Positional Trade Value: Offense and IDP

Updated: June 23rd 2022

A topic that has always interested me is trading IDP assets for offensive ones (and vice versa). Because let’s be honest, the best kind of fantasy football is a league with both offense and defense. However, no one has genuinely mastered league scoring that is perfect and balanced across all positions. If the scoring is, inconsistent at best, how do we determine when a trade makes sense or is “fair”? When I want to break these IDP/offensive trades down, I want to have a strong grasp of what the value of each position is within the context of my whole league (duh!) and the tiers within those. What is the ability or likelihood you can replace that position (via waivers or rookies)? Lastly, how long do positions generally maintain their value?

Let’s talk through this process and hopefully set you up with a thought process to help with those trades!

First, how big is your league, on average leagues commonly range from 10-12 teams but can obviously go way beyond this, but we will use a 12-team league for this discussion. Next, what does your starting roster composition look like, we will assume a 3-3-3 for starting IDP (DLs, LBs, DBs) and a Superflex offense, with 2 RB, 3 WR, TE, Flex. The next piece for your league understanding is the scoring tiers you for each of these positions. See below for a sample scoring of a league I have played in (it’s a tackle-heavy format, so only use the numbers as hypothetical for this discussion).

What is this showing us? The average points scored of the first 12 (tier 1), second 12 (tier 2) and so on for each position group. I recommend doing this at least once a year if you can get the data from your platform to help you better understand the general positional value in your leagues (especially if you play in multiple leagues with varying scoring settings). Knowing this arms with you a baseline to say, “Hey! An LB1 in my league scores roughly the same as a WR1 in my league” and so on across all the different groupings. Now I got you thinking, “Dang! That was easy!”

But hold up my friend, because we aren’t done yet. WRs can very easily be our apples and LBs can very easily be our oranges… and I have been told not to compare those things to each other. However, if we add some additional context and understanding, we can get them a lot closer in understanding. And the steps to getting there, are our next two things. The repeatability of success at a position group and the replaceability of a player from a positional group. Let’s take a quick look at even just the last two years at each level of the defense to see consistency from year-to-year.

So what does this mean here? In the DL position group, we saw 17 of 2020’s top 36 performers, not even get back into the top 36 the following year. For the LB position group, we saw this number hit 20 and for the DB position group it was 22. Now, a handful in each group is due to injury (which we see in every position in the NFL), but you can only attribute maybe 15-20% of turnover due to that. And we are not looking at a super high bar to try and achieve either with the top 36 for each group. And if you were to expand this exercise out to more years, you would continue to see the same situation.

It is worth noting though, that the ones that ARE able to repeat top 36 success year-over-year have a stark talent gap over a large amount of the ones we see on the lists above, missing out on repeated success. There are obviously exceptions to this observation, but I would say it is a safe assumption when evaluating talent. But this does give us a bit of a better understanding that value sustainable value does tend to flow DL >> LB >> DB in the general sense.

As for the other side of the coin, the offensive skill positions (which I leave TE out of, because it generally has its top 3-4 and then fluctuates like crazy beyond that year-to-year) we take a look at how this breaks down for QB, RB, and WR.

We see a little less volatility year-to-year across these positions than we do in the IDP space with 7 out of 24 not repeating at the QB spot. 17 out of 36 for running backs. Then 14 out of 36 for WR.

As for our last piece of information, what does it look like when you try to replace these positions with rookie performers? Some quick looks back at the last few years show us that there are performers (some of them very high-end, thanks Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase) but also some solid fantasy contributors for your lineups as well. What I looked at was the last two draft classes and saw how many rookies (or 2nd year from 2020 class) that had to a top performance (24 for QB, 36 for others). Because if you are going to make a trade, can you use existing draft capital or DB obtained in the trade to replace your expected performance of that player?

Looking at QBs, we saw 3 top-24 performances between 2020 and 2021.
RBs was 10 top-36 performances.
WRs was 11 top-36 performances.
DLs was 1 top-36 performance.
LBs was 4 top-36 performances.
DBs was 5 top-36 performances.

This gives us an idea of where we can potentially find the most value within rookie draft picks and those rookie contracts to try and replace talent lost or given away / obtained in trades. Offense clearly seems to be the spot to find immediate impact for your roster, specifically at the RB/WR positions. There is value to be found on the IDP side for sure, but replacing that in the rookie draft might be a little trickier.

I know this is a lot of information when considering trading pieces, but having this baseline understanding should give an initial comfort level when considering trading across different positions, most specifically, how does an IDP asset compare or stack up against an offensive one in terms of pre-trade and post-trade. Additionally, the age of the player has a significant role as well, but I didn’t dive into that factor as most likely that is potentially considered in since on our favorite platform, Reality Sports Online, you are making smart contracts anyway!

Hoping this helps you make it through the minefield that is off-season trading! Happy trading everyone!

More Analysis by Jake

Looking Forward: Expectations for the NFL Salary Cap

Updated: June 23rd 2022

Covid issues created unique salary cap problems for the NFL following the 2020 season.  The NFL salary cap unexpectedly dropped substantially after significant NFL revenue losses in 2020.  The article details a brief history of recent cap progression to the current state and what we can expect in the future.  The writing also examines how Reality Sports Online GMs may take advantage of the changing cap.

What happened?

Many teams played with near-empty stadiums primarily due to state Covid restrictions drastically reducing ticket and game day revenue while also seeing TV ratings dip in 2020.  This resulted in the NFL losing approximately $3 to $4 billion in revenue that season.  The NFL collective bargaining agreement (CBA) dictated those losses applied to the following year’s salary cap which would have resulted in the cap dropping by about $70 to $80 million in 2021.  NFL owners and the NFL Players Association, however, came to an agreement in which those losses would be spread out over a three year period instead of the single year.  In effect, the NFL would have three seasons of relatively modest below-market salary caps versus one year with a massive salary cap reduction.  This move mitigated potentially disastrous team salary cap problems throughout the league and kept players from seeing drastic salary reduction in 2021.

What does the Salary Cap look like going forward?

The NFL salary cap averaged about 7% annual growth in the seven years before the 2021 season.  The 2020 CBA increased player revenue shares to 48%+ in 2021 and going forward while an anticipated new TV deal was also expected to raise revenue significantly.   An 8.5% annual growth in the NFL salary cap for the near-term future was a reasonable projection prior to the 2020 season.  The new TV contract, sports betting deals, and potential international expansion may result in even bigger increases.

The chart below displays some of the effects on expectations to the salary cap due to the decreased revenues of 2021 and projections going forward using growth estimates stated above.  The NFL salary cap decreased from $198.2 million in 2020 to $182.5 million in 2021.  While this was only about a $16 million cap decrease, it also probably translated to approximately $30 or $35 million less cap space than NFL teams were planning for before 2020.  The 2022 cap is set to grow a hearty 14% from 2021 but the cap will still be far below what was expected previously.  2023 will show much the same.  These cap decreases have had real NFL consequences, particularly for those teams who were already up against the cap and essentially borrowing against future cap to pay for current player production.  New Orleans and Dallas, for example, were forced to trade individuals (Amari Cooper) for little compensation or allow players to hit free agency (Terron Armstead) they would have preferred to keep if not for cap restraints.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Actual and Projected NFL Salary Cap 2020-2025

Things get back to normal in 2024, in terms of the salary cap, as the 2020 revenue losses will have been fully accounted for after the 2023 season.  One consequence of this is that 2024 should see an enormous spike in the league salary cap with $40 to $50 million cap increases possible depending on further adjustments.  We have already seen teams calibrating for this reality by heavily back-loading contracts (more than normal) and increasing the usage of “dummy” contract years (items such as voided years at the end of the contract in which the player won’t actually play on the contract but serves as a way to extend cap accounting into the future).

The Los Angeles Rams provide a nice example of this.  Many question how the Rams keep paying big money extensions to players on the team.  They are simply using the rules of cap accounting and taking into account the expected explosion in future team cap.  Matthew Stafford’s contract contains cap hits of just $13.5 million and $20 million in 2022 and 2023, respectively, then balloons to about $50 million per year in future seasons.  Aaron Donald’s new contract added multiple voided years at the end of the deal to help spread his signing bonus over.

What this means for Reality Sports Online GMs

As most Reality Sports Online (RSO) GMs know, RSO mirrors the NFL salary cap in that the NFL salary cap equals the RSO salary cap.  This means we can also expect the RSO salary cap to also dramatically increase over the next few seasons.  The previous Salary Cap Chart from above shows expected cap growth rates of 11% (2023), 19% (2024), and 8.5% (2025 and forward).  Let us see how this compares to RSO contracts.  RSO multi-year deals distribute the total value of a contract based on the number of years resulting in small salary escalations (between 6% and 10%) in each subsequent year.  The four-year contract example from RSO is detailed below starting in 2022 with expected salary cap figures from our previous estimates.

Reality Sports Online Example Contract (4 year / $100 million total value)

“Expected Cap % “is the RSO salary divided by the expected cap. Most notably, compare the RSO contract salary growth rates with the expected cap growth rates above. The NFL Salary cap shows much higher expected growth than the contract salaries. The RSO example contract salary displays a 27% growth rate from year one to four while the salary cap is expected to rise by 43 percent during that period. This results in salaries taking a smaller portion of the expected total cap during the later contract years. In other words, the real expected yearly value of the RSO contract rises as the contract progresses.

The biggest takeaway for RSO GMs is that they should be more willing to invest in long-term contracts than ever before. Acquiring new multi-year deals in free agency and trading expiring contracts for existing long-term contracts should be a strategy focus for many teams. Hits on locked multi-year contract deals could become more valuable with time and misses make for more palatable release candidates with less cap consequences.


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.

More Analysis by Bernard Faller

Inaugural High Stakes league ’22 update 2

Updated: June 4th 2022

After an emotional or intense experience, you’re likely to say some things differently than you would after you cool down from your climax, think about things, and come back with a rational approach instead of an emotional one.  But even after a couple of weeks I still have to ask, was your rookie draft as good for you as it was for me? <Takes final puff of his smoke and flicks it>

A great draft starts with a great game plan.  You have to set yourself up for success.  But, as we all know, even the best-laid plans can turn into an Amber Heard turd on Johnny Depp’s pillow quicker than you can snort a line of cocaine.  Still, I believe when you enter with a plan and things start to go awry, you can adapt better when you have an end game to look at.  It’s like seeing a whole map with multiple routes that will get you to the finish.  Sure, there is the optimal way.  That’s the one you build your plan around.  Then a tanker explodes on the toll road so you look at your map and find the best alternate route at that time of day.  With no map or plan, you’re just off on a Sunday drive.  I’ve had four RSO rookie drafts this year and this one was one of my first so a plan was important.  By the time my other drafts started a week later, I had a really good idea of landing spots for players.  Still, there was one draft where an early run on mid-tier RB’s surprised me and left me in a different position than I expected to be in.  The alternate route got me there, albeit with a couple of lower-tiered guys than I expected.  However, I finished the High Stakes league draft mostly happy as the majority of it went according to plan.

As we explore this rookie draft the details of our league are important to understand each team’s approach.  This is a Superflex PPR league that has a full starting lineup that looks like this: QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, RB/WR/TE, RB/WR/TE, QB/RB/WR/TE.  That’s a total of 9 starting spots along with 13 bench spots and an additional four IR spots.  So, the rosters go deep enough to call us spelunkers.

First, let me give some general notes and thoughts.

  • 7 trades during this draft.  There are multiple times leading up to the draft to make trades but ever since RSO introduced the slow draft with trading some years ago, it has taken drafting, and draft values, to another level.  The ability to trade into a position to “grab your guy”  or even just to grab a player of value who has fallen too far, enables us to pinpoint our timing while allowing the other owner to benefit from not seeing the value in the same pick.  It’s a great feature that makes you feel like Kevin Costner in Draft Day.
  • QB’s went too early.  That’s just an opinion.  I did my homework before this draft and expected something much different to play out.  Let me explain why and feel free to comment on my social media whether you think it was a logical approach – We only had one rookie draft before this year.  It’s our third year in the league but we didn’t have a rookie draft in year one.  So, to get an idea of where the QB values lie we have to look at last year’s draft.  TLaw at 1.01.  Fields at 1.03.  Lance at 1.07.  Zach Wilson 1.09.  Mac Jones, the 15th pick in the NFL draft, went at 2.02 in our draft.  Doesn’t it seem reasonable to expect Pickett, an NFL 20th draft pick, to be available at 2.02 this year?  Well, it wasn’t.  Pickett was snatched at 1.10.  Last year, 3rd round NFL draft pick Mond was picked at 2.12, 2nd round NFL draft pick Trask was picked at 3.02, and 3rd round NFL draft pick Davis Mills was picked at 3.03.  Doesn’t it seem reasonable that this year’s tier trio of Willis, Ridder, and Corral would go near the end of the 2nd round and possibly well into the 3rd round of our draft?  I think it sounds very reasonable, however, all three were gone by 2.06.  That’s barely behind Pickett.  Even NFL 5th rounder and big-time chicken nuggies fan, Sam Howell, got some early 3rd round love at 3.01.  A lack of options changed the landscape for draft expectations this year.  Plus, individual needs can also affect these outcomes.  Clearly, it’ll be good for me to include additional data sets for my homework next year.  Fact is, if you didn’t reach a little this year, you didn’t get a QB.
  • The Wendell Takeover Project made the first big move of the draft in a rather straight-up trade consisting of their ’23 first for this year’s 1.06.  Wendell lost their only RB in McCaffrey due to a bloated contract of around $53m that needed cut to get cap compliant at the deadline, three days before the draft.  This left them hungry for a RB so they made their move to grab the polarizing prospect, James Cook.  With only so many upper-tier prospects at RB this year, Cook was the cheapest and this is a PPR league, after all, which is where he should shine.  Wendell next used their 2nd round pick to grab Rachaad White.  Then, about 10 days after the draft ended, they moved DK Metcalf in a deal to acquire Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake, completing a full revamp of the RB position this offseason.
  • Last year’s champ, “The Don” Piccolo, found a lot of value later in the ’21 rookie draft with picks 1.12 (Waddle), 2.02 (Mac Jones), 2.08 (Gainwell), 2.10 (Amon-Ra), and 3.05 (Chuba).  Almost every one of those names played a role in this squad taking home the title and at least three of those names provided an absolute massive value.  “The Don” entered this ’22 draft in pretty much the same position with no 1st round picks and many 2nd and 3rd round picks.  Can they make the magic happen again?  If last year is any indication, keep your eyes on these prospects that “The Don” drafted: (Traded up to 2.01) Skyy Moore, (2.06) Malik Willis, (2.12) David Bell, (3.04) Wan’Dale Robinson, and (3.12) Justyn Ross.
  • Speaking of last year, we have replaced one owner.  The new owner now sports the team name Ballin on a Budget.  I think this owner did most of his damage before and after the draft.  Regardless, it’s hard to recognize this team from the one they took over in March.  Just a completely new look.  This new look and new owner came to the draft with a new and interesting approach as well.  Only two draft picks, late in round 2, and they used them both on TE’s.  Zach Ertz looks to be their number one but Tre McBride and Greg Dulcich will get to develop for one year behind him.  McBride also provides a handcuff scenario for Ertz.
  • Last year’s runner-up, XFL Stars, didn’t have much faith in this draft class.  They traded away all their picks except the 1.03.  It wasn’t like they didn’t try to trade that one away either but they apparently got no worthwhile bites and had to settle for Drake London.  I’m thinking about offering a ham sandwich for London to see where his value is with this owner.

Now, for a few thoughts from my perspective as the draft progressed.  Going into this draft I didn’t feel like I needed much help at WR.  Although, I lack an elite at the position.  No help is needed at TE.  RB was my biggest need – I wanted to stock up here.  And I could use a QB, but I wasn’t as desperate for one.  Shortly before the draft, I acquired Jordan love (2yrs/$3m) and Cole Kmet (1yr/$1.5m) for the 2.03 pick.  I already have Aaron Rodgers through ’23 and Jameis through ’24 so Love gives me a handcuff.  Plus, on the outside chance he gets traded into a better situation, maybe I get a starter out of the deal.  So, I’ve got the 1.02, 1.12, 2.02, and 3.09.  The plan?  RB at 1.02 of course.  A 2nd RB with one of my next two picks and one pick for wiggle room where I don’t end up with a RB necessarily – I can grab a WR but I’m hoping to get a QB, or a RB, if not.

The draft opens and Big Tings is on the clock.  They announce one last check on the room to see if there is any interest in trading up for the pick and they get no love.  Smart move to ask but they take the obvious choice in Breece Hall.  When it gets to me I don’t hesitate long.  I need a RB here and have to take Walker.  Now to watch the WR’s take over like they did in the NFL draft.  The first pick that affected me was Kenny Pickett at 1.10.  I wasn’t totally shocked but was really hoping he would fall to me at 1.12.  I also had dreams that maybe James Cook would fall this far too but no such luck as Wendell snatched him at 1.06.  Now, I’m eyeballing that second tier of RB’s.  I have them ordered but see them all similarly.  It gets to me at 1.12 and all five are still on the board so I decide I can trade back.  I have the 2.02 coming up also so I feel comfortable moving back from 1.12, up to five spots or so. I find my trade partner in the DC Guardians who owns exactly that 2.05 spot.  They throw in a ’23 2nd rounder and we have ourselves a deal!  They grab Zamir White, the first of those second-tier RB’s, and that completes round one.

The draft is back to me at 2.02.  Plus, I have the 2.05 coming up.  Four of those RB’s are left.  I don’t need a WR here and I think it’s too early to draft one of those second-tier QB’s.  I was ok with any of the RB’s I would end up with at 2.05 now as well.  I consider trading back again but keep looking at the trade board and WR, Jahan Dotson keeps looking back at me.  He’s clearly the last of the upper tier of WR’s.  I don’t need one but I decide that because he’s a first-round NFL talent that he has the potential to turn into my missing elite WR.  We’ll see.  But, I just couldn’t pass up the value of getting him at the 2.02.  After that, I was certain those RB’s would start going.  To my surprise, the next two picks were QB’s Ridder and Corral and it’s back to me at 2.05.  Those QB’s really threw me off – I had them ranked 20th plus.  I didn’t want to miss out on a QB but I felt it was a reach right here and stuck with my rankings.  I also had Willis ranked lower in this league as I wanted a QB who would have a better chance of contributing this year.  I explored some trade options but didn’t want to go back too far and I couldn’t get any bites near the positions I wanted.  Looks like I’ll just have to take a RB here.  Like at QB, I preferred a RB who would have the best chance to contribute the most this year.  I felt that guy was Dameon Pierce.  At this point, I felt I reached my objective of improving my RB’s for this season and I resigned to the fact that I was probably done drafting in the 2nd round.  Knowing I had the 3.09 I thought I’d have a good chance to grab QB Howell at that spot or, add one more RB like Allgeier or Davis-Price (since I owned Sermon).

The third round opens up and Howell goes first at 3.01.  Isn’t that something.  at 3.03 Allgeier is off the board.  3.05 sees Davis-Price drop too.  All three guys I had targeted – poof.  Gone, like a fart in the wind.  It’s at this point I spot another good value on the board.  I don’t go until 3.09 but my local grocery store will tell you I’m a sucker for a good deal or a discount.  Alec Pierce is still there?  Wow.  Seems like a pretty good deal to me.  I think a little tidbit of news was dropped that same day that said he was going to be a starter and I just watched him get picked at 1.12 in my other draft so it seemed like Pierce would be a great value at that spot.  I mean, if he drops to me at 3.09, which isn’t much further, he’s an even better value.  But, I’m always up for a deal and I’m not sure he will drop.  It’s Borderland Bombers on the clock and I look at their lineup.  I see Raheem Mostert (2y/$13m).  I also have Chase Edmonds and Sony Michel.  Not to mention that bum Trey Sermon whose contract I’ve been trying to move since the ’22 season began (3y/$13m).  So, I see an opportunity to get rid of Sermon and acquire Mostert.  I don’t expect anything from either of them this year but having Mostert fill that spot over Sermon just makes sense since I have the other Miami RB’s.  I have a good amount of future picks I had been stacking so for me to offer up a future 3rd and my 3.09 plus Sermon (Which reduces Borderland Bombers’ salary this season – something they needed help with) to get Mostert and that 3.06, I was very happy to do.  I was subsequently happy to get NFL 2nd round talent, Alec Pierce, at 3.06.  Even if I didn’t need another WR.

That’s how you do it.  This team is going to win a championship in ’22.  I can feel it.  If not my team, then, definitely one of the other eleven teams, and I’d put money on that.

As we drift off to sleep during the fantasy doldrums of June and July I hope you enjoy dreaming of the fall season you’ve so carefully crafted for yourself.  I know Kenneth Walker and a 1500-yard season will be prancing around in mine.  You’ll hear from me again sometime in the preseason.  Until then, feel free to send me a note or comment on any of my posts you’ll find on social media.  Find me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @RSOHighStakes.


 

~ The RSO High Stakes League Storyteller

More Analysis by Matt Russell

2022 NFL Draft IDP Risers and Fallers

Updated: May 28th 2022

The 2022 NFL draft is in the books. 262 rookies have new homes with NFL teams now. With these landing spots known for the talented IDPs, let’s take a look and look at some of the biggest takeaways from the draft. Biggest risers. Biggest fallers. And some additional key takeaways. It’s draft time!

Since we are going through this stuff to try and win all of our leagues, let’s start with our biggest winners from the NFL draft, one at each level of the IDP.

Lewis Cine, Minnesota Vikings, Safety (Pick 32 overall)

The Minnesota Vikings had Xavier Woods depart in free agency and he was the only player to play 100% of his defense’s snaps. He played over 1,200 total snaps and those are completely up for grabs. The only other real player in that safety room prior to the addition of Lewis Cine was Camryn Bynum. While Bynum is still there and a solid contributor, he fits more into Harrison Smith’s role and is a strong backup and third safety when needed. One of the biggest questions is how Ed Donatell will utilize them and what they see for Lewis Cine.

Cine was a strong presence in the box and near or at the line of scrimmage. His tape shows very clearly that he struggles in coverage, especially man coverage. He has the athleticism and explosiveness to read and react in zone coverage for plays in front of him, but otherwise, this will be his most prominent area of concern. This said, it points us to the fact that Minnesota most likely has a role for him, especially early on, as box safety is his primary role. This role is one of the more valuable IDP positions, especially for the defensive backfield.

Additionally, Minnesota had its pick of quite possibly the best IDP player in this draft in Kyle Hamilton when they were first on the clock with pick #12 in the first round. A safety who has all the tools, to play quite literally, anywhere on the field. They passed on this opportunity and still saw their opportunity at pick #32 in Cine still. All of this is a strong indication that Cine is their guy and he will play!

Quay Walker, Green Bay Packers, Linebacker (Pick 22 overall)

This is may seem super “chalky”, but Quay being the first linebacker taken off the speaks volume about what Green Bay believes about him but even more, is exactly what they told us about why they drafted Quay! They believe their team needs to be subbing less and keep the same defensive packages on the field. And looking at who the talent was behind De’Vondre Campbell last year in Krys Barnes and the lack of depth at the linebacker position for the Packers, Quay should have the clear path to LB2 on the Packers and what could be an upwards of 800+ snaps as a floor. Paired with a strong defensive front, Quay has a chance to be a relevant LB3 with LB2 upside.

Quay was possibly in most people’s top 5 LBs for the incoming rookie class, but he has the upside of being the LB1 or LB2 from this rookie class. And why wouldn’t he with a RAS (relative athletic score) of 9.67 along with a build of traditional run-thumping linebackers of years past? This jump in value is a strong one for Quay and I don’t know that this has truly been reflected in his total value in rookie drafts just yet. Quay is someone who should be a target for you in rookie drafts in terms of providing year 1 value and long-term value as well. If you are looking for a reason to not draft Quay, he doesn’t have a stand-out weakness at this point. He is more than just a safe pick, he is a good pick at this point!

Arnold Ebiketie, Atlanta Falcons, Defensive End (Pick 38 overall)

Ebiketie has a wonderful cross-section of talent and opportunity with his film, production, and landing spot with the Atlanta Falcons. Ebiketie’s college production has shown us that he can win and produce as a pass-rusher (90.5 PFF pass-rushing grade) but he holds up in run defense too (78.3 PFF run-defense grade) which is ideal for an Atlanta Falcons defense that is pretty much depleted of talent along their defensive front, Ebiketie should find a way to snaps early and often.

Now, just because Ebiketie may see a large number of snaps in year 1, he still has some work to do to ensure he continues to grow as a well-rounded rusher. He has the ability to win on one move and get to the QB, but he is not effective if he doesn’t win on the first pass-rush move so there is still a good amount he can do to continue to grow as an NFL defender. These things said, he should have a clear path to high-volume snaps right away, worth the upside for what he can be long-term as well. He has moved up into the 4-5 range of DL in this year’s rookie class.

Now for the unfortunate flip side of the rookie draft, the fallers! Let’s get to it.

Bryan Cook, Kansas City Chiefs, Safety (Pick 62 overall)

Cook was an exciting prospect from his last season at Cincinnati. He was a large part of why the Bearcats had as much success as they did defensively. His sure tackling and ability to move around through different alignments when needed where crucial. While he did shift around, he still took the bulk of his snaps from the deep safety spot (or “free safety” as some people more affectionately call it) which on average, tends to be a lower value position of IDP.

You are probably asking, why does this make him a faller then? Well, for me, it is paired with the uncertainty around what Kansas City has in its safety room. They had Juan Thornhill already, brought in Justin Reid early in free agency, a move that states they are looking to use him a valuable piece of their defense, and now Bryan Cook. Where does everyone end up in a Kansas City Chiefs that has used 3 safeties enough in the past for them to be relevant? Does Thornhill keep his deep safety role? Does Reid take the Matheiu “star” role and move around the defense? Does Cook get that? Are they more rotational? For me, Cook is a great upside swing if your roster composition allows for it, as he might be someone you could wait on to carve out a more full-time role or he might earn day 1. But the uncertainty weighs too much on me and there is better options we stronger chances of success in the same range you would say Cook going.

Chad Muma, Jacksonville Jaguars, Linebacker (Pick 70 overall)

Muma was flipping between LB3 and LB4 for me pre-draft, and man, do I still love the talent and instincts he showcased at Wyoming. I would have been happy with him at LB1 in this rookie class with some of the better landing spots available this off-season as well. However, we saw the literal, worst-case scenario happen for Muma. He landed on a team that JUST paid an average NFL linebacker 25 million dollars over the next two years without a true out on the contract until 2024. Now, with the new defensive coordinator, Mike Caldwell, the Jaguars are going to presumably be running out 2 LBs pretty consistently (based on what they did in Tampa Bay). Except for one little problem, the Jaguars spent late, first-round draft capital on Devin Lloyd too!

All these things point to Muma being relegated to LB3 on the depth chart and waiting for an injury for any consistent or meaningful snaps for IDP purposes. If you have the luxury of sitting on a talent for one, but most likely two years, then this will be a value steal in almost all rookie drafts for you as he is quickly falling behind many other year 1 upside LBs like Troy Anderson and Christian Harris. If you want to take the injury swing and/or stash approach with Muma, you could be sitting on a potential strong LB2 or better in a couple of years.

Travon Walker, Jacksonville Jaguars, Edge (Pick 1 overall)

Walker impressed everyone with his combine and RAS of 9.99 so much that he made his move all the way up to #1 overall in the 2022 NFL draft! While this is a great accomplishment for Walker and his NFL value, this, unfortunately, left him in a situation where he is being slotted in as an OLB on a lot of site platforms, most specifically, for Reality Sports Online. While Travon certainly has the athleticism to make an impact on a real NFL game, the limited value for what Jacksonville has produced for edge pass-rushers (outside of Josh Allen) is inconsistent and limited at best. Couple that with the challenge of being ranked among other LBs that will produce value much more consistently, he presents a very low ceiling given his situation.

As a fun side note, the discussion around positional designation on RSO has come up in the Twitter-sphere and there are some initial discussions around leagues having the power to shift this on a case-by-case basis, so this could go away (potentially!).

As for Walker’s pure production profile as an NFL edge rusher, he is someone that has showcased the ability to make plays in both the run and passing games, but, not so at a level to expect immediate contributions. In watching Walker’s approach to attacking in the passing game, his assignment (I assumed) was to take a step laterally or a greater focus on edge setting, versus getting upfield. This very likely is a product of the defensive scheme, but the limited amount I saw of him getting upfield and winning early against his blockers worries me about what he can do for IDP production. Walker is someone who might be great for NFL, but limited, at best, for fantasy football.

As always, would love to discuss anyone’s thoughts and you can do so by reaching out to me on Twitter, @jakekohlhagen.

More Analysis by Jake

2022 RSO Writer’s League Rookie Draft

Updated: May 16th 2022

Rookie drafts for Reality Sports Online teams involve a number of considerations different than a normal 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 usually 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 player.

The RSO Writer’s League recently finished our three round rookie draft with results posted below. The league is a 10-team Superflex PPR format.  This article analyzes some general thoughts on the draft in comparison to other drafts and my own pick decisions along with a couple of other interesting players.

Writer’s League Draft

Overall Draft Thoughts

The Writer’s league draft likely mirrors other drafts in many ways.  The players of picks 1-7 probably remain the same in most formats, in some order, with maybe one or two surprises sneaking in.  Likewise, the 8-13 tier in this draft represents players likely seen in most superflex drafts for this range.  Things get very interesting afterwards.  I wouldn’t be surprised by any of around fifteen to twenty names go next in the draft, a true crap-shoot.  It’s a very broad tier of players where team fit and individual evaluation will drive selections.  This group is highlighted with role-specific running backs, 3rd round NFL quarterbacks who might never be even the short-term answers, and the top tight ends who are notoriously slow developing for fantasy football.

It’s also worth comparing this rookie class to last year’s group.  The lack of legitimate starting quarterback prospects really lowers the potential of a rookie class in superflex leagues.  One could reasonably make the argument that every 1st round pick from 2021 would be in consideration for a top-five spot in this year’s draft.  The afore-mentioned lack of highly drafted quarterbacks contributes to some intriguing dart throws potentially available in the 3rd round of drafts.  Willis and Ridder offer excellent athletic upside (and with it fantasy upside) if they ever get starting QB consideration by their teams.  The sheer amount of mid-round running backs taken by the NFL in this year’s draft makes for a lot of potential committee backs with significant chances of some relevance for fantasy leagues.

Notes on Selected Picks

1.08, Kenny Pickett QB

Pickett earns the distinction as the only quarterback selected in the first round of the NFL draft with the 20th selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers.  He could start as early as this season with an uninspiring Steelers quarterback depth chart.  The Pittsburgh product showed excellent accuracy on and off platform.  Pickett made one of the most dramatic leaps we have ever seen from a college quarterback.  The following excerpt from PFF’s Draft Guide displays just how big of an improvement Pickett made last season.

There are a host of potential downsides.  The question is was last season a one year wonder?  Pickett provides adequate arm strength and mobility but nothing that will “wow” anyone while also struggling with pressure at times.  Does he possess a fantasy ceiling of more than a moderately useful QB2?  Pittsburgh might also end unexpectedly bad in a stacked AFC leading to a high draft pick next season.  NFL teams have shown a willingness to move on quickly from these mid-first type quarterbacks if they don’t pan out.  That makes his job security very questionable at this stage.

1.10, Skyy Moore WR

My first pick ended up with the new Kansas City wide receiver, my WR6 both pre and post-NFL Draft.  The Central Michigan product and James Jones favorite gets to play with one of the top quarterbacks in the league on his rookie deal. Moore brings inside outside versatility despite a smaller frame with a solid build, big confident hands, and explosive play-making routes.  He rated among the top wide receivers in the draft for open percentage and catch rate statistics per The Analyst.  There’s also room for improvement to Moore’s game as he only converted to wide receiver in college.  The Kansas City provides lots of opportunity, especially after this season, as all the primary wide receivers are in the final contract year or have contract outs after the 2022 season.

The major concern with Moore, and small school prospects in general, is how they translate to the NFL after winning against lesser athletic competition in college.  Moore’s 4.41 forty-time and elite-level 10-yard split helps alleviate that concern to a degree by showing off enough athleticism to win at the next level.

2.02, Jahan Dotson WR

Dotson seems a player that the NFL was always higher on when compared to the fantasy community.  Multiple reports predicted him going in the first round before the draft.  Dotson is another smaller receiver who nonetheless played a lot in the outside in college (a lot more than players like Burks and London).  Many film analysts grade Dotson with the best hands in the draft and he had to utilize those skills regularly thanks to some of the worst college quarterbacking from a major school last year.  The former Penn State star produced a fabulous third year and could have entered the draft after it if he wanted. He should start immediately for the Commanders and Washington doesn’t have anything locked in at wide receiver for the future as Terry McLaurin still has no extension.

Size likely presents obstacles to Dotson ever becoming an upper-level after-the-catch receiver and also showed up as an issue when faced with physical corners.  His college contested wins may not materialize against bigger, more athletic corners in the NFL.

2.03, James Cook  RB

Cook is easily one of the most fascinating players in rookie drafts.  Most draft analysts considered Cook a mid round undersized committee back at the NFL level. He routinely went in the late second round of fantasy drafts before surprising second round draft capital by the Buffalo Bills but has seen a meteoric rise since.  This is as late as I have seen him go in rookie drafts after the NFL draft.  Cook rates as the top receiving back by many.  He looks a lot like his brother Dalvin when running outside showing off easy speed and fluid movement skills.

The real question for Cook is what role he plays for the Bills.  Is Buffalo expecting a primary back, a role he never played in college and one we don’t see often at his size?  Will he be primarily used on passing downs? If so, Buffalo ranked bottom-five in running back target percentage the last two seasons when Josh Allen emerged as a top quarterback.  The Bills clearly wanted to upgrade the receiving back position after signing J.D. McKissic before he backed out of the deal.  Is Allen suddenly going to be a lower depth-of-target thrower and reduce his role near the endzone?  Overall, there are a lot of questions on what Cook actually does for Buffalo and how that translates to fantasy football but also a ton of upside if he takes a big role on a top-tier offense.


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.

More Analysis by Bernard Faller

Slow Auctions

Updated: May 7th 2022

Slow Auctions are now available on the site! I’ll walk through the various aspects of the slow auctions and my own thoughts on they will play out.

How it Works

Each team in your league gets their own auction to run.  Each of these auctions individually run just like the auctions of old with the exception that you’re the only one nominating players for your auction.  The bid countdown resets with each bid, exactly like the quick auctions, so there’s no blind bidding and there’s no value to waiting till the last second to bid.  The commish tools of pausing and resuming the auction functions across all auctions, not individually.  You pause/resume them all at once.

Auction Settings

The auction nomination and bid timers can now go up to a max of 86400 seconds (1 day).  The bid timer settings are what matter for the purposes of making it a slow auction, anything at an hour (3600) or more for that setting will be considered a slow auction.  You can update these timers if you pause your auction, but you can’t swap from a fast auction to a slow auction or vice versa without resetting the whole auction.  Honestly this is something we’ll probably add in the future (at least going from a fast auction to a slow one).  It was something that didn’t even cross my mind until earlier this week and just didn’t have time to implement it before auction season.

I personally wouldn’t go over 12 hours for a bid timer.  Anything more than that and your auctions have the potential to last a very, very long time.  If you go shorter than 8 hours you can of course pause the auction overnight and resume it in the morning.  You could also pause the auction each night, set a longer bid timer, and then resume the auction right away if you wanted it running overnight.  Pausing the auction does reset any currently running countdowns, so it seems like it’d be less work to just pause the auction overnight since it’s likely that nothing definitive would happen overnight, but that’s ultimately up to you and your league.

These style auctions do have the potential to take a long time (worst case scenario it would literally take months) depending on your league settings (roster sizes, open roster spots, bid timer, etc.), but the biggest determining factor will be if you’re messing around with tiny bid increments and/or letting the bid timer wind down before bidding.  Don’t mess around with the low bids early on.  Be sure to use the manual bid to jump it early and they will go much quicker.  There’s also no value in these auctions to waiting till the last moment to bid, so I’d recommend simply bidding when you can.

Auction UI

Honestly don’t think there’s a ton to talk about here, hopefully it’s pretty intuitive.  For these slow auctions you’ll see an additional area towards the top where you can switch between the multiple auction instances that are occurring in your league.  They are color coded to indicate roughly what state each of them are in.  Blue is waiting for something, either the auction to start, a nomination to occur, or signifies that the auction is complete.  Yellow is there’s currently a player up for negotiations and you’re not currently the high bid.  Green is there’s currently a player up for negotiations and you are currently the high bid.  Otherwise everything else should be the same as the auctions you’re used to.

Other Functionality/Thoughts

A few other small things and edge cases I should mention.  You’re max bid and available contract durations are affected by any current high bids your team has out there.  If your league only allows one four year contract, and you bid a four year contract on a player, you can’t then offer another four year contract to a different player.  You’d gain back the ability to place another 4 year contract on a player if you’re outbid.  The same goes for your roster limit.  If you only have one open spot left, and you’re currently the high bid on a player, you can’t offer a contract to any other player until you’re outbid on the first.

Our auctions have never held tight to league positional requirements/limits for bidding on players and it’s no different now.  You’ll just want to be more mindful of your roster composition since there’s more auctions going on at once.

Slow auctions do have email notifications around a few events since the point is to not have to be in the auction room the whole time.  You’ll get an email when it’s your time to nominate a player, when you’re outbid on a player, and when you win a player.

More Analysis by Kyle English