The Short-Lived Riff Raff Football Inaugural Power Rankings
With the keeper deadline in GMRRFFA’s rearview mirror and our draft just ahead, it’s the perfect time for your Commish to examine league keeper trends and submit the very first 2019 edition of Riff Raff Football’s team power rankings! I fully expect these rankings to be thrown away in days, but when Riff Raff fans demand, I must oblige.
First, if you’ve read RiffRaffFootball.com, you know the Commish enjoys himself some history. Now in its third season using keepers, GMRRFFA trend lines are starting to creep in surrounding keeper decisions… first, and to no one’s surprise, owners are moving away from keeping quarterbacks, down to only four from seven two years ago. More so, their cost is dropping faster than Fredo’s playoff expectations (we’ll get to that). In 2017, owners spent $32 per kept quarterback; this year, the three foolish owners who kept a QB (besides Stabs) spent $12.25.
Running back keeper hindsight is almost laughable now: In 2017, only seven running backs were kept by owners, but in the past two years 18 total running backs were kept each season (though the average 2019 cost is nearly 40% above 2018). To absolutely no expert’s surprise, 35 of 42 keepers were running backs or wide receivers plus the Big Three of tight ends. Sadly, for the second straight year, no kickers were kept and, more notably, Fredo Maisel actually didn’t keep a Defense this season.
In any case, owners will have significantly fewer GMRRFFA draft dollars to bid than past seasons. Last year, owners on average started the draft with $224 post-keepers, and this year only three owners eclipsed that figure. In 2018, only TWO owners started the draft with less than $200. As you could probably guess, in 2019, NINE are under $200.
The lack of draft-day capital is wild, but, according to FantasyPros rankings, every top-10 back ahead of the season is already rostered while only five backs in the top 20 will be available in the draft. Owners with hefty draft balances should feel a bit better about wide receivers, where only eight of the top-10 were kept last week, and seven of the top-20 will be in the draft.
Ultimately, having stacks of cash for the draft may not be a good thing, especially considering the void of top-tier talent available; OBJ is the only top-20 ranked overall ranked player in the draft and will go for a very hefty price.The only other available top-30 ranked players are Antonio Brown, Stefon Diggs and Damien Williams. Egads!
To reiterate, there are only four top 30 players available in the draft. Seriously, good luck on Monday night…
The draft will undoubtedly be critical to season-long success, but before we get there and ultimately watch Smeet end the draft with $100+ in draft budget, let’s take a quick look at where teams sit in the totem pole of entirely-subjective, ill-conceived power rankings.
In 2018, GMRRFFA unveiled power rankings that painfully became a weekly occurrence (not this year, sorry), and your Commish largely received nothing but grief. That said, yours truly is a glutton for punishment, and couldn’t resist breaking down and doing a power rankings column that will be rendered obsolete in literally five days. Last November, GMRRFFA opened up voting to the masses, which became a long and complicated way to reiterate Tito Galen's squad as the best team at the time. This week, we opened it up for those interested to submit their top five and calculated scores appropriately.
Feel free to dismiss the rankings or complain you’re underrated. Your Commish welcomes all complaints and grievances, I think.
Keepers: Lamar Jackson ($10); Sony Michel ($26); Phillip Lindsey ($10)
Draft Budget: $179 FAAB Budget: $205
In a vacuum, these keepers are perfectly fine, if not electric, but in GMRRFFA, when you consider keepers on nearly every other team ahead of Makese coupled with his somewhat tight budget for the draft, starting at the bottom is the best place for our guy Makese. Jackson will be a quality quarterback (likely in the 12-15 overall range), but keeping a cheap quarterback in a one-quarterback league isn’t mandatory or prudent (see above). For Michel and Lindsey, the real concern focuses on opportunity. Both are in crowded backfields (something GMRRFFA discussed extensively for Lindsey in Denver) and your Commish can’t say for certain either running back will be the best fantasy performer on their teams by the end of the season. On the upside, Makese kept a quarterback for the third straight season and ranks 14th in initial rankings for the second year in a row.
Keepers: Dalvin Cook ($61); Chris Carson ($27); Calvin Ridley ($14)
Draft Budget: $123 FAAB Budget: $345
For a team with the fourth-lowest draft budget ahead of next week’s draft, you would have to expect a better set of keepers (there, I said it). All three players are solid, especially Carson for $27. Seattle ranked second among NFL teams in rushing attempts last season, behind only Baltimore and Lamar Jackson’s 147 attempts, and there’s no reason to think they won’t continue to focus on rushing. As previously noted, Carson was 7th in the league with 1,151 yards but he had just 20 catches all season. Cook is a no-brainer keeper, especially at his cost, but the Vikings’ RB’s health needs to remain a concern for Coop. That said, the nicest smile in GMRRFFA has work to do finding elite players with a sparse budget and my guess is he rues the day he gave up Stefon Diggs.
Keepers: Mike Evans ($95); Tyreek Hill ($59); Julie Ertz’s Spouse ($39)
Draft Budget: $32 FAAB Budget: $385
Good news, bad news for Carlos. First, he has three very good keepers, including the loathsome Hill for a remarkably reasonable price. Your Commish remains very high on Evans despite the massive hype for Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin jumping to a WR1. Julie Ertz’s Spouse is a huge advantage for Carlos, given the massive tight end drop off after the Big Three are gone, but whether Ertz can remain elite is questionable. The Eagles have a crowded wide receiver depth chart (Jeffrey, Jackson, Algholor, and rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside) plus an even more crowded backfield. Ertz received 156 targets last year from Eagles quarterbacks, nearly 60 more than Algholor and 45 more than his average targets over the three previous seasons, so who knows if he can keep that pace in 2019. Meanwhile, on draft night, Carlos must acquire 13 players on $32, or $2.46 per draftee. Let’s predict now Carlos doesn’t show up for the GMRRFFA draft and instead spends the night planning to take kids other than his nephews to Lego Land.
11. Toby Kobach, MD
Keepers: Juju Smith-Schuster ($20); TY Hilton ($66); Aaron Jones ($15)
Draft Budget: $224 FAAB Budget: $280
Fresh off earning a medical degree from GMRRFFA State University of D.C., Toby subsequently saw his trade for TY Hilton fall off the rails with news that Andrew Luck still isn’t practicing, likely compromising his first few games this season. Luck’s absence will immediately impact Hilton’s value. Without Luck in 2017, Hilton was the 27th wide receiver in fantasy football, but skyrocketed to a top-15 performance last year. Otherwise, Toby starts in a strong position, with Juju and the third-highest draft budget, so his position in the post-draft power rankings will surely move up after next week.
At this point, your Commish would like to emphasize the remainder of the rankings are based on a cumulative score of eight GMRRFFA owners who contributed their personal top-5 rankings. Hence, don’t hate the messenger…
10. The Unicorn
Keepers: Ezekiel Elliot ($95); Baker Mayfield ($11); Amari Cooper ($52)
Draft Budget: $186 FAAB Budget: $245
When keeping a quarterback in a one-QB keeper league is the highlight of your off-season, you are in dire straits. Baker-mania is besieging the NFL and the Unicorn’s lair. That said, can we just admire Smeet’s photoshop job for a minute:
Your Commish feels no remorse for anyone who hangs his fantasy football fate on the Dallas Cowboys, but what a bummer for the 2017 champ. That said, Elliot’s definitely going to return and play by Week 1 in Dallas, right? Cowboys’ owner/general manager/ball boy Jerry Jones is handing out cash like he’s WellsFargo, but the cap situation is scary… Dallas technically has space in 2020, but that’s before counting Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper’s contracts. For comparison’s sake, the NFL’s top five quarterbacks average around $28 million per year (Dak is currently paid $2.2 million per season, 44th in the league), so anticipate a sizable raise cutting into Dallas’ estimated $52 million cap space.
Meanwhile, your Commish argues that Cooper isn’t worth the money of a top-10 WR but neither is Sammy Watkins, who is currently earning $19 MILLION IN 2019!!!!! So, given the Cowboys traded a first-round pick for Cooper last season, they will have to pay the man… Gulp… Meanwhile, right tackle La’el Collins ($9.9 million in 2019) and linebacker Sean Lee ($6 million in 2019) become unrestricted free agents as well.
This is a very long way to conclude that Elliot holding out for more money (he’s currently the fifth-highest paid RB in the league at $7 million per year, trailing David Johnson by approximately $1.75 million), he could be waiting a while. And this doesn’t even touch the “Is a Running Back Worth that Kind of Money?” debate. surrounding running backs in the NFL.
Keepers: Patrick Mahomes ($16); Nick Chubb ($37); Tarik Cohen ($39)
Draft Budget: $215 FAAB Budget: $310
Your Commish’s only negative comment about Mahomes is that he and the Junior Riff Raff are the only people I know who enjoy ketchup on their steak. Also, I like Nick Chubb. That said, Stabs must be concerned about Tarik Cohen, given the Bears’ Matt Nagy suggesting Cohen was too involved last season. As the GMRRFFA’s resident Bears fan, your Commish thinks this is likely a ploy, BUT the arrival of rookie sensation David Montgomery and former Seattle back Mike Davis should be concerning.
Keepers: Julio Jones ($136); Todd Gurley ($78); Matt Ryan ($12)
Draft Budget: $38 FAAB Budget: $325
In a PPR league, Julio Jones is an absolute stud, with a top-seven finish every year since 2014. At his price, it’s difficult to keep him but knowing the Falcons WR will perform consistently all season may help FIL sleep at night ahead of the draft, where, like Carlos, he gets to spend less than $3 on average to fill out the remaining 13 roster spots on his squad. Your Commish is excited to see what algorithm FIL uses to land OBJ for $5 next week.
Keepers: Marlon Mack ($21); Keenan Allen ($65); Tyler Boyd ($10)
Draft Budget: $325 FAAB Budget: $310
GMRRFFA co-founder and part-owner Smeet is literally the big stack ahead of the draft, which could be a double-edged sword for the off-season co-MVP of GMRRFFA. Meanwhile, as some GMRRFFA owners will spend the final few days ahead of the draft prepping, Smeet’s chutzpah is on point, heading to Chicago for a pre-draft rager sans kids. Smeet will definitely dictate the draft’s early values, and your Commish looks forward to how much he willingly spends on OBJ, Antonio Brown, and Melvin Gordon. The real question will be whether Smeet over-values second-tier players like Cooper Kupp or Leonard Fournette, ultimately driving up their cost and literally screwing everyone out of potential 2020 keepers. Also, if Smeet isn’t concerned about the Keenan Allen injury or the Andrew Luck situation, then that’s perfectly fine for the Commish.
Keepers: Kerryon Johnson ($21); Tyler Lockett ($12); Chris Godwin ($12)
Draft Budget: $197 FAAB Budget: $283
The master of the black arts, the Purveyor of Death, the Crocs IG influencer, Garcia once again is a legitimate contender, especially if any of his three keepers turns into a top-10 player at their respective positions. That said, at this time, Garcia still lacks a homerun hitter, but while his draft balance is respectable, five owners still have heftier accounts. Don’t be surprised if the Purveyor of Death strikes out on elite players though we all know he’s eyeing that third string back expected to come out with a bang by mid-September.
5. Tito Galen
Keepers: Joe Mixon ($54); Adam Thielen ($29); George Kittle ($10)
Draft Budget: $203 FAAB Budget: $360
What’s past is past, but philosophically your Commish doesn’t agree with Tito Galen’s Davante Adams trade. The once-and-future frontrunner fields three quality keepers, but all have serious questions surrounding their 2019 season. Joe Mixon rushes behind an offensive line thrown together with duct tape and sheets used at one star hotel somewhere in Vineland, New Jersey (ed: Vineland’s hotels are lovely) while Adam Thielen’s 2018 second-half production leaves a lot to be desired. Most pressing, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garrapollo’s pre-season has been abysmal, leaving doubt as to whether Kittle can maintain 15.6 yards per reception again in 2019. If Kittle fails to perform at his 2018 level, the Adams trade could haunt Tito Galen.
4. Fredo Maisel
Keepers: Le’Veon Bell ($102); David Johnson ($142); Mike Williams ($11)
Draft Budget: $233 FAAB Budget: $285
Trading for Stefon Diggs (a top-10 WR in 2018) and inexplicably dropping him for Williams (ranked #28 in 2019 at WR) is literally getting an end-of-the-season award. Based on every analysis, David Johnson is primed to be a top-five back, which is why your Commish pushed for Fredo to make a deal. In New York, Bell is a big question mark, but if Fredo kept Diggs with the two-headed monster at RB, he’d easily be a top-three team with a decent budget to utilize in the draft. Alas, Fredo now must hope Williams makes a leap. One thing your Commish knows to be true is you can’t win a GMRRFFA championship in the off-season, but you could lose it.
3. Mark Hutchinson
Keepers: Alvin Kamara ($22); Davante Adams ($30); DJ Moore ($17)
Draft Budget: $156 FAAB Budget: $381
Here’s the problem with power rankings; they’re exhausting. Your Commish really can’t say anything about this solid line-up of keepers, aside from DJ Moore may or may not be a top-15 wide receiver. Since there’s nothing new to add, and your Commish is certain only three people are still reading this, I’ll drop this screenshot and note the CPA of Dorne will soon make a special pre-draft appearance in your in-box (ed: didn’t he already make a special appearance in Smeet’s box?):
2. The Sausage King
Keepers: Christian McCaffrey ($72); Travis Kelce ($54); James Conner ($10)
Draft Budget: $109 FAAB Budget: $317
Cool team and two items to add; first, $109 is third-lowest draft budget of any team in next week’s draft. Second, in 2018, Kelce’s season would have been the 10th-best of the season - if he was playing wide receiver. Let that settle in while you curiously wonder when GMRRFFA will officially label Riff Raff Ramblings as part of our Special Features section.
1. The Commish
Keepers: Saquon Barkley ($118); DeAndre Hopkins ($88); Michael Thomas ($32)
Draft Budget: $126 FAAB Budget: $169
First, your Commish didn’t make these rankings, or his squad would be at #10. That said, last season was GMRRFFA’s first ever power rankings (a great idea that I’m sure someone will claim credit for), and Tito Galen was the unanimous top pick. As in 2018, this year, your Commish deserves the initial top spot for now (though I wasn’t unanimous) but I’m more than certain that Trubisky Business’s 2019 season will be near-identical to Tito Galen’s 2018 season:
Mark my words; all of this will happen again in 2019.