Surprising NFL Transactions in 2023/24

Updated: August 10th 2022

RealitySports Online auctions are one of the easiest ways to inject immediate starter talent into your lineup without having to give up significant draft capital. Locking in great fantasy players to multi-year deals is the way to be a competitive team year over year. However, what might be a great deal in year one sometimes can become an anchor by years three and four if the value no longer matches the production. Whether that is due to a player’s age or a change in the offense they play in.

Knowing that the NFL (Not For Long) is constantly changing its poster players, we can look into the contracts of key players at each position to help better prepare for where the landscape is shifting over the next 12-24 months. Each of the cap relief and dead cap figures below are provided by OverTheCap. “Cap relief” is the value above or below zero (0) dollars that will be given to a team if the player is cut in a given year. A “relief” of $5 million on a $10 million dead cap means that the team is receiving $15 million in savings but $10 million is unrecoverable for cutting said player.

Quarterbacks

Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders

2023 Cap Relief: $29.3M , Dead Cap: $5.6M

The Raiders reunited Derek Carr  with his college receiver by trading for Davante Adams and then gave Adams a big new contract. Hunter Renfrew also got a new contract to continue to strengthen the offense. However, with new Head Coach Josh McDaniels we do not know what his commitment to Derek Carr past the current season really is. We have seen the AFC West become an arms race at quarterback with Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and now the Broncos bringing in Russell Wilson. The Raiders may look at their situation and wonder if the fourth best quarterback is enough to win a division. We have seen big trades of franchise quarterbacks recently and the contract situation in its current state gives the Raiders the opportunity to explore other options if they want.

Jared Goff, Detroit Lions

2023 Cap Relief: $20.7M , Dead Cap: $10M

When the Lions absorbed Jared Goff’s contract from the Rams the sands began to fall on when he eventually would be replaced/cut by the team with most of the guarantees already paid forwarded by the Rams. In 2023 the Lions could save over $20 million by moving on from Goff and going with a first-round rookie selection in what should be a bounce back year for talent at the quarterback position. If that happens, the odds of Goff receiving another guaranteed starting job is slim. Not that he couldn’t compete and win another job, it would just be more likely that he is a backup somewhere else. Most superflex leagues he likely is not receiving a large, multi-year deal currently but just be aware that unless he is really cheap long-term, you should approach Goff as more of a one-year rental.

Carson Wentz, Washington Commanders

2023 Cap Relief: $26.2M , Dead Cap: $0

Goff and Carson Wentz are forever tied to each other as the first and second pick in 2016 and they both have had similar career arcs thus far. So of course if Goff is a concerning cut candidate in 2023, Wentz is also going to be a concern for investing into the long term. Wentz has zero (0) dead money going forward so while the community may not have liked the Commanders trading draft selections for him there is no long term commitment to him and they could easily go back to the position for a rookie or different veteran option next season. After moving to three teams in three years I could not see him receiving a starting role for a fourth different team in four years. Wentz may be a serviceable QB2 in superflex leagues this year, but he is a one-year rental player from this point on in his career.

Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

2023 Cap Relief: $17.8M , Dead Cap: $18.8M

Most were shocked when Ryan Tannehill received a $118 million deal back in 2020 after being a bust in Miami and rebounding only slightly in Tennessee, but he has been an average to above average starter for most of his current deal. However, last year most would consider a disappointment and another mediocre year in 2022 could have the Titans front office looking for options going into next year. Tannehill’s dead money is much higher than either Goff or Wentz but if the Titans really want to get out, a post-June 1st designation drastically changes the layout of the money with $27 million in relief and only $9.6 million in dead money. Tannehill is another superflex quarterback that unless you are contending this season and need his services you should be looking to flip to a contender in need for whatever price can be found.

Running Backs

Ezekiel Elliot, Dallas Cowboys

2023 Cap Relief: $4.9M , Dead Cap: $11.9M

Ezekiel Elliot is likely the first player that came to mind when the topic of big cut candidates in 2023 is discussed. While not as great of a dead cap to relief scenario as many other players in this article, the Cowboys are already $5.4 million over the projected cap and will be looking ahead to find money for both CeeDee Lamb and Trevon Diggs re-signs. The owner loves Zeke which is likely the only thing that would explain why he is with the Cowboys next season. It is unlikely that another team would use him like he has been featured in Dallas so avoid paying his current contract values in 2023 and beyond.

Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

2023 Cap Relief: $12.5M , Dead Cap: $3M

This would be one of the bigger shocks to the NFL if the Titans were to release Derrick Henry next season. Looking deeper though, Henry would be going into the final year of his contract at 29 years old with not a lot of dead cap and a whole lot of savings. He is also coming off an injury last year that cost him half a season so how he performs in 2022 will likely have an influence on what the front office wants to do with the roster moving forward. Since Tannehill was listed earlier, the team could have an opportunity to hit the reset button in 2023 with the offense if 2022 is not going the way they planned.

Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

2024 Cap Relief: $12.2M , Dead Cap: $4M

The Browns are hard to project what they are going to do for their roster over the next two (2) years since we don’t even know when their new quarterback will be available to play. Nick Chubb is likely safe for 2023, unless the Browns are desperate for cap space but we should not be signing up for much past next season. The Browns need to start saving money in other areas of the team to afford Deshaun Watson’s massive $230 million contract and like Derrick Henry next year, Chubb’s final year in 2024 comes with very little dead cap compared to salary relief. If he was not re-signed or tagged going into this off-season Chubb may be one of the bigger ticket items in your auctions. Just be mindful of giving anything more than two (2) years under the current conditions.

Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

2024 Cap Relief: $10.4M , Dead Cap: $2.8M

I put Chubb and Joe Mixon in the same category of safer for 2023 but watch out for 2024 based on the situation around them. The Bengals have already shown little interest in offering a new contract to Jessie Bates who was franchised for 2022. The expectation of having to pay massive contracts for both Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase is likely to have the front office looking ahead to where they can cut corners. Especially under an owner that is notorious for not paying superstars to begin with, the budget is not likely there for a “would be” 28 year old Mixon. If there was a solid backup plan behind Mixon there would even be a chance that the team would move on next year but for now the Bengals are trying to get back to the Super Bowl.

 

Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers

2023 Cap Relief: $2.8M , Dead Cap: $4.3M

Austin Ekeler’s situation culminates all the potential reasons the previously mentioned running backs could be released. He also does not have the draft capital that the other running backs had coming into the league, though at this far in his career that likely plays less of a factor. The Chargers just re-signed Mike Williams and will be expected to set the quarterback market when Justin Herbert’s new contract is inked. That, plus the Chargers selected Isaiah Spiller this past draft put Ekeler in the crosshairs of a potential cut candidate in the near future. A contending team may just ride his value out but most teams should either be trading or avoiding Ekeler on any long term contract.

Wide Receivers

Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2023 Cap Relief: $14.5M , Dead Cap: $9.2M (Post-June 1st)

This is the biggest “What If” for this exercise as it would seem crazy that the Buccaneers would move on from their 7 time 1,000 yard receiver. However, if Tom Brady does in fact leave after this season, whether through retirement or free agency, the Bucs once again return to their usual quarterback purgatory with the second worst cap situation at $55 million over the projected cap! Mike Evans’ contract is also long overdue to catch up with the rest of the wide receiver market as he is set to make $13 million when contemporaries are earning nearly double. All this to say that if the Buccaneers see themselves as a teardown in 2023 they may see Evans as a luxury they can no longer afford and could ship him to another team while his value is still high.

Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers

2023 Cap Relief: $14.8M , Dead Cap: $6.9M

Where Ekeler plays at a position that can often be supplemented with replacement level talent leading to his potential cut in the near future, Keenan Allen’s speculation is purely based on age and dollars. As previously mentioned the Chargers just signed Mike Williams to a new deal and Herbert’s will be coming up. That $14 million in 2023 or $23 million in 2024 could go a long way to making more room. At 30 years old it is unlikely the Chargers would give Allen another big extension also. Allen would likely land with another team who is looking for veteran talent but what are the odds that he lands in as ideal of a situation as San Diego/Los Angeles have been over the last decade.

Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals

2023 Cap Relief: $8.9M , Dead Cap: $1.4M

Whether playing second fiddle to A.J. Green or then to be bumped to third chair after the Bengals drafted Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd has become a forgotten commodity for most fantasy rosters. He is still productive but his value to the Bengals is likely not much past this season. Whether he signs a team friendly extension to remain the third option in Cincinnati or moves on to final test free agency there’s too much risk right now to be signing Boyd to a long term extension.

Other wide receivers that likely were not going to be earning big contracts but nonetheless should be avoided as more than just rental players based on their current contract situations include:

Robert Woods, Tennessee Titans

Corey Davis, New York Jets

Robby Anderson, Carolina Panthers

 

Tight Ends

Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

2023 Cap Relief: $9.5M , Dead Cap: $4.2M

One year after removing Tyreek Hill from the Chiefs offense we could be seeing the end of the Travis Kelce-era in KC as well. He and the Chiefs just agreed to push even more money into this season, lessening his committed money from 2023 onward. At 33 years old, Kelce is by no means done as a top tier talent but for how many more seasons can he be a candidate to the TE1 crown? If he doesn’t play with Patrick Mahomes how much of a hit does that do to his value? A contending team may pay an absorbent amount of money for his services this year and maybe next but any three (3) or four (4) year contracts runs the risk of holding a very expensive dead cap for an either unproductive or retired Kelce.

Hunter Henry, New England Patriots

2023 Cap Relief: $10.5M , Dead Cap: $5M

Based on last year’s productivity most would say that Jonnu Smith, not Hunter Henry would be a cut candidate if either of the two had to go. Looking at Smith’s contract though, his release would only save $1 million in cap room making it likely that he will be around for at least the 2023 season as well. The Patriots are always looking to get out a year earlier than a year late and if Smith does not fall flat like he did last year the team could look to get a cheaper option behind him rather than paying Henry his $9.5 million. It’s a big “if” but if any team is going to do whatever they feel is right with roster management, it’s the Patriots.

Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders

2023 Cap Relief: $6.8M , Dead Cap: $0M

The Raiders keep suggesting that Darren Waller is one the next guys to get paid. The problem is that they just traded for Davante Adams and gave both him and Hunter Renfrew big re-signs and like the Derek Carr suggestion earlier, there may just not be enough on the plate to go around. Again, new Head Coach Josh McDaniels may see Waller as a Gronk-like substitute in his offense but he may also look to branch out to a more receiver balanced offense. With no dead money left in either of his remaining two years under contract, Waller is a cut/trade candidate at any point if the value is there.

Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys

2023 Cap Relief: $0M , Dead Cap: $10.9M

Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins

2023 Cap Relief: $0M , Dead Cap: $10.9M

I am lumping Dalton Schultz and Mike Gesicki together as they are both playing on the franchise tag in 2022. We have no idea if either will come to any agreement with their current team for a long term contract after the season, remember that franchise tag players after early July cannot negotiate a new contract and will have to wait till the next off-season to try again. We also know that moving into a new system does not always result in continued fantasy success for players. Especially for Schultz who is in one of the better tight end spots for fantasy right now the odds are even lower that he would hold his production if signing elsewhere. Both are a huge risk to sign for long-term commitments right now since we do not have much to go on past 2022.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

Slow Auctions

Updated: May 7th 2022

Slow Auctions are now available on the site! I’ll walk through the various aspects of the slow auctions and my own thoughts on they will play out.

How it Works

Each team in your league gets their own auction to run.  Each of these auctions individually run just like the auctions of old with the exception that you’re the only one nominating players for your auction.  The bid countdown resets with each bid, exactly like the quick auctions, so there’s no blind bidding and there’s no value to waiting till the last second to bid.  The commish tools of pausing and resuming the auction functions across all auctions, not individually.  You pause/resume them all at once.

Auction Settings

The auction nomination and bid timers can now go up to a max of 86400 seconds (1 day).  The bid timer settings are what matter for the purposes of making it a slow auction, anything at an hour (3600) or more for that setting will be considered a slow auction.  You can update these timers if you pause your auction, but you can’t swap from a fast auction to a slow auction or vice versa without resetting the whole auction.  Honestly this is something we’ll probably add in the future (at least going from a fast auction to a slow one).  It was something that didn’t even cross my mind until earlier this week and just didn’t have time to implement it before auction season.

I personally wouldn’t go over 12 hours for a bid timer.  Anything more than that and your auctions have the potential to last a very, very long time.  If you go shorter than 8 hours you can of course pause the auction overnight and resume it in the morning.  You could also pause the auction each night, set a longer bid timer, and then resume the auction right away if you wanted it running overnight.  Pausing the auction does reset any currently running countdowns, so it seems like it’d be less work to just pause the auction overnight since it’s likely that nothing definitive would happen overnight, but that’s ultimately up to you and your league.

These style auctions do have the potential to take a long time (worst case scenario it would literally take months) depending on your league settings (roster sizes, open roster spots, bid timer, etc.), but the biggest determining factor will be if you’re messing around with tiny bid increments and/or letting the bid timer wind down before bidding.  Don’t mess around with the low bids early on.  Be sure to use the manual bid to jump it early and they will go much quicker.  There’s also no value in these auctions to waiting till the last moment to bid, so I’d recommend simply bidding when you can.

Auction UI

Honestly don’t think there’s a ton to talk about here, hopefully it’s pretty intuitive.  For these slow auctions you’ll see an additional area towards the top where you can switch between the multiple auction instances that are occurring in your league.  They are color coded to indicate roughly what state each of them are in.  Blue is waiting for something, either the auction to start, a nomination to occur, or signifies that the auction is complete.  Yellow is there’s currently a player up for negotiations and you’re not currently the high bid.  Green is there’s currently a player up for negotiations and you are currently the high bid.  Otherwise everything else should be the same as the auctions you’re used to.

Other Functionality/Thoughts

A few other small things and edge cases I should mention.  You’re max bid and available contract durations are affected by any current high bids your team has out there.  If your league only allows one four year contract, and you bid a four year contract on a player, you can’t then offer another four year contract to a different player.  You’d gain back the ability to place another 4 year contract on a player if you’re outbid.  The same goes for your roster limit.  If you only have one open spot left, and you’re currently the high bid on a player, you can’t offer a contract to any other player until you’re outbid on the first.

Our auctions have never held tight to league positional requirements/limits for bidding on players and it’s no different now.  You’ll just want to be more mindful of your roster composition since there’s more auctions going on at once.

Slow auctions do have email notifications around a few events since the point is to not have to be in the auction room the whole time.  You’ll get an email when it’s your time to nominate a player, when you’re outbid on a player, and when you win a player.

More Analysis by Kyle English

Early 2019 RSO Contracts: QBs

Updated: July 23rd 2019

My annual look at early RSO auction values begins at the quarterback position in 2019.  The series was designed to give the reader help in planning for upcoming auctions by looking at actual RSO auctions already finished.  The data comes from a variety of different types of leagues with varying scoring rules and starting requirements which can drastically alter player values so be cautious in expecting values to match your particular league.  The number of auctions for any particular player may also be limited this early in the RSO season.  The information does provide a useful starting point for examining how RSO owners value players at a certain position relative to one another and the length of contract they are willing to invest.

 

Average RSO Quarterback Contracts

Is Russell Wilson elite in the fantasy realm?

The argument for Wilson as an elite quarterback needs little discussion.  He consistently ranks among the most efficient quarterbacks in the league, limits turnovers, and adds a rushing element to his game which keeps opposing defenses off balance.  RSO GMs made Wilson the 5th highest paid quarterback to match his football talent.

Wilson’s fantasy prospects leave some questions left unanswered though.  The Seahawks transitioned to a more run-heavy approach in 2018 which severely limited Wilson’s volume.  He ranked 20th in passing attempts and 28th in passing yards per game despite his top-10 efficiency.  Wilson also posted his lowest rushing yardage ever thanks to the lowest rushing attempts in his career.   His fantasy season was essentially saved by a ridiculous (and unsustainable) 8.2% touchdown rate which made Wilson the 11th ranked fantasy quarterback in points per game last season.  This is the problem for RSO GMs.  His combination passing/rushing skill-set presents a fantasy ceiling as one of the highest scoring quarterbacks in the NFL.  On the other hand, that ceiling is unattainable if Seattle’s offense remains one of the most run-heavy in the league.

The Baker Mayfield train left the station.

The hopes for Baker field are stratospheric after one of the better rookie seasons ever at quarterback in 2018.  Adding one of the best wide receivers in Beckham Jr. only expands expectations further.  The Browns were already stocked with solid young talent at the skill positions including David Njoku at tight end, wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway, plus running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.   If you want Mayfield at this stage, you probably must pay top-end prices.

Lamar Jackson and Jimmy Garoppolo no longer qualify as value buys.

I listed Jackson and Garoppolo as values earlier this offseason based on broader dynasty community prices where both were going off the board as lower-end QB2s.  RSO GMs are having none of that with the duo coming in at QB9 and QB10 going just ahead of Matt Ryan, who put up two overall QB2 fantasy season in the last three years.  The expectations for Jackson and Garoppolo are beyond just good bets at this stage.  If you want either of them on your RSO squad, you likely invest starting quarterback salaries.

The RSO community shares some concerns about Cam Newton’s health.

Fantasy players in general held many legitimate questions surrounding Cam Newton’s shoulder health.  Newton struggled with throwing shoulder injuries the last two seasons resulting in on-field problems.  We just saw Andrew Luck forced to miss an entire season two years ago with a similar injury.  Predictably, the question marks drove Newton’s price down to the QB13 so far this season which is fairly cheap given his multiple top-10 fantasy performances.  The more interesting part of his contract data is the 2.1 average years suggesting some serious long-term questions either about the shoulder or his accumulation of hits due to his physical running style.  Newton presents a possible bargain with reports that he is on track for 100% status before the season starts.

Which quarterbacks survive beyond 2019?

Winston, Flacco, Carr, Dalton, and Mariota all have NFL contracts which expire after 2019 or contain little to no dead money.  Brees, Rivers, Brady, and Manning could retire at any point now.  Miami is very likely in the quarterback hunt during next year’s draft and Detroit is another possibility if things go poorly again in 2019.  All of this information suggests significant turnover at the quarterback position over the next few years with many quarterbacks retiring, transferring teams, or being relegated to backup quarterback duties.  Oakland, Cincinnati, Tampa Bay, Detroit, and Denver are all projected bottom-10 in wins for 2019 according to many betting platforms which puts them all squarely in the “possibly draft a quarterback” group next year.  Tennessee’s constant middle-of-the –pack finishes suggests a possible free agent landing spot for one of the quarterbacks if Mariota does not improve on his mediocre, injury-riddled performances so far.  The RSO market shares this uncertainty with most of these quarterbacks getting short-term deals.

Going cheap at quarterback remains a viable option.

Options remain plentiful for fantasy teams looking at cheaper quarterbacks to rotate on a weekly basis in single QB leagues or in need of a second starter for 2QB leagues.  The veteran quarterback group of Roethlisberger, Cousins, Rivers, and Brady all finished at QB14 or better in fantasy scoring for 2018.  They provide solid weekly floors at the position for bargain prices.   There are also a number of options with the upside to improve on 2018.  Allen ended the season as one of the highest scoring fantasy players over the last month thanks in large part to his scrambling ability.  Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, and J.J. Nelson furnish Carr a greatly improved wide receiver core with a drastic increase in game speed over what was in Oakland last season.  Stafford lost his two top receivers to injury and trade in 2018 plus reportedly played injured while in a new offense emphasizing the run.  Dalton played in only 11 games last year and gets back one of the best skill position groups in the NFL.


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

Writer’s Superflex Auction Review

Updated: September 3rd 2016

Another NFL season, another RSO startup! We recently completed the 2016 Reality Sports Online Writer’s startup auction.  The league deviated from the norm a bit by using a “superflex” format where up to two quarterbacks may start weekly.  This is a welcome addition to leagues which makes quarterbacks more valuable and not merely an afterthought.

League Settings

Our league used the following settings: 10 teams, 20 man rosters, PPR, 4 point passing touchdowns, and 1 QB / 2 RB / 2 WR / 1 TE / 1 FLEX / 1 FLEX (OPEN) starting requirements.   Rookies were included in the initial startup auction.  Contracts available to each team included (1) 4-year, (3) 3-year, (3) 2-year, and (13) 1-year deals.  The starting positional requirements are fairly common for redraft type leagues with a few changes.  We removed the defense and kickers and added an open flex spot (more commonly called a superflex).  This is what I refer to as an “All-Star” league.  Few teams and shallow starting requirements means many teams will be filled with star caliber talent.

Auction Strategy

Our league is composed primarily of the writers at RSO which meant a lot of highly informed and well prepared individuals. My initial strategy going in to the auction contained some of the following guidelines:

  1. Avoid rookies in the auction. I was guessing there would be a premium placed on rookies and better value with less uncertainty could be found in veterans. Very few players in this rookie class have the ceiling to make a difference in this shallow of a league.
  2. Go cheap at the QB and TE positions. You have limited resources available in an auction draft. I like to use most of mine primarily at the RB and WR positions where the potential relative value is higher.  The quarterback position is very deep.  I am very comfortable with twenty or more starters this season and fine with streaming many others.  The tight end position is even deeper relatively as only ten starters are needed in the league.  This makes an ideal platform for playing the weekly matchups between multiple cheap options at the position.
  3. Bid aggressively on running backs. Last year’s disastrous injury rate might result in owners discounting the position too much. The problem is that the NFL is full of running backs with questions due to age, injuries, talent, contract, and/or situation.  With the supply of young, top-tier “bellcow” backs so limited, I wanted to grab at least one on a multi-year deal if possible.
  4. Use as many big multi-year contracts as possible on players with WR1 and RB1 upside. The potential gain for top tier running backs and wide receivers is generally higher than at the quarterback and tight end position. Lower tier value plays are also not as important in shallow leagues due to the limited starting spots.

Auction Notes

As is the case many times, some pre-auction assumptions held and I was able to follow my initial guidelines while other assumptions failed completely which resulted in significant changes to strategy. My fellow writers apparently felt the same way concerning this year’s freshman class as many rookies typically drafted in the early rounds were left without contracts.  Owners also gave rookies contracts prices far below what I anticipated.  One savvy owner took Corey Coleman with a 3-yr $11M contract, below what his rookie draft contract would go for usually, for example.

Running backs indeed came at a sharp discount in this auction. Many elite backs from previous years such as Jamaal Charles, Demarco Murray and LeVeon Bell saw dramatic decreases in price for a variety of reasons including injuries and suspension.  I missed out on a few backs that were nominated early in the auction whom were not targets of mine.  It was a big mistake on my part that let other teams get quality backs on the cheap.

Final Roster

I ended up with the following players on my roster with the projected starters in bold:

QBs – Phillip Rivers 2-yr $13M, Tyrod Taylor 2-yr $13M, Jay Cutler 1-yr $4.5M, Sam Bradford 1-yr $4.5M

RBs – Lamar Miller 3-yr $56M, Eddie Lacy 1-yr $13.5M, Chris Ivory 1-year $3.5M, Bilal Powell 1-year $2M, James Starks 1-yr $1M , Josh Ferguson 1-yr $1M, Alfred Morris 1-yr $500K

WRs – Mike Evans 4-yr $82M, Alshon Jeffery 3-yr $64M, Brandon Marshall 1-yr $20.5M, Emanuel Sanders 1-yr $4.5M, Josh Doctson 3-yr $3.5M, Mike Wallace 1-yr $1M

TEs – Jordan Reed 2-yr $20.5M, Antonio Gates 1-yr $5M, Clive Walford 1-yr $500K

I am fairly happy with my roster despite my errors in the auction room and ended with about $14M in cap space. My three starting wide receivers are among the best groups in the league.  Each has demonstrated large volume, target share and high touchdown upside, exactly what I am looking for in my wide receivers.  My cheap quarterback strategy worked to perfection with all four of my QBs costing between the 19th and the 23rd most expensive salary at the position.  This netted me a perennial top-12 performer in Rivers, the ninth ranked QB from 2015 (Taylor) in points per game, and a couple of quality streamers with easy schedules.

The fellow owners’ strategies forced me to alter course somewhat from my original strategy. I spent more at tight end than originally planned as I was able to snag Jordan Reed at a far below value contract.   The injury risk is well worth the price to obtain the only tight end who outscored “Gronk” on a per game basis.  I also unexpectedly grabbed a rookie in the auction which the league might look back at as the steal of the auction.  Josh Doctson was one of the few rookies who I believe could be a major fantasy force in the future and it cost me next to nothing to find out.

The real question for my team is the running back group. I accomplished my goal of securing one of my top backs in Lamar Miller who I am all in on as a top-5 back but there are always questions when a player switches teams.  My 2016 season probably hinges on which Eddie Lacy shows up, the top-6 option from ’13 and ’14 or the disaster from last season.  If the “good” Lacy shows up, my skill-position starters project as one of the top groups in the league with a solid core of QBs backing them up.  Lacy also makes for a nice franchise tag candidate for 2017 if he recovers and resigns with Green Bay.

Conclusion

Staying flexible continues as the primary lesson in auctions. Your fellow league mates will deviate from what is expected from time to time and you need to be able to react when they do.  I also highly recommend adding a superflex or additional QB spot as it makes for a much more interesting and challenging league.  Good luck to all of the fellow RSO GMs out there for the upcoming season.  Feel free to give your opinions about my team on Twitter!


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

FA Auction: Lessons Learned

Updated: June 18th 2016

Last time in this space, I took a look at the most frequently cut players from each offensive skill position.  My hope was that an analysis of where we went wrong last year could help steer us in this season’s free agent auction.  After all, nothing could sink a promising franchise faster than dead cap space.

For each position I picked a few players who I think that you should avoid spending big money on in your 2016 free agent auction.  Every player can be valuable with the right contract, this is not to say the below players should not be owned, I am arguing you should avoid splashing the cash on them.  First, let’s start with the obvious caveat: every league is different (size, scoring, roster size, etc.), so your mileage may vary, one league’s trash could be another’s treasure.

QUARTERBACKS:

  1. Tyrod Taylor
  2. Brock Osweiler

The biggest take away after looking at last year’s most frequently released QBs was that you should not overpay for a small sample size.  I am not advocating skipping these two altogether, but I think prudence is the key.  Taylor went 8-6 and only threw 6 INTs (3 of which in one game) but he also had five games with less than 15 completions and five games with less than 200 yards passing.  The x-factor for Taylor, of course, is his rushing ability but that is the part that worries me: it will either lead to injury, it could be game planned away by the defense or be removed from his own game plan as preservation (see: Robert Griffin III).  I’m staying away from Taylor this year, I would rather be the guy who missed on him rather than have to eat his salary later.

For Osweiler, the sample size is much smaller and his rate stats were lower than Taylor’s (completion percentage, rating, yards per attempt, etc).  So, why do I think you should avoid Taylor more so than Osweiler?  Osweiler’s value is not so heavily influenced by his rushing ability, or lack thereof.  Osweiler is a “prototypical” quarterback and has 7″ and about 20lb on Taylor.  Still, though, I am concerned what a change of scenery will mean for Brock and can’t help but see him as the next Matt Flynn.  I wouldn’t avoid him at all costs but I would only offer him a one- or at a maximum, a two-year deal.

RUNNING BACKS:

  1. Chris Ivory
  2. Matt Forte
  3. Demarco Murray

The theme with last year’s most frequently cut RBs was that you should avoid the hype of the veteran who was changing teams.  Despite some niggling injuries last year, both Ivory and Forte had decent seasons in 2015.  Ivory broke 1,000 yards for the first time in his career (1,070) and had more receptions (30) than he had the rest of his career combined (23).  Forte missed three games but was on pace for another 1,000 yard rushing season if he played the full campaign; he also pitched in with 44 receptions which was down on a per-game basis from 2014 but is still more than most RBs see in a full season.  Ivory has left the Jets for Jacksonville and Forte has taken his place.  Unless I can get them for just $2 or $3 million, I am probably skipping both Ivory and Forte.

Murray is interesting after what could not have been a more disappointing season in Philly last year.  He joins the Titans and could be at a point where his stock is so low you could actually get him for a song.  The ultimate post-hype sleeper.  He’s burned me once though, so I’m going to sit this year out.  I might let another owner take him, and if the contract is small enough, try to swing a trade once training camp starts and we see how the Titans backfield will work out.  Or maybe that’s the Cowboys fan in me talking.

WIDE RECEIVERS:

  1. Jordy Nelson – Jeff Janis
  2. Michael Crabtree – Seth Roberts
  3. Brandin Cooks – Willie Snead

The lesson to be learned last year was to not spend too much money on the up-and-coming WRs who may unseat an established veteran.  So, for this position, I thought it would be useful to look at both the old and the new at the same time because I would actually avoid picking both sides of these pairs.

Jeff Janis had a memorable playoff game for the Packers against the Cardinals (7-145-2) but is it enough to make everybody forget about Jordy Nelson who missed the season due to injury?  Probably not, but I have just enough doubt to avoid Nelson this year.  Nelson is now 31 and has had two serious injuries – an ACL and a hamstring – which forced him to miss significant time.  Dynasty players know Janis well but I don’t think his brief flash is enough to warrant anything more than a minimum contract – many of us have been fooled by his potential already.

Amari Cooper is obviously the top Raiders WR to own, but who should you target second?  After all, Derek Carr does like to air the ball out.  I’m not biting on Crabtree’s 85-922-9 and instead think that Seth Roberts will emerge.  Roberts was an unheralded rookie out of West Alabama whose line was 32-480-5.  Like Janis, his sample size is too small to spend on, but his presence means I will not sign Crabtree this offseason.

Chances are that Willie Snead was snagged off waivers by somebody last year rather than being signed to a long term deal.  I cannot imagine there were too many owners who were holding Snead futures so he’s likely up for free agency.  I’d bite in a PPR league but there weren’t enough TDs there for standard scoring, in my opinion.  Snead’s emergence dented Brandin Cooks’ potential.  Cooks didn’t score his first TD or surpass 100 yards until Week 5; ultimately he had six sub-50 yard games versus just four over-100 yard games.  His strong suit was supposed to be the volume of receptions but even that was lacking – just 84.  The saving grace for Cooks fantasy-wise was his 9 TDs but I would take the under for 2016.  Snead and Cooks are too similar in their playing style and so cannibalize each other’s opportunities to succeed.

TIGHT ENDS:

  1. David Johnson
  2. Alex Smith
  3. Coby Fleener
  4. Ladarius Green

In my last piece, I noted that David Johnson and Alex Smith were two of the most frequently cut tight ends.  Originally I attributed it to their deep, deep sleeper status but after further thought I think it was definitely because they share a name with another position player.  Whether it was an honest mistake or an unscrupulous nomination, I think some owners ended up with the wrong guy and immediately cut bait landing them on the list.  Don’t make that mistake again this year, folks.

Last year, we should have all held off on anointing Josh Hill the Jimmy Graham heir apparent, and I think this year you should similarly avoid Fleener.  Green is likewise joining a new team, the Steelers, and while he has shown flashes, he’s never been the go-to tight end for an extended period of time.  Ultimately, I think both are so close to replacement level that I wouldn’t bother.


Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  Robert works as a recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.

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