Sports Business

The "Experts" Give Reality Sports Online a Try

Sponsored by Reality Sports Online
Written by John Tuvey

Your fantasy draft or auction is drawing closer and closer every day; the same goes for those industry analysts you follow. And because each of these “experts” are in far too many leagues already, it’s tough to get them to commit to yet another.

But the siren’s song of something different captured the attention of at least a few experts, who gathered to give the new Reality Sports Online auction a try.

And while the merits of each team have yet to be proved out over the course of the NFL season, the RSO format was most definitely a winner.

“There aren’t too many unique drafting experiences left in fantasy football, but RSO has devised one,” said Paul Charchian of LeagueSafe.com. “By juicing up an auction format with multi-year contracts, it dramatically changes the draft day experience.”

Among those joining Charchian, who also serves as president of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, in the 10-team league were Joe Dolan of Fantasy Guru, Nicholas Minnix of KFFL, The Sideline View’s Adam Caplan, and David Dorey and John Tuvey from The Huddle.

Caplan began the proceedings, spending the first pick of the rookie draft on Trent Richardson (the draft took place August 5, prior to Richardson’s most recent knee surgery).  Doug Martin went second to Minnix, Robert Griffin III fourth to Charchian, and the NFL’s first overall pick Andrew Luck lasted until Bo Wulf of RSO selected him seventh overall.

With the rookies locked in to three-year deals—even second-round selections like Brian Quick (13th overall to Dolan) and Vick Ballard (16th overall to Dorey)—just like the NFL, it was time to start spending some money.

“I was a little unsure of how to approach this format,” Dolan admitted. “I’m familiar with auctions, but I also had to act like I was running a real NFL franchise. In other words, cap space is going to be crucial for in-season moves.”

Mission accomplished for Dolan, who spent just $93.9 million at the auction and carries a league-high $26.6 million of cap room into the regular season.

At the opposite end of the spectrum was Richard Marens, who was tapped by RSO to represent “the people” in this invite-only industry event. Marens backed up the Brinks truck to give Aaron Rodgers the biggest contract of the auction, a four-year deal worth $110 million.

“I was very pleased with the signing,” Marens said post-auction. “But I think Tom Brady (three years, $68.5 million to Caplan) and Drew Brees (two years, $56 million to Minnix) were better deals, both salary-wise and because all three will most certainly play at an elite level for the length of their contracts.”

Quarterbacks weren’t the only players getting paid. Stephen Wendell, co-founder of RSO, gave Calvin Johnson a four-year deal worth $107 million. That was roughly $4 million a year more than the four year, $94 million deal Tuvey gave A.J. Green—a deal that makes draft classmate Julio Jones’ four-year, $62 million contract with Dorey’s team look like a bargain.

Tight ends weren’t ignored, with Marens adding Graham for three years and $70 million—a whopping $9 million per year more than the $42.5 million over three years RSO president Matt Papson paid for Rob Gronkowski.

Like the NFL, running backs had a difficult time finding long-term deals. Only six non-rookie RBs were locked into deals longer than two years, led by Ryan Mathews ($95 million over four years to Caplan) and Arian Foster ($70 million over three years to Dorey).

Looking further down the road—beyond even the 2012 season, which will test just how astutely these experts evaluated talent and managed their salary caps—you can see what might transpire in future auctions. As noted above, running backs will be coming available on a frequent basis; expect them to command larger shares of future budgets, though on a steady diet of short-term deals.

And way off in the future, Marens already has more than $30 million committed to his 2015 salary cap; contrast that with Minnix, who has a shade over $4 million already invested in his 2015 roster, and Dolan, who has committed just under $3 million to 2015.

With that much operating room down the road it’s no surprise both Minnix and Dolan are excited about the future of their respective franchises.

“The RSO Experts League gave us the perfect opportunity to get our feet wet,” Minnix said. “For those who enjoy the challenge of building a consistent winner and who prefer to play in a league where there’s a penalty for poor assessments, RSO’s game should do it.”

“Overall I loved the format and I feel like it’d be even more enjoyable now that I have some experience with it,” added Dolan. “For now I have the most cap space in the league, so I’m looking forward to spending that on some waiver wire studs this year.”

For auction results and rosters from the RSO Experts League, go to: http://www.realitysportsonline.com/ExpertsAuction.aspx

To sign up your own league or learn more about Reality Sports Online’s fantasy football platform, go to realitysportsonline.com.

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