RSO Extension Targets

Updated: October 3rd 2018

An important stage begins for the RSO fantasy season.  RSO GMs may extend players in the final year of their RSO contract, starting in week 5 and ending in week 13, for those leagues in which the contract extension option is enabled.  Player extensions were designed to force difficult decisions on RSO GMs.  This article helps with the process by looking at a few key considerations, recommending targets for extension, and determining the best time of year to extend.

We ignore young players still on rookie deals (post-2015 draft) in most leagues as they can’t be extended but be sure to check your league for young undrafted players.

Key Extension Considerations

Extension values fluctuate through the extension period.   Weekly performances drive contract values up or down on a weekly basis.  A monster game increases extension costs while a poor week potentially lowers contract prices.  This means a player’s week 5 offered extension contract may be substantially different from the week 13 offer. The decision of when to extend a player may cost or save your team significant cap room.

Extension terms are specific to your league.  League settings such as scoring rules, rosters, and positional starting requirements impact extension offers.  Contracts in your league also influence extension offers.  Put another way, not only does projected player production impact extensions but also how your league values players across position groups.  This may set up considerable savings toward certain types of players in your specific league.

Players do not accept pay cuts on extensions.  This necessitates that players coming off cheap rookie contracts, cheap speculative deals, or coming back from injury are more likely extension targets than top-level veteran players on near-market level deals even if the veteran is having a down year.

Quarterback Targets

Russell Wilson

There are some relatively cheap Wilson contracts out there after he played hurt in 2016.  He currently ranks, at best, as a low-end QB2 under new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.  Focus on the run game has, somewhat predictably, led to a stagnant offense rating just 26th in passing yards.  On the surprising side, Wilson’s rushing attempts have been almost completely cut-off.  Wilson has the same number of rushing attempts (11) as a one-legged Aaron Rodgers and immobile Joe Flacco plus less yardage than the stuck-in-mud Matt Ryan and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

This is likely one of the lowest points at which you will ever be able to extend Wilson after performing near his fantasy floor.  The Seattle offensive coordinator will be forced to evolve to the modern NFL or likely be done in short order.  There is even an out in Wilson’s contract for Seattle to move on after this season if it wants to go in another direction than Wilson.  It could be a long 2018 but if you can acquire the passing and rushing talent of Wilson on the cheap it could be well worth it going forward.

Derek Carr

Most would consider the career of Derek Carr somewhat mixed, at best, to this point.  He boasts one of the least efficient rankings of any quarterback during his time and has never been much of a fantasy asset.  That could change with new coach Jon Gruden.  Carr threw for the fourth most passing yards in the league so far to go along with career bests in efficiency and completion percentage.  Carr currently ranks next to Wilson as a bottom-end QB2 in fantasy thanks to some big interception totals early but his volume and efficiency supports higher possible fantasy production.  The defense might yield extreme points for a long time forcing Carr into big volume for the foreseeable future.

Running Back Targets

Devonta Freeman

This one is easy.  Tevin Coleman hits free agency next year and Freeman takes over as the bigger part of the rushing committee when he returns from his knee injury.  Freeman’s role possibly increases next season with Ito Smith as his compliment in comparison to Coleman.  Lock Freeman up prior to his return.

Giovani Bernard

This move certainly falls into the speculative, but cheap, class of extensions.  Bernard’s NFL contract runs through the 2019 season so why extend a backup player?  First, Bernard has performed at a high level whether as the main back or in a more complimentary role.  Second, Cincinnati drafted Bernard’s likely replacement as Mixon’s backup in Mark Walton this year. Third, the Bengals have a cheap out on Bernard’s contract following the 2018 season.  Will they really spend $4.5 million on a backup running back in 2019?  Possibly but it might be worth the price to find out.  Wait as long as possible for an extension here.  Bernard falls back into the backup role when Joe Mixon returns lowering his value as the season goes on.

Wide Receiver Targets

T.Y. Hilton

This extension comes with more risk than others.  2017 saw a down year for Hilton and he checks in as low level WR2 in 2018.  Concerns exist as to Luck’s shoulder moving forward and Hilton is at the stage where receiving production sometimes falls off.   One must consider that Hilton averaged 81 receptions and 1250 yards the previous four seasons prior to 2017 with Luck though.  He is a potential big hit if Luck’s shoulder continues to strengthen.  Hilton likely misses the upcoming Thursday game so feel free to wait a week before extending.

Allen Robinson

The case for Robinson is similar to Hilton’s but with some key differences.  Robinson lost 2017 to an ACL-tear and his production in 2018 has also so far been modest.  Robinson presents a murkier picture when compared to Hilton however.  Robinson produced only one notable season in his career and the quality of his quarterback, and offense in general, remains a big mystery going forward.  One might expect a better connection with his quarterback as he gets more reps and Robinson is just entering his athletic prime years.  This could be a low point to extend Robinson if you believe in the talent and offense going forward.

Tight End Target

Vance McDonald

Reliable options at tight end stay extremely limited.  Ertz might be available for a reasonable extension in your league but I will discuss another player.  McDonald struggled with injuries, drops, and poor quarterback play in San Francisco.  The injury issue has not disappeared in Pittsburgh but we have seen his receiving ability shine when on the field for the Steelers over the last two seasons.  McDonald is the clear top receiver at tight end for Pittsburgh.  He should be a relatively cheap extension whose value could spike by the end of the year if he remains (mostly) healthy.

Players from 2015 Rookie Drafts

Consider this a reminder that 2018 is the final season of four year rookie deals for Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, David Johnson, Tevin Coleman, Amari Cooper, Jameis Winston, and Marcus Mariota among others.  Gurley and Gordon currently rank top-3 in RB scoring and are solid extension candidates to center your team around.   There value is unlikely to grow much so you can gamble on extensions later in the year.  Johnson represents a quality buy-low extension option.  His NFL contract essentially locks him in through 2020 and the first few weeks of the season have been mediocre under a new coaching staff.  Extend him immediately.  His role could grow as the season moves on.  Look no further than Coleman for next year’s McKinnon, a running back who saw a big value spike in free agency.   His abilities work in the run and passing game.  Hold off on an extension until later in the year when Freeman comes back and Coleman assumes the smaller part of the committee.  Cooper is coming off one of his signature “boom” games in week 4 but has mixed results so far currently sitting as the WR34.  He is one of the riskier extension candidates but someone still extremely young with potential for more consistency.  Winston ranks among the most turnover-prone players in the league.  He improved each season as a quarterback however.  There might not be a better time to extend Winston coming off of suspension and a rusty two interception performance to start the season.  It is difficult to judge Mariota in his career given the coaching staff he played with.  His play has been maddeningly inconsistent with shoddy accuracy at times while injuries plagued his career.  Mariota possesses all the physical tools necessary for a successful quarterback. A new coaching staff may bring his best out.

Injured Players

San Francisco supplies the poster-child for capitalizing on injured players where the QB1, RB1, and WR1 have all been injured with two of them lost for the year.  Jimmy Garappolo, Jerick McKinnon, and Marquise Goodwin could all come in as cheap extensions for your league with big upside next season.

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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