RSO Team: Football Outsiders’ Rivers McCown

It's a bad idea to evaluate a smile the way you critique his release. Photo by PDA.Photo
Any team with Cam Newton as the quarterback is primed for big weeks. Rivers McCown of Football Outsiders gives you the rest of the scoop on his RSO squad from last month’s auction. Photo by PDA.Photo

Rivers McCown makes my Futures column look better. He makes all the Football Outsiders look better – at least in print. McCown participated in our recent Reality Sports Online writer draft. This is an auction league that includes multi-year contracts. Go here to learn more about the league.  You can join a league for $9.99 as an individual or form a league with your friends. Go to and use the promotion code RSP20%OFF, you’ll earn a 20 percent discount. 

Pre-Draft Strategy

I actually didn’t have time to come in with much of a strategy. I rather liked how it turned out, and I had a few big ideas going through my head when creating the team (get settled at RB early and target older receivers with the belief that they’ll be cheaper), but I can’t attest that I had some grand, unified theory come true. In retrospect, I would have aimed for one very good, young receiver with my four-year deal rather than David Wilson, but I’m not dissatisfied.

For a time, D.J. Harper was considered the best back at Boise State - and Doug Martin was on the team . Photo by Football Schedule.
McCown thought his deal on Martin was such a steal that the league was going to roll back the auction, but he made off in the night with a top RB at a great contract. Photo by Football Schedule.

How the Auction Unfolded

Quarterback Yrs $ Running Back Yrs $
Cam Newton (CAR)
3 49.0
Doug Martin (TB)
3 67.5
Josh Freeman (TB) R
1 3.5
David Wilson (NYG)
4 56.5
Chase Daniel (KC) R**
1 0.5
Stepfan Taylor (ARI) R
3 R
Theo Riddick (DET) R
3 R
Willis McGahee (DEN) R
1 2.5
Montario Hardesty (CLE) R
1 1.5
Daniel Thomas (MIA) R
1 1.0
Michael Smith (TB) R
1 0.5
Jeremy Stewart (OAK) R**
1 0.5
Wide Receiver Yrs $ Tight End Yrs $
Andre Johnson (HOU)
2 32.5
Jermichael Finley (GB)
2 6.0
Reggie Wayne (IND)
1 15.0
Tyler Eifert (CIN) R
3 R
Lance Moore (NO)
1 4.5
Fred Davis (WAS) R
1 1.5
Mohamed Sanu (CIN) R
1 2.5
Rueben Randle (NYG) R
1 2.5
Malcom Floyd (SD)
1 2.5
Jarius Wright (MIN) R
1 1.5
T.J. Graham (BUF) R**
1 0.5
Nate Burleson (DET) R
1 0.5
Justin Hunter (TEN) R
3 R
Ryan Swope (ARI) R
3 R
Kicker Yrs $ Defense Yrs $
Rob Bironas (TEN) R
1 0.5
1 0.5
Ryan Succop (KC)
1 0.5
1 0.5

**These players were acquired via free agency after the draft. 

I think I got Doug Martin for a song because nobody was awake yet – I was surprised that didn’t get rewound when it happened. That enabled me to get a little more aggressive with the other guys I had targeted. I think the two biggest mistakes I made was not getting a third “established” back (because who knows what will happen with McGahee, Ball, Hillman, etc.) and losing a bidding war with Mike Clay for Antonio Brown when he was the last truly elite receiver (in my mind) on the board. I recovered and garnered a lot of possible WR3 guys, but none of them have Brown’s upside and I could have spent less on the margins to bring him in without losing much.

The quarterback shuffle was the most interesting part of the league for me. I think there were some good bargains with the older quarterbacks, but I was dead-set on a young guy. I knew that a Matt Waldman league was not a place where Russell Wilson would go cheap. Colin Kaepernick got thrown out early and was surprisingly expensive. Luck got thrown out early and was ridiculously expensive. So I hitched my wagon to Cam Newton and went a little over my initial range. If Carolina continues to involve him in the run game, he’s the one quarterback with the body I’d bet on to survive it, so I was less hesitant to spend on him than I would have been with some of the other young quarterbacks.

Best/Worst Deals

While I disagree with McCown about the value of Finley relative to Davis, the recent non-playoff productivity isn't that far away. Photo by Elvis Kennedy.
While I disagree with McCown about the value of Finley relative to Davis, the recent non-playoff productivity isn’t that far away. Photo by Elvis Kennedy.

Martin is my best deal, clearly. I also though Finley was a decent bargain at his price given how guys like Vernon Davis and Tony Gonzalez went for at least $8 million. My least favorite bid was for Fred Davis, who I was just trying to bump up – $1.5 million isn’t a killer, and there’s upside, but it’s injury-dependent. I’m happy he’s my third tight end.

Good Deals By Other Writers

McCown thought Sigmund Bloom's acquisition of LeSean McCoy was one of the best deals of the Reality Sports Auction. Photo by Matthew Straubmuller.
McCown thought Sigmund Bloom’s acquisition of LeSean McCoy was one of the best deals of the Reality Sports Auction. Photo by Matthew Straubmuller.

I am a big fan of Sigmund Bloom’s LeSean McCoy deal – I think it fit the basic scale of my Martin deal, but was just a little more expensive. I thought Jim Day struck gold with Eric Decker for three years, $25 million. Antonio Gates for $1 million is a deal that made my jaw drop.

Honestly, outside of the Gronkowski deal, I thought Bloom had a few other killer deals, too. Jordy Nelson was a sneaky steal at $32.5 million for 3 years, but put me in the camp that wouldn’t have paid more than the league minimum for Sam Bradford.

And as good as A.J. Green is, I think he’s going to have a hard time living up to the $92.5 million, 3-year deal that Lance Zierlein signed him to while running his auction at a Little League game.

Favorite Team (Other Than Yours)

I think Bloom and Bob Harris put together the most complete teams. They have the strongest receiving corps. Harris needs a second running back to step up and Bloom needs Roethlisberger to stay healthy all season. If either one of those things break right they have tough teams with a lot of depth.

Assessment of the Reality Sports Online Platform

The functionality was fine. I wish I understood a little more about how the top bid algorithm was decided, but that’s just my inner nerd.

Your Team’s Short-Term/Long-Term Outlook

Short-term, I think this team has a great chance as long as the running backs stay healthy. Long-term, it really depends on how the receiving situation shakes out. Can Mohamed Sanu make me feel good about that two-year deal? Is the lack of depth on the market going to make it hard for me to replace Reggie Wayne? Am I going to have a chance at Marqise Lee? Haha. That’s the area where the turnover is going to be hard to predict right now, but I’d rather have holes to fill there than at the other spots.

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