QB PHI – The Eagles offense and Wentz faltering the past few weeks creates a buying opportunity. Carson Wentz likely never will have worse skill position talent than he does right now. Improving the offense should be the first off-season priority of aggressive GM Howie Roseman as the Eagles severely lack reliable targets, let alone skilled playmakers.

o DLF Nov ADP: 148th
o Advice: Trade late 2017 1st round pick to acquire in standard dynasty; Good value at $4 million per on multi-year deal in a 1QB RSO league; $12 million per year on a multi-year in a Superflex or 2qb RSO league.

Kenneth Dixon RB BAL – If you’ve read much of my work this year, you’ve likely noticed that I favor RBs that are involved in the passing game. Less of their value is reliant on weekly TD scoring and their usage is likely to be more consistent as they don’t get lose playing time during games with negative game flow. Dixon was one of my favorite RBs draft in 2016.  A MCL injury slowed his NFL debut, but it only appears a matter of time before he takes over the Baltimore backfield.  In Week 11, Dixon nearly saw the field as much as Terrance West (West 24 snaps, Dixon 21 snaps per Nathan Jahnke of PFF).

o DLF Nov ADP: 96th
o Advice: Trade late 2017 1st to acquire in standard dynasty; Good value at $8 million per year for multiple years in RSO.

Sammy Watkins WR BUF – If you’re willing to stomach the risk of injuries throughout his career, the payoff could be huge. I bought low two months ago in a standard dynasty league, trading Julio Jones for Watkins and 2 late 1st round picks.  Like everyone else I’ve made plenty of trades that didn’t work out as planned this year, but I’ll certainly consider this a success should Watkins return to his 2015 form later this year.  Tyrod Taylor has put together a solid season for the second year in a row, likely establishing himself as the long-term solution at QB in Buffalo. I’ll bet on Watkins undeniable talent, hope he stays healthy, and watch as their offense opens up with their best player back on the field.

o DLF Nov ADP: 17th
o Advice: Trade two 1st round picks to acquire in standard dynasty; Good value at $14 million per season.

Tyler Lockett WR SEA – Trust the talent. With the ball in his hands, Tyler Lockett‘s elusive reputation has followed him from Kansas State to the NFL. Largely considered a disappointment in 2016, Lockett‘s talent should lead to more opportunities in 2017 and 2018. Over the past two weeks, he’s had two of his three best games on the season as a healthy Russell Wilson has regained late-2015 form. It’s also important to keep in mind that while we never root for injuries, the loss of either Doug Baldwin or Jimmy Graham for an extended period of time would clear the path for increased usage. I’d consider him a good buy if his owner is less optimistic about his future.

o DLF Nov ADP: 73rd
o Advice: Trade a 2nd round pick to acquire in standard dynasty; Good value at $5 million per year if signed for multiple years in RSO.

Ladarius Green TE PIT – Likely an afterthought after missing the Steelers’ first 8 games, Green has a chance to emerge as a reliable target for Pittsburgh in 2017. Martavis Bryant is expected to return next year, though that’s far from guaranteed as Karlos Williams reminded us last week. If Green puts it all together – a question fantasy players have been asking for years now – he has the top 5 TE potential. If he doesn’t, the cost to acquire him likely wasn’t enough to severely set you back.

o DLF Nov ADP: 170th
o Advice: Trade an early 3rd round pick to acquire in standard dynasty; Good value at $1.5 million for 2017.

Which of these players are you also targeting in trades? Let me know @DaveSanders_RSO on Twitter!


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

Redrafting the 2016 Rookie Draft

Updated: October 9th 2016

As we’re about a quarter of the way into the 2016 season, plenty has changed since our rookie drafts this past summer.  Values have changed, injuries have occurred, and roles have been more clearly defined.  In hindsight there are many picks that we’re all proud of, but also some that we’re ashamed to look back on.  In this piece, I’m going to redraft the first round of a 2016 Rookie Draft assuming that it took place today.

#1.01 Ezekiel Elliott – RB DAL

2016: 94 car – 412 yards – 3TDs; 6 rec – 44 yards

Analysis: The consensus 1.01 pick throughout the off-season, Elliott has largely delivered on the months of hype that surrounded him.  He’s produced as the number one running back in Dallas, though he has been unluckily vultured at the goal-line a few times.  He’s been less involved in the passing game than I anticipated, but I expect his usage to improve over the next few years.

#1.02 Corey Coleman – WR CLE

2016: 7 rec – 173 yards – 2TDs

Analysis: Coleman, my choice for the 1.02 pick in the off-season, has flashed his immense potential in limited opportunities this season.  The Cleveland offense, headed by Hue Jackson, may no longer be a fantasy wasteland as Isaiah Crowell, Terrelle Pyror, and Corey Coleman have emerged this season as viable fantasy options.  Missing 4-to-6 weeks with a broken hand is unfortunate, but it doesn’t impact my long-term projection of Coleman.

#1.03 Will Fuller – WR HOU

2016: 19 rec – 323 – 2TDs

Analysis: I’m not afraid to admit that I was dead wrong about Will Fuller.  I had him outside of my top 10 and didn’t believe he would be nearly as versatile as he’s proved to be.  Not only a deep threat, Fuller is a weapon in all areas of the field.  His success is currently being limited by poor QB, but the sky’s the limit if Brock Osweiler improves.

#1.04 Sterling Shepard – WR NYG

2016: 20 rec – 263 – 2TDs

Analysis: Of all the 2016 rookies, I have the most shares of Sterling Shepard.  A very polished route runner, I expected Shepard to immediately make an impact especially in PPR leagues.  He has not disappointed and appears on a trajectory towards WR2 status for much of his career.

#1.05 Michael Thomas – WR NO

2016: 21 rec – 229 yards – 2TDs

Analysis: Through 4 games, the 6’3″ sure-handed possession receiver has performed well as many expected.   His quick emergence, as a WR3/WR4 in 2016, make him an excellent value on a 3 or 4 year RSO rookie contract.

#1.06 Derrick Henry – RB TEN

2016: 27 car – 97 yards; 3 rec – 50 yards

Analysis: After a very impressive preseason, I expected that Derrick Henry would be much more involved in the Tennessee offense than he’s been through four games.  Instead, DeMarco Murray has been a true workhouse, leaving little work for the rookie Henry.  In a year or two, Henry should take over the starting job in Tennessee and immediately join the RB1 conversation.  A true physical specimen with a unique combination of size and speed, Henry is one of the most athletically gifted RB prospects we’ve seen in quite some time.  This preseason, he even showed promise catching the ball out of the backfield.  If the Henry owner in your league is growing impatient, now’s the time to buy.

#1.07 Laquon Treadwell – WR MIN

2016: n/a

Analysis: Treadwell was widely considered the consensus 1.02 or 1.03 pick in all rookie drafts, but his value has dropped in the first month of the season.  He’s been a healthy inactive in several games and has seen very few snaps when he’s actually been active.  While the Vikings may want to bring their rookie along slowly, it’s very concerning that he can’t beat out Charles Johnson, Adam Thielen, Jarius Wright, and Cordarrelle Patterson for WR reps.  I’m still a believer in his talent, but red flags have been raised.

#1.08 Kenneth Dixon – RB BAL

2016: n/a

Analysis: Dixon’s expected debut in Week 5 has generated a great deal of buzz in the fantasy community as many expect him to quickly overtake Terrance West.  As a prospect at the draft, I was very high on Kenneth Dixon…love his speed, athleticism, and pass catching abilities.  The knee injury delayed his NFL debut and briefly suppressed his value, but that has now risen likely greater than it was in April and May.

#1.09 Josh Doctson – WR WAS

2016: 2 rec – 66 yards

Analysis: 2016 may end as a lost season for Josh Doctson, but all hope is not lost.  Assuming he enters the 2017 season healthy, he will have a great opportunity to earn a significant target share in Washington.  DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon are both free agents after 2016 and it seems unlikely both will return.  

#1.10 Jordan Howard – RB CHI

2016: 35 car – 178 yards; 9 rec – 77 yards

Analysis: The most interesting aspect of Jordan Howard’s impressive start as a rookie is his usage in the passing game.  Largely considered a 2-down back after catching a total of 24 passes in 32 collegiate games, Howard seemed to lack the upside of more versatile backs but clearly that isn’t the case.

#1.11 DeAndre Washington – RB OAK

2016: 23 car – 147 yards; 6 rec – 37 yards

Analysis: Throughout the off-season we kept hearing that the Raiders weren’t 100% sold on Latavius Murray as their workhorse back.  DeAndre Washington became a fantasy sleeper soon after the NFL draft.  Though only 5’8”, Washington is a physical back that can run between the tackles, make a defender miss in space, and is adequate catching the ball out of the backfield.  He may be part of a committee in Oakland long-term, but committees are the new norm in the NFL.  Washington is clearly a talent that runs behind one of the best offensive lines in football.

#1.12 Hunter Henry – TE SD

2016: 10 rec – 153 yards – TD

Analysis: Hunter Henry looks like he may turn into what the fantasy community had hoped Ladarius Green would be.  Henry has produced in Antonio Gates‘ absence and has become a reliable target for QB Philip Rivers.

Just missed the first round:

Wendell Smallwood – RB PHI

Carson Wentz – QB PHI

Tajae Sharpe – WR TEN

Tyler Boyd – WR CIN

Braxton Miller – WR HOU

Devontae Booker – RB DEN

Malcolm Mitchell – WR NE

CJ Prosise – RB SEA

Paul Perkins – RB NYG

Dwayne Washington – RB DET

Let me know which of your rookie picks you’re most proud of – on Twitter @DaveSanders_RSO!


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

Post-Draft Rookie Mock Draft

Updated: May 18th 2016

As you’ve likely already heard by now, the 2016 draft class is not strong. After watching the NFL Draft unfold, I’m less optimistic than I was about this class even a week ago. Last year there was a debate between Amari Cooper and Todd Gurley for the 1.01 pick, but we expected both to be excellent players in the NFL. This year no such debate exists as Ezekiel Elliott cemented himself as the 1.01 pick by landing with the Dallas Cowboys. After Elliott, there are six players that would be worthy of a 1st round rookie pick in most years.  Calling the end of the 1st round ugly would be an understatement. The caliber of player drops off a cliff, making late 1st round picks not much more valuable than 2nd rounders.

If we compared this draft to the 2015 class at the time they entered the NFL, only Elliott would be among the top 5 prospects. In my opinion, Amari Cooper, Todd Gurley, Kevin White, and DeVante Parker were all better prospects last year than Treadwell, Coleman, Doctson, Shepard, Henry, etc.

Without further ado, let’s kick off this 12 team, standard scoring IDP mock draft:

Round 1

1.01 – Ezekiel Elliott RB DAL

Undoubtedly the number #1 pick in all rookie drafts, he immediately slots in as my #3 RB for dynasty and is even a 1st round pick in redraft leagues.

1.02 – Laquon Treadwell WR MIN

While his stock has fallen over the past few months, Treadwell still is a very good prospect that should have plenty of opportunity in Minnesota.

1.03 – Corey Coleman WR CLE

Immediately the #1 WR on the team, Coleman should get fed the ball plenty. If everything clicks, Coleman has dynasty WR1 potential.

1.04 – Josh Doctson WR WAS

Love Doctson’s ability to go up and get the ball. He should be an immediate red-zone threat that plays frequently opposite DeSean Jackson. However, it’s important to note that Doctson is several years older than both Treadwell and Coleman.

1.05 – Sterling Shepard WR NYG

Thought of mainly as a slot receiver, Shepard has the ability to win on the outside and should make plenty of plays opposite OBJ in the Giants’ West Coast offense.

1.06 – Michael Thomas WR NO

He’s a work-in progress, but has great physical tools. Should challenge Willie Snead for the #2 WR position in New Orleans.

1.07 – Tyler Boyd WR CIN

Maybe the most polarizing player of this dynasty rookie class, Boyd lands in a nice spot and will help replace departed free agents Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu.

1.08 – Derrick Henry RB TEN

I did not expect Tennessee to draft a RB early after trading for DeMarco Murray. While he may not play a ton in his rookie year, Henry has a chance to be “the guy” moving forward in a run-first offense.

1.09 – Kenneth Dixon RB BAL

My favorite running back prospect besides Elliott, Dixon is more talented than Buck Allen and could immediately threaten Justin Forsett for carries.

1.10 – Will Fuller WR HOU

I typically shy away from the big play, low volume receivers that fit the DeSean Jackson mold. That said, there’s no denying Fuller’s talent makes him a borderline 1st rounder in a weak rookie class.

1.11 – Paul Perkins RB NYG

Perkins has a chance to share carries early in the season and potentially be the Giants’ lead back by seasons end.

1.12 – Jordan Howard RB CHI

If you haven’t read it yet, I’d encourage you to check out Mike Clay’s piece on Jeremy Langford’s rookie season. Upon further review, Langford really struggled in year 1. Of course there is room for improvement, but it would not be crazy to see Howard become the lead back in Chicago.

Round 2

2.01 – Leonte Carroo WR MIA

Carroo easily could have found himself as a mid-1st rounder had he landed in a better situation. In Miami, he’ll have to compete with young WRs Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker for targets. Tannehill also is not the ideal quarterback to maximize Carroo’s skill set.

2.02 – CJ Prosise RB SEA

Prosise should be an excellent 3rd down compliment to Thomas Rawls and is clearly an improvement for Seattle on the 2015 version of Fred Jackson.

2.03 – Myles Jack LB JAX

Without the injury concerns, Jack would have firmly cemented himself as a late 1st rounder.

2.04 – Devontae Booker RB DEN

Booker should quickly become the #2 RB in Denver ahead of Ronnie Hillman in Denver’s run-first offense led by Mark Sanchez/Paxton Lynch.

2.05 – Keith Marshall RB WAS

It’s not often a 7th round pick becomes a fantasy commodity, but this is the case for Marshall as the incumbent Matt Jones has done little to secure the job.

2.06 – Tajae Sharpe WR TEN

Many will question whether the sure-handed receiver from UMass can be a productive fantasy WR. In a weak class, I’m willing to take a chance on him in the 2nd round.

2.07 – DeAndre Washington RB OAK

Rumors have swirled this off-season about the Raiders’ lack of confidence in Latavius Murray. DeAndre Washington, the undersized productive running back out of Texas Tech, could immediately push for playing time.

2.08 – Jared Goff QB LA

The face of the LA Rams, Goff has potential to be a franchise QB and potentially a QB1 in fantasy someday.

2.09 – Carson Wentz QB PHI

Wentz should be given the keys to open the 2017 season. I wouldn’t even be shocked if Wentz starts the final few games of 2016 to give him some experience in meaningless games for the Eagles. With experience in a pro-style offense, the Eagles hope he can quickly adapt to the NFL game.

2.10 – Wendell Smallwood RB PHI

I’ll admit that I’m higher on Smallwood than most. I strongly believe he’ll see work behind Ryan Mathews from Week 1. Smallwood’s abilities as a pass blocker and receiver should get him plenty of 2nd and 3rd down work to start the season. Even while playing through an ankle injury, Smallwood carried the ball 238 times for WVU’s run heavy offense. He also showed big play ability as over 30 percent of his carries went for 15+ yards.

2.11 – Darron Lee LB NYJ

Lee is a great fit in Todd Bowles’ scheme. The speedy pass rusher has tons of upside.

2.12 – Kenyan Drake RB MIA

I expected Miami to add a more versatile back to challenge Jay Ajayi for the starting job. Drake projects to be passing down back in Miami, but I wouldn’t expect him to carry the full load if Ajayi gets injured.

Round 3

3.01 – Jonathan Williams RB BUF

Williams could have been a late 1st/early 2nd rookie pick if he landed in a better situation….say Miami for instance. Even in Buffalo, I’ll bet on his talent and take a chance on him.

3.02 – Paxton Lynch QB DEN

Lynch may not be ready to start in 2016, but has a unique combination of size and athleticism. If he puts it all together, he has a chance to be the best fantasy QB of this class.

3.03 – Pharoh Cooper WR LA

Cooper has an opportunity to earn playing time among the Rams’ thin wide receiver core.

3.04 – Braxton Miller WR HOU

At the very least, Miller should be a gadget player who creates mismatches for Bill O’Brien’s offense.

3.05 – Joey Bosa DE SD

Bosa is the best pure pass rusher in this draft and should immediately make an impact in fantasy.

3.06 – Hunter Henry TE SD

The most talented TE in this draft, Henry is a great long-term prospect but don’t expect much in year 1.

3.07 – Malcolm Mitchell WR NE

The Patriots haven’t had much success when drafting receivers lately, but his 2015 season forces me to take notice, especially considering the offense he’s joining.

3.08 – Rashard Higgins WR CLE

One of the best route runners in this draft, Higgins has a great opportunity for early playing time.

3.09 – Jaylon Smith LB DAL

Like Jack, Smith’s value is greatly deflated due to massive injury concerns. I’m slightly more optimistic than I was heading into the draft after Dallas took him early in the 2nd round. It’s also important to note that the Cowboys’ team doctor performed Smith’s surgery. Dallas must feel he’s worth the risk so I’ll take the gamble as well. If you’re a bit more bullish than me, you may need to target him in the 2nd round of rookie drafts to be sure to get him.

3.10 – DeForest Buckner DL SF

San Francisco’s roster severely lacks talent. Destined for a high draft pick again in 2017, DeForest Buckner is a nice building block for the 49ers.

3.11 – Leonard Floyd LB CHI

Floyd needs to be coached up, but the raw talent is intriguing.

3.12 – Mike Thomas WR LA

With an excellent ability to reel in the ball in contested situations, Thomas has a chance to earn playing time with LA in year 1.

Round 4

4.01 – Tyler Ervin RB HOU

4.02 – Reggie Ragland LB BUF

4.03 – Austin Hooper TE ATL

4.04 – Cardale Jones QB BUF

4.05 – Noah Spence DL TB

4.06 – Karl Joseph DB OAK

4.07 – Keanu Neal DB ATL

4.08 – Danny Lasco RB NO

4.09 – Keyarris Garrett WR CAR

4.10 – Shaq Lawson DL BUF

4.11 – Kevin Dodd LB TEN

4.12 – Alex Collins RB SEA

Most Intriguing Pick of Round 4: Cardale Jones – Rumors are swirling that the Bills are lacking confidence in Tyrod Taylor as the long-term solution at QB.  Jones has all the physical tools, but is strictly a developmental prospect that needs a great deal of coaching.

Round 5

5.01 – Robert Nkemdiche DL ARI

5.02 – Deion Jones LB ATL

5.03 – Charone Peake WR NYJ

5.04 – Tyler Higbee TE ATL

5.05 – Jalen Ramsey DB JAX

5.06 – Christian Hackenberg QB NYJ

5.07 – Su’a Cravens DB WAS

5.08 – Chris Moore WR BAL

5.09 – Josh Perry LB SD

5.10 – Kenny Lawler WR SEA

5.11 – Darian Thompson DB NYG

5.12 – Sheldon Rankins DL NO

Most Intriguing Pick of Round 5: Christian Hackenberg – His inclusion in the top 60 is strictly due to the confidence the Jets have placed in him.  When it comes to Christian Hackenberg, I don’t see it.  After a promising freshman year, where he fed now NFL superstar Allen Robinson, he regressed greatly…showing poor accuracy and bad footwork.  The arm talent is there, but he needs to be completely rebuilt by this coaching staff.


Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts – reply in the comments section or tweet me @DaveSanders_RSO!

Carrying the Rock

Updated: May 18th 2016

April 28th 2007. My girlfriend sat outside her family home in the aging cracked leather seats of a still-glistening black Celica convertible on the Jersey shore, and inside I was asking her mother and father for her hand in marriage.   She was blissfully unaware how her life would change that day.  She knew the plan.  She could tell you about the drive to NYC that was to come.  The time and location of the show at the New Victory Theatre.  What she didn’t and couldn’t see was the ring designed for her in my pocket, the behind the scenes intrigue that would put her on a Broadway stage at the close of the show, and the question that would link us forever.

Earlier that day Adrian Peterson was asked “how do you feel about being a Minnesota Viking?”  Megatron got a proposal from the Lions.  The Raiders and Browns were forever changed by Jamarcus Russell and Brady Quinn…Less in a “happily ever after”, and more in “college regret your buddies will remind you of at reunions” kind of way.    This is part of the intrigue of Dynasty.   The commitment GMs make to players.  It is understood that this won’t be a fling, there will be some sickness and health involved.   In reality most human beings and NFL teams are best served by going all in with a commitment to one person.   My bride carrying that rock on her finger, and Adrian toting the rock for the Vikings nearly a decade later speak to that truth.  Fantasy, particularly in RSO, demands a certain degree of fiscal promiscuity, however, understanding that some of the costs will be lost, but ultimately it may prove cheaper to spread three contracts over an uncertain backfield than pay for the services of stud and his handcuff.

April 28th, 2016.  Nine years later the first round of the NFL draft reintroduces us to the wonder and beauty of the fantasy season in earnest after the long national nightmare of the offseason.  Dynasty fantasy GMs carefully gauge the worth of their rookie picks as players meet their betrothed teams for the first times.  Veterans on the fantasy roster rise with the well-placed selection of a lineman with high hopes, or fall as the fickle gaze of a team turns to the next hot prospect.  Last article we looked at teams with relative stability at running back position, or at least a succession plan that seems probable.  The other half of the league can be looked at in light of the majesty of the draft.  Notably, CJA and Murray owners have clear handcuffs and possible successor targets in Booker(Utah) and Henry(Alabama).  Ezekiel Elliott’s bare midriff found its way to Dallas.  This, of course, caused last year’s cellar-dwelling fantasy GMs to squeal like middle-aged women at an N’sync concert.  McFadden and Alf owners were left annoyed and appalled like teachers chaperoning Prom.  Little analysis is needed here, the best RB prospect behind a line regarded as one of the best in football immediately vaults Elliott into top three RB status in the minds of many dynasty GMs.  Experts at Rotoviz make a case that Zeke might already be the #1 fantasy back overall in dynasty.

The fate of the following teams remain in the balance, however, and wise RSO GMs do well to note better deals and opportunity in other backfields as the draft unfolded.   This is not a column advising you to sell as the draft loomed over your players.  Dave Sanders did some prescient work for you on the Dallas and Miami situations, for example.  What we need to look for here are places where the incumbent running back situation is muddled, driving down value, and producing risk and opportunity for owners.  Think like an RSO GM clearly here.  While there is significant value in getting stud running backs described in other places, bigger rosters and the contract format of RSO allows you to monopolize backfields at a reasonable cost.  This hedges against failure and produces situations like Arizona last year where Ellington, CJ2K, and David Johnson could be rostered on your team for less than a single contract for a player like Eddie Lacey.

First the NFC East (DAL, WAS, NYG, and Phi) presents the most opportunity for savvy owners.  We covered Dallas.  Washington has the same offense and a nominal commitment to Matt Jones.  There are plenty of carries to go around as Alf departs with 202 carries.  Keith Marshall landing in Washington promises to have some value this year and moving forward.  Buy Jones and the rookie.  The New York Giants introduce McAdoo as head coach, but as he was the offensive coordinator and Jennings carried the load, it should prove easy for a savvy owner to roster Vereen and Paul Perkins in the hope that one back emerges.  Finally, the Eagles have a relatively loaded, but aging depth chart, proving another opportunity to stagger short terms/trades for Matthews and Sproles to pair with a long-term rookie contract for the rookie Smallwood.

The AFC North (Bal, Cin, Cle) tells a different story.  Hue Jackson leaves behind an offense that produced two backs with over 200 touches a piece.  Hill and Bernard won’t come cheap and as Bernard approaches free agency, the best hope for an owner would be an expensive double-down anticipating the two backs split in free agency next year, but this feels like a scenario to avoid.  Baltimore requires three roster slots for the enterprising owner, as Forsett, Buck Allen, and Kenneth Dixon can all be had at reasonable cost in most leagues.  Whatever back emerges in the lead roll behind a line likely improved by the draft should provide extremely valuable.  Cleveland’s value likely lies in its receivers due to perennial game-flow questions.  Duke Johnson is the value here, unless Hue Jackson drives the hype train too hard.

Staying on the up North in the NFC.  Chicago seems to have a marginal lead back in Langford, but protecting that investment with contracts for Ka’Deem Carey and Jordan Howard should be very affordable.  Langford and company are headed for a committee under Fox and should not demand a premium.  Detroit will offer very little value in terms of opportunity at RB for rookies.  Look to consolidate Abdullah and Riddick in the event one back emerges.  Zenner may be worth a roster spot in deeper leagues.

Rounding out the NFC are two teams that demand consideration.  Chip Kelly’s unpredictability diminishes Hyde as a surefire lead but he is safer than most options in this category.  Rostering a rookie RB that is more of a pass-catcher seems particularly valuable in light of the potential for some big deficits and Kelly’s famously up tempo offense.  Your NFL runner-up is the most intriguing.  The oft-injured Jonathan Stewart is locked in to lead the Panthers in carries this year, but whatever rookie the Panthers sign in 2017 in will be coupled with a strong offense and little competition beyond Stewart, unless a man named Fozzie Whittaker moves you.

The final AFC backfields to target if you believe in gathering all the parties provide one fine situation in Indy.  Owners can trade for/stagger a short term Gore deal with a long term rookie contract.  Dion Lewis must be paired with James White.   Lewis provides the biggest boom/bust potential in terms of injury and usage of this whole group.  Finally Oakland and Miami have relatively strong incumbents, and some failed free agent flirtation by their team in the offseason suggests owners would be wise to assume a 2017 rookie in Oakland and Kenyan Drake factor into their teams’ plans long-term.

In fantasy the best GMs know how to ask the right question.  When confronted with talents like Ezekiel Elliot the answer is obvious.  The more valuable questions in terms of contractual obligations seem to lie in assuming the risk of backfields in their entirety.   Putting the rock in the right hands is such a vital part of real and fantasy football, so pay close attention to the landing spots below and consider the opportunity of the rookies as they answer “yes” to their new teams.

In list form:

  1. Ezekiel Elliot- If you have the 1.1 enjoy.
  2. Dion Lewis- Absurd PPG when healthy.
  3. Yeldon + Ivory- More touchdowns are coming.
  4. Hill+Bernard
  5. Murray + (Deandre Washington)- Breakout offense.
  6. Hyde + (Wait for 2017).
  7. Gore + Rookie (Wait for 2017)
  8. Stewart + Rookie (Wait for 2017)
  9. Baltimore Backfield (Kenneth Dixon) Forsett, Buck Allen
  10. Eagles Backfield Ryan Matthews + (Wendell Smallwood)
  11. Langford + (Jordan Howard)
  12. Jennings + Vereen (Paul Perkins)- Begging for a transition.
  13. Matt Jones + Keith Marshall
  14. Cleveland Backfield (Duke Johnson) Crowell
  15. Ajayi + Kenyan Drake- Will need a couple years for Gase to sort a lead back.
  16. Detroit Backfield (Abdullah) + Zenner/Riddick

The list is ordered in terms of my anticipated points by backfield for the upcoming season.  The backs in bold project better over a three year span.


Bio: Luke @FantasyDocOC is husband, father, doctoral student, and teacher slowly building a reality dynasty league comprised entirely of daughters. Following in the footsteps of Saint Francis, “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” CUA. Hoya Saxa.