2017 Free Agency Preview

Updated: July 16th 2017

Welcome to 2017! Hopefully, 2016 was a success in regards to your fantasy teams. We are less than one week away from the start of the NFL Combine which officially starts the NFL offseason activities. While many people will have their attention focused on the incoming rookies, rightfully so, this will also offer the first major opportunity for the rumor mill to start for players set to hit free agency on March 9th. We will have to wait and see which players are ultimately tagged by their team but this could be a great year for dynasty owners that like to take risks on relocating free agents. Along with these free agents, there may be a star-studded group of players that are cut. Once the draft comes around there should be a large number of big names that will be changing uniforms.

To prepare you, the owners of RSO, for the whirlwind that is NFL free agency I’ve gone to the liberty of making a list of the most fantasy relevant players that are either free agents or could be moving teams next season.

QB RB WR TE
Colin Kaepernick (Cut) Adrian Peterson (Cut) Adam Thielen (RFA) Cameron Brate (ERFA)
Jay Cutler Alfred Morris (Cut) Alshon Jeffery Gavin Escobar
Jimmy Garoppolo (Trade) Andre Ellington Brandon Marshall (Cut) Jack Doyle
Josh McCowan (Cut) Benny Cunningham Brian Quick Jared Cook
Kirk Cousins Chris Thompson (RFA) Cordarrelle Patterson Jermaine Gresham
Mike Glennon Christine Michael Danny Amendola (Cut) Jordan Cameron
 Tony Romo (Cut) Danny Woodhead DeSean Jackson Julius Thomas (Trade)
Tyrod Taylor (Cut) Darren McFadden Eddie Royal (Cut) Lance Kendricks (Cut)
DeAngelo Williams Eric Decker (Cut) Larry Donnell
  Doug Martin (Cut) Kamar Aiken Luke Willson
  Eddie Lacy Kendall Wright Martellus Bennett
  Isaiah Crowell (RFA) Kenny Britt Ryan Griffin
Jamaal Charles (Cut) Kenny Stills Vernon Davis
  James Stark (Cut) Markus Wheaton
Jonathan Stewart (Cut) Marquess Wilson
Latavius Murray Michael Floyd
  LeSean McCoy (Cut/Trade) Pierre Garcon
  LeGarrette Blount Robert Woods
Le’Veon Bell Taylor Gabriel (RFA)
  Mike Gillislee (RFA) Terrance Williams
Rashad Jennings (Cut) Terrelle Pryor
Rex Burkhead Willie Snead (ERFA)
Ryan Mathews (Cut) Victor Cruz (Cut)
Terrance West (RFA)
 

Coaches

 

New

 

Former

Anthony Lynn Chargers (HC) Bills (OC/HC)
Chris Ballard Colts (GM) Chiefs
Doug Marrone Jaguars (HC) Jaguars (OC)
Kyle Shannahan 49ers (HC) Falcons (OC)
Mike McCoy Broncos (OC) Chargers (HC)
Sean McDermitt Bills (HC) Panthers (DC)
Sean McVay Rams (HC) Redskins (OC)

 

Throughout the offseason I will be working on a collection of articles focusing on some of these players as they sign new deals (either with a new team or their current team) and the impact they will they have as well as what this means for the players around them. I will also look at a couple of coaching and management changes that you should be aware of and what it means for your players that aren’t moving.

In the meantime make sure to buy-in to your leagues and start those trade conversations again with other owners. The best way to prepare for free agency is to have a list of what other owners may be looking for before your rookie draft. As players begin to sign with new teams having an open communication with your league mates will put you atop their list of first contacts when they want to start trading.

If you want to start a conversation about what any player’s impact could be if they move to a new team reach out to me on Twitter @naandrews19.

Post-Season Sells

Updated: May 28th 2017

A common theme among players I sell in the offseason, particularly high-end players, is increased uncertainty. Surrounding situation plays such a large part of statistical production that I am always wary of players moving from high efficiency, high volume environments.  Not all change is bad (as detailed in my buys), but upper-echelon players rarely move to a better environment when changing teams.  We also must remember that contracts will dictate whether a person is a sell in RSO leagues.  For example, a young player on a full market-value contract may well be a sell for me whereas that same player on a low-cost rookie deal may be virtually untradeable.

Melvin Gordon, RB, San Diego Chargers

Gordon won my mid-season comeback player award this season but is a player who I will likely try to move in the offseason.  His abysmal offensive line play limited his rushing average to 3.9 YPA but he was solid performer in yards after contact.  Almost all of San Diego’s offensive skill position players have been injured at some point (including passing down specialist Danny Woodhead, Gordon’s backup Branden Oliver, and primary receiver Keenan Allen all being placed on injured reserve) leading to an enormous increase in Gordon’s touches this season.  Gordon’s days as a feature back could be over as much of the additional touches he received this season probably moves to other players next season and beyond.  I would move him to any owner who pays high end bellcow back capital.

Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers

Lacy quietly produced quite nicely this year when given the chance averaging a robust 5.1 YPA for Green Bay. He also was among the league’s best backs at breaking tackles and getting extra yards before injuries ended his season.  The problem for Lacy is that Green Bay reduced his role even when he was arguably the most effective player on the field.  The bruiser from Alabama managed only 15 touches per game and was virtually eliminated completely from the passing game.  The prospects for Lacy do not appear particularly bright.  Lacy is a free agent this offseason in a year that is estimated to have one of the deepest draft classes at running back in recent memory.  His most plausible role is as a two-down specialist at his next spot in a location that will almost certainly be worse than Green Bay.

Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery joins Lacy as another high-profile free agent this offseason. Jeffery will be the top receiver available for many teams looking for help at the position.  He has incredible hands plus superior size and body control that give him the ability to make catches that few in the NFL can.  The question is where does he land in free agency?  Wherever he does land, the location will likely not be as good as it was in Chicago.  While Jay Cutler may have many issues as a quarterback, he always provided a lot of opportunity to Jeffery.   The former South Caroline star averaged 9.5 targets per game from 2013-2015 with Cutler primarily at the helm.  Many of the teams in need of wide receiver help have, at best, questionable quarterback play in situations not conducive to fantasy production.  Better to let another fantasy owner in your league carry that uncertainty heading into 2017.

Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys

Dez Bryant was one of the most consistently dominant receivers in the NFL with Tony Romo at quarterback. Dez amassed 88-93 receptions, 1,233-1,382 receiving yards, and 12-16 touchdowns in each season from 2012-2014. Times have changed in Dallas.  Romo ceded starting duties to rookie Dak Prescott who has performed beyond all expectations this season leading the Cowboys to an 11-2 start.  Dallas has not been a high volume passing offense for some time but they have truly embraced the run-first mentality this year with only Miami and Buffalo throwing the ball less.  The result for Bryant’s fantasy production is not optimal as he is on pace for fantasy numbers far below the Romo era.  Dallas seems perfectly content running the ball frequently (to great effect) and nothing suggests they will change anytime soon.  Dez just signed a 5-year deal in 2015 and is likely locked into Dallas for the foreseeable future with a young quarterback for whom we have limited information.  Bryant is still among the best receivers in the game but surrounding circumstances dictate he can no longer be trusted as the surefire fantasy WR1 he once was.

Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

The Gus Bradley era is quickly coming to an end and with it so is Blake Bortles’ time as starting quarterback. The third-year starter has been nothing short of a disaster since the day he took reign of the Jacksonville offense.  He has not managed better than 23rd in QBR or passer rating in any season nor has he completed 59% of his passes.  Worse yet, Bortles has not shown any meaningful improvement as a passer over the years.  Bortles may get another shot in the last year of his rookie contract but quarterbacks who show this level of incompetency over their first three seasons rarely become long-term starters.  Despite his poor play, Bortles put up QB1 numbers in fantasy leagues this season and in 2015.  This occurred primarily due to extreme volume (6th in 2015 and 3rd so far in 2016) generated from Jacksonville falling behind in so many games.  Use Bortles’ fantasy numbers to sell him while he still has a job in Jacksonville.

Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks

The former Saint made a comeback very few analysts predicted returning from a devastating patellar injury that offensive skill position players rarely come back from. Graham soared to the current TE3 this season in a down year for the tight end position where he averages only 12.5 PPG in PPR leagues.   While Graham remains a fluid athletic with great ball skills, he clearly lost a lot of the explosiveness that made him special in New Orleans.  It is possible he regains some of the burst after further recovery this offseason but I will not be betting on it for a 30 year old.  Graham is still a quality option at the position but not a game changer like he once was.  Consider selling to any owner who considers him a top end option.


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.

Make The League Great Again

Updated: August 12th 2016

Many activities in life require an update to keep things feeling fresh. The same needs to be done in fantasy football. A league, especially a dynasty league that shuts down in January and stays stagnant till August will often fold after a few seasons. Of course, it is up to each individual owner to keep active and always look for trades and offseason information to make the league active year round. However, the commissioner of a league cannot leave this to chance and needs to look for ways to keep up the excitement.

Below is a list of ideas that I have seen implemented in other leagues that add creative flare to making fantasy football as exciting as possible.

Spread Out the Offseason

I have a friend and owner in the league that I commission who has branched out to other leagues in the last year. The one major annoyance that he has noticed is that the rookie draft and auction draft are lumped together the same day; or over a weekend in the middle of August. While there’s nothing wrong with waiting to collect all the necessary information to conduct a draft waiting till the preseason starts leaves 7 months of dead air for conversation. Especially in newer RSO leagues that only have between 8 and 12 players moving with each team into the new year, this doesn’t leave a lot of options for offseason trades as most players are sitting locked in free agency. Ideally, you want to conduct your rookie draft sometime between May and June. The free agency auction should be conducted between June and before week 1 preseason in August. This benefits the league by allocating players earlier in the offseason which allows for values to fluctuate over several months as depth charts are shaken up. It also creates more offseason trading due to these changes as well as with injuries.

Triple Crown Rebirth

The goal of dynasty football is to not only win a championship but to win multiple championships to create a dynasty team. However, unlike real NFL owners who have billions of dollars invested in their teams, fantasy owners are rarely bound to their team year over year. Triple Crown Club LogoA league that becomes unbalanced faces a high turnover rate which can damage the league’s playability. To offset this possibility leagues can have the option to have a total reset of rosters should any team win the league three straight years. This means throwing all the players back into free agency and starting from scratch the next offseason. The likelihood of this, especially with how the contract and salary cap structure of RSO helps creates greater parity, is very slim. However, this could be an ultimate prize for owners to strive for. It would create a very strong buzz should any team repeat as champion as owners need to be aware that their team could be blown up should the owner win a third time. This would also alter the trading strategy of the league as a whole as well as the auction values for an owner looking to complete the sweep.

*Bonus* For those of you who have season-ending payouts for standing finishes you can take a couple of dollars each year and put it towards repeat and triple crown winners. Think of it as the Jackpot in Wheel of Fortune where if nobody wins then it just keeps growing until it is paid out. This helps keep owners in the league since they are paying for future riches while also offering a bonus incentive for people to strive for.

Offseason Roster Expansions

This is one that my co-commissioner and I discussed this offseason. In the NFL offseason the roster size of each team balloons to 90 players and then shrinks back down to the 53 man active roster by week 1. If we play on RSO to create the closest experience to being an NFL GM then one should have the roster flexibility that they have during the offseason. Therefore, from the rookie draft through to the 3rd (or 4th) week of the preseason the roster size would be greater than that of the regular season. Depending on your current roster limits and league size a sufficient amount of added roster slots would be somewhere between 10-20% to still allow there to be adequate free agent acquisitions available. The point here is to accomplish three things:NFL Training Camp Logo

  • To simulate the necessary roster selections that GM’s face closer to the regular season whereby one must choose to hold onto a preseason darling or drop them and allow the possibility of another owner scooping them up.
  • To allow for owners to have flexibility when making uneven offseason trades that would otherwise put them over roster limits (i.e. 2 for 1 trades or player for picks trades).
  • To generate low-cost trades for conditional picks and players. If one isn’t able to hold all of their players or favors one over another, they may be able to move them during the “cut week” for conditional 3rd and 4th round future picks.

Preseason Cut Discounts

The second suggestion specifically for RSO leagues would be to offer a second cut “discount” period closer to the start of the regular season. Each offseason in the NFL there are usually a few veteran players during OTAs and training camp that don’t fit with the current roster and are subsequently released.Breaking News NFL The RSO platform already offers a discount before the start of the free agent auction whereby an owner can opt out of an existing contract by paying only 50% of future years’ salaries. However, if you want to implement or already implement an early draft date like I suggested above there are often changes to a player’s value before the start of meaningful games in September. Players who you thought might have major roles on your team can be overshadowed by incoming free agents. Also, injuries and preseason sleepers can usurp roles that you wouldn’t have otherwise foreseen when bidding in July.

Therefore, before the final week of the preseason owner can have the option to release players once again without having to pay their full contract. To reduce the cap charge to between 75-85% (equal to cutting a player of $10M but being charged $7.5M while freeing up $2.5M) could offer the opportunity for owners to open up some much-needed room to add players during the season or to accommodate trades.  When implemented with the aforementioned roster expansion this would also be a great way to hold potential project players over team veterans. Finally, this can also help with restocking the free agency cupboard, and keep everyone on their toes by having unforeseen cuts right before week one.

The most important thing to having a healthy league is to keep up the activity as well as to inject new ideas and themes each year. Make suggestions to your commissioner on activities or policies that you would like to see added to your league. If you are a commissioner, make sure to keep an open communication with all your league mates to ensure that you are creating a league that is enjoyable for everyone and stays fresh year after year. If you like any of the suggestions above or have a unique idea that you have or would want to implement in your leagues share your ideas with us on Twitter @RealitySportsOn or @naandrews19.