2019 Post-Draft RSO Rookie Tiers

Updated: May 8th 2019

Rookie drafts for Reality Sports Online teams involve a number of considerations different than a typical dynasty league.  Selected rookies are typically given three or four year contracts at, hopefully, a below market contract.  RSO GMs then have the option of extending a player with franchise tags, extensions, or final year options (depending on the chosen settings in your league) which typically are near or above market value for a given player.  This makes the initial rookie contract years potentially extremely valuable and the real measure of worth for a rookie contract.  It is nice to be able to hit on your rookie and keep them on your team in later years, however, your team does not typically gain much by keeping those players at top-of-market costs.  This leads to a number of areas which should be emphasized more highly with regards to rookie values in RSO leagues.

  1. Early Production. The limited years of cheap rookie contracts puts a premium on early potential production.  Young players sitting on your bench waiting to develop do not just cost roster spots, they also take up salary cap dollars which could be spent on veteran players contributing to your team.  The emphasis on early production gives a boost to positions like running back which typically does not take as long to develop in the NFL.
  2. Situation.    “Talent over situation” is one of the long-time mantras in fantasy football for a couple of reasons.  Many believe firstly, we can not predict the situation of a player over the long-term.  This might be correct but does not apply to RSO leagues.  RSO rookie deals apply only over a short to medium-term window due to the contract lengths.  While there will always be some fluctuations, we can reasonably predict many surrounding factors which affect the performance of a player.  Secondly, others think talent trumps situation.  The data strongly suggests this is simply incorrect.  Wide receiver fantasy value is typically a function of quarterback play.  Running backs score more on high-efficiency passing attacks and usually run more efficiently with better offensive lines.  Situation must be a significant factor in determining rookie values.

With those conditions, we examine my top rookie tiers in 2019.

Tier 1

Josh Jacobs, RB1, Pick 24, Oakland

Jacobs is an outlier for first round running backs with a part-time college resume and subpar athletic testing.  He performed well at the run and receiving game in a limited role while at Alabama however.  First round rookie running backs typically receive big workloads and Jacobs projects as the top back in Oakland with Richard taking some passing down snaps.  That is enough to put him tier 1 of this draft class.  Jacobs is a player with far more uncertainty and a wider range of outcomes than is typical of this draft spot.

N’Keal Harry, WR1, Pick 32, New England

Harry produced from the minute he stepped on the field as a freshman in college and performed over expectation at the combine.  He should slot in immediately as a starter in New England on a team which lost Rob Gronkowski to retirement and Josh Gordon to yet another suspension.  Harry is the only rookie in this class without any real objective question marks with regard to talent or situation.  Draft him with confidence.

Tier 2

Miles Sanders, RB2,Pick 53, Philadelphia

Sanders was a quality producer when given the opportunity at Penn State and measured as a plus athlete at the NFL combine.  The main danger for Sanders is that the Eagles have utilized a committee-type approach to running back under head coach Doug Pederson no matter whom the running backs have been.   He should start as a main part of a committee with Howard this season and possesses the room for his role to grow next year in a good overall offense.

David Montgomery, RB3, Pick 73, Chicago

Montgomery should have the chance to take over the previous Howard role in Chicago in short order possibly putting him in the lower RB2 or flex discussion.  He does not have the athleticism desired from the position but does have many of the desired skills including contact balnce, power, and short-area movement.  His upside will always be capped with Tarik Cohen on the team taking a big chunk of the passing game work.

Tier 3

Mecole Hardman, WR2, Pick 56, Kansas City

The diminutive speedster has an extremely small college profile but is possibly the most explosive wideout in the draft.  This is a pure projection by Kansas City but Hardman apparently was coveted by many teams earlier than most thought.  Tyreek Hll is in the last year of his contract if not suspended or outright released before the 2019 season.  Hardman moves down if Hill unexpectedly remains with the Chiefs.

Parris Campbell, WR3, Pick 59, Indianapolis

Campbell gobbled up short yardage throws and turned them into big gains at Ohio State.  He is another projection with limited work on deeper and intermediate routes.  Indianapolis is ripe with opportunity and has been looking for a quality number two receiver for years in a high volume passing offense headed by Andrew Luck.

Deebo Samuel, WR4,Pick 36, San Francisco

San Francisco gets another wide receiver with experience at a variety of locations and the ability to win in a variety of ways.  Built more like a running back, Samuel offers explosive after the catch potential.  The depth chart is loaded with quality pass catching options at wide receiver, tight end, and running back which puts Samuel’s potential volume in question for the near future.

Tier 4

Diontae Johnson, WR5, Pick 66, Pittsburgh

This pick will surprise many but should not when consider his play at Toledo and Pittsburgh’s relatively high investment.  He is among the best receivers in this class getting separation both with his releases at the snap and out of breaks.  Johnson enters one of the top passing teams in the league on a wide open receiver depth chart after JuJu Smith-Shuster.

Andy Isabella, WR6, Pick 62, Arizona

Arizona will be one of the most fascinating teams to watch with how the college air-raid offense transitions to the NFL.  Isabella does not have the best hands in this class.  He is among the fastest wide receivers in this class, has experience playing both slot and boundary positions, and was one of PFF’s top-graded wide receivers in this class.  There is massive volume potential here.

Marquise Brown, WR7, Pick 25, Baltimore

Brown possesses game-breaking ability on every play in a tiny package.  Unfortunately, there is no worse landing spot than Baltimore for wide receivers.  Lamar Jackson averaged 159 yards per game as a starter, worse than any ESPN qualified passer and just 63% of the average passer.  John Brown, another very small speedster, saw his production absolutely tank in games Jackson started with zero games of at least 30 yards.  While there is hope for some progression from Jackson, the odds are firmly stacked against consistent fantasy production for Brown in the near future.

D.K. Metcalf, WR8, Pick 63, Seattle

If one could mold a receiver out of clay it would look a lot like Metcalf with incredible size seeming cut from stone.  Metcalf is among the fastest linear receivers in the draft despite his size but is also among the slowest into and out of breaks.  Will he become more than a deep vertical threat?  Seattle is also an under-the-radar below average landing spot.  Wilson ranked among the lowest in passing yardage per game, despite his superb efficiency, thanks to one of the heaviest run offenses in the league.  There simply might not be enough volume for any receiver in this offense to become a consistent fantasy option.

A.J. Brown, WR9, Pick 51, Tennessee

The true alpha from Mississippi, Brown is an extremely thick wide receiver who possesses a well rounded game before and after the catch that should transition well to the pros.  Unfortunately he landed in Tennessee, a grave yard for fantasy wide receivers.  He is stuck in a run-first offense with Mariota, Ryan Tannehill, and/or a rookie quarterback in 2020 at the helm for the near future.  Brown saw my biggest decline from pre-draft rankings.

JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR10, Pick 57, Philadelphia

There is a lot to like about the kid from Stanford.  He was an endzone producer throughout his career bodying up smaller cornerbacks and graded out as a top receiver in this class.  While not a plus athlete, he tested faster at his pro day than most people predicted.  JJ likely redshirts at least his first year for the Eagles unless injuries take hold which decreases his value somewhat.

Kyler Murray, QB1, Pick 1, Arizona

Murray had a phenomenal 2018 season at Oklahoma which bested Baker Mayfield’s best seasons.  His extreme quickness allows for extensive rushing, scrambling, and avoiding big hits.  His dual-threat traits give top-5 quarterback upside and make him a worthy pick in this range of a relatively weak draft class.  The primary questions some people will have is if his body can handle NFL-level hits and how the new offense in Arizona will translate to the NFL.

T.J. Hockenson, TE1, Pick 8, Detroit

Many consider Hockenson the best all-around tight end prospect in years.  He is one of the only tight ends in recent memory who appear immediately ready to block in the NFL.  He runs nice tight routes, finds holes in zones, has good hands, and is strong after the catch.  He is also a strong athlete for the position.  There really is nothing to dislike.  Hockenson should start immediately for the Lions.

Noah Fant, TE2, Pick 20, Denver

The “other” Iowa tight end, Fant still garnered first round status to the Broncos.  He possesses phenomenal athleticism with upper-level tight end metrics for all combine workouts and is a better blocker than many observe.  Fant is a fairly one-dimensional speed receiver at this point with questionable hands and has not shown much ability to break tackles.  Teaming up with Joe Flacco in Denver gives Fant the possibility of rare early production at the tight end spot.  Flacco consistently peppered tight ends in Baltimore no matter the talent-level.


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.

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