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Doug Orth | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

The Art of the Auction
The Huddle Expert Auction League Draft Recap - 2016

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.

This coming season will mark the eighth year I have participated in The Huddle Expert Auction League. Over the previous seven seasons, FF Today has made the six-team playoff every year (finishing with no worse than a No. 4 seed) and advanced to the championship game in four of the last six seasons – winning two of the last four. Suffice it to say my approach has proven to be effective. It should be noted that I have relied exclusively on the value concepts I refer to in my Big Boards to determine the dollar amounts I assign to players in preparation for my auction drafts.

This year’s draft was held on August 23, 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.


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. Last year, 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 seven years in this league, I have come to recognize I can rely on the waiver wire to build up my bench. (Heck, as the 2012 example above shows, I can sometimes rely on it to build my starting lineup!) This realization - along with a much more open-minded approach to building around receivers, especially in three-receiver leagues - has changed my auction strategy in this league. The goal for me now is simply to build the best starting lineup possible and trust the process when it comes to building depth. In auction drafts, I am looking to acquire as many ďspecialĒ 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 between a potential top-five RB and another stud at WR. Beyond that, I wanted the most proven and least expensive values I could find at QB and TE in order to save as much money as possible to build the best receiving corps I could.

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, Iíll 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 doesnít always work that way.

Although it is a complete departure from conventional auction-draft strategy, Iíve never been a big fan of setting pre-draft positional budgets Ė such as spending 40 percent of my budget at receiver. My method: Set aside the players I want the most and place them in a different part of the spreadsheet, stay true to my valuations and stick with that "preferred" list of players as long as possible.

The Draft

Players with bolded names are ones I specifically selected before the draft as players I was targeting. I was limited on time this year, so I didn't go into quite the detail that I did last year in regards to breaking down each position into tiers. It's very likely I'll keep it this way moving forward.

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 a player was not drafted. 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.

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

Actual $ My $ Player Tm
19 22 Aaron Rodgers GB
22 22 Cam Newton CAR
18 20 Russell Wilson SEA
16 19 Andrew Luck IND
13 16 Drew Brees NO
6 15 Ben Roethlisberger PIT
8 12 Eli Manning NYG
6 11 Tom Brady NE
10 10 Philip Rivers SD
13 10 Blake Bortles JAC
8 9 Carson Palmer ARI
3 8 Kirk Cousins WAS
2 7 Matthew Stafford DET
4 5 Tyrod Taylor BUF
2 3 Ryan Fitzpatrick NYJ
3 3 Derek Carr OAK
1 3 Marcus Mariota TEN
2 2 Ryan Tannehill MIA
1 2 Andy Dalton CIN
3 2 Matt Ryan ATL
2 1 Jameis Winston TB
-† 1 Joe Flacco BAL
-† 1 Alex Smith KC
-† 1 Jay Cutler CHI
3 1 Tony Romo DAL
1 1 Robert Griffin III CLE
1 1 Teddy Bridgewater MIN

Observations: For what it is worth, the first upper-level quarterback I was willing to consider was Luck ($16). I had no intention of paying up for Newton ($22), but I made it a point to nominate him early in order to set the price ceiling for quarterbacks. The top quarterbacks usually draw bids close to $30 in this league, so I knew I was in good shape with my budget-conscious ways at this position once Newton sold for what he did. Little did I know how good I was going to have it, however, as I was stunned when the bidding for Brady ($6) stopped as quickly as it did. Because I had every reason to believe - from previous years - I was probably going to land a pretty decent $1 quarterback (Mariota) at some point, I had no problem assuming the inconvenience that comes along with Brady's four-game suspension at his price. The fact I only needed to spend $7 to get an elite option at this position and a high-upside backup was not only the highlight of my draft, but it also allowed me to execute my vision for this draft almost to a tee. I went into this draft expecting to get Manning ($8), Brady or Rivers ($10) because I feel each one will be more than capable of performing at a mid-QB1 level, so I'll give a hap-tip to The Huddle (Manning) and Fantasy Knuckleheads (Rivers) for taking a ride with me on the quarterback value train.

 Running Backs
Actual $ My $ Player Tm
39 46 David Johnson ARI
35 46 Lamar Miller HOU
32 45 Ezekiel Elliott DAL
38 41 Todd Gurley LA
34 41 Adrian Peterson MIN
28 38 Jamaal Charles KC
25 37 Le'Veon Bell PIT
29 33 LeSean McCoy BUF
21 32 Doug Martin TB
27 32 Mark Ingram NO
25 32 Carlos Hyde SF
22 32 Eddie Lacy GB
29 31 Devonta Freeman ATL
26 30 Latavius Murray OAK
17 23 Danny Woodhead SD
21 20 C.J. Anderson DEN
21 18 Matt Forte NYJ
16 18 Duke Johnson CLE
21 16 Jeremy Hill CIN
19 16 Thomas Rawls SEA
10 15 Frank Gore IND
16 15 Giovani Bernard CIN
11 13 Matt Jones WAS
19 13 DeMarco Murray TEN
13 13 Ryan Mathews PHI
7 13 Rashad Jennings NYG
23 13 Jeremy Langford CHI
13 12 Charles Sims TB
11 11 Melvin Gordon SD
8 10 DeAngelo Williams PIT
9 10 Jonathan Stewart CAR
6 10 Chris Ivory JAC
13 9 Ameer Abdullah DET
11 9 James White NE
7 9 Derrick Henry TEN
3 8 Tevin Coleman ATL
10 8 Theo Riddick DET
17 7 T.J. Yeldon JAC
6 6 Isaiah Crowell CLE
6 6 Arian Foster MIA
6 6 Justin Forsett BAL
9 6 Bilal Powell NYJ
2 5 Spencer Ware KC
2 5 LeGarrette Blount NE
2 5 Christine Michael SEA
6 4 Devontae Booker DEN
1 4 Darren Sproles PHI
6 3 Dion Lewis NE
1 3 Terrance West BAL
1 3 Shane Vereen NYG
3 3 Alfred Morris DAL
-† 2 C.J. Prosise SEA
1 2 Jerick McKinnon MIN
1 2 Shaun Draughn SF
3 2 Jay Ajayi MIA
3 2 Tim Hightower NO
1 2 James Starks GB
1 2 Zach Zenner DET
1 1 Jordan Howard CHI
3 1 Kenneth Dixon BAL
5 1 DeAndre Washington OAK
1 1 Chris Johnson ARI
1 1 Keith Marshall WAS
1 1 Darren McFadden DAL
1 1 Josh Ferguson IND
3 1 Javorius Allen BAL
6 1 Chris Thompson WAS
1 1 Reggie Bush BUF
1 1 Tyler Gaffney NE
2 1 Kenjon Barner PHI

Observations: Given the massive industry shift from running back-centric teams to ones built around receivers, I knew the price of the top available backs was certain to come down from the $50-plus many owners spent in previous years. I thought I accounted for this by putting my top three backs in the mid-40s and the less PPR-friendly backs like Gurley ($38) and Peterson ($34) in the low-40s, but it turns out I didn't even come close. Had I known not a single back was going to draw a $40 bid, I may have went into this draft with a plan to go David Johnson-Lamar Miller-Antonio Brown and let the rest of the chips fall where they may. As it was, I can't complain. Depending on the day, Miller is usually either the first, second or third back on my board. There were a few glitches throughout this 3 1/2-hour draft, and one of them allowed Football Guys to land Bell ($25) cheaply. I thought long and hard about making Woodhead ($17) my RB2 in order to set aside even more money at receiver, but the temptation of landing a Chip Kelly running back (Hyde; $25) with no player standing in the way of 300-plus touches was too much for me to resist. I hated letting backs like Gore ($10) and Jennings ($7) go so cheap, but my desire to land a top WR3 was stronger than making sure I had early depth behind Miller and Hyde. I had no intention of landing Ivory ($6) before the draft, but I think you'll agree he's a pretty reasonable value at the price I snagged him at late, especially when compared to what Yeldon ($17!!!) went for later. Sims ($13) was the RB3 I was hoping to get after bringing my first two backs on board, but I could bid no higher than $12 and lost out to Rotoviz. I also wanted to get my hands on either Lewis ($6) or White ($11) - the former so I can stash on IR and the latter to fill the void I was left with after missing out on Sims, but it was not to be. Among the best values at this position in this draft was Charles ($28). Although I would have liked to see his owner handcuff him with Spencer Ware (The Huddle; $2), Rotoviz probably only needs a low-end RB1 effort from Charles in order to make a deep playoff run with the quality and quantity he has at receiver. Division rivals The Huddle ($95) and Football Guys ($100) blew away most of the competition in terms of spending money at this position. It will be very interesting to see if that approach pays off for them in this brave new receiver-based world.

 Wide Receivers
Actual $ My $ Player Tm
53 48 Antonio Brown PIT
50 46 Odell Beckham Jr. NYG
51 45 Julio Jones ATL
41 40 A.J. Green CIN
39 38 Dez Bryant DAL
40 36 Allen Robinson JAC
31 34 Brandon Marshall NYJ
30 33 Mike Evans TB
38 33 Keenan Allen SD
44 32 DeAndre Hopkins HOU
26 29 Demaryius Thomas DEN
37 29 Amari Cooper OAK
25 28 T.Y. Hilton IND
30 28 Brandin Cooks NO
30 27 Randall Cobb GB
36 26 Jarvis Landry MIA
27 26 Jordy Nelson GB
27 26 Sammy Watkins BUF
23 24 Donte Moncrief IND
30 23 Alshon Jeffery CHI
18 20 Eric Decker NYJ
19 20 Doug Baldwin SEA
21 19 Julian Edelman NE
26 19 Golden Tate DET
25 19 Jeremy Maclin KC
16 18 Sterling Shepard NYG
14 18 Larry Fitzgerald ARI
12 16 John Brown ARI
18 16 Marvin Jones DET
14 14 DeVante Parker MIA
18 13 Michael Floyd ARI
18 13 Tyler Lockett SEA
4 12 Kevin White CHI
17 12 Kelvin Benjamin CAR
12 11 Allen Hurns JAC
10 10 Michael Crabtree OAK
11 10 Emmanuel Sanders DEN
8 9 Corey Coleman CLE
22 8 Torrey Smith SF
25 8 Jordan Matthews PHI
9 8 Stefon Diggs MIN
10 8 DeSean Jackson WAS
9 7 Willie Snead NO
4 6 Tavon Austin LA
4 5 Bruce Ellington SF
2 5 Vincent Jackson TB
6 5 Kamar Aiken BAL
8 5 Michael Thomas NO
8 5 Travis Benjamin SD
11 5 Josh Gordon CLE
2 5 Mike Wallace BAL
4 4 Sammie Coates PIT
19 4 Markus Wheaton PIT
1 4 Anquan Boldin DET
8 4 Devin Funchess CAR
3 4 Rishard Matthews TEN
5 4 Tyler Boyd CIN
1 4 Ted Ginn Jr. CAR
2 3 Phillip Dorsett IND
2 3 Davante Adams GB
17 3 Tajae Sharpe TEN
2 2 Josh Doctson WAS
5 2 Mohamed Sanu ATL
7 2 Will Fuller HOU
5 1 Laquon Treadwell MIN
-† 1 Brandon LaFell CIN
1 1 Pierre Garcon WAS
4 1 Breshad Perriman BAL
2 1 Dorial Green-Beckham TEN
1 1 Steve Smith BAL
1 1 Jermaine Kearse SEA
1 1 Marqise Lee JAC
1 1 Chris Conley KC
10 1 Terrelle Pryor CLE
-† 1 Charles Johnson MIN
1 1 Victor Cruz NYG
1 1 Nelson Agholor PHI
1 1 Terrance Williams DAL
1 1 Braxton Miller HOU

Observations: Much like the story I told above about running backs, I thought I accounted for all the love at the receiver position during the pre-draft process. In past years, receivers rarely brought more than $40 or $41. I guess I was didn't account for it enough. Fortunately, Brown ($53) came up for bid right before Beckham ($50), so I had a minute or so to further contemplate my Brown-Beckham-Jones-or-else plan. As it turned out, I landed the cheapest of the "Big Three" receivers and don't regret it a bit. I stayed in the bidding for Marshall ($31) until the end, but reasoned at the time I could fall back on Cobb ($30) if necessary since he was probably going to come a few dollars cheaper. (Saving a dollar wasn't quite what I had in mind.) It's not a big deal in my mind, however, since it would hardly surprise me if Cobb finished as a top-10 receiver. I thought for sure Marvin Jones ($18) was going to be my WR3 until Fantasy Alarm eventually won our little tug-of-war to secure his services. No matter, as I outlasted Rotoviz for the last quality WR2 on my board (Decker; $18) about 30 minutes later. There weren't many values (as it relates to my initial valuations anyway) at receiver, although Kevin White ($4) was definitely one. In my defense, funds were starting to run low at the time he was nominated and I felt like I had a good shot at Decker if I didn't pursue White any further. It worked out in my favor in the end, but landing White would have made my draft even better. The same could be said about Tavon Austin ($4), although I'm not exactly giddy about trusting any non-Gurley part of the Rams' offense this year. Feel free to disregard the bids for Wheaton ($19), Sharpe ($17) and, to a lesser extent, Pryor ($10). There were two owners - the only ones with any significant money left to bid with at that point of the draft - who fought tooth-and-nail for a handful of lesser players in an attempt to use up their $200. It's not to say all three receivers can't/won't live up to those prices, but none of them are going to bring more than $5 bids at the majority of auctions. It's also a reminder not to play too conservatively at these kind of drafts. Another owner may also try to discount shop at the end as well. As a result, both of you are left with is bidding up lesser players.

 Tight Ends
Actual $ My $ Player Tm
24 30 Rob Gronkowski NE
14 22 Jordan Reed WAS
13 16 Greg Olsen CAR
10 15 Delanie Walker TEN
9 15 Travis Kelce KC
11 14 Coby Fleener NO
6 10 Gary Barnidge CLE
7 8 Tyler Eifert CIN
4 8 Zach Ertz PHI
4 8 Julius Thomas JAC
10 6 Martellus Bennett NE
2 6 Jason Witten DAL
2 5 Antonio Gates SD
4 5 Dwayne Allen IND
2 4 Eric Ebron DET
3 3 Clive Walford OAK
3 3 Jimmy Graham SEA
-† 2 Virgil Green DEN
-† 2 Charles Clay BUF
2 2 Vance McDonald SF
-† 2 Will Tye NYG
1 2 Zach Miller CHI
1 2 Jared Cook GB
-† 1 Ladarius Green PIT
-† 1 Ben Watson BAL
1 1 Jordan Cameron MIA
1 1 Austin Seferian-Jenkins TB
-† 1 Kyle Rudolph MIN
-† 1 Dennis Pitta BAL
-† 1 Austin Hooper ATL
-† 1 Richard Rodgers GB

Observations: In recent days, I have found myself opting for the comfort of Olsen ($13) over the upside of players such as Walker ($10) or Fleener ($11) - two players who I think have a realistic shot at outscoring the current Panther. With that said, Olsen has settled into a high-floor tight end with back-to-back years of 1,000 yards receiving with at least 77 catches and six touchdowns - pretty decent WR2 production in most leagues - and not missed a game since his rookie year in 2007. As much as I liked landing Olsen for the second straight season, I loved getting my hands on Thomas ($4) as my TE2. While I'm well aware of his durability issues, I'm only counting on him as a part-time flex and bye-week fill-in. If he ends up being as unstoppable as he was reported to be in the offseason and during camp, a 60-catch, 8-10 score season probably isn't too much to ask. Because the fantasy community has made such a dramatic shift to receivers in recent years, it is probably only natural owners would lead toward using a receiver in the flex spot, even in three-receiver leagues. While I wouldn't necessarily recommend the strategy I about to mention to everyone, don't overlook the possibility of using a second tight end at that spot in auction formats instead. A 75-800-6 line from Fleener plays very well at tight end, but it is scored just the same as it would be if your fourth receiver was doing it. The point is a second very good tight end may come cheaper than a fourth receiver, so it is another avenue for owners to save some dough. Even at his advanced age, Gates ($2) should not be going for a song, so congrats again to RotoViz for mimicking my TE strategy (or vice versa). I also like Football Diehards' move to land Eifert ($7). Even if he misses the first four games of the season, I can see him performing like a top-tier tight end over the final 12 weeks. The fact he cushioned that blow by snagging Ertz ($4) makes Eifert's absence even less painful.

Actual $ My $ Player Tm
2 1 Stephen Gostkowski NE
1 1 Dan Bailey DAL
2 1 Steve Hauschka SEA
1 1 Justin Tucker BAL
2 1 Graham Gano CAR
1 1 Chris Boswell PIT
1 1 Chandler Catanzaro ARI
-† 1 Adam Vinatieri IND
2 1 Mason Crosby GB
-† 1 Sebastian Janikowski OAK
-† 1 Kai Forbath NO
-† 1 Josh Brown NYG
1 1 Cairo Santos KC
-† 1 Matt Bryant ATL
1 1 Blair Walsh MIN
1 1 Nick Novak HOU
-† 1 Dustin Hopkins WAS
-† 1 Josh Lambo SD
1 1 Brandon McManus DEN

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. (Yes, I'm one of the four guys who was willing to spend $2 on my kicker. Yes, I'm sure that makes me the laughingstock of the league, but I could care less.) Additionally, I 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. Gostkowski ($2) has been the No. 1 overall kicker in each of the last four years and is probably the one kicker I can say won't be available in many leagues at any point during the season. People can say what they want; I'm perfectly fine spending an extra buck on a kicker I don't have to think about replacing during the year.

 Defense / ST
Actual $ My $ Team
4 2 Cardinals
3 2 Broncos
2 2 Texans
4 2 Seahawks
2 2 Panthers
3 2 Vikings
-† 2 Patriots
-† 1 Eagles
-† 1 Bengals
1 1 Giants
-† 1 Raiders
3 1 Chiefs
1 1 Jets
-† 1 Jaguars
1 1 Steelers
1 1 Packers
-† 1 Redskins
1 1 Rams

Observations: While I can understand the appeal of streaming defenses, most of the leagues I play seem to have teams willing to carry two defenses, which often leaves roughly 12-14 to choose from in a given week. Kudos to the owners who stream and do it well, but I analyze matchups for a living and don't feel comfortable with the options on the wire most weeks. I prefer the peace of mind that comes with landing a defense I believe will be a top-five unit and adding another during the season if it looks like it could be special. Am I always right with my draft-pick selection? Of course not. However, I'm reasonably confident the Panthers' defense ($2) will still be one of the finer ones in fantasy this season because Ted Ginn Jr. is still around to return punts and the front seven should be as nasty as it was last year. I had seven units earmarked as $2 values and I got a pretty good one in Carolina, so I'm happy. If I don't land one of the $2 defenses, then I will stream until I find a multi-week option. The Patriots went undrafted; don't expect that to happen very often. I expect New England to finish among the top eight D/STs in 2016. The Raiders, Eagles and Bengals will almost certainly be worth rostering as well.


The FFToday team
QB: Tom Brady, Marcus Mariota
RB: Lamar Miller, Carlos Hyde, Chris Ivory, Tevin Coleman, Terrance West, Zach Zenner
WR: Odell Beckham Jr., Randall Cobb, Eric Decker, Ted Ginn Jr., Anquan Boldin, Marqise Lee
TE: Greg Olsen, Julius Thomas
K: Stephen Gostkowski
D/ST: Carolina Panthers

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 Iíll show you a team that has a realistic shot at winning it all. Miller, Beckham, Gostkowski and the Panthers' D/ST all have realistic shots at finishing No. 1 overall at their positions, while Brady and Olsen certainly should play like top-five options at their positions. So yeah, I'm pretty happy with this team.

My biggest regret? Waiting one round too long to nominate Shaun Draughn ($1). I knew taking Hyde was a risk but was willing to do it at the time because I knew I'd come back around to Draughn. My belief in Chip Kelly - what his offense does for running backs and devotion to sports science does for his players' health - has me willing to roll the dice on Hyde and his well-documented injury history this season. As I alluded to above, I'm aware I'm going to have to hit the waiver wire to build some depth, but what do I really need? A RB4 and WR4? If those spots are my only question marks following my upcoming high-stakes drafts, I think I'm going to enjoy 2016. I am very confident I'll be able to find capable players at those positions as the season progresses.

Brady is Brady. If I start out 2-2 or better (which is something I expect to do), then taking the Brady discount was the right play because I should be able to get the same production with him as the owners who spent nearly four times as much on Newton and Rodgers. Mariota wasn't my first choice to lead the team in Weeks 1-4, but I like the safe floor he provides while I'm waiting on Brady.

Let me be as clear as possible about Miller and Hyde; IF either/both play 16 games (realistic for Miller since he has done it three straight years, less realistic for Hyde), they would each be among my first five choices to lead the league in rushing. Miller's a great bet for 50-plus catches as well, while I think Kelly wants to use Hyde as a receiver much more often. I'll admit it is a calculated risk, but Kelly doesn't like to substitute backs as it slows down his offense, so it stands to reason Hyde probably won't be coming off the field too often. Ivory wasn't exactly what I had in mind for a RB3 pre-draft, but I'm also not counting on him to do all that much for me either. I shouldn't need him to do much more than rush for 50 yards and a score in any given week. Coleman also wasn't a priority for me per se, but I'm only one injury to Devonta Freeman away from having the depth I usually crave at the running back position. I'm willing to bet I have one keeper out of my final two backs (West and Zenner), but I'm not going to hold on to either one past Week 2 if I don't like what I see in terms of usage.

During my first year in this league (2009), I ended the season with Miles Austin, Steve Smith, Roddy White and Calvin Johnson. That foursome is the best collection of receivers I have owned in this league at any one time. Suffice it to say I have never started any season in this league with the receivers I will this season. OBJ, Cobb and Decker have each had at least one 80-catch, 1,000-yard, 10-plus touchdown season over the last two years, and I don't think many will be surprised if Beckham finished as the best receiver in fantasy. I'm obviously not counting on a repeat season from Ginn this year, but I can see him serving as a flex option for me when the matchup dictates it. I guess Boldin is a hard habit for me to break (he seems to end up on my teams a lot over the years), but it frankly wouldn't surprise if he manages 50 catches and 5-6 scores. Lee will probably be my first drop after Week 1, but perhaps he can surprise now that his injury luck has taken a turn for the better.

Besides Gronk, is there a safer high-upside than Olsen? I don't think so. His dependability makes Thomas a luxury pick, which is how most owners should view him.

In case anyone cares about such things, I believe this is the second-best team I have drafted in this league. The 2013 draft - when I landed Peyton Manning during his record-breaking season, Jamaal Charles in his 19-score campaign and Julio Jones during his ridiculous five-game start prior to his foot injury - will probably go down as the best. However, whenever an owner's biggest complaint coming out of the draft is a slight lack of depth, it's probably been a good draft. Assuming the waiver wire remains as fruitful as it has been to me in the past, I like FF Today's chances of playing for another title.

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.