Week 3 Street FA Report

Updated: September 19th 2018

Each week we will recommend a group of players that are owned in less than 50% of RSO league that should be rostered. Depending on roster and league sizes not all of these players may be available. For that, we will offer 1 player that is owned in <10% of leagues as our Sleeper add.

Add of the Week

Tyler Boyd, WR – CIN (Owned 24.8%)

Week 2: 6 Rec/91 yards, 1 TD

Remember when the standard was to give a receiver three years before expecting him to be fantasy relevant? Maybe we should all go back to that philosophy. While A.J. Green stole the spotlight with three touchdowns on Thursday night, Tyler Boyd had a solid 21.1 PPR fantasy point night himself. The Bengals are looking like one of those teams that will have weekly value at each position in fantasy this season and Boyd might be the biggest value of them all. He will never face double-team coverage with Green lining up opposite to him and with his ability to assimilate most of the underneath targets he should have a solid week-to-week PPR floor. Consider Boyd a WR3/4 most weeks with his upside being what he did last Thursday.

Suggested Bid: $4,000,000 – $6,000,000

QB Add

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB – TB (Owned 38.3%)

Week 2: 27 for 33, 402 Passing yards, 4 TDs

It was hilarious to see Ryan Fitzpatrick be fantasy relevant for week one but now after a second elite level performance, there is no joking around. There should be no way that Jameis Winston returns as the starter when he is eligible to play again in week four so long as Fitzpatrick is playing the way he is right now. With all the weapons around him, Fitzpatrick is utilizing each of their skill sets in a way that a solid veteran QB should be. This is something the Bucs need right now and unless you are starting one of the elite fantasy QBs you need to be considering some Fitzmagic for your lineup moving forward.

Suggested Bid: $2,000,000 – $5,000,000 ($5,000,000 – $10,000,000 Superflex)

RB Add

Javorius “Buck” Allen, RB – BAL (Owned 47.1%)

Week 2: 6 Car/8 yards, 1 TD, 5 Rec/36 yards

Baltimore wins big and Javorius “Buck” Allen is fantasy relevant. Baltimore loses and Allen is fantasy relevant. It appears that the Ravens are comfortable with having a split backfield with Alex Collins getting the early down role and Allen receiving numerous targets in the passing game. Surprisingly though, both of Allen’s touchdowns have come on goal-line carries which means that he will have opportunities around the end zone and not just on the way there. The Ravens are likely to be a .500 team again this season which means plenty of games where Allen will be used as a safety blanket option for Joe Flacco in tight games.

Suggested Bid: $500,000 – $1,500,000

WR Adds

Willie Snead, WR – BAL (Owned 39.3%)

Week 2: 5 Rec/54 yards

Speaking of Joe Flacco safety blankets everyone’s favorite let down, Willie Snead has quietly earned 12.6 fantasy points per game over the first two weeks. Many thought of Snead as a forgotten man in Baltimore after he failed to live up to expectation with New Orleans last season. But remember that the Ravens liked him enough to give an RFA offer so the coaching staff must have liked something they saw. Right now he is playing the slot role inside of John Brown and Michael Crabtree which should help with his scoring floor on a week-to-week basis.

Suggested Bid: $500,000

Taylor Gabriel, WR – CHI (Owned 18.6%)

Week 2: 4 Rec/30 yards, 3 Car/17 yards

The Bears offense has not lived up to the hype of being the next L.A. Rams but that was a tough bar to expect and they have been good, but not great to this point. In their first two games, the Bears have looked like a team that will win because of its defense but that doesn’t mean they won’t have some fantasy-relevant value plays on offense. Taylor Gabriel is an underrated player that, while not likely to be scoring many touchdowns, does have the attention of Mitchell Trubisky. He is also an athletic talent that head coach Matt Nagy wants to move around the field and use in various ways, as evident by his three carries on Monday night. For shallow leagues, he might not be of much value but for leagues with several starters, there are more risky players to have for bye weeks coming up than Gabriel.

Suggested Bid: $500,000

TE Add

Jesse James, TE – PIT (Owned 32.6%)

Week 2: 5 Rec/138 yards, 1 TD

The Steelers are an absolute mess right now. Le’Veon Bell is holding out and now Antonio Brown is skipping out on practice days. Fortunately for the rest of the Steelers players, they are presenting great value for fantasy purposes because of it. One such player is Jesse James who had an okay week one followed up by a monster week two. Vance McDonald is clearly not going to be the player that people thought he might be in this offense so it is back to old reliable James for some low-end TE1 production. Ben Roethlisberger has always loved throwing to his tight ends so James should have a steady amount of targets, especially if they continue to struggle in games.

Suggested Bid: $1,000,000 – $3,000,000

Sleeper Add (<10%)

Jarius Wright, WR – CAR (1.3%)

Week 2: 5 Rec/62 yards, 1 TD

Cam Newton needs new targets to fill in for Greg Olsen while he is out with a foot injury. Jarius Wright had a surprising seven targets against Atlanta and was able to convert one those into a touchdown. Wright is never going to lead the Panthers in targets but the team does need more than just Christian McCaffrey and Devin Funchess if they are going to win games. For leagues scrapping the bottom of the barrel for players Wright could be a long shot to add in the hopes that some weeks he has a stat line like last week.

Suggesed Bid: $500,000

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

Redrafting the 2016 Rookie Draft

Updated: October 9th 2016

As we’re about a quarter of the way into the 2016 season, plenty has changed since our rookie drafts this past summer.  Values have changed, injuries have occurred, and roles have been more clearly defined.  In hindsight there are many picks that we’re all proud of, but also some that we’re ashamed to look back on.  In this piece, I’m going to redraft the first round of a 2016 Rookie Draft assuming that it took place today.

#1.01 Ezekiel Elliott – RB DAL

2016: 94 car – 412 yards – 3TDs; 6 rec – 44 yards

Analysis: The consensus 1.01 pick throughout the off-season, Elliott has largely delivered on the months of hype that surrounded him.  He’s produced as the number one running back in Dallas, though he has been unluckily vultured at the goal-line a few times.  He’s been less involved in the passing game than I anticipated, but I expect his usage to improve over the next few years.

#1.02 Corey Coleman – WR CLE

2016: 7 rec – 173 yards – 2TDs

Analysis: Coleman, my choice for the 1.02 pick in the off-season, has flashed his immense potential in limited opportunities this season.  The Cleveland offense, headed by Hue Jackson, may no longer be a fantasy wasteland as Isaiah Crowell, Terrelle Pyror, and Corey Coleman have emerged this season as viable fantasy options.  Missing 4-to-6 weeks with a broken hand is unfortunate, but it doesn’t impact my long-term projection of Coleman.

#1.03 Will Fuller – WR HOU

2016: 19 rec – 323 – 2TDs

Analysis: I’m not afraid to admit that I was dead wrong about Will Fuller.  I had him outside of my top 10 and didn’t believe he would be nearly as versatile as he’s proved to be.  Not only a deep threat, Fuller is a weapon in all areas of the field.  His success is currently being limited by poor QB, but the sky’s the limit if Brock Osweiler improves.

#1.04 Sterling Shepard – WR NYG

2016: 20 rec – 263 – 2TDs

Analysis: Of all the 2016 rookies, I have the most shares of Sterling Shepard.  A very polished route runner, I expected Shepard to immediately make an impact especially in PPR leagues.  He has not disappointed and appears on a trajectory towards WR2 status for much of his career.

#1.05 Michael Thomas – WR NO

2016: 21 rec – 229 yards – 2TDs

Analysis: Through 4 games, the 6’3″ sure-handed possession receiver has performed well as many expected.   His quick emergence, as a WR3/WR4 in 2016, make him an excellent value on a 3 or 4 year RSO rookie contract.

#1.06 Derrick Henry – RB TEN

2016: 27 car – 97 yards; 3 rec – 50 yards

Analysis: After a very impressive preseason, I expected that Derrick Henry would be much more involved in the Tennessee offense than he’s been through four games.  Instead, DeMarco Murray has been a true workhouse, leaving little work for the rookie Henry.  In a year or two, Henry should take over the starting job in Tennessee and immediately join the RB1 conversation.  A true physical specimen with a unique combination of size and speed, Henry is one of the most athletically gifted RB prospects we’ve seen in quite some time.  This preseason, he even showed promise catching the ball out of the backfield.  If the Henry owner in your league is growing impatient, now’s the time to buy.

#1.07 Laquon Treadwell – WR MIN

2016: n/a

Analysis: Treadwell was widely considered the consensus 1.02 or 1.03 pick in all rookie drafts, but his value has dropped in the first month of the season.  He’s been a healthy inactive in several games and has seen very few snaps when he’s actually been active.  While the Vikings may want to bring their rookie along slowly, it’s very concerning that he can’t beat out Charles Johnson, Adam Thielen, Jarius Wright, and Cordarrelle Patterson for WR reps.  I’m still a believer in his talent, but red flags have been raised.

#1.08 Kenneth Dixon – RB BAL

2016: n/a

Analysis: Dixon’s expected debut in Week 5 has generated a great deal of buzz in the fantasy community as many expect him to quickly overtake Terrance West.  As a prospect at the draft, I was very high on Kenneth Dixon…love his speed, athleticism, and pass catching abilities.  The knee injury delayed his NFL debut and briefly suppressed his value, but that has now risen likely greater than it was in April and May.

#1.09 Josh Doctson – WR WAS

2016: 2 rec – 66 yards

Analysis: 2016 may end as a lost season for Josh Doctson, but all hope is not lost.  Assuming he enters the 2017 season healthy, he will have a great opportunity to earn a significant target share in Washington.  DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon are both free agents after 2016 and it seems unlikely both will return.  

#1.10 Jordan Howard – RB CHI

2016: 35 car – 178 yards; 9 rec – 77 yards

Analysis: The most interesting aspect of Jordan Howard’s impressive start as a rookie is his usage in the passing game.  Largely considered a 2-down back after catching a total of 24 passes in 32 collegiate games, Howard seemed to lack the upside of more versatile backs but clearly that isn’t the case.

#1.11 DeAndre Washington – RB OAK

2016: 23 car – 147 yards; 6 rec – 37 yards

Analysis: Throughout the off-season we kept hearing that the Raiders weren’t 100% sold on Latavius Murray as their workhorse back.  DeAndre Washington became a fantasy sleeper soon after the NFL draft.  Though only 5’8”, Washington is a physical back that can run between the tackles, make a defender miss in space, and is adequate catching the ball out of the backfield.  He may be part of a committee in Oakland long-term, but committees are the new norm in the NFL.  Washington is clearly a talent that runs behind one of the best offensive lines in football.

#1.12 Hunter Henry – TE SD

2016: 10 rec – 153 yards – TD

Analysis: Hunter Henry looks like he may turn into what the fantasy community had hoped Ladarius Green would be.  Henry has produced in Antonio Gates‘ absence and has become a reliable target for QB Philip Rivers.

Just missed the first round:

Wendell Smallwood – RB PHI

Carson Wentz – QB PHI

Tajae Sharpe – WR TEN

Tyler Boyd – WR CIN

Braxton Miller – WR HOU

Devontae Booker – RB DEN

Malcolm Mitchell – WR NE

CJ Prosise – RB SEA

Paul Perkins – RB NYG

Dwayne Washington – RB DET

Let me know which of your rookie picks you’re most proud of – on Twitter @DaveSanders_RSO!


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

numberFire Rookie Draft Results ’16

Updated: August 22nd 2016

Welcome to year three of their writers league featuring writers from Reality Sports Online, numberFire, ESPN and FantasyGuru.com. Ironically, our defending champion is the only non-writer in the league, Rory Ryan, a Law Professor from Baylor, a write-in candidate from last year. Only one team turned over this year and is now owned by Reality Sports Online founder and president Matt Papson, who inherited a squad rich with assets and picks hence his team name being Hospitable Takeover. The three-round, three-year contract rookie draft was held on Sunday, August 7th and was completed in record time (less than 15 minutes).

The participants rookie picks and strategies are outlined below, along with player contract values to assist those users who have not had their rookie draft yet. Please follow us all on Twitter as we definitely love talking fantasy football.

Without further ado, the 2016 Rookie Draft.

Team: University of Phoenix Online (Brandon Gdula, numberFire) @gdula13

Picks:

1.01 Ezekiel Elliott, RB Dallas Cowboys (3 years, $20.8M)

2.01 C.J. Prosise, RB Seattle Seahawks (3 years, $4.7M)

3.01 Wendell Smallwood, RB Philadelphia Eagles (3 years, $3.1M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: My team needed everything, if we’re being honest, and at 1.01, I had no choice but to take Ezekiel Elliott. Dallas liked him enough to take him fourth overall, and he might lead the league in carries in 2016. What’s not to like? C.J. Prosise is a receiving back with some rushing ability in a run-first offense in Seattle. Thomas Rawls’ injury concerns me, and Prosise could wind up as a starter as a rookie. Even if not, he should secure the third-down role. I didn’t like any receivers left at the start of the third and was targeting DeAndre Washington, but I settled on Wendell Smallwood. He might be able to be a three-down back given that there is not much certainty ahead of him on the depth chart as a rookie.

Team: The Quickie Martin (Sam Hauss, numberFire) @Real_Hauss

Picks:

1.02 Corey Coleman, WR Cleveland Browns (3 years, $19.6M)

2.02 Kenneth Dixon, RB Baltimore Ravens (3 years, $4.6M)

2.09 Pharoh Cooper, WR Los Angeles Rams (3 years, $4.3M)

3.02 Austin Hooper, TE Atlanta Falcons (3 years, $3.0M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: With Elliott off the board and a big hole at the wide receiver position, I opted for Corey Coleman with the second pick of the first round. Coleman should be in store for a big role early in his career, even with Josh Gordon returning to the Browns, and has as much upside as any wide receiver in this draft class. My second pick was a bit trickier, because I really wanted to nab another wide receiver, but I liked the value much more at running back, hence my selection of Kenneth Dixon. The Ravens backfield is up for grabs and Dixon may already be the most talented of the bunch. He could emerge as the starter in a Marc Trestman offense as soon as this season. After taking a running back second I went back to the well at wide receiver, selecting Pharoh Cooper of the Rams. While I’m not sure where he’ll fit into the offense this season, I needed to add depth at wide receiver and Cooper is an explosive athlete with a lot of upside over the next few seasons. Some of you may be surprised to see me select the Falcons’ Austin Hooper with my fourth pick before Hunter Henry, however, in this league format rookie contracts are three year contracts and Hooper simply has a more clear path to fantasy value over the next three seasons than Henry. Henry is still playing behind Antonio Gates and will struggle to stay on the field as a full time player until he becomes a better blocker. Meanwhile, Atlanta has a huge number of targets to fill behind Julio Jones and, depending on what your opinion of Mohamed Sanu is, there really isn’t much competition to fill that void. Hooper has a rare chance to be a major contributor as a rookie at the tight end position and is a much safer choice in the short-term than the aforementioned Henry.

Team: Hospitable Takeover (Matt Papson, President and Founder, Reality Sports Online) @RealitySportsMP

Picks:

1.03 Laquon Treadwell, WR Minnesota Vikings (3 years, $19.1M)

1.09 Will Fuller, WR Houston Texans (3 years, $11.7M)

2.03 Leonte Carroo, WR Miami Dolphins (3 years, $4.6M)

3.03 Braxton Miller, WR Houston Texans (3 years, $3.0M)

Rookie Draft Strategy:  I inherited/took-over, what I believe to be, the bones of a well-balanced, championship-potential roster. The team isn’t deep at any one position, but it’s not overly shallow anywhere either. It’s also set up well for me from a contract perspective, with Russell Wilson’s $13.2M cap figure the highest on the team. Several promising young players, including Jay Ajayi, Kevin White, Maxx Williams, and Odell Beckham Jr. are still on affordable rookie contracts.

I was hoping to land Treadwell third overall, so-as not to over-invest in the Robert Griffin III experiment (on my roster), and was fortunate to have Coleman go off the board 2nd. I would have taken Derrick Henry in the 9 slot if he had lasted. With Henry off the board, I decided to hedge my Jaelen Strong ownership by selecting Philly-native Will Fuller. I didn’t love my option at 2.03, and wish I could have traded back to gain an extra selection in the late 2nd/early 3rd given how things turned out, but went with Leonte Carroo. With Smallwood off the board at 3.01 (who I had ranked right after Carroo), I had to decide between Hunter Henry (I already have a high pick invested in Williams and need a veteran), Paxton Lynch/Jared Goff (but need a backup to Wilson who can play now in case RG3 re-busts), and my actual selection — Braxton Miller. I went with Miller’s high upside, and him being a super-hedge to Strong and Fuller. If a clear #2 emerges behind DeAndre Hopkins in Houston, he’s on my roster.

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

Picks:

1.04 Josh Doctson, WR Washington Redskins (3 years, $18.3M)

2.04 Jordan Howard, RB Chicago Bears (3 years, $4.5M)

3.04 Hunter Henry, TE San Diego Chargers (3 years, $3.0 M)

3.09 Chris Moore, WR Baltimore Ravens (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: 

I’ve drafted second overall the past two years in this league, so sitting at pick No. 1.04 made me feel like I was waiting around forever. It didn’t matter though, because I got the player I would have taken second overall anyway, knowing Elliott is the obvious first overall pick. I think Josh Doctson is the best wide receiver in this class and even if he doesn’t have an immediate impact his rookie year, there’s going to be a lot of good to follow.

I didn’t really like how the board fell to me in the second round, so I went with Jordan Howard to pair with Ka’Deem Carey to possibly get two-thirds of a potential RBBC for the Bears. It’s faulty, but that was my logic taking David Johnson in the third round of this draft last year and that worked out pretty well.

Heading into the third I was targeting Hooper, who I viewed as the top rookie tight end before the NFL Draft, but he went two picks ahead of me, which I was not expecting. I went with Henry because I could see San Diego throwing a lot and Antonio Gates is 36-years-old, but man, I really would have liked Hooper. I also had the ninth pick in the third round from a late season trade and took Chris Moore from Baltimore. I’m a big fan of Moore’s skillset — he can get down the field, create separation and win at the catch point — and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him contribute sooner rather than later for the Ravens, especially considering the unknown health/quality of Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace.

Team: Team: gingersauce4u (Tyler Buecher, numberFire) @gingersauce4u

Picks:

1.05 Sterling Shepard, WR New York Giants (3 years, $17.3M)

2.05 DeAndre Washington, RB Oakland Raiders (3 years, $4.5M)

3.05 Mike Thomas, WR Los Angeles Rams (3 years, $3.0M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: Heading into our third year of this league, I’ve learned not to value positions of need as badly as I used to. Rookies beyond the first round are typically dart throws, but I have some optimism with the three players I drafted here. Sterling Shepard enters a terrific situation in his rookie season in an offense that has 100-plus targets up for grabs. Settling in behind Odell Beckham Jr. should allow Shepard plenty of single-coverage looks and allow him to truly shine out of the slot — an area he dominated in college. I love what the Raiders have done this offseason beefing up their offensive line with the addition of Kelechi Osemele and their additions on defense. It lines up for Oakland to have a more balanced attack, and something that rookie DeAndre Washington could take advantage of in his rookie year. Latavius Murray struggled with efficiency in 2015 with his success largely a byproduct of volume. Washington could carve out an early third-down/change-of-pace role that could expand into more touches as the season goes on. I’m not as high on Mike Thomas as a lot of others, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to grab him here in the mid-third round. Thomas was this year’s most notable Combine snub, after shining his final collegiate season with a 71-1,391-14 stat line for Southern Miss. He had an unlucky landing situation with the Rams, a team that ran the fewest plays per game last year and had the fifth-lowest passing play percentage. Fortunately, the receivers there have yet to establish any consistent production, so he may find a quicker path to playing time than if went somewhere else. 

Team: SamHerbie (Sammy Light, Reality Sports Online) @SamHerbie

Picks:

1.06 Devontae Booker, RB Denver Broncos (3 years, $15.2M)

2.06 Malcolm Mitchell, WR New England Patriots (3 years, $4.4M)

3.06 Paxton Lynch, QB Denver Broncos (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: While most would think about wide receivers at this point in the rookie draft, I really like what Devontae Booker brings to the table. He’s a versatile every down back playing for a coach who he can thrive under and even though C.J. Anderson re-signed this offseason, he’s had a history of not holding up health-wise. I love Malcolm Mitchell’s big play ability and it didn’t take him long in the preseason to demonstrate some of that. Word is he’s projected to start as the Patriots “X” receiver. In the final round, I took Paxton Lynch as the first QB off the board.

Team: Cleveland’s Award Tour (Matt Goodwin, Reality Sports Online & numberFire) @mattgoody2

Picks:

1.07 Michael Thomas, WR New Orleans Saints (3 years, $13.5M)

2.07 Paul Perkins, RB New York Giants (3 years, $4.4M)

3.07 Jared Goff, QB Los Angeles Rams (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: My strategy typically changes a bit in this league due to the 3 year rookie contracts vs. 4 years in my other leagues. To that end, I always try to get players who are fantasy ready in their rookie years. Michael Thomas fits that bill. He’s gotten glowing reviews in training camp and has earned quarterback Drew Brees’ confidence. He also fits a pretty big need for me at wideout. I was really hoping in the second round that Washington would be available as I think he could have an immediate impact in the Raiders offense as a pass-catcher, but like in Round 1, Tyler grabbed who I would’ve wanted. So I went with Paul Perkins, a versatile back out of UCLA. While all indications in New York point to a crowded backfield and Perkins probably being a year away, I have a little time to wait for someone scouts compared to Jamaal Charles. This strategy worked for me in the past with Devonta Freeman and this late in the draft, Perkins could be a steal.

In the last round, I was really open to anything. I originally was targeting a wide receiver who will have to wait until the auction potentially, but the opportunity to take the first overall pick in Jared Goff proved tantalizing. I’m not expecting much out of him this year, but could have a cheap and productive fantasy option for years 2 and 3 in a league that doesn’t tend to pay a premium quarterbacks. If Goff ends up being a startable fantasy quarterback in year two (i.e. Top 12 option), I can spend bigger at the other positions while paying Goff roughly $1M a season. I love his pocket presence and quick release. Hopefully I’ve picked the next elite Cal quarterback.

Team: Leo Howell (Leo Howell, ESPN) @LeoHowell8

Picks:

1.08 Derrick Henry, RB Tennessee Titans (3 years, $11.9M)

2.08 Alex Collins, RB Seattle Seahawks (3 years, $4.3M)

3.08 Rashard Higgins, WR Cleveland Browns (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: The rookie draft wasn’t really a major event for me due to my lackluster selection for finishing well last year. I was surprised to see Derrick Henry fall to me, and since I was in full “best player available” mode, he made the most sense. Of the guys on the board, he’d easily be the highest for me in a redraft setting, and I feel like I can win now. I was tempted to go with Paxton Lynch in the second round, but thought he’d fall to me in the third… he didn’t. Still, happy with Alex Collins, who is a job away from being productive in a great system. Ended up with a bit of a biased pick, as Rashard Higgins hails from my favorite FBS college team. I doubt he makes an impact, but I’m banking on the big plays I’ve watched him make for the Rams.

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

Rookie Draft Strategy: I sat the rookie draft out after an aggressive first year in the league. I traded my picks last year in an effort to win the championship and came close, losing in the finals. I traded my 1st round pick for Arian Foster, my 2nd round pick for Brandon Marshall, and my 3rd round pick for Carson Palmer.

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

Picks:

1.10 Tyler Boyd, WR Cincinnati Bengals (3 years, $11.2M)

2.10 Kelvin Taylor, RB San Francisco 49ers (3 years, $4.2M)

3.10 Tajae Sharpe, WR Tennessee Titans (3 years, $2.8M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: With three-year rookie contracts and rosters that are very shallow, I contemplated bypassing my last two picks. But I decided to risk the cap hit and take two of my guys. I think Kelvin Taylor has an NFL skill set. A pretty good one, actually. The upside with him and Chip in SF is worth the cap risk. I was very sad when Tajae Sharpe got so much good press so early. I’ve been on him for a while, but I wanted the press after my drafts. I knew I wanted both Taylor and Sharpe and drafted Taylor first guessing someone else might take a flier in Taylor but that all would be bored by Sharpe. I ended up getting both of the guys nobody wanted along with Tyler Boyd, who I would take for three years over many of the receivers who go earlier. I see a lot of Allen Robinson in him and there isn’t much in front of him on the Bengals roster.

More Analysis by Matt Goodwin

numberFire Rookie Draft Results '16

Updated: August 22nd 2016

Welcome to year three of their writers league featuring writers from Reality Sports Online, numberFire, ESPN and FantasyGuru.com. Ironically, our defending champion is the only non-writer in the league, Rory Ryan, a Law Professor from Baylor, a write-in candidate from last year. Only one team turned over this year and is now owned by Reality Sports Online founder and president Matt Papson, who inherited a squad rich with assets and picks hence his team name being Hospitable Takeover. The three-round, three-year contract rookie draft was held on Sunday, August 7th and was completed in record time (less than 15 minutes).

The participants rookie picks and strategies are outlined below, along with player contract values to assist those users who have not had their rookie draft yet. Please follow us all on Twitter as we definitely love talking fantasy football.

Without further ado, the 2016 Rookie Draft.

Team: University of Phoenix Online (Brandon Gdula, numberFire) @gdula13

Picks:

1.01 Ezekiel Elliott, RB Dallas Cowboys (3 years, $20.8M)

2.01 C.J. Prosise, RB Seattle Seahawks (3 years, $4.7M)

3.01 Wendell Smallwood, RB Philadelphia Eagles (3 years, $3.1M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: My team needed everything, if we’re being honest, and at 1.01, I had no choice but to take Ezekiel Elliott. Dallas liked him enough to take him fourth overall, and he might lead the league in carries in 2016. What’s not to like? C.J. Prosise is a receiving back with some rushing ability in a run-first offense in Seattle. Thomas Rawls’ injury concerns me, and Prosise could wind up as a starter as a rookie. Even if not, he should secure the third-down role. I didn’t like any receivers left at the start of the third and was targeting DeAndre Washington, but I settled on Wendell Smallwood. He might be able to be a three-down back given that there is not much certainty ahead of him on the depth chart as a rookie.

Team: The Quickie Martin (Sam Hauss, numberFire) @Real_Hauss

Picks:

1.02 Corey Coleman, WR Cleveland Browns (3 years, $19.6M)

2.02 Kenneth Dixon, RB Baltimore Ravens (3 years, $4.6M)

2.09 Pharoh Cooper, WR Los Angeles Rams (3 years, $4.3M)

3.02 Austin Hooper, TE Atlanta Falcons (3 years, $3.0M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: With Elliott off the board and a big hole at the wide receiver position, I opted for Corey Coleman with the second pick of the first round. Coleman should be in store for a big role early in his career, even with Josh Gordon returning to the Browns, and has as much upside as any wide receiver in this draft class. My second pick was a bit trickier, because I really wanted to nab another wide receiver, but I liked the value much more at running back, hence my selection of Kenneth Dixon. The Ravens backfield is up for grabs and Dixon may already be the most talented of the bunch. He could emerge as the starter in a Marc Trestman offense as soon as this season. After taking a running back second I went back to the well at wide receiver, selecting Pharoh Cooper of the Rams. While I’m not sure where he’ll fit into the offense this season, I needed to add depth at wide receiver and Cooper is an explosive athlete with a lot of upside over the next few seasons. Some of you may be surprised to see me select the Falcons’ Austin Hooper with my fourth pick before Hunter Henry, however, in this league format rookie contracts are three year contracts and Hooper simply has a more clear path to fantasy value over the next three seasons than Henry. Henry is still playing behind Antonio Gates and will struggle to stay on the field as a full time player until he becomes a better blocker. Meanwhile, Atlanta has a huge number of targets to fill behind Julio Jones and, depending on what your opinion of Mohamed Sanu is, there really isn’t much competition to fill that void. Hooper has a rare chance to be a major contributor as a rookie at the tight end position and is a much safer choice in the short-term than the aforementioned Henry.

Team: Hospitable Takeover (Matt Papson, President and Founder, Reality Sports Online) @RealitySportsMP

Picks:

1.03 Laquon Treadwell, WR Minnesota Vikings (3 years, $19.1M)

1.09 Will Fuller, WR Houston Texans (3 years, $11.7M)

2.03 Leonte Carroo, WR Miami Dolphins (3 years, $4.6M)

3.03 Braxton Miller, WR Houston Texans (3 years, $3.0M)

Rookie Draft Strategy:  I inherited/took-over, what I believe to be, the bones of a well-balanced, championship-potential roster. The team isn’t deep at any one position, but it’s not overly shallow anywhere either. It’s also set up well for me from a contract perspective, with Russell Wilson’s $13.2M cap figure the highest on the team. Several promising young players, including Jay Ajayi, Kevin White, Maxx Williams, and Odell Beckham Jr. are still on affordable rookie contracts.

I was hoping to land Treadwell third overall, so-as not to over-invest in the Robert Griffin III experiment (on my roster), and was fortunate to have Coleman go off the board 2nd. I would have taken Derrick Henry in the 9 slot if he had lasted. With Henry off the board, I decided to hedge my Jaelen Strong ownership by selecting Philly-native Will Fuller. I didn’t love my option at 2.03, and wish I could have traded back to gain an extra selection in the late 2nd/early 3rd given how things turned out, but went with Leonte Carroo. With Smallwood off the board at 3.01 (who I had ranked right after Carroo), I had to decide between Hunter Henry (I already have a high pick invested in Williams and need a veteran), Paxton Lynch/Jared Goff (but need a backup to Wilson who can play now in case RG3 re-busts), and my actual selection — Braxton Miller. I went with Miller’s high upside, and him being a super-hedge to Strong and Fuller. If a clear #2 emerges behind DeAndre Hopkins in Houston, he’s on my roster.

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

Picks:

1.04 Josh Doctson, WR Washington Redskins (3 years, $18.3M)

2.04 Jordan Howard, RB Chicago Bears (3 years, $4.5M)

3.04 Hunter Henry, TE San Diego Chargers (3 years, $3.0 M)

3.09 Chris Moore, WR Baltimore Ravens (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: 

I’ve drafted second overall the past two years in this league, so sitting at pick No. 1.04 made me feel like I was waiting around forever. It didn’t matter though, because I got the player I would have taken second overall anyway, knowing Elliott is the obvious first overall pick. I think Josh Doctson is the best wide receiver in this class and even if he doesn’t have an immediate impact his rookie year, there’s going to be a lot of good to follow.

I didn’t really like how the board fell to me in the second round, so I went with Jordan Howard to pair with Ka’Deem Carey to possibly get two-thirds of a potential RBBC for the Bears. It’s faulty, but that was my logic taking David Johnson in the third round of this draft last year and that worked out pretty well.

Heading into the third I was targeting Hooper, who I viewed as the top rookie tight end before the NFL Draft, but he went two picks ahead of me, which I was not expecting. I went with Henry because I could see San Diego throwing a lot and Antonio Gates is 36-years-old, but man, I really would have liked Hooper. I also had the ninth pick in the third round from a late season trade and took Chris Moore from Baltimore. I’m a big fan of Moore’s skillset — he can get down the field, create separation and win at the catch point — and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him contribute sooner rather than later for the Ravens, especially considering the unknown health/quality of Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace.

Team: Team: gingersauce4u (Tyler Buecher, numberFire) @gingersauce4u

Picks:

1.05 Sterling Shepard, WR New York Giants (3 years, $17.3M)

2.05 DeAndre Washington, RB Oakland Raiders (3 years, $4.5M)

3.05 Mike Thomas, WR Los Angeles Rams (3 years, $3.0M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: Heading into our third year of this league, I’ve learned not to value positions of need as badly as I used to. Rookies beyond the first round are typically dart throws, but I have some optimism with the three players I drafted here. Sterling Shepard enters a terrific situation in his rookie season in an offense that has 100-plus targets up for grabs. Settling in behind Odell Beckham Jr. should allow Shepard plenty of single-coverage looks and allow him to truly shine out of the slot — an area he dominated in college. I love what the Raiders have done this offseason beefing up their offensive line with the addition of Kelechi Osemele and their additions on defense. It lines up for Oakland to have a more balanced attack, and something that rookie DeAndre Washington could take advantage of in his rookie year. Latavius Murray struggled with efficiency in 2015 with his success largely a byproduct of volume. Washington could carve out an early third-down/change-of-pace role that could expand into more touches as the season goes on. I’m not as high on Mike Thomas as a lot of others, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to grab him here in the mid-third round. Thomas was this year’s most notable Combine snub, after shining his final collegiate season with a 71-1,391-14 stat line for Southern Miss. He had an unlucky landing situation with the Rams, a team that ran the fewest plays per game last year and had the fifth-lowest passing play percentage. Fortunately, the receivers there have yet to establish any consistent production, so he may find a quicker path to playing time than if went somewhere else. 

Team: SamHerbie (Sammy Light, Reality Sports Online) @SamHerbie

Picks:

1.06 Devontae Booker, RB Denver Broncos (3 years, $15.2M)

2.06 Malcolm Mitchell, WR New England Patriots (3 years, $4.4M)

3.06 Paxton Lynch, QB Denver Broncos (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: While most would think about wide receivers at this point in the rookie draft, I really like what Devontae Booker brings to the table. He’s a versatile every down back playing for a coach who he can thrive under and even though C.J. Anderson re-signed this offseason, he’s had a history of not holding up health-wise. I love Malcolm Mitchell’s big play ability and it didn’t take him long in the preseason to demonstrate some of that. Word is he’s projected to start as the Patriots “X” receiver. In the final round, I took Paxton Lynch as the first QB off the board.

Team: Cleveland’s Award Tour (Matt Goodwin, Reality Sports Online & numberFire) @mattgoody2

Picks:

1.07 Michael Thomas, WR New Orleans Saints (3 years, $13.5M)

2.07 Paul Perkins, RB New York Giants (3 years, $4.4M)

3.07 Jared Goff, QB Los Angeles Rams (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: My strategy typically changes a bit in this league due to the 3 year rookie contracts vs. 4 years in my other leagues. To that end, I always try to get players who are fantasy ready in their rookie years. Michael Thomas fits that bill. He’s gotten glowing reviews in training camp and has earned quarterback Drew Brees’ confidence. He also fits a pretty big need for me at wideout. I was really hoping in the second round that Washington would be available as I think he could have an immediate impact in the Raiders offense as a pass-catcher, but like in Round 1, Tyler grabbed who I would’ve wanted. So I went with Paul Perkins, a versatile back out of UCLA. While all indications in New York point to a crowded backfield and Perkins probably being a year away, I have a little time to wait for someone scouts compared to Jamaal Charles. This strategy worked for me in the past with Devonta Freeman and this late in the draft, Perkins could be a steal.

In the last round, I was really open to anything. I originally was targeting a wide receiver who will have to wait until the auction potentially, but the opportunity to take the first overall pick in Jared Goff proved tantalizing. I’m not expecting much out of him this year, but could have a cheap and productive fantasy option for years 2 and 3 in a league that doesn’t tend to pay a premium quarterbacks. If Goff ends up being a startable fantasy quarterback in year two (i.e. Top 12 option), I can spend bigger at the other positions while paying Goff roughly $1M a season. I love his pocket presence and quick release. Hopefully I’ve picked the next elite Cal quarterback.

Team: Leo Howell (Leo Howell, ESPN) @LeoHowell8

Picks:

1.08 Derrick Henry, RB Tennessee Titans (3 years, $11.9M)

2.08 Alex Collins, RB Seattle Seahawks (3 years, $4.3M)

3.08 Rashard Higgins, WR Cleveland Browns (3 years, $2.9M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: The rookie draft wasn’t really a major event for me due to my lackluster selection for finishing well last year. I was surprised to see Derrick Henry fall to me, and since I was in full “best player available” mode, he made the most sense. Of the guys on the board, he’d easily be the highest for me in a redraft setting, and I feel like I can win now. I was tempted to go with Paxton Lynch in the second round, but thought he’d fall to me in the third… he didn’t. Still, happy with Alex Collins, who is a job away from being productive in a great system. Ended up with a bit of a biased pick, as Rashard Higgins hails from my favorite FBS college team. I doubt he makes an impact, but I’m banking on the big plays I’ve watched him make for the Rams.

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

Rookie Draft Strategy: I sat the rookie draft out after an aggressive first year in the league. I traded my picks last year in an effort to win the championship and came close, losing in the finals. I traded my 1st round pick for Arian Foster, my 2nd round pick for Brandon Marshall, and my 3rd round pick for Carson Palmer.

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

Picks:

1.10 Tyler Boyd, WR Cincinnati Bengals (3 years, $11.2M)

2.10 Kelvin Taylor, RB San Francisco 49ers (3 years, $4.2M)

3.10 Tajae Sharpe, WR Tennessee Titans (3 years, $2.8M)

Rookie Draft Strategy: With three-year rookie contracts and rosters that are very shallow, I contemplated bypassing my last two picks. But I decided to risk the cap hit and take two of my guys. I think Kelvin Taylor has an NFL skill set. A pretty good one, actually. The upside with him and Chip in SF is worth the cap risk. I was very sad when Tajae Sharpe got so much good press so early. I’ve been on him for a while, but I wanted the press after my drafts. I knew I wanted both Taylor and Sharpe and drafted Taylor first guessing someone else might take a flier in Taylor but that all would be bored by Sharpe. I ended up getting both of the guys nobody wanted along with Tyler Boyd, who I would take for three years over many of the receivers who go earlier. I see a lot of Allen Robinson in him and there isn’t much in front of him on the Bengals roster.

More Analysis by Matt Goodwin

Post-Draft Rookie Mock Draft

Updated: May 18th 2016

As you’ve likely already heard by now, the 2016 draft class is not strong. After watching the NFL Draft unfold, I’m less optimistic than I was about this class even a week ago. Last year there was a debate between Amari Cooper and Todd Gurley for the 1.01 pick, but we expected both to be excellent players in the NFL. This year no such debate exists as Ezekiel Elliott cemented himself as the 1.01 pick by landing with the Dallas Cowboys. After Elliott, there are six players that would be worthy of a 1st round rookie pick in most years.  Calling the end of the 1st round ugly would be an understatement. The caliber of player drops off a cliff, making late 1st round picks not much more valuable than 2nd rounders.

If we compared this draft to the 2015 class at the time they entered the NFL, only Elliott would be among the top 5 prospects. In my opinion, Amari Cooper, Todd Gurley, Kevin White, and DeVante Parker were all better prospects last year than Treadwell, Coleman, Doctson, Shepard, Henry, etc.

Without further ado, let’s kick off this 12 team, standard scoring IDP mock draft:

Round 1

1.01 – Ezekiel Elliott RB DAL

Undoubtedly the number #1 pick in all rookie drafts, he immediately slots in as my #3 RB for dynasty and is even a 1st round pick in redraft leagues.

1.02 – Laquon Treadwell WR MIN

While his stock has fallen over the past few months, Treadwell still is a very good prospect that should have plenty of opportunity in Minnesota.

1.03 – Corey Coleman WR CLE

Immediately the #1 WR on the team, Coleman should get fed the ball plenty. If everything clicks, Coleman has dynasty WR1 potential.

1.04 – Josh Doctson WR WAS

Love Doctson’s ability to go up and get the ball. He should be an immediate red-zone threat that plays frequently opposite DeSean Jackson. However, it’s important to note that Doctson is several years older than both Treadwell and Coleman.

1.05 – Sterling Shepard WR NYG

Thought of mainly as a slot receiver, Shepard has the ability to win on the outside and should make plenty of plays opposite OBJ in the Giants’ West Coast offense.

1.06 – Michael Thomas WR NO

He’s a work-in progress, but has great physical tools. Should challenge Willie Snead for the #2 WR position in New Orleans.

1.07 – Tyler Boyd WR CIN

Maybe the most polarizing player of this dynasty rookie class, Boyd lands in a nice spot and will help replace departed free agents Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu.

1.08 – Derrick Henry RB TEN

I did not expect Tennessee to draft a RB early after trading for DeMarco Murray. While he may not play a ton in his rookie year, Henry has a chance to be “the guy” moving forward in a run-first offense.

1.09 – Kenneth Dixon RB BAL

My favorite running back prospect besides Elliott, Dixon is more talented than Buck Allen and could immediately threaten Justin Forsett for carries.

1.10 – Will Fuller WR HOU

I typically shy away from the big play, low volume receivers that fit the DeSean Jackson mold. That said, there’s no denying Fuller’s talent makes him a borderline 1st rounder in a weak rookie class.

1.11 – Paul Perkins RB NYG

Perkins has a chance to share carries early in the season and potentially be the Giants’ lead back by seasons end.

1.12 – Jordan Howard RB CHI

If you haven’t read it yet, I’d encourage you to check out Mike Clay’s piece on Jeremy Langford’s rookie season. Upon further review, Langford really struggled in year 1. Of course there is room for improvement, but it would not be crazy to see Howard become the lead back in Chicago.

Round 2

2.01 – Leonte Carroo WR MIA

Carroo easily could have found himself as a mid-1st rounder had he landed in a better situation. In Miami, he’ll have to compete with young WRs Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker for targets. Tannehill also is not the ideal quarterback to maximize Carroo’s skill set.

2.02 – CJ Prosise RB SEA

Prosise should be an excellent 3rd down compliment to Thomas Rawls and is clearly an improvement for Seattle on the 2015 version of Fred Jackson.

2.03 – Myles Jack LB JAX

Without the injury concerns, Jack would have firmly cemented himself as a late 1st rounder.

2.04 – Devontae Booker RB DEN

Booker should quickly become the #2 RB in Denver ahead of Ronnie Hillman in Denver’s run-first offense led by Mark Sanchez/Paxton Lynch.

2.05 – Keith Marshall RB WAS

It’s not often a 7th round pick becomes a fantasy commodity, but this is the case for Marshall as the incumbent Matt Jones has done little to secure the job.

2.06 – Tajae Sharpe WR TEN

Many will question whether the sure-handed receiver from UMass can be a productive fantasy WR. In a weak class, I’m willing to take a chance on him in the 2nd round.

2.07 – DeAndre Washington RB OAK

Rumors have swirled this off-season about the Raiders’ lack of confidence in Latavius Murray. DeAndre Washington, the undersized productive running back out of Texas Tech, could immediately push for playing time.

2.08 – Jared Goff QB LA

The face of the LA Rams, Goff has potential to be a franchise QB and potentially a QB1 in fantasy someday.

2.09 – Carson Wentz QB PHI

Wentz should be given the keys to open the 2017 season. I wouldn’t even be shocked if Wentz starts the final few games of 2016 to give him some experience in meaningless games for the Eagles. With experience in a pro-style offense, the Eagles hope he can quickly adapt to the NFL game.

2.10 – Wendell Smallwood RB PHI

I’ll admit that I’m higher on Smallwood than most. I strongly believe he’ll see work behind Ryan Mathews from Week 1. Smallwood’s abilities as a pass blocker and receiver should get him plenty of 2nd and 3rd down work to start the season. Even while playing through an ankle injury, Smallwood carried the ball 238 times for WVU’s run heavy offense. He also showed big play ability as over 30 percent of his carries went for 15+ yards.

2.11 – Darron Lee LB NYJ

Lee is a great fit in Todd Bowles’ scheme. The speedy pass rusher has tons of upside.

2.12 – Kenyan Drake RB MIA

I expected Miami to add a more versatile back to challenge Jay Ajayi for the starting job. Drake projects to be passing down back in Miami, but I wouldn’t expect him to carry the full load if Ajayi gets injured.

Round 3

3.01 – Jonathan Williams RB BUF

Williams could have been a late 1st/early 2nd rookie pick if he landed in a better situation….say Miami for instance. Even in Buffalo, I’ll bet on his talent and take a chance on him.

3.02 – Paxton Lynch QB DEN

Lynch may not be ready to start in 2016, but has a unique combination of size and athleticism. If he puts it all together, he has a chance to be the best fantasy QB of this class.

3.03 – Pharoh Cooper WR LA

Cooper has an opportunity to earn playing time among the Rams’ thin wide receiver core.

3.04 – Braxton Miller WR HOU

At the very least, Miller should be a gadget player who creates mismatches for Bill O’Brien’s offense.

3.05 – Joey Bosa DE SD

Bosa is the best pure pass rusher in this draft and should immediately make an impact in fantasy.

3.06 – Hunter Henry TE SD

The most talented TE in this draft, Henry is a great long-term prospect but don’t expect much in year 1.

3.07 – Malcolm Mitchell WR NE

The Patriots haven’t had much success when drafting receivers lately, but his 2015 season forces me to take notice, especially considering the offense he’s joining.

3.08 – Rashard Higgins WR CLE

One of the best route runners in this draft, Higgins has a great opportunity for early playing time.

3.09 – Jaylon Smith LB DAL

Like Jack, Smith’s value is greatly deflated due to massive injury concerns. I’m slightly more optimistic than I was heading into the draft after Dallas took him early in the 2nd round. It’s also important to note that the Cowboys’ team doctor performed Smith’s surgery. Dallas must feel he’s worth the risk so I’ll take the gamble as well. If you’re a bit more bullish than me, you may need to target him in the 2nd round of rookie drafts to be sure to get him.

3.10 – DeForest Buckner DL SF

San Francisco’s roster severely lacks talent. Destined for a high draft pick again in 2017, DeForest Buckner is a nice building block for the 49ers.

3.11 – Leonard Floyd LB CHI

Floyd needs to be coached up, but the raw talent is intriguing.

3.12 – Mike Thomas WR LA

With an excellent ability to reel in the ball in contested situations, Thomas has a chance to earn playing time with LA in year 1.

Round 4

4.01 – Tyler Ervin RB HOU

4.02 – Reggie Ragland LB BUF

4.03 – Austin Hooper TE ATL

4.04 – Cardale Jones QB BUF

4.05 – Noah Spence DL TB

4.06 – Karl Joseph DB OAK

4.07 – Keanu Neal DB ATL

4.08 – Danny Lasco RB NO

4.09 – Keyarris Garrett WR CAR

4.10 – Shaq Lawson DL BUF

4.11 – Kevin Dodd LB TEN

4.12 – Alex Collins RB SEA

Most Intriguing Pick of Round 4: Cardale Jones – Rumors are swirling that the Bills are lacking confidence in Tyrod Taylor as the long-term solution at QB.  Jones has all the physical tools, but is strictly a developmental prospect that needs a great deal of coaching.

Round 5

5.01 – Robert Nkemdiche DL ARI

5.02 – Deion Jones LB ATL

5.03 – Charone Peake WR NYJ

5.04 – Tyler Higbee TE ATL

5.05 – Jalen Ramsey DB JAX

5.06 – Christian Hackenberg QB NYJ

5.07 – Su’a Cravens DB WAS

5.08 – Chris Moore WR BAL

5.09 – Josh Perry LB SD

5.10 – Kenny Lawler WR SEA

5.11 – Darian Thompson DB NYG

5.12 – Sheldon Rankins DL NO

Most Intriguing Pick of Round 5: Christian Hackenberg – His inclusion in the top 60 is strictly due to the confidence the Jets have placed in him.  When it comes to Christian Hackenberg, I don’t see it.  After a promising freshman year, where he fed now NFL superstar Allen Robinson, he regressed greatly…showing poor accuracy and bad footwork.  The arm talent is there, but he needs to be completely rebuilt by this coaching staff.


Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts – reply in the comments section or tweet me @DaveSanders_RSO!

More Analysis by Dave Sanders

Do You Just Know?

Updated: May 2nd 2016

In the Zone

College Swagger

For the most part, I’m a fairly humble person. After all, that is the upbringing of most folks from the Midwest. However, my freshman year in college at Miami University, I had a resident advisor (let’s call him Chuck) that I disliked so much that out of standing up for myself turned me into a trash-talking a-hole, especially on the basketball court.

One night I was playing 3-on-3 hoops with some friends (and Chuck), and Chuck and I were matched up on each other. That night, I got the better of him for the most part and prior to a game I announced it would be my last as I had to head to study group. That seemed to tick Chuck off and he was yapping more than usual while guarding me the entire game.

It got to the point where we were a basket away from winning a close game and the ball got kicked out to me in the corner more than 20 feet out and way before Steph Curry was a known entity. As I squared up to assess my options, Chuck kept taunting me shouting, “be the hero, (Goody)”. I’m not sure but I think I even passed out of that situation initially only to find the ball back to me in the same place seconds later. The chatter ensued. Finally, I had enough of Chuck-I raised up, shot the ball and without looking immediately started running towards my backpack with my hand in the air (kind of like Larry Bird when finishing off a 3 point contest All-Star weekend).

By now, you know the outcome-why would I tell this story if the shot didn’t go in, right? Chuck charged me and wanted to fight because I shut him up again. The big question is “how did I know it was going in?”. The answer and tie-in to my article this week, is sometimes you “just know”.

There’s A Draft In Here…

I get the hype of the NFL Draft. It is the best process for a downtrodden team to make strides to turn things around and sometimes help a team get a missing piece to put them over the top to be Super Bowl Champions. The intrigue here is that players of all positions can be the cornerstone for a franchise, even those outside of the skill positions.

From a fantasy football perspective, it provides a new crop of players to fawn over, especially in dynasty leagues and even more so in a hyper-league format like Reality Sports Online. Pick the right rookies for three or four years on market-friendly deals and the thought is, you can write your own championship narrative.

No doubt folks who have recently drafted Odell Beckham, Jr. or Todd Gurley can attest to how prime talent at $6.0 million a year or less can take their RSO teams to new heights. That is why we as RSO owners get so hyped for the draft, other than the intuitive fact that it is the time when these rookies situations become more known (not from a depth chart perspective, but at least opportunity wise). Remember, even Beckham’s success wasn’t a given and his injury-riddled start cast some doubt initially and now he’s a Top 5 league contract.

In the right years like the 2014 wide receiver class, it eliminated some of the guess-work on the “just know” factor. While players like Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans have not knocked it out of the park the past two years, nobody doubted their talent at the top of rookie drafts (the just know factor), and they have been slight victims of opportunity from offenses that aren’t necessarily pass happy thus far, but the consensus is their outlooks are still very rosy.

2016 Is Not A Just Know Year

With customization across leagues, including those that have individual defensive players (IDP), the rookie draft each year may have a deeper talent pool. For those who are in more common leagues that have 20-25 player rosters and offensive skill positions and team defenses, not all first round rookie deals are owner-friendly, especially if you draft a guy that isn’t a “just know” player, so sometimes it is better to spread your money around in a smarter way.

I’m fairly active on Twitter and follow Dynasty trade tweets frequently. Lots of times you see studs getting traded for a bevy of rookie picks because certain owners fawn over rookie potential in search of the big score on hitting on picks, especially late-round cheap ones. To me, that strategy is fairly risky, especially in a year like this one that is not a “just know” one.

By way of example, let’s dig into Nick Andrews’ Pre-Draft Mock. Of Nick’s Top 12 picks, only Ezekiel Elliott flashes the potential to be an immediate fantasy star (I’d define this as being top 10 in fantasy points at his position for the upcoming few years) and the Cowboys taking him cements that behind their hulking offensive line and Scott Linehan’s affinity for passing to running backs. From an NFL perspective, it probably didn’t make sense for the Cowboys to go this route given the devaluation of the running back position; however, RSO owners don’t want to hear that noise and should take Elliott at 1.01 in all their rookie drafts. Other players may take at least a year to prove themselves (which isn’t a bad thing if you think of players like Devonta Freeman).

However, if you have a league which features three-year rookie deals, you almost need immediate contributors or to hit on your post round one rookie draft picks (which points to trading down to get more shots at this-the Moneyball strategy is being tested in Cleveland and certainly can be applied to your RSO rookie drafts). Let’s get into a few hypothetical situations that may mirror decisions you are facing when assessing your offseason trade or rookie draft strategy (assuming you have a bit of time to evaluate and aren’t doing your rookie draft next week before depth charts are being figured out with offseason workouts).

Hypotheticals-Would You Rather Have?

Established Player A: Golden Tate, WR, Detroit Lions-1.6 years remaining, $14.0m remaining contract

Rookie Player A: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Minnesota Vikings-1.02 mock, 4 years, $6.0-$7.6m average annual contract

These are the types of questions that really test the mettle of RSO owners. Tate is a solid PPR option who figures to get the ball more with Calvin Johnson retired, although he’s probably around the 24th best fantasy wide receiver for the next two years.

Treadwell fills a big need in Minnesota, and as one of the highest regarded receivers in the draft, those players typically often become the instant primary target for their teams. Treadwell’s rookie draft value will likely be derived in years 2-3 of his four-year deal and based on the GM’s confidence in his role on the Vikings offense, which has been a fantasy wasteland for receivers for a long time now.

I don’t get too hung up on 40 times like Treadwell’s 4.65 if the player has known game speed. Larry Fitzgerald ran a 4.63 and was fast enough to be able to watch himself leave Steelers defenders in the dust on the Jumbotron while heading to the end zone in his lone Super Bowl appearance. For me, based on Treadwell’s situation in Minnesota, I prefer the steady, if not spectacular Tate based on known production and his role as the number one receiver in the Detroit offense. Full disclaimer, I’d also prefer Cleveland’s first round pick Corey Coleman over Treadwell as well. I know the Browns offense is a mess (with or without Josh Gordon), but they will have to throw the ball and will work with Coleman’s skills to get him the ball in space. This screams heavy volume and potentially a role in the return game as well.

Established Player B: Matt RyanQB, Atlanta Falcons-1.6 years remaining, $17.0m remaining contract

Rookie Player B: Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams-2.11 mock, 4 years, $1.3-$1.6m average annual contract

I’m certainly not the first to compare these players, as Bleacher Report’s Mike Tanier did in this article. From a real football perspective, Goff is asked to be the savior of a team returning to Los Angeles and that will likely take time to do, especially given that the franchise has mortgaged in terms of future drafts to get their face of the franchise for the new era of Rams football. The Falcons quickly pivoted to get Ryan some weapons, something that the Rams don’t have the luxury of doing, so they either have to count on Brian Quick types to come out of nowhere or hit a home-run with late round picks in either the 2016 or 2017 NFL Draft.

That said, from a fantasy perspective in dynasty leagues where you are starting one quarterback across a 10-12 team typical format, even with Goff’s potential challenges of being the day-one starter in 2016, the RSO contract values and fantasy production seem to highlight that Goff’s upside and potential return as a second round rookie pick exceed Ryan’s market dynamics.

I love Goff’s presence and instincts (much like fellow Cal alum Aaron Rodgers) and think that he will break out in Year two even without a top wideout like Julio Jones, who Ryan has the luxury of having. At this point, Ryan still has weapons, but hasn’t proved to be worth more than a replacement/streaming quarterback in our format, and that isn’t worth paying out multi-millions and multi-years for.

So in this case, consider me a member of fellow writer Bob Cowper’s valuing rookie QB’s higher school of thought.

Established Player C: Danny Woodhead, RB, San Diego Chargers-1.0 years remaining, $3.5m remaining contract

Rookie Player C: C.J. Prosise, RB, Seattle Seahawks -1.09 mock, 4 years, $3.6-$4.5m average annual contract

Who better to compare to Woodhead than a former wideout who played running back at Notre Dame last year? In this case, Prosise is still somewhat of a work in progress and needs to better pass protect to see time on an NFL field. However, his route running ability and size are key assets in giving him the opportunity for significant playing time in the right system.

With the increased emphasis on the passing game in the NFL, Woodhead was surprisingly a top 10 fantasy running back last year in PPR leagues and Philip Rivers loves him. Can Prosise be the same at similar dollar values? Who would you take?

For me, this argument really boils down to where you can get Prosise in your rookie draft. Woodhead, while very productive is sometimes challenging to own in fantasy based on offensive game flow. No doubt will the Chargers continue to emphasize Melvin Gordon in the run game and his snaps ramped up on obvious passing downs as the season progressed. Woodhead is also a free agent in 2017 and will be fighting for targets with Keenan Allen returning from a season-ending injury and with newly-signed Travis Benjamin.

Prosise certainly has the ability to be a 50-60 catch guy with the quicks to be like another C.J. (Spiller). However, rookie draft owners making this pick hope that Prosise gets more playing time and utilization than Spiller. If the utilization is similar to Woodhead’s with some carries sprinkled in , it is a 50-50 proposition between Woodhead and Prosise at a pick around 1.09 in the rookie draft from a salary perspective that heavily skews towards Prosise if Thomas Rawls misses extended offseason time, as Rawls is far from cemented as an established fantasy entity. Anything past 1.09 heavily favors Prosise’s upside, especially in Round 2 or later.

Conclusion

Due to the lack of “just know” guys this year, the Moneyball strategy of trading down may benefit you. There are only a few players/situations right now that seem to be definitive, so sometimes the solid, if not flashy vet is a better option than the rookie draft pick. Last year, I traded my 1.08 pick for a year of T.Y. Hilton and I’d do it again with a contending team, in spite of some bad luck surrounding Hilton’s QB last year.

How your team stacks up against the competition and whether you are in contend/rebuild mode matters for your decisions, but the “just know” factor means a ton and dictates whether or not you move up or down in your rookie drafts or trade out of them completely.

As for Chuck, I still laugh about that game and think about the ball going through the net sight unseen.

My Top 5 Picks

If my rookie draft were this week based on the situations they are in and long-term upside, here’s who I’d select:

  1. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
  2. Corey Coleman, WR, Cleveland Browns
  3. Josh Doctson, WR, Washington Redskins
  4. Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
  5. C.J. Prosise, RB, Seattle Seahawks

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). 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