RSO Monthly Update: Off Season Grinding

If you acquire Victor Cruz before he became a starter, you're probably a grinder. See below. Photo by Football Schedule.
If you acquired Victor Cruz before he became a starter, you’re probably a grinder. See below. Photo by Football Schedule.

Once a month, I’ll be writing about the Reality Sports Online Keeper Salary Cap League that I started with 13 other football writers. If you’re seeking a great GM experience that offers the complexities of realistic contract negotiations and salary cap ramifications in an easy-to-use league management system that does all the work for you, join an RSO leagueUse the promotion code RSP20%OFF to earn a 20 percent discount.

When I was a kid nothing ruled my free time more than pickup games of football. The setting for those games was dictated by your age and neighborhood. When you’re a six year-old living in an apartment complex, it means your games are restricted to whatever kids you could round-up within a two-block radius of the complex.

At eight, your territory expanded to the entire complex and the adjoining neighborhood to include the friends you made at school. By the time you’re 12, your pool of competition and settings for games spanned a five-mile radius of your home.

If your family moved during your childhood, then you know that it adds another dynamic to neighborhood pickup games. I moved three times as a kid and always to an apartment complex, so I’m familiar with being the new guy.

As the new guy if you want to make friends fast you want to maintain that delicate balance of proving that you’re neither the chump nor the bully. Pickup football games were the best way to do it. The first thing I always tried to do before the game started was to show something before we picked teams.

The two easiest ways to heighten your neighborhood draft stock was the vertical game. I always made sure I brought a football with me to the game. Just before the group chose captains I either got someone to throw me a deep pass or I had someone go deep. Do one of those two things and your draft stock jumped from dead-last to at least the middle of the pack.

But the best way to skyrocket your neighborhood draft stock and scout much of your competition at the same time was to initiate a pre-game warm-up of ‘Gator’. If you’re not familiar with the name, you probably played the game. It was essentially a kick return drill. The object was to catch the ball and run through the field of players to the end zone.

As a kid who wore a size 10 shoe by the time he was 9, I was generally big enough to compete with guys 2-3 years older than me. I made sure I did one of three things: caught the kick and ran over someone; knocked the biggest guy down with a block where I had to outrun others to get there; or run through someone on the way to tackling the ball carrier.

The immediate goal wasn’t to try to show everyone you were the best guy on the field. You might not be and that was alright. You wanted everyone to know that you weren’t the chump of the group.

Likewise you always noted the guys who could catch, tackle, and break tackles. But I always tried to spot the kid with the grinder mentality. There was always at least one kid in every neighborhood game who did the little things that made a team good that most didn’t notice. Having one or two stars was important, but you needed quality, capable worker bees to build a winning team.

Alfred Morris, the Grinder's grinder. Photo by Keith Allison.
Alfred Morris, the Grinder’s grinder. Photo by Keith Allison.

You can see the same elements at play with fantasy football owners. While I competed with all-star fantasy writers like David Dodds, Sigmund Bloom, Gregg Rosenthal, Scott Pianowski, and Bob Harris while writing for, becoming part of Footballguys staff  in 2009 was like expanding the neighborhood territory for more pickup games.

Invitations to re-draft, dynasty, and IDP leagues came from all directions – especially from Footballguys staff. And this is one of those neighborhoods with a concentration of all-stars in their own right. Bob Henry, Jason Wood, John Norton, and Maurile Tremblay are just a few of the names I could mention.

However, there were Footballguys not as well-known to me at the time, but they had plenty of game. There are about six I want to mention, but two at the top of the list are Aaron Rudnicki and Jeff Tefertiller.  “Ruds” couldn’t make the draft date of the RSO league start-up, but you best believe that until he quits playing fantasy football I’m sending him an invitation to compete in any league I ever run because he’s adept at IDP, re-draft, and dynasty formats and he’s a master pick-sniper on draft day.

Tefertiller isn’t an IDP guy, but I enjoy competing with him because he’s a grinder. In dynasty formats, off-season grinding can build you a winner. Here’s a list of players I’ve added – and sadly, sometimes dropped – while doing the off-season grinding on the waiver wire to enhance the back-end of my dynasty rosters:

  • Victor Cruz
  • Alfred Morris
  • Dennis Pitta
  • Lance Moore
  • Brandon Lloyd
  • Chris Ivory
  • Andre Brown
  • Brian Hartline
  • LaGarrette Blount
  • Greg Hardy
  • Vontaze Burfict
  • Dannell Ellerbe
  • Thomas DeCoud

Tefertiller is one of the more active dynasty grinders I compete against. So it came as no surprise he’s the most active owner on the RSO waiver wire during the slowest months of the football year and only a month removed from our free agent auction.

Not including RSO co-founder Matt Papson, who took over a team where the original owner had to abandon the auction half way through the process and has made seven transactions and numerous trades since late-May to salvage this team, Tefertiller and I have been the most active off-season grinders, but I only have four transactions to Tefertiller’s 14.

Here’s Tefertiller’s roster with the added players in bold: 

Quarterback Running Back Wide Receiver
Zac Dysert (DEN) R Lance Dunbar (DAL) R DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) R
Brock Osweiler (DEN) R Michael Turner (ATL) Jarrett Boykin (GB) R
Robert Griffin III (WAS) Cedric Benson (GB) R Deonte Thompson (BAL) R
Shaun Hill (DET) R Ray Rice (BAL) Terrance Williams (DAL) R
Kyle Orton (DAL) R Beanie Wells (ARI) R Patrick Edwards (DET) R
Josh Boyce (NE) R
Brandon Marshall (CHI)
Pierre Garcon (WAS)
Julio Jones (ATL)
Torrey Smith (BAL)
Tight End Kicker Defense
Chris Gragg (BUF) R Shayne Graham (CLE) R CIN Team Defense (CIN) R
Jeff Cumberland (NYJ) R Garrett Hartley (NO) SD Team Defense (SD)
Marcedes Lewis (JAC) NYG Team Defense (NYG) R
Delanie Walker (TEN) R JAC Team Defense (JAC) R

Tefertiller has also cycled through this list of players:

  • Chiefs QB Tyler Bray
  • Packers QB B.J. Coleman
  • Packers QB Graham Harrell
  • Saints RB Travis Cadet
  • Jets RB Joe McKnight
  • Browns WR Travis Benjamin

If you pay attention to OTA news then you can see the pattern with the players added and dropped from his roster. It should also be obvious to you that Tefertiller has a good crew of receivers, an RB1 in Ray Rice, and a potential superstar in Robert Griffin. This team may have a hole at RB2 and lack a quality backup at QB, but he has also built this roster to have room to fill these holes through free agency and trades as the preseason heats up.

Cumberland is a serviceable addition at tight end and Thompson, Dunbar, and Boykin all are an injury away from getting a chance to prove themselves as at least rotational contributors. While some owners may have chosen to spend more energy acquiring running backs at this point, wide receiver is the most liquid of positions to trade and he’s building on his strength so he can use this position as a bargaining chip rather than attempting to win the lottery with an unknown back.

Beanie Wells, Michael Turner, or Cedric Benson may not see an NFL field this year, but at this point it’s worth holding onto them to see if a team acquires their services when a starter gets hurt. NFL roster management accounts for finances so backups on a depth chart might be the No.2 or No.3 back in name, but some may only hold those roles because they are cheaper and have growth potential.

Greg Hardy is waiver wire fodder turned double-digit sack monster. Photo by Parker Anderson.
Greg Hardy is waiver wire fodder turned double-digit sack monster. Photo by Parker Anderson.

However, a team that sees its starter lost for the season due to injury may decide that a one-year deal at a larger salary for an established veteran is a better option than what’s on the depth chart – especially when these three players have sat at home long enough for it to sink in that a multi-year deal with a guaranteed starting role is a thing of the past.

Quarterback Yrs $ Running Back Yrs $ Wide Receiver Yrs $
Jay Cutler (CHI) 1 4.0 Arian Foster (HOU) 2 51.0 Calvin Johnson (DET) 2 69.5
Carson Palmer (ARI) R 1 3.0 Steven Jackson (ATL) 1 16.5 Cecil Shorts (JAC) 4 18.5
Alex Smith (KC) R 2 2.5 Ryan Williams (ARI) R 1 2.5 DeSean Jackson (PHI) 3 10.5
Sean Renfree (ATL) R 3 R Ben Tate (HOU) R 3 7.5 Keenan Allen (SD) 3 R
Alex Green (GB) R 1 0.5 LaVon Brazill (IND) R 1 0.5
Shaun Draughn (KC) R 1 0.5 Marvin Jones (CIN) R 1 1.0
Miguel Maysonet (CLE) R 1 0.5 Domenik Hixon (CAR) R 1 0.5
Bobby Rainey (BAL) 1 0.5 Earl Bennett (CHI) R 1 0.5
Marquess Wilson (CHI) R 3 R
Da’Rick Rogers (BUF) R 3 R
Kenbrell Thompkins (NE) R 1 0.5

Tight End









Vernon Davis (SF) 1 8 Sebastian Janikowski (OAK) 1 0.5 Seattle 1 3
Dwayne Allen (IND) R 1 2.5 Robbie Gould (CHI) R 1 0.5
Luke Willson (SEA) R 3 R
Julius Thomas (DEN) 1 0.5            
Zach Sudfeld (NE) R 1 0.1  

Like Tefertiller, I continued to add to a strength by acquiring Julius Thomas and Zach Sudfeld after hearing good news from OTAs. If I hit on three tight ends from this group of five, I have bargaining chips to trade for picks, cap room, or depth. In addition to this pair of tight ends, I dropped Cedric Peerman for Miguel Maysonet just until we learn more about the Cleveland depth chart and Richardson’s shin issues.

I also dropped Bobby Rainey today and added Travis Benjamin, who has a good shot to start two games to begin the year. The move also might afford me time to sit on LaVon Brazill to see if he can keep his roster spot as a Colt or find a job elsewhere.

I also traded away Alex Smith to Papson for a third-round pick last month. Cutler and Palmer are enough depth to pull the trigger to give away a player I never meant to acquire.

None of this grinding may help either Tefertiller or my team – in fact, there’s a chance we dropped players who might have helped us more – but I don’t believe it. I think the consistent tinkering and movement of the bottom end of a roster lends credence to that idea that part of skill is creating your own good luck.

Try RSO for your next league. Use the promotion code RSP20%OFF to earn a 20 percent discount.

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