Every month I’ll be writing something about the start-up keeper-contract-salary-auction league I’m running at Reality Sports Online. You can read more about RSO’s excellent league format here. And if you want to start a league with your friends or join a league as an individual, you can earn a 20 percent discount when you use the promo code RSP20%OFF.
in case you missed it, I recruited some of my favorite competitors from the fantasy football industry to participate:
- Jeff Tefertiller – Footballguys
- Ryan McDowell – Dynasty League Football
- Sigmund Bloom – Footballguys
- Mike MacGregor – FFToday
- Bryan Fontaine – Pro Football Focus
- Tim Stafford – Dynasty League Football
- Matt Papson- Reality Sports Online
- Matt Waldman – Footballguys/RSP/Football Outsiders
- Jason Wood – Footballguys
- Mike Clay – Pro Football Focus/NBC
- Bob Harris and Mike Dempsey – Football Diehards/Sirius XM
- Rivers McCown – Football Outsiders
- Jim Day – Fantasy Taz
- Lance Zierlein – Sideline View
You can’t get much better when it comes to the combined fantasy football savvy of this crew. Since the draft ended in late May there have been 56 waiver wire transactions and 33 players traded to other in the past 93 days. That’s almost a player changing hands per day. RSO founder Matt Papson is behind 19 of these trades after he inherited a team after the draft with a huge cap surplus. Here’s who he’s traded and acquired during this time:
- 3rd Round Pick
- Maurice Jones-Drew
- Eddie Royal
- Zach Ertz
- Dennis Pitta
- Plaxico Burress
- Ryan Fitzpatrick
- Robert Meachem
- Knowshon Moreno
- Mark Sanchez
These are players that were acquired in the auction by the former owner who had to leave early due to unforseen circumstances and he didn’t leave much of a draft list. The result was a team with a lot of D-level fantasy performers but a ton of cap room to use.
Papson, a former cap expert with the Philadelphia Eagles, jumped at the opportunity to take over this team because he realized how much financial leeway he had to rebuild the team by giving cap relief to the rest of the league in return for more promising long-term options. You’ll see what I mean with the acquisitions below:
- Alex Smith
- Vick Ballard
- Antonio Brown
- Jonathan Baldwin
- Rashard Mendenhall
- Chad Henne
- Michael Crabtree
- Darrius Heyward-Bey
- Donald Brown
- Aaron Hernandez
Because Papson had so much cap room, he could absorb salaries of less-inspired options like Hernandez, Henne, Brown, and Baldwin, while acquiring strong starters like Antonio Brown and Crabtree and serviceable depth like Smith, Mendenhall, Ballard, and Heyward-Bey.
His team now looks a lot better than it did after the draft:
- QBs (start 1): Michael Vick, Alex Smith, and Chad Henne
- RBs (start 2): Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Mathews, Jonathan Dwyer Christine Michael, Vick Ballard, Peyton Hillis, Delone Carter, Donald Brown, and James Starks
- WRs (start 3-4): Antonio Brown, Kenny Britt, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Aaron Mellette, Michael Crabtree, Jason Avant, Harry Douglas, Michael Jenkins, Chris Harper, Eric Rogers, and Jonathan Baldwin
- TEs (start 1-2): Kyle Rudolph, Anthony Fasano, Delanie Walker, and Michael Hoomanawanui
- DST: New England
- PK: David Akers
The team doesn’t have a great outlook this year unless he has 2-3 strong surprises at running back and at least one overachiever at receiver. However, Papson is in a much better position to turn this team into a much better squad in 2014 due to his cap room of $28 million.
The cap room over the next three years is likely the most fascinating aspect of this league. Will owners like Papson and Bob Harris benefit from the space as injuries and disappointing performances teams throughout the league? Can they acquire the right players that this money will afford them? All great questions as we move forward.
I’ve had 10 waiver wire transactions since May and most are players I’ve been monitoring during camp. I’m hoping that some of them show enough long-term promise for me to tag at year’s end or they surprise this year:
- Zach Sudfeld – until the Patriots tight end fumbled the ball with the one’s on Thursday night, he has been excellent. I still think he earns playing time and might surprise with starter production in fantasy leagues at least until Rob Gronkowski returns. He’s fine depth behind my starter Vernon Davis if Dwayne Allen doesn’t look good after rehabbing a foot injury.
- C.J. Anderson – This sounds crazy, but if he didn’t get hurt he might have been this year’s Alfred Morris. A big back with a low center of gravity, Anderson looked more impressive breaking tackles and avoiding penetration than any back on the Broncos depth chart and was just earning second-team reps when he went down. I think the Broncos will keep him and give him a shot to work his way up the depth chart in the second half of the season. I was impressed with Anderson at Cal, but didn’t think he’d be drafted because he wasn’t the starter at Cal. For some additional perspective, neither was Willie Parker at UNC, Priest Holmes at Texas, William Andrews at Auburn (played FB for Joe Cribbs), or Terrell Davis at Georgia.
- Russell Shephard – I don’t think he’ll do much this year, but I do think he flashed enough as a rookie with little experience at the position that he could develop at a fast rate and earn a bigger shot by next year. Former Rice quarterback Bert Emanuel wasn’t a bad receiver in Atlanta, perhaps Shephard can follow in those footsteps.
- Spencer Ware – You know I love me some Spencer Ware. Talent often has a funny way of rising to prominence – especially physical players like Ware.
- Shaun Draughn – I’m not impressed with Knile Davis at all thus far. While Draughn hasn’t played as well as he did last year, I’d be surprised if he’s not part of the backfield picture and a prominent part if Jamal Charles can’t finish the year.
- Chad Spann – Not much has been said about Spann after his first week in Jets camp. It’s hard to tell if he’ll earn a role, but I really haven’t seen enough of him in preseason to make a call on him.
- Austin Collie – A terrific receiver when healthy, but I don’t know about the fit in San Francisco and there’s enough rust that he might need a team willing to be patient with him and that’s about has common as purple grizzly bears.
- Julius Thomas – He continues to look good and might force his way into the Broncos’ lineup with a quarterback who isn’t shy about targeting open players regardless of their draft round, contract, or level of stardom.
Although he may seem like a waiver wire gem, I actually acquired Kenbrell Thompkins in the start-up auction. It’s early, but so far he has proven to be one of my more astute moves now he’s close to earning a starting role in New England. Truth be told, this is the type of move that normally doesn’t work out for me, but I just might have picked the right long shot this year.
Here’s my depth chart heading into the regular season:
- QBs (start 1): Jay Cutler, Carson Palmer, and Sean Renfree
- RBs (start 2): Steven Jackson, Arian Foster, Ben Tate, Ryan Williams, Shaun Draughn, Spencer Ware, Chad Spann, and C.J. Anderson
- WRs (start 3-4): Calvin Johnson, DeSean Jackson, Cecil Shorts, Kenbrell Thompkins, Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, Marvin Jones, Marquess Wilson, Austin Collie, Russell Shephard, and Da’Rick Rogers
- TEs (start 1-2): Vernon Davis, Dwayne Allen, Zach Sudfeld, and Luke Willson
- DST: Seattle
- PK: Sebastian Janikowski
Can’t say I love my team right now. Running back needs to stay healthy and I’m concerned about my lack of depth. I also have concerns about my kicker unless Terrelle Pryor can get into the lineup and at least scramble his way into field goal position enough times in games for respectable production. I think my receivers can carry me some weeks if my running backs can stay healthy and play like strong RB2s every week.
Until next month . . .
Ready to try a start-up keeper-contract-salary-auction league experience that’s easy to play and even easier to run? Go to Reality Sports Online and either start a league with your friends or join a league as an individual. You can earn a 20 percent discount when you use the promo code RSP20%OFF.