Week 15 FantasyDraft Advice

Updated: May 28th 2017

Week 15 of the NFL season is upon us and what better way to complement yearly leagues than by playing daily leagues as well? Assuming your opponent’s team is stacked and you’re fighting a losing battle, DFS is a way to still monetize your football knowledge on a lost week in yearly leagues. However, there is a bit of a strategy difference due to the weekly salary cap. In this article, fantasy expert Ricky Sanders will walk you through the thought process of putting together the best possible FantasyDraft DFS lineup for the upcoming weekend slate:

Tyrod Taylor, Bills, $11,200 – Last week, the weather did not hold up for Tyrod Taylor and yet he still posted one of the more respectable scores of the week amongst QBs in what turned out to be a brutal week at the position. The weather report looks a lot more promising this week with minor snow flurries seeming to be the worst case scenario. Therefore, it is time to immediately go back to the well with Taylor against one of the worst defenses in the league. In fact, the Browns are the only team in the league to rank in the bottom two of Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) metric against both the run and the pass. Considering Taylor leads the position in terms of rushing yardage and TDs, he should be able to take advantage of both aspects of the defense. With elite players worth spending up on at both the RB and WR positions (Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson, Mike Evans, etc.), the salary relief Taylor provides a lineup (combined with his safe floor) is incredibly helpful.

Devonta Freeman, Falcons, $12,600 – People are going to look at last week’s flop and then look at Tevin Coleman’s monster two TD performance and will have a difficult time choosing between the two. The decision is easy in my opinion as Devonta Freeman had been coming off of two straight 20-plus fantasy point performances before last week’s epic fail. To be fair, Freeman touched the ball eight total times to Coleman’s 10 so it was not like he was dominated in touches…Coleman just happened to find the end zone twice. Prior to Week 14, Freeman had scored four total TDs in his last two games so last week was just an unfortunate case of him not receiving meaningful carries that led to scores. Against by far the worst rushing defense in the league, Freeman is undoubtedly going to enjoy some positive regression. He had averaged 15.5 carries per game over his last two prior to the Rams gams so that seems like a reasonable expectation against the 49ers. Freeman is also active in the passing game and the 49ers rank 22nd in DVOA against RBs in the passing game. Against a defense that has allowed the most rushing yards, rushing TDs and total TDs to opposing backs, Freeman should bounce back in a big way even though he will be splitting the workload with Coleman once again.

LeGarrette Blount, Patriots, $9,800 – The blueprint to beat the Broncos is simple: run the football. For the season, the Broncos rate as the league’s top passing defense according to DVOA and they have allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing QBs. Meanwhile, they also rank 26th in DVOA against the run and Coach Bill Belichick is the king of the offensive game plan. Since he is not stupid, he is inevitably going to rely on his workhorse back LeGarrette Blount who has rushed for either 100-plus yards or a TD in all but two games so far this season. Although he has been volatile in season’s past due to his lack of contributions to the passing game, he has proven to be remarkably consistent this year. At a sub-$10,000 cost, Blount should be a lock to either rush for 100 yards, score or both once again in a matchup where he will be needed by the offense. Throwing at the Broncos corners is like banging your head into a brick wall so Blount should be the focus of the Patriots offensive game plan this week.

Jamison Crowder, Redskins, $10,600 – Kirk Cousins and the Redskins passing offense are in a fantastic spot on Monday Night against a subpar Panthers passing defense. Sure they rank 16th in passing DVOA but they have allowed the seventh most fantasy points per game to opposing WRs and rank 29th in DVOA to third WRs and beyond. In terms of individual matchups, Jamison Crowder draws one of the best of the entire week against Leonard Johnson who has graded as one of the six worst corners this season, per Pro Football Focus. Crowder has only caught five passes over the past two games but he has been targeted 13 times during that span. Additionally, Crowder has scored in four of his last six games and has drawn some unfavorable one-on-one matchups as of late. This week, things will change, and he should be the one beating his man like a drum. When he gets open, Cousins finds him, so look for him to rack up the receptions at a reasonable price tag this week.

Ladarius Green, Steelers, $7,300 – “Athletic freak” is a phrase that accurately describes Ladarius Green who stands 6’6”, 238 lbs and still ran the second quickest 40-yard dash in his draft class at the position (4.53). The Steelers offenses of old always functioned as well-oiled machines partially due to having a reliable target over the middle like Heath Miller. The offense had been lacking that sort of real threat (Jesse James is simply mediocre) to complement Bell and Antonio Brown prior to Green’s return from injury. While he struggled last week in the snow, he caught six passes for 110 yards and a TD the week before. In Week 15, the team will face a Bengals team that has allowed the third most fantasy points to TEs including the most receiving yards (926) and the fourth most TDs (seven). With Green’s speed, he should be able to rack up the yards in this elite matchup on the road (where Brown has struggled).

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on to FantasyDraft as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: FanVice, RotoCurve and Daily Fantasy Cafe. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

More Analysis by Ricky Sanders

Week 13 FantasyDraft Advice

Updated: December 1st 2016

Week 13 of the NFL season is upon us and what better way to complement yearly leagues than by playing daily leagues as well? Assuming your opponent’s team is stacked and you’re fighting a losing battle, DFS is a way to still monetize your football knowledge on a lost week in yearly leagues. However, there is a bit of a strategy difference due to the weekly salary cap. In this article, fantasy expert Ricky Sanders will walk you through the thought process of putting together the best possible FantasyDraft DFS lineup for the upcoming weekend slate:

Drew Brees, Saints, $14,300 – Over the course of the last four weeks, the Lions have allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing QBs so Drew Brees is not worth using, right? Wrong. Analyzing the schedule provides an adequate explanation as to why this has occurred because the Lions have played the Texans, the Vikings twice and the Jaguars during that span. In other words, their overall sample size is a lot more telling and overall they have allowed the fifth most fantasy points per game to the position. At home this season, Drew Brees has thrown for at least 300 yards and three TDs in all but one game (against the Seahawks). Vegas is projecting this game as the highest over/under of the weekend but I am projecting even more than that. Last year, there was a game between the Giants and Saints in the Super Dome that finished 52-49 and the QBs combined for 13 TD passes. This has all the makings of a similar kind of shootout so stacking this game is not only recommended but it is necessary. Failing to use Brees is cash is passing on a 28 fantasy point floor in this elite matchup in an elite environment.

Theo Riddick, Lions, $11,000 – One player from this game is clearly not enough as the Lions are destined to hold their own in this game as well. As a whole, the New Orleans defense is allowing the seventh most yards from scrimmage of any team this year (370.5) and the third most points per game (27.9). Most importantly in terms of matchup, the Saints rank dead last in Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) metric against opposing backs in the passing game and Theo Riddick is arguably the best receiving back in the game. Regardless of score, the Lions will need to keep throwing to either try or out-score the Saints if they are ahead or attempt to play catch-up from behind. Regardless, there should be a heavy dose of Riddick whose skill set (led all RBs in receptions last year) is quite conducive to FantasyDraft’s PPR scoring format. Despite not receiving the typical allotment of touches for a true workhorse, he is a fantastic play in all formats this week.

Jeremy Hill, Bengals, $8,500 – On paper, this matchup for the Bengals is awfully similar to the team they faced last week. Both the Ravens and Eagles excel in terms of rushing defense and defending opposing TEs but are susceptible to opposing WRs. In fact, the Ravens actually ranked first in DVOA in both rushing defense and against TEs in the passing game heading into the Week 12 tilt against the Bengals. When all said and done, Jeremy Hill exploited the defense via the passing game as he caught a career-high six passes for 61 yards. It was the most yards he had gained via the air since Week 4 of his 2014 rookie season so clearly the injury to Giovani Bernard is leading to an uptick in targets. If so, this makes him a complete back and still just too darn cheap for that sort of volume…even against another formidable opponent. He had a mediocre week last week and still finished with 14-plus fantasy points and it is certainly possible that he finds the end zone on any given week. He is a great way to counteract the expensive price tag of Brees and still have money to spend elsewhere.

Willie Snead, Saints, $10,100 – How much exposure is too much exposure to the Lions/Saints game? There probably is no such thing this week as I obviously expect this game to result in an extreme shootout. All Saints WRs are in play but none are better values than Willie Snead at less than the average cost of a roster spot. The Lions’ top corner, Darius Slay, has graded as Pro Football Focus’ sixth best cover corner this year and he will likely mostly draw the matchup against Michael Thomas. Additionally, Brandin Cooks did not receive one target last week so his role is certainly volatile. If spending up on Brees, salary relief is necessary elsewhere, so Snead is the perfect combination of value and upside in this elite matchup; he has been targeted at least seven times in four of his last five games and has caught at least three passes in every game during that span. When the Saints faced a Broncos team that possessed a solid group of corners, Snead took over and ended up scoring two TDs. Against a Lions group of corners playing excellent football recently, it would not be surprising to see a similar result in this one.

Greg Olsen, Panthers, $9,600 – Looking back at previous meetings against the same team is not a strategy I generally employ but Greg Olsen’s history against the Seahawks is too substantial to overlook. Last year, facing a Seahawks defense with most of the same personnel, Olsen erupted for 8-134-1 in their regular season meeting and 6-77-1 when they met again in the playoffs. The Panthers’ offensive line is sort of a mess this season, as is their offense as a whole, but Cam Newton would be foolish not to look to his security blanket early and often in this matchup. The Seahawks still rank 18th in TE DVOA this year and it is still clearly one of the few areas of vulnerability to the defense. With Olsen’s price tag sinking to probably as low as it will ever get, now is the correct time to buy his stock.

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on to FantasyDraft as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: FanVice, RotoCurve and Daily Fantasy Cafe. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

More Analysis by Ricky Sanders

Carrying the Rock

Updated: May 18th 2016

April 28th 2007. My girlfriend sat outside her family home in the aging cracked leather seats of a still-glistening black Celica convertible on the Jersey shore, and inside I was asking her mother and father for her hand in marriage.   She was blissfully unaware how her life would change that day.  She knew the plan.  She could tell you about the drive to NYC that was to come.  The time and location of the show at the New Victory Theatre.  What she didn’t and couldn’t see was the ring designed for her in my pocket, the behind the scenes intrigue that would put her on a Broadway stage at the close of the show, and the question that would link us forever.

Earlier that day Adrian Peterson was asked “how do you feel about being a Minnesota Viking?”  Megatron got a proposal from the Lions.  The Raiders and Browns were forever changed by Jamarcus Russell and Brady Quinn…Less in a “happily ever after”, and more in “college regret your buddies will remind you of at reunions” kind of way.    This is part of the intrigue of Dynasty.   The commitment GMs make to players.  It is understood that this won’t be a fling, there will be some sickness and health involved.   In reality most human beings and NFL teams are best served by going all in with a commitment to one person.   My bride carrying that rock on her finger, and Adrian toting the rock for the Vikings nearly a decade later speak to that truth.  Fantasy, particularly in RSO, demands a certain degree of fiscal promiscuity, however, understanding that some of the costs will be lost, but ultimately it may prove cheaper to spread three contracts over an uncertain backfield than pay for the services of stud and his handcuff.

April 28th, 2016.  Nine years later the first round of the NFL draft reintroduces us to the wonder and beauty of the fantasy season in earnest after the long national nightmare of the offseason.  Dynasty fantasy GMs carefully gauge the worth of their rookie picks as players meet their betrothed teams for the first times.  Veterans on the fantasy roster rise with the well-placed selection of a lineman with high hopes, or fall as the fickle gaze of a team turns to the next hot prospect.  Last article we looked at teams with relative stability at running back position, or at least a succession plan that seems probable.  The other half of the league can be looked at in light of the majesty of the draft.  Notably, CJA and Murray owners have clear handcuffs and possible successor targets in Booker(Utah) and Henry(Alabama).  Ezekiel Elliott’s bare midriff found its way to Dallas.  This, of course, caused last year’s cellar-dwelling fantasy GMs to squeal like middle-aged women at an N’sync concert.  McFadden and Alf owners were left annoyed and appalled like teachers chaperoning Prom.  Little analysis is needed here, the best RB prospect behind a line regarded as one of the best in football immediately vaults Elliott into top three RB status in the minds of many dynasty GMs.  Experts at Rotoviz make a case that Zeke might already be the #1 fantasy back overall in dynasty.

The fate of the following teams remain in the balance, however, and wise RSO GMs do well to note better deals and opportunity in other backfields as the draft unfolded.   This is not a column advising you to sell as the draft loomed over your players.  Dave Sanders did some prescient work for you on the Dallas and Miami situations, for example.  What we need to look for here are places where the incumbent running back situation is muddled, driving down value, and producing risk and opportunity for owners.  Think like an RSO GM clearly here.  While there is significant value in getting stud running backs described in other places, bigger rosters and the contract format of RSO allows you to monopolize backfields at a reasonable cost.  This hedges against failure and produces situations like Arizona last year where Ellington, CJ2K, and David Johnson could be rostered on your team for less than a single contract for a player like Eddie Lacey.

First the NFC East (DAL, WAS, NYG, and Phi) presents the most opportunity for savvy owners.  We covered Dallas.  Washington has the same offense and a nominal commitment to Matt Jones.  There are plenty of carries to go around as Alf departs with 202 carries.  Keith Marshall landing in Washington promises to have some value this year and moving forward.  Buy Jones and the rookie.  The New York Giants introduce McAdoo as head coach, but as he was the offensive coordinator and Jennings carried the load, it should prove easy for a savvy owner to roster Vereen and Paul Perkins in the hope that one back emerges.  Finally, the Eagles have a relatively loaded, but aging depth chart, proving another opportunity to stagger short terms/trades for Matthews and Sproles to pair with a long-term rookie contract for the rookie Smallwood.

The AFC North (Bal, Cin, Cle) tells a different story.  Hue Jackson leaves behind an offense that produced two backs with over 200 touches a piece.  Hill and Bernard won’t come cheap and as Bernard approaches free agency, the best hope for an owner would be an expensive double-down anticipating the two backs split in free agency next year, but this feels like a scenario to avoid.  Baltimore requires three roster slots for the enterprising owner, as Forsett, Buck Allen, and Kenneth Dixon can all be had at reasonable cost in most leagues.  Whatever back emerges in the lead roll behind a line likely improved by the draft should provide extremely valuable.  Cleveland’s value likely lies in its receivers due to perennial game-flow questions.  Duke Johnson is the value here, unless Hue Jackson drives the hype train too hard.

Staying on the up North in the NFC.  Chicago seems to have a marginal lead back in Langford, but protecting that investment with contracts for Ka’Deem Carey and Jordan Howard should be very affordable.  Langford and company are headed for a committee under Fox and should not demand a premium.  Detroit will offer very little value in terms of opportunity at RB for rookies.  Look to consolidate Abdullah and Riddick in the event one back emerges.  Zenner may be worth a roster spot in deeper leagues.

Rounding out the NFC are two teams that demand consideration.  Chip Kelly’s unpredictability diminishes Hyde as a surefire lead but he is safer than most options in this category.  Rostering a rookie RB that is more of a pass-catcher seems particularly valuable in light of the potential for some big deficits and Kelly’s famously up tempo offense.  Your NFL runner-up is the most intriguing.  The oft-injured Jonathan Stewart is locked in to lead the Panthers in carries this year, but whatever rookie the Panthers sign in 2017 in will be coupled with a strong offense and little competition beyond Stewart, unless a man named Fozzie Whittaker moves you.

The final AFC backfields to target if you believe in gathering all the parties provide one fine situation in Indy.  Owners can trade for/stagger a short term Gore deal with a long term rookie contract.  Dion Lewis must be paired with James White.   Lewis provides the biggest boom/bust potential in terms of injury and usage of this whole group.  Finally Oakland and Miami have relatively strong incumbents, and some failed free agent flirtation by their team in the offseason suggests owners would be wise to assume a 2017 rookie in Oakland and Kenyan Drake factor into their teams’ plans long-term.

In fantasy the best GMs know how to ask the right question.  When confronted with talents like Ezekiel Elliot the answer is obvious.  The more valuable questions in terms of contractual obligations seem to lie in assuming the risk of backfields in their entirety.   Putting the rock in the right hands is such a vital part of real and fantasy football, so pay close attention to the landing spots below and consider the opportunity of the rookies as they answer “yes” to their new teams.

In list form:

  1. Ezekiel Elliot- If you have the 1.1 enjoy.
  2. Dion Lewis- Absurd PPG when healthy.
  3. Yeldon + Ivory- More touchdowns are coming.
  4. Hill+Bernard
  5. Murray + (Deandre Washington)- Breakout offense.
  6. Hyde + (Wait for 2017).
  7. Gore + Rookie (Wait for 2017)
  8. Stewart + Rookie (Wait for 2017)
  9. Baltimore Backfield (Kenneth Dixon) Forsett, Buck Allen
  10. Eagles Backfield Ryan Matthews + (Wendell Smallwood)
  11. Langford + (Jordan Howard)
  12. Jennings + Vereen (Paul Perkins)- Begging for a transition.
  13. Matt Jones + Keith Marshall
  14. Cleveland Backfield (Duke Johnson) Crowell
  15. Ajayi + Kenyan Drake- Will need a couple years for Gase to sort a lead back.
  16. Detroit Backfield (Abdullah) + Zenner/Riddick

The list is ordered in terms of my anticipated points by backfield for the upcoming season.  The backs in bold project better over a three year span.

Bio: Luke @FantasyDocOC is husband, father, doctoral student, and teacher slowly building a reality dynasty league comprised entirely of daughters. Following in the footsteps of Saint Francis, “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” CUA. Hoya Saxa.

More Analysis by Luke O'Connell

Peer Pressure: Doing What is Right

Updated: March 20th 2016

No less a mind than Albert Einstein dropped this line on his Nazi-fighting personal physician and friend, Janos Plesch, in 1947: “When I examine myself and my methods of thought I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.”   The fantasy GM in me likes to think Einstein was genius-level taunting his buddy after winning their inaugural fantasy season.   Big Al’s victory was sealed by the effort of one Elmer Angsman, a third round pick out of Notre Dame dropping two 70-yard TD runs in the ’47 NFL championship game as the Chicago Cardinals dusted the Philadelphia Eagles.  Einstein selected Elmer for his team, “Straight Outta Quantam,” to mockery from his friends in the analytics community that saw Angsman as too one-dimensional to succeed at the pro-level.  Albert later pointed to the lone scouting report that convinced him to draft Angsman, a rival defensive back saying of Elmer, “He was…A straight ahead north and south runner who would just as soon leave cleat marks on your balls as run around you.” Victory.

The preceding story is, of course, fantasy in its fullest sense.  The quotes and people are real, but stripped of any context to produce new meaning.   The very best friends, fantasy GMs, and experts realize that fantasy means more than absorbing common knowledge.  They are stripping reality to its parts and building teams and leagues largely dependent on two pillars; the NFL players and fantasy players.  This column will attempt to remind the fantasy community that the fantasy players you know bear as much impact on fantasy success as the NFL players you may never meet.  When it comes to our own community, we have to borrow once more from the genius of Albert Einstein, “What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right.”  Reality Sports Online auction drafts will help the best fantasy GMs determine both what is popular and right in the new, young, and hungry RSO community.

How does one determine what is popular in the fantasy football community?  Multiple levels come into play, but at the most macro level it seems possible to determine where the community at large is getting its information.  Initial analysis of web traffic indicates that sites like Yahoo, NFL.com, and CBS drive and support casual fantasy football play at massive rates.  Future posts should examine how more specialized and sophisticated players set up preseason draft boards, but in every instance the great GM should try to determine how and where our frenemies in the league are getting their information.   Does your crew support a few drifters that roll in on draft day with “cheatsheets,” smelling of beer, fresh ink, and hot paper emblazoned with the logos of well-known sports outlets? If so, nod along to the popular risers like Lamar Miller while noting your favorite names buried deep on that list.   Using data from Fantasy Draft Calculator from 2013-15 we can establish a baseline of how the community at large drafted over a series of mocks preceding each season.    The link between the preseason site rankings of Yahoo (currently the clubhouse leader in sports web traffic) and ADP of drafted players according to fantasy calculator matches at a statistically significant rate over that three year sample.  This could be true for several reasons.  My theory is that massive sites that offer free information like Yahoo rankings drive the average player in a causal way.   Most people don’t have hours to research, agonize over, and tinker with fantasy draft boards.  It doesn’t make them dumb, lazy, or stupid.  In fact these casual players serve as humbling reminders to every GM who has “the bug” that the fickle whims of fortune all too often determine the victor.  If this theory is right, however, it is incumbent on you as a GM to understand that such fantasy players default to typical internet usage habits, hang with the crowd, and defer to the most readily available, popular, rankings.

Several counter-arguments can be made to my thesis that popular websites drive drafting patterns. I will focus on two notable objections.  First, an easy argument might suggest that experts constructing Yahoo’s rankings actually model off ADP collected in preseason mocks so the rankings are reactive rather than predictive of GM draft patterns.    For example, Yahoo’s preseason rankings predicted the ADP of the top 10 picks in a standard scoring at a 90% rate.  2013 was particularly telling, when Yahoo either drove or matched community consensus as it coalesced around early running backs.  Only a detailed chronology could sort the truth of whether the rankings or the ADP came first. This correlation between rankings and ADP reveals the second strong argument against the original thesis; experts and average fantasy players draw from the common data set of NFL players to produce results that correlate, but are not caused by, popular rankings.  Of the second point, I am particularly wary, as gifted minds provide hilarious examples to remind us that Nicholas Cage’s acting and drowning deaths are probably not causally connected.

Here is where value of my hypothesis can be tested in a specific way with the Reality Sports Online platform.  The average player is deprived of the multiplicity of cheatsheets and rankings that blurred the causal relationship in the aforementioned objections.  RSO auction drafts provide a unique test because there is only one free, popular, and visible tool to determine rankings in the RSO offseason.  If my intuition is correct, most players will depend on the site’s recommended contract values as they prepare for league play.  Those values meet the criteria we established above: free, readily available, and popular.  The recommended contract values take on outsized importance because of their presence in the mock draft rooms and the auction draft rooms itself. As both the most prominent, and sole, source of rankings during the actual draft, the values land with the authority of an Adam Schefter tweet during free agency. Staring down the clock and the eye-of-Sauron-like power of the recommendations is where your mettle as a fantasy GM gets tested by RSO and your league, because the popular choice of adherence to the crowd will be pitted against the mockery of any wild pick driven by your own research, but…a note of caution.  What is popular and what is right is not mutually exclusive.   Knowing something is popular in the fantasy community informs your subjective decisions about your own team in a meaningful way because you understand the context of your league.   Determining what your friends and league mates are doing is important, but rarely order to fit in.

At some point growing up I became acutely aware that my father was often the smartest guy in the room. More NASA than NFL in his game by a wide margin.  The man emphasized tangible, concrete truths in life: housing, hard work, and grades.    This paternal wisdom often came at great cost to his sons. Popularity was more of a prayer than an aspiration in my youth. Homemade clothing, haircuts resembling a family montage of “before they were stars,” and the infamously mockable eyewear known as Rec Specs, are written into my family history as indelibly as burning half my auction budget on Adrian Peterson. Popularity never drove my father’s reasoning in these confounding decisions, and he never wavered in the cliché “nerds rule the world.”  This fantasy offseason affords you a chance to pivot away from the peer pressure of the fantasy community to the wisdom of its nerdiest, brightest minds. Find your baseline with the solid, thoughtful, and regularly updated, ADP work at places like Dynasty League Football and mock drafts on RSO.  Once you have a sense of what the “cool crowd” is doing it is time to break from the pack.

The final move should be a search for, and commitment to, some of the Einsteins of the fantasy business.  Brilliant ideas will gain popularity eventually, as the best GMs come to understand practical applications. It is best to be ahead of the game with hipster-like savvy.   Most of us do not have the time, nor expertise to construct algorithms, watch tape, or synthesize data in brilliant new ways  By determining experts with a track record of success, and contrasting them with the loudest, most popular voices in your immediate fantasy circle, you properly contextualize where NFL players will likely be drafted in your own drafts, and at what cost.  Cut the noise and find a Virgil for your Dante draft-day purgatory. Your best fantasy days will come when you see clearly the reality of the NFL players in front of you and your friends and fantasy GMs around you.  With a bit of work you will find the right fantasy thing may be popular, but its popularity is neither necessary nor sufficient to make it right.   We are all following in someone’s fantasy footsteps, here’s hoping you choose the right ones to leave some cleat marks in your league.

More Analysis by Luke O'Connell

Maximizing Quarterback Value

Updated: March 17th 2016

The year of the breakout first or second year quarterback is over.  Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Blake Bortles, and Derek Carr all took positive steps in 2015 that have created a buzz among their fan bases and fantasy owners alike.  Speaking purely in terms of their fantasy value, could the hype make these players overvalued in dynasty football?  We’ll examine further as we explore the 3 steps to maximizing quarterback value.

Step 1: Sell young quarterbacks who broke through in 2015  

QB Jameis Winston

Time to sell as Buccaneers’ QB Jameis    Winston’s stock has never been higher

Immediately upon reading that, you may recoil.  You may be asking yourself, “Why would I want to give up a young QB who appears to be on the track towards becoming useful in fantasy on a week to week basis?”  The answer is simple.  They’re worth more on the trade market than they are on your roster.  2015 was a breakout fantasy year for Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Blake Bortles, and Derek Carr as many became serviceable plays in the right matchups.  The assumption among many in the fantasy community is that these players will continue on that positive trajectory.  However we’ve seen countless examples of quarterbacks showing promise, yet never quite making it to that tier of elite fantasy quarterbacks.  If we look back just seven months ago, Teddy Bridgewater and Ryan Tannehill were two of the hottest names in dynasty football.  Both were selected among the top 7 quarterbacks in start-up dynasty mock drafts according to Dynasty League Football’s August 2015 Average Draft Position data.  After having disappointing seasons, neither is drafted among the top 16 quarterbacks in DLF’s Feb 2016 ADP data.  Imagine if Bridgewater and Tannehill owners had a do-over.  Think they wish they’d cashed in on the buzz surrounding these quarterbacks entering the 2015 season?  Of course.  For every exception like Andrew Luck or Cam Newton, there are cautionary tails that failed to launch themselves into the elusive grouping of elite quarterbacks.

Step 2: Buy undervalued veteran quarterbacks outside of the elite tier and focus your most valuable resources towards wide receivers 

These types of quarterbacks are severely undervalued in many Reality Sports Online leagues, yet many were productive in 2015.  According to Fantasy Pros 2015 fantasy points per game datawhich uses settings similar to RSO’s standard scoring, Drew Brees ranked 4th place in points per game, Carson Palmer 6th, Andy Dalton 10th, Kirk Cousins 12th, Eli Manning 14th, Ryan Fitzpatrick 15th, and Philip Rivers 16th.  If the rest of your roster is strong, you certainly can build a championship team by acquiring one or two of these types of quarterbacks each year.  To take full advantage of this strategy, you’ll need to be aggressive in free agency and the trade market since you’ll be targeting these quarterbacks who are often and preferably on short-term deals.  

Instead of investing heavily in quarterbacks, my priority in RSO and standard dynasty leagues alike is to build my team around elite wide receivers.  From year to year, wide receivers hold their value significantly better than running backs.  These are the players that I want to invest in with my long-term contracts and that I value so highly in RSO leagues.  More specifically, I’m placing these long-term contracts on the high-priced elite wide receivers and players of all positions, except quarterback, that I believe in significantly more than the consensus of my opponents.  An example of this would be fantasy players that liked Michael Crabtree‘s potential last season.  Anyone who was smart enough to lock in Crabtree on multi-year contract at an inexpensive salary has profited significantly on Crabtree and will for years to come.  In the coming months, I will release a piece identifying several players that I’m targeting with these long-term contracts in start-up drafts and free agency.  


Saints’ QB Drew Brees is the perfect type of veteran to target

If we relate this strategy of profitability back to quarterbacks, the buzz around these young quarterbacks is so high that they are going to cost a lofty price in start-up drafts.  The opportunity to profit is minimal, at best.  In established leagues, you only have these quarterbacks for 3-4 years from when they enter the league before you have to franchise tag them or allow them to enter free agency.  How many times during those 3-4 years will they actually be a top 5, difference making quarterback?  Blake Bortles was the only QB1  quarterback ranked in the top 10 in points per game among quarterbacks to play in at least 7 games.  Marcus Mariota placed 17th, Jameis Winston 18th, and Derek Carr 19th.  Mariota, Winston, and Carr could all take another step forward and still not crack the top 10 in points per game, which would make them not even an average fantasy starter.  The price to acquire your preference of Drew Brees, Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, or Ryan Fitzpatrick is very low in start-up drafts or even through trades in established leagues.  Make the move for one or two of these quarterbacks and allocate most of your resources elsewhere.

Step 3: Avoid drafting quarterbacks in rookie drafts

Cardinals’ RB David Johnson, taken outside of the 1st round in 2015 rookie drafts, burst onto the scene late in the season

RB David Johnson, taken outside of the 1st Rd    in 2015 drafts, burst onto the scene late in the season

When building a team on Reality Sports Online, I am most concerned with how my players can outperform what they cost for me to acquire them, whether it’s through the draft or free agency.  As we’ve discussed earlier, rookie quarterbacks offer the lowest chance of profitability while they remain on your roster.  Aside from the value they may have in trades, quarterbacks in rookie drafts don’t have the breakout potential and weekly “start-ability” that you can find in running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends.  If we take another look at DLF’s August 2015 ADP data, all of these players were taken outside of the top 10 in rookie drafts: David Johnson, Duke Johnson, Tyler Lockett, Devin Funchess, Jeremy Langford, Jay Ajayi, Javorius Allen, Matt Jones, Tevin Coleman, Phillip Dorsett, David Cobb, Jaelen Strong, Maxx Williams, Cameron Artis-Payne, Ty Montgomery, and Zach Zenner.  Thomas Rawls even went undrafted.  Locking players like these in for 3-4 years allows you to profit significantly on these picks as they are much more likely to find ways into your lineups than quarterbacks will.  For example, rookie running backs can quickly become NFL starters and immediately fantasy RB1s: see how David Johnson and Thomas Rawls finished 2015.  Aside from Johnson and Rawls, there are many names in this group that hold more value going into 2016 than their RSO rookie contract would indicate.  In addition to profiting for the next 2 to 3 years, a few of these players may be worthy of the franchise tag for a season or two if their production warrants.  While you may hit on the occasional quarterback that you’re able to trade for profit after a breakout, the smarter strategy is to use your draft picks on other positions which feature a much better likelihood of profitability.

Personal 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.

More Analysis by Dave Sanders

RSO Staff Picks: Week 14

Updated: December 10th 2015


Week 13 Results

1. Papson – 10-6 + FantasyDraft Win

2t. Wendell – 10-6

2t. Goodwin – 10-6

4. English – 7-9

Mr. Matt Papson takes the week by virtue of his impressive 200+ point performance FantasyDraft win and his 10-6 record. Wendell and Goodwin also finished 10-6 and English has another down week going 7-9.

Overall Standings

1. Wendell – 123-70 + 5 fantasy wins (Week 4, 8, 10, 11 & 12)

2. Goodwin – 122-71 + 2 fantasy wins (Week 2 & 9)

3. English – 117-76 + 4 fantasy wins (Week 1, 3, 5 & 7)

4. Papson – 114-79 + 2 fantasy wins (Week 6 & 13)

Wendell stays in the lead over Goody by 1 game. English drops now 6 games behind the leader while Papson remains 9 games back. With only 4 weeks to go, it looks like it is coming down to a 2 horse race for the season long crown, but there is still just enough time for a big shakeup if Wendell or Goody has an off week.  Some great games on the slate for this week. Here is what the guys have for Week 14:

NFL Game Picks

Game Wendell Papson Goodwin English


cardinals cardinals cardinals cardinals


eagles eagles eagles bills


49ers 49ers browns 49ers


lions lions lions lions




jets jets jets jets


steelers steelers bengals bengals


jaguars jaguars colts colts


chiefs chiefs chiefs chiefs




panthers panthers panthers panthers


seahawks seahawks seahawks seahawks



packers packers packers packers


patriots patriots patriots patriots


giants giants giants giants

FantasyDraft Lineups

RSO has truly enjoyed partnering this season with FantasyDraft, the official daily fantasy partner of Reality Sports Online. We are switching some things up this week now that many of you are sadly out of the playoffs in your RSO leagues, and we are doing one $5 entry 40-person Contest. Up for grabs is $180 in prize money ($36 to 1st place) plus for the entrant who finishes 1st overall, he also wins (1) a free league on RSO for 2016 and (2) free entry into FantasyDraft’s Week 15 $20 Run & Gun Contest.  This Contest is first come first serve and is limited to only 40 entrants, so sign up now!

**It should be noted that as a resident of New York, Stephen will not be able to actually participate in the contests due to the NY Attorney General’s recent ruling, but he is still competing with the other staffers internally and therefore his lineup is shown below. Matt was the winner last week, but there will not be an RSOEXPERT this week since we are switching up the contest format. Nevertheless, here are the lineups of all our guys below (good luck to everyone who plays):

Stephen Wendell


Kyle English


Matt Goodwin 


Matt Papson

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More Analysis by Stephen Wendell