RSO Features Wishlist

Updated: August 8th 2022

The start of the 2022 season is just around the corner and most leagues are long past their rookie drafts and new leagues, thanks for choosing RSO by the way, are completing their first auctions. There have been big changes in recent years to the structure and complexity of RSO leagues including features such as re-signs, fifth-year options, in-draft rookie trades, and the new feature this year with slow auctions. CTO Kyle English always brings new and exciting features and we are all excited each time he tweets about whatever he has created in his lab.

With that, we can look ahead to 2023 to try and suggest even more features that the community would like to see added.

Injury Reserve: Designated to Return Designations

During the COVID 2020 season my home league implemented a version of the IR (injury reserve) designated to return that the NFL uses. How it is implemented under its current version is that there is an agreed-upon timeframe that the player has to be on the IR before they can be reactivated by the commissioner manually. The NFL uses four (4) games as their benchmark for time served and up to eight (8) designations per season. Our league uses six (6) weeks as the time served but only one (1) player is allowed to be designated. Not to be confused with how many players can be put on injured reserve at one time which is a maximum of three (3) in the league.

Not all injuries are season-ending but it becomes a burden to teams to try and find more depth for a few weeks if they have to hold 1-3 bench spots for minorly injured players, especially with shallower benches. Of course, the team would have to have the salary room available at the time of designation to be able to fit the player back on their roster since a player’s contract once placed on IR relieves half (50%) of the remaining yearly value in cap space. Having the ability to move a player away from a roster spot with the option to also bring them back during the same year would add flexibility during the season to continue competing and making roster moves.

Exclusive vs. Non-Exclusive Franchise Tags

For those in leagues that have cycled through multiple off-seasons now, there have probably been a few cases where you, or someone in your league, has debated on what to do with a player whose contract has expired. Would it be better to franchise tag at the average top 5 contract value in the league or risk sending them back to free agency to see if they can retain their services for cheaper or for more years? What if there could be a middle area?

The NFL has the seldom used Non-Exclusive franchise tag designation which comes at a cheaper contract value than the Exclusive option but runs the risk of another team placing an offer sheet to sign that player away.

How this could work in RSO would be that any player who receives the Non-Exclusive designation would be assigned the value of the average top 10 value at their position instead of the top 5 for one year but the player would still appear in the auction for other teams to bid on. During the scheduled auction any players who have the Non-Exclusive designation are auto-nominated first for all teams to conduct their bidding. Whenever the bidding ends the original team then confirms whether they would like to agree to that contract or receive the set compensation instead from the winning team. The NFL uses two (2) first-round picks as the compensation received which would be a good benchmark for teams to really consider trading away for a likely top 10 player at the position. Teams would need to have the available draft capital to be able to offer contracts in the auction window, otherwise, their options would be “grayed out” just like with insufficient cap space. If no team bids on the player, their salary stays at the current top 10 average for one year with the original team.

Adding this layer of complexity would generate much more buzz during the auction as oftentimes great players do not make it to the free market. Individuals however have varying values of certain players and what may be worth two (2) first-round picks to some is high water for others. Teams that are aggressive could look to secure otherwise unavailable superstars while savvy owners could have a value floor set for a player that suggests they would be okay losing said superstar if they were compensated fairly.


Contract Balancing

One of the coolest features that the Madden franchise mode had for a year or two during the early 2010s was during the signing stages of the off-season the user could offer a contract based on three (3) scales: front-loaded, balanced, and back-loaded.

Back-loaded is the only current option in RSO auctions whereby the dollar amount of the final year is always more than the first year of a contract. This makes sense since the salary cap, in non-COVID scenarios, increases each year so the players should be getting an inflation raise each season to match. But in the NFL sometimes teams that are smart with their cap space know that they can front load the offering to a player to serve many purposes, both for them and the player. Obviously, for the player they are receiving more money now which increases their percentage of receiving the agreed full dollar value of the contract. The team also benefits by having the option in later years to move on from a player easier without as high of a dead cap. This can also benefit teams that are trying to outbid other teams that have more space now similar to how the back–loaded contracts benefit those that have less cap space in the current year.

The current percentages of a contract’s total value in RSO work as such:

1 year; 100%

2 years; 49%, 51%

3 years; 31.3%, 33.3%, 35.4%

4 years; 22%, 24%, 26%, 28%

Having the option to inverse the values would help teams that may have available cap room now to spread out their contracts rather than having all their big ticket cap figures placed within the same future years.

Adding this layer of complexity to the patented RSO formula for auction valuing may only make this feature usable during their new “slow auction” formats to allow for the system to better calibrate what a fair value contract would look like both front or back-loaded. Would the formula value a front-loaded $20 million contract more than a $20 million dollar back-loaded contract? Probably. What about a $25 million back-loaded contract? These are all data points that the RSO team would have to decide which way the scales tilt.

Final Thoughts

If it has not been established already in the tone of this article one of the biggest themes for these suggestions centers around salary cap flexibility. While some features may add a layer of complexity that some leagues may not be interested in implementing, I expect there would be a handful of RSO managers and leagues that would welcome new options for them to help create their ideal fantasy roster.

If you have any suggestions for features and concepts you would like to see the RSO team put research into, make sure to reach out on Twitter, @Nickandrews_RSO, or to the generic @RealitySportsOn account with your ideas.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews