Phase 1 Free Agency Grades

Updated: March 29th 2018

The first phase of free agency got off to an explosive start with teams filling needs across the spectrum.  While all of the players fill roles for their new teams, not all of the deals are created equally.  I grade the most fantasy relevant deals looking at their prospective uses and what they mean for your RSO team.

Quarterbacks

Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins lands with one of the best teams in the league in about the best case scenario for Cousins.  The wide receivers and tight ends are arguably better as a group when compared to Washington’s core last season and the offensive line, while likely not better, is bound to be healthier.  New offensive coordinator John DeFilippo is somewhat of an unknown as he only has one stop as coordinator in the NFL and that was with a bad 2015 Cleveland team.  He spent the rest of his professional career primarily as a quarterback coach which is also good for the former Washington quarterback.  Cousins remains in the low-end QB1 conversation.

Grade: B.  Minnesota understands the small championship window for a team based on a dominant defense and went all-in for a quarterback upgrade to maximize their chances during that stretch.  The deal gets dinged for giving a good, but not great, quarterback a practically fully guaranteed top-of-market 3 year/ $84 million contract. The move necessarily limits contract extension options for other star Minnesota players over the next few years.

Drew Brees

Brees technically merited free agent status but there was little question he would resign with New Orleans.  The 39 year old still is one of the best in the business finishing with his best efficiency numbers in seven years and the best completion percentage of his career.  The raw numbers were down a bit thanks to a hugely improved defense and a stellar run game last year.  Brees remains as a solid fantasy QB1 but the video game numbers in the past might be out of reach due to the lower expected volume from better surrounding circumstances.

Grade: A.  Resigning Brees, the face of the New Orleans franchise, was a near necessity for a team in title contention.  Losing the longtime quarterback also would have been a public relations nightmare for both parties.  Brees even bought into giving the Saints a hometown discount.

Others of Note

Sam Bradford transitions to an Arizona team also in transition with a new coaching staff.  The match is not ideal with an immobile, fragile Bradford playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league.  This might be a replay of his 2016 season with lots of short routes and dump-offs for the time he remains healthy.  Case Keenum goes to Denver for a team more on the down-slope than they want to admit.  The defense, while still good, is not what it once was and there is little speed from the offensive skill players.  Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater will fight for reps on the rebuilding New York Jets.  All of these quarterbacks might show up on the bottom-tier QB2 radar for superflex/2QB leagues but, being on teams who possibly draft a long-term answer at quarterback, also could be replaced later in the season depending on circumstances.

Running Backs

Jerick McKinnon

Jerick McKinnon and Dion Lewis were the two highest paid free agent running backs in total contract value and guarantees.  Let that fact sink in for a minute.  Free agency really showed what direction the running back position is headed toward.  NFL teams clearly value multi-dimensional running backs capable of significant contributions in the passing game.  McKinnon’s stock (and hype) rockets upward in San Francisco under Kyle Shanahan.  It is a better scheme fit for the athletic phenom with more outside run plays and heavy pass game utilization.  Additionally, the depth chart below McKinnon is only led by an undersized undrafted free agent, Matt Breida. He will not be a traditional “bell cow” running back dominating touches, but lock in McKinnon as an RB2 for a potentially explosive offensive with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback.

Grade: B+.  This is a terrific fit and a position of need but at a big cost (4 year/ $30 million) for a running back who will not take the large majority of touches.  A closer look at the deal and San Francisco’s cap situation diminishes those concerns somewhat.  The 49ers wealth of cap space allowed a front-loaded contract with minimal commitments and more reasonable cap hits following 2018.

Dion Lewis

New Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur comes from the Kyle Shanahan/Sean McVay coaching tree.  This means an emphasis on dual-threat running backs.  Lewis is very good as a runner and displays exceptional quickness running routes. As a bonus, he is electric with the ball in his hands out of the backfield.  His main issue has always been his susceptibility to injury.  He maintained his health last season and was one of the better backs in the league.  He moves to another solid run-blocking offensive line.  I rank him as low-end RB2/Flex play currently.

What this move really does is limit fellow running back Derrick Henry’s ceiling.  Most people understood Tennessee would, at a minimum, bring in a significant third down back given Henry’s big deficiencies in the pass game.  Lewis provides a lot more than that and will be used throughout the game in multiple different situations.  Henry’s touch share becomes far more game script dependent with Lewis in the mix.

Grade: A-.  While his 4 year/$19.8 million contract is the second highest free agent deal given out, it is still a minimal portion of team cap space like most other running back contracts.  Lewis provides the “combo” back which is a much better fit in this offense and something that was not on the Titans’ roster before.  He will not be depended on to take a full load, which should help health concerns, but will be a great piece for what LaFleur wants to do on offense.

Others of Note

Carlos Hyde moves to Cleveland where he takes the place of Isaiah Crowell.  He is a better runner but also one of the worst receivers in the NFL out of the backfield.  His receiving work, which were largely a result of having a rookie quarterback at the helm, likely dramatically decreases with Duke Johnson as a true weapon out of the backfield.  Hyde downgrades to a borderline RB2.  Speaking of Crowell, he departs to the Jets where he continues his rushing down role.  The Jets have one of the worst offensive lines in the league and probably play from behind a lot next season.  His fantasy prospects remain similar to what they were in Cleveland as a borderline RB3/4.  Rex Burkhead resigned with New England and is joined by former Bengals running mate Jeremy Hill.  The Patriots backfield remains a mess with James White siphoning off receiving work and Mike Gillislee possibly in the mix.  Still, there is massive touchdown upside in this offense and a large target share for running backs.  Burkhead and Hill both make for cheap gambles on a great offense.

Wide Receivers

Sammy Watkins

Maybe no other team’s skill players embrace the strength of their quarterback better than Kansas City.  Watkins gives new quarterback Patrick Mahomes another target capable of stretching defenses and creating big plays.  While this move undoubted should help the offense, what this means for Watkins fantasy value is far sketchier.  The former fourth overall pick has been utilized primarily as a deep threat to this point in his career.  Will he see much increased volume on a team with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce as the top incumbents and essentially a rookie quarterback?  I put him in the WR3 mix although one with a larger range of outcomes and more upside than others in this range.

Grade: C-.  Watkins’ strengths should mesh well with Mahomes but this signing is an absolutely massive commitment to a player with an unknown role in the offense.  Watkins immediately becomes the fourth highest paid wide receiver in average salary for the entire NFL.  This is top of the league receiver money for a player who could conceivably be 3rd on his team in targets.  His big cap hits in future years could also produce difficult roster decisions for the Chiefs.

Allen Robinson

Robinson produced one great season and a few middling ones in Jacksonville.  How much of that is due to the quarterback situation remains to be seen.  It is troubling Jacksonville felt more comfortable signing Marquise Lee and Donte Moncrief to big contracts rather than tagging or resigning Robinson.  His best skill is corralling contested boundary throws which is not the type of throw new quarterback Mitch Trubisky has shown a penchant for.  With that being said, he should still slot in immediately as Trubisky’s top target.  Robinson ranks as a low-end WR2 for what will likely be a low-volume passing attack.

Grade: B.  Chicago needed receiving weapons in the worst way and landed one of the top available at an average of $14 million for 3 years.  Robinson is an expensive gamble based on his injury history and inconsistent production but a risk worth taking for a team with plenty of cap space and little else on the roster.

Others of Note

Paul Richardson fills the need for a speedy deep threat in Washington receiving a big five year deal in the process.  The afore-mentioned Donte Moncrief swindled a fully guaranteed contract of almost $10 million (plus incentives) in 2018 from Jacksonville making him the third highest paid wide receiver in free agency and top-20 in average salary among all wideouts.  This was easily one of the worst skill-position contracts given out in free agency on a player who will fight for playing time but is paid like a top receiver.  Marquise Lee stays in WR3/WR4 mix on Jacksonville’s low-volume passing attack.  Miami dumped Jarvis Landry’s big franchise tag contract on Cleveland only to spend a combined $36 million in five years on Albert Wilson and Danny Amendola to fight for slot and WR2 reps with incumbent Kenny Stills.

Tight Ends

Jimmy Graham

The Seattle experience was not kind for Jimmy Graham.  He never really fit in for what the Seahawks wanted from him when he was healthy and it was painful watching Graham following his patellar injury.  Unfortunately he lost the burst and speed which made him one of the most dangerous receiving weapons in the league with New Orleans.  His great size and hands still let him maintain a role as a significant short-area threat.  The lack of options at tight end puts Graham in the borderline TE1 mix on a potentially explosive Green Bay offense.

Grade: D.  This is an odd fit as Green Bay never utilized the tight end position much during Aaron Rodgers’ reign as quarterback.  Graham can still be a useful role player but clearly is not the type of game changer the Packers invested in.  Green Bay paid for the Graham of five years ago with a contract that makes him the highest paid tight end in average salary for the NFL today.

Trey Burton

Some players make a lot of money on the open market based on a few games filling in for starters.  Trey Burton is this year’s reincarnation after scoring a 4 year/ $32 million contract from the Bears which places Burton as one of the highest paid tight ends in the league.  What role Chicago has in mind for Burton is still a question.  Burton is not big enough to fill the primary tight end spot.  While a good receiver for a tight end, he also is not the type of difference-making receiving weapon that warrants being on the field consistently despite his blocking deficiencies.  Burton slides in the very broad TE2 territory for fantasy purposes.

Grade: D+.  This move seems like a desperation play from a team in bad need of receiving help.  Burton makes for a nice number two receiving tight end for a team but is paid like one of the best tight ends in the league.  There could be some untapped potential here but Chicago paid dearly on that gamble.

Others of Note

Detroit unceremoniously released Eric Ebron after four disappointing years.  He joins Jack Doyle in what could be a sneaky good spot with Andrew Luck returning and a lack of pass catchers signed for the Colts.  Perennially injured Tyler Eifert resigned a single year contract in Cincinnati. Health will be the key issue as always for the former first rounder who has TE1 upside when in the lineup.  Austin Seferian-Jenkins moves to Jacksonville in a low-upside passing attack.  The former Jet has not eclipsed 360 yards in a season and is nothing but TE flier for fantasy purposes.


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

2018 NFL Free Agency

Updated: February 18th 2018

Welcome back! With the NFL free agency just around the corner and the RSO and the site reopened, it is time to start watching who is a free agent or a potential cut candidate before the official offseason kicks off. There will be a few windows between now and March to either sell a player before he moves into a worse situation or buy a player before he joins a prolific offense. Here is a preview of each position’s key free agents as well as some player who could be cut before or during the offseason. Similar to last year I will be picking players that relocate to feature in the Free Agency Expectancy article series done throughout the offseason.

Quarterbacks

QB FAs QB Cuts
Drew Brees Eli Manning
Kirk Cousins Tyrod Taylor
Sam Bradford Ryan Tannehill
Josh McCown Mike Glennon
Case Keenum
Teddy Bridgewater
Blaine Gabbert
Jay Cutler
A.J. McCarron

The fireworks have already started with regards to the quarterback market with Alex Smith being dealt to Washington which should signal the end of Kirk Cousins in the Capital. Without knowing whether or not Drew Brees is going to seriously test free agency we have to assume that Cousins will be the one who will receive the largest contract. We haven’t seen a healthy, young(ish), competent QB hit the market in years so it will interesting to see how teams will court him. There should only be a handful of teams that don’t take a serious look at their starter and wonder if Cousins could be better. For the rest of the available and possibly available QBs, it’s a mixed bag in terms of fantasy relevance. Not sure many will have an impact outside of 2QB league but we’ll see where they land.

Running Backs

RB FAs RB Cuts
Le’Veon Bell DeMarco Murray
Carlos Hyde Doug Martin
Jerrick McKinnon Adrian Peterson
Dion Lewis Chris Ivory
Isaiah Crowell Mike Gillislee
Alfred Morris
Eddie Lacy
Jeremy Hill
LeGarrette Blount
Frank Gore
Rex Burkhead
Charles Sims
Thomas Rawls – RFA
Alex Collins – ERFA

Much like last year, I don’t expect Le’Veon Bell to hit the market, whether it is another year on the franchise tag or Pittsburgh comes to a long-term deal with him. Carlos Hyde would likely have the most upside of any free agent but he does have a history of injuries. He could find himself in a similar situation as Latavius Murray was last year where a team signs him but transitions to a rookie later in the season. After those two it would be hard to trust any RB to be more than an RB3-4 on a week-to-week basis. With another incoming rookie class that is extremely talented and super deep at the position, it will be tough for anyone to feel confident acquiring these available players. At best some will be able to share the backfield with a rookie or one another veteran. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess.

Wide Receivers

WR FAs WR Cuts
Jarvis Landry Jordy Nelson
Allen Robinson Brandon Marshall
Danny Amendola Randall Cobb
Paul Richardson Dez Bryant
Marqise Lee Emmanuel Sanders
Jordan Matthews Allen Hurns
Sammy Watkins Jeremy Maclin
Terrelle Pryor
Donte Moncrief
John Brown
Mike Wallace
Kendall Wright
Jeff Janis
Cameron Meredith – RFA
Quincy Enunwa – RFA
Tyrell Williams – RFA
Willie Snead – RFA
Brandon Coleman – RFA
Josh Gordon – ERFA

There are some big names available in the receiver market as well as some bigger names on the cut list which could make for savvy buy/sell opportunities between now and March. If Allen Robinson finds a new team with an efficient QB he will see his value spike back up to the mid WR1 conversation that it was a couple years ago. Same goes for Jarvis Landry who had good production in Miami with less than efficient offenses the last two seasons. If either or both Packers receivers are booted from Aaron Rodgers’ offense their value will crater. I would be selling both of them over the next three weeks before the trade value completely falls out from under them. Overall, this is the position group to watch throughout the offseason. Lots of moving pieces may create incredible value for a number of these players.

Tight Ends

TE FAs TE Cuts
Jimmy Graham Julius Thomas
Austin Seferian-Jenkins Eric Ebron
Tyler Eifert Vance McDonald
Antonio Gates C.J. Fiedorowicz
Benjamin Watson
Trey Burton
Cameron Brate – RFA  

Tight ends lag behind again as there are very few fantasy relevant options that will hit the open market and the ones that are available are extremely risky. Jimmy Graham started to be productive in Seattle last season with the offense needing to open up and carry their surprisingly weak defense. If he stays in Seattle he could be reconsidered in the top 3 conversation again for TE value. Until we know for sure his value is in flux. The rest of the group is either seriously flawed, injury prone or contemplating retirement which doesn’t bode well for fantasy value. Hopefully, the youth movement comes to blossom soon for this position otherwise it could be a wasteland if Gronk is serious about his retirement.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

Week 15 QB Start-Sit

Updated: December 14th 2017

I wanted to kick this off with a big thank you to the team at RSO for giving me the opportunity to contribute. I’m excited about bringing you all some great content and working with all the great people at RSO.

I have to take a second to acknowledge that two more starting QB’s went down in week 14. Carson Wentz (torn ACL) as well as Josh Mccown (broken hand) are now out for the season. NFL teams and fantasy team alike have had it rough this year with injuries. If you are looking for a streaming option, here are a few guys to check on and see if you can snag them up before someone else does. Jimmy G has been a solid option since taking over in SF and has good matchups coming up in weeks 15 & 16, as well as Blake Bortles if all else fails. Foles should still be a viable option moving forward. Congratulations to all the teams that have made it this far…almost to the promised land. I have compiled a list that I hope will help you make the right decision at QB as you attempt to make your league’s title game.

QB Starts of the Week

Top Start of the Week

Philip Rivers: Holy cow, talk about deja vu, right? Seems like this guy is sitting right here week in and week out as a QB you should be starting. I’m gonna show you why. Since the Chargers November 12th matchup against the Jags, they have won four straight games. Over that span, Rivers has been almost perfect with 1,348 yards thru the air and 8 touchdowns, holding an average QBR of 118 over this span. This week, he is facing a Chiefs team that is giving up an average of 22.8 fantasy points to opposing QBs, which is the worst in the league. Don’t be that guy that watches him blow up again while on your bench–start him or regret it!

Must Starts

Drew Brees: I can’t lie, Brees was tough to put here. He could be considered the start of the week seeing as the Jets just gave up 200 yards and a TD to Trevor Siemian. What made the difference? Josh Mccown going down and out for the season and Kamara looks good to return for this one. I just don’t see the Saints needing to throw a ton. The Jets are giving up an average 231 yards through the air to QBs, so Brees will have a day you don’t want to miss, and will be in the top 10 week 15 among QBs. I would almost bet that Brees posts the same kind of numbers this week as he did in week 14. I’m gonna say 250 plus yards and two touchdowns for the not so young man at home, where he always seems to shine.

Dak Prescott: This one just seems so easy to me. I know it was the Giants and Redskins but it was just what he needed. Facing a Raiders team ranked 25th against the pass, allowing an average of 241 yards through the air with only two interceptions all year, Dak should have no trouble staying on a hot streak (he has racked up 434 yards and 5 TDs in his last two games). Do not leave him on your bench only to find him among the top 5 QBs for the second week in a row after this matchup. He is an absolute must start for week 15.

Honorable Mention Starts

Blake Bortles vs. Houston (allowing 22.7 FPs to opposing QBs)

Joe Flacco vs. Cleveland (allowing 21 FPs to opposing QBs)

Nick Foles vs. Giants (alline 22.6 FPs to opposing QBs)

QB Sits of the Week

Top Sit of the Week

Houston Texans QB: This may seem like a no brainer, but with two more starting QBs going down I had to put them here. Going against an extremely stout Jacksonville defense that is giving up the fewest fantasy points to QB’s in the league (allowing an average of 11 points to opposing QB’s), whoever plays QB for Houston is bound to struggle this week. The Jags have only allowed 20 or more points to one QB and only allowed a total of six QBs to get 15 or more points. Savage has looked, well, horrible, and this matchup is flat out ugly.

Must Sits

Andy Dalton: Things are not looking good for Dalton heading into his week 15 matchup against the Vikings. Dalton completed 48% of his passes for a stat line of 141 yards-1 Touchdown-1 Interception. Things look to be worse for him going forward facing a Vikings defense that is allowing the fourth fewest points to opposing QBs. The Viking have also only allowed four QBs 250+ passing yards all year and only two QBs to earn 20+ fantasy points. The tables are stacked against him in a game that could get out of hand. Dalton may offer some garbage time points but not the kind of thing you want to rely on in the fantasy playoffs.

Eli Manning: What a crazy year for Eli. He was able to complete 67% of his passes on Sunday, which is his best in his last three games. Yep, that’s the only thing that is good. He has one TD and three interceptions over his last three games and is facing an Eagles defense that is allowing the second fewest fantasy points to QBs over the past six weeks. Having no real weapons in either the run or the passing game that can be consistent, I’m avoiding Eli for the rest of the year, not just this week.

Honorable Mention Sits

Blaine Gabbert vs. Washington

Kirk Cousins vs. Arizona


Brandon is a fantasy and RSO fanatic and resides in Colorado. You can reach him @FntsyFxr on Twitter. He specializes and lives for helping people rebuild their franchises.

More Analysis by Brandon Ahart

2017 Top 25s: QBs and RBs

Updated: July 16th 2017

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

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

In part 1 of my 2017 Top 25s, I’ll explore the quarterback and running back positions:

 

Top 25 QBs for 2017

Aaron Rodgers is in a tier of his own, making him an elite asset in Superflex and 2QB leagues. Tony Romo and Jimmy Garoppolo are two of the most intriguing names on this list. Over the next few months, we should find out where they’ll play in 2017. If either lands in Denver or Houston, expect their values to rise even higher up this list.

Top 25 RBs for 2017

Le’Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliott, and David Johnson form the elite trio of RBs that should command the highest AAV (average annual value) of any players in free agency auctions. Rookies Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette could be RB1s in the right situation. Coming off major injuries, veteran RBs Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson just missed the top 25. If they appear healthy as the season approaches and have promised roles, both could be underrated RB2s that will be undervalued in many free agency auctions.

My recommendation

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

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


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

More Analysis by Dave Sanders

Hold’em or Fold’em: Part 3

Updated: October 17th 2016

Fantasy football has to be one the most gut-wrenching hobbies to have. You can spend months studying, analyzing and preparing for the season and have it all over before the leaves start to turn. With the amount of injuries that have plagued some owners, there is a chance that even those who started off well may also be in selling mode. Seriously, if someone went into the season with the core of their team being Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson, Ameer Abdullah, Charles Sims, Sammy Watkins, Kennan Allen and Eric Decker one would say that they had a decent chance this season. Yikes!

Now that we have five weeks of football to gauge our team, we can look back at our rebuilding process for those that used my offseason rebuild article. For those who might be thinking about starting their rebuild this year, you can look to parts 1 and 2 on the basic fundamentals. In part three we are going to look at evaluating our team as it is right now and what to do with the rest of the 2016 season.

They Are Who We Thought They Were

Seasonal records are a hard stat to judge a fantasy team by since they have no way to defend their scores. One may have their best statistical output any given week only to have it be counted as an “L” due to what we will call the “Julio effect.” Therefore, looking at a team’s weekly points for and against will offer a greater understanding of who they really are. For teams that are 4-1 or 3-2, are you winning games against teams that are weaker? Are your points for significantly lower the other teams that have strong records? For teams that are 2-3 or 1-4, have you been playing against the weekly high scorers? Are your “points for” still competitive with the teams at the top of the standings? RSO has a great tool built right into the standings page to measure exactly how your team is against the rest of your league. If you go to Standings, then Breakdown, the site gives you an overall record against each opponent for every week. If you really want to have a record to brag about to your league mates then this is the one that you should be using. For instance, I am 3-2 in one of my leagues where I thought I had one of the strongest teams. When I look at the breakdown records it shows that against all opponents each week I have a 49-6 record as well as the highest points for. This indicates to me that I have had two games where my opponents had gangbuster weeks and I shouldn’t be concerned. You need to look at each of your teams as it pertains to the rest of its league and answer these questions before making any moves involving pushing ahead or selling the team this season.

How to Move Forward

Now that there is a guide for whether you are likely in or out this season you can start to plan ahead for the next 8-9 weeks before the playoffs. Let’s start with the contenders. If you are in- go ALL in. Find the good players on teams that are well behind the 8 ball and start making offers. Ideally, you would want to look for guys that are on one year/final season deals or ones that are older veterans and are not likely to be in that owner’s future plans. Don’t try and low ball them with players they won’t use. This won’t happen in an experienced league. Instead offer rookies, picks or longer contract players that will hold value into 2017. A perfectly reasonable starting point for a contending team to offer a rebuilder would be Derrick Henry and a 2017 1st for Le’Veon Bell.

For everyone else, look to the players that still have strong value in your line-up and start shopping them around. The worst thing is waiting until after the other rebuilders flood the market with usable talent to fill the needs of the few contenders. Or worse you could be waiting to see if you have a chance and then your player gets injured; not only crushing your chances of winning but also decreasing their value in a trade. In season is the best time to acquire picks because most owners are focused on winning, and they are willing to put future rewards on hold. While not the opposite of contenders, rebuilding owners should target: draft picks, injured/slumping players, and risk/reward contracts. Depending on the length of the rebuild or available cap space a fourth player to target would be the bad contract players.

Ultimately your goal for this season is to hold as many draft picks as possible, clear all cap space of players that hold their maximum trade value and acquire talent that might be useful in the next year or two. The big thing to take away from here is that when shopping players don’t ask for players that are a key part of that team’s starting line-up unless you are giving up something better. A great example would be to offer players that have already had their byes so the new owner can just plug-and-play them for the rest of the season. Meaning shares of Ryan Mathews, Jamaal Charles, Doug Baldwin, Jeremy Maclin, Eddie Lacy, and Drew Brees are easy selling points to a contender for a 2nd round pick and a project player.

Hopefully, I have helped lay the groundwork for what should be a busy month of buying and selling players. If you complete any big trades using this strategy make sure to tweet @RealitySportsOn to have yourself featured in our trades of the week. Also, if you have any questions about whether an offer is good enough make be sure to ask any of the RSO writers on their thoughts.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

Rookie Pick Craze

Updated: July 8th 2016

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

Rookie Success

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

Rookie Pick Chart

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

Move Up or Move Out

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

Ryan Matthews

Forgotten veterans are a contender’s best friend

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

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

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