RSO Features Wishlist

Updated: August 8th 2022

The start of the 2022 season is just around the corner and most leagues are long past their rookie drafts and new leagues, thanks for choosing RSO by the way, are completing their first auctions. There have been big changes in recent years to the structure and complexity of RSO leagues including features such as re-signs, fifth-year options, in-draft rookie trades, and the new feature this year with slow auctions. CTO Kyle English always brings new and exciting features and we are all excited each time he tweets about whatever he has created in his lab.

With that, we can look ahead to 2023 to try and suggest even more features that the community would like to see added.

Injury Reserve: Designated to Return Designations

During the COVID 2020 season my home league implemented a version of the IR (injury reserve) designated to return that the NFL uses. How it is implemented under its current version is that there is an agreed-upon timeframe that the player has to be on the IR before they can be reactivated by the commissioner manually. The NFL uses four (4) games as their benchmark for time served and up to eight (8) designations per season. Our league uses six (6) weeks as the time served but only one (1) player is allowed to be designated. Not to be confused with how many players can be put on injured reserve at one time which is a maximum of three (3) in the league.

Not all injuries are season-ending but it becomes a burden to teams to try and find more depth for a few weeks if they have to hold 1-3 bench spots for minorly injured players, especially with shallower benches. Of course, the team would have to have the salary room available at the time of designation to be able to fit the player back on their roster since a player’s contract once placed on IR relieves half (50%) of the remaining yearly value in cap space. Having the ability to move a player away from a roster spot with the option to also bring them back during the same year would add flexibility during the season to continue competing and making roster moves.

Exclusive vs. Non-Exclusive Franchise Tags

For those in leagues that have cycled through multiple off-seasons now, there have probably been a few cases where you, or someone in your league, has debated on what to do with a player whose contract has expired. Would it be better to franchise tag at the average top 5 contract value in the league or risk sending them back to free agency to see if they can retain their services for cheaper or for more years? What if there could be a middle area?

The NFL has the seldom used Non-Exclusive franchise tag designation which comes at a cheaper contract value than the Exclusive option but runs the risk of another team placing an offer sheet to sign that player away.

How this could work in RSO would be that any player who receives the Non-Exclusive designation would be assigned the value of the average top 10 value at their position instead of the top 5 for one year but the player would still appear in the auction for other teams to bid on. During the scheduled auction any players who have the Non-Exclusive designation are auto-nominated first for all teams to conduct their bidding. Whenever the bidding ends the original team then confirms whether they would like to agree to that contract or receive the set compensation instead from the winning team. The NFL uses two (2) first-round picks as the compensation received which would be a good benchmark for teams to really consider trading away for a likely top 10 player at the position. Teams would need to have the available draft capital to be able to offer contracts in the auction window, otherwise, their options would be “grayed out” just like with insufficient cap space. If no team bids on the player, their salary stays at the current top 10 average for one year with the original team.

Adding this layer of complexity would generate much more buzz during the auction as oftentimes great players do not make it to the free market. Individuals however have varying values of certain players and what may be worth two (2) first-round picks to some is high water for others. Teams that are aggressive could look to secure otherwise unavailable superstars while savvy owners could have a value floor set for a player that suggests they would be okay losing said superstar if they were compensated fairly.

 

Contract Balancing

One of the coolest features that the Madden franchise mode had for a year or two during the early 2010s was during the signing stages of the off-season the user could offer a contract based on three (3) scales: front-loaded, balanced, and back-loaded.

Back-loaded is the only current option in RSO auctions whereby the dollar amount of the final year is always more than the first year of a contract. This makes sense since the salary cap, in non-COVID scenarios, increases each year so the players should be getting an inflation raise each season to match. But in the NFL sometimes teams that are smart with their cap space know that they can front load the offering to a player to serve many purposes, both for them and the player. Obviously, for the player they are receiving more money now which increases their percentage of receiving the agreed full dollar value of the contract. The team also benefits by having the option in later years to move on from a player easier without as high of a dead cap. This can also benefit teams that are trying to outbid other teams that have more space now similar to how the back–loaded contracts benefit those that have less cap space in the current year.

The current percentages of a contract’s total value in RSO work as such:

1 year; 100%

2 years; 49%, 51%

3 years; 31.3%, 33.3%, 35.4%

4 years; 22%, 24%, 26%, 28%

Having the option to inverse the values would help teams that may have available cap room now to spread out their contracts rather than having all their big ticket cap figures placed within the same future years.

Adding this layer of complexity to the patented RSO formula for auction valuing may only make this feature usable during their new “slow auction” formats to allow for the system to better calibrate what a fair value contract would look like both front or back-loaded. Would the formula value a front-loaded $20 million contract more than a $20 million dollar back-loaded contract? Probably. What about a $25 million back-loaded contract? These are all data points that the RSO team would have to decide which way the scales tilt.

Final Thoughts

If it has not been established already in the tone of this article one of the biggest themes for these suggestions centers around salary cap flexibility. While some features may add a layer of complexity that some leagues may not be interested in implementing, I expect there would be a handful of RSO managers and leagues that would welcome new options for them to help create their ideal fantasy roster.

If you have any suggestions for features and concepts you would like to see the RSO team put research into, make sure to reach out on Twitter, @Nickandrews_RSO, or to the generic @RealitySportsOn account with your ideas.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

Lessons and Narratives Heading into the Regular Season

Updated: September 2nd 2018

I want to give the reader a few final tips before the NFL season begins next week.  The article includes a key concept in determining potentially undervalued players and also examines some narratives thrown on the fantasy community.  You can use these in your final RSO auctions or evaluating potential roster additions and trades prior to week 1.  Here is hoping everyone has a great upcoming season.

Lesson:  Using Projected Offensive Shares

Finding an edge in fantasy football can be a struggle these days.  There are so many expert rankings and projections out there for the casual fan.  Let me give you a tip to show where one may find fantasy upside utilizing available player projections.  Passing in the NFL is a zero sum game.  What I mean is that all of a quarterback’s passing must be distributed to players on his team.  A quarterback who throws for more yards than another quarterback means his skill players necessarily accumulate more total receiving yards.  A simple concept but how does that help us?  The table below helps us with the question by examining the projections of skill players for three selected teams; San Francisco, Kansas City, and the New York Giants.

Notice right off Jimmy Garoppolo is projected for 400 more passing yards than Eli Manning with equivalent touchdowns and completions; and almost 500 more passing yards than Patrick Mahomes with another touchdown plus over 20 more completions.  Now take a look at the top projected skill players for each quarterback (the RB1, WR1, WR2, and TE1).  Interestingly, San Francisco’s top receiving targets mostly come at a significant discount and lower projection when compared to Kansas City and New York’s top players despite Garoppolo being projected for more passing totals than the other two quarterbacks.  The highlighted projected shares in the last columns can help us understand why.  The top 49er targets are projected for a far smaller portion of Garoppolo’s completions, yardage, and touchdowns than the equivalents from Kansas City and New York.  The San Francisco reception share is at least 15% less, the yardage share at least 17% less, and the touchdown share at least 19% less than the other two teams.

Table 1. Projected Offensive Shares from Fantasy Pros 8/27 Consensus Projections

What are the implications of these differences in shares among teams?  Most importantly, top targets on teams with low projected shares among them offer more upside as a group.  For example, the group of Goodwin, Garcon, Kittle, and McKinnon could reasonably earn another 10% of Garoppolo’s passing totals and still be well under the projected share of Kansas City and New York’s top players as a group.  Each player has the chance to increase fantasy production without decreasing other top player’s production.  Conversely, teams with projected passing shares highly concentrated in its top skill players offer little room for growth as a whole.  Teams like Kansas City and New York already have about 4/5 of the projected passing game production tied up in its top skill players.  There is not much room to add to that portion.  WR3s, WR4s, RB2s, TE2s, and other sub-package skill players will have roles in the offense which limit further production of the top players.  This does not mean that top players on these highly concentrated teams will not exceed projections, just that any increase must necessarily come at the expense of another primary target on the team.

The specific example above may not apply if you do not agree with projections about the quarterbacks in question but the key concept holds for whatever projections you do rely upon.  When you are looking for potential skill player upside beyond projections, examine projected offensive shares of key players for a team.

Narrative 1:  Wide receiver X was ranked Y in 2017.  He should finish around Y again in 2018.

The Reality:  2017 was a down year for passing across the NFL partly because of injuries to starting quarterbacks. Yardage and scoring should increase significantly in 2018.  Quarterbacks and wide receivers which remain stagnant in fantasy scoring will move down the rankings in 2018.

NFL passing has been trending upward for some time.  Rules making it harder for defenses to defend the pass and analytics demonstrating the value of the passing game have resulted in increased passing over the last decade.  That trend came to a crashing halt in 2017.  Total passing yardage in the NFL dropped 7.1% from 2016 to 2017 and was the lowest since 2010.  We saw the fewest passing attempts since 2011 and the lowest yards per attempt since 2010.  This down passing year contributed to total scoring for the league decreasing 4.6% in 2017.  Is this a new trend starting?  I highly doubt it.  A number of short term factors influenced the problems in passing across the league.  Green Bay (-25%), Indianapolis (-31%), and Arizona (-12%) all posted considerably less passing yardage thanks to injuries to quality starting quarterbacks for example.  The injury rate should subside in 2018, especially among the better quarterbacks, increasing passing yardage in the NFL.

The decreased passing transferred to wide receivers in fantasy.  Jordy Nelson and T.Y. Hilton, for example, went from WR1s in 2016 to unreliable fantasy assets largely due to Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck missing action.  The sliding of top wide receivers necessarily moved others up the rankings.  Golden Tate finished 2017 with almost identical fantasy output as 2016 but moved up the rankings four spots.  The chart below details the phenomenon in a more general way.  A player scoring 12 points per game in 2017 was a fairly decent flex option in most leagues ranking 28th in per game scoring.  That same player was barely usable as a bye week fill-in for the 2016 season ranking a whopping 14 spots below the same 2017 player.  Remember that 2017 was an anomaly in the passing game when valuing players for 2018.

 

Table 2.  Wide Receiver Fantasy Points per Game (PPG) Scoring in PPR Leagues, 2016 vs. 2017

 

Narrative 2:  Quarterback X targeted position Y a lot on his old team.  He will do so again on his new team.

The Reality:  Quarterbacks throw to players based on personnel talents and coaching scheme, not because of individual preference for a certain position.

Let’s examine two quarterbacks this narrative has been thrust upon, Alex Smith and Kirk Cousins.  The story goes these quarterbacks like throwing to tight ends and will continue to do so with their new teams.  There is no doubt Alex Smith utilized the tight end position extensively in his career with both San Francisco and Kansas City.  Both teams finished highly in tight end target percentage on multiple occasions.  However, we must look at who he was throwing to.  Smith had Vernon Davis, a top-6 overall draft pick who is one of the top athletes to ever enter the league, in San Francisco.  The Chiefs ranked 5th or better in tight end target percentage each of the last four years but that was with the super being known as Travis Kelce as the TE1.  Washington has also targeted tight ends heavily under Cousins, ranking top-10 in tight end target rate each of the last three seasons.  That was with Jordan Reed, one of the most dynamic receiving weapons at the tight end position, and the afore-mentioned Vernon Davis (when Reed is not healthy) primarily manning the tight end spot.

Kansas City ranked next to last in Smith’s first season with team, however.  Anthony Fasano was the TE1 that season.  This story plays out over and over again with quarterbacks and coordinators adjusting for personnel.  Tom Brady throws significantly to tight ends when he is Rob Gronkowski, not when the TE1 is Michael Hoomanawanui.  Greg Olsen has been a key target of Cam Newton’s for years, not so much for Ed Dickson last year when Olsen was injured.  One may expect Smith to heavily target Reed (at least when he is on the field) because he is a tremendous receiver, not because he happens to play tight end.  We should not expect the lumbering Kyle Rudolf to become a focal point of Cousins’ in Minnesota simply because Cousins previously targeted tight ends at a high rate.  Players matter.


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