Inaugural High Stakes League update 2

Updated: October 4th 2021

You are. <Looks directly at you>

I am. <Grabs chalice>

We are. <Steps on to balcony>

You are.

<Spins around with chalice in hand and points out to the crowd>

I am.

<Puffs cigar>

WE ARE…..

<Raises hands in the air and signals to the crowd>

…allll fantasy football experts.   Yeah!

Thanks for joining me for another update.  If you missed the first one, you can check it out here.

As I’m just now getting to these updates after the league has been in existence for over a year now, we have some catching up to do.  Last week’s update got you into my head and my thoughts to understand what brought me to the Inaugural High Stakes League.  If I had to shorten those reasons into a few hashtags it would probably look like this: #Confidence #Competition #Professional #Timing

So, now I’m in.  Time to see what kind of competition I was up against.  To the Google!

Hmmm…A couple names on a split team that do some fantasy football expertise writing on a website.  Ok.  This is what I expected.

No more writers though after that.  Huh.

Well, this is interesting.  Looks like we have an actual ice cream tycoon up in here.  Going to put that one in my back pocket and see if I can finagle a lifetime supply of chocolate chip cookie dough at some point…

Beyond that?  No, I really don’t see a lot of credentials.  One of my fellow owners mentioned that he was in roughly 50 leagues though.  Yes.  These are my people.  This is where I belong.  I was really only left wondering why I’m not in 50 leagues either.

Overall, I couldn’t be more pleased with this group of competitors.  They are simultaneously no better than me (In my very very humble opinion) while enlightening me with a few new strategies here and there that I’m happy to have picked up on and plan to utilize in all leagues moving forward.  So I ask you, did I pay just to join a high stakes league?  Or, have I possibly paid for something more?

Ok, ok.  So, how did season one go?  Well, long story short, I’m here writing to you because I went 13-0, won the Super Bowl, and was declared the greatest of all time by the rest of my league.  Then, it just made sense to have me do the write ups also.  And if you believe that, I have some Edwards-Helaire stock to sell you.

Look, I have some season one regrets.  I tend to play in leagues that have escalating scoring systems where elite players can pop off for insane points.  This makes spending elite money on them worthwhile.  This league has a standard system that reward those yards gained the same whether you’re at 40 for the day or 175.  As such, my year one approach yielded a scary looking starting lineup that lacked depth.  Week one I was near the top of league scoring and 1-0.

By the end of week three I had lost Kittle, Davante Adams, and Michael Thomas.  I dropped to 1-5 in the league.  Heartbreak.  What else is left to do but start planning for the future?  So, I traded away MT for some draft picks and saved a ton of future cap space.  A key move that would put me in good position for the ’21 season.   A trade that was so good that, for better or worse, put me back on a winning streak.  This is really my style.  Who wants a #1 pick anyways?  Certainly not me.  No, I prefer to miss the playoffs and end up with the 4th or 5th pick.  My team, “These Truth’s to be Self Richard Dent,” went 6-7 in season one.  So, enough about my squad who couldn’t break down that playoff wall.  What good is being in a High Stakes League if they don’t talk about you when you win?

The website contributing writers made the playoffs.  The guy who plays in 50 leagues made the playoffs.  Neither was our season one champion.

A team that goes by the name Philadelphia Freeways took the season one title.  If I would describe their approach it would be the exact opposite of mine.  They stayed away from spending elite money but had the best depth.  In a year when we dealt with Covid-19 and players missing more time than usual, this was the best approach and it’s no surprise this team came out on top.  Each year will present different opportunities for roster construction and where to best spend your money and one of the highlights of competing on the RSO platform is seeing and managing these opportunities no different than Bill Belichick might try to do.  Obviously, some years we will be more successful than others.  Just ask Bill.

So, a big Congratulations to Philadelphia Freeways.  Champion of the inaugural season of the Inaugural High Stakes League.

Are you excited about the next official RSO High Stakes League yet?  You should be.  Details are in the works as we speak.

I’m also happy to announce that I will have a discount code for you once RSO opens up for the ’22 season.

The deal is good for everyone except CARL!

Please give me a Twitter follow @RSOHighStakes for more fun league highlights and more details on your future discount.  See you next time.


Matt Russell
High Stakes League Storyteller

More Analysis by Matt Russell

Inaugural RSO High Stakes League update 1

Updated: September 23rd 2021

If you read any of the email updates from Stephen at RSO, you probably remember him talking about the desire to start a High Stakes League on the RSO platform.  I remember because I considered it but, perhaps not as strongly as some people.  It seemed awesome but finances – can I afford it?  And what level am I really?  You’ll understand soon enough I’ve never lacked confidence in anything I do but jumping up to the next level, whatever that may be in fantasy football, is a decision that takes some readiness.  Especially depending on where your finances are and mine were not quite there just yet.  A friend of mine that introduced me to the RSO platform in 2014 was considering joining though, probably a bit more strongly than I.  He expressed interest to RSO so that he could receive the email updates as the league tried to form which would put him in position to join if he ultimately felt comfortable.  This was great because he still shared the info with me as it came available.

Fast forward to August 2020.  The Inaugural RSO High Stakes League is close to being full but they still need one more team filled.  Stephen mentions in another RSO email update that the league is still looking for that last owner but Stephen himself may need to fill that role if they don’t find one, as a backup plan.  Regardless, the league is a go.  It’s happening and getting off the ground finally in this crazy 2020 that we went through.  Well, it just so happens that I got paid a couple days earlier.  I rehabilitate homes and sell them so my paydays come in chunks.  Very large chunks.  Usually only once per year.  So, I’ll be damned if the timing wasn’t lining up perfectly.  I reached out to my buddy to see if he joined.  He says no.  He’s going to watch and see how it goes first.  Gah!  What to do.  Well, I emailed Stephen and tell him the timing is right.  I’m considering it.  Just had a few more questions.

Then the internal thoughts.  $2k is a lot of money even though I have it right now but I’m no ice cream tycoon.  Considering RSO is more of a Dynasty format, you can’t just consider one season of costs either.  You have to consider whether you can put out this kind of money every year.  So, $2k every year indefinitely?  That’s a hard pill to swallow.  Look, I’ve been running fantasy football leagues for 20 years.  Part of running a league is recruiting when you have a spot to fill.  Quite frankly, in my opinion, if you want a fun league you want good players and people who have confidence.  If I had a nickel for every time I’ve told a person that it only costs you money if you don’t win, I’d be a tycoon of some sort, I assure you.  So, let’s just say I answered that concern myself.  Now, the confidence in my ability.  I’d been seeking, for a while, a challenge on the highest level.  Can one be a fantasy football professional?  Like, in Texas Hold ‘Em?  What about sponsored?  How do we know who the best are in this world?  There’s not many clear or easy answers to these questions and high stakes leagues, for now, seem to be the closest we can get to the highest level of fantasy football competition.  The fact that RSO has made this league official and put it on a pedestal with some promotion definitely gives it a feel of professionalism, from my point of view.  For me, something like this is what I had been seeking.  A chance to prove I could hang with the big dogs.  I decided to go for it.  Besides, how much more than me could these clowns know anyways?

Why is my first update about my decision to join?  Because RSO has big plans for more leagues like this and I think some of my thoughts are probably similar to many of yours out there.  I know you have the confidence.  You aren’t any different than I am.  An average guy who loves football, fantasy football, and the Chicago Bears (What?  Everyone doesn’t love the Bears?  I don’t believe you).  Now it’s time to step up your game and see if you have what it takes to compete on the next level.  Stay tuned for more information about future official RSO high stakes leagues.

Now that I’ve called the other owners clowns and promoted my own confidence on hanging with the big dogs you must be curious if I was the Champ of season one.  Well…..let’s just save the season one outcome for my next update.  I hope you’ll check it out.  See you next time.


Matt Russell

RSO High Stakes League storyteller

More Analysis by Matt Russell

RSO Roster Construction: Player Tier Variation

Updated: August 26th 2021

The question of optimal roster construction remains a mystery to many in RSO leagues.  How much should I allocate to different position groups?  How is the allocation distributed within each position?  How much should go to projected starters versus backups?  There exists practically near-limitless player combinations available to RSO teams and we can’t hope to cover any reasonable fraction of those.  This article gives a few examples of what various rosters can look like based on allocation of salary cap to different tiers of players.  The article utilizes average salary data taken from 2021 RSO startup auctions in order to construct 20-player rosters fitting near the RSO salary cap limits.  I assume 1QB/1SF/2RB/2WR and 1 or 2 flex spots in the starting lineup for this exercise.   I also allocated the same number of roster spots at each position for all rosters as a consistency measure.

The goal of this article is not to recommend individual players or even which type of roster construction is best.  League settings and conditions will have a big impact on the type of roster you desire on auction day.  The article does provide a starting point in evaluating different types of roster builds and the sort of trade-offs one must take into account when choosing how your team is constructed by examining a few rosters with differing cap distributions among players.

Top-Tier Heavy Roster

This roster pays a premium for the top contracts at each position.  The top-4 players combined for about 60% of the salary cap.  Interestingly, that number is significantly down from 2020.  This top-4 contracts would have cost about 75% of a team’s total salary last season.  These top-tier players show the most certainty in production which means this roster construction profile puts most of the cap dollars in highly reliable players.  The hope for this type of team resides in exploiting the consistent week-winning upside of the high priced players while getting just enough production from lower priced players.  The team has potential for extremely high weekly production in shallow leagues if it gets lucky and hits on one or two low-priced, low-probability players while avoiding injury.  The depth at wide receiver is a major plus for this strategy as low-priced viable options and young upside players exist throughout the lower price spectrum to fill a roster.  That strategy gets murkier as the number of required starters increases when more “hits” on questionable players are needed to produce a winning lineup.

The main issue with a team constructed this way is that many roster spots are filled with minimum salary and other low-cost players with very small odds of significant fantasy production.  There is little chance of seeing much value increases from these players.  Most trades will necessarily involve moving one of the prized star players to help alleviate any team deficiencies.  Any injury or underperformance of your star players is also a major issue for a team like this as there simply isn’t going to be a viable replacement in most cases.

Starter Heavy Roster

This roster variation divests cap dollars away from the very top-tier players to a degree.  Most of our salary is still allocated to the starters but is more evenly divided among them.  We can see that secondary starters see significant potential upgrades over the previous top-tier heavy roster and this roster type ensures a premium starter at the “start two” positions even in the case of injury.  The main question for teams utilizing this strategy is how they view the secondary starters.  The move away from the top-paid players may well be worth the cost if an owner sees potential top-tier production in the next tier of players.  There is also a depth cost to be paid with this build as the difference in price from top-tier downward is not as drastic as last season.

Balanced Roster

This distribution notably puts more cap dollars in potential flex starters and bench players.  The power of the middle-tier running backs this season, in particular, is highlighted.  Typically the “avoid zone” for running backs, the infusion of young running backs at the position recently allows for more flexibility in roster construction.  The flatter cap distribution approach displays two primary benefits.  First, the roster offers enhanced injury mitigation.  Unavailability of even the best players on this roster will potentially have a more diminished effect.  The statistical projections between players are less as the salary gap narrows.  There is a certain amount of “plug and play” replacement aspect here.  An RSO GM should feel fairly good about the weekly starting lineup, even on bye weeks.  Second, this type of roster construction acknowledges the inherent randomness in statistical production.  New coaching, surrounding personnel, schemes, schedules, etc. have major impacts on the fantasy performance of players.  Dividing money to more players allows additional chances on players with reasonable chances of significantly out-producing respective salaries.   There exists a good chance one of the backups produces at starter-quality as a replacement for an underperforming projected starter.

The downside to this build is a team will usually not have the potential weekly upside using this roster methodology compared to more concentrated distributions.  Even when many of the questionable players exceed expectations, they are unlikely to achieve truly top-tier production levels and many may not make your starting lineup.  This becomes less of a concern as in deeper leagues as more of the “hits” can be utilized on a weekly basis.


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

2021 RSO Contracts: WRs

Updated: August 9th 2021

My annual look at RSO auction values moves to wide receivers.  The series was designed to give the reader help in planning for upcoming auctions by looking at actual RSO auctions already finished this year.  The data comes from a variety of different types of leagues with varying scoring rules and starting requirements which can drastically alter player values so be cautious in expecting values to match your particular league.  The information does provide a useful starting point for examining how RSO owners value players at a certain position relative to one another and the length of contract they are willing to invest.  Provided fantasy stats and rankings utilize PPR per game scoring.

Average RSO Wide Receiver Contracts

WR1s

It might surprise some that Jefferson ranks this high on the contract list.  The second year Minnesota receiver exploded in his rookie season for 1.400 yards and a top-10 fantasy finish despite coming out of the gate slow in his first two games.  The overall WR1 might be a bit hefty but not completely out of line as a locked and loaded WR1 barely starting his career.  Hill offers near-unparalleled weekly upside as the most dangerous receiving threat in the NFL combined with Mahomes at quarterback and adds additional rushing yardage.  The only potential concern is a target load not commensurate with the top wide receivers.  Metcalf also broke out in his second season with 1,300 yards and a top-10 fantasy finish as one of the most physically gifted wide receivers in the NFL with Russell Wilson attached.  The Seattle run-heavy offense, Tyler Lockett in tow as a co-WR1, and Metcalf’s limitations as a route-runner likely dampen truly-elite season long possibilities.  Once again, RSO GMs pay a premium for the top rookies and Chase is no exception.  It could be a slow start after a year away from the game.  Maybe the biggest surprise from last year is the way Diggs helped change the game in Buffalo with a massive first season for the Bills that ended with him finishing first in targets, receptions, and receiving yards.  He’s a strong bet to finish with another great year though some Josh Allen regression might pull him from the very top.  Ridley exploded as the WR4 last season for Atlanta and the Falcons lost superstar Julio Jones to Tennessee.  Does the Atlanta offense revert to a more run-heavy approach?  Is the addition of the highest drafted rookie tight end ever in Kyle Pitts enough to offset the loss of Jones and prevent stacking of defenses against Ridley?

The upside exists for Lamb to be one of the top fantasy receivers in the league depending on Cooper’s health and Gallop’s longer-term standing with Cowboys.  Brown has been one of the best receivers the first two years in the league ranking top-15 each season per PFF.  The addition of Julio Jones either limits volume in a run-heavy offense or opens up the field for a team with a possibly more passing.  Hopkins topped 150 targets each season the last half decade with an ascending quarterback.  Adams outscored Hill (the WR2) by almost four points per game thanks to an absurd 18 touchdowns in 14 games.  We can count on some regression in that category but Adams scored double digit touchdowns in four of the last five years with Rodgers at quarterback in Green Bay.

 

WR2s

The future holds significant uncertainty for Thomas with late summer ankle surgery and without Brees at quarterback.  Robinson keeps trucking along with quality fantasy seasons despite suboptimal quarterback play.  Does Chicago finally have an answer for their quarterback future and will Robinson be there for it? Allen caught between 97 and 104 receptions each of the last four seasons producing an extremely high PPR floor.  His role might not have a big ceiling in other formats.  The addition of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Curtis Samuel raises the Washington offensive ceiling and that of McLaurin after a great first two seasons with poor quarterback play.   Godwin suffered through injuries in 2020 while still managing a top-15 wide receiver fantasy finish despite playing with a crowded, talented group of play makers in Tampa Bay.  He was PFF’s highest graded receiver in 2019.  Cooper posted three consecutive 1,000 yard receiving seasons with Dallas.  There are some foot injury questions in a strong Cowboy receiving core.  Moore fought through awful Carolina quarterback play for consecutive 1,000 yard seasons and is still just 24.  The Panthers invested in Sam Darnold who has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL over his first three years.  Evans consistently dominates with at least 1,000 yard every season in the NFL and possesses extremely high touchdown upside.  As mentioned previously, Tampa Bay is loaded with receiving weapons.  The RSO community expects a big leap from Jeudy despite continued low-end quarterbacks and the return of Sutton in a young but strong receiving room.

WR3s and more

This tier of wide receiver contracts is the reason an RSO GM might choose to not invest heavily at the position.  It’s full of starting caliber players and receivers with lots of weekly upside.  Aiyuk blew expectations out the window once he received the chance to seriously contribute but must deal with the return of George Kittle and Deebo Samuel in completion for targets on a run-heavy offense.  Kupp finished with 90+ receptions the last two years while Woods ranked WR18 or better each of the last three seasons for the Rams and they get a QB upgrade in Matt Stafford.  Beckham missed out on Cleveland’s cupcake schedule finish after a season-ending knee injury but is reportedly ahead of schedule on his rehab in what should be one of the best overall offenses.  Johnson ranked sixth in targets last season thanks to some of the top route running in the league.  Julio struggled with injuries last season but was his normal efficient self last year when on the field and Tannehill is an upgrade on pure arm strength over the noodle-armed Ryan.  Waddle and Smith should assume significant roles as rookies in Miami’s and Philadelphia’s offenses.  Sutton displayed dominant traits in 2019 with abysmal quarterback play before an ACL tear ended 2020 before it began.  Lockett and Metcalf finished with nearly identical fantasy finishes but the former comes at sharp discount.  Golladay is already injured and the quarterback position got worse for him but he should be the primary target for the Giants.  Higgins and Shenault represent ascending second year players attached to the top selected quarterbacks in the last two draft classes.  The Bengals and Jaguars added significant offensive talent in addition to the quarterbacks.  Thielen caught a ridiculous 14 touchdowns on only 74 receptions, a figure set to reduce.  There’s not a lot of upside with Boyd but should provide a low-cost weekly flex option.  Samuel gives Washington much needed help in the passing game opposite McLaurin combined with understated rushing potential on a team without many significant options.

Beyond the Top-40

The receivers outside the top-40 still present considerable value and potential. Robby Anderson considerably out-targeted Moore in Carolina last season and gets old running-mate Darnold at quarterback on an offense which lost Samuel. Will Fuller produced an outstanding eleven games as the WR8 in Houston before suspension ended his year. Brandin Cooks has 1,000+ receiving yards in five of his seven NFL seasons and is the undisputed WR1 in Houston with the departure of Fuller. Antonio Brown and Michael Gallup should have stout tertiary roles on what should be excellent passing offenses. Rashad Bateman and Elijah Moore highlight rookies who showed well in the offseason and have chances for immediate significant roles.


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

2021 RSO Contracts: QBs

Updated: July 24th 2021

My annual look at early RSO auction values begins at the quarterback position.  The series was designed to give the reader help in planning for upcoming auctions by looking at actual RSO auctions already finished this year.  The data comes from a variety of different types of leagues with varying scoring rules and starting requirements which can drastically alter player values so be cautious in expecting values to match your particular league.  The information does provide a useful starting point for examining how RSO owners value players at a certain position relative to one another and the length of contract they are willing to invest.  Provided fantasy stats and rankings utilize ESPN per game scoring.

Average RSO Quarterback Contracts

Upper Tier

The remarks about Mahomes will look very similar from last year. He makes up the top-tier of RSO quarterbacks, by a wide margin.  Mahomes put up another excellent season in 2020 as the QB1 among qualifying passers.  Maybe no QB started off their first three seasons in the NFL as well as the Kansas City quarterback.  He retains one of the best supporting casts and coaching teams in the NFL.

There won’t be much argument Mahomes deserves his spot at the top of QB contracts.  The only issue might be the premium paid for him.  There are more than a handful of quarterbacks who scored relatively closely in fantasy last year which come at a significant discount compared to the Kansas City passer.

Rest of the QB1s

Because rookie Lawrence begins the second tier, we should note an item about RSO auctions this early.  The sample size of auctions with rookies is extreme small so don’t put too much stock in the numbers but realize rookies generally go for a premium.   For that reason, I don’t discuss rookie prices much in the article.  Lawrence is one of the top quarterback prospects we have seen in a while with great traits and an intriguing situation with Meyer as the new head coach in Jacksonville.  Murray was the top fantasy QB last season before injuries. He possesses top-end rushing and scrambling abilities combined with upper level passing volume which makes for an incredible fantasy ceiling.  The sky’s the limit if the Cardinal’s QB boosts his passing efficiency and, with it, his touchdown totals.  Herbert produced maybe the best rookie season ever from a number standpoint and has one of the better all-around physical toolboxes.  The main area of concern is that his completion percentage far exceeded his actual down-to-down accuracy and he lived off of incredible deep –ball production, a volatile year to year proposition.  Allen made one of the biggest real-life jump NFL quarterback jumps as a passer we have ever seen, partly due to the addition of Stefon Diggs, while also keeping up his rushing production for fantasy.  Is the jump a blip or sustainable?  Prescott is another quarterback who started the year on fire as the QB1 before injury with a great group of skill-position players at his disposal. His crazy fantasy numbers were partly driven by matches against sub-par passing defenses and incredible volume due to Dallas’ own pathetic defense last season so don’t overweight last season’s performance too much.

Jackson took a step back from his gigantic 2019 season but still only scored 2.5 points per game less than Mahomes.  The Ravens added a lot to the receiving core this offseason though the Ravens’ QB will likely never be in the top-half of passing volume.  He remains the top fantasy QB rusher by a mile and a small increase in efficiency could potentially lead to a significant fantasy boost, with the overall QB1 firmly in his range of outcomes.  Wilson consistently ranks as one of the best combinations of passing and rushing at quarterback.  He’s usually among the most efficient passers in the NFL with significant scrambling ability and never missed a game in his career.    Jackson and Wilson are great values on RSO if you want to pay up for a starting quarterback.

QB2s

The selection of five rookie quarterbacks in the first round of the NFL draft plus a number of off-the-field issues and movement inserted a level of uncertainty rarely seen at the quarterback position as a whole, particularly past the top-echelon.  The Lions traded Stafford to the Rams for multiple 1st round rookie picks and Goff.  The former Lion has always been on the cusp of greatness with one of the top “arm-talents” in the league capable of making dynamic throws from many arm angles and transfers to a highly talented team with one of the most highly regarded offensive minds.  Stafford’s penchant for different throwing mechanics unfortunately often leads to inconsistent accuracy and less efficiency than expected.  He also has an extensive injury history, particularly with back issues recently.  Rodgers’ upside is MVP-level, as seen just last season, and he is consistently one of the best at protecting the football never exceeding 8 interceptions in a decade.  Retirement or holdout represents the downside (a very real possibility most people aren’t weighting highly enough).  Tannehill has been one of the most efficient passers in the NFL since starting for Tennessee in a run-heavy offense and gets Julio Jones added to the mix.  That run-heavy mix limits the volume and upside.  Would new offensive coordinator Todd Downing produce a more pass-heavy offense and how would Tannehill respond?  Hurts put up quality fantasy points in four starts thanks largely to significant rushing yardage and gets a full offseason to work with a new offense designed for him with back-to-back 1st round wide receivers heading the core.  A lot of his rushing is due to scrambling because he is essentially a “one read then scramble” quarterback, despite his extensive college resume.  He ranked only above Dwayne Haskins in PFF grading last year.  Hurts is one of the most volatile fantasy quarterbacks with top-five production or benching very real possibilities.  The arguments for Watson are similar to Rodgers.  He compares favorably on the field to Russell Wilson as one of the best all-around passing/rushing combos.  His legal issues have a wide range of outcomes which puts part or all of this season (and beyond) in question.  Brady has one of the highest projected touchdown, yardage, and volume totals this season with one of the best offensive groups in the league.  Will the ageless wonder ever fail?  Miami surrounded Tagovailoa with a lot of receiving talent this offseason adding speedsters Will Fuller in free agency and Jaylen Waddle in the draft.  Does he make a second year leap after an un-noteworthy season recovering from injury?  What’s left in the tank for Roethlisberger after a disappointing 2020 coming back from major arm surgery?

QB3s and more

While Mayfield performed fairly well from a real-life quarterback perspective, there hasn’t been much to get excited from a fantasy point of view so far never averaging more than 17 PPG in a season.  The Falcons and Ryan might be sliding downward at this stage and replaced superstar Julio Jones with the highest drafted tight end ever in Kyle Pitts.  New head coach Arthur Smith might bring an entirely new offensive philosophy emphasizing the run more.  Wentz self-destructed last year and had one of the worst seasons of any quarterback.  Does a reunion with Frank Reich bring back the old Wentz?  Cousins brings borderline QB1 upside at QB3 prices.  Darnold has arguably been the worst starting quarterback in the NFL during his reign as in New York.  Can he resurrect his very young career in Carolina?  Fitzpatrick has shown the ability to support significant fantasy production from good receivers.  How long do Newton, Garoppolo, and Dalton hold off rookies?  Who wins the quarterback competitions between Lock and Bridgewater (does it even matter) or Winston and Hill (it matters)?


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

2021 Pre-Draft Rookie Best Fits – Wide Receivers

Updated: April 22nd 2021

Last but not least the cream of the 2021 draft class, the wide receivers. If you missed out on the other offensive position recap, you can find each of them at the following link. Quarterbacks, Running Backs, and Tight Ends.

The receiver class is once again strong at the top end as well as deep into day two and the start of day three. While not every player can inevitably work out, this gives those that missed out on the last two classes another chance to try and hit the receiver jackpot.

The top is loaded with one player that appears to project to be a superstar receiver with All-Pro upside, another who won the Heisman Trophy despite questions about his thin frame, and his teammate who missed much of 2020 with an injury but is still likely to go top 15 in the NFL draft.

There is also a bounty of 5-10 other receivers who could go between the late first and third round that should be steals in rookie drafts. This bodes well for championship-calibre teams at the end of round one or savvy teams that selected one of the better running backs early in the first round but need starting-calibre talent with their next two draft picks.

Receiver is also the most crucial positions to match scheme and talent for the player to have success. Landing spots rather than draft spot alone will be the key to picking the breakouts from the fakeouts.

Rashod Bateman – Minnesota

DLF Ranking – 8th (9th SF)

NFL Draft – 2nd Round

Best Fit – 2.58, Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are one of the easiest teams to project to take a wide receiver early in the draft but because they are savvy with finding value I think they will wait till at least the second round and focus either on the offensive or defense line with their first pick. They have the speed with Marquise Brown but they lack more than Mark Andrews both over the middle and in the end zone. Rashod Bateman won consistently on jump balls in the end zone and can easily become the second option behind Andrews, though he is much more than just a Jumpman. Having 6-9 targets with 2 red zone targets per game would be a fair prediction for Bateman in Baltimore.

Dyami Brown – North Carolina

DLF – 20th (26th SF)

NFL Draft – 4th Round

Best Fit – 4.136, Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs have been able to make good use out of receivers from deeper in the draft with names like Demarcus Robinson (undrafted) and Tyreek Hill (fifth round). They took Mecole Hardman in the second round in 2019 but even at the time, it seemed like that was a reach with Hill potentially missing time with a suspension and needing a viable duplicate speed receiver to replace him. They could go back to receiver again in 2021 this time for a player like Dyami Brown who brings much more versatility to an offense than Hardman or Robinson. The Chiefs also only have two receivers under contract for 2022 so while his role might not be immediate, Brown would be in line for a larger role in 12 months from now if he can develop.

Nico Collins – Michigan

DLF – 33rd (47th SF)

NFL Draft – 3rd/4th Round

Best Fit – 3.70, Philadelphia Eagles

Howie Roseman and the Eagles probably wish they could have a redo on taking JJ Arcega Whiteside over D.K. Metcalf but they have a chance to make up for it by taking Nico Collins this year. Another size freak (6’4”, 215lbs) that also ran a 4.43, Collins has the needed skills that the Eagles have been missing since Alshon Jeffrey was fully healthy coming over from Chicago. The Eagles have a lot of problems on the defensive side of the ball so it is likely they would focus elsewhere before addressing the receiver position. Hurts to Collins could be the Wilson to Metcalf of the NFC East if they develop chemistry as quickly as the latter did.

Ja’Marr Chase – LSU

DLF – 1st (3rd SF)

NFL Draft – Top 10 Selection

Best Fit – 1.07, Detroit Lions

The problem with predicting the place for Ja’Mar Chase is that his talent, and thus draft pedigree, will likely keep him out of the hands of a team that both has a high need for a receiver and a high volume passing game. Philadelphia would have been the perfect fit but they traded out of 1.06 so I have to choose between only one of those upside outcomes. I will go with volume and say the Detroit Lions at seventh overall. The Lions have Quintez Cephus and Breshad Perriman atop their depth chart which means selecting Chase would immediately vault him to their WR1 and a bounty of targets would be projected his way. Immediate comparisons between his and Calvin Johnson’s start to their careers as highly drafted, generation receiving talents would be the media angle following day one. If Chase wants to live up to the hype he will need to prove that talent transcends the situation, much like Johnson did.

Frank Darby – Arizona State

DLF – 42nd (42nd SF)

NFL Draft – 5th Round

Best Fit – 5.160, Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals probably do not see a need for a receiver in 2021 now that they signed A.J. Green for the year. But they should be looking to the future once he and potentially Christian Kirk are gone and could look local to Frank Darby at Arizona State. Though he will not have the pedigree of fellow Sun Devils N’Keal Harry and Brandon Ayiuk, who were drafted in the first round the last two years, Darby profiles well as a complement to an alpha like DeAndre Hopkins and could develop into a solid team WR3 or maybe even outside shot at being their WR2.

D’wayne Eskridge – Western Michigan

DLF – 33rd (38th SF)

NFL Draft – 3rd/4th Round

Best Fit – 3.140, Pittsburgh Steelers

How long can you wait for potential? Putting on the tape of D’wayne Eskridge I immediately had flashes of another small-sized, small school Steelers receiver, Antonio Brown. How much of a perfect situation was having a Hall of Fame quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger to helping Brown develop into an elite WR? Can it happen again knowing that Roethlisberger will not be there this time? Who knows? Still, the Steelers are one of those teams that you always watch to see if they take a receiver in the mid-late rounds as they seem to hit at a higher rate than most. Eskridge seems like the kind of player they would keep in their back pocket as players like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Dionte Johnson price themselves out of town. If you are a gambler on talent at the end of depth charts, this would create a terrific buy-low shot on a player going in the later rounds of rookie drafts.

Terrace Marshall – LSU

DLF – 11th (15th SF)

NFL Draft – Mid 1st/Early 2nd Round

Best Fit – 1.29, Green Bay Packers

If Green Bay can do Aaron Rodgers one solid favor it would be to finally draft a first-round receiver to compliment Davante Adams. While they are not going to be able to get a player like Ja’Mar Chase they could still look to LSU and grab Terrace Marshall at the end of day one. Marshall can play both inside and out and is fluid in and out of his breaks. Any receiver that might land in Green Bay with Rodgers would get the post-draft bump and there would be a pretty good case for Marshall to be a top 6 pick if this wish came true.

Elijah Moore – Ole Miss

DLF – 12th (17th SF)

NFL Draft – 2nd Round

Best Fit – 2.36, Miami Dolphins

A.J. Brown has gone on tour promoting the Titans to bring in his fellow Ole Miss teammate Elijah Moore but I do not think they are prioritizing receiver in the first and Moore will not make it to their late second-round pick. He could go much early and a team like the Dolphins would be an intriguing fit for Moore who has been compared to former Miami Dolphins Jarvis Landry by Matt Waldman. Tua Tagovailoa is more of a precision passer so having a great inside receiver like Moore to go along with Will Fuller deep and DeVante Parker outside would give defenses pause for who to double. Moore’s role could expand even further in 2022 with Fuller only signing a one-year deal.

Rondale Moore – Purdue

DLF – 9th (13th SF)

NFL Draft – 2nd/3rd Round

Best Fit – 3.65, Jacksonville Jaguars

Rondale Moore has the most influx career path as I think he should succeed but whether teams are creative enough to use him all over the field will be the difference between him being a good NFL receiver and a good fantasy receiver. A team like Jacksonville I hope would bring a lot of pre-snap motion to their offensive game plan and thus would use more sweeps, crosses, bubble screen and end-arounds to give a player like Moore space with the ball in his hands. At least when I projected Kenneth Gainwell in the running back section I hoped so. Much like Tyreek Hill in Kansas City, having lots of smoke and pre-snap motion to help create separation between Moore and the trailing defender would be the best way to utilize his undersized frame but tremendous speed.

Amari Rodgers – Clemson

DLF – 27th (34th SF)

NFL Draft – 3rd Round

Best fit – 3.86, New York Jets

The Jets drafted their outside receiver last year in Denzel Mims and then double down by signing Corey Davis. With Jamison Crowder getting long in the tooth it may be time to look inside for a slot receiver like Amari Rodgers. Like Crowder, Rodgers does his best work through the middle and with likely first-round pick Zach Wilson moving around in the pocket, Rodgers would be an excellent safety blanket. A potential PPR monster once Crowder leaves town.

DeVonta Smith – Alabama

DLF – 4th (7th SF)

NFL Draft – Top 15 Selection

Best Fit – 1.12, Philadelphia Eagles

If Ja’Mar Chase is gone before the Lions are on the clock I would also like DeVonta Smith there as a target machine but for this exercise, Chase is in Detroit so Smith falls to Philadelphia at twelfth. While I also predicted the Eagles to take Nico Collins in the third round earlier the precedent has already been set by both Denver and Las Vegas that just because you take one receiver in the first it does not prevent taking another before the end of day two, especially when your offense needs it.  This would also reunite Smith with former Alabama teammate Jalen Hurts. Smith has the tools to be a WR1 in the NFL but he likely needs a WR2 more than Chase to be elite.

Amon-Ra St. Brown – USC

DLF – 16th (22nd SF)

NFL Draft – 3rd Round

Best Fit – 3.67, Houston Texans

The Texans do not have a first or second-round pick which makes this their defector first pick in 2021 and they likely have bigger problems than wide receiver to consider at this spot. Still, with the departure of Will Fuller and only Brandin Cooks along with the aging Randall Cobb available the team needs to at least take a look at the receiver position. Amon-Ra St. Brown has the typical “big slot receiver” style that can complement the speed of Bradin Cooks, at least for one season, and then they can go back and address the position more in 2022 when they have more capital.

Sage Surratt – Wake Forest

DLF – 35th (33rd SF)

NFL Draft – 4th/5th Round

Best Fit – 4.139, New England Patriots

While New England may not be ready to give up on N’Keal Harry just yet they will likely hedge their bets by taking at least one receiver later in the draft. Sage Surratt out of Wake Forest provides another option for a jump-ball specialist but who can also work the middle of the field as a big slot receiver, al a Michael Thomas. Like Harry though, Surratt also lacks break-away speed (4.6) so if he fails to separate like Harry at the line of scrimmage, he could be another bust for the Patriots. They clearly valued what they saw in Harry though so maybe they try again but for cheaper.

Tamorrion Terry – Florida State

DLF – 28th (28th SF)

NFL Draft – 5th Round

Best Fit – 5.164, Chicago Bears

The Bears have Allen Robinson for at least 2021 on the franchise tag but whether he is back in 2022 is anyone’s guess. There have also been rumors that they could be looking to move on from Anthony Miller, trade or just not resigning. Tamorrion Terry fills in a need for a second option behind Robinson now with the chance to take on a larger role if Robinson leaves after this season. He is not likely to be a WR1 or 2 in his career but Terry could have outside success in standard leagues where touchdowns over receptions are valued.

Kadarius Toney – Florida

DLF – 13th (23rd SF)

NFL Draft – Late 1st/2nd Round

Best Fit – 2.39, Carolina Panthers

I said in the tight end section that the Carolina Panthers should take Kyle Pitts with the eighth selection but he is not there (likely) or they may trade down with a team looking for the last quarterback, like New England. If so, then they could be a candidate for Kadarius Toney in the second. It is tough placing Toney as either a first or second-round pick as he would be a luxury pick for many of the teams at the end of first or I think several of those teams would prefer other options later in the second or even third round. Another slot guy, Toney would be best used similarly to Deebo Samuel with a low aDOT/high YAC working behind Robby Anderson for 2021 with the chance to take on more of a role alongside D.J. Moore in 2022.

Jaylen Waddle – Alabama

DLF – 5th (11th SF)

NFL Draft – Top 15 Selection

Best Fit – 1.13, Los Angeles Chargers

I kind of boxed myself into a corner by saying that the Falcons and Bengals would not take Ja’Mar Chase and thus pushing the available options for Jaylen Waddle down. Saying that makes this a pipe dream but if Waddle fell out of the top ten and right into Justin Herbert and the Chargers’ lap that would be a perfect match of quarterback to receiver. Waddle has the speed to take advantage of an arm like Herbert’s and would give the Chargers leverage to move on from Mike Williams after this season if his price tag is too high.

Tylan Wallace – Oklahoma State

DLF – 18th (21st SF)

NFL Draft – 3rd/4th Round

Best Fit – 3.89, Cleveland Browns

The Browns seem to have finally turned it around and while they did okay at receiver last year we do not know how Odell Beckham Jr. will bounce back from ACL surgery. He also has no dead money on the books past 2021 so this could be his final year in Cleveland regardless of his performance. If Tylan Wallace falls to the end of the third round it is a steal for all teams and he should make an immediate impact. Maybe he and Baker Mayfield could jell in a way that the quarterback just never seemed to with OBJ.

Seth Williams – Auburn

DLF – 17th (16th SF)

NFL Draft – 5th/6th Round

Best Fit – 6.210, Baltimore Ravens

A jump ball specialist, Seth Williams could be a discount option if the Ravens do not select a receiver early in the draft. His size would add a much-needed presence on the outside and endzone fades. The only questions surrounding Williams are his commitment to being great at his craft which is why he is likely to be a Day 3 pick with Day 2 talent. I trust the Ravens’ front office and if they (or another competent organization) take a shot on him then Williams can be one of the better late-round flyers. If he lands with a dysfunctional team, I am out.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews