2020 RSO Contracts: WRs

Updated: August 30th 2020

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

Average RSO Wide Receiver Contracts

Top Plays

It is no surprise Thomas sits at the top.  He caught 45 more balls than any receiver last season and easily finished as the WR1.  Houston traded Hopkins to Arizona but it has not deterred RSO GMs from paying him as the overall WR2.  There’s unacknowledged downside at this price as receivers moving to new teams have not finished up to expectations very often.  Mahomes to Hill blends upside to potentially win fantasy weeks and decent target load.  A significant injury history with smaller stature adds week to week uncertainty.  Adams’ target load might be one of the few volumes which rival Thomas as next to nothing of a legitimate threat on Green Bay exists.  He does not offer upper-level efficiency and a disproportionate amount of his production historically comes from touchdowns.  Godwin and Evans both produced top-4 per game fantasy production in 2019.  What this offense and target distribution looks like is anybody’s guess with Tom Brady replacing Winston and Tampa Bay bringing in future Hall of Famer Rob Gronkowski.  Jones is among the most consistent yearly performers and the team is set up for big offensive production.  His efficiency notably dipped slightly last season for the first time.

Young Upside Receivers

Smith-Schuster produced a 1,400-yard second season at the age of 22 after an impressive rookie year.  That work was done with Antonio Brown as the Steelers’ WR1.  It’s questionable if JuJu can attain close to those heights without someone to take away top corner coverage.   We saw two quality back to back fantasy seasons from Golladay.  Matt Stafford depth of target in 2019 was incredibly high and Marvin Jones was injured for significant portions last year.  Golladay is a safe bet but may be priced near his ceiling.  Moore, Brown, McLaurin, Chark, and Sutton all could be excellent long-term alpha receivers who possess high upside potential with short-term questions concerning quarterbacks, volume, and/or new coaching staffs.  Metcalf, Ridley, and Cupp are secondary options attached to quality, stable quarterback situations who could be, or have been, closer to 1B type receivers for their teams.  Each has limitations in their respective skill-sets which likely limit the fantasy ceiling of each but also quality abilities in one or more areas which boost potential scoring.

Discount and Volatile Veterans

Hopefully Beckham returns to full health after playing last year injured.  Cleveland’s projected passing schedule eases this season.  Questions abound with a new coaching staff, Mayfield’s quarterback abilities, and whether injuries depleted the crazy upside of Beckham.  Cooper posted 1,000 yard seasons in four of five seasons in the league and is still only 26. He is consistently one of the most inconsistent week to week wideouts, destroying bad corners and completely taken out of the game by good defenders.  While many consider Diggs and Allen among the top receiving talents in the league, both receive significant passing downgrades at quarterback.  Thielen struggled with injuries last year and is already 30 despite limited seasons in the NFL but had two quality years previously.  He maintains a stronghold on the WR1 spot and keeps quarterback continuity in Minnesota.  Woods might be the best wide receiver value in RSO leagues at WR26.  Woods ranked WR17 and WR14 in per game fantasy points the last two seasons despite limited touchdown luck and Brandin Cooks left the Rams through trade.  The story for Lockett mirrors that of Russell Wilson in a certain way.  Hyper efficiency as the number one target for Wilson makes a weekly fantasy starter but a potential lack of throwing volume in run-heavy Seattle limits the ceiling.

Rookies

Lamb comes in as RSO’s highest-priced rookie receiver and someone I see as the most complete rookie receiver.  His opportunity may be limited short-term in a very good Dallas receiving group.  Many consider Jeudy the best rookie separator.  He lands with a strong WR1 talent in Sutton and Lock is a huge long-term question mark at quarterback in Denver.  Ruggs and Raegor land in spots with immediate fantasy production possibilities and are the most explosive rookie wide receivers in the class.  Raegor’s landing spot tied to Carson Wentz could prove an excellent long-term match.


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

Early 2019 RSO Contracts: WRs

Updated: August 14th 2019

My annual look at early RSO auction values turns to the wide receiver group.  The series was designed to give the reader help in planning for upcoming auctions by looking at actual RSO auctions already finished.  The data comes from a variety of different types of leagues with varying scoring rules and starting requirements which can drastically alter player values so be cautious in expecting values to match your particular league.  The number of auctions for any particular player may also be limited this early in the RSO season.  The information does provide a useful starting point for examining how RSO owners value players at a certain position relative to one another and the length of contract they are willing to invest.

 

Average RSO Wide Receiver Contracts

Safety and Depth at the Top

From holdouts to health to usage to surrounding talent, the running back position presents question marks for many of the most costly RSO contracts in 2019.  The argument for putting your big RSO cap dollars in wide receivers relies on their relative safety.  Grabbing Hopkins, Adams, Beckham Jr., Thomas, Smith-Schuster, Evans, Jones, or Allen assures a dominant, high-volume receiver attached to efficient passing offenses.  Maybe just as impressive is the depth of top receivers available.  For example, T.Y. Hilton goes off the board at WR16 as the top receiver for Andrew Luck after finishing 2018 sixth in yards per game.    An RSO GM wanting a reliable high volume pass catcher should have no problem finding one in most leagues.

The top paid wide receivers are not completely devoid of risk, however.  Brown and Green are dealing with lower-leg injuries already with Brown also bizarrely threatening retirement based on his choice of helmet.  Amari Cooper remains one of the most volatile receivers in all of football attached to a low-volume pass offense which is difficult to stomach at his price.  The Minnesota tandem of Diggs and Thielen face their own questions going into 2019.  Diggs was among the most inefficient wide receivers of the heavily targeted players last season.  Thielen’s production fell off a cliff the second half of 2018.  Minnesota probably transitions to a more run-heavy approach potentially reducing volume to both.

Who Steps Up?

While there is a good amount of quality top-end targets, not every team’s target share is set and not every offense racks up big yardage.  Many young pass catchers have the chance to move up the ranks of receivers.  RSO GMs priced Corey Davis aggressively so far as WR17.  The former top-5 pick improved in his second season and appears locked in as the top target for Tennessee.  The problem for Davis is the limited upside in the Titans’ pass attack.  Tennessee ranked no better than 28th in pass attempts the last three seasons and is going with quarterback Mariota yet again in his 5th year.  The Titans also spent high draft capital on A.J. Brown and gave a big contract to Adam Humphries.  There is a lot of preseason buzz, both good and bad, about Dante Pettis in San Francisco on potentially a breakout offense.  The slight receiver must stay healthy and battle a host of other good receiving options at multiple positions for targets.

Joe Flacco’s ability to throw with velocity downfield represents a much better match for Courtland Sutton’s strengths in his second year over the weak-armed Case Keenum.  Flacco is still Flacco, one of the most inefficient quarterbacks in the NFL over the last few years, and Emmanuel Sanders looks ahead of schedule coming back from a late season Achilles tear.  New York will look for more consistency from Robby Anderson, to go along with the growth of 22 year old quarterback Sam Darnold, after displaying flashes in his young career.  The Jets made significant investments among the skill-position group with the additions of Bell at running back and Crowder at wide receiver.  The Arizona Cardinals project as a far more up-tempo passing offense in 2019 with new head coach Kliff Kingsbury and second year pro Christian Kirk seems to be a big part going forward.  As dynamic as the offense could be, we must consider the possibility that a first year head coach with a rookie quarterback leading a new offense might have trouble adjusting to the NFL.

Upside NFL WR2s and WR1s in Questionable Situations

The Bears employ a diverse offensive scheme adjusting significantly each week under Matt Nagy which makes predicting the target distribution questionable at best.  Allen Robinson is one more year away from his ACL tear and second round pick Anthony Miller looks for a second-year jump after playing with shoulder injuries for most of his rookie season.  Some people forget about Marvin Jones after his injury-marred 2018. Despite new Lions coach Matt Patricia attempts to set offensive football back thirty years in 2018, Jones ranked top-10 in air yards while on the field and might be closer to the 1B in Detroit than his RSO price suggests.

Aaron Rodgers’ second receiving option provides significant possible fantasy value.  Geronimo Allison could be that piece seeming fixed in the starting slot spot.  Marquez Valdez-Scantling appears locked in as the second outside wide receiver opposite Devante Adams and comes at a discount so far in comparison to Allison.  Panthers’ wide receiver Curtis Samuel has been the talk of training camp in Carolina routinely destroying attempted coverage by defensive backs.  Many analysts believe he is the better receiver opposite D.J. Moore.  The afore-mentioned Emmanuel Sanders instills excellent value on RSO rosters if he is indeed fully healthy.  It would be an extremely quick recovery from an Achilles injury.  Pittsburg is another team for which the second receiver might carry significant fantasy value.  RSO GMs are paying the most for James Washington early.  He faces lot of competition in former Colt/Jaguar Donte Moncrief who currently heads the depth chart while many consider rookie Diontae Johnson the best replacement.

Others Outside the Top-50

DeSean Jackson will put up some big games this season with Carson Wentz without the need for big target loads.  Move Tyrell Williams up your boards this based on the wild news surrounding Antonio Brown.  Somebody has to catch passes in Oakland.  Do not be surprised if Jamison Crowder leads the Jets in receptions.  We won’t see a high volume passing offense in Buffalo.  The speedy John Brown, however, best fits the relatively high-volume, high-target depth throws Josh Allen makes.


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

Early 2019 Free Agency Look: WRs

Updated: February 18th 2019

We see an interesting wide receiver class this offseason.  The free agent group holds lots of variety with everything from smaller slot receivers to big deep threats and much in between.  There is not a player in free agency which most teams would consider as their top receiver, however.  Every available free agent possesses some shortcoming which likely limits the role each will play with a new team.  This fact should not confuse anyone into thinking they will not be paid.  Players including Sammy Watkins and Donte Moncrief received big paydays last year in free agency.  With more teams predominantly playing three or more wide receiver sets, receiver depth becomes more important.  The group is potentially hurt by a deep class of wide receivers entering the NFL draft.

Golden Tate

This is the top receiver available, if based on resume, accumulating four 90 reception seasons to go with three 1,000 yard seasons.  Tate plays with uncommon strength, drive, and short-area movement which combine into one of the most evasive receivers in the game accumulating big yards after the catch.  The main questions entering free agency are his age (31) and the fact that much of his production in Detroit relied on short, gimmicky, manufactured touches.  Will a new team have a plan in place catering to Tate’s strengths or will he be forced into a more traditional receiver role into which he might not have as much success?

John Brown

Brown profiles similarly to T.Y. Hilton athletically as a small receiver with great speed who also displays some good route running with quality cuts into breaks.  Brown has a 1,000 yard season with Arizona and was on pace for a 1,000 yard season this year for Baltimore prior to Joe Flacco’s injury and subsequent benching.  The insertion of Lamar Jackson at quarterback decimated the passing attack for the Ravens and, with it, any meaningful production from receivers.  Brown struggles with health sometimes in part due to his sickle-cell trait.  The diminutive speedster offers a lot of potential for his new team.

Tyrell Williams

Williams boasts a lot of qualities teams covet from wide receivers.  He stands 6’-3” with upper level athleticism, including enviable speed, and a large wingspan to boot.  The former undrafted free agent is at his best stretching defenses as a deep threat and running underneath drag routes to utilize his long strides.  Williams produced a quality 2016 season with Keenan Allen injured.  Unfortunately, the numerous negatives match his positives.  Williams struggles with drops, is a limited route runner, and his thin frame gets taken advantage of by physical corners.  Despite his limitations, Williams’ other strengths make him a good bet for highest paid wide receiver free agent.

Jamison Crowder

Injuries and the Washington quarterback situation diminished what was expected to be a big year for Crowder in 2018.  On the surface, Crowder is a smaller receiver who tested poorly at the NFL combine.  There is more than appears, though.  He plays with a game speed and quickness that makes defensive backs appear silly at times.  Crowder offers a diverse route tree with experience working all levels of the field and lining up inside or out.  A solid market should emerge for Crowder but his size may limit teams’ envisioned role to primarily a slot receiver.

Adam Humphries

The timing just works out sometimes.  Humphries put up his best season as a pro in 2018 racking up 76 receptions on the verge of free agency.  This is the very definition a primary slot receiver in the NFL.  He provides a smart option with very reliable hands for teams in need of underneath help. Humphries knows how to find holes in zone coverage and fights hard for extra yards with the ball.  Humphries does not possess the traits needed to consistently win on the outside.  He can be a productive receiver in the right system.

Donte Moncrief

If one could build an X- receiver in a lab, that player would probably look much like Moncrief.  He possesses a big, thick frame while running extremely well with incredible hops.  Unfortunately Moncrief did not develop as a receiver in Indianapolis where his route running never really progressed.  He is a one-speed player who does not play up to his athleticism.  Moncrief swindled the Jaguars out of $10 million last season.  It is highly unlikely that scenario happens this year but you can bet some team will take a cheaper gamble on his athletic traits again.

Devin Funchess

There were questions about what position Funchess would play in the NFL.  The former college tight end remains somewhat of a “tweener” at the pro level.  He profiles as a big possession receiver but does not have the tools necessary to optimize that role.  His hands have stayed inconsistent and he does not win as many contested catches as someone with his size should.  Funchess displays some great playmaking skills at times but not with the regularity needed to stand out.  Teams will have interest in the very young (24) talented player who might still improve going forward.

Josh Gordon, Martavis Bryant, Robby Anderson

The odds are against each of these players hitting free agency for different reasons.  They showed dynamic deep-threat ability in the past, though, which makes them worth keeping track of.  The league indefinitely suspended Gordon and Bryant for yet another substance abuse infraction and we have no idea when or if they play again.  Gordon and Anderson are also restricted free agents limiting their chances of switching teams this year.  Watch the situations for updates.

Others to Monitor

Cole Beasley fits teams with a pure slot receiver need.  He is a professional receiver who just knows how to get open.  Injuries have taken their toll on Randall Cobb.  He has not looked like the same dynamic player from his early years in a long time.  If healthy, he provides a versatile player capable of filling slot and receiving roles in the slot and out of the backfield.  Buffalo players nicknamed Chris Hogan “7-Eleven” when he played for the Bills because he was always open.  We might need a new nickname after Hogan struggled to find any separation in 2019.  Is Dez Bryant done after an Achilles injury ended his 2018 season before it began?  Injuries and the retirement of Tony Romo sent Bryant’s career into one of the sharpest tailspins in recent memory from a top receiver.  Kelvin Benjamin produced a couple of quality seasons in Carolina to start his career.  He’s probably looking at a part-time role now as a short-yardage or redzone specialist now.  Jordan Matthews started his career with three consecutive 60+ reception seasons for Philadelphia playing considerably as a big slot receiver.  He can be a useful player for teams utilizing a similar role.  Former first-round picks Kevin White, Phillip Dorsett, and Breshad Perriman will look to free agency after disappointing initial contract years.  On the older side, Dontrelle Inman and Rishard Matthews both proved very solid professionals throughout their careers when given ample opportunity.  The Texans recently released Demaryius Thomas after an Achilles tear ended his season.  It will be a tough comeback for 2019 given the late date of his injury.


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

Early 2018 RSO Contracts: WRs

Updated: August 18th 2018

The early RSO auction value examination concludes with the wide receiver position.  Receivers offer the most choices among fantasy positions with the deepest group of quality options available.  The problem with all that depth is the lack of clear separation in projection from one player to the next, especially as you move away from the top performers.  Let’s take a look at some of the top paid receivers in RSO leagues working through some of the good and bad situations to get a better grasp of players for the coming season.

The reader may find links to previous articles in the series below in preparation for upcoming auctions.

Early 2018 RSO Contracts: QBs

Early 2018 RSO Contracts: RBs

Early 2018 RSO Contracts: TEs

 

Average RSO Wide Receiver Contracts

Top Targets (WR1-9)

The case for Brown is very easy.  He finished inside the top three wide receivers in PPR leagues since every season since 2012.   Hopkins garnered 151+ targets each of the last three seasons.  Apparently only Brock Osweiler can limit his fantasy success.  In case you forgot after an injury ruined his 2017 season, Beckham Jr. has never finished outside the top-4 in PPR points per game.  There is more volume competition in New York than ever before with second overall pick Saquon Barkley and second year phenom Evan Engram.  Thomas racked up an absurd 52% of the Saints receivers’ targets in 2017 on his second consecutive year with at least 92 receptions and 1,137 yards.  That percentage of the pie probably decreases in 2018 but an increase in New Orleans passing volume could balance the effect as the Saints went from one of the most pass happy teams to middle of the pack last season.  The inconsistency of Jameis Winston and random nature of touchdowns is in full view when one looks at Evans who scored 12 touchdowns in two seasons and five or less in his other two years.  He holds a decent floor with four 1,000 yard seasons to start a career.  Allen averages 163 targets, 112 receptions, and 1.396 yards per 16 games over the last three seasons and the Chargers lost potential breakout Hunter Henry already.  For whatever reason, Jones has never been a huge touchdown scorer finishing with just three TDs last year.  That means a potential discount for a player with four consecutive 80+ catch, 1,400+ yard seasons.  2017 also felt like a disappointing year for Green who saw his lowest standard PPG of his career.  Look for a rebound from Green and a Cincinnati offense who struggled last season with injuries and an underperforming offensive line where upgrades have been made this offseason.  Adams scored 22 touchdowns the last two seasons and gets back Aaron Rodgers.  This is still a player averaging below 12 yards per reception for his career with no 1,000 yard receiving seasons.

Potential WR1s with Risk (WR10-22)

Hill might count as the most explosive player in the NFL with six 50+ yard plays last season.  His relatively low volume combined with increased target competition and new quarterback makes for a risky WR1 option.  Robinson produced a huge 1,400 yard season in 2015 but the resume is barren otherwise. Uncertainty abounds returning from an ACL-tear with a young QB and unknown role in new offense.  Cooks posted three consecutive 1.000 yard seasons with Brees and Brady at QB.  No receiver in a Sean McVay offense (Washington or the Rams) amassed a 21% target share in any of the last four years.  Thielen and Diggs should dominate targets in Minnesota from new QB Kirk Cousins on what should be a quality passing attack.  Cooper ranked just 51st in receiving yards from a disastrous 2017 season despite a monstrous 210 yard game.  New coach Jon Gruden gives hope to those looking for a return to Cooper’s promising first two years.  Jeffrey played through a severe shoulder injury last year and might not be ready to start the season but remains one of the top targets in the Eagles passing attack.  The 21 year old Smith –Schuster impressed his rookie season gaining 75+ yards in 5 of his last 7 games.  He remains behind both Brown and Bell for targets in the Steelers’ offense but looks like a quality long-term investment.  Baldwin should dominate targets on a depth chart with little competition.  Questions surround the Seattle wide receiver going into season with a mysterious knee injury that will keep him from most of preseason.  Davis is a popular breakout receiver on a revamped Tennessee offense with new coaching staff.  Lot of competition for targets exists on a likely low-volume passing attack in Cleveland where Landry and Gordon will fight for main billing.  Landry’s prospects increase daily as Gordon remains away from camp.   The depth chart in Indianapolis behind Hilton is one of the shallowest in the league.  His top-level production possibilities remain tied to Andrew Luck’s health.

Lots of Quality Options, Upside, and Questions Left (WR23+)

Detroit boasts one of the most stable WR duos in Tate and Jones on a regular top-10 volume passing offense.  Thomas leads the Denver receiving core with what should be an upgrade at QB.  Fitzgerald posted 108+ receptions in three consecutive seasons and gets check-down machine Bradford at QB.  Kansas City paid Watkins a huge amount to be a big part of the offense but his role is uncertain given the other weapons for the Chiefs.  The Rams’ receiving core projects as a three-headed monster with similar target shares for Cupp, Woods, and Cooks.  Funchess’ role becomes unclear with the addition of rookie Moore plus the return of Olsen and Samuel.  Will Parker take control of a Miami receiving group previously predicated on short passing to Jarvis Landry?  Crowder heads a deep receiving group in Washington with lots of talent but injury questions and little on-field production.  Is Edelman the same player at 32 after a torn ACL and PED suspension?  Will Bryant find a meaningful role in a revamped Oakland offense?  Benjamin should be a target hog on one of the worst offenses in football.  Similar to Benjamin, Crabtree could head the receiving core for a low-upside, Flacco-led Baltimore offense.  Nelson goes from one of the most efficient passers in history (Rodgers) to one of the least efficient passers in his time in the league (Carr).  An owner can pay WR4/5 prices for Garcon and Goodwin on a projected top-10 passing offense.  Anderson is the top receiver for the Jets but could be hit with a suspension at any time.  Cobb remains a quality flex option as the WR2 on a Rodgers-led passing attack whenever he is healthy.  Questions remain on how long that may be.

Interesting Names outside the Top-50

Hogan (55) is the only returning starting receiver for New England from last year with Edelman suspended to start the year.  Sanders (59) suffered through bad QB play and ankle injuries in Denver last year but could achieve near-Thomas target levels.  It is conceivable Stills (60), Wilson (93), or Amendola (99) ends up leading the Dolphins in receptions.  Lockett (63) flashed explosive play-making ability at times in Seattle and the Seahawk receiving depth chart is very shallow, particularly with questions about Baldwin’s availability.  Matthews (68) might still be the number one target in Tennessee with a new, hopefully improved, offensive scheme.


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

More Analysis by Bernard Faller

2016 Stories and Lessons

Updated: May 28th 2017

Happy holidays everyone! I hope everyone is having a great end to the year.  The fantasy season concluded recently for most of the fantasy community with the week 16 championships (we do keep in mind our wild brethren who finish in week 17) and the NFL season finishes shortly in week 17.  While some of you out there may still be celebrating your successful season and others might be crying after disaster, it is a good time to look at stories that dominated the fantasy season and examine a few lessons learned from the year.

Return of the Running Back

What a difference a year makes. Running backs were the ugly step-child of the fantasy community coming into the season with seemingly every analyst avoiding them like the plague.  We heard everything from “Running Backs are always hurt” to “Every team is going to a committee” or “Nobody runs the ball in a passing league”.  The much-maligned position group came back with a vengeance in 2016 absolutely dominating in a way we have not seen for years.  Table 1 details the big increase in weekly scoring among running backs this season, particularly among the top scorers.  The top running backs have also been far more reliable losing fewer games to injury this season.  The top six scorers per game from 2015 lost 41 games to injury while this year’s group has lost only 6 games total (including 3 games from LeVeon Bell’s suspension).   While the injury rate for running backs returned closer to historical levels, the scoring was far higher than recent years.  I do not expect the increased scoring to continue and will likely be lower on running backs than the consensus next season.

Table 1: PPR PPG for running backs

                RB1        RB2       RB6       RB12     RB18     RB24

2016       26.69     26.45     19.28     14.78     13.68     12.49

2015       21.09     20.22     16.95     14.52     12.80     12.24

 

Tight End is the new Running Back

Similarly to running backs in 2015, the top of the tight end position lost a lot of time to injuries in 2016. The top-6 per game scorers lost only 7 games in 2015.  That number ballooned to 19 so far this season primarily including top options Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed, and Tyler Eifert.  This number does not include a bunch of “decoy” games with minimum use due to injuries and reincorporation to the offense following an injury which lowered player scoring averages dramatically as seen in table 2.   Many in the fantasy community will use this data as evidence of how “injury-prone” tight ends are.  I will use it as a buying opportunity to obtain one of the few game changers at the position on the cheap.

Table 2: PPR PPG for tight ends

               TE1         TE6       TE12

2016       14.7        12.1        11.0

2015       18.1        14.7        10.8

Avoid Injured Players

Here is a small sample of stat lines for players returning from injury in 2016:

Julio Jones: 4 receptions, 60 yards; Stephon Diggs: 2 receptions, 18 yards;  Steve Smith: 4 receptions, 47 yards

Donte Moncrief: 4 receptions, 41 yards;  Julio Jones: 4 receptions, 60 yards;  Rob Gronkowski: 0 receptions, 0 yards

Tyler Eifert: 1 reception, 9 yards;  Jordan Reed: 1 reception, 10 yards

The conventional wisdom has been to insert your star players into fantasy lineups whenever they are available. The reality is that any player either returning from an injury or playing with an injury is a gargantuan-size risk usually not worth taking.  We will not know how effectively each individual will perform and, perhaps more importantly, how coaches will limit their snaps and thus the opportunity to put up fantasy points.  Coaches and front office personnel tend to the conservative side with players the organization invested heavily in.  It may not seem smart to bench your star players but, in many instances, it is exactly the correct move.

Avoid Skill Position Players with Bad Quarterbacks

There is a common belief among many that talent supersedes situation in dictating fantasy production. The reality is that situation plays a far larger part.  Perhaps no other situation highlights this dynamic more than the relationship between quarterbacks and skill players.  In particular, bad quarterback play negatively impacts fantasy production of attached players dramatically.

This negative impact manifests directly on wide-outs by receivers accumulating less yards for every target. Bad quarterback play also limits the opportunity for receivers to score touchdowns as drives tend to stall much earlier with fewer plays near the end zone.  Competitive teams shield bad quarterbacks in many cases by decreasing passing attempts which means fewer targets for wide receivers.  The bottom 9 NFL teams in passing rating so far in 2016 are:  New York Jets, Los Angeles Rams, Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia, Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers, and the Chicago Bear.  What does this “stellar” group have in common?  There is not a single wide receiver that managed even a WR2 season so far this season (based on PPG) in PPR leagues.  Terrelle Pryor is currently the highest ranked wide receiver out of these teams at WR25.  Those who invested in Allen Robinson, DeAndre Hopkins, or Brandon Marshall likely saw their fantasy seasons end early due to abysmal quarterbacks.

Bad quarterback play can also have a detrimental impact on running backs. Backs suffer from the same loss of touchdown opportunities as wide receivers but also see negative indirect consequences which limit effectiveness.  Defenses adjust to bad quarterbacks by placing more men closer to the line of scrimmage forcing teams to choose between passing with their awful quarterback and running against stacked boxes in low upside situations.  Los Angeles Rams’ Todd Gurley and Houston Texan Lamar Miller provide two examples (both currently top-6 in rushing attempts) which demonstrate the effect.  Both suffered from bottom of the league QBs and faced extensive loaded defensive fronts (along with marginal offensive line play and predictable offensive play calling) throughout the season.  The heavy volume should dictate RB1 numbers but QB play has heavily impacted each resulting in RB2 seasons.


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

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