Week 4 Waiver Report

Updated: September 27th 2017

Each week we will recommend a group of players that are owned in less than 50% of RSO league that should be rostered. Depending on roster and league sizes not all of these players may be available. For that, we will offer 1 player that is owned in <10% of leagues as our Sleeper add.

Add of the Week

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE – NYJ (Owned 39%)

Week 3: 5 Rec/31 yards

Seferian-Jenkins (ASJ) joined his new team after serving his two-game suspension and looked like he hadn’t missed a beat. While 30 yards isn’t a lot this offers the perfect opportunity to still get him off the waivers without breaking the bank. The game was well in hand for most of the afternoon so the Jets ran the ball 30 times, limiting the passing game. But ASJ did tie Robby Anderson for the most targets (6) and brought in 5 catches. The Jets figure to be playing from behind more than they were this week which means that there is a definite upside to ASJ’s target volume. Along with this, Matt Forte injured his toe and left early in the game. If he misses any amount of time this only means more dump-off targets will be available. The Jets haven’t had a fantasy relevant TE since the days of Dustin Keller but if ASJ is truly over his personal demons this could be a great turnaround season for him.

Suggested Bid: $500,000 – $1,500,000

RB Add

Orleans Darkwa, RB – NYG (Owned 18%)

Week 3: 7 Car/22 yards, 1 Rec/11 yards

The Giants looked absolutely terrible on offense for the first two games and two-quarters of the season but then they scored three 4th quarter touchdowns and quieted at least some of their detractors. The overall state of the Giants run game is brutal, 48.7 yards/game and isn’t one to get excited about. I still prefer Shane Vereen (who I listed as a waiver add two weeks ago) since he has the greatest upside as the primary receiving back but it appears that Ben McAdoo is still trying to find a traditional way to use the running game in his offense. McAdoo does appear, however, to be losing faith in Paul Perkins since he only had 2 more carries than Darkwa. It’s not an unrealistic expectation for him to try and create a spark in the offense by switching up his lead back. Darkwa isn’t someone that you would add to start but with bye weeks coming soon and injuries to RBs piling up he might be a usable option in weeks to come.

Suggested Bid: $500,000

WR Add

Ryan Grant, WR – WAS (Owned 4%)

Week 3: 3 Rec/75 yards

I wanted to add Grant to this column last week but needed to see more from him and his 1 catch performance in week 2. Finally getting a chance to watch a full game on Sunday Night showed me that he is definitely involved in Kirk Cousin’s target list and is an add in every league right now. The best part of the week 3 game was that Josh Doctson had a highlight reel catch that will make everyone think that he is ready to be a big part of the offense. In reality, Doctson had only that one catch on two targets in the game. Cousins might be looking to Chris Thompson in the dump pass more often but I also expect opposing teams to scheme for this moving forward. Hopefully, this opens up more play action screens giving Grant and other receivers separation downfield.

Suggested Bid: $500,000

Bruce Ellington, WR – HOU (Owned 4%)

Week 3: 4 Rec/59 yards, 1 TD

Bruce Ellington was a player that I rostered throughout the preseason due to a number of receiver injuries that the Texans had. Unfortunately, he didn’t make the final cut for most of my fantasy teams and wasn’t used by the Texans for the first two weeks of the season. He showed up in week 3 however and looked like the second option behind DeAndre Hopkins playing on 70 of 71 offensive snap. He also caught his first touchdown of the season. There was plenty of optimism surrounding Ellington’s potential while in San Francisco so maybe it will be with this change of scenery that he will start to see fantasy value again. There has been recent news that Will Fuller could play in week 4 but between his one-dimensional usage as a speed receiver and frequent drops, the staff may want to see what Ellington can do first.

Suggested Bid: $500,000 – $1,000,000

TE Adds

Vernon Davis, TE – WAS (Owned 15%)

Week 3: 5 Rec/58 yards, 1 TD

Surprise, surprise Jordan Reed is injured and missed another game. If it walks like an injured duck and squawks like an injured duck then it’s probably an injury-prone duck. As I mentioned in the Grant piece above, Kirk Cousin’s is likely going to be throwing a high number of passes this season and likes to use his TE in the passing game each week. Vernon Davis may not be the player he was San Francisco years ago but there’s a reason Washington values him enough to have behind Jordan Reed. He’s a player who knows how to play fundamental football and gets open with his route running and quickness. Reed will likely be out for other games throughout the season so Davis will have his days. Tight End production can be hard to predict outside of a handful of players but if Reed is out Davis should be started in all leagues.

Suggested Bid: $1,000,000 – $1,500,000

Sleeper Add (<10%)

Corey Clement, RB – PHI (Owned 5%)

Week 3: 6 Car/22 yards, 1 TD

Another preseason player that both fellow RSO writer Bob Cowper (@RobertFCowper) and I liked this preseason was undrafted rookie running back, Corey Clement. I spoke about his potential in this offense in my preseason watch list article here. After Darren Sproles was injured last week he finally got see some action and he showed flashes of his ability with limited reps, scoring a late touchdown. Remember, during the preseason there were rumors about LeGarrette Blount not fitting well with the Eagles run scheme and Wendell Smallwood looked sluggish. Both were considered plausible cut candidates. Now that Sproles is done for the season (ACL tear and broken arm) Clement may have his shot to prove that he can be a part of this offense. It may not be immediate but I would expect Doug Pederson to play the guy that gives him the best chance to win the game; which I think could be Corey Clement.

Suggested Bid: $1,000,000 – $1,500,000

The Art of Trading-RSO Style

Updated: November 6th 2015

Danny Woodhead could be an interesting player to acquire at the trade deadline.

Danny Woodhead could be an interesting player to acquire at the trade deadline.

When you and your friends signed up to join a Reality Sports Online league, you basically walked into the corn like in Field of Dreams. You weren’t necessarily sure what your initial strategy would be, but like other owners on the platform, you needed something more challenging, more engaging, basically an NFL-General Manager experience to break from the monotony of the everyday redraft league.

That’s exactly what you’re entrenched in and winning your league against your friends who you consider to be of above-average intelligence would be sweet, very sweet. Now you are at the point where you’ve meticulously managed your roster, strategized over rookie draft picks, made a deal or two, had some injuries, doled out some long term contracts, used your franchise tag and are ready to get raise your fist in the air for your first RSO championship.

The final piece to that roster puzzle to win your league may or may not come at the trade deadline, which is upcoming for several leagues. For non-contenders, the trade deadline becomes a chance to salvage some value (particularly future rookie draft picks or developmental players) for expiring players who won’t be retained but may help a contender. For contenders, the trade deadline is the last chance of the season to add a piece to help you for your championship run and potentially in future years.

The art of trading in your RSO league is all contextual and situation dependent which makes it the most complex set of scenarios you can face down the stretch in your attempt to gain lifetime bragging rights on your buddies because flags fly forever and your championship forever becomes part of league lore.

With that, let’s discuss some scenarios that you may be facing at the deadline, with a quick primer first.

Every now and then, we get Tweets asking about trades and whether or not you should do them. Let me start with some obvious advice-context really matters. Of course I’d rather have Julio Jones than Allen Robinson all things being equal. But if Robinson is on a second-round rookie deal and Jones costs me $30 million a year, Robinson’s value and point production allows so much flexibility that he’s more valuable than Jones to me. So make sure you consider the following when making any trade deadline deal:

1) Are You a Contender or a Non-Contender?

This can be a tricky question depending on what kind of league you are in. For instance, the top four records make the playoffs in my league plus another two wild-cards based on total points scored. So there’s multiple ways into the playoffs and teams that are on the fringe of one or the other can still be chasing these up until the last week of the season. Which makes our league super-exciting, but also hard to gauge how a team sees itself.

To me, total points scored is a good barometer at this point for how your team really is performing. I know there are bye weeks and everything, but if I learned anything in business school, it is the bigger the sample size, the better and a sample size of 30 typically takes out the randomness. So if you go to your standings and to the breakdown section, you’ll see your record if you played every team in your league each week. If your record is strong (sample size is definitely bigger than 30), it means you are putting up ample total points to contend in your league. If it is below .500, your overall record may mean you are getting lucky and you should be a seller.

Every owner has to decide where they fit at the deadline, but false optimism usually leads to straddling and backfires. So if you are playing for next season, act like it and get some assets that will help you more than having a few more weeks of Jonathan Stewart.

2) You don’t always have to get the best player in the deal, but make sure you are walking away with the best valued player in the deal.

Your lineup is like a puzzle and you have to put together the best lineup possible to win. Through the auction, rookie draft, in-season free agency and trades you’ve made thus far, you have to fit the player and the cap space you are targeting into your lineup. The natural inclination as your league trade deadline approaches is to go hard after the obvious names, a bunch of studs that you think can put you over the top, even if their contracts may not be good.

Hold off on this approach, unless the capital required is reasonable. The truth is if you are contending, you probably have a lot of solid pieces already. You don’t need two more years of Adrian Peterson at $25-30 million a year, you need Eric Decker at $5-$8 million a year for the next two-three years (or even one year). Plus the trade capital required to get a player like Decker will be way less (Editor’s Note: Goody indeed just traded Kendall Wright and his 2016 2nd Round Pick for Decker).

3) If you’re trading rookie draft picks, figure out what they are worth to you. What’s a Rookie Draft Pick Worth? should help you immensely in that pursuit.

In my main league, I’ve seen rookie draft picks (particularly first rounders) move back and forth all season as teams have gone in and out of determining whether they are contenders. Meanwhile, the top two contenders (me included) have kept their picks intact and watched these teams make these moves.

Examples of these trades include Ben Roethlisberger’s owner panicking when he went down and trading his first for a one-year, $15.0 million Drew Brees deal (which so far, along with a solid cast has kept that team near the top of the standings), and a team traded a first rounder and Coby Fleener for DeMarco Murray (who was franchised in 2015). In total there have been fifteen trades so far this regular season in my 12-team league, most of which involving 2016 first-round draft picks.

I can with fair certainty say that save for myself and another top team, that most of the serious playoff contenders (and by that I mean the ones who can do serious playoff damage), don’t have draft picks to trade at the deadline to upgrade their teams. As a result, for me, it may be best to stand pat and not make moves unless this other top team does. Assuredly, assuming team health, trading first rounders seems to be out of the question when I can stand pat and still have a very good shot of being a top two team without making a deal. Thus in my particular situation, even though my draft pick figures to be towards the end of the first round, I’ve determined that it isn’t likely worth it to me to trade my 2016 first rounder to try to get a player to help ensure I win the championship this year. That doesn’t mean I don’t have other players I couldn’t move to get another piece (more on that later).

Please note that I’m more clingy to my rookie draft picks in a league with four-year rookie deals than three-year deals, especially since most owners are already one year into those deals. So if you are in the last year of an Eddie Lacy rookie deal for instance, getting something of substance back could be a coup.

4) Remember that you aren’t necessarily looking to “win the trade”, but rather get the value that propels your team to greater heights either now or later, depending on what your goal is.

So many trades don’t happen in fantasy leagues, because one owner is trying to get over on another. We’re all smart owners on this platform, so appropriate value the best way you know how. At the deadline you have two types of teams-contenders and non-contenders. Contenders want help now for the short-term (and maybe a year beyond) and non-contenders want future assets in the form of draft-picks or development players. If a non-contender decides that trading Martellus Bennett for three years of Jay Ajayi floats their boat, then other owners shouldn’t judge. The same thing goes for if a team makes a move going for the playoffs and it blows up in their face. Last year, a leaguemate did exactly that in my league and I think they’ll be way more careful at the deadline this year.

5) Throwing the farm and multiple good players for one great player doesn’t make as much sense in a league like this as it does in a redraft league.

I’ve seen some Tweets lately asking my views on multi-player trades. The one that stuck out to me was someone asking me if they should trade Jordan Matthews, Mike Evans (both on original rookie deals) and Gio Bernard for DeAndre Hopkins (3 years, $48.0 million) and a 2016 2nd rounder? Of course, I drilled in on context, but while this trade may make sense in a redraft league, no way am I give up two cheap, young assets plus Bernard for Hopkins (who I do think is a Top-5 wideout).

The upside is just too high on Matthews and Evans, plus the value given of three fantasy starters for one studly starter just doesn’t compute for me.

If I’m a contender at the deadline, I’m not looking to get back less starters than I’m giving up, unless I have a super deep bench. If making a deal like the above, though to get Hopkins means I have to start a player I can’t trust weekly in the playoffs to replace a guy I just traded while giving up multiple starters, the point differential Hopkins is giving me doesn’t matter. I’m not starting Nate Washington or Malcom Floyd in the playoffs without a serious down-the-stretch track record or injuries just to get myself a player like Hopkins.

6) Don’t be afraid of the one-year contract expiring player for several reasons.

A few weeks ago, a Twitter follower @naandrews19 sent me a few messages about how to value first year players. Nick was asking me how to value these in his league when others were so focused on multi-year players and suggested I write an article about it. First off, thanks Nick for the idea and for following me. Second, hopefully I can address the one-year expiring player, who I do believe has more value than your league counterparts think.

Nick was saying that most of his league was very afraid to trade their picks for “rental” players, guys on one-year deals. This is faulty logic to me. I know the tendency in leagues like this is to try to lock up a bunch of studs on multi-year deals. However, sometimes that blows up in an owners face. In fact, in your first few years, your best team strategy is probably to avoid getting yourself into bad contracts. Ask the owner of Charles Johnson about multi-year deals now and see what he says if he/she can get out a complete sentence without a bunch of expletives.

With that, let me be explicit. There are certain types of players worth trading your first-round draft picks for on expiring deals. Those players to me are guys that you’d consider putting the franchise tag on in 2016. If you already have an obvious franchise tag player based on your league dynamics, or the amount this newly acquired player would cost you in 2016, don’t fret. You still may be willing to part with a 2016 first rounder if you know that you will be in the bottom few picks of the first round and the player you’re getting is worth it. Logically, you’d prefer to give up a second rounder because the picks don’t snake, so you aren’t really giving up much from that standpoint with a second rounder. The happy go between may be to give up a second rounder and a player (either a mid-tier player or a devy guy if you have many of them).

In terms of examples, guys like Danny Woodhead (still currently in the Top 5 in PPR league scoring at running back) are prime examples of players who may not have a ton of future value but can make a significant contribution for your team towards a title.

7) Who is your biggest roadblock to winning a championship and what are they doing at the deadline to improve their team?

Sometimes you have to follow a game theory strategy and only make moves if you perceive your biggest roadblock is going to make them (or already has made them). As a contending team, you have a certain window to remain competitive, so keep that in mind in any deals made. That said, on my current team, I’d be more than willing to move a guy like Chris Conley and his 6’3′, 205 lb frame and 4.35 40-time on a cheap multi-year deal if it netted me the piece I needed to put me ahead of my rival. If the right player was available and the other trading partner wanted someone else in the deal with Conley, I feel like a guy like Vernon Davis could be of interest in his new Denver locale.

If the other team is doing nothing, you may not need to do anything (sometimes doing nothing is actually the best strategy), but be acutely aware of where their weaknesses are and see how you really match up with them in a one-game playoff scenario

8) Non-contending teams should be looking to unload bad contracts as well as pick up future assets.

I feel like I’ve been banging this drum all year, but non-contending teams want three things in this order: 1) future draft picks 2) to rid themselves of bad contracts 3) developmental players. If you are a team that’s fallen on bad luck with injuries or non-performance but have a wealth at a certain position, perhaps you package that wealth with a bad contract (think guys like Michael Floyd or Victor Cruz) to get a combination of assets and contract relief. Heck, if you haven’t moved a player out for the season to IR, you can even trade them if they have future years (guys like Arian Foster) if you are thinking they won’t come back at the same level or at all. Like the NFL, however, you can’t trade players off of your IR on the RSO platform.

So, those are some of my thoughts as your league deadline approaches. I find myself currently to be a buyer in both leagues I’m in (I’m a jaw-dropping 8-0 in my writers league, dominating in total points scored and searching for an area to improve in a 10 team league and I’m 5-3 in my main league with the second highest point total). I don’t know if I’ll get any deals done in these leagues, but I certainly am thinking about potential offers at this point.

Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @mattgoody2 to talk trade strategy, general questions, start/sit, whatever is on your mind RSO wise and good luck this week!

Droppertunity Knocks

Updated: April 21st 2015

Drew Brees

As a parent of two young kids (probably not alone among the demographics of Reality Sports Online owners), I must say that outside of watching sports, I don’t get out too much or get to watch too much TV either. My Friday nights are typically spent going out to dinner with the family, putting the kids to bed and watching one of the few exceptions-Shark Tank. My wife and I started watching “The Tank” about two years ago. I went in with low expectations, dipping a toe or two into the water in fear that Mark Cuban would be the same guy he is as an NBA owner complaining about the refs. I really didn’t know the other “Sharks” prior to watching for the first time.

However, aside from when Sharks like Robert Herjavec get on their high horse and throw a tantrum because a contestant actually wants to hear all the potential offers before making a decision or when Kevin O’Leary offers a royalty-laden deal where he basically wants perpetuity rights for “loaning” money, I love the show. I pause it like it is a football game and discuss the strategy with my wife. Perhaps it appeals to my business school self – as it represents a part of business school I ignored–I went to a Top 20 MBA Program but never took any entrepreneurship classes, which is something I definitely regret.

What I like most about the show is seeing the good ideas and hearing the passion in the voices of the entrepreneurs. Frankly, it is exactly why I’m drawn so much to Reality Sports Online and Matt Papson and Stephen Wendell who run it. It doesn’t hurt that these two share my passion for sports and are genuinely really good people as well.

At the same time, sometimes the best part of the show is when these slick-talking entrepreneurs who resemble Kentucky Coach John Calipari come in with a non-viable product or idea and the Sharks find tactful (Lori Greiner and Barbara Corcoran are best at this) or insulting (Kevin O’Leary) ways of rejecting the entrepreneurs. The conclusion typically ends in “For these reasons, I’m out!”. Cuban, frankly, is the best at rejecting the scheisty snake-oil salesman. He cuts them off, rolls his eyes, insults them casually and makes it clear he’s ending it, typically within one minute of their pitch.

With that, this article is centered around dropping your multi-year contract players and the strategy behind that. I’ll get into the RSO contract database some and discuss average contract lengths and dollar figures and walk through some strategies centered around cutting bait with past contracts you regret.

Before getting into that though, let’s talk Le’Veon Bell and his suspension for a minute first.

How Do I Value Le’Veon Bell This Season?

Bell was no doubt the best running back last season. With his three game suspension announced (pending appeal), RSO owners are left trying to figure out how to value Bell. For starters, let me be painfully obvious- you are not dropping Bell. No way, no how.

If you are weighing whether or not to use your franchise tag on Bell (a topic we discussed in detail last week), it is probably a yes at RSO league averages of around $21.2 million, especially if you are good at finding replacement value those first three weeks. If the price tag in your particular league is higher than that, high level I’d probably say no simply on the premise of knowingly paying for someone who is missing a decent chunk of time.  The good news is that at least you’ll be paying for someone who is missing time without an injury. I hate knowingly picking injured players, especially on a one-year contract.

Take your league dynamics and the type of running backs available in free agency into account when considering franchising Bell. As some of you may know, I write for numberFire as well and my colleague Joseph Juan did an amazing study  on running back longevity this week. If you are considering Bell against someone who has already hit the 1,800 carry cliff, eat the three games and stick with Bell.

If you have Bell on a multi-year deal, it is probably below market value and there is significant value in that. Just simply hold and paint around the edges in your auction to get someone who has a favorable schedule the first three weeks of the NFL season when Bell is suspended.

If he’s a free agent in your league and you are trying to figure out how to value Bell for your auction, the suspension really is a non-factor, especially if you are looking at him on a multi-year deal. If owners in your league are skittish about Bell, you may be able to achieve a little bit of savings on him. I would avoid signing Bell to a one-year deal unless you are taking advantage of his suspension to get him cheaper than you’d otherwise be able to get him.

Remember, Bell is no Josh Gordon. Gordon who was suspended for two games in the 2013 season, was coming off his rookie season and was not as proven as Bell at the point of suspension. The risk and dollars invested in a fantasy league consequently were much lower, even if Gordon ended up having a historic season in the 14 games he did play.

So, no need to channel your inner Shark on Bell. You’re not out!

Droppertunity Knocks?

First, I’d like to note a few things about dropping a multi-year contract player before we talk specific players.

1. Dropping a Multi-Year Player is often a last resort.

I feel like I see a few tweets every year from RSO owners that imply impulsive cuts are coming from them as soon as their league reopens. I don’t want to sound like captain obvious here, but eating 50% of future years is not a desired outcome, but sometimes recouping cents on the dollar may make more sense for your RSO franchise. This is especially the case when the NFL gifted RSO owners another $10.3 million in cap space for our 2015 season. The extra money can also work the other way as another reason to go big in free agency and start getting out from your undesirable contracts.

Also, you have to assume that your player in most circumstances will not get claimed on waivers and save you from 100% of the player’s contract.

2. If the player is still in a good situation, try packaging him in a trade before dropping him.

If the player is still talented, but overpriced, try trading him in a package to another team. Say you overpaid for C.J. Spiller a few years ago because you got drawn into the “run him until he pukes” coachspeak. Spiller still has talent and may be an interesting play on the Saints. However, are you really interested in paying him another 2 years and $13.5 million a year? The answer is a definitive no.

If this is your reality, before cutting Spiller, you may want to get creative. If you are one piece away from winning this league and are entering a plum free agent market, while I generally don’t like trading first round rookie draft picks, if it gets you out of 100% of Spiller you have to seriously think about it. Say Spiller and a first rounder for a second rounder. This frees up good cap space in your auction.

3. How many years a Multi-Year Player has remaining is critical in this equation.

A multi-year player with one year remaining is easier to trade, cut, or justify keeping. If you’ve already weathered a year of zero production from Adrian Peterson your mentality of cutting him in 2015 is different if he has one or two years left at his high salary. If you have two years left, you want him gone. If one, you are really thinking about what you want to do.

4. With very few exceptions, if your player is not currently on an NFL roster, drop them.

I’m not going to spend a bunch of time on the Chris Johnson (1.3 years remaining average, $7.5 million annual average) and Ben Tate (1.7 years remaining average, $5.9 million annual average salary) types in this article. If a team hasn’t thought enough of your player to sign him (even as a backup), what are you waiting for? Get your 50% back and start planning your 2015 roster.

5. Don’t think you have to make a splash dropping players to be effective in doing it.

Just because someone like Miles Austin or Aaron Dobson isn’t someone you are paying $10.0 million a year to, if you get back money that you think you can repurpose better in the Free Agency Auction on a player that has a very low probability of being in your starting lineup on your fantasy team, do it. To me, there’s no ego in admitting a mistake, just roll with it and at least appreciate that this mistake was a low dollar one that you can course correct this year.

At the same time, though, don’t get too deep into this. If you have someone like Antonio Gates on your roster for another year at $2.0 million, his expected value is better to you than what you can do with 50% of his money.

Full Disclosure- How I Did in 2014

In 2014, I was most successful in advocating dropping running backs. While I incorrectly said to hold onto Trent Richardson for another year (drop him immediately if you still have him), I got Ray Rice, David Wilson (hate being right about career ending injuries), and Maurice Jones-Drew right. I didn’t get Lamar Miller right, but I attribute a lot of that to Knowshon Moreno getting injured in Week 1. Funny how a year changes things as Miller is really interesting to me for 2015.

I also did well on Wide Receivers, telling you to drop Danny Amendola, Dwayne Bowe, and Kenbrell Thompkins. I said to stick with Roddy White and while he didn’t quite get to 1,000 yards this season, he was productive. The question is did his production warrant his price.

I didn’t take firm stances on quarterbacks (don’t worry I will this year), so there are no conclusive results and the tight end pool I talked about was not very exciting. I’d say I missed there as Owen Daniels became a solid Dennis Pitta injury replacement and Coby Fleener had a pretty solid season even if I don’t think he’s a very good football player.

Top Drops for 2015

Drew Brees, Quarterback, New Orleans Saints– First into the tank is Brees (2.2 average years remaining, $19.9 million annual average), who led the NFL in passing yardage in 2014. While Brees still of course has top QB potential, I’m downgrading him not only because Jimmy Graham is now in Seattle and Kenny Stills is in Miami, but due to New Orleans increased focus on the running game as well. This takes away Brees’ ability to take the roof of the Superdome with the deep ball and limits his big play making ability, effectively turning him into the dinking and dunking of the QB (watch last year’s home game vs. the Bengals for an example) who replaced him in San Diego. Adding insult to injury, his replacement Philip Rivers (1.6 average years, $4.4 million annual average) is significantly cheaper. Do the math, drop Brees, pay around $10.0 million in dead money and pick up Rivers (Big Ben, Tony Romo, a similar quarterback) for around $5.0 million and have $5.0 million in dispensable income in your auction for similar expected production to Brees. You also could get lucky and someone could bail you out and relieve 100% of your Brees obligation on waivers, even on name recognition. For those reasons, “I’m out!”

Colin Kaepernick, Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers– If you still have him, you are paying Kaepernick (2.2 average years remaining, $8.9 million annual average) more money than most owners are paying Big Ben and Romo. That salary is for “bad decision, no weapons Kaepernick” as opposed to “destroying Green Bay in the playoffs with his legs and arm Kaepernick.” Kurt Warner may be working with him on his mechanics, but there is nothing about Kaepernick as a pocket passer that excites me with how big his sample is starting to get. I don’t need Rob Lowe telling me what to do here, “I’m out!”

Adrian Peterson, Running Back, Minnesota Vikings– I’m looking at Peterson (2.2 average years remaining, $23.0 million annual average) from a potential production standpoint against price only. He’s 30 years old now and while he barely had any tread last year and finally gets an opportunity to play with his best quarterback in awhile, I just like the financial freedom that comes with cutting him if you can’t get trade value for him, especially if you only have a year left. If you have more than a year, you may be in a rebuilding situation that warrants moving on from AP as well.

Andre Ellington, Running Back, Arizona Cardinals– You may be surprised seeing him on this list as a third year NFL player who has a second gear, however Ellington (2.4 years, $11.1 million annual average) is someone I’d think of moving on from. His coach seems to think he can’t hold up with a bell-cow workload and neither do I. Additionally, he simply wasn’t productive with the opportunities he had, as one of the least efficient rushers in the numberFire database. I wouldn’t move on from him unless the Cardinals draft a running back high because 50% of his savings may not be enough to find his replacement. On the flip side, someone else would potentially pick him up on waivers based on his “upside” and free you completely from him.

Brandon Marshall, Wide Receiver, New York Jets Don’t pay for Top 5 receiver Marshall on the Bears (2.1 years, $18.6 million annual average) for an older, lesser version on the Jets. I’m out faster than Cuban on this one.

Julius Thomas, Tight End, Jacksonville Jaguars- I know that Thomas (1.8 years, $13.9 million annual average) has had double-digit touchdowns (12 each year) two years in a row. Alas, Peyton Manning could teach my five year old son how to catch touchdowns. The Jaguars are building a nice offensive nucleus, but when you combine Thomas’ history of ankle injuries, the Jacksonville offense, and simply not being in Denver, you can’t justify paying Denver prices for him in your RSO league. For those reasons, “I’m out!”

Other Players to Cut Without Hesitation:

C.J. Spiller, Running Back, New Orleans Saints (2.0 years, $13.5 million annual average)

Zac Stacy, Running Back, St. Louis Rams (2.3 years, $8.3 million annual average)

Andre Johnson, Wide Receiver, Indianapolis Colts (1.5 years, $9.6 million annual average)

Victor Cruz, Wide Receiver, New York Giants (1.9 years, $10.6 million annual average)

Cordarrelle Patterson, Wide Receiver, Minnesota Vikings (2.6 years, $7.9 million annual average)

Vernon Davis, Tight End, San Francisco 49ers (1.7 years, $6.7 million annual average)

Other Players to Think About Cutting:

Jay Cutler, Quarterback, Chicago Bears (1.7 years, $5.3 million annual average)

Christine Michael, Running Back, Seattle Seahawks (2.3 years, $3.3 million annual average)- especially if the team drafts a running back, but noting that Robert Turbin is a free agent in 2016.

Larry Fitzgerald, Wide Receiver, Arizona Cardinals (1.7 years, $11.0 million annual average)

That’s all for now, fellow sharks. I sincerely hope you enjoyed and this is helpful. Feel free to reach out to me with key decisions you are facing via Twitter @mattgoody2 . I’m more than happy to help you with your key decisions.

Trying to Build a Champion

Updated: April 21st 2015

My favorite league that I participate in is the Matt Waldman/Rookie Scout Portfolio Experts league. Matt was an early adopter of Reality Sports Online, and was kind enough to start this Experts league two years ago when we were just getting off the ground. If you don’t know who Matt is or what the Rookie Scouting Portfolio is, take a quick tour of the site. If you love the NFL, whether you’re a Fantasy person or not, the Rookie Scouting Portfolio is worth the $20. When it comes to Fantasy, I recommend a lot of sites (there are a lot of good ones!), but when it comes to scouting and player evaluation, there are very few I would recommend. I’ve read dozens of player evaluations done by NFL Scouts, and Matt’s stuff is NFL-team caliber. I don’t follow college football as closely as I used to, and Matt’s comprehensive guide actually helps prepare me for the NFL Draft so that I’m as interested in rounds 3-7 as I am rounds 1 and 2.

The league has great Fantasy experts from many different sites:

I took over an immediate rebuilding project after both the Rookie Draft & the first year Free Agency Auction were complete. An Owner had to leave the Free Agency Auction at the midway point because of extenuating circumstances, so I ended up with a half-way assembled team. I made a flurry of pre-season moves and trades (outlined at the time by Matt Waldman here) to try to position myself for the future. Year one was rough, mostly because I ended up overachieving at 5-8, and ended up with the 5th pick in the 2014 Rookie Draft.

Entering the second year of the league, I was mostly a blank slate, returning Alex Smith (traded for) and a couple of above average Wide Receivers with Antonio Brown (traded for), Michael Crabtree (inherited), and Percy Harvin (traded for). I also had Christine Michael (inherited) and Kyle Rudolph (inherited), who at the time, still held some promise.

I had traded my 2nd round pick away, and entered the Rookie Draft planning to draft a Running Back who would get touches. I desperately wanted to select Carlos Hyde fifth overall, and was certain he was still going to be available. Mike MacGregor held two of the first four selections in front of me in the first round, and he already had a ton of depth at RB. Mike Evans went off the board first, Sammy Watkins second, Brandin Cooks third, and of course, MacGregor selected Carlos Hyde with the 4th pick. In retrospect, at #5, I could have adapted on the fly and selected a WR (Kelvin Benjamin, OBJ, or Jordan Matthews), or took a shot on Jeremy Hill (who was projecting to be in a time-share at best), but I didn’t have my crystal ball with me that day, and I took Bishop Sankey. Even with Sankey and no 2nd round selection, I was still able to salvage the draft (in my opinion) landing Lorenzo Taliaferro in the 3rd, De’Anthony Thomas and Dri Archer in the 4th, and Colt Lyerla and Jimmy Garoppolo in the 5th. Entering their sophomore seasons, I’m more excited about Taliaffero, Thomas, and Archer than Sankey.

In the second-season Free Agency Auction (first with me at the helm), I handed multi-year contracts to Nick Foles (4 yrs/$25M), Vernon Davis (2 yrs/$16.5M), Bryce Brown (3 yrs/$10.5M), Anquan Boldin (2 yrs/$9M), Knowshon Moreno (2 yrs/$8.5M), and Miles Austin (3 yrs/$5.5M). I had a handful of notable 1-year deals (LeGarrette Blount, Frank Gore, Carson Palmer) but ended up underachieving with that group, going 4-9.

Now entering year 3 of the league, I have the 2nd pick in the draft, with picks in rounds 1,2, 3, and 5. If I don’t make any trades or cuts, I’ll have about $70M in 2015 Cap Room entering the Free Agency Auction, plus the players below already on my roster. If I believed either player would be worth it, I could Franchise Tag Frank Gore or LeGarrette Blount for the friendly price of $23.7M. Christine Michael is the only player remaining from the roster I inherited two years ago.

PLAYER POS AGE TM EXP Total Guar Yrs 2015 2016

2017

Archer, Dri RB 24 PIT 2016 $1.95M $974.17K 3 $649.44K $688.41K UFA
Austin, Miles WR 31 CLE 2016 $5.5M $2.75M 3 $1.83M $1.94M UFA
Boldin, Anquan WR 35 SF 2015 $9M $4.5M 2 $4.59M UFA
Brown, Antonio WR 27 PIT 2015 $18.5M $12.15M 3 $6.54M UFA
Brown, Bryce RB 24 BUF 2016 $10.5M $5.25M 3 $3.5M $3.71M UFA
Davis, Vernon TE 31 SF 2015 $16.5M $8.25M 2 $8.42M UFA
Foles, Nick QB 26 STL 2017 $25M $12.5M 4 $6M $6.5M $7M
Garoppolo, Jimmy QB 24 NE 2016 $1.8M $899.88K 3 $599.92K $635.92K UFA
Harvin, Percy WR 27 NYJ 2015 $40.5M $26.6M 3 $14.31M UFA
Michael, Christine RB 25 SEA 2015 $10.2M $6.7M 3 $3.6M UFA
Moreno, Knowshon RB 28 MIA 2015 $8.5M $4.25M 2 $4.34M UFA
Sankey, Bishop RB 23 TEN 2016 $14.43M $7.22M 3 $4.81M $5.1M UFA
Taliaferro, Lorenzo RB 24 BAL 2016 $2.46M $1.23M 3 $820.65K $869.89K UFA
Thomas, De’Anthony RB 22 KC 2016 $1.94M $967.8K 3 $645.2K $683.91K UFA

At this moment, the only player I would consider cutting in advance of the season would be Miles Austin. I’d essentially be able to get out from his 2016 salary by releasing him prior to the season (half of his 2015 $1.83M and half of his 2016 $1.94M would accelerate into 2015). I’ll wait and see where he lands, because even if he’s on my roster Week 1, fully guaranteeing his salary for the year, he’s not a big cap hit.

Even though Austin may be the only player I cut, this is not exactly the roster I envisioned I would have after 2 years of rebuilding. While I can certainly put the $70M to good use, there are four teams with even more space than I have. Outside of Antonio Brown, this team has a lot of mediocrity. Percy Harvin and Nick Foles both have some legitimate upside in their new environments, and Dri Archer, Bryce Brown, Christine Michael, Lorenzo Taliaferro, and De’Athony Thomas are all a teammate injury away from Fantasy prominence. At the risk of one of the other franchise Owners reading this and using it against me during trade talks, I can’t say I’m very excited about Vernon Davis or Bishop Sankey, but maybe they’ll surprise me.

I’m guaranteed to land either Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon with the #2 pick, if I so choose. I will probably do so, or I can trade back. Alternatively, if they end up in a non-Fantasy friendly backfield, I’ll have Amari Cooper as a backup plan. I should be able to land either Winston or Mariota at the top of round 2, but will do so knowing I can’t expect any real production in year one.

There are 157 veteran offensive skill positions players whose contracts expired at the conclusion of the 2014 season. Here’s a look at the top 50 Free Agents (sorted by 2014 Salary). Marshawn Lynch (~$24.8M), Peyton Manning (~$19.8M), and DeMarco Murray (~$23.7M) look like the only players likely to receive Franchise Tags. Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, or Sam Bradford are all sleeper QB tag (~$19.8M) candidates. Teams will have between 18 and 24 players already under contract heading into Free Agency, so everyone will be looking to fill 6 to 12 roster spots. There are a handful of potential gems that are not on this top 50 list, but for the most part…this is it. Some of these guys are going to get a lot more than they’re worth – just like what happens in real life.

PLAYER

POS AGE TM RSO TEAM

2014 Salary

Peterson, Adrian RB 30 MIN Jason Wood $36.21
Johnson, Calvin WR 30 DET Matt Waldman $35.45
Charles, Jamaal RB 29 KC Bob Harris $30.86
Rice, Ray RB 28 BAL Jeff Tefertiller $27.80
Foster, Arian RB 29 HOU Matt Waldman $26.01
White, Roddy WR 34 ATL Mike Clay $21.50
Kaepernick, Colin QB 28 SF Evan Silva $20.91
Lynch, Marshawn RB 29 SEA Russell Clay $20.66
Cruz, Victor WR 29 NYG Mike Clay $17.60
Johnson, Andre WR 34 IND Rivers McCown $16.58
Fitzgerald, Larry WR 32 ARI Matt Deutsch $16.07
Manning, Peyton QB 39 DEN Jim Day $16.07
Brees, Drew QB 36 NO Mike Clay $15.30
Murray, DeMarco RB 27 PHI Matt Deutsch $15.30
Jackson, Vincent WR 32 TB Mike MacGregor $15.05
Crabtree, Michael WR 28 SF Matt Papson $14.03
Smith, Torrey WR 26 SF Ryan McDowell $14.03
Miller, Lamar RB 24 MIA Mike MacGregor $12.75
Bowe, Dwayne WR 31 KC Matt Deutsch $12.50
Jennings, Rashad RB 30 NYG Bob Harris $12.50
Wayne, Reggie WR 37 IND Jim Day $12
Johnson, Chris RB 30 NYJ Jim Day $11.50
Gore, Frank RB 32 IND Matt Papson $11
Jennings, Greg WR 32 MIN Mike Clay $11
Garcon, Pierre WR 29 WAS Jeff Tefertiller $10.71
Welker, Wes WR 34 DEN Russell Clay $10.71
Wallace, Mike WR 29 MIA Mike Clay $10.50
Bush, Reggie RB 30 DET Jason Wood $9.44
Jackson, Steven RB 32 ATL Sigmund Bloom $8
Jackson, Fred RB 34 BUF Russell Clay $7.50
Wright, Kendall WR 26 TEN Jim Day $7.14
Ridley, Stevan RB 26 NE Ryan McDowell $6.63
Baldwin, Doug WR 27 SEA Jason Wood $6
Palmer, Carson QB 36 ARI Matt Papson $6
Bradford, Sam QB 28 PHI Sigmund Bloom $5.87
Holmes, Andre WR 27 OAK Mike Clay $5.50
Smith Sr., Steve WR 36 BAL Bob Harris $5.50
Johnson, Stevie WR 29 SF Bob Harris $5.10
Jones-Drew, Maurice RB 30 OAK Matt Deutsch $5
Manning, Eli QB 34 NYG Evan Silva $5
Rudolph, Kyle TE 26 MIN Matt Papson $4.59
Tannehill, Ryan QB 27 MIA Ryan McDowell $4.59
Dalton, Andy QB 28 CIN Bob Harris $4.50
Roethlisberger, Ben QB 33 PIT Sigmund Bloom $4.34
Stewart, Jonathan RB 28 CAR Sigmund Bloom $4.34
McFadden, Darren RB 28 OAK Matt Deutsch $4
Amendola, Danny WR 30 NE Rivers McCown $3.50
Blount, LeGarrette RB 29 NE Matt Papson $3.50
Rivers, Philip QB 34 SD Jason Wood $3.06

Perhaps I was scarred by my real life experiences, but I’m not one to hand-out mega-contracts. As you can see, the multi-year contracts I handed out last year were relatively low dollar amounts. That means I’m not going to be competing (unless I’m helping enforce fair value) for AP, Calvin Johnson, Jamaal Charles, or Arian Foster.

Admittedly, at the moment, it’s hard to see an easy path to being a contender. I have two of the most valuable pieces in the league right: Antonio Brown at only $6.54M, and the 2nd overall pick – which comes with an affordable contract. Sometime here in the near future, I’m going to have to decide if it’s better to sell those pieces and make a run in 2016, or hope guys like Nick Foles, Percy Harvin, Lorenzo Taliaferro, and some Free Agent signings have big years.

What do you guys think? Does this roster have championship hope in it? Let me know on Twitter @RealitySportsMP

Look for more coverage of this league on the Reality Sports Online Football Ops page as well as on Matt Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio.