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Doug Orth | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer


The Art of the Auction
The Huddle Expert Auction League Recap - 2013
8/22/13

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 in this 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.

Pre-draft

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 season.

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 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, 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.


The Auction

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.

 Quarterbacks
Acutal $ My $ Player Tm
25 32 Aaron Rodgers GB
24 29 Drew Brees NO
20 29 Cam Newton CAR
21 29 Peyton Manning DEN
22 28 Matt Ryan ATL
18 26 Andrew Luck IND
18 24 Colin Kaepernick SF
18 24 Matthew Stafford DET
14 22 Robert Griffin III WAS
13 22 Tom Brady NE
20 20 Russell Wilson SEA
13 16 Tony Romo DAL
6 7 Jay Cutler CHI
2 5 Andy Dalton CIN
3 5 Sam Bradford STL
2 4 Josh Freeman TB
4 4 Eli Manning NYG
3 3 Carson Palmer ARI
3 3 Michael Vick PHI
3 3 Alex Smith KC
1 2 Matt Schaub HOU
2 2 Ryan Tannehill MIA
- 1 Jake Locker TEN
- 1 Christian Ponder MIN
2 1 Brandon Weeden CLE
- 1 Philip Rivers SD
- 1 Chad Henne JAC
- 1 Joe Flacco BAL
1 1 Ben Roethlisberger PIT
- 1 EJ Manuel BUF

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.

 Running Backs
Acutal $ My $ Player Tm
53 57 Doug Martin TB
50 53 Jamaal Charles KC
55 53 Adrian Peterson MIN
48 51 C.J. Spiller BUF
44 50 Arian Foster HOU
38 43 Matt Forte CHI
43 43 Trent Richardson CLE
45 42 Ray Rice BAL
36 37 Steven Jackson ATL
26 35 Alfred Morris WAS
39 35 Marshawn Lynch SEA
38 32 LeSean McCoy PHI
34 31 Chris Johnson TEN
27 25 Darren Sproles NO
25 25 Reggie Bush DET
22 25 Le’Veon Bell PIT
13 24 Shane Vereen NE
26 24 Lamar Miller MIA
23 22 DeMarco Murray DAL
19 21 Darren McFadden OAK
33 21 Maurice Jones-Drew JAC
29 21 Stevan Ridley NE
23 19 Frank Gore SF
19 18 David Wilson NYG
15 17 Ahmad Bradshaw IND
14 16 Montee Ball DEN
10 15 Andre Brown NYG
13 15 Eddie Lacy GB
6 13 Bryce Brown PHI
12 13 Giovani Bernard CIN
6 13 Pierre Thomas NO
7 13 Danny Woodhead SD
13 13 Chris Ivory NYJ
17 13 Ryan Mathews SD
9 13 Rashard Mendenhall ARI
13 13 Daryl Richardson STL
5 10 Jonathan Stewart CAR
8 10 Vick Ballard IND
11 10 Mark Ingram NO
6 10 BenJarvus Green-Ellis CIN
14 10 DeAngelo Williams CAR
7 9 Ben Tate HOU
5 9 Ronnie Hillman DEN
6 9 Bernard Pierce BAL
1 8 Christine Michael SEA
3 8 Shonn Greene TEN
1 7 Michael Bush CHI
10 7 Isaiah Pead STL
1 6 Lance Dunbar DAL
1 6 Joique Bell DET
3 6 Rashad Jennings OAK
5 5 Fred Jackson BUF
- 4 Denard Robinson JAC
2 4 Mikel Leshoure DET
- 2 Dion Lewis CLE
2 1 Johnathan Franklin GB
1 1 Marcel Reece OAK
- 1 Toby Gerhart MIN
5 1 Jacquizz Rodgers ATL
- 1 LaRod Stephens-Howling PIT
- 1 Mike Tolbert CAR
3 1 Kendall Hunter SF
1 1 Zac Stacy STL
5 1 Roy Helu WAS
1 1 Bilal Powell NYJ
- 1 Brandon Bolden NE
1 1 Knile Davis KC
- 1 Mike Gillislee MIA
4 1 Daniel Thomas MIA
- 1 Stepfan Taylor ARI
1 1 Knowshon Moreno DEN
- 1 Andre Ellington ARI
1 1 LaMichael James SF
1 1 Justin Forsett JAC
- 1 Dennis Johnson HOU
3 1 Joseph Randle DAL
1 1 Chris Polk PHI

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 ($25).

 Wide Receivers
Acutal $ My $ Player Tm
37 45 Calvin Johnson DET
35 37 Brandon Marshall CHI
32 36 Dez Bryant DAL
31 34 Julio Jones ATL
29 34 Larry Fitzgerald ARI
28 34 Demaryius Thomas DEN
33 30 A.J. Green CIN
27 28 Roddy White ATL
22 28 Andre Johnson HOU
20 26 Dwayne Bowe KC
27 26 Victor Cruz NYG
29 24 Danny Amendola NE
28 24 Randall Cobb GB
29 24 Vincent Jackson TB
15 23 Jordy Nelson GB
15 22 Pierre Garcon WAS
15 22 Hakeem Nicks NYG
15 22 Steve Smith CAR
23 21 Marques Colston NO
13 20 Eric Decker DEN
17 20 Wes Welker DEN
14 19 Steve Johnson BUF
12 19 Mike Williams TB
12 18 Mike Wallace MIA
19 18 Reggie Wayne IND
10 17 Cecil Shorts JAC
11 17 James Jones GB
15 16 Josh Gordon CLE
6 14 Greg Jennings MIN
19 14 T.Y. Hilton IND
5 13 Michael Floyd ARI
14 13 Anquan Boldin SF
16 13 Antonio Brown PIT
17 12 Torrey Smith BAL
9 12 Tavon Austin STL
14 12 DeSean Jackson PHI
10 12 Chris Givens STL
12 11 Kenny Britt TEN
6 11 DeAndre Hopkins HOU
4 10 Justin Blackmon JAC
7 10 Golden Tate SEA
6 10 Vincent Brown SD
9 9 Lance Moore NO
5 9 Emmanuel Sanders PIT
2 9 Alshon Jeffery CHI
6 9 Rueben Randle NYG
7 8 Kendall Wright TEN
5 8 Ryan Broyles DET
11 8 Miles Austin DAL
4 5 Kenbrell Thompkins NE
3 6 Brian Hartline MIA
5 6 Greg Little CLE
6 6 Sidney Rice SEA
2 4 Julian Edelman NE
1 3 Malcom Floyd SD
1 3 Rod Streater OAK
4 3 Mohamed Sanu CIN
7 1 Aaron Dobson NE
3 2 Andre Roberts ARI
2 2 Denarius Moore OAK
4 2 Robert Woods BUF
3 2 Cordarrelle Patterson MIN
2 2 Nate Washington TEN
2 2 Markus Wheaton PIT
2 1 Percy Harvin SEA
1 1 Nate Burleson DET
1 1 Keenan Allen SD
2 1 Jeremy Kerley NYJ
1 1 Braylon Edwards NYJ
1 1 Brandon LaFell CAR
1 1 Jason Avant PHI
1 1 Stephen Hill NYJ
2 1 Darrius Heyward-Bey IND

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.

 Tight Ends
Acutal $ My $ Player Tm
30 32 Jimmy Graham NO
15 22 Tony Gonzalez ATL
13 20 Rob Gronkowski NE
20 18 Jason Witten DAL
8 12 Kyle Rudolph MIN
8 12 Jared Cook STL
10 11 Jordan Cameron CLE
13 11 Vernon Davis SF
6 11 Jermichael Finley GB
4 10 Antonio Gates SD
9 10 Greg Olsen CAR
1 6 Martellus Bennett CHI
- 6 Dustin Keller MIA
4 5 Robert Housler ARI
1 5 Owen Daniels HOU
- 4 Marcedes Lewis JAC
5 4 Coby Fleener IND
1 4 Brandon Pettigrew DET
3 3 Fred Davis WAS
3 3 Brandon Myers NYG
2 3 Jermaine Gresham CIN
4 3 Tyler Eifert CIN
1 2 Dwayne Allen IND
1 2 Julius Thomas DEN
1 2 Zach Sudfeld NE
1 1 Ed Dickson BAL

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.

 Kickers
Acutal $ My $ Player Tm
2 1 Phil Dawson SF
2 1 Matt Bryant ATL
1 1 Randy Bullock HOU
1 1 Stephen Gostkowski NE
1 1 Matt Prater DEN
- 1 Josh Brown NYG
- 1 Mason Crosby GB
- 1 Adam Vinatieri IND
1 1 Dan Bailey DAL
- 1 Robbie Gould CHI
1 1 Garrett Hartley NO
2 1 Blair Walsh MIN
- 1 Ryan Succop KC
- 1 Steve Hauschka SEA
- 1 Rob Bironas TEN
- 1 Jay Feely ARI
- 1 David Akers DET
2 1 Greg Zuerlein STL
- 1 Mike Nugent CIN
- 1 Kai Forbath WAS
- 1 Graham Gano CAR
- 1 Lawrence Tynes TB
- 1 Alex Henery PHI
- 1 Shaun Suisham PIT
1 1 Sebastian Janikowski OAK
- 1 Caleb Sturgis MIA
- 1 Dustin Hopkins BUF
- 1 Brandon Bogotay CLE
- 1 Josh Scobee JAC
- 1 Nick Novak SD
1 1 Justin Tucker BAL

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
Acutal $ My $ Player
2 2 Texans
6 2 Seahawks
4 2 49ers
2 2 Bears
1 1 Browns
4 1 Bengals
3 1 Broncos
2 1 Patriots
2 1 Ravens
1 1 Cardinals
1 1 Cowboys
- 1 Redskins
- 1 Vikings
- 1 Packers
1 1 Rams
- 1 Chiefs
- 1 Dolphins
- 1 Lions
- 1 Bucs
- 1 Bills
- 1 Falcons
- 1 Giants
- 1 Steelers
- 1 Saints
- 1 Panthers
- 1 Jets
- 1 Colts
- 1 Chargers
- 1 Titans
- 1 Jaguars
- 1 Eagles
- 1 Raiders

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.

Post-draft

The FFToday team
QB: Peyton Manning, Matt Schaub
RB: Jamaal Charles, Steven Jackson, Shane Vereen, Ben Tate, Michael Bush, Chris Polk
WR: Julio Jones, Steve Smith, DeAndre Hopkins, Julian Edelman, Nate Washington, Markus Wheaton
TE: Kyle Rudolph, Ed Dickson
K: Phil Dawson
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 landed Russell Wilson, Bryce Brown, Knowshon Moreno, Danario Alexander, Chris Givens, Golden 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 me or follow me on Twitter.


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.