Phase 1 Free Agency Grades

Updated: March 29th 2018

The first phase of free agency got off to an explosive start with teams filling needs across the spectrum.  While all of the players fill roles for their new teams, not all of the deals are created equally.  I grade the most fantasy relevant deals looking at their prospective uses and what they mean for your RSO team.

Quarterbacks

Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins lands with one of the best teams in the league in about the best case scenario for Cousins.  The wide receivers and tight ends are arguably better as a group when compared to Washington’s core last season and the offensive line, while likely not better, is bound to be healthier.  New offensive coordinator John DeFilippo is somewhat of an unknown as he only has one stop as coordinator in the NFL and that was with a bad 2015 Cleveland team.  He spent the rest of his professional career primarily as a quarterback coach which is also good for the former Washington quarterback.  Cousins remains in the low-end QB1 conversation.

Grade: B.  Minnesota understands the small championship window for a team based on a dominant defense and went all-in for a quarterback upgrade to maximize their chances during that stretch.  The deal gets dinged for giving a good, but not great, quarterback a practically fully guaranteed top-of-market 3 year/ $84 million contract. The move necessarily limits contract extension options for other star Minnesota players over the next few years.

Drew Brees

Brees technically merited free agent status but there was little question he would resign with New Orleans.  The 39 year old still is one of the best in the business finishing with his best efficiency numbers in seven years and the best completion percentage of his career.  The raw numbers were down a bit thanks to a hugely improved defense and a stellar run game last year.  Brees remains as a solid fantasy QB1 but the video game numbers in the past might be out of reach due to the lower expected volume from better surrounding circumstances.

Grade: A.  Resigning Brees, the face of the New Orleans franchise, was a near necessity for a team in title contention.  Losing the longtime quarterback also would have been a public relations nightmare for both parties.  Brees even bought into giving the Saints a hometown discount.

Others of Note

Sam Bradford transitions to an Arizona team also in transition with a new coaching staff.  The match is not ideal with an immobile, fragile Bradford playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league.  This might be a replay of his 2016 season with lots of short routes and dump-offs for the time he remains healthy.  Case Keenum goes to Denver for a team more on the down-slope than they want to admit.  The defense, while still good, is not what it once was and there is little speed from the offensive skill players.  Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater will fight for reps on the rebuilding New York Jets.  All of these quarterbacks might show up on the bottom-tier QB2 radar for superflex/2QB leagues but, being on teams who possibly draft a long-term answer at quarterback, also could be replaced later in the season depending on circumstances.

Running Backs

Jerick McKinnon

Jerick McKinnon and Dion Lewis were the two highest paid free agent running backs in total contract value and guarantees.  Let that fact sink in for a minute.  Free agency really showed what direction the running back position is headed toward.  NFL teams clearly value multi-dimensional running backs capable of significant contributions in the passing game.  McKinnon’s stock (and hype) rockets upward in San Francisco under Kyle Shanahan.  It is a better scheme fit for the athletic phenom with more outside run plays and heavy pass game utilization.  Additionally, the depth chart below McKinnon is only led by an undersized undrafted free agent, Matt Breida. He will not be a traditional “bell cow” running back dominating touches, but lock in McKinnon as an RB2 for a potentially explosive offensive with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback.

Grade: B+.  This is a terrific fit and a position of need but at a big cost (4 year/ $30 million) for a running back who will not take the large majority of touches.  A closer look at the deal and San Francisco’s cap situation diminishes those concerns somewhat.  The 49ers wealth of cap space allowed a front-loaded contract with minimal commitments and more reasonable cap hits following 2018.

Dion Lewis

New Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur comes from the Kyle Shanahan/Sean McVay coaching tree.  This means an emphasis on dual-threat running backs.  Lewis is very good as a runner and displays exceptional quickness running routes. As a bonus, he is electric with the ball in his hands out of the backfield.  His main issue has always been his susceptibility to injury.  He maintained his health last season and was one of the better backs in the league.  He moves to another solid run-blocking offensive line.  I rank him as low-end RB2/Flex play currently.

What this move really does is limit fellow running back Derrick Henry’s ceiling.  Most people understood Tennessee would, at a minimum, bring in a significant third down back given Henry’s big deficiencies in the pass game.  Lewis provides a lot more than that and will be used throughout the game in multiple different situations.  Henry’s touch share becomes far more game script dependent with Lewis in the mix.

Grade: A-.  While his 4 year/$19.8 million contract is the second highest free agent deal given out, it is still a minimal portion of team cap space like most other running back contracts.  Lewis provides the “combo” back which is a much better fit in this offense and something that was not on the Titans’ roster before.  He will not be depended on to take a full load, which should help health concerns, but will be a great piece for what LaFleur wants to do on offense.

Others of Note

Carlos Hyde moves to Cleveland where he takes the place of Isaiah Crowell.  He is a better runner but also one of the worst receivers in the NFL out of the backfield.  His receiving work, which were largely a result of having a rookie quarterback at the helm, likely dramatically decreases with Duke Johnson as a true weapon out of the backfield.  Hyde downgrades to a borderline RB2.  Speaking of Crowell, he departs to the Jets where he continues his rushing down role.  The Jets have one of the worst offensive lines in the league and probably play from behind a lot next season.  His fantasy prospects remain similar to what they were in Cleveland as a borderline RB3/4.  Rex Burkhead resigned with New England and is joined by former Bengals running mate Jeremy Hill.  The Patriots backfield remains a mess with James White siphoning off receiving work and Mike Gillislee possibly in the mix.  Still, there is massive touchdown upside in this offense and a large target share for running backs.  Burkhead and Hill both make for cheap gambles on a great offense.

Wide Receivers

Sammy Watkins

Maybe no other team’s skill players embrace the strength of their quarterback better than Kansas City.  Watkins gives new quarterback Patrick Mahomes another target capable of stretching defenses and creating big plays.  While this move undoubted should help the offense, what this means for Watkins fantasy value is far sketchier.  The former fourth overall pick has been utilized primarily as a deep threat to this point in his career.  Will he see much increased volume on a team with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce as the top incumbents and essentially a rookie quarterback?  I put him in the WR3 mix although one with a larger range of outcomes and more upside than others in this range.

Grade: C-.  Watkins’ strengths should mesh well with Mahomes but this signing is an absolutely massive commitment to a player with an unknown role in the offense.  Watkins immediately becomes the fourth highest paid wide receiver in average salary for the entire NFL.  This is top of the league receiver money for a player who could conceivably be 3rd on his team in targets.  His big cap hits in future years could also produce difficult roster decisions for the Chiefs.

Allen Robinson

Robinson produced one great season and a few middling ones in Jacksonville.  How much of that is due to the quarterback situation remains to be seen.  It is troubling Jacksonville felt more comfortable signing Marquise Lee and Donte Moncrief to big contracts rather than tagging or resigning Robinson.  His best skill is corralling contested boundary throws which is not the type of throw new quarterback Mitch Trubisky has shown a penchant for.  With that being said, he should still slot in immediately as Trubisky’s top target.  Robinson ranks as a low-end WR2 for what will likely be a low-volume passing attack.

Grade: B.  Chicago needed receiving weapons in the worst way and landed one of the top available at an average of $14 million for 3 years.  Robinson is an expensive gamble based on his injury history and inconsistent production but a risk worth taking for a team with plenty of cap space and little else on the roster.

Others of Note

Paul Richardson fills the need for a speedy deep threat in Washington receiving a big five year deal in the process.  The afore-mentioned Donte Moncrief swindled a fully guaranteed contract of almost $10 million (plus incentives) in 2018 from Jacksonville making him the third highest paid wide receiver in free agency and top-20 in average salary among all wideouts.  This was easily one of the worst skill-position contracts given out in free agency on a player who will fight for playing time but is paid like a top receiver.  Marquise Lee stays in WR3/WR4 mix on Jacksonville’s low-volume passing attack.  Miami dumped Jarvis Landry’s big franchise tag contract on Cleveland only to spend a combined $36 million in five years on Albert Wilson and Danny Amendola to fight for slot and WR2 reps with incumbent Kenny Stills.

Tight Ends

Jimmy Graham

The Seattle experience was not kind for Jimmy Graham.  He never really fit in for what the Seahawks wanted from him when he was healthy and it was painful watching Graham following his patellar injury.  Unfortunately he lost the burst and speed which made him one of the most dangerous receiving weapons in the league with New Orleans.  His great size and hands still let him maintain a role as a significant short-area threat.  The lack of options at tight end puts Graham in the borderline TE1 mix on a potentially explosive Green Bay offense.

Grade: D.  This is an odd fit as Green Bay never utilized the tight end position much during Aaron Rodgers’ reign as quarterback.  Graham can still be a useful role player but clearly is not the type of game changer the Packers invested in.  Green Bay paid for the Graham of five years ago with a contract that makes him the highest paid tight end in average salary for the NFL today.

Trey Burton

Some players make a lot of money on the open market based on a few games filling in for starters.  Trey Burton is this year’s reincarnation after scoring a 4 year/ $32 million contract from the Bears which places Burton as one of the highest paid tight ends in the league.  What role Chicago has in mind for Burton is still a question.  Burton is not big enough to fill the primary tight end spot.  While a good receiver for a tight end, he also is not the type of difference-making receiving weapon that warrants being on the field consistently despite his blocking deficiencies.  Burton slides in the very broad TE2 territory for fantasy purposes.

Grade: D+.  This move seems like a desperation play from a team in bad need of receiving help.  Burton makes for a nice number two receiving tight end for a team but is paid like one of the best tight ends in the league.  There could be some untapped potential here but Chicago paid dearly on that gamble.

Others of Note

Detroit unceremoniously released Eric Ebron after four disappointing years.  He joins Jack Doyle in what could be a sneaky good spot with Andrew Luck returning and a lack of pass catchers signed for the Colts.  Perennially injured Tyler Eifert resigned a single year contract in Cincinnati. Health will be the key issue as always for the former first rounder who has TE1 upside when in the lineup.  Austin Seferian-Jenkins moves to Jacksonville in a low-upside passing attack.  The former Jet has not eclipsed 360 yards in a season and is nothing but TE flier for fantasy purposes.


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.

More Analysis by Bernard Faller

2018 NFL Free Agency

Updated: February 18th 2018

Welcome back! With the NFL free agency just around the corner and the RSO and the site reopened, it is time to start watching who is a free agent or a potential cut candidate before the official offseason kicks off. There will be a few windows between now and March to either sell a player before he moves into a worse situation or buy a player before he joins a prolific offense. Here is a preview of each position’s key free agents as well as some player who could be cut before or during the offseason. Similar to last year I will be picking players that relocate to feature in the Free Agency Expectancy article series done throughout the offseason.

Quarterbacks

QB FAs QB Cuts
Drew Brees Eli Manning
Kirk Cousins Tyrod Taylor
Sam Bradford Ryan Tannehill
Josh McCown Mike Glennon
Case Keenum
Teddy Bridgewater
Blaine Gabbert
Jay Cutler
A.J. McCarron

The fireworks have already started with regards to the quarterback market with Alex Smith being dealt to Washington which should signal the end of Kirk Cousins in the Capital. Without knowing whether or not Drew Brees is going to seriously test free agency we have to assume that Cousins will be the one who will receive the largest contract. We haven’t seen a healthy, young(ish), competent QB hit the market in years so it will interesting to see how teams will court him. There should only be a handful of teams that don’t take a serious look at their starter and wonder if Cousins could be better. For the rest of the available and possibly available QBs, it’s a mixed bag in terms of fantasy relevance. Not sure many will have an impact outside of 2QB league but we’ll see where they land.

Running Backs

RB FAs RB Cuts
Le’Veon Bell DeMarco Murray
Carlos Hyde Doug Martin
Jerrick McKinnon Adrian Peterson
Dion Lewis Chris Ivory
Isaiah Crowell Mike Gillislee
Alfred Morris
Eddie Lacy
Jeremy Hill
LeGarrette Blount
Frank Gore
Rex Burkhead
Charles Sims
Thomas Rawls – RFA
Alex Collins – ERFA

Much like last year, I don’t expect Le’Veon Bell to hit the market, whether it is another year on the franchise tag or Pittsburgh comes to a long-term deal with him. Carlos Hyde would likely have the most upside of any free agent but he does have a history of injuries. He could find himself in a similar situation as Latavius Murray was last year where a team signs him but transitions to a rookie later in the season. After those two it would be hard to trust any RB to be more than an RB3-4 on a week-to-week basis. With another incoming rookie class that is extremely talented and super deep at the position, it will be tough for anyone to feel confident acquiring these available players. At best some will be able to share the backfield with a rookie or one another veteran. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess.

Wide Receivers

WR FAs WR Cuts
Jarvis Landry Jordy Nelson
Allen Robinson Brandon Marshall
Danny Amendola Randall Cobb
Paul Richardson Dez Bryant
Marqise Lee Emmanuel Sanders
Jordan Matthews Allen Hurns
Sammy Watkins Jeremy Maclin
Terrelle Pryor
Donte Moncrief
John Brown
Mike Wallace
Kendall Wright
Jeff Janis
Cameron Meredith – RFA
Quincy Enunwa – RFA
Tyrell Williams – RFA
Willie Snead – RFA
Brandon Coleman – RFA
Josh Gordon – ERFA

There are some big names available in the receiver market as well as some bigger names on the cut list which could make for savvy buy/sell opportunities between now and March. If Allen Robinson finds a new team with an efficient QB he will see his value spike back up to the mid WR1 conversation that it was a couple years ago. Same goes for Jarvis Landry who had good production in Miami with less than efficient offenses the last two seasons. If either or both Packers receivers are booted from Aaron Rodgers’ offense their value will crater. I would be selling both of them over the next three weeks before the trade value completely falls out from under them. Overall, this is the position group to watch throughout the offseason. Lots of moving pieces may create incredible value for a number of these players.

Tight Ends

TE FAs TE Cuts
Jimmy Graham Julius Thomas
Austin Seferian-Jenkins Eric Ebron
Tyler Eifert Vance McDonald
Antonio Gates C.J. Fiedorowicz
Benjamin Watson
Trey Burton
Cameron Brate – RFA  

Tight ends lag behind again as there are very few fantasy relevant options that will hit the open market and the ones that are available are extremely risky. Jimmy Graham started to be productive in Seattle last season with the offense needing to open up and carry their surprisingly weak defense. If he stays in Seattle he could be reconsidered in the top 3 conversation again for TE value. Until we know for sure his value is in flux. The rest of the group is either seriously flawed, injury prone or contemplating retirement which doesn’t bode well for fantasy value. Hopefully, the youth movement comes to blossom soon for this position otherwise it could be a wasteland if Gronk is serious about his retirement.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

Early 2018 NFL Free Agency Look

Updated: November 30th 2017

Week 13 is an important point for RSO GMs out there.  The fantasy regular season ends in most leagues along with the ability to extend players on your roster if using the new contract extension option.  Most teams have a good idea of where they stand heading into the playoffs.  It is never too early to start looking at next season for contenders and those out of the hunt alike.  I take an early view at some of the most fantasy relevant players with contracts ending this year.  This is not an exhaustive list as some players will sign early and others will be cut prior to free agency but it is still useful to view potentially significant changes which we should keep our eye out for.

*Free Agent Listings from Spotrac

Quarterbacks

Top Free Agents:  Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo

The quarterback position might provide us with some very interesting changes next offseason.  A number of high-profile players including future hall of famer Drew Brees, perpetually tagged Kirk Cousins, and recently traded Jimmy Garoppolo possibly hit free agency in 2018.  Garoppolo almost certainly stays in San Francisco after the 49ers gave up a likely early second round pick to New England for his services.  My sense is that Cousins moves on from Washington.  Neither Washington nor Cousins seems completely sold on one another having failed on multiple occasions to get a long-term contract done.  I would be looking to sell Cousins in my RSO league.  He is unlikely to land on a team with such a QB-friendly offensive scheme which fits his skill-set so well.  Brees likely remains in New Orleans.  The Saints finally devised a competent defense to go along with the high-powered offense and have the personnel to get deep in the playoffs for Brees’ final years.

There are a number of other interesting locations with possible openings next season to keep your eye on.  The Minnesota trio of Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford, and Case Keenum all are free agents next year and I doubt anyone, including those in the Vikings organization, has a firm grasp on who of the trio remains.  Miami also might head in a new direction.  Ryan Tannehill, coming off a knee surgery, has shown little to suggest he is the long-term answer and has a contract which provides an easy out without a big cap hit. Jay Cutler is probably a one-year rental.  Denver does not appear to have the starting quarterback on the roster.  First round pick Paxton Lynch looks like a bust after failing to beat out backup-level talent Trevor Siemian for the starting spot in multiple seasons.  Arizona is another team who could be in the market for a quarterback if Carson Palmer retires following the year.

Running Backs

Top Free Agents:  LeVeon Bell, Carlos Hyde, Jeremy Hill, Isaiah Crowell

The cupboard is not as full for quality NFL backs next offseason.  Bell is in a different league than the others on this list but probably stays in Pittsburg even at the cost of another franchise tag.  Hyde, Hill, and Crowell have all displayed the ability to be a solid lead back as part of a committee.  None possesses a true three-down skill-set.  They each have shown the ability to catch the occasional dump off or screen pass and handle pass-protection duties but no one will confuse them with dynamic route runners out of the backfield who an offensive coordinator actively tries to get involved in the passing game.

As usual, the New England backfield remains a mystery.  Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead assumed big roles this year but are free agents while recent acquisition Mike Gillislee was recently left off the active roster and can be cut without a cap hit.  Minnesota’s Jerick McKinnon showed off some impressive playmaking ability at times this year and should provide a quality compliment to a new team with Dalvin Cook returning.  We should also note this might be the last season for Frank Gore who is still churning out yards for Indianapolis at the age of 34.

Wide Receivers

Top Free Agents:  Alshon Jeffery, Sammy Watkins, Allen Robinson, Jarvis Landry

The wide receiver class, on the other hand, is absolutely loaded with top-end talent.  Alshon Jeffery, currently 25th all-time in receiving yards per game, is on pace for another solid campaign.  His best move is signing a long-term deal in Philadelphia with ascending quarterback, Carson Wentz, but may wish to test the market after betting on himself with a one-year deal this past year as a free agent.  Sammy Watkins hits free agency after an injury-filled stint in Buffalo in which the Bills failed to use the 5th year option on him.  Watkins, one of the more efficient receivers in the NFL, owns a big 16.3 yards per reception and over 9 yards per target average over his career.  Allen Robinson has a 1,400 yard / 14 touchdown season to his credit but injuries, Blake Bortles at quarterback, and consistency issues have limited Robinson’s overall effectiveness.  A franchise tag is certainly possible for Robinson who might not want to sign a reduced rate long-term deal coming off a lost season to an ACL tear.  Jarvis Landry amassed 363 receptions already in his four-year career but is likely headed to free agency.  Miami does not seem inclined to pay Landry big money with Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker already signed through next season.  Landry might be disappointed in the free agent market as few teams utilize the slot receiver as extensively as Miami does and thus might not place a big priority on Landry.

There are a number of other notable free agents who also might be available.  Green Bay Packer Devante Adams is in the last year of his rookie deal.  Fellow Jacksonville 2nd round pick, Marqise Lee also belongs to next year’s free agent class and Allen Hurns could be cut with no cap consequences.  Seattle Seahawk Paul Richardson consistently flashed big play potential but is given limited opportunities in the Seahawk passing attack.  Mike Wallace and Eric Decker could provide veteran leadership to new teams after spending time with quarterbacks who struggled throwing the ball.  Most of the Arizona wide receiver core could be gone next year if Larry Fitzgerald retires.

Tight Ends

Top Free Agents:  Jimmy Graham, Tyler Eifert

NFL free agency rarely sees quality tight ends hit the free agent market.   There are few special players at the position and those are usually locked up with long-term deals.  This year is not an exception.  A 31 year old Jimmy Graham has the chance to hit free agency for the first time.  Graham is not the same player after returning from a devastating knee agency, lacking the rare speed and explosion he once possessed. A somewhat diminished Jimmy Graham is still better than the majority of tight ends in the league however.  He is still virtually unguardable in short areas with a big frame, powerful hands, and smooth athleticism that comes from a former basketball player.  Former first round pick Tyler Eifert joins Graham in headlining the tight end class.  Eifert’s early career has been marred by injuries throughout with Tyler playing only 2 games this season before a back injury finished his season.  Like Graham, Eifert is a very athletic weapon in the passing game.  Despite his injury history, the Bengal tight end should find multiple suitors bidding for his services.

We finish the article with the likely retirement of San Diego Charger Antonio Gates following the season as his contract finishes this year.  Gates has played all 15 years of his career with Chargers, is the all-time touchdown leader among tight ends, and a no doubt future hall of famer.


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.

More Analysis by Bernard Faller

FA Expectancy: P Garcon & D Jackson

Updated: July 23rd 2017

Throughout the offseason, I will be preparing a collection of articles that will focus on free agents and trade candidates. The articles will discuss the player in question, and what the move does to their value, as well as what their landing spot means for their new and old teams.

For the last 3 seasons, Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson have been an excellent complement to one another’s skill set, Jackson being the lid-popping over the top receiver and Garcon being the underneath target hog. Despite both turning 31 years old this year there is an expectation for both to continue to produce with their new teams the way they did over the last two seasons with Kirk Cousins in Washington. Jackson will be the first real compliment to Mike Evans in Tampa Bay and Pierre Garcon is reconnected in San Francisco with former Washington offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Despite all this love for the two receivers’ landing spots their ADPs have held in the later rounds of mock drafts, Jackson (91) and Garcon (126). Is there a gross undervaluing that has not been corrected yet with rookie fever on the rise or is the love of two 31-year-old receivers a smokescreen?

What does Jackson bring to Tampa?

When Tampa’s offense had to rely on Adam Humphries and TE Cameron Brate as their second and third receiving options last year you knew they were going to address the position in the offseason, and they did in a big way. By bringing in Jackson, Head Coach Dirk Koetter is embracing the gunslinger mentality that Jameis Winston has shown his first two seasons. While Mike Evans is a big, box-him-out type receiver Jackson has his blazing speed that can help keep additional safeties deep. Not only is that a bonus for Evans to help reduce the number of double-teams he’s used to seeing but should also help the run game by keeping defenses honest with their secondary. The Bucs also drafted TE O.J. Howard and receiver Chris Godwin to work the middle of the field and pose problems for teams trying to only cover Evans and Jackson on the outside.

Overall, the hype that this offense is gaining throughout the offseason is well deserved and could resemble the value that Washington had for fantasy fans. Jackson should have a positive impact on the Bucs offense but you should not expect consistent WR2 production. He’s still a boom-bust player that relies heavily on the long touchdown to have relevant weeks. He has only one season in his nine years where he has accumulated more than 65 catches and has not had more than six touchdowns since 2013. In PPR leagues I would be trying to move him for a more consistent asset while the hype of the offense is keeping him propped up. Once owners realize that he is a 31-year-old receiver that averages more 2 point weeks than 20 point weeks and whose game is purely based on his speed his value will shrivel fast.

What does Garcon bring to San Fran?

If Jackson is the sell because of his skill set Garcon is the definite buy. In Washington, Garcon was a target machine and averaged over 80 catches the last four years. This is encapsulated by his 113 catch season while in Shanahan’s offense back in 2013. This has people drooling at the possibilities for 2017 now that Shanahan has full control of the team’s scheme. There is no real threat to taking targets away from Garcon either as the rest of the receivers feature players such as Marquise Goodwin, DeAndre Smelter, Aldrick Robinson and last year’s “primary” target Jeremy Kerley. While he’s no Kirk Cousins, Brian Hoyer should be a consistent QB that can deliver the ball to Garcon and develop a rapport with him as his go-to receiver. Hoyer has value in 2QB/Superflex for 2017 because of his lack of turnovers and consistent production.

With an ADP of 126, Pierre Garcon has the opportunity to return the greatest value for those that like to take low-risk players in the auction. Unlike how Torrey Smith flopped as last year’s San Francisco sleeper because he did not fit with the offense Garcon should bring a consistency that will be greatly appreciated by midseason. Having 113 catches is probably unrealistic at this point in his career but 70/1,100/6 could be a reasonable benchmark for Garcon to have over the next two seasons. For those that are penny-pinching in your auctions this year, Garcon would be an excellent candidate to place an $10-14MM/2year contract on.

So what does this mean for Washington?

Washington lost two 1,000 yard receivers in the same offseason which should speak volumes to the mess that the organization is with its player management. Just one year removed from winning their division if they cannot find a way to bring back Kirk Cousins they may be the basement dwellers of the NFC East for many years to come.

Coming off back-to-back 4,000-yard seasons Cousins should be able to hold as an undervalued target for 1QB leagues. His receiving core has taken a huge blow but they did bring in Terrelle Pryor and Brian Quick to work alongside former 1st round pick Josh Doctson, fantasy darling Jamison Crowder, and TE Jordan Reed. With Cousins, there is the possibility that any one (or maybe two) of these receivers could reach the 1,000-yard plateau. The difficult is predicting who it will be.

Pryor seems the most likely bet as he showed that he was able to make the transition from QB to WR last year in Cleveland and just barely eclipsed the mark (1,007 yards) last year. Crowder should have the safest weekly floor in PPR leagues as he has established himself as the underneath target for Cousins. He had 67 catches last season with both Garcon and Jackson in the line-up. Those who took Doctson in the top 3 of rookie drafts last season will hope to get more out him this year after missing all of 2016. Depending on how his development as an NFL receiver has been over the last 12 months he could be an effective flex/bye week option in 2017. Jordan Reed is probably the best all-around pass catcher in this offense but it is hard to trust him to stay healthy. Like Rob Gronkowski, when Reed is in on the field he is an advantage to have in your line-up, but that has been far and few between the last couple of seasons. He is one big collision away from never playing football again.

Because RSO forces owners to place a value on players in the auction the question heading into your offseason is how long do you want to continue to invest in this offense? The last two years Washington has been an underrated fantasy goldmine for WR2s/3s and QB/TE1. But if they cannot come to a deal with Cousins and he becomes a free agent next season are they still a 4,000-yard passing offense with a rookie or washed out QB in 2018? Unless you can get any of these players on a very low sum, multi-year contract this is a group of players that I would treat like a redraft and only offer a one year deal. If your league is implementing the new resign figure Cousins, Pryor or Crowder could be excellent candidates if the situation becomes clearer as the season progresses.


Make sure to continue to read more Free Agency Expectancy articles throughout the offseason to be prepared for your summer Auctions. Have a player that you want me to evaluate? Look for my polls to cast your vote or send me a message on Twitter @naandrews19.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

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

More Analysis by Dave Sanders

Arbitrage Time

Updated: April 8th 2016

In the Zone

For those of you reading me for the first time (thank you), I love movies. I quote them incessantly, especially my favorite ones. Glengarry Glen Ross is one of them based on an all-star cast and intense, gripping dialogue (if you haven’t seen it and are a House of Cards fan, picture Kevin Spacey on his heels the entire movie getting chewed out by Jack Lemmon and Al Pacino, amongst others). The movie centers around selling of investment properties and who can “close” the most to win the monthly sales contest (first prize Cadillac El Dorado, second prize set of steak knives, third prize is you’re fired).

Since you are all going after the Cadillac El Dorado and not you’re fired (or some humiliating punishment for finishing last if your league is super intense), every now and then I’m going to write about arbitrage opportunities in your leagues-essentially where you may be able to take advantage of the market on a certain player to gain competitive advantage. To me, for 2016 the lowest hanging arbitrage fruit comes in Washington Redskins Tight End Jordan Reed. Reed is owned on multi-year deals about a third as much as Rob Gronkowski in Reality Sports Online leagues and has favorable contract metrics (1.2 average years remaining, $5.7 million average contract remaining). That’s cheaper at this point than the Jason Witten and Kyle Rudolph deals currently out there.

The Opportunity

A few years ago, I wrote this numberFire article comparing Reed to the contents of the envelope of the frozen concentrated orange juice crop report from Trading Places. This came at a time when Reed hadn’t proven himself to make it through an entire season and was more about potential than production. His 9 catches for 120 yards and a touchdown on a whopping 17 targets vs. Green Bay in the playoffs quelled any further talk of potential as Reed has established himself as a Preseason Top 5 fantasy tight end.

However, in spite of the Preseason Top 5 distinction, based on his concussion history, Reed’s 2016 auction price likely has a fair bit of buy-low upside in it, especially against the competitive set at the tight end position who in some cases, have experienced worse injuries. Gronkowski (ACL, Back, Forearm in the past), Jimmy Graham (Patellar Tendon in 2015), Travis Kelce (Microfracture Knee Surgery in 2013), and Julius Thomas (Hand Surgery in 2015) all carry similar if not worse question marks with way higher Reality Sports Online price tags. Only Greg Olsen has managed to escape missing significant game time in the past few seasons.

So your auction offer for Reed has to consider both his concussion history, the fact that he played like a Top 5 tight end last season (87 receptions for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns in 14 games),  Reed being a 2017 real-life free agent, and the competitive set of who is actually a free agent at the position. I’m even suggesting you take it one step further and consider Reed as a flex-worthy receiving option to pair with the tight ends above or in lieu of spending big on a free-agent wide receiver as well. This accomplishes two great things for you: 1) it dilutes the already not deep pool of tight ends for those in your league needing them, and 2) it gets you a flex playmaker with potentially the same upside and similar stats for cheaper. In plain terms, you can try to get cute and hope for this season’s Gary Barnidge or you can make the market for one of the best tight ends in the league who still has significant upside.

Think about it this way-if you had to choose between Reed and last year’s early-season target monster Keenan Allen, is it really that big of a slam dunk for Allen? I’d say not as Allen is coming off a lacerated kidney which ended his season and while he posted a 67-725-4 line in only eight games, and often runs fairly short and intermediate routes (2.16 yards per route run per Pro Football Focus), which is actually less than Reed with less red-zone potential as well.

If you are considering using your franchise tag for the tight end position, the average of the Top 5 tight ends across all RSO leagues is $13.5 million and that feels like a fairly good barometer for an annual Reed contract in an auction as well. I love the yearly option value of the franchise tag, especially if you took Reed last season as a flier with upside or someone off the waiver-wire. Remember, $13.5 million is the average Top 5 tight end contract across all leagues, yours may be lower. If so, Reed presents a significant opportunity to profit.

Competition for Targets? 

Washington certainly will have an interesting offense in 2016 with Kirk Cousins, fresh off getting the franchise tag around $20 millon for 2016 slinging the football to a ton of weapons and a ground game featuring the punishing second-year pro Matt Jones. The way Jay Gruden’s offense is constructed with DeSean Jackson (in the few games a year he’s healthy) taking the top off the defense on deep balls, allows perfectly for Reed and Jamison Crowder to own the middle of the field, with veteran Pierre Garcon opposite Jackson to get the rest.

So then, what was the need for the team to sign Vernon Davis, you ask? Personally, I think the Davis signing is more Reed injury insurance than anything else (remember Niles Paul is still making his way back from injury, too). GM Scot McCloughan drafted Davis and he played at the University of Maryland, so in essence this is a double-homecoming for him in the event Reed’s pending free agency and injury history catch up to him. However, if you have nervous owners in your league who are worried about Davis you can certainly benefit even further by the target uncertainty facing Reed.

In the end, Reed is a wide receiver playing tight end who makes way too many plays like these for a relatively low cost. So if you want the El Dorado this year, you may need to get on the Reed train this year.


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

 

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