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

 

 

More Analysis by Matt Russell