Addressing Reality Sports Online League Strategy


Hi there,

I’ve been looking everywhere for a simple tool that can help me figure out how much to pay for multi-year contracts in my Reality Sports Online draft.

If you’re not familiar with RSO, you have a $123 million salary cap and the following contracts to hand out: 1 four year deal, 2 three-year deals, 3 two-year deals, and unlimited one-year deals. 20-man rosters. 12 teams.

Do you have anything that can help me figure out what to offer players on those multi-year deals?


– Matt, via email

First off, if you’re not familiar with Reality Sports Online, head over to their website and check out the promotional video on the homepage. The Live Draft Room is awesome, and there isn’t another format like this on the web.

Now, creating contract amounts for an RSO draft is a little tricky. The salary cap is $123 million, and it shifts to match the real NFL salary cap every year. You also have a limit on the number of long term contracts you can dole out, which means you’re really in a glorified keeper league.

To create prices, I’d use redraft auction values for the 1 and 2 year deals, and dynasty auction values for the 3 and 4 year deals. Obviously, this is up to your discretion. Let’s say I want to slap my 4 year deal on Doug Martin, who I have valued at $50 in a $200 dynasty league. I’ll take the player price and divide it by the auction budget. The result is 0.25, or 25% of my budget. Now we’ll convert that into an RSO value: multiply the result of the above equation (0.25) by the total budget of your RSO league ($123,000,000) and you get a value of $30,750,000, which is the average per year you’ll be paying Martin. Multiply that by 4 years, and you have the total contract amount: $123,000,000 over 4 years. The entire equation looks like this:


For the 1 year deals, you obviously won’t do the last step since it’s only 1 contract year. Draw up a list of players you’re targeting, and then figure out what kind of contract you’d give them depending on the length. This will give you a leg up on your leaguemates, as they probably haven’t done the same thing. Once you have your spreadsheet, you’ll know that if Doug Martin goes for anything less than a multiyear contract that pays him less than $30.75 million, he’s a value.

While you can look at the contract’s average per year, that’s not really how it’s broken up. The per year paid amount escalates every year according to this table:

Years Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4
4 22% 24% 26% 28%
3 31.3% 33.3% 35.3%
2 49% 51%
1 100%

You can use that table to calculate the risk of a contract. For instance, if you have Maurice Jones-Drew on a 2 year contract worth $20 million, the cap hit in year 2 will be 51% of the contract ($10,200,000). The 1st year of every contract is guaranteed and the rest of the years are 50% guaranteed, so if he underperforms his 2nd year, the cap hit to cut Jones-Drew would be $5,100,000. If cutting a player under a 3 or 4 year deal, it’s important to remember this: the 1st year of the contract is 100%, and each subsequent year is 50% guaranteed, and you must pay them for every year. If you cut that player in the 1st year of the deal, you owe them all the money that year, then 50% of the money per each remaining year of the contact.

Reality Sports Online Strategy

(1)  Take advantage early. If you’re in a league with people who are new to the RSO platform, the sticker shock at the beginning of the auction is going to be incredible. We’re used to paying $40, $50, maybe even $60 for players in an auction. Seeing an offer of 4 years for $78 million dollars is stunning the first time you see it. Check out how Football Guy Jeff Tefertiller stole Drew Brees out from under the feet of everyone in my league:

Player Average Per Year % of Cap $200 Budget
Aaron Rodgers $16,000,000 13% $26
Andrew Luck $15,000,000 $12 $24
Cam Newton $12,000,000 9.80% $20
Drew Brees $7,000,000 5.70% $11

Drew Brees was the first or second player nominated in the auction, and Jeff slapped a 3 year contract on him for the equivalent of $11 in a $200 cap league. His huge savings at quarterback enabled him to go crazy and land studs Trent Richardson ($40 million APY), A.J. Green ($25.1 million APY), and Jimmy Graham ($24.2 million APY). The lesson is this: take advantage early. The first few players will go cheaper than they should, and you need to pounce on this. Once everyone gets over paying tens of millions for players, the market is going to overcorrect itself, and players will go for far more than they’re worth.

(2)  Don’t be afraid of veterans. While this isn’t a strategy that only applies to RSO leagues (it’s actually a preferred strategy for most keeper leagues), you can definitely find value with older players.

Player Age Average Per Year % of Cap $200 Budget
Trent Richardson 23 $40,000,000 32.5% $65
Doug Martin 24 $26,375,000 21.4% $43
LeSean McCoy 25 $24,833,333 20.1% $40
Jamaal Charles 26 $30,250,000 24.6% $49
Maurice Jones-Drew 28 $9,750,000 7.9% $16
Steven Jackson 30 $13,750,000 11.2% $22
Frank Gore 30 $11,000,000 8.9% $18

Jamaal Charles is the line of demarcation here. While he was given a monster contract, it’s only a 2 year deal. It’s also probably surprising to most people that he’s 26 years old. Maurice Jones-Drew, Steven Jackson, and Frank Gore’s average per year salary are still less than the gargantuan deal Trent Richardson netted.

(3)  The rookie draft is what will separate the men from the boys. Rookie players are slotted into very cheap salaries that decrease as the draft goes along. Depending on your league settings, players are assigned either 3 or 4 year contracts. The 1.01 in my league, Giovani Bernard, is on a $22,475,454 4 year contract that pays him $5.6 million per year, also known as $800,000 less than the contracts for Bilal Powel and Joique Bell. If you draft well, your team will be unstoppable.

(4)  Although I’m not sure this will happen in your league, it’s worth pointing out just so you’ll be aware of it. Jimmy Graham was given a $72.5 million deal that pays him $24.2 million annually. Rob Gronkowski is on a $31.5 million deal that pays $10.5 million annually. That value discrepancy becomes even more clear when you realize that Greg Olsen ($10.5 million APY) and Martellus Bennett ($8 million APY) are making a similar amount to Gronk. By the end of the auction, several teams found themselves with excess cash and holes in their starting lineup. If you see something similar happening in your league, take the inititive. It will pay off to be aggressive for the 1st third of the auction, then back off as people spend all the cash they should have been spending for the 1st third. The last 3rd is where you see bidding wars over players like Knowshon Moreno ($3 million APY. Ben Tate is on a 2 year deal making the same amount).

If you have any further questions about the Reality Sports Online format, don’t hesitate to drop me a line on Twitter.

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By Coleman Kelly | @coleman_ff | Archive

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