Preparing Your RSO Offseason

Updated: May 28th 2017

The end of December is often when many of us reflect on what we accomplished in the current year, and things that we are thankful for heading into the next. In a couple of weeks, there may be some of you that can brag about your accomplishment of being a fantasy football champion. The writing isn’t on the wall just yet but I may be going championship-less for the first time in half a decade. There have been a number of reasons that things didn’t break my way this season. Fantasy football is often cyclical and this year was time to come back to the mean. What I want to do with this article is have an open discussion about what I have learned being in my second year here on RSO and across my four leagues with the hope that it may mirror what is happening with your teams.

Lesson #1: Leave cap leading into the season

Tyrell Williams

Every year players like, Tyrell Williams, come out of nowhere to help out your fantasy team win a championship.

In my home league, I came out as the inaugural champion and held on to a good core of my players. I didn’t have a lot of cap space, but I figured if I just signed one double-digit contract I would be okay. Fast forward to the beginning of October and I still hadn’t been able to add waiver breakouts like Terrelle Pryor, Tyrell Williams, Cole Beasley, Quincy Enunwa because I didn’t have the coin to outbid my league mates. By missing out on having the chance to buy these players I lost the opportunity to build more depth behind my starters. And when losing starters to injuries is not an if, but a when in fantasy, I was left starting some lackluster names in the middle of the season. Needless to say, I didn’t make the playoffs.

Moving into the offseason, the planning phase of my RSO leagues now, I have made it imperative in my salary cap Excel to just remove 5% of my available money. If it’s not there, don’t even look for it. There needs to be a buffer amount that you can bring into the season to be able to buy those players that break out in the first couple weeks. No matter how competent a league you believe you’re in, there are always players that get overlooked and are available on the wire. Inevitably, you will need to grab one or two of these players to use or at worst to keep them out of the hands of your competition. Learn from me, SAVE YOUR MONEY!

Lesson #2: Don’t be afraid of the big cut

Failure is not one of those feelings that people like to showcase to others. When we fail we want to sweep as much of it under the rug as possible. For reasons I don’t understand, some fantasy players think this means that they should quit their league. For those who have seen Russell Peters, the only phrase that comes to mind is, “BE A MAN!” If you can’t stick with a team at its worst, then you don’t deserve to be a part of the team at its best. Having said that you need to be unafraid of cutting a player, especially a big name player. Again referencing my home league, I have Aaron Rodgers on a larger than wanted contract and I am still pushed up against the cap. I will be looking to try and move him for a draft pick but most of my league mates are cheap when it comes to moving draft picks so I am unlikely to get even a 2nd for him.

**Sidebar, this is also why I advocate for leagues to have a Superflex spot to make the most important position in football have some value in fantasy football.**

Aaron Rodgers

In RSO, no player is safe from being a cut candidate with the salary cap a factor. Not even the magnificent Aaron Rodgers.

So what will I do? If I want to have more cap space I need to move him, even if that means just cutting him. Remember that cutting a player still gives you the option to buy them back in the auction and you get a 50% reduction in his dead cap. With a player like Rodgers, I likely would still be trying to buy him back, as long as he doesn’t cost more than the dead money I owe him plus his new deal. These are the decisions that you need to sit down and look at between the end of the season and the start of the 2017 offseason. Remember, cutting players in RSO can be a viable strategy to try and save cap space and try and rebuild your roster. If you know that you won’t hold a player that has multiple years remaining but others might want to add them you should release them before the season ends. They may claim him off waivers and relieve you of all their cap space. Keep in mind though that his dead cap will be loaded into the 2017 cap rather than spread out if you release them before RSO resets in 2017.

Lesson #3: Don’t Buy Anchors at Auctions

What do I mean by that? Multi-year deals in RSO are great because you get to hold onto players for several seasons before having to rebid on them. Especially if you can find a breakout player that you saved money on. This is how you build a championship team for more than one season. Too often though I see 3 and 4-year deals being the biggest contracts on a team and rarely are they attached to a name I would say deserves that money two years down the road. I was a victim of this by giving an $80M/4yr deal to Eddie Lacy in 2015. Luckily, I was able to get out from that contract before the beginning of this season by trading him elsewhere.

Matt Forte

One year deals aren’t bad if you use that money on the right players. Just ask Matt Forte owners whether they enjoyed gambling on him in 2016.

Being bogged down by other big, long contracts though has strained some of what I want to do in other leagues when it comes to trades, auctions and as previously mentioned waiver wire additions. This year will be a big change for me in my auction preparations and I likely won’t have a 3 or 4-year contract used in any of my leagues that will exceed $20M. Instead, I will look to acquire project players, and use the single year contracts to buy the trendy/hype players. I dabbled in it this strategy this year by offering only a 1-year deal to players like Ryan Mathews, Matt Forte, and LeSean McCoy. For the most part, it has worked out. I didn’t get committed to them and I will return their entire cap back into the pool for 2017. You should look to adopt this on some level in your own leagues based on the available talent in free agency. Having a player for only a year isn’t a bad thing and owners should learn to embrace the rental.

Find me on twitter, @naandrews19 to discuss any new strategies that you are looking to implement in 2017. Happy Holidays!

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

Most Frequently Cut Players in 2015

Updated: June 4th 2016

Knowing how to manage your available cap space is integral to championship caliber Reality Sports Online teams.  As Sir Isaac Newton, an early proponent of salary cap management, once said, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”   The cap penalty for cutting an under-contract player is not “equal” to the amount that is owed, but it is significant and owners must be cognizant of the penalty when constructing their team.  Sometimes cutting dead weight may be worth the penalty while other situations may call for holding on longer.  As RSO owners get ready for their free agent auctions, I thought it would be wise to take a look at some of the mistakes that were made last year.  In next week’s piece, we’ll apply those lessons to 2016.


  1. Robert Griffin (average contract value: $983,000)
  2. Colin Kaepernick ($2,034,000)
  3. Joe Flacco ($2,188,000)
  4. Jay Cutler ($1,891,000)
  5. Sam Bradford ($5,574,000)
  6. Peyton Manning (15,375,000)

I originally planned to list just the five most frequently cut players but I figured adding in Peyton Manning was prudent based on his massive contract value.  RGIII, Kaepernick and Manning being on this list should surprise nobody but they are cautionary tails.  In the case of RGIII and Kaepernick, that lesson would be not overpaying for a relatively small sample size; as for Manning you need to be wary of overpaying for an aging star.  I’m not sure there is a big takeaway on Flacco and Cutler.  They are serviceable backups or borderline starters in bigger leagues, it makes sense to me that they would be signed to reasonably priced contracts and would be signed/cut throughout the year.  The glaring mistake in this list is obviously Bradford.  Unfortunately it seems that too many RSO owners were drinking the Chip Kelly Kool-Aid.


  1. Ryan Williams ($597,000)
  2. Fred Jackson ($1,270,000)
  3. Lorenzo Taliaferro ($1,340,000)
  4. Montee Ball ($1,670,000)
  5. Denard Robinson ($1,346,000)

Well that list was surprising.  Clearly a whole lot of owners thought that Ryan Williams was going to be a factor in Dallas; thankfully, most owners used an un-guaranteed $500,000 minimum contract on Williams.  The trend with the other backs was equally as hopeful: Jackson looked like he could be a valuable change of pace to the bruising Marshawn Lynch; Taliaferro, Ball and Robinson were three young backs in the running for their team’s starting role.  I think the lesson here, as it is in the NFL, is that running backs are so interchangeable that the guy who you target in May and June is unlikely to be the bell-cow in November.  Luckily, these guys were all on cheap, and likely short, contracts that would limit the penalty to cutting bait.


  1. Charles Johnson ($5,310,000)
  2. Brian Quick ($2,484,000)
  3. Roddy White ($3,690,000)
  4. Cody Latimer ($2,150,000)
  5. Nick Toon ($945,945)

I was expecting WR to give us the most interesting set of frequently cut players and I think this is borne out in the above list.  Let’s start with Roddy White, the elder statesman of this list.  Roddy has been second fiddle to Julio Jones for a few years now but managed to maintain some PPR value until 2015 when his targets plummeted.  The other four WRs, much like our young RBs above, had some buzz going into the preseason about emerging as a starter but they did not pan out for various reasons, namely injury or the rising stock of a teammate (i.e. Stefon Diggs and Willie Snead).  Given the higher salaries here compared to QB and RB, I was surprised that owners didn’t hold onto see if free agency would change the outlook for the younger WRs.


  1. David Johnson ($583,000)
  2. Dwayne Allen ($2,715,000)
  3. Owen Daniels ($2,289,000)
  4. Josh Hill ($2,106,000)
  5. Alex Smith ($546,000)

No, the Arizona RB and Kansas City QB were not mislabeled in my statistics, David Johnson and Alex Smith were both sleeper tight end prospects heading into 2015 training camps.  Johnson was behind an old Heath Miller and Smith was in the running with Josh Hill for the Saints TE job after Jimmy Graham was shipped to Seattle.  Neither Johnson or Smith are with those teams anymore so I’m not sure why I’m wasting my breath here but, alas.  Hill was disappointing in 2015 but that should not have been surprising given his unsustainable touchdown rate of 2014.  Allen missed four games and was not involved in the games in which he did play.  Daniels ended up with a respectable season (46 receptions, 517 yards, 3 TDs) with a few big games but it was so hit-or-miss that you likely missed.  Let’s face it, most of today’s TEs are inconsistent and near enough to the replacement level that if you don’t have somebody like Gronk, Travis Kelce or Greg Olsen you shouldn’t bother paying more than the minimum.

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.

More Analysis by Bob Cowper