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

 Log In  | Sign Up  |  Contact      

The Art of the Auction

Auction Strategy - 2022

By Doug Orth | 8/26/22 |

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 acquire players, it combines the ability to value a player’s potential contribution with managing a budget, all while testing a drafter’s patience. Perhaps most importantly, I feel it tests the conviction a fantasy owner has in certain players more than a snake draft ever will.

Furthermore, it rewards the prepared and punishes the unprepared. In snake drafts, it is obvious to anyone using a reliable and well-organized draft board when a player is slipping. In auctions, owners need to be keenly aware of what players are left and balance that against their remaining funds. Owners must 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 aforementioned fact that every owner has an equal opportunity to land a player.

It has been said that you get whom your league-mates allow you to get in snake drafts, while you get to decide exactly how you want to build your team in auctions. I think that is a great way to look at the difference between the two formats. It is also why I believe auctions should be the standard way of drafting.

This coming season will mark the 14th year I have participated in The Huddle Expert Auction League. Over the first 13 seasons, FFToday made the six-team playoff 12 times and advanced to the championship game on seven occasions, winning it all three times. Suffice it to say my approach has proven to be effective.

This year’s draft took place on August 18, so keep that date in mind as you review the prices each player went for below. To help you as much as possible, I have updated my player valuations to what I would pay now (as of Aug. 26).

Note: I took part in the 14-team King's Classic Auction draft as well on Aug. 13. It is at least interesting to see how the addition of two teams (not to mention three flex spots on top of the two running back and three receiver starters) into a league can dramatically affect the prices of some players and how managers choose to build their teams.

General Auction Considerations/Strategies

Below you will find some of the rules I live by in auctions and some of the reasons I believe I have enjoyed so much success in this format. There are obviously more than 10 auction rules to observe, but this should be a helpful list for most managers.

1. Use auction values customized to your league's settings.

This may seem like a "duh" statement, but you might be surprised how many fantasy owners fail to do it. One size does not fit all. For the veteran fantasy owner who wants to create their own (which I recommend), this objective can be achieved by studying the values of players in your league over the last year or two - especially for those at the top of each position. When you can be confident in the price ceiling for the top players at each position, it makes valuing every other player below them much easier. I also like to get a sense as to how many players at a particular position go for a double-digit bid (i.e. six quarterbacks went for $10 or more, 15 running backs went for $20 or more, etc.). I set my prices for players at what I believe should be their ceiling, so I do not go over my valuation on a player unless there is a specific objective I am trying to accomplish at that particular moment. One exception to the last rule: I may be willing to go $2 over on one of "my guys."

2. Find an easy way to identify "my guys."

Time is of the essence in most auctions, so fantasy managers should have a quick and easy way to identify a player they are targeting as they scroll up and down their lists. (This year, I used a blue highlight in the "F Pos" column to identify "my guys" easily. One of the best features of an auction is that every fantasy manager has the same opportunity to land each player - at least at the beginning of the draft. If you want a certain player enough, odds are you will probably get him.

3. Identify the players you want as the core of your team.

This is slightly different from the preceding paragraph in that we are talking about a group of two or three foundation pieces as opposed to a group of 30-40 players you would like to have on the team.

4. Setting positional budgets is overrated.

While I can see how it might be helpful for the new auction player, I have never set a pre-draft budget by position for any auction. Much like snake drafting, fantasy owners should do whatever they can to avoid backing themselves into a corner or creating more obstacles for themselves. Some snake drafts dictate that we focus on building around receivers, others around running backs and still others give us a healthy mix. A similar thing can happen in auctions. What if your budget for running back is 40 percent and half of the other owners' budgets are 45-50 percent? Chances are your running back-centric focus will need to become receiver-focused, making it one more thing you need to adjust to on the fly. It makes more sense to figure out before the draft how you want to build around Cooper Kupp or Kyle Pitts or whomever you deem as an acceptable low-end RB1 if the initial RB-centric plan does not work.

5. Nominate with a purpose.

Nominating early in an auction draft should be about either securing your foundation pieces or setting the expectation for a tier. In other words, if I nominate Stefon Diggs and believe he is an elite WR1, it should be because I want him or because I want to know if I can trust my valuations for the rest of that tier. After the first few rounds, I tend to nominate "buzzy" players with an eye on trying to get my fellow owners to empty their pockets a bit earlier than they would like. Other times, I will target my nominations with an eye on getting a specific manager to open up his checkbook on a player in hopes of eliminating him from competition for another player I want more.

6. It's OK to enforce prices, but do not become THE league's price enforcer.

Just like snake drafts, auction drafting is about collecting value. Do not allow the bidding to stop on Josh Allen at $11 (assuming a $200 cap). Seize him at $12 and figure out how to reconfigure your draft plan after that. With that said, your job is to build the best team possible. Your job is not to enforce prices on every player that is going too cheap.

7. Keep 'em guessing and do not be afraid to force the action. At the same time, do not rush into action too quickly.

Many auction players equate the draft room to a poker room. One of the keys to being a good poker player is never giving your opponents a tell. Nominate players you want and ones you don't (do the latter early or else you might get stuck with a few $1 players you do not want). Do the same with your bidding. If you are consistently changing things up with your nominations and your bidding, the other managers in your league will not be able to get a read on you … which becomes important if you play with the same crew year after year.

Do not hesitate to be the man or woman in the draft room that knows what he or she wants. Force the action. If someone puts out a bid and you consistently counter just as soon as the other manager closes his/her mouth, it can make the other manager a bit timid. Another way to force the action is to jump bid (only on players that you know will fetch a fair amount). When one manager reluctantly puts out a $5 bid and you quickly put out a $10 bid, it can be a bit intimidating.

While forcing the action can be a good thing, do not be too eager to do it right away. Every auction is different, but it is usually a good idea to let other managers set what the market is going to be. Did Jonathan Taylor go for $50? OK, it might end up being a soft running back market. Did Kupp go for $55? OK, it may not be worth your time to invest in the high-end receiver market.

8. Use your free time (i.e. sitting out an auction on a player you have no desire to roster) to monitor the roster needs and (especially) the budgets of the other managers. Use "the hammer" when you have it.

The first sentence should be self-explanatory. It really comes into play in the middle part of your draft and definitely toward the end of it. The second sentence is one of the best parts of an auction: a player you desire is available and you have the most money (and/or the highest max bid) remaining. For example, Nyheim Hines has somehow escaped nomination through 150 picks and no one else in the room can bid more than $7. As long as you trust yourself not to pursue any other "eye candy," feel free to watch other owners continue to pass him by - making him an even better value. If that doesn't sound like fun (it should), then the moment you realize you have the "the hammer" is about the time you should use it on the rest of the room.

9. Track what your league-mates are doing.

This ties in somewhat with No. 7. A next-level move for veteran auction players is to chart who bids almost exclusively on players he/she nominates. There was at least one player in the aforementioned King's Classic who did this. Based on some of the conversations I had with managers afterward, this "tell" allowed us to bid him up. Even if only one or two managers in your league are like this manager, it could potentially remove them from competing against you for another player later in the draft.

10. For the love of all that is good, do not leave money on the table in an auction!

There is a reason this piece of advice is in virtually every auction draft piece. There is absolutely no reason not to spend every dollar you have in an auction. One of the most egregious examples I have witnessed was in a high-stakes auction two years ago where an owner left $17 on the table. Using this draft as an example, $17 would allow you to do any of the following: pay for all but one of the quarterbacks, upgrade from James Conner to Dalvin Cook or land DK Metcalf. DO NOT LEAVE MONEY ON THE TABLE!!!!


My primary focus was leaving this draft with at least one of my top six running backs and two top receivers, ideally one of them being Justin Jefferson. If the price got too high on Jefferson, then it was even more critical that I snag two receivers that I believe are - at worst - low-end WR1s. I was also determined not to overspend at quarterback (Jalen Hurts and Trey Lance were targets of mine, as noted below). If I could get a bargain with one of those quarterbacks, then I should be able to build some decent depth at running back behind two good starters and a rock-solid receiving corps, especially considering how deep the position is.

The Draft

This year, I decided it would be a good idea if readers could access the entire auction on a bid-by-bid basis. For those degenerates who love to see an auction strategy unfold, analyzing a draft this way can help provide some insight into when decisions were made and perhaps why they were made.

Players with a blue highlight in the "F Pos" column below are ones I would encourage auction drafters to target in their auction drafts, as I did in mine. The key is picking players to target from several different tiers and expected cost valuations.

Below you will find the actual prices that secured a player’s services in the aforementioned Huddle Auction (Hud $) and the price I valued them at now (My $). A dash in the second column means a player was not nominated. The green highlight represents winning bids for FFToday. Finally, I will follow each position group with some of my thoughts.

All values are based on a $200 cap and players are organized by “My $”. All of the players that were nominated are included. I removed several players that are unlikely to go in auctions in 12-team leagues with 18-man rosters or for other common-sense reasons. It explains why there will be occasional gaps - sometimes large gaps - between players in the "F Pos" column.

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

My $ Hud $ F Pos Player Tm Age SSI
18 23 QB1 Josh Allen BUF 26 0.27
14 15 QB2 Justin Herbert LAC 24 -1.95
12 6 QB3 Jalen Hurts PHI 24 -2.45
12 3 QB4 Kyler Murray ARI 25 -2.52
12 10 QB5 Lamar Jackson BAL 25 -2.58
12 12 QB6 Patrick Mahomes KC 26 -2.71
11 4 QB7 Dak Prescott DAL 29 -2.90
9 3 QB8 Tom Brady TB 45 -3.37
9 9 QB9 Trey Lance SF 22 -3.42
8 5 QB10 Joe Burrow CIN 25 -3.58
8 11 QB11 Russell Wilson DEN 33 -3.77
7 2 QB13 Aaron Rodgers GB 38 -3.82
7 2 QB12 Matthew Stafford LAR 34 -3.85
5 4 QB14 Kirk Cousins MIN 34 -4.71
2 2 QB15 Derek Carr LV 31 -6.11
2 4 QB16 Trevor Lawrence JAC 22 -6.35
2 1 QB17 Tua Tagovailoa MIA 24 -6.59
2 3 QB19 Justin Fields CHI 34 -6.81
1 1 QB20 Matt Ryan IND 37 -6.88
1 1 QB23 Jameis Winston NO 28 -7.60
1 1 QB32 Deshaun Watson CLE 26 -17.14

Observations: Josh Allen ($23) was the first quarterback nominated about 30 minutes into the draft. Deshaun Watson ($1) and Russell Wilson ($11) were the only other ones nominated in the first hour. The point to be made here is that it can take a while before managers feel the need to fill that spot.

Regarding Allen's price point, it is irresponsible for managers to spend more than $20 on the position - specifically on one player. Maybe he ends up becoming the league MVP in 2022, but the recent history of this league suggests that even the elite quarterbacks should top out in the high teens. Is Justin Herbert ($15) that much of a step down from Allen? Is Patrick Mahomes ($12) only half as valuable as Allen? It is equally hard to make the case that Mahomes is two times as valuable as Jalen Hurts ($6), three times as valuable as Dak Prescott ($4) or four times as valuable as Tom Brady ($3). Every dollar in an auction is valuable, so thinking about your buys in terms of how much better they are than other players at their position should help keep you focused.

Strategy: Especially in leagues that award four points per passing touchdown, I want my starting quarterback to be a capable run threat. This means I want a floor of at least 300 rushing yards and a few scores on the ground. There are 15 quarterbacks I would be comfortable starting right now and perhaps three more (Justin Fields, Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence) who could easily join them. In short, it is a deep position. Auction league owners would do well to remember that; there's not much of a reason to spend more than $10 at the position, if only because it will almost certainly wind up costing you a potential starter at another position later in the draft.

For example, would you rather have Allen and a $1 player or Hurts and Michael Thomas/Darren Waller ($18)? If it helps, think about a likely in-season trade for Allen. How much more than Hurts - with an upgraded supporting cast, no less - will it take? It is unlikely it would take Hurts plus a potential WR2 with WR1 upside or an elite TE1 option.

Pounce on Allen or Herbert if they go incredibly cheap in the low teens. Short of that, find a value you like. Especially with the depth of the position, chances are your choice will keep you competitive at worst. I did not intend to grab a second quarterback (Prescott), but I was not going to let a player that has overall QB1 upside in his range of outcomes go for $3. (I saw it happen a few minutes earlier with Kyler Murray.) I have no problem employing two quarterbacks who I have ranked inside my top seven at the position for a lower price than four managers spent on their top option.

Total spent at QB: $10

 Running Backs
My $ Hud $ F Pos Player Tm Age SSI
54 59 RB1 Christian McCaffrey CAR 26 9.94
50 52 RB2 Jonathan Taylor IND 23 6.16
50 44 RB3 Dalvin Cook MIN 27 6.10
50 35 RB4 Saquon Barkley NYG 25 6.05
48 40 RB5 D'Andre Swift DET 23 5.44
46 40 RB6 Austin Ekeler LAC 27 4.82
45 39 RB7 Joe Mixon CIN 26 4.62
42 36 RB8 Najee Harris PIT 24 3.45
40 37 RB9 Aaron Jones GB 27 2.76
38 34 RB10 Derrick Henry TEN 28 2.11
36 28 RB11 Alvin Kamara NO 27 1.60
34 29 RB12 Leonard Fournette TB 27 1.19
33 29 RB13 Ezekiel Elliott DAL 27 1.12
31 36 RB14 Javonte Williams DEN 22 0.79
31 28 RB15 Travis Etienne JAC 23 0.72
30 27 RB16 Nick Chubb CLE 26 0.57
24 8 RB17 Cordarrelle Patterson ATL 31 -0.18
24 20 RB18 AJ Dillon GB 24 -0.44
24 22 RB19 Breece Hall NYJ 21 -0.62
21 14 RB20 Clyde Edwards-Helaire KC 23 -1.39
20 15 RB21 J.K. Dobbins BAL 23 -1.54
19 16 RB22 David Montgomery CHI 25 -1.68
19 11 RB23 Elijah Mitchell SF 24 -1.79
19 20 RB24 Chase Edmonds MIA 26 -1.89
16 28 RB25 James Conner ARI 27 -2.38
15 13 RB26 Tony Pollard DAL 25 -2.44
15 10 RB27 Damien Harris NE 25 -2.92
14 9 RB28 Nyheim Hines IND 25 -3.02
14 10 RB29 Dameon Pierce HOU 22 -3.11
13 16 RB30 Josh Jacobs LV 24 -3.22
12 8 RB31 Miles Sanders PHI 25 -3.29
11 18 RB32 Rhamondre Stevenson NE 24 -3.38
10 7 RB33 Melvin Gordon DEN 29 -3.63
9 8 RB34 James Cook BUF 22 -3.77
9 11 RB35 Kareem Hunt CLE 27 -3.94
8 26 RB36 Cam Akers LAR 23 -4.11
8 3 RB37 Michael Carter NYJ 23 -4.17
8 10 RB38 Antonio Gibson WAS 24 -4.41
7 3 RB39 Kenneth Gainwell PHI 23 -4.50
7 9 RB40 Tyler Allgeier ATL 22 -4.62
7 12 RB41 Brian Robinson Jr. WAS 23 -4.62
6 4 RB42 James Robinson JAC 24 -5.50
6 13 RB43 Devin Singletary BUF 24 -5.53
6 8 RB44 Rachaad White TB 23 -5.56
5 2 RB45 Jamaal Williams DET 27 -5.72
4 - RB46 Ameer Abdullah LV 29 -6.79
4 5 RB47 Kenneth Walker SEA 21 -6.79
4 5 RB48 Darrell Henderson LAR 25 -6.94
4 15 RB49 Rashaad Penny SEA 26 -7.06
3 2 RB50 J.D. McKissic WAS 29 -7.11
3 4 RB51 Alexander Mattison MIN 24 -7.18
3 3 RB52 Khalil Herbert CHI 24 -7.24
3 - RB53 Chris Evans CIN 24 -7.47
3 3 RB54 Eno Benjamin ARI 23 -7.55
3 5 RB55 Isaiah Spiller LAC 21 -7.60
3 14 RB56 Isiah Pacheco KC 23 -7.64
2 1 RB57 Gus Edwards BAL 27 -8.48
2 5 RB58 Zamir White LV 22 -8.71
2 3 RB59 D'Onta Foreman CAR 26 -9.00
1 1 RB60 Jeff Wilson SF 26 -9.43
1 1 RB61 Raheem Mostert MIA 30 -9.46
1 - RB62 Dontrell Hilliard TEN 27 -9.55
1 1 RB63 Sony Michel MIA 27 -9.65
1 - RB64 Ty Montgomery NE 29 -9.80
1 - RB65 Jaylen Warren PIT 23 -9.90
1 2 RB66 Mark Ingram NO 32 -9.95
1 3 RB67 Hassan Haskins TEN 22 -10.63
1 1 RB75 D'Ernest Johnson CLE 26 -13.53
1 2 RB76 Marlon Mack HOU 26 -13.89
1 1 RB77 Tyrion Davis-Price SF 21 -15.77
1 - RB78 Joshua Kelley LAC 24 -16.10
1 1 RB79 Trey Sermon SF 23 -16.95
1 1  N/A Trestan Ebner CHI 23 -17.18
1 1  N/A Damien Williams ATL 30 -17.74
1 2  N/A Darrel Williams ARI 27 -18.57

Observations: This was a position that was hard to get a feel for with this group this year. Christian McCaffrey ($59) and Jonathan Taylor ($52) drew bids of $50-plus, but the next-highest bid for a running back after that was Dalvin Cook ($44). D'Andre Swift and Austin Ekeler ($40 apiece) were the only other backs to go for at least $40. (By comparison, 12 backs fetched $40 bids in this league last year.) Only 11 backs drew bids of at least $30. (Last year that number was 18.) It was almost as if the league collectively agreed it was more important to invest more into WR2s than starting options at running back. Somewhat interestingly, managers spent a total of $1,029 on the position this year versus $1,126 in 2021.

Needless to say, this development created incredible value for the position. In this draft, my top 15 running backs went for a combined $566. In my aforementioned 14-team King's Classic auction, they went for a combined $560. Why is that notable? There is not only more money to spend in a 14-team draft room, but the number of teams also tends to increase the desperation of managers - and thus, the winning bids - to secure an RB1.

The timing of nominations tends to have a dramatic effect on some of the prices that certain players go for in an auction - something that most veteran players know well. However, there is no justification for Isiah Pacheco ($14) attracting a similar bid to the one that secured David Montgomery ($16) or J.K. Dobbins ($15). Ditto for Pacheco going for the same price or more than the following: teammate Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($14), Tony Pollard ($13), Devin Singletary ($13), Elijah Mitchell ($11), Damien Harris ($10) or Nyheim Hines ($9).

Pacheco was nominated about three hours into the draft. Hines and Tyler Allgeier ($9) are two players who came up for bid after Pacheco who have a more realistic path to every-week starter status. Cam Akers ($26) is another bad investment. Not only does it appear HC Sean McVay is open to splitting reps between Akers and Darrell Henderson, but the former also has history working against him. (Although plenty of players have returned to action following an Achilles tear, it could be argued that none of them ever returned to their pre-injury form - certainly not the following season.)

Strategy: As much as running backs were overvalued last season in this league, they were every bit as undervalued this year. Virtually every running back in my RB3-15 range came at a significant discount based on my valuation, which is based mostly on my SSI score but also factors in how a league has typically valued certain players at certain positions.

My typical strategy in this league is to land two surefire starters at the position and acquire high-upside handcuffs with standalone value if/when possible. My early bargains on Hurts ($6) and Barkley ($35) made it clear I could afford to get a bit greedier this year. The result of my greed was landing four players - who have no business being on the same fantasy team for a combined $97 - when I had them valued at $127.

Regardless of what most people think about Barkley ($35) and his injury history, an overall RB1 finish is within his range of outcomes in 2022. He is essentially a clearance version of McCaffrey in auctions with similar upside. He is also one of the few obvious bell-cows available who also boasts 70-catch upside. With the recent buzz surrounding him, I did not expect to get him for less than $40 and valued him at almost $50.

I have my doubts about Leonard Fournette ($29) holding down the featured role in Tampa all season long with Rachaad White possibly vying for a major role on passing downs, but he is an easy top-15 back if White doesn't take those duties from him. Even if he ends up splitting passing down work with the rookie, Fournette's floor should be as a high-end flex option at worst. Even though Michael Carter looms as a persistent threat to a consistent workload, I think I was able to land Breece Hall ($22) at a good price. While Carter is better than most give him credit for, there is a chance Hall becomes the clear lead back before the second half of the season.

Landing Elijah Mitchell for $11 was another stunner. Veteran fantasy managers are well aware that San Francisco has not had the same running back lead his position group in scoring in consecutive years since HC Kyle Shanahan took over. With that said, Mitchell is at worst a viable every-week RB2 who has no business being on a fantasy bench. Taking the injury discount on Gus Edwards ($1) and stashing him on IR until he is ready only adds to my embarrassment of riches at the position.

Total spent at RB: $98

 Wide Receivers
My $ Hud $ F Pos Player Tm Age SSI
46 49 WR1 Justin Jefferson MIN 23 7.74
42 35 WR2 Cooper Kupp LAR 29 5.76
39 43 WR3 CeeDee Lamb DAL 23 4.28
37 39 WR4 Stefon Diggs BUF 28 3.31
37 40 WR5 Ja'Marr Chase CIN 22 3.04
36 35 WR6 Davante Adams LV 29 2.98
31 31 WR7 Michael Pittman Jr. IND 24 1.04
31 32 WR8 Tee Higgins CIN 23 1.02
31 28 WR9 Tyreek Hill MIA 28 0.94
30 29 WR10 Mike Evans TB 29 0.71
29 22 WR11 A.J. Brown PHI 25 0.58
29 20 WR12 Allen Robinson LAR 29 0.43
28 26 WR13 Courtland Sutton DEN 26 0.32
24 37 WR14 Deebo Samuel SF 26 -0.54
24 35 WR15 Keenan Allen LAC 30 -0.66
23 20 WR16 Brandin Cooks HOU 28 -0.80
23 30 WR17 Mike Williams LAC 27 -0.88
22 28 WR18 D.J. Moore CAR 25 -0.92
22 20 WR19 Terry McLaurin WAS 26 -0.96
22 21 WR20 Jaylen Waddle MIA 23 -0.97
22 19 WR21 Diontae Johnson PIT 26 -0.98
20 18 WR22 Michael Thomas NO 29 -1.46
19 17 WR23 DK Metcalf SEA 24 -1.67
17 14 WR24 Amon-Ra St. Brown DET 22 -1.86
17 10 WR25 Hunter Renfrow LV 26 -1.86
17 10 WR26 Jerry Jeudy DEN 23 -1.90
16 15 WR27 Elijah Moore NYJ 22 -2.05
16 13 WR28 Rashod Bateman BAL 22 -2.09
16 12 WR29 Darnell Mooney CHI 24 -2.12
16 12 WR30 Gabriel Davis BUF 23 -2.17
15 11 WR31 Brandon Aiyuk SF 24 -2.29
15 14 WR32 DeVonta Smith PHI 23 -2.34
15 13 WR33 Marquise Brown ARI 25 -2.34
14 15 WR34 Chris Godwin TB 26 -2.74
14 12 WR35 Adam Thielen MIN 32 -2.75
13 16 WR36 Christian Kirk JAC 25 -3.04
12 8 WR37 Kadarius Toney NYG 23 -3.25
12 5 WR38 Russell Gage TB 26 -3.26
12 19 WR39 Allen Lazard GB 26 -3.36
12 9 WR40 Drake London ATL 21 -3.38
11 24 WR41 JuJu Smith-Schuster KC 25 -3.41
10 6 WR42 DeAndre Hopkins ARI 30 -3.64
9 6 WR43 Tyler Boyd CIN 27 -3.71
9 10 WR44 Tyler Lockett SEA 29 -3.87
9 12 WR45 Amari Cooper CLE 28 -3.91
8 2 WR46 Marvin Jones JAC 32 -4.11
7 10 WR47 Chris Olave NO 22 -4.50
7 3 WR48 Jakobi Meyers NE 25 -4.57
7 6 WR49 Robert Woods TEN 30 -4.57
7 3 WR50 Nico Collins HOU 23 -4.85
7 3 WR51 Garrett Wilson NYJ 22 -4.95
6 4 WR52 DeVante Parker NE 29 -5.10
6 2 WR53 Isaiah McKenzie BUF 27 -5.17
6 3 WR54 Rondale Moore ARI 22 -5.43
5 2 WR55 Chase Claypool PIT 24 -5.76
5 7 WR56 George Pickens PIT 21 -5.85
5 5 WR57 Romeo Doubs GB 22 -5.87
4 5 WR58 Skyy Moore KC 21 -5.89
4 4 WR59 Jahan Dotson WAS 22 -6.07
4 4 WR60 Treylon Burks TEN 22 -6.16
4 3 WR61 Julio Jones TB 33 -6.26
4 3 WR62 D.J. Chark DET 25 -6.35
3 1 WR63 Wan'Dale Robinson NYG 21 -6.40
3 - WR64 Kyle Phillips TEN 23 -6.40
3 5 WR65 Michael Gallup DAL 26 -6.61
3 5 WR66 Jarvis Landry NO 29 -6.62
3 2 WR67 K.J. Osborn MIN 25 -6.62
2 - WR68 Nelson Agholor NE 29 -6.84
2 3 WR69 Josh Palmer LAC 22 -6.86
2 - WR70 Parris Campbell IND 25 -7.02
2 2 WR71 Marquez Valdes-Scantling KC 27 -7.13
1 1 WR72 Curtis Samuel WAS 26 -7.26
1 1 WR73 Robbie Anderson CAR 29 -7.29
1 - WR74 Donovan Peoples-Jones CLE 23 -7.58
1 - WR75 Sterling Shepard NYG 29 -8.23
1 4 WR79 Mecole Hardman KC 24 -8.69
1 1 WR80 Kenny Golladay NYG 28 -8.95
1 7 WR81 Alec Pierce IND 22 -9.19
1 5 WR82 Jalen Tolbert DAL 23 -9.27
1 1 WR88 Corey Davis NYJ 29 -9.90
1 3 WR89 Christian Watson GB 23 -9.92
1 4 WR91 Jameson Williams DET 21 -10.09
1 1 WR102 Khalil Shakir BUF 22 -12.70
1 1 WR103 Jamison Crowder BUF 29 -14.22
1 1 WR104 Kendrick Bourne NE 27 -14.27

Observations: Cooper Kupp ($35) was unquestionably the steal of the draft. I tried multiple times to click the +1 button in the final seconds of his auction, but it was not to be. I know a glitch in the computer software was my reason for missing out on him at that price, but I doubt what happened to me happened to the other 10 managers in the room. I am certainly not Kupp's biggest supporter this season, but a player with his upside has to go for more than that. (This would be an obvious example of when it is OK to enforce prices.) Even if he experiences a 25 percent dip in production this year, he will be worth the price he went for in this auction.

As I alluded to earlier, the reduction of spending at running back showed up in a big way in the middle class at receiver. Last year, 33 wideouts drew a bid of at least $10. This year, that number was 41. A total of $961 was spent on the position in 2021. This season, that number was $1,050. While the number of $30 bids at the position was identical in both years (11), another big difference between the years was the number of bids between $10-19: 14 in 2020 versus 20 in 2021.

Despite the amount of money managers sank into the middle class at the position, there was still plenty of value picks made. Beginning with A.J. Brown at $22 and ending with Elijah Moore at $15, there are roughly 10 receivers from that group above that have a realistic chance of finishing among the top 15-20 at the position. Even in the $10-12 range, cases can be made that Darnell Mooney ($12), Gabriel Davis ($12), Brandon Aiyuk ($11) and Jerry Jeudy ($10) have top 20 upside.

Until I see the results with my own eyes at the end of the year, I choose to believe Robert Woods and DeAndre Hopkins ($6 apiece) will be their team's primary options. I understand Woods will have to fight Treylon Burks for targets and Hopkins will miss the first six games of the season. With that said, how likely is it that Woods will see 100-plus targets? How likely is the possibility Hopkins will be Kyler Murray's No. 1 option in the passing game upon his return? As much as most of us like the upside of rookies such as Chris Olave ($10) and George Pickens ($8), what are the odds either one outperforms Woods over a full season? Or Hopkins over the final 10-11 games?

Strategy: The going rate for the elite receivers - and most leagues using this setup - is in the low-to-mid 40s. It has been that way in this league for as long as I can remember. Unless it is somewhat obvious a receiver has a clear path to the kind of 160-plus targets (as I believe will be the case for Justin Jefferson and CeeDee Lamb in 2022), it is probably best for most fantasy managers to focus on getting one of the $30-plus receivers as a WR1 and build a draft plan around that.

With that said, I would have bet a fair amount of money before the draft that I would come away with either Jefferson ($49) or Lamb ($43). I did not, as both went above my "my guy" rule of bidding more than $2 over my valuation. It was not for a lack of money; Jefferson was nominated about 15 minutes into the draft and I had only spent $22 at that point (on A.J. Brown). Lamb was a strong consideration as well, although I had my starting threesome at receiver set at that point and was coming off back-to-back winning bids on Fournette and Robinson. For what it is worth, I went up to $40 on Lamb before bowing out.

Despite the slight disappointment of missing out on Jefferson and Lamb (and having the software fail me on the Kupp bid), I was pleased with getting two wideouts who I believe have WR1 upside in Brown and Robinson for $1 less than Lamb. It would not surprise me at all if both players pushed for 80-90 catches, 1,000-plus yards and 10 touchdowns. Count me on Mooney as a WR3. While another 140 targets this season is not a given in a new offense, it is hard to draw up a scenario in which Justin Fields doesn't throw at least 35 times per game and Mooney isn't on the other end of at least 25 percent of those throws. If both of those projections look doable, then Mooney would be in line for roughly 149 targets.

Pairing up Russell Gage ($5) with Julio Jones ($3) was unintentional. Nevertheless, I see only a ton of upside with having both. If Chris Godwin's snaps are managed throughout the first 4-6 weeks of the season, Gage will seem like a bargain. Of course, that assumes he does not carve out a more substantial role - not unlike what Antonio Brown did during his time as a Buc. Moreover, what happens if Jones is not done yet? I discussed Woods earlier, so I will wrap up with another player fantasy managers should not allow to slip into the final rounds of a draft: Isaiah McKenzie ($2). Is there not at least a small chance he is the full-time slot in this offense and a more dynamic option than Cole Beasley? Jamison Crowder should be a factor, but do not let him be the only reason you miss out on a player with 100-target upside.

Total spent at WR: $70

 Tight Ends
My $ Hud $ F Pos Player Tm Age SSI
24 27 TE1 Travis Kelce KC 32 2.02
22 23 TE2 Kyle Pitts ATL 21 1.38
21 18 TE3 Darren Waller LV 29 0.38
20 23 TE4 Mark Andrews BAL 26 0.04
18 13 TE5 George Kittle SF 28 -0.44
15 5 TE6 T.J. Hockenson DET 25 -1.95
13 5 TE7 Dallas Goedert PHI 31 -2.11
11 5 TE8 Zach Ertz ARI 31 -2.69
9 15 TE9 Dalton Schultz DAL 26 -3.18
7 4 TE10 Dawson Knox BUF 25 -3.60
7 5 TE11 Cole Kmet CHI 23 -3.66
6 3 TE12 Pat Freiermuth PIT 23 -3.85
6 1 TE13 Irv Smith MIN 24 -3.86
5 1 TE14 Tyler Higbee LAR 29 -4.09
4 3 TE15 Albert Okwuegbunam DEN 24 -4.14
4 4 TE16 David Njoku CLE 26 -4.14
4 4 TE17 Austin Hooper TEN 27 -4.32
3 1 TE18 Evan Engram JAC 27 -4.46
2 2 TE19 Noah Fant SEA 24 -4.70
2 - TE20 Brevin Jordan HOU 22 -4.86
1 1 TE21 Gerald Everett LAC 28 -5.43
1 - TE22 Hunter Henry NE 27 -5.95
1 2 TE23 Mike Gesicki MIA 26 -6.76
1 1 TE32 Robert Tonyan GB 28 -8.97

Observations: Travis Kelce ($27), Kyle Pitts ($23) and Mark Andrews ($23) are generally recognized as the top three tight end options this season. While each player has elite upside, each player also comes with a potentially significant fatal flaw. (Kelce will turn 33 years old soon, Pitts will be going from Matt Ryan to Marcus Mariota and Andrews' production spiked after Tyler Huntley took over for an injured Lamar Jackson last year.) Those potential fatal flaws should theoretically drive their prices down. It did not in this draft. It is one thing for managers to overlook those potential shortcomings in a 14-team draft, but none of those players went for less in this draft than they did in the King's Classic.

This draft holds a similar script to ones in recent years in that the top 5-6 options went for around $15 and the rest of them fell in the $5 range. That is to be expected in most auctions. While I understand some of the thought behind it, the industry seems to have soured on T.J. Hockenson, Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz ($5 apiece). Their potential fatal flaws are probably more likely to be realized than the group in the preceding paragraph, but their upside is not being recognized in the same way as the earlier group. Goedert may have the lowest upside of the second group, but injuries figure to be about the only thing that will keep Hockenson and Ertz under 60 catches and 600 yards.

Strategy: George Kittle ($13) has fallen out of the elite group in the minds of fantasy managers this year. While the fear of the unknown - namely his chemistry with Trey Lance - is justified, I do not think the change from Jimmy Garoppolo to Lance alone is enough to justify him going $5 cheaper than Darren Waller and at least $10 cheaper than the top three options. Hockenson may have more competition for targets than he ever has in Detroit, but is it out of the question that new OC Ben Johnson relies somewhat heavily on the same player that made him look so good in his two years as Hockenson's position coach?

I hoped that I could land Pitts at a reasonable price. When that did not happen, my initial fallback plan was Waller ($18). My next fallback plan was Ertz, but that was only because I did not expect Kittle to go for $5 less than the four tight ends I have ranked higher than him on my Big Board. I was even more surprised when my TE6 (Hockenson) went for $8 less than Kittle about 25 minutes later. Especially with the questions at the top of this position group this year, I will gladly take two very good options and spread out my risk over one potentially elite option who may succumb to his fatal flaw.

Total spent at TE: $18

My $ Hud $ Player Tm
2 2 Justin Tucker BAL
2 2 Evan McPherson CIN
2 1 Tyler Bass BUF
1 1 Matt Gay LAR
1 - Jake Elliott PHI
1 2 Daniel Carlson LV
1 1 Brandon McManus DEN
1 1 Dustin Hopkins LAC
1 - Greg Joseph MIN
1 1 Ryan Succop TB
1 - Robbie Gould SF
1 1 Harrison Butker KC
1 - Wil Lutz NO
1 1 Nick Folk NE
1 - Matt Prater ARI
1 - Chris Boswell PIT
1 1 Rodrigo Blankenship IND
1 - Brett Maher DAL
1 1 Jason Sanders MIA

Observations/strategy: Year after year, I look for the same qualities in a kicker. I want someone with a strong leg in a good offense. 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 in their defense. Short of that, I look for a kicker on a team that I believe will have a good offense but will bog down in the red zone because it lacks a strong running attack. Evan McPherson ($2) has quickly emerged as a kicker the Bengals trust from 50-60 yards. In leagues that award extra points for field goal distance, getting a field goal that is almost worth a touchdown on a semi-regular basis can tilt a fantasy matchup or two in your favor.

Total spent at K: $2

 Defense / ST
Actual $ My $ Team SD
2 2 49ers 3
2 1 Eagles 1
1 1 Buccaneers 0
1 2 Packers 0
1 2 Bills -3
1 1 Chargers -5
1 2 Cowboys -7
1 - Browns -7
1 - Ravens -7
1 1 Broncos -8
1 1 Rams -10
1 1 Saints -10
1 1 Colts -7
1 1 Titans -14

Observations/strategy: Conventional wisdom says no one should spend more than one dollar on defense. I believe that is generally good advice, but I would also much rather spend an extra dollar in the draft if it means I can lock up a potentially elite one. (Why continually burn FAAB or waste waiver priority at a position just because it is deemed overly volatile? Fantasy football is about eliminating as many question marks from your lineup as possible each week, not hoping some middling defense gets lucky in what is perceived to be a soft matchup. You might think you have the market cornered by getting whatever defense is going up against the Bears this year, but I would be willing to bet at least 3-4 other managers are thinking the same thing.)

I also knew I had the luxury of spending an extra dollar or two on players after getting what I considered a $15 discount on Barkley. A major reason I like the 49ers this year is that they open the season with the Bears and Seahawks. Other reasons to like them: 1) they should also have a ferocious pass rush and 2) they figure to rely heavily on the run (and be good at it), which should limit the number of possessions their opponents will have and keep their defense fresh.

Total spent at D/ST: $2


The FFToday team

QB: Jalen Hurts, Dak Prescott

RB: Saquon Barkley, Leonard Fournette, Breece Hall, Elijah Mitchell, Gus Edwards

WR: A.J. Brown, Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Russell Gage, Robert Woods, Isaiah McKenzie, Julio Jones

TE: George Kittle, T.J. Hockenson

K: Evan McPherson

D/ST: 49ers

I usually begin each season in this league with at least four bench players that probably need something to fall their way to become a regular fantasy starter. I feel as if this team will need minor tinkering at best throughout the season. This is the deepest team at just about every position I can remember having in this league and I do not feel as though I sacrificed much in the way of elite upside to achieve that balance. In theory, I should be able to survive at least one (and maybe even two) multi-week injuries at running back and win in spite of them. If Barkley stays healthy, Hall manages to realize the RB1 upside at some point and Brown is every bit the alpha receiver he should be, this should be a dominant team. The best part is that I do not think any of those expectations are tall orders to fill.

Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured in USA TODAY's Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He is also a high-stakes player who often appears as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, such as Sirius XM's "Fantasy Drive." Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

Draft Buddy - Fantasy Football excel draft spreadsheet