2017 Top 25s: WRs and TEs

Updated: July 16th 2017

Since RSO has rolled over to 2017, now’s the perfect time to revisit your rosters and start planning for the next season!

Do you have any players on your team that warrant a franchise tag?  Is it time to shop a player who’s 2016 didn’t meet your expectations and now burdens you with a high salary contract?  My “way too early” PPR rankings, known as my 2017 Top 25s, are here to help with those decisions!

If you missed part 1, I explored quarterbacks and running backs.

In part 2 of my 2017 Top 25s, I’ll finish by examining the wide receiver and tight end positions:


Top 25 WRs for 2017

While several of the top WRs didn’t pan out in 2016, I wouldn’t shy away from a WR-heavy strategy in 2017. The top 7 in my rankings have shown year-over-year consistency, which should ease the minds of those recently burned by Hopkins and Robinson. In 12 team leagues, I’d want to leave the auction with at least 3 WRs from this list. since the depth from 13 to 25 is much stronger at WR than it is at RB.


Top 25 TEs for 2017

In 2017, I plan to target Gronkowski, Kelce, and Reed with AAV (average annual values) over $10 million per season. If I strike out on the three of them, I’m likely to wait and select 1-2 TEs from the 9-18 range of my rankings and hope that one can turn into someone I’m comfortable starting on weekly basis.

My Recommendation

Take an hour this weekend and send out personal emails to all of your fellow owners. Get the trade conversations started because they likely won’t come knocking down your door to acquire one of these players you’re looking to vanquish from your roster. Explain what you’re looking to accomplish, who interests you on their team, and provide an idea of how a potential deal could be reached. If you’re in an active league, you’ll be surprised at the quality of responses you receive.

I followed this recommendation last year, revamped one of my teams almost from scratch, and ended up winning the league.  Have a few minutes?  Read my article on Pressing the Reset Button to find out more about how this strategy can work for you.

Bio: An avid fan of all things NFL, Dave has been playing fantasy football since 1999.  Though Dave participates in all types of fantasy football including redraft and daily, he prefers keeper and dynasty leagues as talent evaluation and scouting are integral components of each.  Follow him on Twitter @DaveSanders_RSO

More Analysis by Dave Sanders

Rookie Pick Craze

Updated: July 8th 2016

Most rookie drafts are now complete and owners are looking forward to the start of training camp in a month’s time. Throughout this process of drafting, I came to ask myself the question of whether rookie picks of all kinds are overvalued. With the hype-train that is the 2017 draft, I have seen many trades on both twitter and in my own leagues that would suggest that every player available is going to be the next Eric Dickerson, Randy Moss, and Tony Gonzalez. Even looking ahead to 2018, owners are reluctant to trade their picks based on the unknown of what the caliber of rookies will be in two years. While that is a fair argument, the last time I checked,  the whole point of playing fantasy football was to win championships, not assemble “the best” forward- looking team. Therefore, I wanted to take a look how successful rookie picks actually are. I should give credit to RotoViz writer Jacob Rickrode who looked at a similar topic last year. I will link his article here for those of you who have access to their articles.

Rookie Success

If we look back at the last six rookie drafts starting in 2010 below is a breakdown of how successful a rookie selected was. The chart looks at the average ADP of each year’s rookies. For 2012 Trent Richardson, Andrew Luck, and Doug Martin were the average top 3 drafted in that order. The Success Rate evaluates whether a pick had a top 12 (QB, TE) or top 24 (RB,WR) season at least once since being drafted. The Percentage of Top Seasons represents how often each pick was able to reach the top 12/24. The final two columns indicate the total round’s Bust Rate, whether they had at least one top season, and Top Season Rate, the percentage of having multiple top 12/24. I chose to only do individual picks for the first two rounds for two reasons: the fluctuation in ADP after 24 varied tremendously from site to site and the data showed that players drafted after the second round were mostly irrelevant.

Rookie Pick Chart

As you can see the first round selections have a slightly better than 50/50 chance to have at least one top 12/24 season while only a 20% chance of having more than one top seasons. From there it gets steadily worse. An interesting anomaly, the large value of success from the 2.12 is greatly inflated by Rob Gronkowski who’s five top 12 finishes are only second in that round to pick 2.02 (6). That’s one player versus six! As well, the 1.02 has seen some elite talent with names like Dez Bryant, A.J. Green, and Andrew Luck which is why it is the only pick that currently holds a perfect 100% success rate. The only individual players to have a perfect score (reaching the top 12/24 each season) having played in 2 or more seasons are Odell Beckham Jr. (2 years), Mike Evans (2), Jeremy Hill (2), Giovanni Bernard (3) and A.J. Green (5). This is the part of the article where you tip your cap to the Cincinnati Bengals scouting staff. Even if we look at the so-called “Best class in recent history” – 2014, in their first two seasons only 7 of 12 players have had a top 12/24 season thus far. Even looking ahead , with a couple more seasons under their belts, I do not see much more coming out of this round however due to names like Sankey and Manziel stinking up the average.

Move Up or Move Out

So knowing this information what can we do to come out ahead? If we look at my last article which helps layout the value of picks against one another and combine that with the stats presented here we can create a couple of trade strategies to maximize value. If you are a contending, bottom round team the likelihood of your rookie selection being a useful player is slim. Looking at the last 6 picks in the first round the success rate drops to only 40% and the multi-season success down to 10%. Consider also that if your team is contending and therefore full of top talent players, already the likelihood of incoming players being better than those players is even less likely. Therefore, you should be looking to move your picks to the top 3 where you have a robust 83% chance of picking a successful player as well as a 67% chance that they will have multiple top seasons.

Ryan Matthews

Forgotten veterans are a contender’s best friend

If you are unable to move into a position to secure a top 3 selection then the second option is to move out completely. The goal is to win championships, so if your pick isn’t going to help you win during your window then you should be getting value from it. Savvy veteran players are always undervalued and while they may not offer high returns like ODB or Allen Robinson, they definitely will have higher floors than shares of David Wilson, Cordarelle Patterson, and Johnny Manziel currently holds. Players like Matt Forte, Ryan Matthews, Greg Olsen, and Drew Brees are perfect candidates to target by casting out a late first round pick. I have said this in many articles before but the beautiful of RSO is that no player is locked in forever so the landscape of teams changes more than standard dynasties. For those of you who have been on the site for several years now you probably understand what I am saying since your first rookie class is coming due for their first free agency.

Hopefully, I have been able to open some eyes to what really happens with rookie picks and help you understand what to do with everyone going 2017 crazy! As always if you have questions or want to talk strategies you can find me on twitter @naandrews19.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

Ups and Downs of the RSO Playoffs

Updated: December 24th 2015


They say it is sometimes better to be lucky than good. To win Reality Sports Online league titles, it seems like you have to be a bit of both. Hit on your rookie draft picks, don’t spend big dollars on busts and get your multi-year deals right, don’t have player injuries and then have it all align in the playoffs.

So, after being in my main league for three years and the Writers League for two years, I can honestly say I haven’t won a championship and am still after that holy grail. As someone who is their own worst critic, and who writes strategy pieces for the website, that makes me feel like a little bit of a fraud. I know I’m beating myself up on this, but let me share my two league circumstances with you this year.

I welcome any of you who suffered a similar loss to Tweet me or contact me as some form of therapy. I have writing about this experience as my therapy, so let me be the one you vent to after reading this if you are in the same boat as me.

First, I’ll start with my Writers League with folks who I write with at Reality Sports Online and numberFire mainly (some have moved onto other sites like Rotoworld and ESPN). I finished 11-2 in the regular season with the highest scoring team by far. That earned me the #2 seed and a matchup against my friend @GrahamBarfield, the #3 seed in the league, while 12-1 #1 Seed @LeoHowell8 played upstart first-year owner and Baylor Law Professor and late summer league addition #4 seed (brought in via Twitter to compete against writers) @RoryRyan in the other playoff matchup.

Buoyed all season by a Tom Brady/Rob Gronkowski stack, Devonta Freeman and Eric Decker, my team was stacked and I have most of these players (and Todd Gurley, Demaryius Thomas) for several more years. In round one however, I went into Monday Night Football with a 16 point lead and Graham having Lamar Miller remaining. Miller scored two touchdowns by halftime and my highest-scoring team in the league (and second highest among 10 teams that week) was toast.

On the other side, Howell, who has lost exactly two regular season games in two years in the league, put up a dud and lost to Ryan, who inherited one of the worst teams in the league mid-summer, was awarded T.Y. Hilton by the league on a two year, $40.0 million contract and left to his own devices to turn the rest around. He slid into the playoffs behind some good moves and then, wouldn’t you know it, won the whole thing while Howell and I put up very high totals in the third place game.

Rory Ryan Shocks the Writers League

Basically, Ryan capitalized on being healthy and opportunistic,  and a few solid moves. Here’s his summary of what lead to his success (in his words):

“As I looked around the locker room before the championship match, I decided we needed to do something unusual. We went around the room and introduced ourselves–as six of the ten starters were waiver-wire pickups. As I drove my family back from the Polar Express train ride during Monday’s finale, I kept getting SiriusXM updates that were good. Then better. Then — victory. To say the team I inherited was in “rebuilding mode” would be an understatement. But we were able to scrape out just enough wins and ride a whole lot of luck to the title. “

“Although (to quote Nuke Laloosh) “winning is like . . . so much better than losing,” the year was great either way. As I told folks on social media, it was fun playing against the guys whose advice I use when setting my lineups in other leagues. And the RSO format really does make even traditional dynasty leagues seem primitive. The contracts, waivers, salary cap, etc., make up the way fantasy ought to be played. “
“The opportunity to play this format against these guys was too much to pass up — despite my (formerly) firm rules against not playing in leagues with kickers, defenses (if I can help it), and true decimal scoring. But I’m still looking forward to next year, where hopefully my roster will be slightly more settled. “

“So what was my strategy? When I entered the auction, there were few (no) stars and plenty of money. So prices were inflated. I went after some grinders who I’d always feel OK inserting into the lineup: Jonathan Stewart, Frank Gore, and Doug Martin (didn’t get him). But I spent little money. Instead, I saved most of my cap room, knowing that injuries and sleepers would emerge, and I would have the big bankroll. DeAngelo Williams, Danny Amendola, Antonio Gates, Dion Lewis, and Zach Miller all played important roles during the season.

“As for the future — we will see if my strategy works. Since there were no stars to lock down, I went after a group of guys who I thought were more talented than their projections, hoping that at least one of them ends up in an ideal situation. The prices are low enough that hitting 1/3 and cutting the other two will more than pay for itself in savings, despite the cap penalty, as I’ll avoid waiting for the player to demonstrate the market value. So, Golden Tate, Torrey Smith, and Markus Wheaton — please answer the phone if the Patriots call.”

A Rivalry Is Continued in Reality Sports Online

Let me set the stage for you a bit with some history. My best friend since our freshman year at Miami University, @MarkPesavento and I have been in fantasy football leagues together since 1996. He is my biggest rival and our fantasy matchups have quite a history of craziness as you can imagine for anyone playing against each other for that long. Since he works in sports and I don’t, there is an extra layer of who is the smarter football mind is between the two of us.

With that in mind, Mark and I left an ESPN keeper league a few years ago in search of something bigger, something more challenging that was fully customizable. As part of his work at the time, he discovered Reality Sports Online and we’ve been hooked ever since. Together we are co-commissioners of the Not Quite Gentlemen’s League, a super-customized PPR league with 12 teams and lineups consisting of only one required running back, three flex positions, and where turnovers are heavily punished (-5 points for interceptions, fumbles) and the 5th and 6th playoff seeds are determined solely based on total points scored.
RSO Co-Founder and Chief Operating Office Stephen Wendell is now in our league too, which adds to the competitiveness. Pesavento finished first overall at 11-2 with the highest point total (he won the league in 2014), newcomer Wendell finished 9-5 and was the #2 seed. I was the second highest scoring team, but finished 7-6 and got the #5 overall seed.

My high-scoring team proved no fluke in the opening round of the playoffs, winning 321.54-179.99 and a Week 15 rematch with Pesavento, who I was 0-2 against on the season, loomed.

Setting the Stage-Week 12

First, though, let me take you back to Week 12 where Pesavento and I squared off in an epic battle. He staked to an early lead behind Odell Beckham Jr., Philip Rivers, and Spencer Ware that seemed insurmountable at the time. Then late in the late games, my quarterback Russell Wilson hooked up with Doug Baldwin for an 80 yard touchdown, en route to a 72 point fantasy performance.

I was close going into the Sunday night game where I had Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots DST to his Broncos DST. Behind a Gronk touchdown and subsequent Gronk-spike and an inteception by the Patriots D, I staked out to a fairly decent lead (like 20 points). As the clock turned to the 4th quarter, I instant messaged Pesavento saying this game seems like it is over.

And then the collapse happened. The Patriots muffed a punt, Denver’s running game started picking up steam and the Patriots were bleeding out yardage allowed and points scored. The game was getting much closer. All I needed was another Gronk catch and I’d be fine.

Then Gronk got called for offensive pass interference on a big catch that was nullified. A few plays later, then he was carted off with a knee injury. So my happiness of likely winning the game turned into losing my key league advantage (and someone I’d like to franchise tag on a good deal for 2016) for the season, and potentially this game as well.

The Broncos scored to take the lead and all I then needed (while I was frantically worried about Gronk’s health for the rest of the season) was the game not to go to overtime. Well, we all know Stephen Gostkowski is fantasy gold and the game went to overtime. In overtime, as long as the Broncos didn’t score a touchdown, I’d win.

I think you know the rest. C.J. Anderson scored on a 48 yard touchdown scamper to end the game and Pesavento beat me by .25 points, continuing a series of close calls in recent match-ups.

The Worst Possible Way To Lose?

Heading into the Week 15 playoff matchup of the two highest scoring teams in the league, Pesavento was favored, yet he had some of his best players with tough matchups (Beckham Jr vs CAR, Antonio Brown vs. DEN DST, DEN DST at PIT) while mine on paper seemed favorable (A.J. Green @SF, Wilson vs. CLE, Devonta Freeman @JAX, Gronkowski vs. TEN, NE DST vs. TEN).

I staked out to a decent lead as Beckham Jr. didn’t have any catches through three well-documented quarters vs. shutdown corner Josh Norman. While I was watching on the NFL Game Mix (8 games at once on a not so-huge TV on DirecTV), I noticed that things were getting super chippy and was waiting for OBJ to get ejected by referee Terry McAulay’s crew for the punches thrown and the cheap shots.

I usually don’t get “holier than though” watching football, but by the time the Giants started their comeback and OBJ started racking up fantasy points I was on my high-horse and stark-raving mad that Beckham Jr. hadn’t been tossed. Heck, I’ve been tossed from rec-league basketball games for way less.

However, his Alshon Jeffery only had one catch for 10 yards and a touchdown, my Patriots DST had a good game and I was hanging in with him heading into Wilson’s huge matchup against my hometown Browns. Knowing that Wilson was hot and the Browns defense is porous, I knew Russ would deliver for me.

What I wasn’t prepared for was Brown scoring 70 points against his Broncos DST. So as the Steelers/Broncos game wore down and I was hoping the Broncos would give up more points, I was hoping that another player would score the final touchdown of this game. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and when Ben Roethlisberger threw an egregious interception on a terrible pass to his Denver defense right before the two minute warning that I coined the “Class of 1998 Miami University Fantasy Football Scholarship”, I knew that 5 points for the Broncos would loom large.

And as Brown caught another ball, I found myself down 15 points heading into Monday Night Football where it was my Golden Tate vs. his Tim Hightower for the right to survive and advance. Tate was coming off his best game of the season and was facing the porous Saints secondary. Hightower was coming off a solid game. Game flow seemed to favor Tate, but I figured the 15 points would loom too large for Tate to overcome.
As the game started and Tate scored two early touchdowns I found myself up in the game. Hightower scored right before half, but the play was called back on a lineman failing to report. The two of us went crazy over IM the remainder of the game.

At one point, unsolicited my wife and 5 year old son and 1 year old daughter started chanting “Golden Tate, Golden Tate!” pleading for him to get the ball when the Lions were on offense. It was super cute to see my daughter who talks but doesn’t know too many words saying this.

I was clinging to a slight lead and game flow took Hightower out of the game mostly. As I watched the Lions fumble away a few possessions that Tate could’ve had opportunities and the Lions DST unable to force punts to Tate as the returner (we get punt return yards for individual players in our league), I knew this was going to come down to the wire.

With five minutes left and me clinging to an ironic .26 point lead (basically the Week 12 margin of defeat), I paced around knowing that if Hightower got one more carry I would lose. I made it basically to the end of the game where the Lions were running out the clock unscathed. Alas, they didn’t have the ability to run off the entire clock and in came Matt Prater to kick a chip-shot field goal to end the game. Prater then missed, and I knew anything could happen.

The Saints had a few plays left and surely would be setting up for a Hail Mary after gaining a little bit of yardage. Initially seeing C.J. Spiller as the receiving back in the game, I figured I was fine. On a play with 14 seconds left, Drew Brees looked and pump faked at Hightower, but threw elsewhere. With six seconds left to go, folks in my league (including Pesavento) were congratulating me on the win.

Talk about Dewey vs. Truman. The last play should have been a Hail Mary. Instead, Brees decided to pad his completion percentage and throw a dump-off to Hightower. The yardage didn’t matter-I had lost after overcoming a deficit, in another crushing close defeat to Pesavento. Again on the last play of the game.
I wish this writing was fiction and not fact. I had seemingly overcome some poor performances by Green, T.Y. Hilton (who I started over Danny Woodhead based on recent history, Matt Hasselback starting, and Hilton’s history against Houston). I think back to all the dynamics of the matchup- Beckham not getting ejected and missing a for sure deep touchdown early in the game, two straight fade routes to Gronk in the end zone late in the Patriots/Titans game that came up just short, pass interference calls covering my Randall Cobb in the end zone, the Broncos late interception, and finally Hightower’s catch with the Saints down 8 points on the last play of the last game of the week, and I realize that the Reality Sports Online holy grail is a temptress. I easily could have lost by 50 points, won by 20 points or won by .26 points, but instead I lost by a few points and now wish Pesavento good luck in the finals (without Beckham and potentially Jeffery) while I play Wendell for third-place this week.

Only a combination of luck, health, and solid roster moves will result in winning this thing and I hope that my championship window with the same core I have locked up through 2016 will bring me better results next year. There’s always next year.

Please feel free to reach out to me with similar stories, start/sit questions for your big week 16 championship, or to call me a fraud via Twitter @Mattgoody2.

More Analysis by Matt Goodwin

Saying Goodbye To Being In Control

Updated: October 2nd 2015

Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (33) poses for a portrait during the NFLPA Rookie Premiere on Saturday, May 31, 2014 in Los Angeles. (Ric Tapia/AP Images for NFL Players Inc.)

Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (33) poses for a portrait during the NFLPA Rookie Premiere on Saturday, May 31, 2014 in Los Angeles. (Ric Tapia/AP Images for NFL Players Inc.)

I’ll start by saying that this article is particularly long. For those only interested in the football aspect of the article, you will want to scroll down to the #6 heading. For those of you who appreciate my writing style and want to see how a personal experience of mine has changed my fantasy football outlook, please read on.

This past weekend was one of the most difficult I’ve encountered on a personal level. And no, I’m not talking about fantasy football or my RSO leagues. Amidst a fairly hectic couple of weeks at work which took many turns while we landed on our most recent financial forecast, I got the news mid-last week that my Aunt Paula, who was battling Stage 4 cancer, was in home hospice.

To me, there was only one possibility for how I was going to spend my weekend — traveling to Southern California to support my parents and see my aunt and say my goodbyes, followed by traveling back home to my wife and young kids on one of my once-sacred fantasy football Sundays. I’d imagine that each of you has an Aunt Paula or an uncle like her; she played the role of the “cool aunt”– the one without kids of her own — to my younger brother and me. And she knocked it out of the park every time. She was the one who took us to countless baseball games (and two hour autograph sessions at team busses afterwards), the circus and many other events, all while she was in her 20’s and could have been living her own life. She was the one who provided innumerable life lessons to me and even explained to a younger version of me why a young woman was squatting outside of Cleveland Stadium before a Browns game (she only had to explain once, but this type of activity was commonplace for Browns games).

She is the reason I love numbers and statistics. She was a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and later became a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in the healthcare industry. When partners of her CPA firm took her to Cleveland Indians games, somehow I was the one who got to tag along and then win sports trivia contests as a youngster against these shocked partners of her firm. While I followed in her footsteps and became a CPA too, I decided that I was more interested in finance and strategy. However, my love of sports statistics that she instilled in me has only grown stronger, and through Reality Sports Online I get to be at the pinnacle of these statistics and use them to help others and try to win my leagues.

I’m not gonna lie, seeing a once vibrant woman full of life be non-responsive and in significant pain was the toughest experience I’ve been through and I can only imagine what was going through her mind and body. And while I wish I had happier news to report, Aunt Paula succumbed to cancer early Monday morning. She will be missed dearly by our family and her friends and co-workers.

The past weekend taught me so many lessons that I can draw from going forward and some can even be applied to Reality Sports Online leagues and fantasy football in general as well. Family members and friends who are only reading this for the non-football strategy aspects, you can stop reading now.

1) My proudest fantasy football moment of the weekend was….

One of my Reality Sports Online Twitter followers and fellow Seattle-area resident (whom I haven’t met yet but look forward to catching some games with), was asking me advice about trades and starting lineup decisions on Saturday. I apologized to him for not being as responsive as I usually am and tried to offer advice, although I really was in no place to do it. He apologized for what I was going through and when I had some time to respond on Sunday I found a stat on Steve Smith’s recent success against the Bengals for him that changed my course and advice on who he should start at wideout (he’s loaded there) and Smith powered him to victory while John Brown sat on his bench.  To his opponent, “Ice up, son!”

I really enjoying helping others with their lineups and strategy and hope that my articles this offseason have helped others build a roadmap to winning their leagues.

2) Sometimes I’m no more of an expert than anyone else….

While I went 12-4 in my weekly picks last week, I was 6-10 the week prior. Further, heading into Monday night’s games, I was dead last (50/50) in the FantasyDraft RSO Expert contest.  I ended up finishing higher than this based on Randall Cobb’s big performance, some of the players I chose who exhibited a high floor actually had no floor (Tyler Eifert had zero points) in this weird Week 3 of fantasy football.

So know that for every pick I get right, there are other picks I get very wrong.

3) I’m still chasing my first RSO Championship, but this week was definitely a highlight….

After three weeks in two RSO leagues, I’m the highest scoring team in both leagues. I’m 3-0 in my writers league and 2-1 in my main league. In my main league, I scored 337 points, which approached approached a league record. See my lineup below:

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 2.50.29 PM

I’m doing all this without Arian Foster, who was my big free agency get. I paid more than I would’ve liked for him (2 years, $51.5 million), but the cliff fall of remaining running backs in our league auction thereafter was very steep. Since we only are required to start one in this league (myself and my co-commish thought long and hard about our league scoring system and roster composition based on the NFL being a “passing” league), it was important to get a running back with “go-off” potential.

Little did I know in this very weird Week 3 of fantasy football that Devonta Freeman would have one of the best debuts as a starter in fantasy football history, certainly worthy of the “go off” categorization. I did think that he’d be solid in PPR, but in the little football I did get to watch while shuttling between airports and airplanes, Freeman showed the ability to get his pads low and deliver punishment while consistently reaching the second level of the Dallas Cowboys defense. Color me impressed. While Freeman is definitely at his highest “sell-high” point, those who own Tevin Coleman should fear that the running back who went in the first round of many RSO rookie drafts will now be a platooner at best if Freeman stays healthy. In terms of Freeman’s rest of season outlook, he’s definitely in the Top 24 running back discussion.

4) Most importantly, I learned that being in control is “overrated”…

I wouldn’t call myself a control freak, but with my unique ability to recollect statistics, facts, etc. that I acquired from Aunt Paula, I have a hard time not being in control. This is probably the reason that I rarely have drunk myself into oblivion, because I’m not a fan of not being able to remember things.

For these same reasons, until this past weekend I felt that my fantasy teams, NCAA Tournament brackets, etc. performed better if I was watching. Basically that my watching could somehow “control” the outcome. Of course it is more fun to be able to watch your fantasy players perform, but sometimes that simply isn’t possible.

Before marriage and children, there would be no way that I would even deign to consider flying on a football Sunday. My Thanksgiving travel has consistently featured either Saturday or Monday returns (cheaper that way, too). With my aunt’s health taking a significant turn for the worse, I had no choice but to fly and say my goodbyes quickly and fly back home on a football Sunday. Of course with the Sunday Ticket Max and Wi-Fi, I figured I’d be no worse for wear on Sunday while traveling.

That’s where I was wrong. The Wi-Fi was weak in the first airport I was passing through and I couldn’t stream any games or the Red Zone Channel. I basically was able to watch the Falcons/Cowboys game until I boarded, which is why I was able to tell early on that Freeman was looking good before he blew up. Another surprising performer for me this week, Lance Dunbar (about time after two years of touting him in Scott Linehan’s offense) was someone else I was able to watch a bit as well and I think he has cemented himself as part of the offense, although the whole “game-script” logic applies to him. Start him in PPR leagues, but be careful otherwise.

Luckily, I was able to check my scores and see my teams were performing well while I wasn’t watching. That was a feeling I had never really experienced before for prolonged periods of time. So when I boarded my first flight from Ontario to Oakland (Southwest’s regional spoke system for sure), I quickly was delighted to learn Wi-Fi was available, but then quickly disappointed that the Wi-Fi (which I paid $8 for) didn’t let me stream the Sunday Ticket. I then decided to pay another $4 for Red Zone so I had other options besides Eagles/Jets and figured my second flight (a two hour flight from Oakland to Seattle) would have Wi-Fi and I had already paid for the whole day on the first flight.

From 30,000 feet I saw that Steve Smith was going off for me in my writers league (someone inexplicably dropped Mr. Ice Up, Son during the week) and that A.J. Green was wrecking the Ravens as he typically does (which was to my benefit in one league and to my detriment in another as I was facing him).

When I landed in Oakland, it was the end of the early games and I peeked at the TV from a Chili’s (I have a deeply irrational love for Chili’s and wish they had them closer to me in Seattle, which is very anti-chain restaurant) as my Browns were failing in a last-ditch effort against the Raiders. It was still nice to be clued in on the games that had fantasy impact.

As I was boarding the second flight, the Seahawks were pulling off the fake-punt return play the Rams pulled on them last season, except Richard Sherman doesn’t have Robert Brooks’ “breakaway speed” and got caught from behind. The Seahawks sputtered early against the Bears, which is becoming a theme (more on that in a bit) as I headed down the jetway to board my plane.

Then, something that would have previously sent my world in a spiral happened. I entered the doorway of the plane and didn’t see a Wi-Fi symbol. I asked the flight attendant if there was Wi-Fi on the flight. Her response was “No, this is a classic airplane,” and then in her Southwest-Airlines-flight-attendant-trying-to-be-funny mode quipped, “You’ll have to make friends with your neighbor.” I thought to myself, “I don’t want to make friends with my neighbor. My aunt is effing dying, I’m tired as you-know-what and ALL I want to do is watch the Seahawks game.” And by the way, I was flying from one of the most tech savvy areas (Bay Area) to another highly techie area (Seattle). Of all the routes not to have Wi-Fi, this was it?

Somehow I killed two hours listening to music (those who know me best know what was on the playlist) on my noise-cancelling headphones (there wouldn’t be any making friends with my neighbor on this flight, missy!) and there was a quiet calm for me as our plane landed. Quick aside — I don’t travel much, but highly advocate buying a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. Simply put,they are amazing and for the times you do travel are so nice to have and can change your mood instantly.

What this weekend taught me is that I didn’t have to be in control of everything. I wasn’t going to get my aunt back to health, I was there to say goodbye and be helpful and supportive to my family. I wasn’t going to have control of my ability to watch my fantasy players, I just had to trust they’d perform well. As my weekends going forward will certainly fill up with family activities like apple picking, soccer games, and playdates, it certainly is nice to know that I can pick my spots and not obsess over every play, because I don’t truly control the outcome.

5) I also can’t control what other teams in my league do on the trade market….

Both my teams have a legitimate chance if my players stay relatively healthy to win my leagues. However, I can’t control if a non-contending team shops their best players to my main competition for development players and draft picks. This has already happened in my league, but I’m in the position that I’m playing well without Foster and if it ain’t broke, there is no reason to fix it right now. People in other leagues hopefully realize that too. As commish, a trade would have to be an overt demonstration of collusion for me or my co-commish to consider vetoing it.

Additionally, a word of advice. My main league takes advantage of RSO’s playoff bracket flexibility. Our top four records make the playoffs and are the top four seeds. The final two playoff spots are determined by total points scored. This basically gives everyone a shot at being in the playoff picture for an extended period of time in the season. It sometimes works to our detriment in that teams are hesitant to trade in season until the deadline because they think they are still alive for a playoff spot. I’d highly recommend an approach like this for the fun of your league and to keep teams incentivized to continue to play until the final snap.

6) It’s Time To Sell, Sell, Sell These Guys….

While I like the Broncos faith in C.J. Anderson’s ability to bounce back, the injuries, a porous offensive line, and lack of performance have me channeling my inner-Duke brothers from Trading Places. “Turn those machines back on and sell, sell, sell,” says Randolph Duke. You’ll need something in return for Anderson, so you may need to package some draft capital if Anderson’s salary and years are high. If you can’t get something of value without giving up the farm, you’ll just have to hold Anderson and hope he turns it around, but the signs point against that.

The Seattle Seahawks have a problem on offense. For starters, their line stinks. For that reason, and while the timing isn’t ideal, I wouldn’t be too excited about Marshawn Lynch’s rest of season prospects. I’ve watched enough Seahawks games in Russell Wilson’s tenure with them being the local market team. The problem the Seahawks have is not a lack of offensive weapons-it’s Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell’s play-calling.

Basically the Seahawks wait the entire first half of games to feel out the opponent’s defense. This means Wilson stays in the pocket, they throw bubble screens (having flashbacks of the Percy Harvin era) and wait for Lynch or the defense to make a play. Then after half they start hitting their stride. The problem is that doesn’t offer you as a fantasy owner a ton of upside. Wilson is my starting quarterback in my main league and fits my league (high completion percentage, good runner, doesn’t turn the ball over in a league that interceptions and fumbles are worth negative 5 points), but I can unequivocally say that on a one-year deal I’d rather have Carson Palmer at this point).

In terms of a sell-high guy, Keenan Allen fits the bill. He has tons of targets and has performed in two of three games. However, Antonio Gates returns soon, and quarterback Philip Rivers is notorious for starting quickly and then coming back down to earth. And Stevie Johnson isn’t going away anytime soon.

I’m leery on a bunch of highly-rated running backs from the offseason, but I think guys like Jeremy Hill turn it around. He’s in too good of an offense and is likely on a nice rookie deal for you. Be patient with him. The same can’t be said for Justin Forsett. He’s a classic example of someone with a small sample size and one good season causing offseason hysteria. If the Ravens continue to lose games, look for the team to give more run to their young running backs.

7) These Guys Are For Real….

I love Marcus Mariota’s poise in the pocket and his subtle fakes and shifts to get out of danger. He has some Aaron Rodgers like qualities. I’d be targeting him in the trade market on his rookie deal as your quarterback of the future and I like the Mariota-Kendall Wright connection for years to come. Get Wright now as someone who will outperform his contract based on his sure hands (he had zero drops in 2014) and Tennessee’s defense allowing lots of points meaning the team will be throwing often.

In terms of a right-now guy, Tyrod Taylor is the real deal. His ability to run and use his weapons makes him dangerous. He’s really the only piece of the Buffalo offense I have faith in right now. Plus anytime he blows up, you can say, “When the east is in the house, Ty, Ty-Rod (Danger)”. Bonus points to anyone who knows what I’m talking about here. At this point, you’d have to consider starting Taylor over quarterbacks like Ryan Tannehill, Drew Brees, and Wilson.

Not that you are doubting him, but Julian Edelman is really good at football. He’s super-consistent, gets tons of targets and plays in one of the best offenses in football. If you can get him on your team in a trade, make it happen and don’t trade him if you have him.

I love how Arizona is using Larry Fitzgerald as a slot receiver. His physical tools enable him to win balls against smaller slot corners and his 2015 fantasy value is more than intact. His 2016 is fully guaranteed in real life, so feel free to pursue him via trade if you like him as a medium term play. His numbers will have to come down, but based on his pace, 12 touchdowns this year is within reason if Palmer stays healthy and he’s being heavily targeted.

Well, that caps a very bittersweet week for me. I sincerely appreciate whatever eyeballs got all the way to the bottom of this and for Matt and Stephen giving me freedom in what I write. Feel free to reach out to me via Twitter @mattgoody2.

More Analysis by Matt Goodwin

numberFire/Reality Sports Online Auction Results and Breakdown: How Writers Approached the Auction

Updated: August 12th 2014

This past Sunday, the Reality Sports Online and numberFire writer’s league resumed after an exciting 3 round rookie draft with their league auction.  The results are posted just in time for you to analyze heading into your own free agency auctions, as well as some thoughts on the strategy that each writer used in what was several folks first time doing a multi-year player auction in a dynamic format like Reality Sports Online.  With that there comes a lot of excitement, a little regret, and a whole lot of strategy.  Check out what everyone had to say and feel free to reach out to the writers on Twitter with any questions or thoughts.

The Auction Board:


Team: Leo Howell (Leo Howell, numberFire) @LeoHowell8

2014 Salary:  $131,098,296

2014 Cap Room: $1,901,704

Multi-Year Auction Contracts:  Jamaal Charles (2 years, $65.0 million), DeMarco Murray (2 years, $34.0 million), Matthew Stafford (2 years, $10.0 million), Antonio Brown, (3 years, $50.0 million), Shane Vereen (3 years, $30.0 million), Kyle Rudolph (4 years, $8.0 million)

I entered the draft without a ton of plans in mind, just looking for good deals and to build up talent for the long-term. That’s why I attacked early with long-term deals, locking up Jamaal Charles, DeMarco Murray, Antonio Brown, Matthew Stafford and Kyle Rudolph on multi-year deals within the first few “rounds” of bidding. Past that, I wanted to get reliable one-year players who I felt were likely to meet their value. I overspent on Jay Cutler as a backup QB (1 year, $5.0 million), and didn’t leave myself with any non-guaranteed minimum contracts (of the $500k variety), but I’m happy with my depth all around and think my team is set up well for this year and the future. If I had it all to do over again, I would have spent a bit more heavily on my starters, particularly at receiver, but otherwise, I am happy with how my team looks.

Team: Great Odin’s Raven (Dan Pizzuta, numberFire) @DanPizzuta

2014 Salary:  $122,897,443

2014 Cap Room: $10,102,557

Multi-Year Auction Contracts:  Matt Forte (2 years, $50.5 million), Vincent Jackson (2 years, $21.0 million), Victor Cruz (2 years, $17.0 million), Cam Newton, (3 years, $15.5 million), Josh Gordon (3 years, $9.0 million), Rob Gronkowski (4 years, $56.0 million)

The only player I really wanted to target heading into the auction was Matt Forte. After getting Ka’Deem Carey in the third round of the rookie draft, I wanted to get the starter to the handcuff I already had, especially since I like the potential production in Chicago. Other than that, I wanted to put together a pretty balanced roster and I might have gotten it a little too balanced. I have a lot of good players, but I’m not sure if I have the upside of some of the other rosters. Coming out of the auction with a good team, but about $10.1 million left in cap space, I could have been a little more aggressive. I should have some decent trade assets, though, for improvements during the season.

I made two moves that got the attention of the other owners in the auction room, my three-year deal for Josh Gordon and four-year deal for Rob Gronkowski. There were serious one-year deals being offered for Gordon, which made no sense to me. The value for him is on the back end if he gets suspended for this entire season. I have the ability to control a potential superstar two years after this one at a replacement level price by eating about $2 million in cap space this season. For Gronkowski, I was one of the serious bidders for Jimmy Graham, but I was outbid. Gronkowski is the next best option at tight end, well above the rest at the position. Four years might be a little long, but he’s only going to cost $12 million this year, about $5 million less than Graham. That’s definitely a risk worth the reward.

Overall the auction experience was great. It was interesting to see how the market played out in this format — quarterbacks and running backs switched values from real life — and it’s definitely a more rewarding experience throughout than sitting through a snake draft.

Team: La Morsa Roja (Tyler Buecher, numberFire) @gingersauce4u

2014 Salary:  $128,449,424

2014 Cap Room: $4,550,576

Multi-Year Auction Contracts:  Randall Cobb (2 years, $35.5 million), Rueben Randle (2 years, $6.0 million), Tony Romo (2 years, $5.5 million), Lesean McCoy, (3 years, $89.0 million), Le’Veon Bell (3 years, $50.5 million), Julio Jones (4 years, $90.0 million)

To begin, I thought Reality Sports Online’s entire set up was excellent. The ability to bid on players with different lengths of contracts simultaneously was something really fun to try out and I think the experience was a success. Participating in a rookie draft beforehand then entering an auction for the remaining players was a new experience for me, but I liked the strategy aspect of it. Given the limit of having one 4-year deal and two 3-year deals, I had already made up my mind going into the draft which positions I was targeting for these deals.

I was aiming for a young wide receiver with the 4-year deal that had the potential of maintaining a top-five ranking each of those four years and thought Julio Jones was the perfect candidate. A few of the other top wide receiver options had already been drafted at about $20 million per season, so I wanted to start bidding with a 4-year $80 million deal. Unfortunately in my excitement at seeing him nominated, I typed $90 million while I watched a very long 15-second timer tick down. I undoubtedly overpaid for Julio, but that doesn’t mean I’m unhappy landing him. The two 3-year deals I was a little more open with, but was looking to target running backs or wide receivers who’d either hit their prime or were on the verge of doing so. LeSean McCoy will be the anchor for my run game the next few years picking him up for 3 years at $89 million. Le’Veon Bell is a back I’ve been targeting regularly in mocks and was happy to land him in this draft with a 3-year, $50.5 million deal.

There are many schemes and strategies for auction drafts, but I prefer spending big on a couple of elite players to lead my team, then adding moderate deals for depth, and finally filling out the rest of my roster cheaply. I bid a little aggressively with my elite players but I have high hopes for my team for this season and down the road.

Team:  The Johnny Cleveland Show (Ari Ross, numberFire) @aross50

2014 Salary:  $127,271,572

2014 Cap Room: $5,728,428

Multi-Year Auction Contracts:  Drew Brees (2 years, $35.5 million), Larry Fitzgerald (2 years, $13.0 million), Julian Edelman (2 years, $9.0 million), Giovani Bernard, (3 years, $48.0 million), Martellus Bennett (3 years, $10.5 million), Matt Prater (4 years, $2.5 million)

I had planned to target the top running backs and wide receivers and wait on a QB, however once I got Drew Brees for a reasonable price, I decided to play it more conservative and target players who gave me more value than the top tier running backs. I got Larry Fitzgerald, Giovani Bernard and Julian Edelman for great value. I loaded up on WR and RB depth and was even able to steal Philip Rivers(1 year, $3.0 million) for nothing near the end of the draft. The contract lengths were an interested twist for me, I was left with my 4-year contract near the end and ended up just using it on a kicker, whereas I probably should have used it on a top QB, RB or WR. I had done auction drafts before but with the contract lengths it made it quite interesting.

Team: University of Phoenix Online (Brandon Gdula, numberFire) @gdula13

2014 Salary:  $118,640,552

2014 Cap Room: $14,359,448

Multi-Year Auction Contracts:  Arian Foster (2 years, $31.0 million), Zac Stacy (2 years, $29.0 million), Dennis Pitta (2 years, $5.0 million), Alfred Morris, (3 years, $44.0 million), Pierre Garcon (3 years, $26.0 million), Nick Foles (4 years, $20.0 million)

I’ve been playing fantasy football for nearly 10 years, and I’ve settled into a bit of a comfort zone drafting in typical snake draft formats. The RSO format, though, took me out of my comfort zone in a good way. I had to think both long-term and short-term on the guys in which I wanted to invest actual percentages of my salary cap.

I knew I wanted a 4-year deal on a quarterback with upside. When Nick Foles went up for auction, I immediately jumped the bid for a 4-year, $20M contract. I didn’t really have a gauge on the QB market, but I didn’t overspend much.

For the core of my team, I knew I wanted to go heavy on running backs because of the two flex options (RB/WR/TE). If I could start four top-tier backs, I feel like I’d have a huge advantage. I may have been overzealous in giving Arian Foster a two-year deal, but I didn’t know how else players would approach the position. I think I valued backs more than just about anyone. Zac Stacy for 2 years, $29M makes me happy as does Alfred Morris for 3 years, $44M. It seems a bit backwards to lay down multi-year deals for running backs, but I’d love to have some elite backs for a reduced cost going forward.

Allowing me to do that means that I’d have to pick up some one-year deals for receivers, which I tried to do later in the draft. I got Eric Decker and Michael Crabtree for a combined $23.5M, which isn’t cheap but won’t kill me as I saved just about everywhere and had money to spend late in the draft. I still wanted to lock up a decent receiver for a few years, so I went for Pierre Garcon (3 years, $26M). Per year, I’m comfortable with that salary, and I intend only to play two receivers per week during most weeks. This approach allowed me to take short-term risks on Justin Hunter, Marvin Jones, and Jarrett Boykin, who probably won’t see my starting line-up unless things get dire.

Only two teams have more cap space than I do this year and only two have less guaranteed money in 2015. This allows me to take on salary this year if other teams need to move some cash, and if things blow up this year, I should be able to rebuild in 2015. I think this is where my NBA familiarity can help me out, too, as having cap space lets me be a catalyst in transactions.

Team:  Cleveland’s Award Tour (Matt Goodwin, Reality Sports Online & numberFire) @mattgoody2

2014 Salary:  $117,626,864

2014 Cap Room: $15,373,136

Multi-Year Auction Contracts:  Andre Ellington (2 years, $31.0 million), Michael Floyd (2 years, $22.5 million), Tom Brady (2 years, $6.0 million), Demaryius Thomas, (3 years, $67.0 million), Cordarrelle Patterson (3 years, $14.0 million), Jimmy Graham (4 years, $78.0 million)

I wasn’t necessarily targeting a quarterback early, but got swept up in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes.  I’ve never owned him in all my years of playing fantasy, so I figured why not?  Grabbed him for 1 year, $22.0 million.  A little later I got caught “price enforcing” on Tom Brady, so I have him for an extra year at 2 years, $6.0 million.  I can probably trade him for value during the season if there is an injury or a team doesn’t like their QB situation and Brady’s contract is cheap if I hold him.

Going into the auction as one of the only ones to do a Reality Sports Online league before (last year), I typically like to offer my multi-year deals and big budgets to breakout wide receivers, always wanting to grab a Top 5 wide receiver.  Demaryius Thomas was my #1 target and I grabbed him in a competitive bidding process for 3 years, $67.0 million.  I’m expecting him to be the best wide receiver for 2014 and think Denver will lock him up long-term sometime this season.  Cordarrelle Patterson was not someone I was necessarily targeting, but the value for someone who has had 10 plays installed just for him this offseason was to good to pass up and I knew some of my numberFire colleagues were down on him.  3 years, $14.0 million even if it takes him another year to develop is a deal that is well under market and I think Patterson will be very useful as a flex this year.  I also grabbed Michael Floyd who I think has potential to be a Top 10 wide receiver this year and got Desean Jackson who fills the Z role that gets tons of usage in Jay Gruden’s system for 1 year, $7.0 million.

Another centerpiece I was looking at and was very competitive in trying to get was Jimmy Graham.  He’s the perfect 4 year player, with a huge relative advantage at his position in a ten team league.  I got him in a bidding war with Dan Pizzuta for 4 years, $78.0 million and love that the Saints locked him up long-term this offseason so I don’t have to worry about him being in a different system.

I typically don’t like to throw big contracts or moreso more than 2 years at running backs because their are so many committees of late and running backs age quickly or get hurt. I gauged the market early and saw big money being thrown at running backs, so I figured I could get value late.  It was important for me to get one high upside starter and I went with the electric Andre Ellington for 2 years, $31.0m.  With two top rookie running backs backing up 30+ year old running backs in Devonta Freeman and Carlos Hyde, I’m expecting one of them to contribute this year and if not certainly to be starters in 2015.  I  do have tons of 1 year running backs very cheap, including DeAngelo Williams, Lance Dunbar, and Darren McFadden.  I also took fliers on James White and Charles Sims.  Additionally, I have lots of cap space relative to the league, so I can certainly absorb salary in a trade if I want to improve my running back situation.

Team: SamHerbie (Sam Light, Reality Sports Online) @SamHerbie

2014 Salary:  $124,033,009

2014 Cap Room: $8,966,991

Multi-Year Auction Contracts:  Adrian Peterson (2 years, $57.0 million), Aaron Rodgers (2 years, $41.0 million), Matt Ryan (2 years, $11.0 million), Calvin Johnson, (3 years, $62.0 million), Robert Woods (3 years, $11.5 million), Jordan Cameron (4 years, $21.0 million)

Being a Reality Sports Online veteran, I attacked early to grab the players I wanted, basically in the NFC North edition. Adrian Peterson was the first player thrown out in the auction and I went a few rounds of bidding and snagged him to be my bell-cow. I quickly then grabbed my franchise quarterback in Aaron Rodgers and the top wideout in the game in Calvin Johnson.  After that I let the market form for some of my other players, including C.J. Spiller (1 year, $14.0 million) and a potential cheap sleeper in Hakeem Nicks (1 year, $1.5 million).

I have money to spend on in season free agents or to make trades and feel good where my team is heading into my Week 1 battle with Matt Goodwin and his Cleveland’s Award Tour squad!

Team: King Back (Kenny Cook, numberFire) @K_Cook6

2014 Salary:  $$126,803,988

2014 Cap Room: $6,196,012

Multi-Year Auction Contracts:  Doug Martin (2 years, $37.0 million), Percy Harvin (2 years, $14.0 million), Terrance Williams (2 years, $5.0 million), A.J. Green, (3 years, $75.5 million), Eddie Lacy (3 years, $68.0 million), Andrew Luck (4 years, $33.0 million)

Coming into this draft, I was unsure how I’d like the format. After having drafted however, I thoroughly enjoyed it! My strategy was similar to any other auction format going in, which was a decent enough strategy. I wanted to find values where possible, but most important to me in this format was getting players who’d perform. One flaw I see in auction draft strategy from other owners is their reluctance to ‘spend their budget too early.’ The longer you wait in actions will create overspending, oddly enough. My logic is that you’ll say, “damn, I need to get a running back!”  This results in spending the same money for a second-tier RB as you would for a mid first-tier guy when all is said and done. Overall, I liked my team (who doesn’t, right?) But, I do wish I would’ve passed on Andrew Luck’s $7 million annual salary! But then again, my theory is to ‘get them while I can,’ and this pick falls within that. So, I didn’t do anything I didn’t intend on doing anyway.

Team: B-Ron’s Ballas (Brian Luzier, numberFire) @TheFFBoss

2014 Salary:  $126,959,137

2014 Cap Room: $6,040,863

Multi-Year Auction Contracts:  Brandon Marshall (2 years, $30.0 million), Julius Thomas (2 years, $15.0 million), Pierre Thomas (2 years, $6.5 million), Dez Bryant, (3 years, $61.0 million), Jordy Nelson (3 years, $55.0 million), Keenan Allen (4 years, $35.0 million)

Similar to dynasty, I wanted to build my team around quality WRs. I wanted to invest long term in receivers I loved for decent salaries. I think I succeeded in this regard as Keenan Allen is arguably my WR5 and he costs me peanuts. I would have liked to be stronger at QB as I don’t have much faith in Colin Kaepernick (1 year, $3.0 million), but in a 10 team league I don’t have any problems with where I stand at the position. At TE I am deep, but not exactly where I’d like to be. I don’t expect much from Eric Ebron or Jace Amaro this yr, so an injury or a rough bye week could be killer. Luckily you can stream TEs! Additionally I still have 6 mil to drop on FAs or absorb bloated contracts from other owners. I’m very happy with my team.

Team: Loco Roco (Ryan O’Connor, numberFire) @IrishChaos

2014 Salary:  $90,749,452

2014 Cap Room: $42,250,548

Multi-Year Auction Contracts:  Marshawn Lynch (2 years, $30.0 million), Knowshon Moreno (2 years, $6.5 million), Alshon Jeffery (3 years, $62.0 million), Robert Griffin III, (3 years, $14.5 million)

Unfortunately was unable to attend the auction and Stephen Wendell from Reality Sports Online (yes the person looking at the computer screen on the main page-similar to George Steinbrenner in Seinfeld) filled in while aboard a plane with spotty internet connection.  Get the calzones as Costanza is in the building!  Ryan has been active in tweaking the results of the auction to his liking.  In a 10 team league and with $42.3m cap space, Ryan should have the flexibility to tap into talent without a problem and can be more aggressive than fellow owners.

More Analysis by Matt Goodwin