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Reality Sports Online Strategy

by Raju Byfield | @FantasyContext | Featured Writer
May 29, 2020

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Reality Sports Online offers a second-to-none NFL front office simulation in the form of contract dynasty leagues and a real NFL salary cap. For more of an introduction to Reality Sports Online’s great game offering, check out our introductory piece here.

Now that you’ve decided to join one of the industry’s most immersive NFL front office simulations, you may be wondering what kind of strategy is best. It should come as no surprise that one of the keys to success in Reality Sports Online’s leagues is finding as much value as possible. Getting the most bang for your buck, or finding players who provide the highest return on investment, should be your priority. This is very similar to the method often used to build “in the money” lineups for DFS contests.

In your startup draft, this may call for targeting this season’s breakout candidates. During the season, depending on league size and format, there could be tremendous values on the waiver wire. However, if you are looking for more of an overall strategy to go into your first season with (or even shift to if you are an RSO veteran), exploiting rookie contracts is the way to build. 

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Focus on Rookies

Due to contract values, building around top-end rookies or players still on their rookie deals (from your second season onward) is a shrewd strategy. As you may have no doubt seen during your own Reality Sports Online startup, contract values, especially for the top-tier players, can get very expensive. Due to RSO’s platform attempting to mimic the actual NFL front office experience, being budget-conscious in these leagues takes on greater importance than it would in a normal auction or contract league. A top player on a rookie contract promises three to four years of cost control (depending on your league’s settings), and it also provides the luxury of an option year, which means that you can have players on value contracts for up to five years. With this in mind, going rookie centric is my preferred strategy for Reality Sports Online leagues. 

In order to put this strategy into motion, you should focus on acquiring players who are good enough to trade for one or more current or future rookie picks. Before your rookie draft rolls around, try selling those assets to acquire those rookie picks. Of course, not all rival owners will be amenable to dealing away their rookie picks, as they will no doubt also understand that rookies are often the most cost-effective way to get a potential superstar on the roster. This is why the players you acquire as trade bait have to be attractive enough for one or more owners to be willing to part with their precious assets. 

Going rookie-heavy in your roster construction means that you may have to punt your first season or two to build a true dynasty, so make sure that you join a league with a commissioner and league members who are in it for the long haul. There is no worse feeling in fantasy than seeing your dynasty team finally becoming a favorite for the championship just as the bottom falls out of your league. 

It should go without saying that you should target the highest rookie picks possible to minimize risk. It’s true that this risk is inherent in all league types and formats, but with RSO’s salary cap structure, a rookie who doesn’t pan out could become a contractual headache for several seasons. 

Save Some Salary Cap Space for the Season

The number two strategy that all Reality Sports Online owners should follow is to leave some salary cap room for in-season management. As many of you may know, teams are often right up against the cap in the actual NFL. The teams often respond to this with widespread offseason cap-related (as opposed to performance-related) releases and restructures. While releasing or waiving players is indeed an option here, there is no restructure option to kick cap hits down the road. In RSO leagues, teams that leave some salary cap room to play with can benefit greatly. 

The most obvious benefit to saving salary cap space is that it allows you to pursue the top free agents on the waiver wire. Depending on the size of your league’s rosters, and whether or not IDP players are included in the pool, the waiver wire can provide multiple potential starters that may be on a more cost-effective contract. Saving cap space will also allow you to be aggressive in poaching players from rival owners’ practice squads. You should evaluate opposing practice squads for targets to poach with fervor and consistency. 

Another major reason to leave as much salary cap room as possible is to take advantage of teams who may be looking to get rid of unwanted contracts. Notice I said contracts, not players. Just like in the real NFL, some contracts are eventually seen as albatrosses, while others are simply too expensive for a team to keep on their books. If you are able to save up enough cap space, you can offer cap relief to rival owners in exchange for a rookie draft pick — or a player on a rookie contract. Regardless of whether you are in a 20-man roster league or a 55-man roster league, you should be compensated for providing cap relief to an opposing team. 

There are rare cases when a team will be looking to get rid of a superstar on a contract that is simply too expensive for them, but even then, you should try to surrender minimal assets. After all, you’ll be helping your rival out of a salary-cap bind. The alternative for your rival owners with non-superstar players is to drop a player to waivers, hoping that one of the other teams will take on the remaining contract. However, just like with real waivers, if he goes unclaimed, the team that dropped him will be on the hook for the entire remaining contract value. This is often enough of a threat to spur rival owners into action. 

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Raju Byfield is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Raju, check out his archive and follow him @FantasyContext.

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