Best Values – Writers’ League

Updated: October 16th 2016

Values.  Even in a league comprised of the RSO founders and writers, there are plenty of players that sign for below their projected values.  Many factors contribute to this, including the timing of player nominations, each team’s roster construction, and each team’s remaining room under the salary cap.

As the auction progresses, owners throughout the league felt regret as several players slipped through the cracks for reasonable, team-friendly deals.  After the draft, several owners shared with me which players they felt were the best values in the auction.

Quarterbacks

Aaron Rodgers (4 years, $72 million) Ice Cold Bruschis

“Didn’t realize it during the action, but after the fact this looks like a steal.  He’s still the 5th highest paid QB on a per year basis and the 6th highest in 2016, but he’s almost 9M/yr cheaper than the #1 QB Wilson and a solid 3-4M/yr lower than the other top tier QBs of Luck, Cam, and Brees.  Add in the fact that he’s the only QB locked in for 4 years in this superflex league and this buy looks great.  I personally went into the auction with the strategy of not wanting to target the top QBs, but in hindsight I should have gone after Rodgers at this value.” -Kyle English

“A-Rod also really good to have locked up for 4 years. He will probably have a huge year this year now that Nelson is back in the fold.” -Stephen Wendell

Ben Roethlisberger (2 years, $25 million) Bro-lo El Cuñado

“Ben at 2/$25M was my favorite multi-year QB deal” -Matt Papson

Derek Carr (3 years, $21.5 million) Like The Language

“Derek Carr is a nice flyer at $7.2M per year for the next 3 years. I was already set at QB by the time he came available so I could not get involved.” -Matt Papson

“I am big on Carr and love that contract as well. He will be able to use or trade that at some point this year.” -Stephen Wendell

Blake Bortles (2 years, $18 million) Like The Language

Love the Blake Bortles contract. In a 2 QB league, he is going to be a valuable starter for Kyle’s squad for many many weeks.  -Stephen Wendell

Running Backs

Le’Veon Bell (3 years, $45.5 million) New York Knightmare

“Bell was unbelievably cheap, even with his recovery. I wasn’t prepared to absorb the risk that comes with him, but this has the chance to be the best overall deal signed at the end of the year.”  -Matt Papson

LeSean McCoy (2 years, $22 million) BallinOnABudget

“I fully expect McCoy to deliver big value on this contract.  He is the lead back in a run-heavy Buffalo offense and a dangerous receiving option out of the backfield on a team without many receiving weapons.  McCoy missed some time last year and was one of the first running backs nominated in the auction, which probably explains his low valuation in our league as owners  were waiting on the running back position.” -Bernard Faller

“Matt’s Shady contract could prove to be really good…in a PPR league, I just think he is so undervalued. I bowed out of that signing too early…as an Eagles fan, the whole Shady thing is tough to get through.” -Stephen Wendell

“I’m not a huge McCoy fan in general but given the turmoil his backups are going through, I think it’s safe to say McCoy is looking at 300+ touches this year if he can stay healthy (which he did in 2013 and 2014 don’t forget).  McCoy’s 2016 salary is lower than guys like Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Matt Forte – all three have their own injury histories and I would argue neither has as high a ceiling as McCoy.”  -Bob Cowper

Devonta Freeman (2 years, $26 million) New York Knightmare

“Freeman and Bell are both on solid contracts, though I like Freeman signing more than Bell. The discount was there for Bell for obvious reasons but 4 years is a lot to commit to him given his off the field issues and the age of Big Ben…he goes down and that offense really changes.” -Stephen Wendell

Jeremy Langford (1 year, $4.5 million) $7 Worth of Hoobastank

“Jeremy Langford signing could prove to be a great bang for the buck this season at $4.5mm. Forte was not just a fluke catching dump off passes in the freezing cold all those years in Chicago. Langford will score a bunch of fantasy points…don’t get me wrong, I hate the Bears and Cutler, but this is a good singing I think.” -Stephen Wendell

Thomas Rawls (1 year, $5 million) $7 Worth of Hoobastank

“Rawls at $5MM looks like great value in retrospect. I remember being upset he went for that little.” -Stephen Wendell

Wide Receivers

Josh Doctson (3 years, $3.5 million) Suck It Trebek

“My favorite contract in this league is Suck It Trebek’s (Bernard’s) signing of Josh Doctson for 3 years, $3.5m. Basically, even if Doctson sat out the entire season in 2016, he has the potential to be a superstar and runs the entire route tree. Doctson can win against all types of coverage, especially in the air on a Washington offense full of weapons. Bernard will benefit from this late-auction deal big time in the future years and potentially in OBJ type form if Doctson comes back to full health at some point this season. I personally would have bid higher and had the money to do it or even price enforce a bit, but I was saving my last multi-year deal (only had my 2 year deal left) for Sterling Shepard with OBJ already in tow and being fairly receiver heavy.” -Matt Goodwin

“At the point in the draft where he was selected, many of us were low on salary cap room and/or multi-year contracts. Still, this is incredible value given the contracts many of the other high-upside wide receivers and was a lesson in patience for my trigger-happy bidding style.” -Jaron Foster

Kelvin Benjamin (3 years, $50.5 million) Save Us Carson Wendtz & Kevin White (3 years, $34 million) $7 Worth of Hoobastank

“The receivers got the bulk of the multi-year deals in this league, which is to be expected, but there was some craaaaaazy cash flying around in Free Agency. In the end, I think Kelvin Benjamin and Kevin White have a chance to be really special players for a while.” -Matt Papson

Jeremy Maclin (4 years, $24 million) BallinOnABudget

“I mean just look at this numbers last year to know how good this signing was by Papson – don’t love the length but it is an easy cut decision in 2 years if need be.” -Stephen Wendell

“My value pick has to go to Matt “Papi” Papson and his Jeremy Maclin $26M/4years contract. As his team name would suggest (BallinOnABudget) Matt seemed to be looking for value rather than bidding wars and he definitely found one here. Maclin was quietly one of the most consistent WRs last season and looks comfortable as Andy Reid’s number one option. We will see what his value holds in the fourth year of the contract, he’ll be 31, but at an average salary of just over $6 million he is a significant discount to some of his other WR2 brethren.” -Nick Andrews

Laquon Treadwell (2 years, $6 million) Like The Language

“Treadwell’s contract looks pretty good for that amount of time. He is going to be good.”  -Stephen Wendell

Marvin Jones (1 year, $3 million) Bro-lo El Cuñado

“Jones at that value has a chance for a special year in a Megatronless Detroit.” -Stephen Wendell

Tight ends

Zach Ertz (2 years, $8 million) Bro-lo El Cuñado

“The Ertz contract was easily the TE value of the night. I must have been asleep at the controls for this one.”  -Matt Papson

Let us know on Twitter about some of the best/worst contracts in your RSO league.


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

More Analysis by Dave Sanders

Best Values – Writers' League

Updated: September 7th 2016

Values.  Even in a league comprised of the RSO founders and writers, there are plenty of players that sign for below their projected values.  Many factors contribute to this, including the timing of player nominations, each team’s roster construction, and each team’s remaining room under the salary cap.

As the auction progresses, owners throughout the league felt regret as several players slipped through the cracks for reasonable, team-friendly deals.  After the draft, several owners shared with me which players they felt were the best values in the auction.

Quarterbacks

Aaron Rodgers (4 years, $72 million) Ice Cold Bruschis

“Didn’t realize it during the action, but after the fact this looks like a steal.  He’s still the 5th highest paid QB on a per year basis and the 6th highest in 2016, but he’s almost 9M/yr cheaper than the #1 QB Wilson and a solid 3-4M/yr lower than the other top tier QBs of Luck, Cam, and Brees.  Add in the fact that he’s the only QB locked in for 4 years in this superflex league and this buy looks great.  I personally went into the auction with the strategy of not wanting to target the top QBs, but in hindsight I should have gone after Rodgers at this value.” -Kyle English

“A-Rod also really good to have locked up for 4 years. He will probably have a huge year this year now that Nelson is back in the fold.” -Stephen Wendell

Ben Roethlisberger (2 years, $25 million) Bro-lo El Cuñado

“Ben at 2/$25M was my favorite multi-year QB deal” -Matt Papson

Derek Carr (3 years, $21.5 million) Like The Language

“Derek Carr is a nice flyer at $7.2M per year for the next 3 years. I was already set at QB by the time he came available so I could not get involved.” -Matt Papson

“I am big on Carr and love that contract as well. He will be able to use or trade that at some point this year.” -Stephen Wendell

Blake Bortles (2 years, $18 million) Like The Language

Love the Blake Bortles contract. In a 2 QB league, he is going to be a valuable starter for Kyle’s squad for many many weeks.  -Stephen Wendell

Running Backs

Le’Veon Bell (3 years, $45.5 million) New York Knightmare

“Bell was unbelievably cheap, even with his recovery. I wasn’t prepared to absorb the risk that comes with him, but this has the chance to be the best overall deal signed at the end of the year.”  -Matt Papson

LeSean McCoy (2 years, $22 million) BallinOnABudget

“I fully expect McCoy to deliver big value on this contract.  He is the lead back in a run-heavy Buffalo offense and a dangerous receiving option out of the backfield on a team without many receiving weapons.  McCoy missed some time last year and was one of the first running backs nominated in the auction, which probably explains his low valuation in our league as owners  were waiting on the running back position.” -Bernard Faller

“Matt’s Shady contract could prove to be really good…in a PPR league, I just think he is so undervalued. I bowed out of that signing too early…as an Eagles fan, the whole Shady thing is tough to get through.” -Stephen Wendell

“I’m not a huge McCoy fan in general but given the turmoil his backups are going through, I think it’s safe to say McCoy is looking at 300+ touches this year if he can stay healthy (which he did in 2013 and 2014 don’t forget).  McCoy’s 2016 salary is lower than guys like Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Matt Forte – all three have their own injury histories and I would argue neither has as high a ceiling as McCoy.”  -Bob Cowper

Devonta Freeman (2 years, $26 million) New York Knightmare

“Freeman and Bell are both on solid contracts, though I like Freeman signing more than Bell. The discount was there for Bell for obvious reasons but 4 years is a lot to commit to him given his off the field issues and the age of Big Ben…he goes down and that offense really changes.” -Stephen Wendell

Jeremy Langford (1 year, $4.5 million) $7 Worth of Hoobastank

“Jeremy Langford signing could prove to be a great bang for the buck this season at $4.5mm. Forte was not just a fluke catching dump off passes in the freezing cold all those years in Chicago. Langford will score a bunch of fantasy points…don’t get me wrong, I hate the Bears and Cutler, but this is a good singing I think.” -Stephen Wendell

Thomas Rawls (1 year, $5 million) $7 Worth of Hoobastank

“Rawls at $5MM looks like great value in retrospect. I remember being upset he went for that little.” -Stephen Wendell

Wide Receivers

Josh Doctson (3 years, $3.5 million) Suck It Trebek

“My favorite contract in this league is Suck It Trebek’s (Bernard’s) signing of Josh Doctson for 3 years, $3.5m. Basically, even if Doctson sat out the entire season in 2016, he has the potential to be a superstar and runs the entire route tree. Doctson can win against all types of coverage, especially in the air on a Washington offense full of weapons. Bernard will benefit from this late-auction deal big time in the future years and potentially in OBJ type form if Doctson comes back to full health at some point this season. I personally would have bid higher and had the money to do it or even price enforce a bit, but I was saving my last multi-year deal (only had my 2 year deal left) for Sterling Shepard with OBJ already in tow and being fairly receiver heavy.” -Matt Goodwin

“At the point in the draft where he was selected, many of us were low on salary cap room and/or multi-year contracts. Still, this is incredible value given the contracts many of the other high-upside wide receivers and was a lesson in patience for my trigger-happy bidding style.” -Jaron Foster

Kelvin Benjamin (3 years, $50.5 million) Save Us Carson Wendtz & Kevin White (3 years, $34 million) $7 Worth of Hoobastank

“The receivers got the bulk of the multi-year deals in this league, which is to be expected, but there was some craaaaaazy cash flying around in Free Agency. In the end, I think Kelvin Benjamin and Kevin White have a chance to be really special players for a while.” -Matt Papson

Jeremy Maclin (4 years, $24 million) BallinOnABudget

“I mean just look at this numbers last year to know how good this signing was by Papson – don’t love the length but it is an easy cut decision in 2 years if need be.” -Stephen Wendell

“My value pick has to go to Matt “Papi” Papson and his Jeremy Maclin $26M/4years contract. As his team name would suggest (BallinOnABudget) Matt seemed to be looking for value rather than bidding wars and he definitely found one here. Maclin was quietly one of the most consistent WRs last season and looks comfortable as Andy Reid’s number one option. We will see what his value holds in the fourth year of the contract, he’ll be 31, but at an average salary of just over $6 million he is a significant discount to some of his other WR2 brethren.” -Nick Andrews

Laquon Treadwell (2 years, $6 million) Like The Language

“Treadwell’s contract looks pretty good for that amount of time. He is going to be good.”  -Stephen Wendell

Marvin Jones (1 year, $3 million) Bro-lo El Cuñado

“Jones at that value has a chance for a special year in a Megatronless Detroit.” -Stephen Wendell

Tight ends

Zach Ertz (2 years, $8 million) Bro-lo El Cuñado

“The Ertz contract was easily the TE value of the night. I must have been asleep at the controls for this one.”  -Matt Papson

Let us know on Twitter about some of the best/worst contracts in your RSO league.


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

More Analysis by Dave Sanders

Reviewing 2/2/1 RB Draft Strategy

Updated: September 7th 2016

Last week I took a look at the 2-2-1 RB strategy and offered some hypothetical picks for maximum value in the RSO format.  How did the strategy work in reality?  Here’s a rundown of how I used the strategy in three leagues.

RSO Home League – Year 2 – 10 Team, PPR, Superflex

I went into our free agent auction with Jonathan Stewart, David Johnson and Le’veon Bell on my roster.  So, that meant my 2-2-1 strategy would need to be modified to account for the fact that I already had studs in Johnson and Bell.  Rather than look for value, I decided I needed to ensure I was able to handcuff Stewart and Bell because they have clear handcuffs, while Johnson could lose touches to both Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington.  I did manage to get both Cameron Artis-Payne (1 year, $1.5 mil, due to some price enforcing) and DeAngelo Williams (2 years, $7 mil total).  So, in 2016 I’m spending about $5.0 mil to lock down the Steelers and Cardinals backfields – not bad at all considering they were both Top 5 scoring offenses last year.

RSO Experts League – Year 1 – 10 Team, PPR, Superflex

I stuck to some of my original picks in this start up auction and grabbed JStew, CAP, Isaiah Crowell and Ka’Deem Carey.  I also added the tandem of Doug Martin and Charles Sims.  Unfortunately, I missed out on Duke because he went for more than I had budgeted (signed for 1 year, $8.0 mil) but then I spent more on Stewart and Martin than I really wanted to.  Our auction went a little screwy with RB value and was all over the place.  In hindsight, Duke only ended up being the 21st most expensive RB for 2016 but at the time it seemed like a lot.  At the end of the day, starting RBs like Frank Gore, Thomas Rawls, CJ Anderson and Matt Jones all went for between $3.5-6.0 mil.  Faults and all those are real bargains because I will be paying Stewart and Martin about $24 mil combined in 2016.  I probably should have abandoned the strategy mid-auction once I realized the value wasn’t there for me but I ended up sticking with it and the depth of my roster is weaker because of it.

Yahoo Home League – Year 9 – 10 Team, PPR, Superflex, Keep 3

Despite this being a keeper league, I went in with a clean RB slate as I didn’t keep any.  I missed out on the Carolina RBs (being a snake draft I did not have the flexibility I had in the auctions) but did manage to land both Cleveland RBs.  I paired them with the duo of Arian Foster and Jay Ajayi.  I also got two PPR RB steals in Theo Riddick and Giovani Bernard who will end up starting for me at RB2 and Flex until I see how the Miami backfield shakes out.  Between keepers and my first picks, I started with Rob Gronkowski, Allen Robinson, Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin, Russell Wilson and Blake Bortles.  Some draft pick trades meant I did not pick in Rounds 3 through 5 but from Round 6 on, I was concentrating on using my RB strategy to build a solid roster and I think it worked.

 

So, after putting the strategy into practice, what is the final verdict?  I actually really like it.  I was never one for handcuffing, but the knowledge that you have a team’s backfield locked up is comforting – less worry about injuries.  To double down on the idea and handcuff both your RB1 and RB2 just adds to the roster stability.  As long as you keep to teams with a clear handcuff, I think this strategy can work, especially if you’re able to nail the “1” part of the 2-2-1.


Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  Robert works as a recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.

More Analysis by Bob Cowper

Week 1 FantasyDraft Advice

Updated: September 7th 2016

Week 1 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 week. To join a contest, go to FantasyDraft now.

Dak Prescott, Cowboys, $10,000 – Daily fantasy football can be similar to yearly strategy in the sense that you’ll want to take chances on some occasions and take the safe route on other occasions. Quarterback (QB) is the perfect example although the application is quite different. In yearly leagues, if playing a 9-0 opponent, you’ll likely want to start a QB with gigantic upside as opposed to the safe floor. On the flip side, the safe floor candidate is more appealing against a weaker opposing fantasy team. In daily, the thought process is based on salary and the formatting of the game you choose. In cash games, which consist of 50/50s, double-ups and head-to-head contests, the idea is to get the likely top fantasy-point-per-dollar producer at the position and surround them with the most possible fantasy points out of skill position players. In tournaments, the idea is to find the highest raw score at the QB position and surround him with both those who catch passes thrown from him (to increase potential upside) and virtual unknowns who catch lightning in a bottle. So while some other fantasy analysts are paying up for Andrew Luck in Week 1, I’m completely comfortable building cash rosters around minimum-priced Dak Prescott and surrounding him with skill players…maybe even Colts skill players. Vegas lists the Giants/Cowboys game as a “pick’em,” meaning it has a point spread of zero. Both teams are implied to score 23.0 points and Prescott is coming off both an impressive final season at Mississippi (3,793 yards passing yards, a 29-5 TD-to-INT ratio and 10 rushing TD) and productive preseason (seven total TDs, zero turnovers). He has some nice surrounding parts (Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Ezekiel Elliott) and one of the top two offensive lines in football. If looking for a safe bet to produce enough fantasy points to justify his salary, Prescott makes all the sense in the world.

Latavius Murray, Raiders, $10,500 – Although I advised against drafting Latavius Murray in season-long and dynasty leagues in the preseason, talent evaluation is a different anima on a week-to-week basis. The talent of DeAndre Washington will rear its head at some point and force the coaches to make difficult decisions but that is unlikely to affect Murray’s workload in Week 1. The Raiders will head to the Superdome to square off against a Saints defense that was simply toast last year in all aspects. Not only did they allow the most yards per carry (YPC) of any team but they allowed the second most yards overall the absolute most points of any team. This offseason, the Saints went out and acquired the likes of James Laurinatis, Nick Fairley and Craig Robertson to help solidify the defense. However, this trio alone is unlikely to catapult the team into an upper-echelon run stopping defense or even anything close. This bodes well for Murray who will now be running behind the NFL’s best offensive line now that they have replaced the weak link (J’Marcus Webb) with a Pro-Bowl caliber player (Kelechi Osemele). Despite running behind a similarly dominant offensive line last year, Murray only averaged 4.0 YPC and scored six total TDs. While that’s concerning over the long haul, it’s not concerning in a matchup versus a cupcake defense. Murray has similar upside to the star backs this week with a severely discounted price tag.

Duke Johnson, Browns, $10,100 – Coach Hue Jackson is a fan of the RB-by-committee approach and amazingly went from a situation in Cincinnati to one in Cleveland that has a similar collection of talent. One back is a power runner whose skill set translates into grinding out the tough yards (including goal line) while the other is built for the passing game and does his best work in the open field. Of course, the power back on the Browns is Isaiah Crowell and the overall weapon is Duke Johnson. It’s tough to look at the Eagles numbers defensively and apply them this season with any semblance of confidence because they ran such a fast-paced offensive scheme last year. The scheme led to quicker drives which led to more time on defense. For spending literally the most time on the field of any defense, they didn’t fare so poorly (ranked third in total yards per game allowed and fifth in points per game allowed). A few notable trends though were the fact that they allowed the 13th most receptions to RBs last season and ranked middle of the pack in terms of DVOA allowed to the position. During training camp, Coach Jackson referred to Johnson as “the ultimate weapon” and this is after a 61 catch season in 2015. On FantasyDraft, a site with point-per-reception (PPR) scoring, one reception is equal to 10 rushing yards. Considering the Browns’ offensive line is middle of the pack, Griffin could be under pressure routinely and will look for his check-down option. Johnson quietly possesses some serious upside against an Eagles defense devoid of any linebacker capable of keeping up with him.

DeAndre Hopkins, Texans, $16,600 – Every single receiver priced above $15,000 is an enticing proposition in Week 1 because we’re not really sure how defenses are going to fare with new personnel and/or coaches. My motto for Week 1 is to always “start the talented players” because they usually find a way to get theirs. With that being said, it’s hard to overlook the fact the Bears are going to be without their top three cornerbacks on Sunday. Yes, Kyle Fuller, Tracy Porter and Bryce Callahan are all expected to sit out and this was already a defense that allowed 31 passing TDs against them in 2015. Sure DeAndre Hopkins will have to adjust to his new QB (Brock Osweiler) this season but he has to be an upgrade from what they had last year, right? The opening Vegas line has moved from -5.5 to -6.5 already and is still rising so the odds-makers have some faith in this offense. Therefore, you should too, and Hopkins is the top target to spend up for at the receiver position.

Sammy Watkins, Bills, $13,000 – Since last year seems like ions ago, it’s easy to forget Sammy Watkins ended the season on an absolute tear; he registered double-digit fantasy points in each of his six games and averaged 25.17 fantasy points during that span. Health is the largest concern when it comes to Watkins and he’ll head into the season at 100-percent. According to Pro Football Focus, his individual matchup against Jimmy Smith is one of the most advantageous for the receiver of the entire week so he should be primed to continue the momentum from the end of last season. Watkins is a WR1 priced like a WR2.

Marvin Jones, Lions, $9,100 – Marvin Jones was worthy of consideration prior to the Vontae Davis news (he’ll miss at least a month) and now he’s an absolute no-brainer in all formats. On FantasyDraft, Golden Tate is listed as more expensive than Watkins while Marvin Jones is priced like a scrub. The individual matchups for all the receivers just upgraded as Patrick Robinson, the Colts best remaining cornerback, moves around quite frequently. Most of the time last year, he covered the slot receiver, and Tate is more likely than Jones to draw snaps in the slot. This game comes equipped with the highest over/under of the entire weekend at 51.5 with 57-percent of the public money on the over. The Lions’ running game hasn’t changed much from last season and that’s not a positive. As always, the Lions will be looking to sling it and now Jones is one of the two large targets in the red zone for Matthew Stafford to look for. Remember, Jones is only a few years removed from a double-digit TD season and now his role should drastically increase on a Calvin Johnson-less Lions squad. Jones is a cheap way to get some exposure to one of the highest scoring games on the weekend.

Jordan Reed, Redskins, $10,300 – Typically, FantasyDraft prices are nearly double those of DraftKings (DK) due to their similar format and $100,000 salary cap, compared to just $50,000 on DK. This week, Reed’s price tag must have been lost in translation because he’s listed as $6,600 on DK but only $10,300 on FantasyDraft. In my opinion, Reed is the closest thing to Rob Gronkowski in the NFL right now…even topping out Rob Gronkowski for that honor due to the Tom Brady suspension. Over the course of Reed’s last five games last season, he averaged 7.6 receptions per game and 26.56 fantasy points. What did he do this preseason? In the tune up game, he went and scored yet again. The guy is simply a fantasy monster and yet he is priced like a WR3. Rostering a player with 100-yard-and-a-TD upside at this price tag feels like stealing so do not resist a gift when one is presented to you.


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

Press Your Luck

Updated: September 4th 2016

When I was a kid, I used to love the Game Show Press Your Luck (Editor’s Note, this is my (Stephen’s) favorite game show of all-time). While I’m sure this makes it easy to guess my age, a young me loved the days on winter break or off from school when I was in front of a television with those hilarious whammies and contestants yelling, “Big Bucks! Big Bucks! STOP!” For those of you who have never seen the show, check out a link here.

While the Reality Sports Online Free Agent Auction offers way more substance than those sophomoric whammies, sometimes it becomes necessary to go against your initial instincts and press your luck to go all in on a player. What I mean by this is like the famous saying from the WWE’s Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase that “everyone has a price”, sometimes you have to go out of your comfort zone bid wise to get the player(s) that makes you the league favorite.

Today, with many of you yet to have your auctions before the season starts, I will outline how I employed that strategy in two writers/expert leagues the past few weeks and in what situations/scenarios you should consider making bold moves. I’m predicating all of these scenarios based on you having adequate cap space to carry out this strategy without overextending yourself. Of course, another good strategy that sometimes works is making trades pre-auction so you don’t have to pay market prices for players you covet if most of the best players are under contract.

Scenario #1) Only One or Two Elite Free Agent Options Available in Your League

This very scenario occurred for me in my numberFire and friends writers league a few weeks ago (I hate to call anything an “experts” league because to me there’s always someone who I don’t know who I feel is an awesome fantasy player and to this point, a non-writer won the league last year). I was coming into this 10 team, third-year league with a team that has not gotten in done in the playoffs the past two seasons in spite of a combined regular season record of 19-7 and being the highest scoring team in the league the past few years. In my mind, my starting receivers of Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker were solid, but didn’t offer the upside to compete with the elite receiving options in the league. Most top receivers are concentrated on a few teams that in my opinion pose the biggest threats to me-ESPN’s Leo Howell’s team (Antonio Brown,Mike Evans, Allen Robinson), FantasyGuru.com’s Graham Barfield’s team (Dez Bryant, A.J. Green, Alshon Jeffery) , and numberFire’s Tyler Buecher (Julio Jones, Brandin Cooks).

So, when I took inventory of this and found that Leo Howell would not be franchise tagging DeAndre Hopkins for a second straight year, I determined that my bidding strategy on Hopkins was to win him at all costs because it strengthens my position while weakening one of my chief competitors, one who has gone 24-2 the past two regular seasons.

My $91 million in cap space and the need really to only fill two flex positions in my starting lineup helped justify the massive expense on Hopkins, who by far was the best free agent available in this league and especially so at a position of need for me. So my pre-auction plan was to win Hopkins at any cost for four years-my pre-auction budget was around 4 years and between $140 million and $150 million total. However, Howell had plenty of cap space too and was targeting a return of Hopkins as well.

I ended up signing Hopkins to a 4 year, $171.5m deal which was the biggest contract I’ve seen in any of the three leagues I’m currently in. It sent some shock waves to the rest of the league (and a few Twitter followers) and honestly pushed my comfort zone somewhat because I do think Hopkins may experience some regression this season. However, it was definitely the right move for my team based on him being the premier option in the auction and fitting a team need.

Later in the auction players who are solid starters but not necessarily difference makers fetched big prices as a result of the Hopkins auction and teams being flush with cap space-for instance Randall Cobb received 3 years, $96.5 million and Jeremy Maclin signed for 4 years, $102 million. In essence, I may have set the market on receivers by my huge Hopkins bid and based on what happened afterwards, I’m happy that I added an elite option to my team that I hope puts me over the top.

Scenario #2) You Have Very Few Roster Spots Left

Especially in leagues where you have more than two rounds of rookie draft picks and carry roster sizes in the 20’s, by the time you get to a third-year auction, roster spots may not be plentiful when your auction rolls around. So, you might as well spend your cap space and get what you want, even if some of the pricing runs counter to what you are comfortable with. Sometimes that may involve you winning a player you don’t necessarily want via price enforcing, but more often than not, it will help you carry out a strategy.

For instance, RSO President and Founder Matt Papson and I got into a slight bidding war on Arian Foster, who he ended up signing for one year, $19.5 million. I’m sure that he was probably hoping to spend less, but he only had four roster spaces open coming into the auction for a team he took over and got value where he saw it. If Foster returns to previous year’s form, he fits well into Papson’s lineup (especially since he owns Jay Ajayi also).

But the key to me is that if Foster gets hurt again, Papson is still protected with only a one year deal. This is in and of itself a strategy-Papson is a chess-player and he may already be eyeing some of the 2017 free agents and his option value on Foster is huge. It also capitalized well on his bountiful cap space for very few roster spots.

While I’m advocating for spending your money in your auction, I’m not suggesting giving risky players multiple years on a big contract, however. Sometimes it is better to have the option value, even if the upside is lacking.

Scenario #3) Capitalizing on/Extending Championship Window

Let’s face it-not every team in your league is built to win for extended periods of time. You have to strike when the iron is hot. So if you’re only a flex player away from winning the whole freakin’ thing, go get your player and worry about the contract dollars on the back end later.

For me, furthering my example from #1, I arguably have the best and cheapest starting running back tandem in the league in picking Devonta Freeman and Todd Gurley in consecutive rookie drafts. Since I only have this combination again this season (before franchise tags kick in) for a combined $7.7 million, winning time is now (or worst case next year). Heading into that auction, I also had Rob Gronkowski for another two seasons (before franchise tags) for around $15 million a year.

Taking into account Hopkins and the contracts I have, I feel that adding Hopkins extended my window to contend another two years beyond this year and leverages my Gronk and running back core.

Scenario #4) Your League Employs Late Round QB Strategy

If any of you reading this are doing multiple fantasy leagues and not following my numberFire editor JJ Zachariason, he is really one of the true visionaries in fantasy football these days. Plus, he works incredibly hard, is an overall nice guy, and offers tons of strategy and podcasts in terms of how to stream positions like quarterbacks and tight ends.

While the RSO format with multi-year contracts makes it a little more difficult to “stream” QB’s than a redraft league, there are certainly leagues which devalue QB play in your auction market dynamics. My numberFire writers league is exactly that. I mean, prior to Hopkins coming up for auction, I had to sit idly by while Aaron Rodgers was signed by defending champion Rory Ryan on a 3 year, $11 million contract. That may be counter-intuitive to some of you, yet that’s the Late Round QB strategy in full effect and while I would’ve loved to hope in that Rodgers bidding, I had to stay in my swim lane in order to be able to get Hopkins.

Basically that school of thought says to pay in auctions for wide receivers and running backs as QB play is usually not that differentiated (this works differently in two QB leagues). Anyways, if your entire league or most of it employs Late Round QB dynamics (or you at least do), you’ll have tons of money to spend on other players and if you combine that with only a few elite options in free agency and having few roster spots left, you’ll start breaking the bank for guys like C.J. Anderson and Michael Floyd who went to Leo Howell for 3 years each at $88 million and $72 million respectively-not a bad combined use of the money that would have otherwise went to Hopkins.

Scenario #5) You’re Typically Conservative 

If you have been in a league for a few years or start your first year auction super conservative, sometimes you have to throw your opponents for a loop. Some of your leaguemates have certain owners typecasted on who will bid on which players and then you hit them with a surprise left. When they look at your roster and see your biggest contract is $15 million a year, they don’t think you’ll go big on someone like Jamaal Charles. And then you do and he helps you big time.

The key is mixing in risk in years when you need that extra push to contend vs. not overextending yourself with players who may be dead money in other years. Who is in the free agent pool certainly matters and so does using player’s ages, sample sizes and gut instincts when awarding multi-year contracts.


numberFire Writer’s League Likely 10 man starting lineups

So as I went all in for Hopkins, here are the likely 10 man starting lineups for each team. Curious what everyone’s thoughts are. The league is 0.5PPR and starts a QB, Two RB’s, Two WR’s, TE, DST, K, FLEX, FLEX

University of Phoenix Online (Brandon Gdula, numberFire) 

Dalton, Elliott, Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen, Jordan Matthews, Kelce, Broncos, Crosby, Ryan Mathews, Baldwin

The Quickie Martin (Sam Hauss, numberFire)

Mariota, Doug Martin, Lacy, Nelson, Maclin, Fleener, Panthers, Walsh, Duke Johnson, Delanie Walker

Hospitable Takeover (Matt Papson, President and Founder, Reality Sports Online)

Wilson, L. Murray, Ingram, Beckham Jr., Edelman, Maxx Williams, Bills, TBD, Foster, Langford

Team: Great Odin’s Raven (Dan Pizzuta, numberFire)

Newton, David Johnson, Yeldon, Cooper, Watkins, Olsen, Texans, Tucker, John Brown, Emmanuel Sanders

Team: gingersauce4u (Tyler Buecher, numberFire)

Fitzpatrick, DeAngelo Williams/Bell, McCoy, Julio Jones, Cooks, Reed, Eagles, Vinatieri, Marvin Jones, Desean Jackson

Team: SamHerbie (Sammy Light, Reality Sports Online)

Rivers, Peterson, Jeremy Hill, Landry, Hurns, Graham, Rams, McManus, Cobb, Hyde

Team: Cleveland’s Award Tour (Matt Goodwin, Reality Sports Online & numberFire)

Roethlisberger, Gurley, Freeman, Hopkins, Decker, Gronkowski, Seahawks, Catanzaro, Demaryius Thomas, Diggs

Team: Leo Howell (Leo Howell, ESPN)

Brees, Charles, C.J. Anderson, Antonio Brown, Allen Robinson, Ertz, Chiefs, Gostkowski, Evans, Floyd

Team: Funky Monks (Graham Barfield, FantasyGuru.com & Rotoworld)

Luck, Lamar Miller, Riddick, A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, Gates, Bengals, Hauschka, Jeffery, Fitzgerald

Team: Loss Aversion (Rory Ryan, Baylor University Law Professor)

Rodgers, Rawls, Gore, Hilton, Marshall, Bennett, Cardinals, Bailey, Golden Tate, Torrey Smith


Matt Goodwin is entering his third season as a writer for Reality Sports Online and is in year four of his main league. He also contributes for numberFire. He is an avid sports fan from Cleveland, Ohio who would count a championship for a Cleveland major sports team a close second behind getting married to his wife Renee and the births of his children, Jory (6 year old son) and Lainie (18 month old daughter) and the Cleveland Cavaliers have finally provided that reality! Matt loves mid 90’s hip-hop, playing pick-up hoops, traveling, Ohio State football and Arizona basketball, watching Glengarry Glen Ross for the millionth time and being outside the few months it doesn’t rain in Seattle where he lives. He can be found on Twitter @mattgoody2 and hopes you continue to read his In the Zone articles.

More Analysis by Matt Goodwin

Writer’s Superflex Auction Review

Updated: September 3rd 2016

Another NFL season, another RSO startup! We recently completed the 2016 Reality Sports Online Writer’s startup auction.  The league deviated from the norm a bit by using a “superflex” format where up to two quarterbacks may start weekly.  This is a welcome addition to leagues which makes quarterbacks more valuable and not merely an afterthought.

League Settings

Our league used the following settings: 10 teams, 20 man rosters, PPR, 4 point passing touchdowns, and 1 QB / 2 RB / 2 WR / 1 TE / 1 FLEX / 1 FLEX (OPEN) starting requirements.   Rookies were included in the initial startup auction.  Contracts available to each team included (1) 4-year, (3) 3-year, (3) 2-year, and (13) 1-year deals.  The starting positional requirements are fairly common for redraft type leagues with a few changes.  We removed the defense and kickers and added an open flex spot (more commonly called a superflex).  This is what I refer to as an “All-Star” league.  Few teams and shallow starting requirements means many teams will be filled with star caliber talent.

Auction Strategy

Our league is composed primarily of the writers at RSO which meant a lot of highly informed and well prepared individuals. My initial strategy going in to the auction contained some of the following guidelines:

  1. Avoid rookies in the auction. I was guessing there would be a premium placed on rookies and better value with less uncertainty could be found in veterans. Very few players in this rookie class have the ceiling to make a difference in this shallow of a league.
  2. Go cheap at the QB and TE positions. You have limited resources available in an auction draft. I like to use most of mine primarily at the RB and WR positions where the potential relative value is higher.  The quarterback position is very deep.  I am very comfortable with twenty or more starters this season and fine with streaming many others.  The tight end position is even deeper relatively as only ten starters are needed in the league.  This makes an ideal platform for playing the weekly matchups between multiple cheap options at the position.
  3. Bid aggressively on running backs. Last year’s disastrous injury rate might result in owners discounting the position too much. The problem is that the NFL is full of running backs with questions due to age, injuries, talent, contract, and/or situation.  With the supply of young, top-tier “bellcow” backs so limited, I wanted to grab at least one on a multi-year deal if possible.
  4. Use as many big multi-year contracts as possible on players with WR1 and RB1 upside. The potential gain for top tier running backs and wide receivers is generally higher than at the quarterback and tight end position. Lower tier value plays are also not as important in shallow leagues due to the limited starting spots.

Auction Notes

As is the case many times, some pre-auction assumptions held and I was able to follow my initial guidelines while other assumptions failed completely which resulted in significant changes to strategy. My fellow writers apparently felt the same way concerning this year’s freshman class as many rookies typically drafted in the early rounds were left without contracts.  Owners also gave rookies contracts prices far below what I anticipated.  One savvy owner took Corey Coleman with a 3-yr $11M contract, below what his rookie draft contract would go for usually, for example.

Running backs indeed came at a sharp discount in this auction. Many elite backs from previous years such as Jamaal Charles, Demarco Murray and LeVeon Bell saw dramatic decreases in price for a variety of reasons including injuries and suspension.  I missed out on a few backs that were nominated early in the auction whom were not targets of mine.  It was a big mistake on my part that let other teams get quality backs on the cheap.

Final Roster

I ended up with the following players on my roster with the projected starters in bold:

QBs – Phillip Rivers 2-yr $13M, Tyrod Taylor 2-yr $13M, Jay Cutler 1-yr $4.5M, Sam Bradford 1-yr $4.5M

RBs – Lamar Miller 3-yr $56M, Eddie Lacy 1-yr $13.5M, Chris Ivory 1-year $3.5M, Bilal Powell 1-year $2M, James Starks 1-yr $1M , Josh Ferguson 1-yr $1M, Alfred Morris 1-yr $500K

WRs – Mike Evans 4-yr $82M, Alshon Jeffery 3-yr $64M, Brandon Marshall 1-yr $20.5M, Emanuel Sanders 1-yr $4.5M, Josh Doctson 3-yr $3.5M, Mike Wallace 1-yr $1M

TEs – Jordan Reed 2-yr $20.5M, Antonio Gates 1-yr $5M, Clive Walford 1-yr $500K

I am fairly happy with my roster despite my errors in the auction room and ended with about $14M in cap space. My three starting wide receivers are among the best groups in the league.  Each has demonstrated large volume, target share and high touchdown upside, exactly what I am looking for in my wide receivers.  My cheap quarterback strategy worked to perfection with all four of my QBs costing between the 19th and the 23rd most expensive salary at the position.  This netted me a perennial top-12 performer in Rivers, the ninth ranked QB from 2015 (Taylor) in points per game, and a couple of quality streamers with easy schedules.

The fellow owners’ strategies forced me to alter course somewhat from my original strategy. I spent more at tight end than originally planned as I was able to snag Jordan Reed at a far below value contract.   The injury risk is well worth the price to obtain the only tight end who outscored “Gronk” on a per game basis.  I also unexpectedly grabbed a rookie in the auction which the league might look back at as the steal of the auction.  Josh Doctson was one of the few rookies who I believe could be a major fantasy force in the future and it cost me next to nothing to find out.

The real question for my team is the running back group. I accomplished my goal of securing one of my top backs in Lamar Miller who I am all in on as a top-5 back but there are always questions when a player switches teams.  My 2016 season probably hinges on which Eddie Lacy shows up, the top-6 option from ’13 and ’14 or the disaster from last season.  If the “good” Lacy shows up, my skill-position starters project as one of the top groups in the league with a solid core of QBs backing them up.  Lacy also makes for a nice franchise tag candidate for 2017 if he recovers and resigns with Green Bay.

Conclusion

Staying flexible continues as the primary lesson in auctions. Your fellow league mates will deviate from what is expected from time to time and you need to be able to react when they do.  I also highly recommend adding a superflex or additional QB spot as it makes for a much more interesting and challenging league.  Good luck to all of the fellow RSO GMs out there for the upcoming season.  Feel free to give your opinions about my team on Twitter!


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