2021 RSO Contracts: RBs

Updated: August 1st 2021

My annual look at RSO auction values moves to running backs.  The series was designed to give the reader help in planning for upcoming auctions by looking at actual RSO auctions already finished this year.  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 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.  Provided fantasy stats and rankings utilize PPR per game scoring.

Average RSO Running Back Contracts

RB1 s

Perhaps the most striking aspect for top running backs is how close the top contracts are together.  The top-6 average contracts are within $3 million per year of each other.  McCaffrey, Barkley, Cook and Kamara should be no surprise near the top.  Once again, rookies come at a premium in early auctions with the caveat of extremely small samples so don’t be surprised to see Harris this far up.  He’s virtually assured of a huge workload for Pittsburgh with volume in the run and passing game.  Taylor was a bulletproof prospect coming out of Wisconsin with a striking athletic and production profile and landed behind one of the better offensive lines in the NFL.  He only got better as 2020 went on adjusting to the Colt’s rushing scheme.  The main question is how much receiving work he gets with Nyheim Hines cemented as the passing down back.

Henry posted the 5th highest rushing season of all time with over 2,000 yards. He was still significantly behind McCaffery, Kamara, and Cook in per game scoring bringing nothing as a route runner where he pitifully averaged less than four yards per target last season.  There’s definitely a cap in non-PPR leagues.  Fortunately that cap is high.  Chubb has similar issues to Henry as maybe the best pure rusher in the league but with limited passing game volume.  He also shares work with likely the league’s best RB2 in Kareem Hunt.   The masses downgraded Elliott’s projections after a disappointing 2020.  He gets his offensive line back healthy and is supposedly in the best shape of his career.   Mixon deals with the same issues as last season, a great all-around running back playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league limiting his efficiency.  Gio Bernard signed with Tampa Bay potentially opening up even more passing volume.

In the RB2 Mix

Second year running backs dominate the top of the RB2 contract tier.  The Rams lost Akers for (at least) the season with a devastating Achilles tear that could derail his career just as it was really beginning.    The dynamic Dobbins averaged a robust 6 yards per carry as a rookie in a Lamar Jackson –centric offense set up for big rushing totals.  Jackson and Edwards extracted over 300 rushes and a rushing QB like Jackson isn’t known for utilizing running backs in the passing game much.  Gibson far exceeded expectations as a rookie for a player with limited running back snaps in college, finishing as the fantasy RB20 as Washington’s main back.  He wasn’t particularly effective in the passing game for a player known as a receiver coming out of school, produced an extremely high touchdown rate bound to regress, and averaged only 43% of snaps his rookie year.  The dynamic rusher needs a big boost in play time to meet expectations this season but has top-five upside if he manages a true workhorse load.  Edwards-Helaire averaged over 20 touches per game and was on pace for over 1.800 total yards prior to the signing of LeVeon Bell (who is now off the team) plus is due for serious positive touchdown regression on the league’s top offense after only five scores last year.  Will Kansas City feature him next season?  Swift runs behind Detroit’s heavily invested offensive line and should be a featured part of the Lions’ passing game.  How much work does Jamaal Williams take and will the offense overall be effective enough to manufacture enough scoring chances?

Jones produced consecutive top-5 fantasy seasons.  The Aaron Rodgers discontentment news seems to have depressed his value significantly.  Ekeler likely won’t ever be a true bellcow but maintains massive receiving upside which can easily put him in RB1 territory.  We also see the two other highly drafted rookies, Etienne and Williams, in this group.  Both should have significant roles from the beginning but not might have dominant usage with quality veterans in the fold on Jacksonville and Denver.   The fantasy community is down on Jacobs and Montgomery after top-15 seasons largely due to perceived increased competition.  Injury concerns probably depress Carson’s price as he’s had two consecutive top-15 seasons without any significant additions in Seattle.

Uncertain Roles and Committee Backs

It won’t surprise me if Davis, Gaskin, or Edmunds maintains consistent lead roles and provide solid RB2 value.  It also wouldn’t shock me if they are mere cogs in running back committees.  How long do Robinson and Gordon keep key roles away from the highly drafted rookies?  Does Mostert, Sermon, or any other San Francisco back take a big enough role in a high volume rushing attack to warrant every-week fantasy starter status?  Moss played well last season and looked to be the back in Buffalo for high-leverage goal-line and passing downs.  Will there be enough work in an offense that transformed from one of the most run-heavy to one of the most pass-heavy, especially with quarterback Josh Allen commanding healthy redzone usage?

Outside the Top-40

The Rams lost Akers which opens the door for Henderson to assume lead duties.  He gets a major value bump but expect a significant veteran presence added to a running back room devoid of much NFL experience.  Williams and Singletary should have consistent weekly touches in limited upside environments, classic “zero RB” candidates (yes the term “zero RB” makes no sense).  Hines averaged over 55 receptions per year in his career on a Colts team without many established receiving threats.  His role does not really change with a Taylor injury so he’s not really a handcuff with upside.  Pollard, Mattison, and Murray are among the top handcuffs with limited fantasy usage outside of injury to the starter.


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

2021 RSO Contracts: QBs

Updated: July 24th 2021

My annual look at early RSO auction values begins at the quarterback position.  The series was designed to give the reader help in planning for upcoming auctions by looking at actual RSO auctions already finished this year.  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 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.  Provided fantasy stats and rankings utilize ESPN per game scoring.

Average RSO Quarterback Contracts

Upper Tier

The remarks about Mahomes will look very similar from last year. He makes up the top-tier of RSO quarterbacks, by a wide margin.  Mahomes put up another excellent season in 2020 as the QB1 among qualifying passers.  Maybe no QB started off their first three seasons in the NFL as well as the Kansas City quarterback.  He retains one of the best supporting casts and coaching teams in the NFL.

There won’t be much argument Mahomes deserves his spot at the top of QB contracts.  The only issue might be the premium paid for him.  There are more than a handful of quarterbacks who scored relatively closely in fantasy last year which come at a significant discount compared to the Kansas City passer.

Rest of the QB1s

Because rookie Lawrence begins the second tier, we should note an item about RSO auctions this early.  The sample size of auctions with rookies is extreme small so don’t put too much stock in the numbers but realize rookies generally go for a premium.   For that reason, I don’t discuss rookie prices much in the article.  Lawrence is one of the top quarterback prospects we have seen in a while with great traits and an intriguing situation with Meyer as the new head coach in Jacksonville.  Murray was the top fantasy QB last season before injuries. He possesses top-end rushing and scrambling abilities combined with upper level passing volume which makes for an incredible fantasy ceiling.  The sky’s the limit if the Cardinal’s QB boosts his passing efficiency and, with it, his touchdown totals.  Herbert produced maybe the best rookie season ever from a number standpoint and has one of the better all-around physical toolboxes.  The main area of concern is that his completion percentage far exceeded his actual down-to-down accuracy and he lived off of incredible deep –ball production, a volatile year to year proposition.  Allen made one of the biggest real-life jump NFL quarterback jumps as a passer we have ever seen, partly due to the addition of Stefon Diggs, while also keeping up his rushing production for fantasy.  Is the jump a blip or sustainable?  Prescott is another quarterback who started the year on fire as the QB1 before injury with a great group of skill-position players at his disposal. His crazy fantasy numbers were partly driven by matches against sub-par passing defenses and incredible volume due to Dallas’ own pathetic defense last season so don’t overweight last season’s performance too much.

Jackson took a step back from his gigantic 2019 season but still only scored 2.5 points per game less than Mahomes.  The Ravens added a lot to the receiving core this offseason though the Ravens’ QB will likely never be in the top-half of passing volume.  He remains the top fantasy QB rusher by a mile and a small increase in efficiency could potentially lead to a significant fantasy boost, with the overall QB1 firmly in his range of outcomes.  Wilson consistently ranks as one of the best combinations of passing and rushing at quarterback.  He’s usually among the most efficient passers in the NFL with significant scrambling ability and never missed a game in his career.    Jackson and Wilson are great values on RSO if you want to pay up for a starting quarterback.

QB2s

The selection of five rookie quarterbacks in the first round of the NFL draft plus a number of off-the-field issues and movement inserted a level of uncertainty rarely seen at the quarterback position as a whole, particularly past the top-echelon.  The Lions traded Stafford to the Rams for multiple 1st round rookie picks and Goff.  The former Lion has always been on the cusp of greatness with one of the top “arm-talents” in the league capable of making dynamic throws from many arm angles and transfers to a highly talented team with one of the most highly regarded offensive minds.  Stafford’s penchant for different throwing mechanics unfortunately often leads to inconsistent accuracy and less efficiency than expected.  He also has an extensive injury history, particularly with back issues recently.  Rodgers’ upside is MVP-level, as seen just last season, and he is consistently one of the best at protecting the football never exceeding 8 interceptions in a decade.  Retirement or holdout represents the downside (a very real possibility most people aren’t weighting highly enough).  Tannehill has been one of the most efficient passers in the NFL since starting for Tennessee in a run-heavy offense and gets Julio Jones added to the mix.  That run-heavy mix limits the volume and upside.  Would new offensive coordinator Todd Downing produce a more pass-heavy offense and how would Tannehill respond?  Hurts put up quality fantasy points in four starts thanks largely to significant rushing yardage and gets a full offseason to work with a new offense designed for him with back-to-back 1st round wide receivers heading the core.  A lot of his rushing is due to scrambling because he is essentially a “one read then scramble” quarterback, despite his extensive college resume.  He ranked only above Dwayne Haskins in PFF grading last year.  Hurts is one of the most volatile fantasy quarterbacks with top-five production or benching very real possibilities.  The arguments for Watson are similar to Rodgers.  He compares favorably on the field to Russell Wilson as one of the best all-around passing/rushing combos.  His legal issues have a wide range of outcomes which puts part or all of this season (and beyond) in question.  Brady has one of the highest projected touchdown, yardage, and volume totals this season with one of the best offensive groups in the league.  Will the ageless wonder ever fail?  Miami surrounded Tagovailoa with a lot of receiving talent this offseason adding speedsters Will Fuller in free agency and Jaylen Waddle in the draft.  Does he make a second year leap after an un-noteworthy season recovering from injury?  What’s left in the tank for Roethlisberger after a disappointing 2020 coming back from major arm surgery?

QB3s and more

While Mayfield performed fairly well from a real-life quarterback perspective, there hasn’t been much to get excited from a fantasy point of view so far never averaging more than 17 PPG in a season.  The Falcons and Ryan might be sliding downward at this stage and replaced superstar Julio Jones with the highest drafted tight end ever in Kyle Pitts.  New head coach Arthur Smith might bring an entirely new offensive philosophy emphasizing the run more.  Wentz self-destructed last year and had one of the worst seasons of any quarterback.  Does a reunion with Frank Reich bring back the old Wentz?  Cousins brings borderline QB1 upside at QB3 prices.  Darnold has arguably been the worst starting quarterback in the NFL during his reign as in New York.  Can he resurrect his very young career in Carolina?  Fitzpatrick has shown the ability to support significant fantasy production from good receivers.  How long do Newton, Garoppolo, and Dalton hold off rookies?  Who wins the quarterback competitions between Lock and Bridgewater (does it even matter) or Winston and Hill (it matters)?


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

RSO Mock Contract Draft

Updated: March 20th 2021

One of the items I wanted to accomplish this offseason was hosting a mock draft utilizing RSO contracts.  The mock presents a unique type of draft where drafters selected RSO contracts for available players, in effect a full league mock dispersal draft.  This unique style offers difficult choices as each selection must not only take into account the total value of a contract but also the opportunity costs of potentially missing out on another player a GM valued.  Below the reader may find all team mock drafts along with brief analysis of some picks.

The Draft Structure

10 teams selected 15 contracts with assumed starting requirements of 1QB/1 Superflex/2RB/2WR/1TE/2 Flex, PPR scoring, and a $180 milion salary cap.  Average contract data came from RSO auctions in 2020 prior to the start of the season with one year taken away from average contracts in order to examine typical contracts which might be available to RSO GMs.  Naturally, this mock excludes some players whose contracts averaged one year in length last year (examples include James Robinson and Drew Brees).  No rookie contracts were included.   No consideration to extensions or franchise tags was given so that only the contracts themselves were assigned value.

The Top 40

A look at the top forty contracts selected seems like a good spot to start with the average salary in millions shown above.  The first four players form the core of many teams and team salary cap restraints typically do not present much of an obstacle through four contracts.  GMs simply select the best values as they see fit.

Maybe the most notable part of this mock was the lack of wide receivers chosen at the top.  The first wide receiver taken was with the 17th contract and just four wide receivers were chosen through the first 30 picks while even four tight ends were selected in the top-31 picks.  The depth of wide receiver can be seen with quality starters taken throughout the draft (and some not drafted at all).

Six quarterbacks and four running backs composed the first round.  The value of quarterbacks in shallow superflex leagues like this mock remains a mystery to many.  This group of GMs paid a premium in terms of pick value locking up the top group of passers.  I typically don’t like the value of top quarterbacks given the relatively small marginal point spread between passers when compared to other positions.   The value of middle tier QBs tends to be excellent and one may usually assemble a nice batch of low-cost options for weekly matchup plays.  The reader will see application of the strategy below in my team mock.

Interesting Contracts not Drafted

The number of teams and salary cap made drafting every potential relevant player unrealistic.  Drew Lock ($9M/2 yrs), Teddy Bridgewater ($8M/1 yr), Melvin Gordon($17M/1 yr),  Chris Carson($13M/1yr), Zach Ertz($13M/1 yr), Evan Engram($11M/1 yr), Julio Jones($26M/2 yrs), Juju Smith-Schuster ($24M/2 yrs), and Amari Cooper($22M/2 yrs) represent a sample of contracts not drafted in this mock.  Julio and Cooper seem especially egregious misses when looking at rosters afterwards.

Teams 1 and 2

Both of our first two GMs took similar, fairly common team-building approaches for superflex leagues, paying up at quarterback in terms of draft capital and foregoing tight ends until later.

Best Values:  The room generally loved Josh Allen’s contract finding it well worth the first pick at his relatively low cost and Diontae Johnson should provide tremendous value in PPR leagues.  Team 2 locked up Justin Jefferson for 2 years at a significant discount from market price after one of the best rookie seasons ever from a wide receiver.

Questionable Picks:  I don’t think any of team 1’s picks are necessarily troublesome.  I question if the GM would consolidate marginal starters, late round tight ends, etc. into an every-week starter like Julio or add running back depth like Gordon if they had the choice again (similarly for team 2 with players like Brown and Samuel).  Hindsight is always easier when you know how cap allocations turn out.

Hurts’ contract is interesting as simultaneously price cheap and draft pick expensive in this exercise.  He’s definitely underpriced compared to what the contract will go for later this year and his range of outcomes includes a QB1 finish.  On the other hand, he was among the worse quarterbacks in the league during his time as a starter and part of his range of outcomes includes not being the starter for all or a portion of the year.  The team gave up the chance at a premium player for a massive question mark.

Teams 3 and 4

I drafted team 3 so will examine it a little more.  The big difference from other squads is that I did not pick a QB until the 5th round where every other team had their first QB by the 3rd and all but one picked a QB by the 2nd round.  My team also concentrated on locking up the core players on multi-year contracts more than some others.  The pick of Taylor raised some eyebrows but really shouldn’t.  The fantasy RB6 from 2020 and FantasyPros’ consensus dynasty RB4 priced as the RB14 for 2 years seems a nice foundation piece.  I grabbed Kittle in the 3rd as the last of the big three tight ends.  McLaurin, Fuller, and Aiyuk produced top-20 WR per game fantasy years last season.  Taysom Hill is the super arbitrage version of Jalen Hurts picked far later in this mock.

Team 4 landed Herbert to start on a cheap deal allowing a very balanced roster highlighted by a tremendous receiving group.

Best Values:  Robby Anderson was a fantasy star early last season.  Carolina actively tried to upgrade QB this offseason and Curtis Samuel may be gone in free agency.  Mark Andrews is a nice grab that late in the mock.  There’s some volatility with Lamar Jackson and a low volume passing offense but he is one of the few tight ends with significant workloads.

Questionable Picks:  Team 3 has no questionable picks.  I will not allow it.  The concern for team 4 is going out of the mock with Winston as the only other quarterback after Herbert.  The contract is nice but he is not a starting quarterback at this point with only a few potential landing spots left.

Teams 5 and 6

Both GMs paid handsomely for a couple of elite players plus took a wait and see approach to tight end.

Best Values:  Second-year running backs Akers and Dobbins will be popular players especially with these discount contracts.  I also like the Smith/Goedert combo at tight end for cheap.

Questionable Picks:  It was a very nice mock for team 5 with no real issues, maybe a little consolidation to upgrade the RB2 spot could be argued.  The stars and scrubs approach took a toll at the end for team 6 who failed to grab a viable tight end due to cap constraints.  Grabbing Knox with Goedert (who went one pick after) on the board at just a little higher salary had to be a gut punch.

Teams 7 and 8

Both teams utilized a diverse drafting strategy grabbing one of every position by round 5 and taking their 2nd QB by round 7.  Team 8 really went for players on the cheap after the first couple of picks providing a lot of cap flexibility later on when most other teams were trying to save dollars.

Best Values:  Diggs’ contract sits at the WR20 price, enough said.  The $4M contract of Gibson is almost guaranteed to provide outstanding value if just for a year.

Questionable Picks:  Despite a jump in real life play, Mayfield was just the QB26 in per game fantasy scoring last season.  I see no reason to jump on the 11th highest quarterback contract this early in the mock.  Team 8 used most of the big cap surplus to get Sutton, Godwin, and Kupp later on in the draft.  All are fine players but this seems like a bit of a let-down considering the other high salary players available.

Teams 9 and 10

Team 9 took a very flat salary structure across most of the picks avoiding expensive picks early where team 10 paid up for his early picks.

Best Values:  I will simply quote Team 9’s GM. “Swift one of my top 5 RBs going forward. Easy decision here. Was surprised he was still available.”  Metcalf is one of the top fantasy wide receivers for many with lots of room to provide value on this contract.

Questionable Picks:  Using more than $30M combined on Tua, Jones, and Goff seems like overkill for marginal superflex quarterbacks and a glaring chance to upgrade other positions.  Paying Fournette $17M presents quite a risk for a running back limited in the passing game without a team.


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

RSO Contract Bargain Hunting Week 7

Updated: October 25th 2020

Everyone wants a deal.  The easiest way in fantasy leagues to actually get one is capitalizing on injuries and early performances which did not meet expectations.  The article discusses a few players who have the opportunity to exceed their play this year or in the future.  They may not be cheap but could come at a bargain in comparison to what you might have to pay later on.

Rookies

J.K. Dobbins

The Baltimore backfield has been one of the most frustrating from a fantasy perspective.  No running back produced much fantasy value despite favorable game scripts for most of the year.  The Ravens utilized a near-even three-way snap division between Dobbins, Ingram, and Edwards.  This Baltimore running back split won’t always be a nightmare but the running-heavy formula likely remains with Lamar Jackson at quarterback.  Dobbins showed off excellent burst in limited action and his upside remains extremely high for the future.

Denzel Mims

Injuries took Mims out of the first portion of the season but he is set to return shortly.  He possesses one of the top athletic profiles coming out of the NFL combine with solid production at the collegiate levels.  Mims is a relatively older prospect and a troubling portion of his production came while covered which might suggest separation issues.   We should also remember the Jets are the front runner for Trevor Lawrence in next year’s draft and head coach Adam Gase likely is gone.  The top receiver attached to one of the highest rated rookie quarterbacks in recent memory is in his range of outcomes further down the road.

Jalen Raegor

Another receiver with early injury issues set to return soon, Raegor is one of the most explosive athletes among the 2020 rookies.  He dominated targets in college and produced at a very young age.  Philadelphia really has no other locked-in long-term receivers on the roster.  Combine Raegor with a quarterback, in Carson Wentz, who likes to take shots down the field and one has the making of huge potential fantasy weeks.

Quarterback

Carson Wentz

Maybe only the Jets can rival the Eagles in terms of injury decimation to the receiving core over the last couple of years.  Inserting random guys like Greg Ward and newly-minted Travis Fulgham into the starting lineup would be comical in most cases but the Eagles and Wentz have done what they can.  The vaunted Philadelphia offensive line suffered through its own woes on the injury front losing basically every starter except Jason Kelce.  Despite all the chaos and a league leading 10 interceptions, Wentz still ranks as the fantasy QB13.  The Philadelphia receiving core should see improvements as Raegor, Jeffrey, and Goedert return.  There will likely always be an unpredictable nature to Wentz’s play thanks to his propensity for gambling on the deep shot.  That propensity has the upside of huge fantasy games though.

Running Back

Chris Carson

While the running back market generally dictates no bellcow running back will really come at a bargain, there is a decent chance Carson might be available in your league at a reasonable cost.  Most of his RSO contracts are relatively short-term, mid-range deals so rebuilders could move him and contenders should find a way to afford him. He constantly deals with injuries which could also suppress his value somewhat.  Carson does not play against many weak run defenses going forward however Seattle should be favored in many games particularly as we get near the fantasy playoffs.  The Seahawks also use him more in the passing game this year with at least three receptions in each game.

Wide Receiver

Odell Beckham Jr.

The warning lights flash for Beckham like an evil red blinking Christmas tree.  Cleveland fully implemented Kevin Stefanski’s run-first offense.  Baker Mayfield looks lost at quarterback.  OBJ continues with his bizarre antics on and off the field.  There likely won’t be a salary discount either as he probably comes in at a WR1 contract.  Beckham ranks as just the PPR WR27 on a per game basis with no more than five receptions or 81 yards in any game so far. There are reasons to consider a move though.  The early struggles could very well bring a discount to Beckham and he still shows game-breaking ability.  Jarvis Landry is playing hurt leaving OBJ as the clear WR1 for the Browns.  Cleveland struggled through one of the more difficult passing schedules early and will have maybe the single best schedule moving forward.  This move ranks as a hail-mary play for contenders however it carries extreme upside with the downside of having a high-priced moderate fantasy producer burning through your cap.

Tight End

Dallas Goedert

Goedert returns later in the year around week 10 or later according to multiple reports.  Zach Ertz has been driven away from the offense, is injured, and was part of trade discussions this year.  He clearly isn’t the future at tight end for the Eagles.  Goedert graded highly his first two seasons in the NFL as a part-time player, uncommon for tight ends.  There is a real chance he becomes one of those rare every-week starting fantasy tight ends.


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

2020 RSO Contracts: WRs

Updated: August 30th 2020

My annual look at RSO auction values moves to wide receivers.  The series was designed to give the reader help in planning for upcoming auctions by looking at actual RSO auctions already finished this year.  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 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.  Provided fantasy stats and rankings utilize PPR scoring.

Average RSO Wide Receiver Contracts

Top Plays

It is no surprise Thomas sits at the top.  He caught 45 more balls than any receiver last season and easily finished as the WR1.  Houston traded Hopkins to Arizona but it has not deterred RSO GMs from paying him as the overall WR2.  There’s unacknowledged downside at this price as receivers moving to new teams have not finished up to expectations very often.  Mahomes to Hill blends upside to potentially win fantasy weeks and decent target load.  A significant injury history with smaller stature adds week to week uncertainty.  Adams’ target load might be one of the few volumes which rival Thomas as next to nothing of a legitimate threat on Green Bay exists.  He does not offer upper-level efficiency and a disproportionate amount of his production historically comes from touchdowns.  Godwin and Evans both produced top-4 per game fantasy production in 2019.  What this offense and target distribution looks like is anybody’s guess with Tom Brady replacing Winston and Tampa Bay bringing in future Hall of Famer Rob Gronkowski.  Jones is among the most consistent yearly performers and the team is set up for big offensive production.  His efficiency notably dipped slightly last season for the first time.

Young Upside Receivers

Smith-Schuster produced a 1,400-yard second season at the age of 22 after an impressive rookie year.  That work was done with Antonio Brown as the Steelers’ WR1.  It’s questionable if JuJu can attain close to those heights without someone to take away top corner coverage.   We saw two quality back to back fantasy seasons from Golladay.  Matt Stafford depth of target in 2019 was incredibly high and Marvin Jones was injured for significant portions last year.  Golladay is a safe bet but may be priced near his ceiling.  Moore, Brown, McLaurin, Chark, and Sutton all could be excellent long-term alpha receivers who possess high upside potential with short-term questions concerning quarterbacks, volume, and/or new coaching staffs.  Metcalf, Ridley, and Cupp are secondary options attached to quality, stable quarterback situations who could be, or have been, closer to 1B type receivers for their teams.  Each has limitations in their respective skill-sets which likely limit the fantasy ceiling of each but also quality abilities in one or more areas which boost potential scoring.

Discount and Volatile Veterans

Hopefully Beckham returns to full health after playing last year injured.  Cleveland’s projected passing schedule eases this season.  Questions abound with a new coaching staff, Mayfield’s quarterback abilities, and whether injuries depleted the crazy upside of Beckham.  Cooper posted 1,000 yard seasons in four of five seasons in the league and is still only 26. He is consistently one of the most inconsistent week to week wideouts, destroying bad corners and completely taken out of the game by good defenders.  While many consider Diggs and Allen among the top receiving talents in the league, both receive significant passing downgrades at quarterback.  Thielen struggled with injuries last year and is already 30 despite limited seasons in the NFL but had two quality years previously.  He maintains a stronghold on the WR1 spot and keeps quarterback continuity in Minnesota.  Woods might be the best wide receiver value in RSO leagues at WR26.  Woods ranked WR17 and WR14 in per game fantasy points the last two seasons despite limited touchdown luck and Brandin Cooks left the Rams through trade.  The story for Lockett mirrors that of Russell Wilson in a certain way.  Hyper efficiency as the number one target for Wilson makes a weekly fantasy starter but a potential lack of throwing volume in run-heavy Seattle limits the ceiling.

Rookies

Lamb comes in as RSO’s highest-priced rookie receiver and someone I see as the most complete rookie receiver.  His opportunity may be limited short-term in a very good Dallas receiving group.  Many consider Jeudy the best rookie separator.  He lands with a strong WR1 talent in Sutton and Lock is a huge long-term question mark at quarterback in Denver.  Ruggs and Raegor land in spots with immediate fantasy production possibilities and are the most explosive rookie wide receivers in the class.  Raegor’s landing spot tied to Carson Wentz could prove an excellent long-term match.


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

2020 RSO Contracts: RBs

Updated: August 30th 2020

My annual look at RSO auction values moves to running backs.  The series was designed to give the reader help in planning for upcoming auctions by looking at actual RSO auctions already finished this year.  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 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.  Provided fantasy stats and rankings utilize PPR scoring.

Average RSO Running Back Contracts

Top Five

Barkley, McCaffrey, Elliott and Kamara are high-end talents with extreme workloads in the rushing and/or receiving game without many significant questions.  No need to discuss them in much detail here.  One interesting player in this group is Joe Mixon who joins the top running backs at RB5 in RSO startup auctions just below Kamara.  The argument for the Cincinnati RB1 is not hard to make.  He has one of the best all around skill-sets of any back in the league including being a fantastic receiving prospect out of Oklahoma.  Mixon accumulated 1,400+ scrimmage yards over the last two seasons despite playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL.   The Bengals upgraded at QB, in many people’s views, with the selection of number one overall pick Joe Burrow.  There are a number of concerns, both long and short-term.  The offensive line should be better and healthier but most would still consider it a bottom-level group.  Cincinnati has limited Mixon’s receiving work, mixing in Gio Bernard.  Mixon is also in the final year of his rookie deal and the running back market could be saturated with free agents and incoming rookies to take jobs.  In the end, Mixon provides the ultimate bet on talent versus situation.

Second Tier

Cook looks like one of the best running back when on the field and broke out with a RB2 per game finish in 2019.  He also missed a lot of games in the NFL due to injury with a lengthy history of shoulder problems dating back to college which may indicate structural issues.  Like Mixon, Cook is in the final year of his rookie deal with no long-term contract done.  Henry, Chubb and Jacobs obtained PFF’s #6, 1, and 2 rushing grades among running backs, respectively.  Each was also among the bottom of PFF’s receiving grades for RBs.  Henry is a known zero as a route runner and Kareem Hunt likely limits the volume Chubb receives in the passing game. Jacobs presents the most hope for increased receiving production among this group given his collegiate record and the fact he was playing with a broken shoulder for much of his rookie season, but having mainly receiving specialists as his potential backups gives pause.  Sanders accumulated over 1,300 yards as a rookie and finished strong in the fantasy world after an injury knocked out Jordan Howard.  His real life play did not match his statistics as he ranked as only PFF’s RB50 and was losing work to Howard while being outplayed before Howard’s injury.  CEH is set up perfectly for a huge rookie season with Kansas City in the NFL’s best offense after presumptive starter Damien Williams opted out this year.  We don’t know what his role necessarily will be and perhaps KC limits his work as a rookie.

Third Tier

We are already at the point with running backs where significant questions exist with regards to roles.  Jones broke out as the RB2 in 2019 thanks, in part, to 19 total touchdowns and has been an efficient producer throughout his career.  The Packers have always limited his touches and added massive 2nd round thumper A.J. Dillon to the running back mix which likely caps Jones’ touches.  Jones is another quality back in the last year of his rookie contract.   Ekeler racked up 92 receptions and just under 1,000 receiving yards last year.  The Chargers consistently used a committee approach with departed Melvin Gordon and moving from Philip Rivers to Tyrod Taylor and/or a rookie at quarterback is likely a huge loss to the receiving work of Los Angeles running backs.  Taylor, like formerly mentioned Edwards-Helaire, is set up for a big rookie season, with a tremendous offensive line and many projected run-heavy game scripts.  The Colts talked up a three-heady committee all offseason which could limit Taylor’s usage, particularly early in the season.  Drake flashed big-time rushing ability throughout his career and finished with a huge 2019 after the trade to Arizona.  He is a thin running back who struggled with injuries going back to college and most of his work last year occurred with the corpse of David Johnson and Chase Edmunds (who also flashed) injured.

Former Stars and Rookies with Potential Workhorse Roles and Questions

Gurley lands in a high-output offense with no real competition for touches.  His weekly status due to knees remains unknown.  Fournette should maintain a workhorse role with Jacksonville.  The Jaguars offensive line and overall team could be among the worst in the league leading to touch and production issues.  What role does Gordon have in Denver with Lindsay still available?  He also has extensive knee issues.  Bell’s 2019 is a perfect example of running back situation dependency after moving to the Jets bad offensive line and finishing with an awful 3.2 yards per carry. David Johnson lands in a spot with tons of vacated touches at running back.  The Texans’ inside-heavy, early down thumper role does not really fit his skills and he’s probably not the best DJ in Houston at this stage.  Baltimore, Detroit, and LA spent high draft capital on Dobbins, Swift, and Akers respectively so expect a big role eventually, though when that happens is somewhat in question.

Committee Backs

Mostert exploded down the stretch last season for the run-heavy 49ers but is a career special teamer who will have limited passing game chances.  Does Hunt maintain the passing down role for Cleveland with a new coaching staff in town?  He is an interesting long-term investment with demonstrated three-down ability.  How long do Ingram, Mack, and Johnson keep fantasy relevancy with the afore-mentioned rookies ready to step in?


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