Fantasy Football Today - fantasy football rankings, cheatsheets, and information
A Fantasy Football Community!

Create An Account  |  Advertise  |  Contact      


Doug Orth | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

The Art of the Auction
The Huddle Expert Auction League Draft Recap - 2014

Auction drafting 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.

This coming season will mark the sixth year I have participated in The Huddle Expert Auction League. Over the previous five seasons, FF Today has made the six-team playoff every season (finishing with nothing worse than a No. 4 seed) and advanced to the championship game in each of the last four years – winning the last two. Four championship games in four years is a run that is unparalleled in the nine-year history of the league, so suffice it to say that my methods have proven to be fairly effective. It should be noted that I have relied exclusively on my Big Boards and the “value” on those boards to determine the dollar amounts I assign to players in preparation for my auction drafts.

This year’s draft was held on August 7, so keep that date in mind as you review the prices below (both the price each player went for and the value at which I set for him). Below, you will find the values I used to prioritize the players and the rationale I used in selecting my team.


While I don’t find it necessary to land the top running back on my board every year, I feel it is very important to single out the 4-6 players each year that I feel will be the most consistent players in the game and make sure I secure one of them. My auction plan usually consists of taking the safest RB1 that will cost me the least and pairing him up with at least one of my top 10 receivers and a top-five quarterback. (If I can squeeze in a top-five tight end or another top-10 back – or sometimes both – into the mix, I am willing to sacrifice quality depth because experience in this league has taught me that I will be able to build my bench from the waiver wire. In auction drafts, I am less concerned about entering the season with depth and more concerned with acquiring “special” players (i.e. players that will cost a fortune to acquire via trade during the season).

I also make it a point to pay less than my valuation on just about every player, knowing the depth at receiver will allow me to find a bargain or two. Ideally, I’ll come away from a draft with two surefire starters at running back and another mid-priced player I believe will be an RB2 to use as my flex, but it doesn’t always work that way. In a year like this one where it seems the position is as shallow as it has ever been, it isn’t always going to make good budgeting sense to enter an auction draft with a must-have-two-stud-backs approach.

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 percent on my top two receivers or 50 percent at running back. My method isn’t unlike my approach in serpentine (snake) drafts: highlight the players that I really want to build my team around, put them in tiers and set them aside in a different place on your spreadsheet.

Much like a snake 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 year.

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 and Green Bay each year without giving it a second thought. (Not surprisingly, nearly a third of my players hail from one of those three teams.) If you are consistently drafting players with defined roles from good offenses, fantasy success should not be too far behind.

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.

The Draft

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 brief comment.

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.

Actual $ My $ Player Tm
30 28 Peyton Manning DEN
24 22 Drew Brees NO
27 22 Aaron Rodgers GB
16 18 Andrew Luck IND
13 16 Colin Kaepernick SF
14 16 Nick Foles PHI
14 15 Tom Brady NE
19 15 Robert Griffin III WAS
19 15 Matthew Stafford DET
9 13 Jay Cutler CHI
12 13 Matt Ryan ATL
10 12 Cam Newton CAR
8 6 Tony Romo DAL
4 6 Philip Rivers SD
5 6 Russell Wilson SEA
5 4 Ben Roethlisberger PIT
1 3 Ryan Tannehill MIA
- 3 Jake Locker TEN
- 3 Alex Smith KC
4 2 Andy Dalton CIN
4 2 Carson Palmer ARI
- 2 Sam Bradford STL
- 1 Blake Bortles JAC
1 1 Josh McCown TB
- 1 Teddy Bridgewater MIN
2 1 Joe Flacco BAL
- 1 Ryan Fitzpatrick HOU
4 1 Eli Manning NYG
1 1 Geno Smith NYJ
- 1 EJ Manuel BUF
2 1 Johnny Manziel CLE
- 1 Matt Cassel MIN
- 1 Derek Carr OAK

Observations: I nominated Peyton Manning to kick things off, but I found it interesting nonetheless that Brees and Rodgers were the next players to be put up for bid, taking all the elite quarterbacks off the board right away and clearly setting the bar for the position. Although I don’t play in any other leagues that give quarterbacks four points per passing touchdown, the format makes the mobile signal-callers slightly more valuable. The consensus at quarterback this year is that it is Manning-Brees-Rodgers and then everyone else and the winning bids certainly reflected that in this draft. Although I don’t feel like there were any great bargains, Cutler ($9), Newton ($10) and Ryan ($12) shouldn’t have much problem meeting or exceeding their dollar value in this draft. Just as a point of reference from last year’s draft, Rodgers went for $25, Brees $24 and Manning $20.

Running Backs
Actual $ My $ Player Tm
45 58 Matt Forte CHI
46 58 Adrian Peterson MIN
49 52 LeSean McCoy PHI
46 51 Jamaal Charles KC
37 35 Montee Ball DEN
36 35 Eddie Lacy GB
26 34 Arian Foster HOU
35 33 DeMarco Murray DAL
31 33 Giovani Bernard CIN
26 28 Toby Gerhart JAC
23 28 Andre Ellington ARI
38 28 Le’Veon Bell PIT
30 26 Marshawn Lynch SEA
24 25 Bishop Sankey TEN
27 25 Zac Stacy STL
23 24 Reggie Bush DET
13 23 Trent Richardson IND
24 23 Doug Martin TB
16 22 C.J. Spiller BUF
24 22 Shane Vereen NE
22 20 Alfred Morris WAS
16 19 Ray Rice BAL
16 18 Joique Bell DET
19 18 Rashad Jennings NYG
14 16 Pierre Thomas NO
9 12 Steven Jackson ATL
16 12 Chris Johnson NYJ
6 11 Fred Jackson BUF
8 11 Danny Woodhead SD
19 10 Ryan Mathews SD
19 10 Lamar Miller MIA
19 10 Frank Gore SF
11 8 Ben Tate CLE
10 8 Terrance West CLE
6 7 Stevan Ridley NE
9 5 Darren Sproles PHI
7 5 Maurice Jones-Drew OAK
9 5 Bernard Pierce BAL
5 4 Lance Dunbar DAL
4 4 Knowshon Moreno MIA
4 4 Darren McFadden OAK
15 4 Devonta Freeman ATL
8 4 Jeremy Hill CIN
5 4 Christine Michael SEA
11 4 Carlos Hyde SF
4 4 James White NE
4 3 DeAngelo Williams CAR
3 3 Jonathan Stewart CAR
3 2 Dexter McCluster TEN
2 2 Khiry Robinson NO
4 2 Charles Sims TB
1 2 Mike Tolbert CAR
1 2 Roy Helu WAS
8 2 Andre Williams NYG
1 2 Theo Riddick DET
2 2 Ronnie Hillman DEN
3 1 Mark Ingram NO
1 1 Bryce Brown BUF
7 1 Ahmad Bradshaw IND
2 1 Chris Ivory NYJ
1 1 James Starks GB
1 1 Stepfan Taylor ARI
- 1 Marcel Reece OAK
1 1 Shonn Greene TEN
- 1 Bilal Powell NYJ
4 1 Knile Davis KC
- 1 Denard Robinson JAC
- 1 Jonathan Grimes HOU
- 1 Dri Archer PIT
1 1 LeGarrette Blount PIT
- 1 Lorenzo Taliaferro BAL
- 1 Donald Brown SD
11 1 Tre Mason STL
- 1 Jordan Todman JAC
2 1 Ka’Deem Carey CHI
- 1 Benny Cunningham STL
2 1 Chris Polk PHI
- 1 Jerick McKinnon MIN
- 1 C.J. Anderson DEN
- 1 Isaiah Crowell CLE

Observations: Based on “My $”, it is pretty clear that I believe there are a clear top-four players at the position and more than a few question marks behind them, although Ball’s question mark in my mind is his recovery from an appendectomy. I’m not nearly as scared of Ball’s hold on being the featured back as some in the fantasy community seem to be, but chose to bow out of the bidding on him since I really didn’t want to spend a fortune on a player that may start out slow. (Our draft was held three days after news of the surgery broke.) Peterson fetched $55 last year and Martin drew $53, so the high valuations I had on Forte and Peterson weren’t exactly out of line with recent league history. Foster was hardly a target of mine, although I’m not unhappy that I grabbed him. His recent injury woes aren’t any more concerning to me than Murray’s or Vereen’s inability to play a full 16-game schedule, the possible split-backfield situations in Pittsburgh (Bell) and Cincinnati (Bernard) or Lynch’s likely drop in carries – and I got Foster cheaper than all of them. If Foster is healthy for even 12 games, he will see the lion’s share of the work every time and be very active in the passing game. I had hoped to land Sankey ($24) as a flex, but his nomination came at a time in which it was more important for me to focus my remaining budget on positions other than running back. I thought Spiller ($16) was a value at the time, but have since changed my tune on him. As it turned out, the bidding on rookie running backs – which I thought would be somewhat depressed due to the relative lack of star power in this draft class – was actually inflated. Freeman ($15), Hyde ($11) and Mason ($11) all attracted absurdly high dollar amounts despite being in clear backup roles.

Wide Receivers
Actual $ My $ Player Tm
38 48 Calvin Johnson DET
40 44 Dez Bryant DAL
34 43 Demaryius Thomas DEN
25 42 Julio Jones ATL
36 39 Brandon Marshall CHI
34 36 A.J. Green CIN
32 35 Antonio Brown PIT
35 34 Jordy Nelson GB
27 32 Randall Cobb GB
22 32 Roddy White ATL
21 30 Larry Fitzgerald ARI
27 30 Alshon Jeffery CHI
20 27 Victor Cruz NYG
19 27 Pierre Garcon WAS
22 24 Wes Welker DEN
16 23 Andre Johnson HOU
22 21 Percy Harvin SEA
18 21 Cordarrelle Patterson MIN
14 19 T.Y. Hilton IND
18 19 Michael Floyd ARI
14 18 Mike Wallace MIA
11 18 Emmanuel Sanders DEN
21 18 Keenan Allen SD
17 17 Michael Crabtree SF
18 17 Vincent Jackson TB
14 17 Torrey Smith BAL
17 16 Kendall Wright TEN
10 16 Marques Colston NO
12 15 Reggie Wayne IND
4 12 Anquan Boldin SF
6 12 Golden Tate DET
12 10 Julian Edelman NE
9 10 Sammy Watkins BUF
7 10 Cecil Shorts JAC
6 10 Mike Evans TB
6 8 Danny Amendola NE
10 8 DeAndre Hopkins HOU
14 7 Brandin Cooks NO
19 7 Jeremy Maclin PHI
10 7 DeSean Jackson WAS
11 6 Rueben Randle NYG
11 6 Eric Decker NYJ
8 5 Dwayne Bowe KC
9 5 Kelvin Benjamin CAR
4 5 Tavon Austin STL
8 3 Justin Hunter TEN
3 3 Kenny Britt STL
6 3 Jordan Matthews PHI
3 2 Robert Woods BUF
5 2 Kenny Stills NO
2 2 Marvin Jones CIN
1 2 Aaron Dobson NE
8 2 Terrance Williams DAL
- 2 Mike Williams BUF
4 1 Markus Wheaton PIT
2 1 Brian Hartline MIA
7 1 Doug Baldwin SEA
- 1 Harry Douglas ATL
1 1 Greg Jennings MIN
4 1 Jerricho Cotchery CAR
1 1 Jarrett Boykin GB
5 1 Hakeem Nicks IND
- 1 Nate Washington TEN
1 1 Odell Beckham Jr. NYG
- 1 Andrew Hawkins CLE
- 1 Marqise Lee JAC
1 1 Rod Streater OAK
- 1 Stephen Hill NYJ
2 1 James Jones OAK
3 1 Riley Cooper PHI
- 1 Steve Johnson SF
1 1 John Brown ARI
- 1 Malcom Floyd SD
1 1 Steve Smith BAL
- 1 Lance Moore PIT
1 1 Miles Austin CLE
- 1 Jeremy Kerley NYJ
- 1 Denarius Moore OAK
- 1 Donnie Avery KC
- 1 Marquess Wilson CHI
1 1 Andre Holmes OAK
- 1 Jermaine Kearse SEA
- 1 Cole Beasley DAL
- 1 Andre Roberts WAS
- 1 Allen Robinson JAC
- 1 Brian Quick STL
2 1 Chris Givens STL
- 1 Eddie Royal SD
- 1 Davante Adams GB
- 1 Kenbrell Thompkins NE
- 1 Jarvis Landry MIA
- 1 Jerome Simpson MIN
- 1 Marlon Brown BAL
- 1 Mohamed Sanu CIN
- 1 Martavis Bryant PIT
- 1 Brandon Gibson MIA
- 1 Stedman Bailey STL
6 1 Josh Gordon CLE

Observations: Last year, I felt good about my first two receivers and believed in my ability to find 1-2 starting-caliber wideouts off waivers during the season. As luck would have it, I lost Julio Jones early and Steve Smith disappointed, meaning I had to rely on one of my bargain-basement priced receivers (Edelman), trade for another late (White) and get a bit lucky with Crabtree, who I had stashed on injured reserve for most of the second half of the season. Getting back to this draft, it was somewhat surprising Bryant ($40) drew a higher bid than Calvin Johnson ($38), although it wasn’t unreasonable by any stretch. As it turned out, Jones ($25) ended up being a huge bargain. If he stays healthy, he has a wonderful opportunity to pick right back up where he left off before his foot injury as fantasy’s top receiver. Just like at running back, I thought the big story was the exorbitant bids that players like Cooks ($14) and Maclin ($19) attracted. I like Cooks as much as probably anyone in the fantasy community, but can we really expect him to overtake Colston ($10) as Brees’ second option as a rookie in an offense that has generally frustrated owners due to its spread-the-wealth nature? The results here say so. There are no questions in my mind about Maclin’s game or his role in the offense, but his lack of durability is scary. While I hate to plug one of my own picks in this part of the column, one of the best values at this position was Boldin ($4). Certainly, Crabtree’s return to health will make it virtually impossible for him to repeat his incredible 2013 numbers, but would any of us be surprised if catches 70 passes and scores 6-7 times? I wouldn’t be.

Tight Ends
Actual $ My $ Player Tm
35 38 Jimmy Graham NO
26 23 Rob Gronkowski NE
26 23 Julius Thomas DEN
9 15 Jordan Reed WAS
14 15 Kyle Rudolph MIN
7 13 Vernon Davis SF
15 12 Jordan Cameron CLE
11 11 Greg Olsen CAR
12 11 Dennis Pitta BAL
13 10 Jason Witten DAL
4 8 Zach Ertz PHI
5 6 Charles Clay MIA
5 3 Martellus Bennett CHI
3 3 Delanie Walker TEN
2 3 Ladarius Green SD
2 2 Heath Miller PIT
4 2 Antonio Gates SD
3 2 Dwayne Allen IND
1 1 Garrett Graham HOU
- 1 Jace Amaro NYJ
- 1 Marcedes Lewis JAC
2 1 Tyler Eifert CIN
2 1 Jared Cook STL
4 1 Eric Ebron DET
- 1 Travis Kelce KC
- 1 C.J. Fiedorowicz HOU
- 1 David Ausberry OAK
- 1 Zach Miller SEA
- 1 Tim Wright TB
1 1 Coby Fleener IND
- 1 Gavin Escobar DAL
- 1 Owen Daniels BAL
2 1 Austin Seferian-Jenkins TB
- 1 Brandon Pettigrew DET
- 1 Jermaine Gresham CIN
- 1 Richard Rodgers GB
- 1 John Carlson ARI
- 1 Adrien Robinson NYG
- 1 Anthony Fasano KC
- 1 Levine Toilolo ATL

Observations: If there was a significant change from last year, it might have been the prices that tight ends brought in this draft. Graham ($35) topping the list is a surprise to no one, but Gronkowski ($26) attracted a bid twice as much as the one he did last year despite the fact he is coming off two torn knee ligaments! As for the rest of the tight ends, the only other dollar amount that really sticks out is the $4 it took to get Ertz. He has top-five ability and is every bit as capable in the short passing game as he is downfield. Even though Rudolph ($14) wasn’t a bargain as it relates to my pre-draft valuation, I am feeling pretty good about his chances to rival the “Big Three” at the position at nearly half the cost.

Actual $ My $ Player Tm
5 2 Matt Prater DEN
1 1 Mason Crosby GB
2 1 Stephen Gostkowski NE
1 1 Blair Walsh MIN
3 1 Phil Dawson SF
1 1 Adam Vinatieri IND
1 1 Shayne Graham NO
- 1 Robbie Gould CHI
1 1 Dan Bailey DAL
2 1 Steve Hauschka SEA
1 1 Matt Bryant ATL
1 1 Greg Zuerlein STL
2 1 Nick Novak SD
- 1 Jay Feely ARI
- 1 Nick Folk NYJ
2 1 Justin Tucker BAL
- 1 Alex Henery PHI
- 1 Shaun Suisham PIT
- 1 Nate Freese DET
- 1 Dan Carpenter BUF
- 1 Graham Gano CAR
- 1 Josh Scobee JAC
- 1 Ryan Succop KC
- 1 Josh Brown NYG
- 1 Caleb Sturgis MIA
- 1 Kai Forbath WAS
- 1 Sebastian Janikowski OAK
- 1 Connor Barth TB
- 1 Mike Nugent CIN
- 1 Maikon Bonani TEN
- 1 Randy Bullock HOU
- 1 Billy Cundiff CLE

Observations: Year after year, I look for the same qualities in a kicker. I want a strong-legged one in a good offense and don’t mind paying an extra $1 to get him 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. Prater ($5) is the best kicker on my board, but he went for $3 more than Gostkowski, who has been the best fantasy kicker scorer in this league the past two years. I don’t mind paying $2 to get the kicker I want, but $3 is sometimes the difference between landing a fairly capable starter at another position and a flyer. There is no need to spend more than $2 on a kicker, are we clear?

 Defense / ST
Actual $ My $ Player
7 3 Seahawks
4 2 Broncos
4 2 Panthers
2 2 Rams
1 1 Saints
2 1 Patriots
1 1 49ers
1 1 Ravens
2 1 Chiefs
2 1 Bengals
2 1 Cardinals
- 1 Bears
- 1 Packers
1 1 Browns
- 1 Colts
- 1 Vikings
- 1 Bucs
- 1 Bills
1 1 Steelers
- 1 Texans
- 1 Eagles
- 1 Jaguars
- 1 Chargers
- 1 Titans
- 1 Giants
- 1 Lions
- 1 Falcons
- 1 Redskins
- 1 Dolphins
- 1 Raiders
- 1 Jets
- 1 Cowboys

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. I’m usually willing to spend about $4 at most on a defense I really believe in, but I’m not sure I can get behind ever spending $7 – the price Seattle went for in this draft. If the officials end up coming anywhere close to calling the number of illegal contact and pass interference penalties they have in the preseason during the regular season, the Seahawks could wind up fielding a somewhat average fantasy defense.


The FFToday team
QB: Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill
RB: Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, Jonathan Stewart, Khiry Robinson, Chris Ivory, Mike Tolbert, Ronnie Hillman, Roy Helu
WR: Jordy Nelson, Roddy White, Wes Welker, Anquan Boldin, John Brown
TE: Kyle Rudolph
K: Mason Crosby
D/ST: Baltimore Ravens

I felt last year was the best team I had drafted in the five years I had been involved in this league and it played out that way, even though injuries wreaked havoc on it (Steven Jackson, Vereen, Julio Jones and Rudolph were among the regular starters I lost for significant parts of the season). This team is not as good as that one simply because the odds of owning the top quarterback (Peyton Manning) and running back (Charles) on the same team like I did last year are pretty small.

I think most fantasy owners acknowledge the only thing keeping Luck from being considered an elite quarterback is his offensive coordinator. Given the Colts’ issues blocking for Richardson in the run game, riding Luck this year may be the only way they can expect to win 10-plus games again. Even if Nicks does nothing more than give Indianapolis just a little bit more than Darrius Heyward-Bey did last year and the Colts understand that Hilton is now their best receiver, Luck should be in line to take another step up production-wise. (I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t take a look at the Colts’ late-season schedule, which includes Washington in Week 13 and Dallas in all-important Week 16.) I was thrilled to snag Tannehill, who I expect will be one of the league’s leading rushers at his position in new OC Bill Lazor’s offense. Between the Dolphins running more plays and Tannehill’s athleticism, I see potential for something more than just a bye-week starter.

Peterson wasn’t so much a must-have for me as he was the best combination of fantasy upside and price, at least in my opinion. New OC Norv Turner has a well-established track record of getting a ton of production out of his running backs, none of which were more talented than “All Day”. Foster is the wild-card; a (mostly) healthy season from him means I should win the battle at running back just about every week. A repeat of last year means a few weeks of counting on Stewart, Tolbert, Ivory or Robinson until I can find a replacement. Despite some injury issues early in camp, I do believe Stewart will give me enough to offset a potential long-term injury to Foster.

While the overall depth of my team isn’t quite on par with last year’s (I do think it is close, however), I am thrilled to have one of the best and deepest receiver corps in the league. Nelson (seventh), White (ninth) and Welker (15th) all rank inside the top 39 players on my latest PPR Big Board and among the top 15 at their position. Barring an injury or bye weeks, I can’t imagine I’ll spend more than a couple of minutes each week thinking about what receivers I will start. Boldin has to be among the best players that will be used in the flex spot each week and he will probably remain in that spot until I build some trustworthy depth at running back. Brown is a bit of a lottery ticket that I have landed in my redraft leagues so far, but it would not surprise me at all if he found his way into my lineup a time or two during the season.

In addition to running backs, Turner has developed a reputation for getting incredible production from his tight ends. If that alone isn’t enough incentive for you to draft him, consider that the Vikings signed him to a six-year contract, $37.46 M contract a few months after he was lost for the season after eight games. Contracts of that magnitude aren’t just handed out to players that have amassed a rather tame 129 receptions for 1,055 yards and 15 touchdowns through 2 ½ years in the league. Front-office people often say that contracts aren’t offered to reward past production, but rather expected future production. Rudolph has Gronkowski-like upside; don’t miss out.

Suggestions, comments, about the article or fantasy football in general? E-mail me or follow me on Twitter.

Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and has been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He has hosted USA Today’s hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday over the past two seasons and appears as a guest analyst before and during the season on Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive” as well as 106.7 The Fan (WJFK – Washington, D.C). Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.