An auction is my favorite way to build a fantasy football team.
While the general idea of this format is to allow every owner an
equal opportunity to “buy” the players they want, it
combines the ability to value a player’s potential contribution
with managing a budget, all the while testing a drafter’s
patience in any number of ways. Moreover, I feel it really tests
the conviction an owner has in certain players.
Fantasy football requires a certain amount of good fortune, as
last year proved when the weakest of the four teams I have drafted
league allowed FFToday to claim the championship. But I also
feel that it is important to note that I have relied exclusively
on my Big Boards and
the “value” on those boards to determine the dollar
amounts I should assign to players in preparation for my auction
drafts. The results: four teams, four playoff
appearances, three straight championship games and one title.
This year’s auction was held on August 15, so keep that
date in mind as opinions have changed on several players over
the last week, be it due to injuries or for some other reason.
Below, you will find the values I used to prioritize the players
and the rationale I used in selecting my team.
I entered this auction willing to do whatever it took to get the
safest RB1 that would cost me the least, one of the my top nine
quarterbacks and one of my top five receivers. Additionally, I
wanted a top-shelf RB2/low-end RB1 to pair with my aforementioned
surefire RB1. Beyond that, I made it a point to pay less than
my valuation on just about every other player, knowing the depth
at receiver would allow me to find a bargain or two. More than
anything else, I was not about to leave this draft weak at running
back – like I did last
Although it is a complete departure from conventional auction-draft
strategy, I’ve never been a big fan of setting pre-draft
positional budgets – such as spending 30% on my top two
receivers. Much like a redraft format, value is only truly recognized
during the course of the draft. If half the owners are willing
to spend nearly half of their budget in order to lock up top-flight
running backs and you are not (but still entered the draft placing
a high priority on the position), you are forced to reassess your
budget in the middle of the draft or face the possibility of ending
up with a deep team with few superstars. While that strategy can
win, superstars tend to carry the day in fantasy while complementary
players can generally be found on the waiver wire throughout the
One of the best things an owner can do in the days leading up
to the draft is to identify players in predictable situations
(in terms of role, scheme and past performance) and set them at
the top of the draft board. I find it amazing how often I end
up with players from New England, Denver, Houston and Atlanta
each year without giving it a second thought. If you are consistently
drafting players with defined roles from good offenses, fantasy
success should not be too far behind.
Below you will find the prices that secured that player’s
services (actual $) and the price I valued them at before the
draft (My $). A dash in the first column reflects the fact that
player was not drafted. The yellow highlight represents winning
bids for FF Today. Finally, I will follow each position with a
All values are based on a $200 cap and players are organized
by “My $”.
Required starters: 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 Flex, 1 K and 1
Defense/Special Teams unit.
Observations: Rodgers came up for
bid early, setting the bar for the cheapest set of quarterbacks
I can ever remember in an auction league, especially since Rodgers
($25) and Brees ($24) fetched substantially more last season ($43
and $39, respectively). Right away, it became fairly obvious this
would be a draft where flex options and acceptable RB3s would command
a lot of money. I was more than pleased to get the “risky”
Peyton Manning – someone I think will challenge Rodgers and
Brees for the title of fantasy’s best quarterback in 2013
– at such a good price. With that said, Brady ($13) and Griffin
($14) were easily the best bargains.
Observations: No fewer than 35 running
backs drew less than a double-figure dollar amount, which sounds
about right when every owner should want to secure quality depth
at the position. I kicked myself when I opted to stop bidding on
Spiller ($48) and basically backed myself in a corner as a result
since Charles ($50) was the only “elite” back left at
that point. Thankfully, it turned out to be a moot point when Charles
only cost me $2 more. What I found to be the most fascinating part
was the small amount I had to pay for one of the most-hyped breakout
candidates in Vereen ($13) as well as Tate ($7) – when all
of us knew Foster had injury issues, even if we didn’t know
how serious they were at the time. Other top-end players who were
relative bargains included Sproles ($27), Morris ($26) and Bush
Observations: The same buyers’
market that existed at quarterback carried over to receiver, although
both reflect the depth that most seem to think exists at both positions
as much as anything. Despite coming off a record-setting season,
“Megatron” ($37) was $7 cheaper this season than he
was in 2012. Owners were also very leery of injury-riddled receivers
– and rightfully so – although Amendola ($29) was one
of the few to buck the trend. Steve Smith ($15) – the No.
9 overall receiver in most PPR formats over the final five weeks
of the fantasy season – started to come on at the same time
Carolina began to rely less on the zone read and more on the same
run-based offense it plans to use this season. Floyd ($5) and Jennings
($6) went much cheaper than they should have as well.
Observations: Even considering his
uncertain status, Gronkowski ($13) was a relative bargain. Owners
have been apprehensive about Gonzalez ($15) in the few drafts –
snake or auction – that I have participated in, but he’s
a steal for half the price of Graham ($30). And just to show everyone
that “experts” have their televisions on and are checking
out box scores during their drafts, Cameron ($10) likely brought
more than he would have had we not drafted on the same night he
caught two touchdowns.
Observation: Nothing out of the ordinary
here. I want a strong-legged kicker in a good offense and don’t
mind paying an extra $1 to get one if necessary. Additionally, I
try to target kickers that play on teams with good or great defenses
since coaches are more apt to settle for field goals when they are
confident their defense can keep the opponent off the board.
| Defense / ST
Observations: I’ll basically
repeat the same comment I made regarding kickers: I will pay an
extra $1 for one I believe I can start just about every week.
Contrary to popular belief, most owners need to start one every
week. Does anyone believe that Houston won’t make it worth
my while when it plays San Diego, Oakland and Jacksonville (twice)?
I’ve bid up to $4 on a defense before if memory serves,
but $6 for Seattle seems exorbitant.
The FFToday team
D/ST: Houston Texans
Entering my fifth year in this league, I’d be stunned if this
isn’t my best team. Yes, I’m aware that last year’s team won the
championship, but I also know it was the least deserving of my
first four playoff entries. Over the course of last season, I
Tate and the Seahawks defense off the waiver wire – additions
that helped my team through a ton of injuries and a mediocre draft
in which I opted to go against my usual RB-heavy, value-everywhere-else
approach. Being able to pull five starting-caliber players/units
off waivers is not the recommended approach to winning titles,
to say the least.
In my experience, auction drafting is all about believing in
your evaluations of players, anticipating what elite players will
be the cheapest option in their tier and asking yourself: “Can
I build my team around him?” Every dollar saved in auctions
will often help owners snag 1-2 more important players they may
otherwise not have been able to afford.
Using this scoring system, I project Manning to average 0.5 FPts/G
less than Aaron Rodgers – my No. 1 overall quarterback.
While Manning may fall short of the standard Rodgers and Brees
are likely to set at the position, I highly doubt he will fall
out of the top five either. One reason why Charles was a priority
for me was because I have long admired the consistent weekly fantasy
production that Andy Reid’s running backs provide. While
I don’t expect Jackson – or anyone else in fantasy
– to match Charles’ consistency, I don’t think
it is too much to ask for the new Falcon to match Michael Turner’s
rushing totals (and then some) while stealing half of Jacquizz
Rodgers’ receptions. Vereen – the third running back
on my roster I anticipate will catch at least 50 passes –
should spend most of the season in my flex spot, unless Tate takes
over for an injured Foster as the feature back in Houston.
Jones and Smith are clear every-week starters that should finish
among the top 20 at their position. Most owners would consider
Hopkins as a weekly starter a bit of a stretch, but I have little
doubt he is the real deal. It is possible that Rudolph may not
match last season’s nine touchdowns, but he’s the
most likely player after Gonzalez and Gronkowski to push for second
place at his position. Christian Ponder might not be the answer
in Minnesota, but how much of 2012 can we really put on him after
playing with such a subpar group of receivers for at least half
a season? I think Rudolph’s floor is about 60 catches, 600
yards and six touchdowns, although I expect closer to 65 receptions,
800 yards and eight scores.
In his two seasons with San Francisco, David Akers averaged 47
field-goal attempts. What do you want to bet that Dawson –
who was the most accurate 16-game kicker in the league and 7-for-7
on 50-yard attempts in 2012 – won’t be asked to kick
just as many for a team that lost Michael Crabtree? Last but not
least, the Texans will get LB Brian Cushing back and likely welcome
S Ed Reed to the fold at some point in September to bolster what
was already a pretty solid unit.
Regarding my bench, Tate’s upside speaks for itself. Bush
should stick on the roster and would be quite valuable if Forte
gets hurt – something that has happened in each of the previous
two years – while Polk was simply a flier in the unlikely
event HC Chip Kelly names him LeSean McCoy’s backup over
Bryce Brown in his run-heavy attack. I don’t expect much
from Edelman when Amendola is healthy, but he could be something
special if the ex-Ram fails to stay healthy (another likely occurrence).
Washington remains a starter in Tennessee and would see a bump
in receptions if Kendall Wright’s injury holds him out longer
than expected. Wheaton is a player I anticipate holding onto as
Pittsburgh begins to realize he can give them the same kind of
explosive plays Mike Wallace once did.
Suggestions, comments, about the article
or fantasy football in general? E-mail
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Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and appeared in
USA Today’s Fantasy Football Preview magazine in 2010 and
2011. He hosted USA Today’s hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy
football internet chat every Sunday this past season. Doug regularly
appears as a fantasy football analyst on Sirius XM’s “Fantasy
Drive” and for 106.7 The Fan (WJFK – Washington, D.C).
He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.