Inaugural High Stakes League update 12

Updated: December 26th 2021

What a rough week for fantasy football.  Heading into the second week of the playoffs things are only getting worse.  The Covid IR is in full effect right now, not to mention actual injuries on top of it, and depth is the name of the game in ’21.

As we look at last week’s games, and what brought to our match ups this week, those seeds really played a big role in which teams advanced.  The good news (if you are a spectator) is that both matches were extremely close.  The match between the #4 seed and the #5 seed was decided by only four points at 141-137.  #4 seed Wendell Takeover Project advances over Just Dodge, and now we have to wonder if the midseason name change affected Just Dodge in the end.

In the battle between the #3 seed and the #6 seed, the match was decided by only seven points.  “The Don” Piccolo continues to face the right team each week to get a win despite putting up subpar point totals.  107-100 was the final and, clearly, if “the Don” faced either of the two other teams, his season would be over.  I’ll have to check with “the Don” to see what he uses each week as a sacrificial lamb to the Fantasy Gods.  Because, it’s working.

So, we advance another week and here we are with the top four seeds all facing each other.  The big dogs, XFL Stars, will match up against Wendell and Y Town squares off against “The Don.”  It’s time to place those bets.  Who will make it to the finals?  Whichever teams do, you know they will be handicapped by Covid IR and a mountain of injuries that have piled up this season.  Finding and implementing players you can stream for one week is an integral part of fantasy football success and these teams are getting their ability to assess these players, and their situations, tested well.

It’s a quick update this week for me as I spend time with family for the holidays.  I hope all of you were able to do the same, or enjoy the holiday season in the best way possible.  Good luck to all the teams still contending for a title.

See you next week.

RSO High Stakes League Storyteller

More Analysis by Matt Russell

Inaugural High Stakes League update 10

Updated: December 9th 2021

As we come barreling into the final week of the regular season we are essentially down to seven teams fighting for six spots.  While there could be some last minute shuffling of seed order among the six playoff qualifiers, it’s those final two spots, which are based on total points, that will provide the exciting finish to the regular season.


First, let’s discuss how we got here with a review of last week.  League powerhouse, XFL Stars, has lead the league in total points most of this season but it wasn’t until last week they finally took over 1st place.  Next up for XFL was Schless is More – fresh off an upset win of previous 1st place team, “The Don” Piccolo.  But, when you’re hot, you’re hot.  XFL Stars squashed Schless like a meaningless bug in their path on their way to another league high score of the week.  They drop 186 points to Schless’s 116.  Schless looks like they’ve locked up the #3 pick in the draft next year.

Speaking of teams near the bottom of the standings, we witnessed a battle for next season’s number one pick.  The two teams tied for last squared off to see who was the suckiest of all the suck in the land.  It’s NJ Generals.  They’re the suckiest.  But, they likely get that number one pick next year now which they are probably more happy about than any sucky moniker they earned.

In our biggest upset of last week, Borderland Bombers continued their charge towards the playoffs.  They’ve sat quietly in the seven spot for many weeks now just continually trying to break through.  Like a crypto stock going to the moon out of nowhere, this team finally broke through in an important week against the second highest scoring team in the league, Y Town.  The point total wasn’t tremendous, but in a week where a few other key teams’ scoring was down, 135 points was enough to win the game and catapult this team from the #7 seed up to the #5 seed with a chance at the #4 before it’s all said and done.  That’s a big week.  But, it’s close.  Oh so close, with seven total points separating three teams for the final two playoff spots. This team still needs to finish strong or it could miss that final spot.

Y Town still has over 1900 points this season and sits in the #3 spot now.  But, this makes two losses in three weeks as we get real close to the post season.  That’s not how any team wants to be trending during such a crucial time.

If you’ve been following along on our superstition watch, a midseason team name change seems to have sent Just Dodge, No Rodge on a skid with a few losses while they barely hang on to enough points to get into the playoffs.  If they miss the playoffs I will feel vindicated and declare this superstition to be essentially a scientific fact.  Last week was a tough one scoring sub-100.  They do that again this week and it’s over.  There’s no more room for error here in the final week with three teams so close in total points.

Our trade deadline heroes (See update 6), Philadelphia Freeways, played in a must win game against Wendell Takeover Project.  With a win they could stay within range of the top four spots and get in on record.  Potentially.  That didn’t transpire.  In fact, we saw a good old fashioned ass-whipping.  Wendell pretty much locked up his playoff birth with a solid 151 point showing.  Philadelphia, however, may have put up the lowest points in our short league history.  This team made some great moves at the deadline.  But, some of these moves left them high and dry during some crucial bye weeks and they found themselves in a Superflex league with only Mike Glennon available to start at QB.  Yikes.  Then you realize this team is without it’s shiny new toy, Davante Adams, and you understand why they could only muster 60 points.  ODB was the highest scoring player on this team with 2 receptions, 28 yards, and a TD.  I’ve seen uglier efforts over my many years playing fantasy football, but it’s been a long time.

How about those standings….

(seed) Team. Record, total points

(1)  XFL Stars. 10-3, 2099

(2)  “The Don” Piccolo.  10-3, 1749

(3)  Y Town.  9-4, 1901

(4)  Wendell Takeover Project.  8-5, 1775

(5)  Borderland Bombers.  8-5, 1699

(6)  Just Dodge, No Rodge.  5-8, 1695

(7)  Big Tings.  6-7, 1692

(8)  DC Guardians.  6-7, 1588

(9)  Schless is More.  4-9, 1523

(10) Philadelphia Freeways. 7-6, 1517

(11) These Truths to be Self Richard Dent.  3-10, 1425

(12) NJ Generals.  2-11, 1416

Top four seeds based on record.  Final two based on total points.

As I look through the slate of upcoming games I admit it’s uninspiring.  It’s almost like every top team is playing a bottom team.  I see a lot of disparity in the match ups.  So, upsets are unlikely for those top three teams who all play seeds eight or lower.  #4 Wendell has a match up against Just Dodge.  But, Dodge is a team testing superstitions so my faith in them is waning.  They get a tough final draw against which to prove themselves.  It’s an uphill battle but, as a reminder, a win doesn’t matter for them, only points.  We’ll see if they can score more than 100 this week.

After a week getting comfortable sitting in that top spot, we got some feedback from the guys at the top.  It’s always a momentous occasion when you grab the #1 seed so we like to get owner comments on these occasions.  XFL Stars did release a statement this week following our request for comment:

“XFL is pumped to have just won our 4th consecutive weekly high scorer award while dealing with injuries from Waller, Hurts, Deebo, and now Logan Thomas.  This past week we knew we were destined to keep the streak alive when Minshew rolled in looking like a character straight out of Top Gun.”

They added later that Top Gun just happens to be their favorite movie of all time.

One more week to go in this new, 14-week regular season.  Make sure to pause for a moment to appreciate that as you set your lineups this week.  One extra game of fantasy football for us lucky dogs.  Ahhhhh, yes.  Feels good.  Let that marinate and I’ll see you next week.

– RSO High Stakes League Storyteller


More Analysis by Matt Russell

Inaugural High Stakes League update 6

Updated: November 11th 2021

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

You know what I’m talking about.  The trade deadline in a fantasy football league.   Whether you are all-in making moves going for the championship, or,  if you’re in the cellar starting a rebuild for the future.  There are deals for everyone.  Everyone I say.

Tuesday, November 9th was our deadline.  That day, there were six deals made and, while it could be implied those account for all twelve teams getting in on the action, the reality is we had one team involved in four of those six deals and another team involved in two of them.  This means eight of the twelve teams still got in on the action (You taking any notes here, NFL?).  Pretty sweet.  But, man, I am excited to talk about the entire story behind the team that made four trades and I’m even more excited to see how the team finishes the regular season.  I think you will be too.

Reigning Champion, Philadelphia Freeways, entered the trade deadline as the #9 seed out of twelve teams.  They are actually 5-4 but have struggled to put up points this season and those final two playoff spots are determined by total points.  It’s not for lack of effort as they continue to be one of the most active teams when it comes to trading.  They made two trades in week nine bringing them up to six trades over the final eight days leading up to the deadline.  Those week nine trades were a push for the playoff run as they moved a 1st and 2nd round draft pick for star players.  Then they suffered a tough eight point loss to the number one seed, Y Town.  As I said previously, points haven’t been their strength.  Facing the right team each week has been and they’ve gotten wins because of it.  But, even though they actually moved up one seed from the previous week, with their loss, now at 5-4 with the trade deadline here and a low point total, they decided to pack it in for the season and started working on obtaining future assets.

Before I get into all of the trade deadline deals, let’s paint the picture with our standings and playoff hunt (Top four seeds by record, and next two playoff spots by total points):

(1) Y Town  7-2, 1378pts

(2) “The Don” Piccolo  7-2, 1205pts

(3) XFL Stars  6-3, 1406pts

(4) Wendell Takeover Project  5-4, 1254pts

(5) Rodge and Dodge  4-5, 1237pts

(6) Big Tings  5-4, 1213pts

(7) Borderland Bombers  5-4, 1210pts

(8) DC Guardians 4-5, 1134pts

(9) Philadelphia Freeways 5-4, 1113pts

(10) Schless is More 3-6, 1088pts

(11) These Truths to be Self Richard Dent 2-7, 1042pts

(12) NJ Generals 1-8, 1024pts

Clearly, it was a tough spot to be in and, for many teams, they freeze up like a tundra and don’t make any moves here leaving the landscape barren of any deals.  Still holding out hope for the playoffs, because there is a shot, but also not wanting to give up any future assets because, at the same time, it’s more likely they do not make it to the playoffs.  If you’ve played enough fantasy football you know we’ve all been stuck here at some point.  But, stuck… definitely not how this team played it.

Guess who made the first deal of the day to get us started?  That’s right, the hero of this story, Philadelphia Freeways.  Obtaining a 1st round pick in a trade that included player assets acquired just the week before and #5 seed, Rodge and Dodge, improved their QB situation in the deal.  The selloff for Philly had begun.

Two hours later, a little after noon, our next deal was done.  “The Don” Piccolo, who has flirted with that top seed all season, made another minor move to shore up his RB depth chart.  After acquiring Myles Gaskin two weeks earlier, he handcuffed him for the playoff run by acquiring Salvon Ahmed for a 3rd round pick.  #8 seed, DC Guardians, was the recipient of the 3rd round pick as they make the first of two trades on the day signaling a look towards the future.  DC then made the next trade, as well.  Six hours after the last deal, the early evening settled in and the owners got done with their work day and turned a renewed focus on deals.  DC obtained a 2nd round draft pick for Big Ben and a 3rd in return.  Another small step towards a rebuild for DC.  The #4 seed, Wendell Takeover Project, for their part in the deal, upgrades their QB depth with a 3rd startable candidate.  Just in time for Mahomes’ bye in week 12.

Then, boom.  Ten minutes later the trade sirens were ringing again.  My guys, Philly Freeways, were back at it.  They obtain another 1st round draft pick in a deal that sends two WR’s to #7 Borderland Bombers.  A team that is clearly on the bubble but within striking distance.  A team that had Calvin Ridley and now needed to make some moves to replace that production.  They did so effectively.

Silence then befell the group.  I assure it wasn’t because there were not deals being discussed.  I know this because I was discussing deals with several owners still and you could tell that most owners were hard at work trying to squeeze every last ounce of opportunity out of the trade deadline.  But, it seems, none were able to come together.

An interesting thing happened just after midnight though.  Personally, I thought midnight was the deadline and it never occurred to me that it would be on PST.  But, with deals sitting there not responded to, the accept button remained lit up.  It was then it occurred to me we probably had three more hours of deals for us in the Eastern time zone.  Then, moments later it was confirmed as I received another notification that a deal had been made.  This is where it gets good.

Philadelphia Freeways saw an opportunity and jumped on it.  Two more teams (at least that I am aware of) remained extremely active in talks with Freeways all the way up until midnight.  Freeways did an excellent job of want and needs analysis of the teams they were dealing with and realized that they could make some last minute moves that they felt put their team back into contention.  All season this team operated with the most salary cap space and well into the wee hours of the morning it finally paid off as they generate a stunner of a deal where they obtained Davante Adams for dirt cheap.  A 2nd round pick and Jalen Reagor for the consensus #1 WR going into this season.  As the only team with the ability to make a deal for player on a large expiring contract the cost of a deal was brought down immensely.  This deal came at about 1am EST and it was their second deal after midnight.

For These Truths to be Self Richard Dent, the #11 seed and owner of Adams, it came down to a very similar situation as former Illinois congressman, Rod Blagojevich.  In fact, we placed a voice recorder in their control room at These Truths headquarters’ and picked up the following statements about Davante Adams:

“I’ve got this thing and it’s f***ing golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for f***in’ nothing. I’m not gonna do it.”

A 2nd round pick isn’t “nothing” but it’s certainly below market value.  At the end of the day, both of these two teams win.  The rest of the Illinois?  Oops, I mean, the rest of the Inaugural High Stakes League?  Maybe not so much.  Philly’s last two deals net them Amari Cooper and Davante Adams.  Not to mention new life for a playoff run.  They give up only two 2nd round picks and Cooper is contracted beyond this season.  Will it pay off?  I can’t wait to see.

Last week at the end of my write up I mentioned I would revisit Philadelphia Freeways as champions of season one to find out what exactly they did with all of their winnings.  Well, I asked.  Here’s what I found out.  In short, more investment.  Between the two guys I think mentioned was crypto, Dillard’s stocks, and sports cards.  I don’t know about you, but this sounds like everyone I know that plays fantasy football.  That’s probably why this community usually gets along so fabulously.

Are you ready to join in the fun yet?  Feel free to drop us a line any time to get on the waiting list for the next league, scheduled to get off the ground in 2022.  But, waiting list is filling up now.

Thanks for hanging out with me.  See you next time.

RSO High Stakes League Storyteller

More Analysis by Matt Russell

Inaugural High Stakes League update 5

Updated: November 4th 2021

Hello fellow fantasy football enthusiasts and welcome back.  This time, we are just going to focus on the league.  After all, much has happened and much has already been sorted out.

We still have a little time until the trade deadline of Tuesday, 11/9.  So, we may not see the flurry of last minute trades just yet.  But, several happened last week after two teams look to already be out of contention and began selling off star players in the final year of their contract to gain more draft picks, or other advantages, for the next season.  Other star players still have yet to move but have been officially offered up on the league’s trade block.  Names like Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill.  Absolute game changers.  But, salty salaries do remain an obstacle.  We’ll see how creative these owners can get to make something happen.  I have faith though.  If there is something we have plenty of on the RSO site, in all of my leagues, it’s trades.  The league setup seems to offer more ways to equalize a trade to make almost anything possible.  Clearly, this league will probably see more action than the disappointing NFL trade deadline where we saw… <checks notes> …zero big name players on the move.

If you follow my tweets @RSOHighStakes you may have seen a preview of this next mention.  When the games completed Sunday night, we had ourselves quite an upset that assured us a shakeup of the standings.  The tanking, #12 seed, These Truths to be Self Richard Dent shocked “The Don” Piccolo, just days after completing a trade with him.  A tough outcome for both as “The Don” relinquishes his number one seed, These Truths relinquishes his right to the 1st pick of the ’22 draft, and we have two new, happy owners in their places.

Y-Town, who had the first seed for most of this season, wins his game and retakes the high ground despite a tough challenge from the Wendell Takeover Project in the game of the week.  It was one of those match ups where these were the top two scoring teams this week and they just happened to play each other.  Ouch.  It’s been a tough run for Wendell who started on fire the first two weeks of the season and was our points leader.  Then, McCaffrey went down and so did this Wendell squad.  Since then going 2-4.  Fortunately, their points total makes them the #5 seed right now in the playoff picture.  Let’s take a look at that picture:

  1. Y Town  6-2, 1251 pts
  2. “The Don” Piccolo  6-2, 1066 pts
  3. XFL Stars  5-3, 1264 pts
  4. Big Tings 5-3, 1111 pts
  5. Wendell Takeover Project 4-4, 1118 pts
  6. Rodge and Dodge 4-4, 1104 pts

In the hunt:

7.  Borderland Bombers 4-4, 1044 pts

8.  Schless is More 3-5, 1035 pts

9.  DC Guardians 3-5, 1021 pts

10.  Philadelphia Freeways 5-3, 984 pts

Already out are These Truths (2-6, 964) and NJ Generals (1-7, 962).  Near the top is our points leader, XFL Stars.  Remember, our league takes the first four teams by record (points tie breaker), then the final two playoff teams by points.  That means XFL Stars has a long way to fall to actually be out of the picture.  Y Town as well.  Everyone else is vulnerable.

Another great game worthy of mention from this past weekend went down between Schless is More and Big Tings.  Big Tings was looking for a Monday night miracle and they got it.  Daniel Jones may not be getting a lot of wins in New York but he pulled this one off for his fantasy owners, Big Tings.  Maybe send they guy some edible arrangements to thank him?  Or, maybe, you prefer to send an arrangement to Darius Slayton who was a starter for Schless is More and put up a big fat zero?  In the end, only half a point separated these two teams with Big Tings coming out the victor at 131.60 to 131.10.  Folks, this is a PPR league.  Slayton even got two looks.  And he dropped a doughnut.  While that’s really rough, when you are 3-5, or 4-4, points are what matter.  So, this could have been more of a heartbreaker but we’ll see in week 14 how much that win matters to Schless.  On the other hand, Big Tings sits at 5-3 now and is in a much better position.

On tap for week 9 is a great match up between the #3 seed and #4 seed.  XFL Stars versus Big Tings.  Both teams will each be without two of their starters due to bye weeks. XFL is going to miss Fournette and Godwin whereas Big Tings will surely miss Swift and McLaurin.  Right now, the projections suggest roughly a 130 – 120 win for XFL Stars.  But, there’s a reason we play the game.  Good luck to both.

Have I mentioned that we are looking to expand the High Stakes League’s next year?  Ideally, we are looking at adding two more leagues at once and possibly linking all three leagues in a networked conference.  So, make sure your name is on the waiting list if you have any interest at all.  If we only have enough to form one league this coming season you may have to wait an extra year depending on how far down the list you fall.  You can email RSO or message me through any of my social media outlets at any time and it is currently free to get on to the list.

Join me next week as we discuss any of the trades made at the deadline and we update our standings.  I’m also going ask our season one winners, Philadelphia Freeways, how they’ve spent all that money they won.  Have a great week everyone.

RSO High Stakes League Storyteller

More Analysis by Matt Russell

Inaugural High Stakes League Update 4

Updated: October 27th 2021

It’s interesting how a superstition can grab a hold of even the most analytical and scientific people sometimes.  That’s me.  Analytical and science-minded.  I know the superstitions I’m going to tell you about have no factual basis for believing in them, yet, I can’t escape the just-in-case scenario in my mind.  I had a little superstition building and grabbing a hold of me for the past two years or so in fantasy football.  It brought me a Championship in one league last year and I made it to the Super Bowl in another so there has to be something to it, right?  Super Bowl appearances in two of four leagues is a little compelling, no?

You see, I started noticing that the less I sat in front of my home PC and watched the live scoring for my fantasy teams and my opponents the better my fantasy football teams seemed to do.  In retrospect, using logical reasoning, I know that I’ve always done pretty well in my leagues.  Making the playoffs at around a 65%-70% clip which means I’m likely winning more than losing.  So, unless my superstition brings me up to a 100% win rate (or at least 90%), I should’ve probably simmered down a lot sooner.  But, winning Championships does funny things to people.

There’s nothing like your worst start ever in fantasy football to give you some perspective though.  Frankly, I was really proud of myself this year about how much I was getting away from my computer and accomplishing some things on Sundays.  If not watching the live scoring was supposed to be beneficial, then, something was not right.  Not right at all.  Going into last week I was 2-4 in the league in which I went to the Super Bowl and lost.  I was 2-4 in the league in which I won the Super Bowl last year.  I was 1-5 in another league of mine – my most expensive that I commission.  There was an orphan team I acquired in early August that was new for me and I mostly joined to help out but it’s turned out fun and I was actually 3-3 while floating along in easily the most winnable division going into last week.  My one bright spot.  And finally, the disaster that is this league here that I write about.  The High Stakes League.  In which I was 1-5 also going into this past week.  Another rough start.  A combined 9-21.  Easily my worst start ever.  How?  I mean, I was doing a bang up job of pleasing the fantasy gods this season with my absence in front of my PC.  So, how was this happening?

Being a man of science it was time to do some testing.  If I was going to be 9-21 at least I would enjoy some football with my live scoring on damnit.  This Sunday was a great test date.  A murky, rainy day outside.  My Chicago Bears playing the defending Super Bowl champion Tamp Bay Buccaneers, whom they somehow walloped last season, so obviously great things must be in store.  And, with my teams in such horrible shape, I had a bunch of must-win games to watch if these teams of mine were going to stay in the playoff hunt and avoid selloff before the trade deadline.

I’m happy to report that this weekend provided me the most inconclusive data possible.  I watched so much football and I had my live scoring up the entire time.  Thursday?  Yep.  Sunday all day?  Damn skippy.  Monday too?  You’re darn tootin’.  If my superstition was correct, I should’ve had a horrible fantasy football weekend.  I didn’t.  It wasn’t great.  But, it wasn’t horrible.  Very middle of the road and leaning negative.  Very….. . inconclusive.  It’s almost like it had no effect at all.  2 wins.  3 losses.  Eerily similar to my normal weekly outcome this season.  I think it’s officially time to give up on this superstition.  Maybe these things only last for a season?

Admittedly, I do have another fantasy football superstition where I always named my teams after one of my fantasy players on my roster.  But, I’ve been testing that one too.  When I joined this High Stakes League it seemed like owners had more legacy style names and I figured I’d name mine after one of my all time favorite players instead so it could remain unchanged when a player (that I had named my team after) no longer plays for my team.  But, here I am with inconclusive evidence on whether these superstitions are worth continuing.  The Fresh Prince of Helaire is 1-6 the same as These Truths to be Self Richard Dent is 1-6.  Frankly, with only Dancing on the Thielen above .500 there’s not much to sway a person one way or the other.  Maybe you all can help me.  Is there something I’m not doing right?  Do I need to make a sacrifice to the fantasy football gods?  I’d love some feedback from everyone on any additional rituals you perform.  Otherwise, I’m about to give up on this superstition thing despite many years of fun with it and a few Championships.

Here in the High Stakes League we have a few teams that are starting to pull away from the pack.  While six will make the playoffs and we have another half a season to play, these four teams are starting to look like a pretty good lock to make the playoffs.  We have a new #1 in “The Don” Piccolo who now sits at 6-1.  Even if it’s not the most convincing 6-1 you’ve ever seen.  “The Don” is fifth out of twelve teams in total points right now and not far off from sixth.  Our league takes the top four teams by record and the final two by total points.  So, total points do matter.  But in “The Don’s” case, enough wins can make it so it doesn’t matter.  Team owner, Ryan Bennett, specializes in IDP as he does IDP rankings for multiple sites including contributing to RSO.  He also competes in about 40 leagues these days.  Feel free to follow him on Twitter and don’t be afraid to throw him your weekly start/sit questions @piccoloFFIDP.  I reached out to him, being the current top seed, to see if he had any superstitions when it comes to fantasy football and you would not be surprised to hear that he said managing 40 fantasy teams requires a no nonsense professional approach.  And added, “Can’t afford superstitions when luck is already such a big factor.”

Y-Town was undefeated two weeks ago but has since suffered two losses, dropping them into second place in the standings.  The first loss was deserved after a miserable showing where they barely cleared 100 points.  The second one this past weekend came at the hands of a rising star who had high score of the week.  This squad needs to put an end to the skid as soon as possible but they are second in total points right now and 3rd isn’t really close behind.  There’s some breathing room there but best not take up too much before you get serious again.  That’s probably why, before this article was even mostly typed, Y-Town was making moves.  A big trade went down between Y-Town and currently 11th seed NJ Generals.  Tom Brady, Mike Evans, and Cole Beasley all go to a contender in Y-Town with about two weeks to go before the trade deadline.  In return Y-Town gives up a 2nd round pick along with Sam Darnold, Zach Wilson, DJ Moore, and Jamaal Williams.  I like the aggressive move to stop the bleeding.  Let’s see if it turns into wins.

Then we have two teams at 4-3 that are worth a quick mention.  XFL Stars and owner Brayden Paget, who lead the league in total points.  Clearly, those wins will come with enough points but they have all their bases covered.

The Surdilla boys, owner of Big Tings, are 4-3 but put up high points (190) this past week while beating Y-Town and are 3rd in total points on the season.

Right now, these four teams look most likely to be playoff bound.  The final two spots are a little more murky.

If there’s a good ritual that you’ve found that works to get fantasy football wins, please share them with me where you see my posts on social media.  Or any superstition in general.  I want to hear them all.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

See you next time.

RSO High Stakes League Storyteller

More Analysis by Matt Russell

Inaugural High Stakes League update 3

Updated: October 18th 2021

Welcome back.  We’re still getting these updates up to current but, if you missed last week’s, you can view it here.

Once again I want to congratulate Dave, owner of Philadelphia Freeways, for being our season one champion.  Their strategy and depth took them all the way to the title.  Not to mention a nice payout.  After two seasons of entry fees and only one payout so far, those Philly Freeways are the only ones in the green.  Interestingly, five weeks into season two, they have the lowest points scored in the league by far.  But, we’ll get a little more into the current season in my next update.  I want to step back and talk about this offseason we just had in 2021.  It was one for the ages.

For those of you who have already found and play on RSO you already know that they’ve finally figured out the best way to deliver the most complete ownership experience in fantasy football.  That starts in the offseason.  An offseason is something that many leagues don’t even have.  Fellow RSO players, can you even imagine gong back to not having an offseason?  We now have year around fantasy football.  Just like nature intended.  It’s a beautiful thing.  How about that salary cap reduction this year though?  For many owners and many leagues this year was a new challenge not seen before.  I’ve seen some owners in trouble, on a rare occasion, entering the rookie draft in the past.  But not very often.  Not only did many teams need to get under the cap, but many simply saw the writing on the wall.  Getting salary to use in the auction this year was on everybody’s mind and a top priority.  If you like trading, and seemingly most everyone does in fantasy football, the challenge of gaining salary to use in the auction caused some anxiety but also presented the opportunity of a lifetime to wheel and deal like you were down in the pits of the New York Stock exchange.  Buy! Sell! Hold!  The deals were coming in fast and furious.  Player values were changing and evolving versus last season.  Draft picks were being slung around like an octopus bartender acting in some new version of Tom Cruise’s Cocktail.  Oh yes, fellow owners, it was a glorious time in RSO land.  And it was only May.  Since last season was the first for this particular league, most teams had maxed out their salary caps.  That’s why so many owners needed to make moves.  But, I suspect this was happening in most RSO leagues.  In fact, I’d love to get some feedback.  Once this story posts to my Twitter account (Give me a follow, eh?) @RSOHighStakes please reply with your story of a crazy offseason trade that was made to move some salary.  I know there are some good ones out there.

I know I said we have year around football here on RSO.  It’s a true statement.  And it is glorious.  But, there is often a down time.  After the rookie draft (for many leagues this is in May) things tend to simmer down for a little while.  The league is still open.  Deals can and do happen.  But June and July are definitely the fantasy football doldrums.  Our league still saw one trade in July and then one trade August 1st.  Then the players starting falling off rosters one by one as the deadline before the auction approached.  Wow, this growing list of free agents was starting to look real nice and owners in our league really did not have a lot of money to spend.  It was starting to become painfully obvious that this auction was going to have some tremendous deals doled out and the beneficiaries were set up to reap the rewards for many seasons.  A butterfly effect that could lead to a dynasty.  Three days before the auction, our deadline hit to make moves to find salary, as is standard in RSO leagues.  Many thought this was the last moment to find salary.  But, au contraire mon frère!  This guy right here had one more trick up his sleeve.

So, here we are at that auction deadline and it appears Philadelphia Freeways has a commanding lead on salary to use at the auction.  Last year’s champ.  This season’s most salary entering the auction.  Well done, sir!  Looks like about $44m to spend (Most teams had a similar number of spots to fill) and the next closest is at $32m.  Roughly 33% more cash on hand than the next closest owner.  Myself, I had about $22m (and I still had the 5th most to spend).  Now, let’s step over here to have a brief side conversation.  Look, I commission other leagues outside of this one.  In my leagues, we utilize a rule that states we cannot place a player on our IR unless that player has been placed on NFL IR.  But, in this High Stakes league, we can place a player on IR at any time for any reason.  Injury or not.  It’s not my own personal preference but that’s irrelevant.  Know the rules of your league!  I can’t stress this enough.  Many of the advantages an owner gains is by simply understanding the rules and the scoring system better than anyone else and therefore, how they can best take advantage of the system they play within.  This is why many commissioners tend to always do well.  No one knows the system like they do.  Anyone can.  But many don’t take the time.  So, you see where this was heading.  I knew this league allowed it and there was never going to be a more important year to wield salary so I made a tough, but savvy, move, in my opinion.  It wasn’t even going to be tough initially.  But, then the run of preseason RB injuries hit and I was forced to reconsider my strategy.  So, here was the scenario.  We start two RB’s and it’s a 12 team Superflex PPR league.  I’m sitting on Clyde Edwards-Helaire and I drafted Trey Sermon and Travis Etienne.  I signed CEH to a massive 4-year contract in front of the ’20 season and he was due about $37m this year.  I think it’s fair to say most preseason rankings had him outside the top 10 so I felt like his value was not fully there but, more importantly, placing him on IR would almost double the salary I had to use this season and give me the 2nd most money to spend in the auction at around $40m.  I felt all along I could get two starting RB’s in the auction with that kind of money.  Nothing fancy, but starters nonetheless, and probably one more upside RB that might even start for his team at some point.  Then that Etienne injury hit and the decision to IR CEH became a much more agonizing one.  One that I ultimately made anyways.  Understand that dropping CEH would’ve lead to an accelerated cap hit in ’22 that I wanted to avoid as well.  IR bought me one extra season to consider him and his value.  So, I got the extra $18.5m but left myself thin at RB with only Sermon listed on my active roster entering the auction.

So, was I the only owner who had this bright idea?  This is the High Stakes League.  Of course not.  Another owner decided to shut down Tua and his $16m contract giving him an extra $8m and had a similar amount of salary as myself at about $40m.  Turns out we both made these moves within 5 minutes of the start of our auction.  I discovered afterwards that it created the intended chaos for some people when they saw other owners showed up with more cash to spend.  Another owner in the league spoke up a few days after the auction to ask how certain teams ended up with more money.  It was explained and discussed.  He wasn’t mad and appreciated the approach.  We also decided to discuss a few more things in the offseason regarding IR.  That’s how it goes, right?  Something new pops up and you address it.  My fellow commissioners know this all too well.

Interesting side note that both CEH and Tua have since went IR.  Prophetic.

At one point in time in our league chats, season one Champion Dave (Philly Freeways) lamented that RSO had ruined all other fantasy football for him.  I was quick to agree.  This is exactly how I already felt and this past offseason provides a lot of reasons to understand why.  Absolute excitement from start to finish.  No less than four different opportunities to employ strategies and gain a little more of an advantage.  From getting under the salary cap, to the rookie draft, to gaining maximum salary for the auction, to the actual auction.  No site before RSO has been so complete.  Add in the excitement and chaos of the reduced salary cap and all it’s effects and this is an offseason I won’t soon forget.  Thanks for reliving it with me.

As for the current season, I have to note that we now have one team at 5-0.  A squad called “Y-Town.”  They also have a fair lead in total points this season too, proving it’s no fluke.  Congrats Y-Town on the hot start.  More to come on the current season in the next update.

If you have any interest at all in the next High Stakes leagues looking to form next year be sure to follow @realitysportson on Twitter along with myself @RSOHighStakes.  Also read those emails.  Get on the list and make sure you start to get notified of the next league’s progress.

See you next time!


Matt Russell

RSO High Stakes League Storyteller



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