2021 RSO Contracts: RBs

Updated: August 1st 2021

My annual look at RSO auction values moves to running backs.  The series was designed to give the reader help in planning for upcoming auctions by looking at actual RSO auctions already finished this year.  The data comes from a variety of different types of leagues with varying scoring rules and starting requirements which can drastically alter player values so be cautious in expecting values to match your particular league.  The information does provide a useful starting point for examining how RSO owners value players at a certain position relative to one another and the length of contract they are willing to invest.  Provided fantasy stats and rankings utilize PPR per game scoring.

Average RSO Running Back Contracts

RB1 s

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

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

In the RB2 Mix

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

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

Uncertain Roles and Committee Backs

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

Outside the Top-40

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


Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

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2021 RSO Contracts: QBs

Updated: July 24th 2021

My annual look at early RSO auction values begins at the quarterback position.  The series was designed to give the reader help in planning for upcoming auctions by looking at actual RSO auctions already finished this year.  The data comes from a variety of different types of leagues with varying scoring rules and starting requirements which can drastically alter player values so be cautious in expecting values to match your particular league.  The information does provide a useful starting point for examining how RSO owners value players at a certain position relative to one another and the length of contract they are willing to invest.  Provided fantasy stats and rankings utilize ESPN per game scoring.

Average RSO Quarterback Contracts

Upper Tier

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

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

Rest of the QB1s

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

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

QB2s

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

QB3s and more

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


Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

 

 

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Player Values with Range of Outcomes and the Importance of Upside

Updated: July 4th 2021

The term “range of outcomes” is probably familiar to many of those who play games of chance.  We do not always know precise outcomes for certain situations, fantasy football being one of those situations.  Player statistical output arises from an array of random forces which we can’t control or necessarily predict.  Fantasy gamers may arrive at valuable estimates, however, when looking at a range of possibilities.  This article utilizes basic probability mathematics to help the reader answer questions relating to player values with a range of potential outcomes, referred to as expected player values.  The article is more theoretical than data-driven so do not get too caught up in the specific numbers used.  Try to think more about the methodology and how it can be used to answer your own fantasy questions.

Expected Player Values

Before we look at the unknown, let’s examine how player values are calculated in fantasy football.  This article will use the familiar value based drafting (VBD) method as a start in determining fantasy expected player values (note there are a number of similar methodologies for determining player values).  Player values (V) are calculated as the difference between points scored (P) and the baseline points of a replacement level player (BL).  The replacement level point level is typically taken as something similar to the next best player available after all fantasy starters for a league. For example, the 13th best QB in a 12 team 1QB league would be the baseline scorer, but this may also vary according to method and application.  We will use average points per game (PPG) as our points in this article for simplicity.  The player value equation then is simply:

V = P – BL

Let’s say a player scores 14 PPG and the baseline replacement player scores 12 PPG, the player’s value is equal to 2 PPG.   We should also note a player’s value has a floor of zero (no negative values).  A player who scores at or below the replacement level has zero value according to this method.

Now what happens if we add a bit of the unknown and don’t know what a player will score but do have an idea of possible outcomes?  We may still estimate the player’s value if a suitable set range of scoring possibilities is available.  Our expected player value (E(V)) is:

E(V) = E (P – BL)

The replacement level scorer tends to remain relatively stable from year to year and whatever variation which happens is the same for each league and position group so we assume a constant baseline for the purposes of this article.  We can then present our expected value equation in the following form:

 E(V) = sum (Prob(i) x (P(i) – BL))    for all i where Prob is the probability of a player averaging a certain point total.

For example, let’s say there is a 50% chance a player scores 14 PPG and a 50% chance the player scores 16 PPG with the same 12 PPG baseline scoring used previously.  The player’s expected value would simply be:

E(V) = 0.5 (14 – 12) + 0.5 (16 – 12) = 3 PPG

Now that the methodology has been presented, we may answer a basic fantasy football related question.

Example Problem: How Much is Upside Worth?

This is a question which garnered much interest last year, maybe most famously in Scott Barret’s Upside Wins Championships.  To answer this question, the article compares players with wider range of outcomes (more upside and downside) against those with narrower range of scoring possibilities (less upside and downside).

The article assumes a simplified discrete approximation of the normal distribution going forward for fantasy points per game on various mean levels with the same 12 PPG replacement level scorer.  The “Example Probability Distribution” graph below displays a player with a mean of 14 PPG and 10% chances of scoring 10 or 18 PPG, 20% chances of 12 or 16 PPG, and a 40% chance of scoring 14 PPG.  Our expected value for this player would thus be:

E(V) = 0 + 0.2 (12 – 12) + 0.4 (14 – 12) + 0.2 (16 – 12) + 0.1 (18 – 12) = 2.2 PPG

Note the 10 PPG component of the equation gets no value because it is below replacement level (remember no negative values).

We can then extend the concept to examine groups of scoring ranges and associated expected values as seen in the chart below.  The three boxes have 11, 14, and 18 PPG mean scores.  The Narrow range of the 11 PPG box spans from 9 PPG to 13 PPG while the Broad range shows a distribution from 5 PPG to 17 PPG as possibilities for example.

 

Expected Values for Sample Scoring Ranges

There are a number of key observations and implications which may be drawn from the data.  The importance of upside is readily apparent when looking at the first box with a mean scoring of 11 PPG.  The Narrow range of outcomes produces almost no expected value while the Broad range produces nine times the amount.  There is an intuitive explanation for this.  So much of a lower-tier player’s scoring distribution is at or below replacement level that they only produce value when they produce at the upper end of the distribution.  That makes the player with the wider range of outcomes far more valuable in this case even though the projected stats are equal.

Contrast the 11PPG mean players with the 18 PPG high end scorers in the 3rd box.  The 18 PPG mean scorer produces the same expected value no matter if the scoring distribution is in the Narrow range or Broad Range.  Again this makes intuitive sense.  The upper-tier player is practically always a fantasy producer scoring valuable points, even at the lower levels of production.  That means he doesn’t suffer from the same issues of the lower-tier player at the lower levels of the distribution and thus doesn’t have the big parts of fantasy irrelevance in the distribution.  There is another concept called “risk-aversion” in which people generally prefer the less risky option.  This might actually cause individuals to select the Narrow range player (less risky) over the Broad range scorer among the upper-tier players given there is no expected value difference.  An individual with similar projections between Tyreek Hill and DeAndre Hopkins, for example, might prefer Hopkins if they view him as a less risky option.  The conservation may change when we are talking about big tournaments and other fantasy structures weighted heavily to a very small percentage of the top teams.

The key conclusion from the previous discussion is that upside matters but it matters a lot more for those at the lower-end of the fantasy spectrum.  The importance of upside fades as we move to the higher-level fantasy assets. 


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.

 

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2021 All About Reality Podcast League Rookie Draft

Updated: May 19th 2021

The All About Reality Podcast league graciously allowed the posting of their RSO rookie draft again this season while also providing thoughts about their picks and strategy.  This draft is presented because it presents a league size for which many of you may not have played along with a couple of scoring rules not used in most leagues.  The article features analysis of the picks by the RSO GMs and takes by the author.

The league is a 16-team superflex PPR format with QB/RB/RB/WR/WR/WR/TE/FLEX/FLEX/SFlex starting requirements.  Roster sizes are limited to 20 spots plus I.R.  Scoring rules add additional significant twists with 0.5 points for all first downs, 6 points per passing touchdowns, and 0.5 points per completion / -0.5 points per incompletion.

 


Team Analysis

Sir Purr (Stephen Boviall and Brennan Emenhiser) – The rebuild continues after going full tank mode in 2020. There was a brief discussion about potential Konami Code Trey Lance with the 1.01, but in the end, we drafted the chalk in Trevor Lawrence. We had Chase ranked as our 2nd overall non-QB prospect and his fall to the 1.07 was a true blessing for a team that needs help at every position. We wanted to chase upside with late 2.12 and 2.16 picks and were bummed to see Amari Rodgers go off the board at 2.10 to Bobby. Josh Palmer felt like the BPA at 2.12 and we’re hoping he can find the field in an ascending Herbert led offense. We decided Cornell Powell would be Mr. Irrelevant.  Similar to Palmer, we’re hoping Powell wins the WR2 position in the league’s most explosive KC offense.

Tzhuk Banner & The Junior Mints (Pat Lorang) – Justin Fields no matter what! With Lawrence going #1, I knew I had my guy at #2. I’ve had Justin Fields as my #2 QB throughout the pre-draft and NFL draft process and even with him going to Chicago, I took my guy. At 1.10, I drafted DeVonta Smith, who is my WR1 in the rookie class. With all top 3 RBs off the board, I took my highest available position player off the board instead of drafting Mac Jones. At 2.14, I took Rhamondre Stevenson to give me another warm body in my RB room.

The Fantasy Affliction (Tim Aylesworth) – Do I push the chips all in for this season, or play smart for the future?  That was the question.  I thought about taking Najee Harris for months as adding him to a solid RB situation would have made me an extremely strong contender for the championship. But in the end the GM in me overruled the coach and I went with Trey Lance at 1.03. I may have no starting QB’s under contract next year if Jalen Hurts flames out, and Lance has so much upside it is tough to turn down in a league starving for QB’s.

Saving Private Pyle (Cos Scarcia) – As the new team leadership settles into this league, Saving Private Pyle had four overall picks to play with throughout the rookie draft. Armed with picks 1.04 and 1.13 and picks 2.04 and 2.05, the Pyles were able to load up on some much-needed talent. Head Coach Cos Scarcia and Team President/Owner Sgt. Gomer Pyle were joined in their team war room with 8 of the brightest draft analytics stars in the fantasy game. After fielding some calls to trade down from the 4th overall pick, and then almost trading pick #13 twice, the Pyles brass decided it was best to make these picks. With the first 3 picks being quarterbacks, the Pyles chose RB Najee Harris, to create a 3-headed monster at RB with JK Dobbins and Nick Chubb. With pick #13, the immediate need was at WR, which is where Rashod Bateman was chosen. The expectation is that pairing Bateman with star QB Lamar Jackson will lead to bigtime points from the Baltimore duo.

At the start of the 2nd round, the Pyles considered trading both 2nd round picks in separate packages, but with such an abundance of WR talent and overall talent still remaining at that point, the Pyles ended up keeping both picks and shoring up the WR and RB areas with WR Amon-Ra St. Brown and RB Kenneth Gainwell in back-to-back selections. Although additional holes still need to be filled, the team was aggressive in addressing some glaring needs. After celebrating on Mr. Pyle’s yacht at the conclusion of the rookie draft, the Pyles are now preparing for the auction and are looking forward to the upcoming 2021 season!

McAfee’s Canal Swimmers (Tyler Houston and Kyle Thompson) –The Canal Swimmers come out of this draft feeling very confident in their picks. We had a strong draft class last year and feel confident with Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert going forward. We came into the draft with picks 1.05 and 1.06 and traded up to get to 1.09 as well. Zach Wilson was left at 1.05 and we couldn’t get the offer we were looking for,so we decided to take who we had as the best available. Given the very QB centric scoring, we couldn’t pass up on the value. We loved Kyle Pitts and decided to take him at 1.06 but were stuck between him and Javonte Williams. We were lucky enough to take Pitts at 1.06 and Williams was still there for us at 1.09. Overall, we are very happy with how we came out of the draft. We’re looking forward to seeing our rookie class from last year grow and can hopefully start hitting a window in the next year or two to start competing for the championship.

Lucha Vikings (Ryan Swenson) – In complete and total rebuild mode, I came in with a BPA mentality with the 1.08.  I hoped one of the top 4 QBs would fall to me, but when they were all gone after 5 picks I started fielding offers for the 1.08. After talking to about half the league, I ended up just going with my gut and taking the BPA on my board, who was Travis Etienne.  Not a bad way to start a rebuild.  I don’t buy the Jags using him just as a “3rd Down Back Type” and I am hopeful he will be the next big dual threat out of the backfield.

At the 2.08 I had a decision to make between a WR with upside like Dyami Brown or Amari Rodgers, and what felt like a safer pick, TE Pat Freiermuth. At pick #24 overall, he’d fallen a few picks lower than some superflex ADPs projected him going, so I liked the value of possibly hitting on 2 future starters for my squad with my two picks. I considered Kyle Trask here, but I was so bitter about missing out on Kellen Mond that I just avoided the position at that lower tier. My team will likely have a very high draft pick next year, and hopefully I can get my future QB1 in the 2022 Draft.

Winthorpe & Valentine (All About Reality podcast co-host Matt Goodwin) – Realizing that I could only potentially protect 2 of my big 3 expiring players in Christian McCaffrey, Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, I used the offseason and my sticky cap situation to trade Adams to Tim for one year of Diontae Johnson on a cheap deal, 1.11 and 1.16. I previously only had 2.03 coming into this draft. I know not the best return, but I did clear $24MM in cap space in the process too.

At 1.11, I figured my pick was going to be a default one after 5 QBs in the shallow pool of available Superflex QBs, 3 RBs, and Pitts and Chase off the board, I was basically choosing between Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. In my head, I was going Smith on situation, but Pat made it easy for me by picking Smith at 1.10, leaving me Mac Jones to be the 2nd QB on my roster with Rodgers. Was thrilled to get a first round QB that far down the board. To nobody’s surprise, I then traded a 2022 2nd and 2.03 to secure Elijah Moore, who I love at 1.15 and give myself back-to-back picks with 1.16 to control the end of the 1st round when GMs are thirsty to have that 5th year rookie option.

I was between a few players at 1.16 and got many offers to move down even a pick or two. Ultimately, I traded for two anticipated high 2022 2nds and 2.13 who I used to pick Kyle Trask as a potential QB in Tampa Bay in a few years. I couldn’t pull the trigger on Michael Carter at 1.16 based on him being a 4th round pick and while I liked Terrace Marshall and Rondale Moore, I felt getting the picks in 2022 was the best play for my team.

Mike Dexter (Ryan Krauchick) ––  Mike Dexter is a god. Mike Dexter is an…astute trader. Taking over an orphan team midseason is difficult. Taking over an orphan team that was trending to have zero picks in the 2021 rookie draft and only had a handful of useful assets to trade in 2020 is a gut punch. However, Ryan spent the entire 2020 season moving contracts to build draft capital and then traded those picks to build a roster base of Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Jordan Love, George Kittle, pick 1.12 and other future year draft capital.

At 1.12 Ryan was focused on getting the best value for his rebuild, regardless of position. He got his Amanda Beckett (yes, that’s two Can’t Hardly Wait references in one team review), snagging his 2nd ranked rookie wide receiver in the back 5 of the first round. Waddle is as explosive as any wide receiver in this draft class and is a great fit into Miami’s new offense that is focused on winning with speed. Waddle has back-end WR1, high-end WR2 upside and will be a nice starting piece for a Mike Dexter team flush with over $109M in free agent auction cap space.

Ryan was trying to get back into the 1st round to target a RB to build around, but lost his biggest target in Trey Sermon when Mistress of Mayhem plucked him away at 1.14. Without any starting RBs on his roster, he fenagled his way back in at 1.16 and, with a light running back class, settled for Michael Carter. Ryan already had La’Mical Perine on his roster, so Carter gives him the ability to ensure he’s at least getting usable RB points from one of his running backs, as the free agent auction pool is drained at the position.

Mistress of Mayhem (Jenna Davis) – Matt Waldman has Sermon as a top ranked RB. When the opportunity presented itself to grab him at 1.14, that seemed like the time to strike.

RSOooo Super Chargers (Marcus Corbould) –  Going into the draft, I only had the 2.01 since I had traded my 2021 first rounder away. Luckily, my first became the 1.15 so I was only 2 picks back from where I would have been. I tried to trade up for a few picks to try to get Mac Jones in this QB-starved league but my offers were rebuffed. I had 15 players that I would be okay with spending a first round pick in this draft so when 1.16 came up and I still had one guy left, I tried to trade up again. I tried to convince Goody that he could probably still get the same offers at 2.01 that he was getting at 1.16 but he chose to trade it away to the package he knew he could get. Lo and behold my guy was still there–Terrace Marshall. With alpha traits and WRs mattering more to me in this league, it was an easy selection. After that, I probably made one of the biggest head-scratching moves in the draft. I saw Kellen Mond go at 2.03 and I knew I had to get my preferred 2nd tier QB: Davis Mills. I currently have Deshaun Watson and Jameis Winston (which could be 2, 1 or 0 starters). If I didn’t have 2 starting QBs in this league, there’s no point in competing. As such, I had to go bold and move David Montgomery and some cap space (cleared $13M or so) for the 2.07 (23rd overall) to get Mills. Last year, I had Montgomery in 5/5 leagues and I am still higher on him than most–but I needed the upside of a QB (who was projected by some to be a real life 2022 1st rounder) that I believe will play significant snaps on a team with an awful defense. Montgomery was subsequently moved for a 2023 1st and 2nd, but I got my guys. Let’s see if it works out, Cotton.

Karl Hungus & The Nihilists (Ryan Nicholson) – Entering the 2021 draft season, my team was coming off a league-high scoring season but with many contracts expiring or soon to expire (Chris Godwin, Alvin Kamara, Amari Cooper, George Kittle etc.).  With little hope to win it all this year, it was time to deconstruct the roster and walk away with the 2.02, 2.07, and 2.11 this year with additional picks in the 1st and 2nd next year.

There were some very defined tier breaks this year with Rondale Moore and Terrace Marshall being the firewall at the end of the 1st/beginning of the 2nd.  Moving up to make sure I drafted one of these receivers proved impossible but with some luck (and a trade-up by a league mate) Michael Carter went off the board at 1.16.  Rondale Moore fell to 2.02, and I was happy to take him there as a player who I see as a T.Y. Hilton archetype with a Steve Smith style to his game.  David Montgomery was offered for the 2.07 during the second round, and I accepted (he has since been traded for a 2023 1st and 2nd).  The 2.11 selection was Chuba Hubbard.  This is the sort of player that makes sense to me at the end of the 2nd with a hyper-productive sophomore season on his resume.

Pontifex Minimus (All About Reality podcast co-host Luke Patrick) – My contribution to on pick at 2.09- 25 picks away from the start of our draft. Baker Mayfield and Kirk Cousins are my only QBs on a championship team for the foreseeable future. QB scarcity, Vikings homer, and a rival owner named Lucha Vikings was two picks ahead of me at 2.07. My mission-Kellen Mond.

After pick 1.13 I offered 2.09/2022 2nd/2023 2nd to every owner until salvation came from a Packers fan- my only love sprung from my only hate! The Pickyouoff(Packers) at 2.03 agreed to move back 6 spots and picked up two 2nds and Kellen Mond joined the crew.

The Waterboys (Bobby Hoyt) – I entered this draft with my pick at 1.09, but looking at my roster and cap space, I knew I wasn’t a contender this year. So, when the trade to move back to 2.06 presented itself with an additional 2022 1st and a 2023 2nd rounder, I took it––pretty much knowing based on our group chat hate, that my New York Giants homer pick would probably be there for me. Kadarius Toney’s skill set reminded me of my 2020 2nd round pick Brandon Aiyuk and that’s an enticing thought for both my fantasy team and my Giants.

I was really surprised Amari Rodgers fell this far to 2.10, to be honest. I guess the uncertainty of the Green Bay quarterback situation had something to do with that, but when Daniel Jeremiah comped him to a young Randal Cobb, I figured he would be a great late second round steal. From what I’ve seen from him, he’s a top notch route runner with strong hands and that will always boost a player up in my rankings.

At 2.14, I went with Nico Collins. Any pick here in a 16 team league is a dart throw, so why not throw a dart at the guy who has the most opportunity? Aside from Brandin Cooks, who else is catching passes in Houston? Tyrod Taylor and Davis Mills aren’t exciting QB options by any stretch, but I think they should be able to throw it up to a big guy like Nico for a bunch of contested catches at least. And he’s certainly got the frame of a premiere red zone target. So, why not?

Pick You Off 24 (Stacy Hess) –  Stacy, not to be confused with Stacey (he’s a dude, pod league!) essentially traded down many times from 1.15 to 2.03 and then to 2.

RSO Podfather (Devonte Cleveland) –  2020 Midseason, the RSO Podfather was a on a hot streak and made a big trade to not only relieve some cap space but to acquire Evan Engram, Derek Carr, and Michael Pittman to add depth to the roster. The trade involved the 2021 1st round pick. The only thing I have to show for going into the 2021 season is Pittman on his rookie deal.

For my 2021 2nd round pick, I wasn’t a fan of what was falling to me in the later rounds, so securing the Tua’s back up in Jacoby Brissett and taking Benny Snell as depth seemed to be the best option, but time will tell. If I still had the 2.13, I would have definitely went with Kyle Trask, which is what Goody did with the pick acquired in the three way trade.

My Favorite Value Picks

Mac Jones is not my favorite prospect but is my choice for best value after dropping to the eleven spot.  The value of most starting quarterbacks is huge in a 16-team superflex league.  The scoring settings in this league elevate most quarterback values to enormous heights and particularly boost the accurate, limited rushing ability passers for which Jones projects as in the NFL.  It’s a great pick for a team in need of starting QBs.

Kadarius Toney has all kinds of issues projecting him to the NFL including very limited route-running ability, questionable hands, and limited production at the college level.  His ability really rests with the ball in his hands where he is dynamic.  Even though I have significant concerns, some in the NFL clearly have plans for Toney as multiple teams wanted him in the first round.  I like the gamble this late in the rookie draft.

Freiermuth was one of the only tight ends in college used as a primary receiving option.  While not an extreme athlete, he displays the ability to line up and win outside.  A bigger league also increases the potential impact of stable starting tight ends.  Like most tight ends, I don’t expect much production year one.  Eric Ebron and Juju Smith-Schuster could be free agents next season opening up opportunity for the new tight end.


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.

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2021 RSO Writer’s League Rookie Draft

Updated: May 19th 2021

Rookie drafts for Reality Sports Online teams involve a number of considerations different than a normal dynasty league.  Selected rookies are typically given three or four year contracts at, hopefully, a below market contract.  RSO GMs then have the option of extending a player with franchise tags, extensions, or final year options (depending on the chosen settings in your league) which usually are near or above market value for a given player.  This makes the initial rookie contract years potentially extremely valuable and the real measure of worth for a rookie player.

The RSO Writer’s League recently finished our three round rookie draft with results posted below. The league is a 10-team Superflex PPR format.  This article analyzes some of the pick decisions with All About Reality Podcast hosts Luke Patrick and Matt Goodwin also providing insight into their picks (also be sure to check out the latest RSO Podcast where Luke and Matt discuss this draft).

Writer’s League Draft

Notes on Selected Picks

1.01, Trevor Lawrence QB

Luke:  Morning of the Writer’s League draft I only had one certainty: no one was moving up for the 1.01.   Having done my due diligence with the league, I was faced with the reality of a young team- 1.01/1.03/1.05 and 3 1st round picks in each of the next two drafts.   This offseason saw me trade away beloved QBs Baker Mayfield and Kirk Cousins leaving me with Tua lonely in the QB room.

1.03, Trey Lance QB

Luke:  Matt Papson went Najee over Lance so I opted for Lance who I value nearly as highly as Trevor in superflex, especially as he has the legs to make a difference in our ten team league.

1.05, Justin Fields QB

Luke:  Nick Andrews opted for Chase.   Here was my only real decision point.   Fields, Pitts, Etienne all had some appeal for distinct reasons, but given the historic nature of this QB class, and acknowledging someone may bust, I decided to push my chips in on Fields and just stay true to the top three talents on my superflex board.

1.06, Travis Etienne RB

Bernard:  I was very comfortable in the six spot this year knowing one of my top-tier positional players or prime quarterbacks would likely still be here.  Luke’s QB-heavy start to the draft narrowed my choice to Kyle Pitts or Etienne.  In the end, the league’s shallow format and no tight end premium pushed me to the NFL first round running back.  Etienne is the single most explosive rookie RB this season and one of the only rookie backs with potentially high passing-game usage by year’s end.  New head coach Urban Meyer moving to the NFL presents some uncertainty with regards to Etienne’s usage not usually associated with a rookie running back selected in the first round.

1.09, Javonte Williams RB

Bernard:  As noted previously, Pitts was the last of my first-tier players but I also had Javonte Williams in a tier of his own slightly behind them so it was a good trade-up spot for me.  Unfortunately I couldn’t get a deal done.  The seven spot ended up taking DaVonta Smith, though, so I was content waiting on one of my top remaining players.  Williams was the last of the “big three” running backs and PFF’s highest-rated running back who broke tackles at a crazy-high rate.  He has ideal size and should be Denver’s lead back by next season.  The main drawback with Williams is that he is likely stuck behind Melvin Gordon for at least a good portion of this year and not a true “route-winner” at RB which would dictate high target counts.

2.07, Elijah Moore WR

Matt:  Going into the Writer’s League Rookie Draft I had three draft picks with not great draft capital: 2.07, 2.10, and 3.10. I knew I’d get a player I liked at 2.07 but was skeptical about a tier fall-off right before 2.10. At 2.07, I picked Elijah Moore, who I love. When you see comps like Steve Smith and Antonio Brown as route running tacticians and hard-nosed tough WRs and hear how Sly Johnson trained him as a humble elementary schooler on our podcast into a 2nd round NFL draft pick with the Jets, you love the story and the upside. While Moore is set up to be an inside receiver, I’m banking on the fact that Moore can win all over as he did being an elite Ole Miss wide receiver putting up solid stats even when DK Metcalf and AJ Brown were around. I liked him higher than Terrace Marshall and Rondale Moore, who went in the same vicinity.

2.09, Michael Carter RB

Matt:  I saw things drying up at 2.10, so when Michael Carter was still on the clock at 2.09, I offered my 2.10 and 3.10 to move up one spot with Bob Cowper to snag Carter, a good all around back who figures to have a role with the Jets. I think Carter is an interesting player that we’ll be talking about more on our podcast, particularly about the volatility of where he is going in rookie drafts. He was the last RB I had a decent grade on and the end of a tier of players for me and I feel that late third round picks are dart throws and clog roster spots I’ll need for weekly transactions and team depth. So I didn’t want another player I’d have to consider cutting in two years. Hopefully this trade works out well for both teams.

3.01, Kenneth Gainwell RB

Bernard:  This writer concurred with Matt that the talent (or at least the projected production) really dries up in the middle of the second round this year.   This was another spot where I attempted to move up and/or out and could not get a deal done.  Gainwell is an interesting prospect with a monster 2019 of over 2,000 scrimmage yards in his only significant year of play and someone many consider the best receiving back out of the class.  The situation also provides some intrigue with Miles Sanders ahead of the depth chart, a player the fantasy community seems to like more than the NFL.  Gainwell likely tops out as a high-volume receiving back in the NFL thanks to his size, with the floor of not making the roster as a day three NFL pick.

3.09, Dyami Brown RB

Bernard:  Brown was primarily utilized as a vertical-plane receiver for the Tar Heels and performed admirably but not dominantly.  His athletic, production, and tape profile into someone who could develop into a nice outside complementary piece.  Washington doesn’t have much at tight end or running back plus the receiver depth chart behind Terry McLaurin and new import Curtis Sample is fairly bare so there is opportunity available right away for Brown to work the outside and get a decent target share.  New quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick also shows the willingness to challenge defensive backs deep which is right in Brown’s wheelhouse.

My Favorite Value Picks

Kyle Pitts going off the board at 8 in the first round stands out.  Our league settings put tight end values about as low they get, tight ends are notoriously situation dependent with long learning curves, and the historical bust rate is high.  With that said, Pitts is one of the better tight end prospects in the history of the NFL with Atlanta picking him higher than any tight end ever plus an off-the-charts athletic and production profile.

As discussed previously, the talent level dried up in the mid-second of the draft.  That makes Elijah Moore and Rondale Moore solid values at the end of a key tier. Elijah has the chance to grow with new Jets quarterback Zach Wilson in a potentially high-volume role.  Most of his work came in the slot so we will have to see if he diversifies to other receiver positions in the NFL.  Rondale landed in one of the best spots for his skill-set as one of the most athletic playmakers in the class whose production largely came from after-the-catch short passing game, a nice fit for Arizona’s scheme.


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.

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Players to Consider Trading before NFL Draft

Updated: April 27th 2021

One of the key concepts in fantasy is risk evaluation and, when possible, reduction of risk within proper player valuations.  Specifically the article explores players with questionable future prospects because of team draft capital, questionable consensus view on players, and other uncertain depth charts.  Below the reader finds a number of examples of players for which I am exploring trading away before the NFL draft begins.  Price points vary in all leagues so be sure to check out your own league mates to see where they stand.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Any list of potential trade targets must start with James Robinson.  Many still consider him a top-10 fantasy back moving forward.  He performed admirably for an undrafted free agent with a good 4.5 yards per attempt.  He only ranked as PFF’s RB30, however.  His top-10 snap percentage at running back was also significantly influenced by a rebuilding Jaguars team who released Leonard Fournette preseason while the rest of the RB core succumbed to injury/illness. The second year player almost certainly sees significant reduction in snaps and touches going forward. The Jags also have a new coaching staff with their own views and schemes who may not value Robinson.  While the first pick in this year’s draft will almost certainly be Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville also possesses four picks from 25 to 65 this year and two more notable picks at the top of 3rd and 4th rounds.  This is prime territory for Jacksonville to possibly add running backs if they feel the need.

D.J. Chark is a more under the radar trade candidate.  He should certainly benefit from Lawrence under center for 2021.  The same draft arguments, however, can be applied to Chark where Jacksonville is in good position to potentially help Lawrence with wide receivers.  Chark is in the last year of his rookie contract, and the Jaguars may not deem him valuable enough to extend.  A good 2021 potentially boosts his price tag out of the Jaguars’ price range, particularly after signing Marvin Jones in free agency.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins similarly own significant draft capital with four top-50 picks and six total in the first three rounds.  A couple of key differences exist in that Miami likely won’t use their top pick on a quarterback and they own significant additional future picks (1sts in 2022/2023, 3rd in 2022) thanks to the San Francisco move-up to 3rd overall.  Ja’marr Chase and Kyle Pitts are firmly in play at 6 and one of the remaining high picks could easily be a top running back from this class.

Mike Gesicki, DeVante Parker, and Myles Gaskin all are players I would consider moving on before it is too late.  Gesicki and Gaskin are in danger of being replaced as early as this year depending on the draft with Gesicki in the final year of his rookie deal.  Miami can move on from Parker’s contract as early as next season with limited cap consequences.  Each of the players is at risk to be replaced in future years with the Dolphins haul of picks even if the players avoid that fate this season.  You might not find the market you like for someone like Gaskin in your league but now is the time to mitigate potential downside of these players.

Cincinnati Bengals

Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are key receivers in an up and coming offense led by second year quarterback Joe Burrow so what’s not to like?   The Bengals’ number five pick in the NFL draft likely comes between the top tackle on their board or Pitts/Chase.  If Cincinnati takes Chase, both could see their perceived values take a hit.  While Boyd seems continuously undervalued, Higgins in particular seems to have room to fall.  Higgins already lands as the WR15 in FantasyPros consensus dynasty rankings and naturally many have him higher.  There’s not a lot of room to move significantly higher in the short term and a lot of room to fall.  While neither receiver is a must-sell by any means, both could see their trade value take a hit on draft night.

Other Starting Running Backs

Arizona is currently left with Chase Edmunds at the head of the running back depth chart after Kenyan Drake moved on free agency and the addition of James Conner.  The talk of Edmunds as a “bell-cow” by head coach Kliff Kinsbury pushed him up many fantasy-gamers boards.  The signing of Conner to a minimal contract did not sway many who believe in Edmunds that he will be the feature back.  Edmunds remains a player likely utilized in committee and should be valued as such.

Antonio Gibson Washington is without a ton of needs on a team with a stout defense that significantly upgraded the passing game with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Curtis Samuel at wide receiver.   Investing heavily in a running back may seem bad but with only Gibson, J.D. McKissic, Peyton Barber, and Lamar Miller on the roster it can’t be completely discounted.  Gibson is currently viewed, on the whole, as one of the top young running backs with the chance to take on a significant workload increase.  J.D. McKissic had a higher snap percentage than Gibson last season.  Samuel also showed off his skills as a running back last season, as he did in college, which could limit Gibson’s touches more if Samuel gets significant rushing touches as he did in Carolina.  There’s a good chance Gibson doesn’t see the workload going forward necessary to justify his current valuation.

Mike Davis landed with Atlanta in free agency at less than $3 million per year for 2 seasons as the presumptive starter.  The depth chart currently looks like his for the taking.  That could easily change through the draft (although the Falcons have a ton of needs) or what’s left of the free agents.  I tend to move away from older running backs with minimal commitments from the team.  On the other hand, Davis could be a very cheap lottery ticket at running back as a hold or acquisition in the right leagues.


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.

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