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.

Pre-Draft Rookie Mock: Picks 13-24

Updated: April 28th 2016

In my previous article I put together a list of the top 12 rookie that could come off your board starting next week. If you didn’t read the first part I am looking at Chad Reuter’s 7 round mock that he put together and from this I am making my own rookie mock draft of the first two rounds for a 12 team league. The first 12 selection are here for you to read. Let’s move on to the second round now.

Paul Perkins, RB

Mock: R2 Pick 13         Proj: R4 Pick 114, Oakland Raiders

Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA

Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA

Perkins has all the traits you want to see out of a RB. He’s quick and agile, has good vision, isn’t afraid of contact and runs to the whistle. Watch his first half against Stanford last year to see each of these traits. In Oakland he would fit perfectly with a young budding offense and would be able to compete with Latty Murray for the starting role. At worst he’s a solid change of pace RB who excels in the passing game.

Pharoh Cooper, WR

Mock: R2 Pick 14         Proj: R5 Pick 140, Tennessee Titans

Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina

Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina

Cooper is a great Swiss Army knife player. He can run and catch the ball as well as return punts. He will likely need to start training camp as a WR4/Special Teams returner but we’ve seen that pay off for rookies before (hello Tyler Lockett). With Tennessee already having Kendall Wright, DGB and signing Rishard Matthews in free agency it would not be an ideal situation for him to ascent to the top of the depth chart but I am a believer that talent usually trumps situation. His time would come.

Tajae Sharpe, WR

Mock: R2 Pick 15         Proj: Undrafted

Tajae Sharpe, WR, UMASS

Tajae Sharpe, WR, UMASS

It’s hard to get excited about picking a guy that is likely a late day three or undrafted prospect. However, once you get past this fact you can see the kind of athlete that Sharpe is. His hand size (8 ⅜ inch) has left many to think that he will have a hard time holding onto the ball at the next level. If you watch his tape though you will see he must be sweating “Stick-Um” because he just doesn’t drop the ball, EVER! For those who follow RotoViz you will also know that he is one of their lovable sleepers in terms of his metric’s scores.

Jonathan Williams, RB

Mock: R2 Pick 16         Proj: R4 Pick 134, Baltimore Ravens

Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas

Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas

Another powerful runner, I like Williams here more than fellow RB Devontae Parker by the slimmest of margins. With the expectation that Justin Forsett is in his last year with the team and Javorius “Buck” Allen is a good but not great RB I believe there would be a clearer path to the starting role. While OC Marc Tresman may favor backs that can catch passes Williams would fit the tough, grind it out running style of the AFC North.

Devontae Booker, RB

Mock: R2 Pick 17         Proj: R2 Pick 63, Denver Broncos

Devontae Booker, RB, Utah

Devontae Booker, RB, Utah

Age has been a big knock on Booker (23) at a position that seems to expire faster than fruit on the counter. But with age comes wisdom and Booker has shown he has the vision and patience to be a successful back in the NFL. To land in Denver would be a question mark with the resigning of both Anderson and Hillman but stranger things have happened. If he landed with a team that had a more direct route to being the starting RB, I could see Booker moving closer to the top of the second or even back of first rounds.

Mike Thomas, WR

Mock: R2 Pick 18         Proj: R7 Pick 233, Philadelphia Eagles

Mike Thomas, WR, SMU

Mike Thomas, WR, SMU

With another Mike Thomas in the draft, there is sure to be some confusion come draft time as to which is being selected. I really like this Mike Thomas as an under the radar player that could compete for a WR2 or WR3 spot despite being a day three selection. Going to the Eagles would dump a cold bucket of water on his upside as the Eagles already have a large collection of WRs and new head coach Doug Pederson comes from KC where other than Maclin, usable fantasy WRs were scarce.

Braxton Miller, WR

Mock: R2 Pick 19         Proj: R3 Pick 70, Baltimore Ravens

Braxton Miller, WR, OSU

Braxton Miller, WR, OSU

The converted QB showed flashes with his one year at WR in 2015. It will be interesting to see which team can mold his raw athletic skills at WR. Because of this he might be limited in his role his rookie season. With Baltimore having Steve Smith coming back for one more year and Perriman healthy and ready to go this season this could be a perfect situation for Miller to learn the position before stepping into a starting role in 2017.

Jordan Howard, RB

Mock: R2 Pick 20         Proj: R4 Pick 120, Washington Redskins

Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana

Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana

Call me a skeptic but I’m not sold on Matt Jones as a starting RB in the NFL. His fumble issues should open the door for another back to come in and share the load in 2016. Enter Howard, who follows the theme of this round by being another big (6’0” 230lbs) runner that can push through the middle. Ironically this is the same style of runner that they let walk this offseason, Alfred Morris.

Rashad Higgins, WR

Mock: R2 Pick 21         Proj: R5 Pick149, New York Giants

Rashad Higgins, WR, Colorado St.

Rashad Higgins, WR, Colorado St.

An easy way to hide your flaws is to be part of a great system. Getting to play next to one of the elite young WRs in Odell Beckham Jr. would definitely take some of that pressure off. While he under performed at the combine, there’s no doubt watching Higgins that he can be a great complimentary WR in a pass first offense. With strong hands, he knows how to trap the ball in his 9 ¾ inch mitts.

Tyler Ervin, RB

Mock: R2 Pick 22         Proj: R3 Pick 90, Seattle Seahawks

Tyler Ervin, RB, San Jose St.

Tyler Ervin, RB, San Jose St.

My same logic applies here that it did with Matt Jones and Washington. While I believe Thomas Rawls is a better and more rounded back than Jones, his short resume and the ankle injury that ended his year will always leave a concern with fantasy owners. Whichever team Ervin ends up with he showed that he can explode out of the backfield with a 4.32 40 time and 130” broad jump, which tested in the 89th and 96th percentile respectively.

Jared Goff or Carson Wentz

Mock: R2 Pick 23

Proj: R1 Picks 1&2, Los Angeles Rams/Philadelphia Eagles

Carson Wentz, QB,NDSU

Carson Wentz, QB,NDSU

Jared Goff, QB, Cal

Jared Goff, QB, Cal

I know this seems like a cop out picking both but at the end of the second round seems like the place for owners to select the first QB in rookie drafts. Depending on who goes to the Rams first will likely dictate the value of these two players also. Neither is likely to be QB1s in their first season, and whichever goes to Philly may sit part or all of their rookie season out. Wentz will offer more running upside but temper your expectations as you should expect more Winston/Luck in terms of rushing attempts than a Newton or Wilson.

Daniel Lasco, RB

Mock: R2 Pick 24         Proj: R3 Pick79, Philadelphia Eagles

Daniel Lasco, RB, Cal

Daniel Lasco, RB, Cal

The last pick of the second round might be a reach for some but for the reasons I wouldn’t like a WR to Philly I would LOVE a RB to fall there. Ryan Matthews is on the training table more than the field and Darren Sproles is well into his 30’s and more of a specialty player at this point. Pederson used the run game heavily in KC and made fantasy relevancy of both Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware last year. Lasco has the same explosiveness that Ervin possesses and would thrive in a similar role as Jamaal Charles was for Pederson’s system.

That’s it for the first two rounds of my pre-draft mock. Other players that missed the cut are Alex Collins to Detroit, Hunter Henry to Chicago and Kenyan Drake to Dallas. It will be exciting to see where the chips actually fall over the weekend. Watch for Dave Sanders and his official rankings once the draft is completed. Look for me @naandrews19 to suggest who you think has the best value in rookie drafts. Happy Drafting!