2017 RSO Writer’s League Reviews and Lessons

Updated: February 18th 2018

The contributors to Reality Sports Online finished our second season of the RSO Writer’s League recently.  The 10-team league features PPR scoring and each team rosters 20 players with 1QB/ 2RBs/ 2WRs/ 1TE/1 Open Flex/1 Flex starting requirements.  One of the goals for this league was providing the readers content and insight into the ways writers view their own team situations.  This article focuses on a couple of team reviews and lessons learned from some of the RSO staff.  Special thanks to Matt Goodwin (@mattgoody2) for his significant contribution.

Team Reviews

Matt Goodwin (5th Place Regular Season)

Another year, another earlier exit than I hoped for in the playoffs. Unlike last year where I was Le’Veoned in the playoffs, this year I created my own demise by starting Tom Savage as QB2 at the last minute over DeShone Kizer who had a solid game against the Packers. Had I made that move the playoff landscape could have changed as I would’ve knocked Bernard and his Todd Gurley hot streak out of the playoffs.  Anyways, I could make all sorts of excuses for my team underperforming this year such as OBJ’s season-ending injury, Hunter Henry’s role in the Chargers offense, and Jay Ajayi’s trade to the Eagles mid-season, but in the end through building a deep team and some trades I had a decent shot to go far in the playoffs.

Year 3 presents significant challenges for me. While I have a very nice core coming back (an extended Tom Brady, OBJ, Kareem Hunt on a 1.08 rookie deal, Ajayi in his first year as starter in a nice Philly offense, Henry with no Gates (if he ever retires), I will need Corey Davis to step up and be my WR2 to have a legitimate shot to win this league in 2018. I traded my 2018 first along with Melvin Gordon and AP post-auction for Ajayi and Davis with the thought that Davis could contribute as a rookie and if not, I had a high-priced top WR (Beckham) and a likely stud WR (Davis) on a reasonable rookie deal to basically settle my WR corps at a solid average price. That remains a decent possibility. If not, I still have a good bit of faith in Jamison Crowder who is going to cost me $4.2 million next year. If Davis produces, I can slide Crowder to the flex and my starting lineup is basically done save for a QB2.

I swung and missed on a few guys this year on smaller multiyear deals and jettisoned a few already by cutting Paxton Lynch and trading Samaje Perine. My biggest miss was my two year deal for Isaiah Crowell figuring the Browns invested enough in their line to commit to the run game while being more competitive. Well, Hue Jackson foiled that plan with his stubborn play-calling (as a Browns fan I’m pleading for the team to fire Jackson and pick up anyone but Jeff Fisher). So Crowell heads into real-life free-agency and I’m saddled with a $19.1 million salary for him in 2018, which may be somewhat paralyzing given that my 2018 cap commits are already $139.3 million.

So I’m somewhat cap constrained and down a 2018 first rounder, but optimistic I can fill my needs well and fairly cheaply other than potentially the QB2 position in our Superflex league. The available QB Free Agents in our league have potential (Cousins, Rivers, Bortles, Tyrod, A. Smith), but we’ll see what happens.

Bernard Faller (3rd Place Regular Season, League Champion)

Nothing is quite as good in fantasy as unexpectedly winning a championship which occurred for my team this season.  Like many other teams, Todd Gurley almost singlehandedly bullied my squad to the league title.  I viewed my team as an above average group with three pieces (Gurley, Evans, and Reed) capable of producing near the very top of their position and solid starters elsewhere.  My expected typical weekly starting lineup going into the season was:

QB1 – Stafford, Open Flex- Rivers, RB1 – Gurley, RB2 -Miller, WR1 – Evans, WR2 – Jeffrey, TE – Reed, Flex – C.J. Anderson/Emmanuel Sanders.

What went wrong: My biggest fail starts with Jordan Reed.  Reed played hurt most of the season when he was available and split time with Vernon Davis throughout the year.  Reed did not play after week 8 and Washington put him on I.R. late in the year.  I counted on Reed as an elite option at tight end but instead he wasted a roster spot on my bench most of the year on the hope he would come back by the end of season.  Mike Evans hugely underperformed this season due in part to erratic quarterback play as Jameis Winston played with a shoulder injury for stretches.  Evans also suffered bad luck in the touchdown department.  My flex spot was a mess for much of the season forcing me to use the waiver wire extensively.  While Anderson played well this season, Denver went to a more committee approach at running back after the first month and negative game script adversely affected him.  Sanders suffered from nagging injuries and ugly QB play all year.

What went right:  The biggest winning move before the season undoubtedly was trading my 2018 1st and a year of Brandon Marshall for Gurley and his large contract ($23M this season) mid-season in 2016 after a bad start to the year for Gurley.   It was a bet on Gurley’s talent and against Jeff Fisher being the coach going forward.  New coach Sean McVay fully exploited Gurley’s explosiveness with the ball in his hands both as a runner and receiver.  I was not planning on using my 2nd round rookie pick, Evan Engram, extensively going into the season as rookie tight ends rarely produce.  Odell Beckham Jr.’s injury really opened the door for Engram to have a big role and allowed him to showcase his skill-set producing one of the better rookie tight end seasons in recent memory.  He was not a game-changer this year but hitting on what looks like a reliable starter moving forward is definitely a win from a 2nd round pick.  I played the value game at quarterback, spending less than $15M combined salary for my two quarterbacks.  The move played out well with Stafford and Rivers ending as the QB7 and QB8 in our league.

Looking forward:  Most of my starters return on contract except for Rivers and Reed.  The hope is that Jimmy Garoppolo, who has looked great in his brief career so far (and whom I have signed to a very cheap deal in our last free agent auction), will be a solid replacement for Rivers on my team.  Gurley and Evans form a nice young core with each showing the ability to vie for top scorer at their respective position.  I accumulated another late 1st in addition to my normal rookie picks and will have about $50M to spend in the free agent auction to help my team.  With reliable starters largely in place, the main offseason goal is adding as many high upside players as possible in free agency and the draft.  My free agency strategy typically revolves around using long-term contracts on safer options and cheaper high-upside gambles while using shorter-term contracts on expensive starters.  While potentially missing out on some star players, this strategy allows fielding a competitive team year after year with costly mistakes easily rectified in short order.

Lessons Learned

Stephen Wendell – “I must value draft picks now”.

This will be a popular sentiment after last year’s rookie class success.  Draft picks generally rise in value for superflex leagues.  The additional starting spot means quarterbacks, who usually are not drafted until the late 2nd round, will routinely be taken starting in the 1st round of rookie drafts.

Robert F. Cowper – “Trust the process”.

The key here is do not panic if things go wrong in a single season.  Remain committed to a rebuild if that is the path you chose or you could end up with a mediocre team for a long time.  Do not change your valuations of rookie picks just because some did not pan out.

Matt Goodwin – In looking at our league, it seems that the frequent trading teams seem to do well and those that have two solid QBs in their starting lineup, with few exceptions. I think my decision to trade down in the second round and free myself from Sterling Shepard’s contract cost me Deshaun Watson who will be a significant force in this league for years to come. Getting a QB in the rookie draft in Round 2 and hitting on it is the best potential value you can extract in this league and I missed with Kizer who will surely be replaced by the Browns first overall pick this offseason. It’ll definitely be another fun ride (and hopefully every team in the league has less injuries next season).

Bernard Faller – 1. Doubling down on Matt’s point about having two reliable quarterbacks (or more) because it is so important.  You are putting yourself at a big disadvantage forcing positional players in your superflex spot.  An owner typically must pay a premium salary for a positional player to score an equivalent level of points.  2.  In a shallow league like this, there will almost always be quality players left on the waiver wire.  Make sure you keep some salary available to reinforce weak spots on your team or grab that great player who shows up out of nowhere.  3.  Do not bail on the season too early.  The rewards of winning a championship dictate you should try as hard as possible to make the playoffs.  Make a realistic assessment of your team but anything can happen if you get in the playoffs.


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

Week 15 QB Start-Sit

Updated: December 14th 2017

I wanted to kick this off with a big thank you to the team at RSO for giving me the opportunity to contribute. I’m excited about bringing you all some great content and working with all the great people at RSO.

I have to take a second to acknowledge that two more starting QB’s went down in week 14. Carson Wentz (torn ACL) as well as Josh Mccown (broken hand) are now out for the season. NFL teams and fantasy team alike have had it rough this year with injuries. If you are looking for a streaming option, here are a few guys to check on and see if you can snag them up before someone else does. Jimmy G has been a solid option since taking over in SF and has good matchups coming up in weeks 15 & 16, as well as Blake Bortles if all else fails. Foles should still be a viable option moving forward. Congratulations to all the teams that have made it this far…almost to the promised land. I have compiled a list that I hope will help you make the right decision at QB as you attempt to make your league’s title game.

QB Starts of the Week

Top Start of the Week

Philip Rivers: Holy cow, talk about deja vu, right? Seems like this guy is sitting right here week in and week out as a QB you should be starting. I’m gonna show you why. Since the Chargers November 12th matchup against the Jags, they have won four straight games. Over that span, Rivers has been almost perfect with 1,348 yards thru the air and 8 touchdowns, holding an average QBR of 118 over this span. This week, he is facing a Chiefs team that is giving up an average of 22.8 fantasy points to opposing QBs, which is the worst in the league. Don’t be that guy that watches him blow up again while on your bench–start him or regret it!

Must Starts

Drew Brees: I can’t lie, Brees was tough to put here. He could be considered the start of the week seeing as the Jets just gave up 200 yards and a TD to Trevor Siemian. What made the difference? Josh Mccown going down and out for the season and Kamara looks good to return for this one. I just don’t see the Saints needing to throw a ton. The Jets are giving up an average 231 yards through the air to QBs, so Brees will have a day you don’t want to miss, and will be in the top 10 week 15 among QBs. I would almost bet that Brees posts the same kind of numbers this week as he did in week 14. I’m gonna say 250 plus yards and two touchdowns for the not so young man at home, where he always seems to shine.

Dak Prescott: This one just seems so easy to me. I know it was the Giants and Redskins but it was just what he needed. Facing a Raiders team ranked 25th against the pass, allowing an average of 241 yards through the air with only two interceptions all year, Dak should have no trouble staying on a hot streak (he has racked up 434 yards and 5 TDs in his last two games). Do not leave him on your bench only to find him among the top 5 QBs for the second week in a row after this matchup. He is an absolute must start for week 15.

Honorable Mention Starts

Blake Bortles vs. Houston (allowing 22.7 FPs to opposing QBs)

Joe Flacco vs. Cleveland (allowing 21 FPs to opposing QBs)

Nick Foles vs. Giants (alline 22.6 FPs to opposing QBs)

QB Sits of the Week

Top Sit of the Week

Houston Texans QB: This may seem like a no brainer, but with two more starting QBs going down I had to put them here. Going against an extremely stout Jacksonville defense that is giving up the fewest fantasy points to QB’s in the league (allowing an average of 11 points to opposing QB’s), whoever plays QB for Houston is bound to struggle this week. The Jags have only allowed 20 or more points to one QB and only allowed a total of six QBs to get 15 or more points. Savage has looked, well, horrible, and this matchup is flat out ugly.

Must Sits

Andy Dalton: Things are not looking good for Dalton heading into his week 15 matchup against the Vikings. Dalton completed 48% of his passes for a stat line of 141 yards-1 Touchdown-1 Interception. Things look to be worse for him going forward facing a Vikings defense that is allowing the fourth fewest points to opposing QBs. The Viking have also only allowed four QBs 250+ passing yards all year and only two QBs to earn 20+ fantasy points. The tables are stacked against him in a game that could get out of hand. Dalton may offer some garbage time points but not the kind of thing you want to rely on in the fantasy playoffs.

Eli Manning: What a crazy year for Eli. He was able to complete 67% of his passes on Sunday, which is his best in his last three games. Yep, that’s the only thing that is good. He has one TD and three interceptions over his last three games and is facing an Eagles defense that is allowing the second fewest fantasy points to QBs over the past six weeks. Having no real weapons in either the run or the passing game that can be consistent, I’m avoiding Eli for the rest of the year, not just this week.

Honorable Mention Sits

Blaine Gabbert vs. Washington

Kirk Cousins vs. Arizona


Brandon is a fantasy and RSO fanatic and resides in Colorado. You can reach him @FntsyFxr on Twitter. He specializes and lives for helping people rebuild their franchises.

More Analysis by Brandon Ahart

Week 15 Deep Lineup Considerations

Updated: December 14th 2017

We are in that time of year where lineup decisions might literally determine if you win a championship or not.  Many teams need help finding replacements for flex spots due to a variety of reasons including injuries.  Below you will find a list of names which provides deep starting options and likely have not been consistently used for your RSO team throughout the year.   None of these players are “league winners” but each has good matchups over the next two weeks and the opportunity to be a quality start for your desperate team.

Quarterback

Blake Bortles

The game plan worked very well in Jacksonville this season with the team primarily relying on their defense and emphasizing running the ball to minimize Bortles’ involvement.  The results have been solid as Bortles improved across the board this season compared to last year’s debacle.  He played very well the last two weeks, albeit against a Seattle defense decimated by injuries on the backend and an awful Indianapolis pass defense.  Bortles also gets nice matchups against a beat-up Houston defense and San Francisco in weeks 15 and 16.

We should still proceed with caution using the Jaguars QB.  He is still a bottom half of the league starter in the NFL.  The Jaguars rank only 24th in pass attempts and Bortles only has two games with 300+ yards passing (both against the Indianapolis Colts) and three games with multiple passing touchdowns.  Jacksonville will continue limiting Bortles’ throws and game script against teams with a combined 7 wins over the next two weeks might force the volume even lower.  Do not expect Bortles to carry your RSO team to a championship but he can be a useful piece for those suffering a late injury at QB or needing help in a superflex league.

Joe Flacco

Flacco is a pure schedule target for those in need of a desperation second quarterback play.  Baltimore plays Cleveland and Indianapolis the final two weeks which is the softest remaining schedule for any passing offense.  While Flacco has played better the past two weeks, do not go overboard here as you likely have better streaming options available.  Flacco has been among the worst quarterbacks in the league this season ranking 33rd in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, 29th in ESPN’s QBR, and dead last in yards per attempt among qualified quarterbacks.  He also does not receive the necessary passing volume to make up for his abysmal inefficiency.

Running Back

Mike Davis

Davis assumed primary back duties for the Seattle Seahawks gathering at least 16 touches and 65 yards in each of the last two games.  He looks to extend his solid play in plus matchups versus the Rams and Cowboys over the next two weeks.  You certainly could do worse than the primary running back on a Russell Wilson-led team in your flex.  Be sure to keep an eye on the injury report to confirm Davis’ availability.

Kerwynn Williams

Another starter emerging over the last two weeks is Arizona Cardinals running back Kerwynn Williams.  He amassed at least 16 touches and 88 yards each of the last two games.  The remaining contests should be competitive as Arizona plays two teams, Washington and New York, with 5 or less wins each.  The Redskins and Giants have also both struggled against the run this season.  The Cardinals have no reason to rush Adrian Peterson back from a neck injury with Arizona almost certainly out of the playoffs.

Wide Receiver

Mike Wallace

See the upcoming schedule for Baltimore above in the Joe Flacco section.  This is a juicy finish for Wallace as the Cleveland and Indianapolis pass defenses are in shambles.  Wallace has also seen more consistent usage over the last five weeks including more downfield throws from Flacco.  Feel somewhat confident (at least as confident as you can with Flacco at quarterback) firing up Wallace in your flex spot.

Dede Westbrook

Westbrook fell in the NFL draft to the 4th round primarily due to character concerns after an explosive senior season.  He then suffered a core injury which prevented him from seeing the field until the second half of the year.  Westbrook quietly produced good results since his return averaging 5 catches and over 8 targets per game in four contests.  Game script could hurt volume against two bottom-end teams (see above) but Westbrook is a solid start going forward (even with Bortles at quarterback and the Jags run-heavy script).

Travis Benjamin

Sometimes you simply want to take gambles on top offenses.  Right now consider the Chargers Phillip Rivers-led passing attack among the top offenses.  Rivers threw for over 300 yards in three straight games and has not thrown an interception for five weeks.  The Chargers also get pass-deficient defenses in Kansas City and the New York Jets coming up.  Volume remains an issue for Benjamin as trying to figure out who receives significant targets (if anyone) outside of Keenan Allen remains a mystery on a weekly basis for San Diego.  Benjamin represents an extremely fast boom-bust player for those in need of a big week out of your flex spot and is someone possibly available on your waiver wire.

Tight End

Jared Cook

The tight end position remains a maddeningly inconsistent group for fantasy purposes with many questionable options.  Oakland’s Jared Cook qualifies as one of the few tight ends receiving consistent usage having garnered at least 5 targets in all but one game this season.  The athletic tight end finishes the fantasy season with Dallas and Philadelphia, two exploitable matchups for tight ends.  Game script likely dictates Oakland throwing a bunch in these contests.  Cook is 6th in receiving yards at the position and a solid start moving forward.


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

Early 2018 NFL Free Agency Look

Updated: November 30th 2017

Week 13 is an important point for RSO GMs out there.  The fantasy regular season ends in most leagues along with the ability to extend players on your roster if using the new contract extension option.  Most teams have a good idea of where they stand heading into the playoffs.  It is never too early to start looking at next season for contenders and those out of the hunt alike.  I take an early view at some of the most fantasy relevant players with contracts ending this year.  This is not an exhaustive list as some players will sign early and others will be cut prior to free agency but it is still useful to view potentially significant changes which we should keep our eye out for.

*Free Agent Listings from Spotrac

Quarterbacks

Top Free Agents:  Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo

The quarterback position might provide us with some very interesting changes next offseason.  A number of high-profile players including future hall of famer Drew Brees, perpetually tagged Kirk Cousins, and recently traded Jimmy Garoppolo possibly hit free agency in 2018.  Garoppolo almost certainly stays in San Francisco after the 49ers gave up a likely early second round pick to New England for his services.  My sense is that Cousins moves on from Washington.  Neither Washington nor Cousins seems completely sold on one another having failed on multiple occasions to get a long-term contract done.  I would be looking to sell Cousins in my RSO league.  He is unlikely to land on a team with such a QB-friendly offensive scheme which fits his skill-set so well.  Brees likely remains in New Orleans.  The Saints finally devised a competent defense to go along with the high-powered offense and have the personnel to get deep in the playoffs for Brees’ final years.

There are a number of other interesting locations with possible openings next season to keep your eye on.  The Minnesota trio of Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford, and Case Keenum all are free agents next year and I doubt anyone, including those in the Vikings organization, has a firm grasp on who of the trio remains.  Miami also might head in a new direction.  Ryan Tannehill, coming off a knee surgery, has shown little to suggest he is the long-term answer and has a contract which provides an easy out without a big cap hit. Jay Cutler is probably a one-year rental.  Denver does not appear to have the starting quarterback on the roster.  First round pick Paxton Lynch looks like a bust after failing to beat out backup-level talent Trevor Siemian for the starting spot in multiple seasons.  Arizona is another team who could be in the market for a quarterback if Carson Palmer retires following the year.

Running Backs

Top Free Agents:  LeVeon Bell, Carlos Hyde, Jeremy Hill, Isaiah Crowell

The cupboard is not as full for quality NFL backs next offseason.  Bell is in a different league than the others on this list but probably stays in Pittsburg even at the cost of another franchise tag.  Hyde, Hill, and Crowell have all displayed the ability to be a solid lead back as part of a committee.  None possesses a true three-down skill-set.  They each have shown the ability to catch the occasional dump off or screen pass and handle pass-protection duties but no one will confuse them with dynamic route runners out of the backfield who an offensive coordinator actively tries to get involved in the passing game.

As usual, the New England backfield remains a mystery.  Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead assumed big roles this year but are free agents while recent acquisition Mike Gillislee was recently left off the active roster and can be cut without a cap hit.  Minnesota’s Jerick McKinnon showed off some impressive playmaking ability at times this year and should provide a quality compliment to a new team with Dalvin Cook returning.  We should also note this might be the last season for Frank Gore who is still churning out yards for Indianapolis at the age of 34.

Wide Receivers

Top Free Agents:  Alshon Jeffery, Sammy Watkins, Allen Robinson, Jarvis Landry

The wide receiver class, on the other hand, is absolutely loaded with top-end talent.  Alshon Jeffery, currently 25th all-time in receiving yards per game, is on pace for another solid campaign.  His best move is signing a long-term deal in Philadelphia with ascending quarterback, Carson Wentz, but may wish to test the market after betting on himself with a one-year deal this past year as a free agent.  Sammy Watkins hits free agency after an injury-filled stint in Buffalo in which the Bills failed to use the 5th year option on him.  Watkins, one of the more efficient receivers in the NFL, owns a big 16.3 yards per reception and over 9 yards per target average over his career.  Allen Robinson has a 1,400 yard / 14 touchdown season to his credit but injuries, Blake Bortles at quarterback, and consistency issues have limited Robinson’s overall effectiveness.  A franchise tag is certainly possible for Robinson who might not want to sign a reduced rate long-term deal coming off a lost season to an ACL tear.  Jarvis Landry amassed 363 receptions already in his four-year career but is likely headed to free agency.  Miami does not seem inclined to pay Landry big money with Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker already signed through next season.  Landry might be disappointed in the free agent market as few teams utilize the slot receiver as extensively as Miami does and thus might not place a big priority on Landry.

There are a number of other notable free agents who also might be available.  Green Bay Packer Devante Adams is in the last year of his rookie deal.  Fellow Jacksonville 2nd round pick, Marqise Lee also belongs to next year’s free agent class and Allen Hurns could be cut with no cap consequences.  Seattle Seahawk Paul Richardson consistently flashed big play potential but is given limited opportunities in the Seahawk passing attack.  Mike Wallace and Eric Decker could provide veteran leadership to new teams after spending time with quarterbacks who struggled throwing the ball.  Most of the Arizona wide receiver core could be gone next year if Larry Fitzgerald retires.

Tight Ends

Top Free Agents:  Jimmy Graham, Tyler Eifert

NFL free agency rarely sees quality tight ends hit the free agent market.   There are few special players at the position and those are usually locked up with long-term deals.  This year is not an exception.  A 31 year old Jimmy Graham has the chance to hit free agency for the first time.  Graham is not the same player after returning from a devastating knee agency, lacking the rare speed and explosion he once possessed. A somewhat diminished Jimmy Graham is still better than the majority of tight ends in the league however.  He is still virtually unguardable in short areas with a big frame, powerful hands, and smooth athleticism that comes from a former basketball player.  Former first round pick Tyler Eifert joins Graham in headlining the tight end class.  Eifert’s early career has been marred by injuries throughout with Tyler playing only 2 games this season before a back injury finished his season.  Like Graham, Eifert is a very athletic weapon in the passing game.  Despite his injury history, the Bengal tight end should find multiple suitors bidding for his services.

We finish the article with the likely retirement of San Diego Charger Antonio Gates following the season as his contract finishes this year.  Gates has played all 15 years of his career with Chargers, is the all-time touchdown leader among tight ends, and a no doubt future hall of famer.


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

Week 11 SOS Targets

Updated: November 16th 2017

With the fantasy regular season nearing the end in most RSO leagues, owners with competitive teams need to begin thinking about reinforcing their squads for the final push into the playoffs.  Below I lay out some NFL teams with particularly favorable offensive schedules for the rest of season (ROS*).  Not all teams have notably great offenses, but RSO owners should at least entertain obtaining certain players from each team based on the schedule ahead.

*Rest of Season Rankings obtained from Sharp Football Stats for weeks 11-16.

Hold Your Nose

Buffalo Bills (LAC, KC, NE, IND, MIA, NE)

ROS Pass Rank: 1         ROS Rushing Rank: 1

No team has a softer fantasy schedule going forward than the Buffalo Bills.  The remaining schedule includes no opponent better than the 17th ranked rush defense and five games against 22nd ranked or lower pass defenses.  The end-of-season schedule is especially juicy with 25th or lower ranked pass defenses in each game for weeks 13 through 16. Running Back LeSean McCoy makes for an intriguing buy-low to end the year, particularly after Buffalo’s week 10 disaster against New Orleans.

One must keep expectations under control though, especially on the passing front.  This is still a team with Tyrod Taylor* at QB which is ranked 31st in pass attempts, 30th in yards, and 24th in yards per attempt despite playing against one of the softest passing schedules so far.  It is difficult to trust any Bills receiver going forward with the Bills getting tight end Charles Clay back and adding Kelvin Benjamin to a low-volume passing attack.  Buffalo will continue as a run dominated offense as much as possible although a defense which has imploded over the last month may alter the equation somewhat.

*Taylor was benched for rookie Nathan Peterman.  Peterman is worth a speculative add in 2QB leagues based on the upcoming schedule but with low expectations.  He is a virtual unknown at this stage.  The outlook does not change much for Buffalo receivers given the limited passing production with Taylor at quarterback.  The lack of Taylor’s rushing threat hurts McCoy’s rushing expectations slightly.

Denver Broncos (CIN, OAK, MIA, NYJ, IND, WAS)

ROS Pass Rank: 2         ROS Rushing Rank: 16

I feel kind of queasy even mentioning the Brock Osweiler-led Denver Broncos here. Osweiler, while playing better last week, is not an option in anything but the deepest of superflex/2QB leagues.  The running backs are avoids right now as the Broncos have gone with a full blown three-man committee recently.  With that being said, one must at least give consideration to a part of the passing game that features matchups against the Raiders, Dolphins, Jets, and Colts in consecutive weeks.  This means taking a look at Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in your league.  You could very well get each at a big discount with Osweiler currently starting and loads of uncertainty at the quarterback position going forward.

Good Bets

Oakland Raiders (NE, DEN, NYG, KC, DAL, PHI)

ROS Pass Rank: 8         ROS Rushing Rank: 5

The remaining schedule sets up nicely for Oakland’s passing game on the volume end.  The Raiders figure to be an underdog against many high scoring opponents who struggle against the pass.  Even the vaunted Broncos defense no longer looks as dominant as prior years.  While Denver locks down wide receivers, they have struggled covering running backs and tight ends in the passing game.  You likely will not want to get to involved in an Oakland three-way committee in the backfield that figures to trail a lot but Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and Jared Cook are all solid starts for most of the season going forward.

Los Angeles Chargers (BUF, DAL, CLE, WAS, KC, NYJ)

ROS Pass Rank: 4         ROS Rushing Rank: 7

This is one of the safest groups for fantasy purposes going forward without the upside of some other offenses.  Phillip Rivers threw for at least two touchdowns or 250 yards in all but two games this season.  Wide receiver Keenan Allen averages nearly nine targets per game.  Running back Melvin Gordon accumulated less than 15 touches in a game just once this season.

The schedule is a nice blend of good matchups for both the pass and run games mixed with almost no “avoid” contests.  The Chargers project competitively in most games going forward which should help maintain a balanced offensive approach.  Phillip Rivers also targets running backs extensively which maintains their value when the run game is not working well and during stretches where Los Angeles falls behind.  Rivers, Allen, and Gordon make for quality trade targets with the remaining schedule.

Pay Up

Kansas City (NYG, BUF, NYJ, OAK, LAC, MIA)

ROS Pass Rank: 3         ROS Rushing Rank: 2

Kansas City surprisingly possesses one of the top fantasy units in the NFL.  Quarterback Alex Smith, running back Kareem Hunt, and tight end Travis Kelce are all top-five scorers so far and wide receiver Tyreek Hill is a top-10 performer.  This wealth of fantasy goodness largely is the result of an unlikely season in which Smith projects for career bests in virtually every major passing category.

Look for the good times to continue as the season finishes.  This could easily look like the best fantasy schedule at the end of the year.  The remaining slate is filled with sub-.500 teams giving up big yardage totals in both the passing and run games.  Kansas City also figures to be the favorite against each opponent moving forward.  Feel confident making offers for every significant Kansas City player.

New England Patriots (OAK, MIA, BUF, MIA, PIT, BUF)

ROS Pass Rank: 5         ROS Rushing Rank: 3

This one is almost too obvious.  The NFL’s passing yardage leader, Tom Brady, gets four intra-division games with two matchups against an imploding Buffalo Bills defense and another two against a Miami defense which can not cover the pass.  Adding in next week’s game against Oakland’s bottom ranked defense cements the Patriots great outlook.  Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski, and wide receiver Brandin Cooks are all worth the heavy price needed to acquire with huge weeks possible ahead.

The New England backfield, on the other hand, has “too many cooks in the kitchen”.  Dion Lewis took control of the rushing work from Mike Gillislee with 11 to 15 carries in each of the last four games but only three receptions over that time.  James White remains a significant receiving threat on passing downs.  Rex Burkhead received more work each game so far taking touches away from both Lewis and White.  The value from Patriots’ backs comes primarily from the touchdown potential and receiving game work but trying to figure out who will get that production on a given week could be frustrating.  They are all worth speculative adds in this offense but depending on any to regularly start will be problematic.


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

NFL Trade Deadline Moves

Updated: November 2nd 2017

The NFL trade deadline usually produces as much excitement as eating tuna fish out of the can for lunch. Early trade deadline date, hard salary cap, and rules curbing trades for cap space tend to limit the amount and scale of trades which occur.  This year saw the most action on the trade front in years.  I take a look at some of the most fantasy relevant trades that potentially impact your RSO teams.

The NFL trade deadline usually produces as much excitement as eating tuna fish out of the can for lunch. Early trade deadline date, hard salary cap, and rules curbing trades for cap space tend to limit the amount and scale of trades which occur.  This year saw the most action on the trade front in years.  I take a look at some of the most fantasy relevant trades that potentially impact your RSO teams.

Jay Ajayi

Philadelphia receives RB Jay Ajayi

Miami receives 2018 4th Round Draft Pick

Miami head coach Adam Gase clearly was not happy with the offensive performance of the Dolphins this season giving an epic post-game tirade following the 40-0 beat down against Baltimore.  The shakeup starts with Miami moving Ajayi to Philadelphia.  What does Philadelphia get with AJayi?   They obtain a player who forced more missed tackles over the last two seasons than any other running back in the NFL.  It is a low-risk move for a player on a cheap 5th round rookie contract that runs through the 2018 season giving up only a likely late fourth round pick.  The move is somewhat odd in that Ajayi joins a crowded backfield including LeGarrette Blount (who is quietly having a very productive season), Wendell Smallwood, and Corey Clement on a team which has never really featured a running back under head coach Doug Pederson instead relying on a committee approach.

What does this mean for Ajayi?  The third year pro’s situation improves drastically moving from the lowest scoring team in the league with one of the worst offensive lines to one of the highest scoring teams in the NFL with the best record so far.  Philadelphia Ajayi’s role this season seems questionable given the depth in the backfield and lack of traditional “workhorse” role on the Eagles but the upside is tremendous on a high-powered offense if he were to assume a primary role.  His longer-term prospects look good on a solid team led by an ascending quarterback.  This move correspondingly reduces Blount’s value to minimal at best.

Also remember Ajayi’s likely replacements in Miami, Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake.  While neither is a priority in shallow leagues on this low-scoring offense, any potential starting running back has some value in deeper RSO leagues.

Jimmy Garoppolo

San Francisco receives QB Jimmy Garoppolo

New England receives 2018 2nd Round Draft Pick

In another interesting trade, San Francisco presumably gets their quarterback of the future in exchange for an early second round pick.  The move gives San Francisco a lot of flexibility in next year’s draft, including potentially setting up the 49ers to receive a ransom in draft capital in exchange for one of the top picks in the first round.  New England receives one of the most valuable picks in the entire draft on a cost-benefit basis with the high second pick.  One must wonder if New England maximized Garoppolo’s trade value if earlier reports from this offseason were true about teams making first round-plus offers but it is still solid value for a player of no immediate use on an expiring contract.  The Patriots are clearly committed to Brady for the near future with no backup plan for the future.

Garoppolo was originally a second round pick by New England and has performed superbly in his professional appearances so far, albeit in a very limited sample size.  He goes to a team with one of the most highly-thought-of offensive minds in the game, Kyle Shanahan, leading them.  The trade also imparts risk on Garoppolo though.  He almost certainly would have received a large contract this offseason based on very limited work in the NFL.  Garoppolo might receive substantially less from San Francisco or in free agency if his performance in the last portion of the season does not meet expectations.  This is a move that could go very poorly for the 49ers.  San Francisco gave up a premium draft pick on a team going nowhere this year for a player in the final year of his contract.  This move potentially looks very foolish in the offseason if the 49ers a) do not sign Garoppolo or b) are forced to franchise tag him at high costs (see the ongoing Kirk Cousins saga).

Garoppolo holds little value in RSO leagues this season with a difficult schedule to finish the season and likely not assuming starting duties until after San Francisco’s bye in week 12.

Kelvin Benjamin

Buffalo receives WR Kelvin Benjamin

Carolina receives 2018 3rd Round Draft Pick and 2018 7th Round Draft Pick

It has been one strange season for the Buffalo Bills.  In what many considered a rebuilding year, the Bills find themselves at 5-2 just behind the New England Patriots for first place in the AFC East.  The roster makeover at wide receiver continues with the addition of Benjamin after Buffalo traded for WR Jordan Matthews in the preseason and trading away former 1st round WR Sammy Watkins prior to that.

This is not a good move fantasy-wise for the hulking receiver this season.  Benjamin goes from a team with the 10th most passing attempts to the one with least attempts in the entire NFL.  Even the most targeted wide receiver in Buffalo has little fantasy value on a run-first offense.  What value there is in the passing game is centered on the running backs and tight ends where running back LeSean McCoy leads the team in targets and receptions almost doubling the next leading receiver, tight end Charles Clay, who has been out of action for weeks.  Jordan Matthews’ limited fantasy value is gone in all but the deepest of leagues with the arrival of Benjamin.  Charles Clay gets bumped down.  Tyrod Taylor is likely the only fantasy relevant player helped with this trade.

Duane Brown

Seattle receives OT Duane Brown and 2018 5th Round Draft Pick

Houston receives 2018 3rd Round Draft Pick and 2019 2nd Round Draft Pick*

Seattle bolsters their offensive line with left tackle Duane Brown after seeing him first-hand this past weekend.  Brown is a massive upgrade at left tackle for the Seahawks, replacing PFF’s worst graded tackle on one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL.   The move tremendously helps Russell Wilson and also potentially upgrades the Seattle run game.  Quality, blind-side tackles rarely become available because there are so few in the league.  The steep price could be well worth the cost to Seattle if they address Brown’s contract issues.

Brown’s contract demands, for which he sat out the first six weeks in the season and were never addressed by the Texans, and his resentment toward Houston’s owner eventually led to the trade.  The Texans received fair value for a player who clearly was not excited about staying in Houston.  The loss of a premium left tackle will be felt, especially by a developing young quarterback, but is somewhat mitigated Deshaun Watson’s mobility out of the pocket.

*Note this trade originally included CB Jeremy Lane who reportedly failed a physical.

A.J. McCarron

In a trade that failed to go through, the Cincinnati Bengals agreed to trade A.J. McCarron to the Cleveland Browns.  Unfortunately the Browns, as only the Browns could do, failed in reporting the trade to the NFL office by the trade deadline.  McCarron is left as a backup in Cincinnati and Cleveland continues to make even the most basic NFL mechanisms look difficult.


Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

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