Inaugural High Stakes League update 3

Updated: October 18th 2021

Welcome back.  We’re still getting these updates up to current but, if you missed last week’s, you can view it here.

Once again I want to congratulate Dave, owner of Philadelphia Freeways, for being our season one champion.  Their strategy and depth took them all the way to the title.  Not to mention a nice payout.  After two seasons of entry fees and only one payout so far, those Philly Freeways are the only ones in the green.  Interestingly, five weeks into season two, they have the lowest points scored in the league by far.  But, we’ll get a little more into the current season in my next update.  I want to step back and talk about this offseason we just had in 2021.  It was one for the ages.

For those of you who have already found and play on RSO you already know that they’ve finally figured out the best way to deliver the most complete ownership experience in fantasy football.  That starts in the offseason.  An offseason is something that many leagues don’t even have.  Fellow RSO players, can you even imagine gong back to not having an offseason?  We now have year around fantasy football.  Just like nature intended.  It’s a beautiful thing.  How about that salary cap reduction this year though?  For many owners and many leagues this year was a new challenge not seen before.  I’ve seen some owners in trouble, on a rare occasion, entering the rookie draft in the past.  But not very often.  Not only did many teams need to get under the cap, but many simply saw the writing on the wall.  Getting salary to use in the auction this year was on everybody’s mind and a top priority.  If you like trading, and seemingly most everyone does in fantasy football, the challenge of gaining salary to use in the auction caused some anxiety but also presented the opportunity of a lifetime to wheel and deal like you were down in the pits of the New York Stock exchange.  Buy! Sell! Hold!  The deals were coming in fast and furious.  Player values were changing and evolving versus last season.  Draft picks were being slung around like an octopus bartender acting in some new version of Tom Cruise’s Cocktail.  Oh yes, fellow owners, it was a glorious time in RSO land.  And it was only May.  Since last season was the first for this particular league, most teams had maxed out their salary caps.  That’s why so many owners needed to make moves.  But, I suspect this was happening in most RSO leagues.  In fact, I’d love to get some feedback.  Once this story posts to my Twitter account (Give me a follow, eh?) @RSOHighStakes please reply with your story of a crazy offseason trade that was made to move some salary.  I know there are some good ones out there.

I know I said we have year around football here on RSO.  It’s a true statement.  And it is glorious.  But, there is often a down time.  After the rookie draft (for many leagues this is in May) things tend to simmer down for a little while.  The league is still open.  Deals can and do happen.  But June and July are definitely the fantasy football doldrums.  Our league still saw one trade in July and then one trade August 1st.  Then the players starting falling off rosters one by one as the deadline before the auction approached.  Wow, this growing list of free agents was starting to look real nice and owners in our league really did not have a lot of money to spend.  It was starting to become painfully obvious that this auction was going to have some tremendous deals doled out and the beneficiaries were set up to reap the rewards for many seasons.  A butterfly effect that could lead to a dynasty.  Three days before the auction, our deadline hit to make moves to find salary, as is standard in RSO leagues.  Many thought this was the last moment to find salary.  But, au contraire mon frère!  This guy right here had one more trick up his sleeve.

So, here we are at that auction deadline and it appears Philadelphia Freeways has a commanding lead on salary to use at the auction.  Last year’s champ.  This season’s most salary entering the auction.  Well done, sir!  Looks like about $44m to spend (Most teams had a similar number of spots to fill) and the next closest is at $32m.  Roughly 33% more cash on hand than the next closest owner.  Myself, I had about $22m (and I still had the 5th most to spend).  Now, let’s step over here to have a brief side conversation.  Look, I commission other leagues outside of this one.  In my leagues, we utilize a rule that states we cannot place a player on our IR unless that player has been placed on NFL IR.  But, in this High Stakes league, we can place a player on IR at any time for any reason.  Injury or not.  It’s not my own personal preference but that’s irrelevant.  Know the rules of your league!  I can’t stress this enough.  Many of the advantages an owner gains is by simply understanding the rules and the scoring system better than anyone else and therefore, how they can best take advantage of the system they play within.  This is why many commissioners tend to always do well.  No one knows the system like they do.  Anyone can.  But many don’t take the time.  So, you see where this was heading.  I knew this league allowed it and there was never going to be a more important year to wield salary so I made a tough, but savvy, move, in my opinion.  It wasn’t even going to be tough initially.  But, then the run of preseason RB injuries hit and I was forced to reconsider my strategy.  So, here was the scenario.  We start two RB’s and it’s a 12 team Superflex PPR league.  I’m sitting on Clyde Edwards-Helaire and I drafted Trey Sermon and Travis Etienne.  I signed CEH to a massive 4-year contract in front of the ’20 season and he was due about $37m this year.  I think it’s fair to say most preseason rankings had him outside the top 10 so I felt like his value was not fully there but, more importantly, placing him on IR would almost double the salary I had to use this season and give me the 2nd most money to spend in the auction at around $40m.  I felt all along I could get two starting RB’s in the auction with that kind of money.  Nothing fancy, but starters nonetheless, and probably one more upside RB that might even start for his team at some point.  Then that Etienne injury hit and the decision to IR CEH became a much more agonizing one.  One that I ultimately made anyways.  Understand that dropping CEH would’ve lead to an accelerated cap hit in ’22 that I wanted to avoid as well.  IR bought me one extra season to consider him and his value.  So, I got the extra $18.5m but left myself thin at RB with only Sermon listed on my active roster entering the auction.

So, was I the only owner who had this bright idea?  This is the High Stakes League.  Of course not.  Another owner decided to shut down Tua and his $16m contract giving him an extra $8m and had a similar amount of salary as myself at about $40m.  Turns out we both made these moves within 5 minutes of the start of our auction.  I discovered afterwards that it created the intended chaos for some people when they saw other owners showed up with more cash to spend.  Another owner in the league spoke up a few days after the auction to ask how certain teams ended up with more money.  It was explained and discussed.  He wasn’t mad and appreciated the approach.  We also decided to discuss a few more things in the offseason regarding IR.  That’s how it goes, right?  Something new pops up and you address it.  My fellow commissioners know this all too well.

Interesting side note that both CEH and Tua have since went IR.  Prophetic.

At one point in time in our league chats, season one Champion Dave (Philly Freeways) lamented that RSO had ruined all other fantasy football for him.  I was quick to agree.  This is exactly how I already felt and this past offseason provides a lot of reasons to understand why.  Absolute excitement from start to finish.  No less than four different opportunities to employ strategies and gain a little more of an advantage.  From getting under the salary cap, to the rookie draft, to gaining maximum salary for the auction, to the actual auction.  No site before RSO has been so complete.  Add in the excitement and chaos of the reduced salary cap and all it’s effects and this is an offseason I won’t soon forget.  Thanks for reliving it with me.

As for the current season, I have to note that we now have one team at 5-0.  A squad called “Y-Town.”  They also have a fair lead in total points this season too, proving it’s no fluke.  Congrats Y-Town on the hot start.  More to come on the current season in the next update.

If you have any interest at all in the next High Stakes leagues looking to form next year be sure to follow @realitysportson on Twitter along with myself @RSOHighStakes.  Also read those emails.  Get on the list and make sure you start to get notified of the next league’s progress.

See you next time!

 

Matt Russell

RSO High Stakes League Storyteller

 

 

More Analysis by Matt Russell

RSO Decision: Extensions

Updated: October 18th 2021

The decision of whether to extend a player or not is one of the crucial points for Reality Sports Online managers.  This article focuses on the decision-making process for RSO managers which utilize the extension option in their leagues.  We examine many of the key factors in determining whether to extend a player and choosing between different options.  In particular, this piece utilizes a real-life example from my RSO Writer’s League team in which I have narrowed my extension contract choices to Josh Allen and Tyreek Hill.

Projected Player Values

The extension decision-process starts with a comparison of player values versus contract costs.  Allen was the 2020 overall QB1 last season in fantasy scoring for our league and currently the 2021 QB4 while Hill was the WR2 in 2020 and 2021. I calculated each of the players with similar production value at over $50 million per year for the 2020 and 2021 seasons so far.  Allen’s offered extension contract is 4 years at $108 million for an average value of $27 million per season while Hill’s is 4 years at $176 million for an average value of $44 million per season placing each among the top-5 priced contract at their respective positions.  That makes each player’s extension a below-market value if they continue at their recent production profile into the future but Allen’s extension contract offers a lot more possible surplus value.  This extra value surplus on Allen’s contract also necessarily reduces the risk due to injuries or underperformance in future years and adds more roster flexibility.

Projected Franchise Tag Alternative

Many leagues utilize RSO’s franchise tag option which allows your team to keep an expiring contract. The cost is the average of the top-5 players at a position in the first season with options of 20% and 44% increases in years 2 and 3 over the previous year’s contract cost, subject to certain conditions.  Allen’s extension price projects at $24 million the first season while Hill is expected at about $39 million.  The franchise tag currently calculates to $25 million in 2022 for quarterbacks and about $36 million for wide receivers.  These prices are particularly noteworthy for Hill.  Hill’s first two years of his extension offer project at about the same cost as two franchise tags.  Hill will be 30 after the 2023 season which is an age where fantasy players generally start to devalue wide receivers. This makes the franchise tag a particularly appealing option for Hill in this case.  Allen, on the other hand, will have just started his prime years as a quarterback which makes the extension offer more attractive.

Free Agent Alternatives and Salary Cap

The projected free agent pool also bears some thought as possible future replacements for players.  Keep in mind other teams may also franchise tag or extend players so the free agent pool will typically be shallower than the pool currently projected as free agents.  Brady, Rodgers, Cousins, Ryan, and Tannehill are the only realistic possibilities at quarterback in this league while Cooks, Woods, Julio Jones, D.J. Moore, and Kenny Golladay are among the top options at wide receiver.

The player pool has little meaning without looking at what the projected costs of free agents will be.  The projected cap space in this league is over $700 million which presents a huge amount available to spend on the top free agents potentially pushing prices above market values.  This factor adds weight to using extensions or franchise tags on players at or below market prices in my case.  One must also look at the impact of extensions on your own team’s salary cap.  Teams up against the salary cap ceiling in future years may have trouble fitting in large extension contracts.

Extension Value Changes

RSO extension offers may change throughout the season taking into account weekly performance.  This might lead an RSO GM to consider waiting on possible better contract offers throughout the season or jumping on one perceived as below-value.  The extension offers for Hill and Allen did not change the first two weeks despite Hill coming off a huge week four performance and Allen, conversely, producing a big week five outing.  This leads me to expect that the extension offers, which are near the top of market, likely remain similar throughout the year unless something catastrophic happens.

Final Decision

The article displays a number of key factors in deciding between alternative RSO contract extensions.  The combination of extension length and price strongly points toward an Allen extension in this particular example while the franchise tag presents an attractive alternative for Hill.


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

Inaugural High Stakes League update 2

Updated: October 4th 2021

You are. <Looks directly at you>

I am. <Grabs chalice>

We are. <Steps on to balcony>

You are.

<Spins around with chalice in hand and points out to the crowd>

I am.

<Puffs cigar>

WE ARE…..

<Raises hands in the air and signals to the crowd>

…allll fantasy football experts.   Yeah!

Thanks for joining me for another update.  If you missed the first one, you can check it out here.

As I’m just now getting to these updates after the league has been in existence for over a year now, we have some catching up to do.  Last week’s update got you into my head and my thoughts to understand what brought me to the Inaugural High Stakes League.  If I had to shorten those reasons into a few hashtags it would probably look like this: #Confidence #Competition #Professional #Timing

So, now I’m in.  Time to see what kind of competition I was up against.  To the Google!

Hmmm…A couple names on a split team that do some fantasy football expertise writing on a website.  Ok.  This is what I expected.

No more writers though after that.  Huh.

Well, this is interesting.  Looks like we have an actual ice cream tycoon up in here.  Going to put that one in my back pocket and see if I can finagle a lifetime supply of chocolate chip cookie dough at some point…

Beyond that?  No, I really don’t see a lot of credentials.  One of my fellow owners mentioned that he was in roughly 50 leagues though.  Yes.  These are my people.  This is where I belong.  I was really only left wondering why I’m not in 50 leagues either.

Overall, I couldn’t be more pleased with this group of competitors.  They are simultaneously no better than me (In my very very humble opinion) while enlightening me with a few new strategies here and there that I’m happy to have picked up on and plan to utilize in all leagues moving forward.  So I ask you, did I pay just to join a high stakes league?  Or, have I possibly paid for something more?

Ok, ok.  So, how did season one go?  Well, long story short, I’m here writing to you because I went 13-0, won the Super Bowl, and was declared the greatest of all time by the rest of my league.  Then, it just made sense to have me do the write ups also.  And if you believe that, I have some Edwards-Helaire stock to sell you.

Look, I have some season one regrets.  I tend to play in leagues that have escalating scoring systems where elite players can pop off for insane points.  This makes spending elite money on them worthwhile.  This league has a standard system that reward those yards gained the same whether you’re at 40 for the day or 175.  As such, my year one approach yielded a scary looking starting lineup that lacked depth.  Week one I was near the top of league scoring and 1-0.

By the end of week three I had lost Kittle, Davante Adams, and Michael Thomas.  I dropped to 1-5 in the league.  Heartbreak.  What else is left to do but start planning for the future?  So, I traded away MT for some draft picks and saved a ton of future cap space.  A key move that would put me in good position for the ’21 season.   A trade that was so good that, for better or worse, put me back on a winning streak.  This is really my style.  Who wants a #1 pick anyways?  Certainly not me.  No, I prefer to miss the playoffs and end up with the 4th or 5th pick.  My team, “These Truth’s to be Self Richard Dent,” went 6-7 in season one.  So, enough about my squad who couldn’t break down that playoff wall.  What good is being in a High Stakes League if they don’t talk about you when you win?

The website contributing writers made the playoffs.  The guy who plays in 50 leagues made the playoffs.  Neither was our season one champion.

A team that goes by the name Philadelphia Freeways took the season one title.  If I would describe their approach it would be the exact opposite of mine.  They stayed away from spending elite money but had the best depth.  In a year when we dealt with Covid-19 and players missing more time than usual, this was the best approach and it’s no surprise this team came out on top.  Each year will present different opportunities for roster construction and where to best spend your money and one of the highlights of competing on the RSO platform is seeing and managing these opportunities no different than Bill Belichick might try to do.  Obviously, some years we will be more successful than others.  Just ask Bill.

So, a big Congratulations to Philadelphia Freeways.  Champion of the inaugural season of the Inaugural High Stakes League.

Are you excited about the next official RSO High Stakes League yet?  You should be.  Details are in the works as we speak.

I’m also happy to announce that I will have a discount code for you once RSO opens up for the ’22 season.

The deal is good for everyone except CARL!

Please give me a Twitter follow @RSOHighStakes for more fun league highlights and more details on your future discount.  See you next time.


Matt Russell
High Stakes League Storyteller

More Analysis by Matt Russell

2018 Rookie RSO Extension Candidates

Updated: September 26th 2021

The 2018 NFL rookie class plays the final year of four-year contracts in the NFL and most Reality Sports Online leagues this season.  These players represent extension candidates (among others on the final year of their RSO contracts) for RSO managers which utilize the extension option in their leagues.  This article examines the 2018 rookie class as to suitability for RSO extensions.  It also provides a useful starting place in evaluating trade targets based on extension possibilities.  Draft information comes from DLF Post-Draft Superflex ADP data.   Actual draft position may vary greatly between leagues.

Round 1

The tables below show players with overall and positional ADP, projected positional contract price, and recommendations on whether to extend the player.  The decision to extend really breaks down to if you believe the extension contract is cheaper than the market auction price or value for the player.  The below are general recommendations for extensions as there are a large number of factors to consider including league size, projected salary cap space in the league, the estimated free agent pool, and your own cap/roster situation among many others.   We should also note the NFL salary cap (and with it the RSO cap) is set to explode after the diminished cap effects of the COVID-reduced cap in 2020 are finished working their way through the NFL cap to go along with an eventual revenue boost from the new NFL television deal.  This, in general, makes gambles on extension contracts more palatable.  Many leagues also use the Reality Sports Online rookie option for 1st round draft picks adding an additional year to the contract which would eliminate the 2018 rookies drafted in the first round of your leagues from extension consideration if the GM exercised the option.

There is an extremely limited supply of running backs with the potential touch volume in the rushing and passing game as Barkley.  Coming off an ACL tear with diminished early performance might present lower extension prices and a unique opportunity to take advantage.  Chubb might be the best pure rusher in the NFL.   He’s a solid back-end RB1 but without an elite-level range of outcomes due to his quarterback for the NFL or fantasy football, stuck in the middle.  Mayfield and Darnold are quarterbacks stuck as QB2s in fantasy.  Neither is among the best passers in the NFL nor possesses much rushing upside.  This implies a limited fantasy ceiling that you will likely be able to obtain for less than the probable extension price.  On the other end, Jackson displayed league-winning upside already and a rock-solid borderline QB1 floor with over 1,000 rushing yards each of the last two seasons as a starting quarterback.  The price will be high but worth it in the right fantasy leagues.  Moore possesses all the traits you look for when signing a wide receiver to a long-term contract.  He put up quality production dating back to college with sub-par quarterback play, wins in a variety of ways on multiple levels of the field, and is an excellent athlete to boot.  He might not rack up elite numbers but is a young foundation piece, particularly in deeper leagues, who probably has not hit his prime yet.

Round 2

Ridley is among the best route runners at the wide receiver position and another receiver productive since he entered the NFL.  The only question is whether his extension price will be nearer the elite echelon rather than just an upper-level price.  Kirk and Gallup represent speculative low-cost extensions for players who flashed for decent portions of their rookie contracts and probably will be with new teams next season.  The reasons for extending Sutton mirror that of Moore.  Sutton is a prototype dominant X receiver with quality production despite awful quarterback play.  I was hoping a slow start coming off his ACL-tear last year would drive down his price but that might not happen now with Jeudy out.  Allen locked up a massive extension coming off a MVP-type 2020 season.  I don’t think it is reasonable to expect that type of production going forward but his rushing skills and massive arm give him one of the highest weekly ceilings among quarterbacks.  The extension price might push into the very top of the position which could make for a difficult decision.  Gesicki flashed at times but has not developed his route-running to consistently beat good coverage despite his athletic gifts and has shown to be more of a situational matchup player in the NFL.  Those aren’t the type of tight ends that typically get the playing time and target load necessary to produce consistent fantasy points.

Round 3

We might consider Hines a specialty extension candidate as a passing game specialist whose role doesn’t change much no matter if the lead is injured.  Indianapolis just extended him so there is some security.  Consider extending Hines in deeper leagues.  Everyone waits for the Eagles to finally move on from Ertz and give Goedert the opportunity he deserves as a top-6 PFF tight end each of his first three seasons.  He could get that chance during his second contract but it might now be for a different team as the Eagles somehow have not extended him.    Many people mistakenly thought Chark could morph into a potentially high target receiver after a breakout 2019 season propped up by a limited receiver room and an easy schedule.  The reality is his skills translate better as a complimentary deep receiving option for an NFL team.  The extension price will likely be too high for RSO GMs wanting to take a gamble on him.  While Andrews projects at the higher end of extension contracts for tight ends, it probably won’t be at the very top.  He just signed a massive contract extension in Baltimore and is one of the only proven receiving weapons for the Ravens.  The Baltimore offense caps the ceiling for Andrews but he is still one of the few tight ends who likely averages 5-6 targets a game.


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

Inaugural RSO High Stakes League update 1

Updated: September 23rd 2021

If you read any of the email updates from Stephen at RSO, you probably remember him talking about the desire to start a High Stakes League on the RSO platform.  I remember because I considered it but, perhaps not as strongly as some people.  It seemed awesome but finances – can I afford it?  And what level am I really?  You’ll understand soon enough I’ve never lacked confidence in anything I do but jumping up to the next level, whatever that may be in fantasy football, is a decision that takes some readiness.  Especially depending on where your finances are and mine were not quite there just yet.  A friend of mine that introduced me to the RSO platform in 2014 was considering joining though, probably a bit more strongly than I.  He expressed interest to RSO so that he could receive the email updates as the league tried to form which would put him in position to join if he ultimately felt comfortable.  This was great because he still shared the info with me as it came available.

Fast forward to August 2020.  The Inaugural RSO High Stakes League is close to being full but they still need one more team filled.  Stephen mentions in another RSO email update that the league is still looking for that last owner but Stephen himself may need to fill that role if they don’t find one, as a backup plan.  Regardless, the league is a go.  It’s happening and getting off the ground finally in this crazy 2020 that we went through.  Well, it just so happens that I got paid a couple days earlier.  I rehabilitate homes and sell them so my paydays come in chunks.  Very large chunks.  Usually only once per year.  So, I’ll be damned if the timing wasn’t lining up perfectly.  I reached out to my buddy to see if he joined.  He says no.  He’s going to watch and see how it goes first.  Gah!  What to do.  Well, I emailed Stephen and tell him the timing is right.  I’m considering it.  Just had a few more questions.

Then the internal thoughts.  $2k is a lot of money even though I have it right now but I’m no ice cream tycoon.  Considering RSO is more of a Dynasty format, you can’t just consider one season of costs either.  You have to consider whether you can put out this kind of money every year.  So, $2k every year indefinitely?  That’s a hard pill to swallow.  Look, I’ve been running fantasy football leagues for 20 years.  Part of running a league is recruiting when you have a spot to fill.  Quite frankly, in my opinion, if you want a fun league you want good players and people who have confidence.  If I had a nickel for every time I’ve told a person that it only costs you money if you don’t win, I’d be a tycoon of some sort, I assure you.  So, let’s just say I answered that concern myself.  Now, the confidence in my ability.  I’d been seeking, for a while, a challenge on the highest level.  Can one be a fantasy football professional?  Like, in Texas Hold ‘Em?  What about sponsored?  How do we know who the best are in this world?  There’s not many clear or easy answers to these questions and high stakes leagues, for now, seem to be the closest we can get to the highest level of fantasy football competition.  The fact that RSO has made this league official and put it on a pedestal with some promotion definitely gives it a feel of professionalism, from my point of view.  For me, something like this is what I had been seeking.  A chance to prove I could hang with the big dogs.  I decided to go for it.  Besides, how much more than me could these clowns know anyways?

Why is my first update about my decision to join?  Because RSO has big plans for more leagues like this and I think some of my thoughts are probably similar to many of yours out there.  I know you have the confidence.  You aren’t any different than I am.  An average guy who loves football, fantasy football, and the Chicago Bears (What?  Everyone doesn’t love the Bears?  I don’t believe you).  Now it’s time to step up your game and see if you have what it takes to compete on the next level.  Stay tuned for more information about future official RSO high stakes leagues.

Now that I’ve called the other owners clowns and promoted my own confidence on hanging with the big dogs you must be curious if I was the Champ of season one.  Well…..let’s just save the season one outcome for my next update.  I hope you’ll check it out.  See you next time.


Matt Russell

RSO High Stakes League storyteller

More Analysis by Matt Russell

RSO Roster Construction: Player Tier Variation

Updated: August 26th 2021

The question of optimal roster construction remains a mystery to many in RSO leagues.  How much should I allocate to different position groups?  How is the allocation distributed within each position?  How much should go to projected starters versus backups?  There exists practically near-limitless player combinations available to RSO teams and we can’t hope to cover any reasonable fraction of those.  This article gives a few examples of what various rosters can look like based on allocation of salary cap to different tiers of players.  The article utilizes average salary data taken from 2021 RSO startup auctions in order to construct 20-player rosters fitting near the RSO salary cap limits.  I assume 1QB/1SF/2RB/2WR and 1 or 2 flex spots in the starting lineup for this exercise.   I also allocated the same number of roster spots at each position for all rosters as a consistency measure.

The goal of this article is not to recommend individual players or even which type of roster construction is best.  League settings and conditions will have a big impact on the type of roster you desire on auction day.  The article does provide a starting point in evaluating different types of roster builds and the sort of trade-offs one must take into account when choosing how your team is constructed by examining a few rosters with differing cap distributions among players.

Top-Tier Heavy Roster

This roster pays a premium for the top contracts at each position.  The top-4 players combined for about 60% of the salary cap.  Interestingly, that number is significantly down from 2020.  This top-4 contracts would have cost about 75% of a team’s total salary last season.  These top-tier players show the most certainty in production which means this roster construction profile puts most of the cap dollars in highly reliable players.  The hope for this type of team resides in exploiting the consistent week-winning upside of the high priced players while getting just enough production from lower priced players.  The team has potential for extremely high weekly production in shallow leagues if it gets lucky and hits on one or two low-priced, low-probability players while avoiding injury.  The depth at wide receiver is a major plus for this strategy as low-priced viable options and young upside players exist throughout the lower price spectrum to fill a roster.  That strategy gets murkier as the number of required starters increases when more “hits” on questionable players are needed to produce a winning lineup.

The main issue with a team constructed this way is that many roster spots are filled with minimum salary and other low-cost players with very small odds of significant fantasy production.  There is little chance of seeing much value increases from these players.  Most trades will necessarily involve moving one of the prized star players to help alleviate any team deficiencies.  Any injury or underperformance of your star players is also a major issue for a team like this as there simply isn’t going to be a viable replacement in most cases.

Starter Heavy Roster

This roster variation divests cap dollars away from the very top-tier players to a degree.  Most of our salary is still allocated to the starters but is more evenly divided among them.  We can see that secondary starters see significant potential upgrades over the previous top-tier heavy roster and this roster type ensures a premium starter at the “start two” positions even in the case of injury.  The main question for teams utilizing this strategy is how they view the secondary starters.  The move away from the top-paid players may well be worth the cost if an owner sees potential top-tier production in the next tier of players.  There is also a depth cost to be paid with this build as the difference in price from top-tier downward is not as drastic as last season.

Balanced Roster

This distribution notably puts more cap dollars in potential flex starters and bench players.  The power of the middle-tier running backs this season, in particular, is highlighted.  Typically the “avoid zone” for running backs, the infusion of young running backs at the position recently allows for more flexibility in roster construction.  The flatter cap distribution approach displays two primary benefits.  First, the roster offers enhanced injury mitigation.  Unavailability of even the best players on this roster will potentially have a more diminished effect.  The statistical projections between players are less as the salary gap narrows.  There is a certain amount of “plug and play” replacement aspect here.  An RSO GM should feel fairly good about the weekly starting lineup, even on bye weeks.  Second, this type of roster construction acknowledges the inherent randomness in statistical production.  New coaching, surrounding personnel, schemes, schedules, etc. have major impacts on the fantasy performance of players.  Dividing money to more players allows additional chances on players with reasonable chances of significantly out-producing respective salaries.   There exists a good chance one of the backups produces at starter-quality as a replacement for an underperforming projected starter.

The downside to this build is a team will usually not have the potential weekly upside using this roster methodology compared to more concentrated distributions.  Even when many of the questionable players exceed expectations, they are unlikely to achieve truly top-tier production levels and many may not make your starting lineup.  This becomes less of a concern as in deeper leagues as more of the “hits” can be utilized on a weekly basis.


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