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 - 2017
8/19/17
 

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. Moreover, I feel it really tests the conviction an owner has in certain players. Furthermore, I think it rewards the prepared and punishes the unprepared. In snake drafts, it is obvious to anyone using a draft board when a player is slipping. In auctions, owners need to be keenly aware of who is left and balance that against their remaining funds. Owners are forced to decide what players they like the most and to what degree they are willing to go to secure their services, which is perhaps the best part of auctions - along with the fact every owner has an equal opportunity to land each and every player.

This coming season will mark the 9th year I have participated in The Huddle Expert Auction League. Over the previous eight seasons, FF Today has made the six-team playoff every year (last year's team was a No. 5 seed, the first time I finished with something worse than a No. 4 seed) and advanced to the championship game in five of the last seven seasons. Suffice it to say my approach has proven to be effective.

This year’s draft was held on August 8, 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). In case you were wondering, this draft took place just over two days before the Ezekiel Elliott suspension was announced and the two big trades (Sammy Watkins and Jordan Matthews) went down.

Below, you will find the values I used to prioritize the players and the rationale I used in selecting my team.

Pre-draft

There is something to be said about knowing your league. Almost all of the redraft leagues I play in each year are against complete strangers. Thus, there is no background from which to draw from, such as Owner X loves a certain team or Owner Y is all about hoarding receivers.

One thing I feel I can count on each season in this league is finding some treasure on the waiver wire. By the end of last year, 12 of my 18 roster spots were filled by waiver-wire claims or free-agent adds - a list that included Rob Kelley, Robby Anderson, Ty Montgomery, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills. In 2015, I landed Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tim Hightower, Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin and the Broncos' defense in the weeks following the draft. In 2014, Sammy Watkins was the crown jewel of my waiver-wire pickups. An IR stash of Michael Crabtree helped me overcome the loss of Julio Jones during FF Today's most recent championship season in 2013, while Russell Wilson, Bryce Brown, Knowshon Moreno, Danario Alexander, Chris Givens, Golden Tate and the Seahawks' defense helped FF Today overcome a ton of injuries in order to win the first of its back-to-back titles in 2012.

The point is this: After eight years in this league, I have come to recognize I can rely on the waiver wire to build up my bench if necessary. (Heck, as the 2012 and 2016 examples above show, I can sometimes rely on it to build my starting lineup!) The goal for me now is simply to build the best starting lineup possible and trust the process when it comes to building depth. (Some might call it the "stud-and-dud" approach, but I rarely ever end up with someone on my team that I didn't want.) In auction drafts, I am looking to acquire as many “special” players (i.e. players that would otherwise cost a fortune to acquire via trade during the season) as possible.

My pre-draft plan this year was to secure either Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr. or Julio Jones (with my eyes set on the cheapest of the three if possible) and the best value among the top five running backs. Beyond that, I wanted the most proven and least expensive no-brainer picks I could find at QB and TE in order to save as much money as possible to snag an extra $8-10 level player if at all possible.

Each year, 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.

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 40 percent of my budget at receiver. My method: Copy-and-paste the players I want the most at the top of my spreadsheet and keep a record of how much a player goes for a little bit lower on the page. I stay true to my valuations with very few exceptions and stick with that "preferred" list of players as long as possible. A list of 300 players can be daunting, especially when trying to research how much players in a certain tier went for with no more than 10 or 15 seconds to make a decision, so it makes a ton of sense to focus in on about 50.

The Draft

Players with bolded names are ones I specifically selected before the draft as players I was targeting. The key is picking players from several different tiers and expected cost valuations.

Below you will find the actual prices that secured a player’s services (Act $) and the price I valued them at before the draft (My $). A dash in the first column reflects the fact a player was not nominated. The yellow highlight represents winning bids for FF Today. Finally, I will follow each position with some brief commentary.

All values are based on a $200 cap and players are organized by “My $”. All players that were nominated are included, but I removed a number of players that are unlikely to go in auctions in leagues with 12 teams and 18-man rosters or for other common-sense reasons.

Required starters: 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 Flex, 1 K and 1 Defense/Special Teams unit.

 Quarterbacks
Actual $ My $ Player Tm
21 24 Aaron Rodgers GB
21 24 Tom Brady NE
14 22 Drew Brees NO
13 18 Russell Wilson SEA
12 16 Matt Ryan ATL
8 12 Marcus Mariota TEN
4 11 Philip Rivers LAC
8 10 Andrew Luck IND
9 10 Jameis Winston TB
9 10 Kirk Cousins WAS
4 10 Dak Prescott DAL
4 9 Tyrod Taylor BUF
11 9 Cam Newton CAR
2 8 Derek Carr OAK
4 8 Matthew Stafford DET
2 7 Eli Manning NYG
2 5 Ben Roethlisberger PIT
1 3 Andy Dalton CIN
2 3 Carson Palmer ARI
4 2 Carson Wentz PHI
1 2 Sam Bradford MIN
- 1 Jay Cutler MIA
1 1 Blake Bortles JAC
1 1 Joe Flacco BAL
- 1 Trevor Siemian DEN
- 1 Paxton Lynch DEN
- 1 DeShone Kizer CLE
- 1 Mike Glennon CHI

Observations: Year after year, it is difficult for owners to resist the temptation of spending too much at quarterback. This league has gotten better and better at doing so in recent years, but a strong case can be made paying $21 (10.5 percent of the cap) for a starter is still too much, unless you are 100 percent sure that quarterback is going to enjoy a record-breaking season. It also looks bad when a comparable quarterback like Brees ($14) goes for $7 less. I prefer mobile quarterbacks in leagues in which passing touchdowns are worth only four points, although I am more focused on value, which usually means getting the lowest player on the top tier, which has been Wilson ($13) in two of the last three years for me. I set aside five quarterbacks and would have been happy with getting two out of the three of Rivers, Prescott or Taylor (all $4), so I overspent a bit on Wilson, although I paid five dollars less than I had him valued pre-draft. Was it an egregious error? Probably not. I don't consider Seattle's schedule to be all that challenging, so as long as Wilson doesn't get injured early like he did last year, I'll be OK. I was hoping to land Rivers as my backup and would have been perfectly fine not drafting a second quarterback, but Palmer ($2) and his light early-season schedule appealed to me late in the draft.

Total spent at QB: $15

 Running Backs
Actual $ My $ Player Tm
56 54 David Johnson ARI
52 51 Le'Veon Bell PIT
49 45 Ezekiel Elliott DAL
37 42 Devonta Freeman ATL
35 41 LeSean McCoy BUF
28 38 Melvin Gordon LAC
25 36 DeMarco Murray TEN
30 33 Leonard Fournette JAC
27 33 Todd Gurley LAR
33 33 Jordan Howard CHI
26 33 Jay Ajayi MIA
20 30 Dalvin Cook MIN
19 29 Joe Mixon CIN
25 27 Lamar Miller HOU
19 27 Christian McCaffrey CAR
21 26 Isaiah Crowell CLE
18 22 Mark Ingram NO
18 20 Danny Woodhead BAL
25 20 Ty Montgomery GB
16 19 Ameer Abdullah DET
17 18 Mike Gillislee NE
16 18 Marshawn Lynch OAK
17 17 Carlos Hyde SF
12 14 Doug Martin TB
9 14 Kareem Hunt KC
16 14 Adrian Peterson NO
6 12 Jonathan Stewart CAR
13 12 Tevin Coleman ATL
13 11 C.J. Anderson DEN
19 11 Bilal Powell NYJ
8 11 Derrick Henry TEN
14 11 Duke Johnson CLE
9 11 Frank Gore IND
8 11 Rob Kelley WAS
12 11 Theo Riddick DET
20 10 Paul Perkins NYG
9 10 James White NE
2 9 Darren Sproles PHI
8 9 LeGarrette Blount PHI
16 8 Spencer Ware KC
7 8 Samaje Perine WAS
13 8 Eddie Lacy SEA
8 8 Terrance West BAL
7 8 C.J. Prosise SEA
6 8 Matt Forte NYJ
8 7 Jamaal Williams GB
3 6 Darren McFadden DAL
6 6 Jonathan Williams BUF
1 6 DeAndre Washington OAK
5 6 Jacquizz Rodgers TB
2 5 James Conner PIT
4 4 Thomas Rawls SEA
5 4 Jeremy Hill CIN
3 4 Jalen Richard OAK
4 4 Chris Thompson WAS
1 3 Devontae Booker DEN
1 3 Giovani Bernard CIN
6 3 Latavius Murray MIN
3 3 D'Onta Foreman HOU
3 3 Alvin Kamara NO
1 3 Rex Burkhead NE
3 3 Joe Williams SF
3 2 Marlon Mack IND
7 2 Jamaal Charles DEN
1 2 Shane Vereen NYG
1 1 Donnel Pumphrey PHI
- 1 Tarik Cohen CHI
- 1 Jerick McKinnon MIN
- 1 Kyle Juszczyk SF
- 1 Robert Turbin IND
- 1 Dion Lewis NE
- 1 T.J. Yeldon JAC
- 1 Aaron Jones GB
- 1 Jeremy McNichols TB
1 1 Charles Sims TB
- 1 Kenyan Drake MIA
1 1 Wayne Gallman NYG
- 1 Elijah McGuire NYJ
- 1 De'Angelo Henderson DEN
- 1 Jeremy Langford CHI
- 1 Chris Johnson ARI
- 1 Elijah Hood OAK
- 1 Damien Williams MIA
- 1 Tim Hightower SF
- 1 Zach Zenner DET
- 1 Wendell Smallwood PHI
- 1 Branden Oliver LAC

Observations: Without fail, I want an elite running back every year. As you may be able to tell above, each of the "Big Three" went for more than what I had them valued at, although I think you will agree I am still in better position than most owners at the position. Bell ($51) was the first player to be nominated overall and I didn't want to set the market - plus I preferred David Johnson - so I stayed out of the bidding for him. I went up to $55 on Johnson ($56) and $48 on Elliott ($49) but thought the bidding was getting out of hand for both, so I effectively drove up the price about $10 on both players as I was the only one going toe-to-toe with the respective owners who ended up getting them. Murray ($25) was the fifth running back to come up for bid and someone I obviously misjudged (in a good way) in terms of his valuation in this league. McCoy ($35), who is also 29 years old and coming off the season with similar fantasy production, went for $10 more than Murray a few minutes later. The $11 I "saved" on Murray allowed me to feel confident about bidding into the low 40s for Freeman ($37) if necessary, and it wasn't. In short, I landed two running backs I consider to be first-rounders for a total of $62, which is only $6 less than what Johnson went for within the first few minutes of the draft.

Although I preferred Cook ($20) slightly more, more value came in the form of Joe Mixon ($19) about 10 minutes after I got Freeman (Cook was obviously nominated later than Mixon). At that point, any plans I had of saving up for Coleman ($13) or Henry ($8) to handcuff my starters went out the window because making sure I would be able to land a quality WR2 down the road became more of a priority. It should be noted I actually had enough to spend on Henry if necessary, but Kareem Hunt ($9) came up for bid an hour earlier than Henry and went $5 cheaper than I expected. At that point, I resisted adding any more running backs until I could possibly come away with two high-upside handcuffs (McFadden and Connor), who went for a combined $5 about 3 1/2 hours into the draft. An added bonus: I was able to stick it to The Huddle, who is a division rival and began the draft with Bell and Elliott.

Gordon ($28) was one of the better values, although I have started to sour on him slightly, among other reasons, after the Chargers lost rookie OG Forrest Lamp. I obviously like Cook's value and thought Stewart ($6) was a good value; I had my eye on him for at least 30 minutes and was trying to wait it out long enough so I could guarantee myself the highest bid when he did come up for bid. (The one owner who had a higher max bid than I did obviously won out.) On the other hand, I was stunned by how much Perkins ($20) commanded.

Total spent at RB: $95

 Wide Receivers
Actual $ My $ Player Tm
53 46 Antonio Brown PIT
46 44 Odell Beckham Jr. NYG
44 44 Julio Jones ATL
42 41 Jordy Nelson GB
34 38 Michael Thomas NO
40 38 A.J. Green CIN
35 36 Mike Evans TB
29 34 Brandin Cooks NE
30 32 Doug Baldwin SEA
28 32 Amari Cooper OAK
29 28 DeAndre Hopkins HOU
26 25 Michael Crabtree OAK
31 26 T.Y. Hilton IND
35 25 Dez Bryant DAL
19 22 Keenan Allen LAC
29 22 Allen Robinson JAC
21 22 Sammy Watkins BUF
15 20 Martavis Bryant PIT
22 20 Kelvin Benjamin CAR
25 20 Demaryius Thomas DEN
23 19 Davante Adams GB
25 19 Larry Fitzgerald ARI
16 18 DeVante Parker MIA
13 16 Willie Snead NO
19 15 Jamison Crowder WAS
25 14 Golden Tate DET
16 14 Emmanuel Sanders DEN
14 14 Brandon Marshall NYG
19 13 Tyreek Hill KC
18 13 Stefon Diggs MIN
18 12 Julian Edelman NE
11 12 Pierre Garçon SF
9 11 Donte Moncrief IND
10 11 Cameron Meredith CHI
26 11 Terrelle Pryor WAS
8 11 Jeremy Maclin BAL
18 11 Alshon Jeffery PHI
13 10 John Brown ARI
6 10 Mike Wallace BAL
8 10 Kenny Britt CLE
7 10 DeSean Jackson TB
22 10 Jarvis Landry MIA
9 10 Adam Thielen MIN
10 10 Eric Decker TEN
9 10 Tyrell Williams LAC
14 9 Randall Cobb GB
4 9 Sterling Shepard NYG
6 9 Corey Coleman CLE
1 7 Cole Beasley DAL
5 6 Ted Ginn NO
8 5 Rishard Matthews TEN
4 5 Corey Davis TEN
2 4 Nelson Agholor PHI
1 4 Kenny Stills MIA
5 4 Marvin Jones DET
3 3 Kevin White CHI
2 3 Josh Doctson WAS
2 3 Devin Funchess CAR
2 3 Zay Jones BUF
3 2 Kenny Golladay DET
3 2 Breshad Perriman BAL
1 2 Mohamed Sanu ATL
2 2 Robert Woods LAR
8 2 Marqise Lee JAC
1 2 Tyler Lockett SEA
1 2 Braxton Miller HOU
- 2 Travis Benjamin LAC
3 2 Cooper Kupp LAR
1 1 J.J. Nelson ARI
- 1 Brandon LaFell CIN
- 1 Allen Hurns JAC
2 1 Tavon Austin LAR
1 1 Curtis Samuel CAR
- 1 Cordarrelle Patterson OAK
4 1 Taylor Gabriel ATL
- 1 Laquon Treadwell MIN
- 1 Paul Richardson SEA
- 1 Torrey Smith PHI
- 1 Terrance Williams DAL
- 1 Malcolm Mitchell NE
- 1 John Ross CIN
1 1 ArDarius Stewart NYJ
1 1 Chris Conley KC
- 1 Marquise Goodwin SF
- 1 Chris Godwin TB
- 1 Tyler Boyd CIN
- 1 Dontrelle Inman LAC
- 1 Adam Humphries TB
- 1 Russell Shepard CAR
- 1 Chester Rogers IND
- 1 Taywan Taylor TEN
- 1 Chris Hogan NE
- 1 Carlos Henderson DEN
- 1 JuJu Smith-Schuster PIT
1 1 Will Fuller HOU
- 1 Seth Roberts OAK
- 1 Chad Williams ARI
- 1 Kamar Aiken IND
- 1 Jaelen Strong HOU
1 1 Anquan Boldin FA

Observations: Jones ($44) was my primary target at receiver because I was almost certain he would go cheaper than Brown ($53) or Beckham ($46) and has the most favorable schedule of the three. He was also my last opportunity to land one of the "Big Three" at either running back or wide receiver. I was ideally hoping to pair him up with either Cooks ($29) or Baldwin ($30), but both receivers came up for bid after I had spent $125 on my "core four" of Freeman, Murray, Mixon and Jones. At that point, I decided to sit tight and wait for a good value to fill my WR2 slot. My targets became Crabtree ($26), Fitzgerald ($25) and Benjamin ($22), and my hope was one would go for less than $25. Knowing I had two IR slots I could take advantage of, I prioritized making a well-timed $1 bid on Fuller and got him as I had hoped. The rest of my receiver corps was more luck than skill. I put a bid on Moncrief ($9) hoping to drive up his price a bit - although I need to make clear I don't bid on players I absolutely don't want - thinking there was no way I was going to get him at that price. (Surprise!) Even if he doesn't have a healthy Andrew Luck throwing him the ball until October, I like Moncrief for under $10. I was sure Beasley ($1) would bring at least $5 when I nominated him, but I'm glad I was wrong. Ditto Matthews ($2), who I obviously thought would bring $4-5 just on name value alone (again, pre-trade).

Some of the better bargains other teams had at receiver were the perpetually underrated Sanders ($16), Bryant ($15), Snead ($13), Maclin ($8) and Wallace ($6). Bids that surprised me in the opposite direction included the likes of Robinson ($29), Landry ($22) and Cobb ($14). All three of the latter receivers could easily end up being worth their bids at season's end, but I would argue each of them have much more working against them at this point than they have going in their favor.

Total spent at WR: $79

 Tight Ends
Actual $ My $ Player Tm
21 19 Rob Gronkowski NE
16 17 Travis Kelce KC
15 15 Jimmy Graham SEA
14 13 Greg Olsen CAR
7 12 Kyle Rudolph MIN
12 12 Jordan Reed WAS
11 10 Hunter Henry LAC
7 10 Tyler Eifert CIN
4 8 Martellus Bennett GB
11 8 Delanie Walker TEN
3 8 Jack Doyle IND
5 8 Eric Ebron DET
9 7 Zach Ertz PHI
5 6 Austin Hooper ATL
2 4 Julius Thomas MIA
1 4 Cameron Brate TB
3 3 Dwayne Allen NE
1 3 Coby Fleener NO
- 2 Antonio Gates LAC
2 2 Jason Witten DAL
- 2 Austin Seferian-Jenkins NYJ
- 1 Evan Engram NYG
1 1 O.J. Howard TB
1 1 Charles Clay BUF
- 1 Erik Swoope IND
- 1 David Njoku CLE
- 1 Gerald Everett LAR
- 1 Vernon Davis WAS
- 1 Seth DeValve CLE
- 1 A.J. Derby DEN
- 1 Ben Watson BAL
- 1 Adam Shaheen CHI
- 1 Jared Cook OAK
- 1 Lance Kendricks GB
- 1 Trey Burton PHI
1 1 Tyler Higbee LAR
- 1 Clive Walford OAK
1 1 C.J. Fiedorowicz HOU
- 1 Jesse James PIT

Observations: The most important quality for a fantasy is his ability to score touchdowns, if only because most of them aren't going to be able to keep pace with receivers in terms of volume and yardage. I had no interest in paying up for Gronkowski ($21) or even Reed ($12) given their track record for durability. Rudolph ($7) has managed to play all 16 games in each of the last two seasons after earning the "injury-prone" label over the previous two seasons, and it seems to fly well under the radar that he led all tight ends (and ranked second overall) in red-zone targets in 2016. OC Pat Shurmur does run a tight end-friendly offense, so I like his chances of hanging with the big boys at the position again. The second and third tier at this position are fairly deep this year, so the odds are good if you land one of the top 10 players above, you're probably going to be OK.

Bennett ($4) was a screaming value and a player I seriously considered bidding up on even though I already had Rudolph. Among the other values I liked were Hooper ($5) and Allen ($3).

Total spent at TE: $8

 Kickers
Actual $ My $ Player Tm
2 1 Justin Tucker BAL
2 1 Stephen Gostkowski NE
1 1 Matt Bryant ATL
1 1 Dan Bailey DAL
1 1 Matt Prater DET
1 1 Mason Crosby GB
1 1 Adam Vinatieri IND
1 1 Wil Lutz NO
1 1 Dustin Hopkins WAS
1 1 Cairo Santos KC
1 1 Sebastian Janikowski OAK
1 1 Brandon McManus DEN

Observations: Year after year, I look for the same qualities in a kicker. I want someone with a strong leg in a good offense and don’t mind paying an extra $1 to get him if necessary. Additionally, I often target kickers who 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. Short of that, I want a team who I believe will have a good offense but bogs down in the red zone because it lacks a strong running attack. Vinatieri ($1) checks that box.

Total spent at K: $1

 Defense / ST
Actual $ My $ Team
5 2 Broncos
2 2 Texans
3 2 Cardinals
1 2 Patriots
2 2 Seahawks
1 2 Vikings
1 1 Chiefs
2 1 Giants
1 1 Bills
1 1 Jaguars
1 1 Panthers
1 1 Chargers
1 1 Eagles

Observations: Streaming defenses seems to be the preferred way to handle the position nowadays, so I guess that makes me a bit of a contrarian. Every (serious) league I'm in requires blind-bidding dollars to be spent on any move, and roughly half of the teams in my leagues (right or wrong) will carry two defenses, most of which do so to play one for the upcoming week and the other for the following week, considerably thinning the pool of potential streamers. I want one defense and I want to feel confident it will be serviceable in "bad" matchups and borderline dominant in "good" matchups. After deciding not to bid $3 on the Texans' D/ST ($2) I nominated, I settled for an old reliable in the Seahawks D/ST ($2).

Almost every other year it seems, someone in this league spends $5 on a defense. I obviously value a rock-solid defense more than most, but owners who bid that much are paying for roughly 3-4 huge weeks at most, all while sacrificing a potential handcuff or low-end starter at another position. Unless a D/ST unit goes on to have a truly historic year, they will most likely not bring back a good enough return on investment to be worth that bid.

Total spent at D/ST: $2

Post-draft

The FFToday team
QB: Russell Wilson, Carson Palmer
RB: Devonta Freeman, DeMarco Murray, Joe Mixon, Kareem Hunt, Darren McFadden, James Conner
WR: Julio Jones, Kelvin Benjamin, Donte Moncrief, Jordan Matthews, Cole Beasley, Will Fuller
TE: Kyle Rudolph, Cameron Brate
K: Adam Vinatieri
D/ST: Seattle Seahawks

I have a pretty simple philosophy when it comes to fantasy football. Give me at least one player that can finish in the top five at each of the four core positions and I’ll show you a team that has a realistic shot at winning it all. Wilson, Freeman, Murray, Jones, Rudolph and the Seahawks' D/ST all have realistic shots at finishing among the top five at their positions.

My biggest regret? I'm not sure I have one, because there's not much about this draft I would take back. If I'm nitpicking, I could have bid up on Brees. I probably should have followed my gut and continued to bid on receivers such as Martavis Bryant and DeVante Parker at their more-than-reasonable prices. However, as much as I like both of them this year, we only have to look back to each of the last two years to come up with a scenario in which they may disappoint.

As long as I get the injury-free version of Wilson with what should be an improved offensive line, I think I'm going to like my quarterback selection. If Wilson encounters an early injury setback again this year, Palmer's first-half schedule should buy me enough time to adapt.

I'm not sure I've had a stable of running backs this deep and this good coming out of the draft in this league. Whatever your opinion may be on Freeman and/or Murray, most analysts and owners would agree they are top-10 backs with 250-carry, 50-catch and 10-touchdown upside. Mixon is the wild-card here. Will the Bengals merely have him lead a committee or will they turn him loose no later than October? If it is the latter, I could very well have three top-10 backs. Even if you view Hunt as nothing more than a handcuff to Spencer Ware, you can make the argument I also have three of the top five or so handcuffs in fantasy. Regardless of whether McFadden ends up being the featured back in Dallas during Elliott's suspension or not, keeping him away from a division rival AND being able to get some instant bang for my buck puts me in an even better position to improve my team.

In case it isn't becoming obvious, I'm a big fan of the higher-end receivers in the NFC South this year. Jones is already one of the game's best, but OC Steve Sarkisian's desire to utilize him more often in the red zone and perhaps the easiest schedule for a receiver in fantasy has me believing he has a decent chance to overtake Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. this season IF he can stay healthy. While I didn't plan on taking Benjamin per se, I also have him pegged with a pretty favorable schedule. Even if you buy into the possibility Devin Funchess is ready to break out, KB is the clear No. 1 receiver for a Carolina team which will throw the ball more often this season. Moncrief was the one player in this auction who I bid on to keep the bidding alive before the music unexpectedly stopped. As noted earlier, I was stunned when no one went any higher. My draft "grade" on Moncrief has fluctuated on almost a daily basis, but I certainly think he is a worthy WR3 with low-end WR2 upside if/when Andrew Luck is healthy. (And there within lies the rub.) I was floored when I nominated Beasley for $1 and no one even bothered to bid him up. I feel I lucked into Matthews as well, as Buffalo gives him at least a decent shot to be a lead receiver.

Getting a 100-plus target tight end like Rudolph ($7) for a few dollars cheaper than Hunter Henry ($11) and Jordan Reed when I have Rudolph ranked higher felt like a coup. While O.J. Howard's arrival figures to scare many owners when it comes to Brate, it sounds as if Tampa Bay isn't leaning in that direction. A repeat of his 57-catch, 660-yard, eight-touchdown season probably isn't in the cards for Brate, but he's not going away either. I think 45 receptions and six scores is very much within the realm of possibilities for him.

Critics of my draft may point to the fact I am heavily invested in the Atlanta Falcons - a team coming off a record-breaking year in terms of efficiency and an offense that lost its vaunted play-caller (Kyle Shanahan) - meaning the offense as a whole is ripe for a letdown. I do expect some regression, but as most of you know by now, I don't talk much about last year when it comes to projections and the like. I nabbed the two most important players (Freeman and Jones) on a high-powered offense facing a very favorable schedule. If Mixon emerges as the clear-cut back in Cincinnati and Murray maintains his firm grasp on the starting job in Tennessee, my running back group will probably be among the top two or three in the league. It'd be nice to have one more stud at receiver, but I struggle to find an obvious weakness with this team to begin the season. With high-upside running backs to spare, this is yet another team I expect to compete for a championship.


Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”. Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.





Draft Buddy - Fantasy Football excel draft software