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.

FA Expectancy: Brandin Cooks

Updated: July 16th 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.

Brandin Cooks – WR, New England Patriots

The talk so far of free agency didn’t come from a free agent but rather a trade that sent Brandin Cooks from the New Orleans Saints to the New England Patriots. Many people have been touting this as the greatest move the Pats have made since acquiring Randy Moss in 2007. Fantasy fanatics need little reminder of the 23 touchdowns Moss put up in his first year with the team. But should owners expect the same level of production from Cooks in 2017 and beyond?

Those who speak against Cooks have quickly pointed out that he played eight of his games in the dome with New Orleans along with three more games in Tampa, Charlotte, and Atlanta each of the last three seasons. The AFC East, save for sunny Miami, is not a forgiving environment to play in weather wise and people question how Cooks’ blazing speed will translate into the cold and snowy region of Foxborough. Even Michael Fabiano posted a tweet showcasing the split between Cooks’ games indoors and out over the last two seasons.

Fabs Tweet

This is a classic case of throwing out a fact without much context. Yes, the points per game are lower but there’s no understanding as to who the opponents were or who Cooks was matched up against. Cooks actually average more catches outdoors based on this infographic. Needless to say, people are asking the wrong questions about what Cooks means to the Patriots.

So what does Cooks mean to Patriot players?

The Patriots needed a player who could stretch the defense on the outside away from Edelman in the slot and running backs out of the backfield. Having said that I don’t see him being a DeSean Jackson, lid popping, type receiver in the scheme on a frequent basis. Go routes will always be a part of his route tree but I see Josh McDaniels moving him around more to be the intermediate/crossing route receiver; especially on 2nd and mid or 3rd and short downs to pull the safeties away from the middle of the field opening up the underneath for other receivers and backs. Other than Gronk this definitely deflates the number of targets available for other pass catchers. I don’t see Edelman being forgotten this year and he should still put up low WR2/high WR3 points but he could be let go after this season similar to his predecessor Wes Welker. The big hit goes to Malcolm Mitchell owners who are disappointed that they didn’t get a chance to see what he could produce in his second year. Barring a long injury next season to one of the other receivers it will be hard to have Mitchell be anything more than a bye week/flex play.

So what is Cooks’ value?

As painful as it would sound based on what he produced for fantasy purposes last year I see Cooks being in 2017 a slightly better upgrade at what Hogan was in 2016, but with 4.3 speed. The Patriots and specifically Bill Belichick don’t care about your fantasy teams and will use whatever players they think will help them one game at a time. What that means is that there will be games where Cooks will push double digit catch and have multiple touchdowns and then he will be less than stellar for the next two games. The one difference that will save Cooks owners will be that based on the capital the Patriots invested in him his floor will be higher than Hogan’s was on a week-to-week basis with the hope that he replaces Edelman after 2017. If he’s on a decent contract for multiple seasons and is available for a mid-1st or a package for lower picks and players he would be an interesting buy.

So what does it mean for Saints players?

One person leaves so that means more food at the buffet for the rest right? Not exactly. While Cooks did account for 117 targets last season Michael Thomas was actually targeted more with 121 (even Willie Snead got 104). While it is possible that Thomas pushes into the Mike Evans, Odell Beckham and Antonio Brown range of 180 targets it’s more likely that Thomas has a mild increase in 2017 while a new receiver is integrated into the offense with 70-80 targets. Based on this expectation it is probably not worth trying to acquire Thomas who will be at his peak price right now. Instead, scribble in your auction journals to try and acquire Willie Snead on a savvy 2 or 3-year deal. He’s already an early sleeper to push WR2 numbers next season and should have a good couple of years left with Drew Brees. I was lucky to grab Snead in a few of my leagues last year on multi-year deals that would likely cost double this season. As well, keep an eye on any receiver that is brought in either late in free agency or through the draft. Drew Brees loves to spread the ball around and any day two or three drafted receivers that the Saints add could be fed the 70-80 targets previously mentioned. That would be tremendous opportunity value for a player that could be a 3rd round rookie pick this season.


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? Send me a message on Twitter @naandrews19.

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