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The Weekly Gut Check - Vol. 103
Draft Analysis Part II (Auction Leagues) and Crank Projection Updates

Rookie Scouting Portfolio The “Gut Feeling” is often synonymous with a sense of desperation resulting from a lack of preparation. The Gut Check is a huge proponent of studying the numbers, but there’s a point where one can place too much emphasis on the wrong information. This can result in the undervaluing or overlooking a player’s potential. Therefore, The Weekly Gut Check is devoted to examining the frame of reference behind certain number-driven guidelines that fantasy football owners use to make decisions.

Although The Weekly Gut Check doesn’t claim to be psychic, he does believe that he can dispel certain numbers biases and help you make the best choices for your team. We’ll keep a running tally of The Weekly Gut Check’s insights. This way you can gauge his views as something to seriously consider, or at least seriously consider running the opposite way as fast as you can!

This week, I’m analyzing two auction drafts and next week, a re-draft with a scoring system that incorporates extra points for distances of yardage gained and touchdowns scored. If you want more auction strategy, check out this auction draft strategy column from 2006 and the in-season follow up column. The auction leagues below are the same leagues I won last year using a higher risk strategy of spending a large percentage of my cap on two backs and spotting deals in the mid-to-late rounds.

I should mention from the beginning that I received an interesting and informative email from veteran auction drafter, Brandon Perle, titled How do I get into an auction league like yours? After asking Brandon to clarify his point, here’s his response:

The Auction values that I typically see never help me prepare for mine. The reason [is] based on the [fact] values from your auction, for example, are too low. It would be very easy in a league like [Fantasy Auctioneer Experts Invitational] to grab the RB1 and RB2 and barring injury, you probably will win pretty easily. I have done it. Therefore for a league like mine, those values are not very realistic.

Think about it an auction is an [alternative] to a draft, but it is not supposed to mean that someone can basically get the 1st and 2nd pick (if it was a traditional draft) as is the case in the league you posted. That makes it to easy to win. In my league for example, you can’t [do this]. [An] RB1 would cost you around $105 and RB2 would cost you around $97 with 18 roster spots… it just can’t happen. [What I explained is] more realistic.

The example I was trying make was that if you looked at the teams I created from your actual auction, it does not seem to make sense the way people spent money. None of their teams are very good and yet they could have based on the low prices at RB, have had the top 2 RB’s and crushed the league.

So question #1:

Why didn’t they? Why didn’t you?
Good questions to end this email. I’m going to answer them in reverse order—Why didn’t I take the top 2 backs? Let’s presume that LT is the top fantasy back. While I have him ranked as such, it’s still a bit of a risky presumption, because LT has never been the top back in fantasy football until 2006 and its not easy for a back to have back-to-back seasons that will put him atop the rankings. Still, it’s very reasonable to say he’s a top five back because there is still continuity within the Chargers offense. I’d prefer to shoot for a broader range than nailing attempt to pick the top two backs when in an auction. I’d rather more than double my chances and hope to get two of the top five runners. If I reach this target, or have two backs that perform like top five backs down the stretch of the season, then I’m in great shape. My opinion, as seen by my Crank Projections below, is I won two of the top five backs—and the exact two backs I wanted as I enter the 2007 season. I was willing to pay more than I did for both players, but the rest of the league owners didn’t value them the same as me. Which leads to the first question:

Why didn’t they?

Presuming none of the other teams got two of the top five backs—if my projections are close enough, theoretically only one other team could potentially have two, top five runners if I have two of them—then there’s really only two possibilities why the rest of the league didn’t try to do it: They either lack auction league experience and got into these leagues because they write for a fantasy site or they all are concerned about drafting a team that looks on paper like a roster with balance across positions and a fair amount of depth. This allows the owner to write about an effective way to “control” the auction and get mid-to-late round bargains. There are pros and cons to every strategy. In my opinion, the “sit and wait” approach can work very well in some cases, but it can often cause an owner to lose track of the point of a draft—“winning the bidding control of the auction,” and getting the best values rather than targeting the best players. So what if you control 50% of the salary cap if the remaining players don’t match the production of grabbing premium players at more premium prices. There is a reason the old axiom “You pay for quality,” is still true. Of course, we’ll have to wait 4 months to see which one of us in these leagues made the most quality decisions.

Fantasy Auctioneer Experts Invitational Link

I honestly left this auction feeling like had a strong draft. Some of the same players I chose or attempted to win in the SOFA Auction were more expensive than what I paid in this league. The fact there were owners common to in both leagues probably had something to do with me paying less the first time around than the second. Here’s a list of the players I won and the SOFA league price for that player.

Gut Check's Team
Pick # Player Pos Team Bye Price SOFA
4 Frank Gore RB SFO 6 $63 $71
9 Reggie Bush RB NOR 4 $54 $70
36 Larry Fitzgerald WR ARI 8 $21 $28
71 Darrell Jackson WR SFO 6 $9 $11
72 Vernon Davis TE SFO 6 $9 $7
81 Jay Cutler QB DEN 6 $8 $4
82 Chester Taylor RB MIN 5 $8 $5
89 Chris Chambers WR MIA 9 $7 $12
96 Matt Leinart QB ARI 8 $6 $5
119 Byron Leftwich QB JAC 4 $3 $1
140 Olindo Mare K NOR 4 $2 $1
141 Joe Horn WR ATL 8 $2 $3
142 Troy Williamson WR MIN 5 $2 $1
175 Pittsburgh Steelers DEF PIT 6 $1 $2
176 Najeh Davenport RB PIT 6 $1 $2
177 Michael Robinson RB SFO 6 $1 $1
178 Derrick Mason WR BAL 8 $1 $1
179 Steve Smith WR NYG 9 $1 $1
Gore’s value was relatively the same between both leagues. Since I value him a little higher than most, I was surprised I got him at $63 when the SOFA owner had to pay what I was at least willing to fork over for the Niner. Reggie Bush’s price difference had a lot to do with the fact the SOFA league is a point per reception league in contrast to the FAIEL’s standard performance scoring system. But another reason the price jumped $16 in SOFA had to do with me engaging in a bidding war with one other team to land Bush. It was clear around the $55 point of the bidding that me and another owner were willing to pay much more for Bush, who was entered for bid early.

Personally, I view Bush as a player about to explode into the top five this year. Paying premium coin for the rights to him was beyond questioning. It is my philosophy that in an auction draft you take the opportunity to target players you really want. That is the true power of the auction process—you have the freedom to live or die by the players you want. You should be able to pick 3-5 players you really want without the excuse of owners getting a shot to select them before you due to luck of the draft order.

Larry Fitzgerald commanded a slightly higher premium, but once again it probably had to do with the fact that I targeted the Cardinals receiver as my #1 starter in SOFA and was willing to out-bid another owner once he passed the winning bid from the FAIEL league. My other two starters—Jackson and Chambers—were actually slightly cheaper.

So my strategy for FAIEL was pretty clear: two stud backs, a stud receiver, and two up and coming quarterbacks on balanced offenses who I could get cheaply. I really try to keep auction strategy simple. I don’t pay nearly as much attention to other owners with the frequency others do. I target 6-7 players I really want for my team and I make sure I get at least three of them. The players in bold I have in both leagues and the players in italics I purposely targeted for my team. I feel as if I know my competition well enough that their bidding tendencies are rather conservative.

In reality my bidding in this league is conservative compared to long-time auction drafters, but judging by the reactions of this league to some of my winning bids, it is clear they view me as an aggressive bidder. I begin paying attention to salary cap amounts in the late stage of the draft so I can nab the true bargains and sleepers available without the risk of being out-bid. In the early stages of the auction, I open bids on players I either don’t’ want or don’t need. For instance, I try to open bids on backs once I get my first two, because I know it will generally force more owners to spend their money early and this will help me have a competitive cap amount towards the end of the auction, but not so late that I miss out on decent prospects.

I know T.J. Thomas doesn’t like Darrell Jackson’s chances this year, but I’m still on board. I think Jackson is a steal at $9—I was willing to pay nearly twice that amount for a player who ranks at least as a strong, #2 fantasy receiver year after year. When you look at the last 3 weeks of the season, Alex Smith was performing like a fantasy starter in a 12-team league without the benefit of a receiver of Jackson’s quality. In addition, I took a chance on paying the same amount for the 49ers tight end because I believe in his skills enough to risk being wrong and searching the waiver wire for an early-to-mid-season replacement if necessary. I have learned this is generally not hard to do in this auction league, so why not spend a little more on a player I covet?

Chambers and Horn are decent #3 receivers with potential to be much more because their teams will be forced to throw the football. I like Horn’s situation a lot because the loss of Vick will make it easier for opposing defenses to shut down the running game and force Harrington to beat them Horn has a great shot of being that primary receiver.

My weakness is depth at running back, but I handcuffed Gore with the favorite to win the back up spot on the 49ers depth chart and believe Chester Taylor will still be a viable bye week option, if not more. I love Adrian Peterson as a pure runner, but I’m not convinced he’ll make as quick of a transition in pass protection and the receiving game. Of course Cadillac Williams looked great in his first season and had similar issues as Peterson, although I think Peterson is a more talented runner but not as good of an all-around player as Cadillac was as a rookie.

Honestly, my auction teams rarely look as good on paper as the competition, but I consistently have cheap players who pan out and my high-round choices generally perform well. I believe between Mason, Horn, and Chamber I’ll have my equivalent of a Jimmy Smith or Rod Smith of the past few years—a solid starter who puts up much better numbers than expected. I believe the difference between my team being a solid squad and a strong contender will be Vernon Davis and Reggie Bush. If I correctly targeted them as two breakout players, my team should be very strong. If I’m wrong, I’ll be a very active waiver wire participant.

SOFA Experts Auction

In this league, we're going to analyze the auction as it unfolded. Let's start with the first 50 picks.

Nom. Player Team Winner Price
1 Chicago Bears Bears (CHI) The Huddle $9
2 Peyton Manning Colts (IND) Rotoworld $32
3 Larry Johnson Chiefs (KAN) FBDieHard $57
4 LaDainian Tomlinson Chargers (SDG) FBDieHards $85
5 Shaun Alexander Seahawks (SEA) The Huddle $48
6 Steven Jackson Rams (STL) FF_com $67
7 Joseph Addai Colts (IND) FG $74
8 Antonio Gates Chargers (SDG) FI_Tim VP $27
9 Maurice Jones-Drew Jaguars (JAC) FFToday $41
10 Reggie Bush Saints (NOR) FFToday $70
11 Frank Gore 49ers (SFO) Grumblings $71
12 Edgerrin James Cardinals (ARI) FBDieHard $36
13 Clinton Portis Redskins (WAS) Rotoworld $26
14 Neil Rackers Cardinals (ARI) FG $1
15 Roy Williams Lions (DET) FBDieHards $27
16 Steve Smith Panthers (CAR) Rotoworld $37
17 Bernard Berrian Bears (CHI) FG $9
18 Jerious Norwood Falcons (ATL) Rotowire $22
19 Travis Henry Broncos (DEN) FOX Sports $43
20 Marvin Harrison Colts (IND) FOX Sports $32
21 Rudi Johnson Bengals (CIN) FOX Sports $42
22 Brian Westbrook Eagles (PHI) Rotowire $49
23 Matt Leinart Cardinals (ARI) FFToday $5
24 Cedric Benson Bears (CHI) The Huddle $35
25 Laurence Maroney Patriots (NWE) Grumblings $45
26 Chris Henry Titans (TEN) FF_com $3
27 Willie Parker Steelers (PIT) FBDieHards $51
28 Willis McGahee Ravens (BAL) FI_Tim VP $42
29 Marshawn Lynch Bills (BUF) FG $27
30 Chad Johnson Bengals (CIN) FOX Sports $38
31 Javon Walker Broncos (DEN) Rotowire $24
32 Mike Furrey Lions (DET) Grumblings $4
33 Randy Moss Patriots (NWE) The Huddle $20
34 Alex Smith 49ers (SFO) FOX Sports $5
35 Carson Palmer Bengals (CIN) FBDieHard $23
36 Drew Brees Saints (NOR) FG $24
37 Donovan McNabb Eagles (PHI) FOX Sports $21
38 Ronnie Brown Dolphins (MIA) FF_com $36
39 Terrell Owens Cowboys (DAL) Rotowire $33
40 Lee Evans Bills (BUF) Rotowire $22
41 Jason Hanson Lions (DET) FI_Tim VP $1
42 Ben Troupe Titans (TEN) FOX Sports $1
43 Thomas Jones Jets (NYJ) FI_Tim VP $23
44 Marques Colston Saints (NOR) fbguys $20
45 Torry Holt Rams (STL) FG $37
46 Marc Bulger Rams (STL) FF_com $16
47 Chris Chambers Dolphins (MIA) FF_com $12
48 Adrian Peterson Vikings (MIN) FF_com $25
49 Jon Kitna Lions (DET) The Huddle $12
50 Brandon Jacobs Giants (NYG) Rotoworld $29
One team attempted to land a bargain buy when he opened the auction with the Bears defense, but at $9—the most expensive winning bid for a defensive unit by $2—the ploy didn’t work for him. It’s a good idea to see if you can catch owners napping, but it didn’t work as planned. Soon after the standard was set for owners at quarterback and running back when Peyton Manning went off the board at $32 and Ladainian Tomlinson at $85. After these picks every owner pretty much knew they weren’t going to spend anything more than what was just spent for these two elite producers.

If I’m wrong about the projection that Steven Jackson will be a likely victim of the 370-f/carry hang over, then the Rams running back was an absolute steal for $67. Considering Joseph Addai ($74), Frank Gore ($71), and Reggie Bush ($70) went for more, the Jackson owner was thrilled with his winning bid. Personally, I value all three backs higher than Jackson, so (much to my surprise) the bidding actually flowed with my projections.

Shaun Alexander looks like a steal at $48 if you project him as an elite player this year, but I think he compares more favorably to Edgerrin James ($36). I believe James is more of a bargain and will perform as well, if not better than, the Seattle veteran. Clinton Portis? If healthy, under valued. Travis Henry? He may wind up over valued due to the knee injury. If healthy, this will be a good price.

But I think the steal of these first 50 selections is Brian Westbrook at $49. Here’s a back more proven—and productive last year—than Reggie Bush and Joseph Addai, but at a 30% discount. Here’s where that small-back, injury-prone bias comes into play. It happened with Marshall Faulk for a stretch in his career. It happened to Priest Holmes as well. Westbrook may not take that leap to perennial, all-star status, but I was tempted to up the bid and get a 3rd back of this caliber at such a reasonable price.

In reality, I could have put my future selections of Larry Fitzgerald ($28) and Darrell Jackson ($12) at risk if I won Westbrook, but it did leave me to wonder if I should have gone without some players:

Vince Young ($11)—I already had a nice deal for Matt Leinart, a player I believe will perform as a solid fantasy starter, for $5. Spending $11 on Young in one way indicates I believe Young will be a significantly better fantasy producer than Leinart. Unless Young performs as an elite fantasy quarterback in 2007, I overspent based on my projections. I hope he does, but it was admittedly a bit of a “my eyes were too big for my stomach” kind of selection.

Hines Ward ($12)—I love Hines Ward the player, but I like Santonio Holmes more has a fantasy prospect in 2007. I like him more than Braylon Edwards, Mark Clayton, and possibly Reggie Brown. Holmes is a playmaker about to explode and he went for $11. I am happy with Ward as my #3 receiver, but there were several options I could have snagged for half that price and been happy. I expect Derrick Mason to have a rebound year and post similar numbers to Ward and I got him for $1.

Say I didn’t spend the combined $23 on these two players and bought one more worthwhile prospect for $22 (subtracting $1 necessary to fill a remaining roster spot). Randy Moss ($20), Lee Evans ($22), and Marques Colston ($20) were all within my reach. What this tells me is after I spent $70 on Reggie Bush and $41 on Maurice Jones-Drew (I think this was the other steal of the draft) I became too cautious. It was quite possible I could have had a starting receiving corps of Fitzgerald, Jackson, and one of those three receivers I believe will out-perform Hines Ward. Or I could have had enough to win Jordan or Brown as a #3 RB. Personally, I’d be happy going into the season without Leinart and Leftwich as my quarterbacks—I started SOFA 2006 with Warner and Brunell and still fielded the championship team—picking up Vince Young at mid-season was helpful, but LT was the player who carried my squad and I didn’t even start Young until late in the season anyhow.

Nom. Player Team Winner Price
51 Carnell Williams Buccaneers (TB) FBDieHard $20
52 Reggie Wayne Colts (IND) Rotoworld $31
53 Baltimore Ravens Ravens (BAL) FF_com $7
54 Larry Fitzgerald Cardinals (ARI) FFToday $28
55 Ernest Wilford Jaguars (JAC) The Huddle $2
56 New England Patriots (NWE) FBDieHards $6
57 Hines Ward Steelers (PIT) FFToday $12
58 Anquan Boldin Cardinals (ARI) Rotoworld $23
59 DeAngelo Williams Panthers (CAR) Rotowire $12
60 Deuce McAllister Saints (NOR) The Huddle $19
61 Ladell Betts Redskins (WAS) fbguys $9
62 Marion Barber III Cowboys (DAL) FI_Tim VP $18
63 Houshmandzadeh Bengals (CIN) fbguys $25
64 Andre Johnson Texans (HOU) The Huddle $26
65 Jerry Porter Raiders (OAK) FI_Tim VP $4
66 Joe Jurevicius Browns (CLE) FOX Sports $1
67 Jamal Lewis Browns (CLE) fbguys $11
68 Kevin Jones Lions (DET) Rotowire $10
69 Calvin Johnson Lions (DET) The Huddle $17
70 Tatum Bell Lions (DET) fbguys $15
71 Nate Kaeding Chargers (SDG) Rotoworld $2
72 Tom Brady Patriots (NWE) Grumblings $23
73 Vince Young Titans (TEN) FFToday $11
74 Robbie Gould Bears (CHI) FF_com $1
75 Julius Jones Cowboys (DAL) fbguys $18
76 Santana Moss Redskins (WAS) Grumblings $11
77 Ahman Green Texans (HOU) FBDieHard $16
78 Kellen Winslow Browns (CLE) FG $11
79 Matt Stover Ravens (BAL) FOX Sports $1
80 Pittsburgh Steelers Steelers (PIT) fbguys $2
81 Reggie Brown Eagles (PHI) FF_com $16
82 Laveranues Coles Jets (NYJ) FI_Tim VP $15
83 Donald Driver Packers (GNB) fbguys $22
84 Fred Taylor Jaguars (JAC) FFToday $10
85 DeShaun Foster Panthers (CAR) Grumblings $14
86 Plaxico Burress Giants (NYG) FI_Tim VP $17
87 Darrell Jackson 49ers (SFO) FFToday $11
88 Deion Branch Seahawks (SEA) FBDieHard $13
89 Denver Broncos Broncos (DEN) FI_Tim VP $1
90 Green Bay Packers Packers (GNB) FOX Sports $1
91 Oakland Raiders Raiders (OAK) FFToday $2
92 Dallas Cowboys Cowboys (DAL) Rotowire $1
93 Matt Hasselbeck Seahawks (SEA) FBDieHard $6
94 Chester Taylor Vikings (MIN) Rotoworld $5
95 D.J. Hackett Seahawks (SEA) fbguys $3
96 Adam Vinatieri Colts (IND) fbguys $2
97 Jeff Wilkins Rams (STL) FFToday $2
98 Tony Romo Cowboys (DAL) fbguys $10
99 Philip Rivers Chargers (SDG) Rotowire $7
100 San Diego Chargers Chargers (SDG) FBDieHard $4
101 Jeremy Shockey Giants (NYG) fbguys $9
102 Owen Daniels Texans (HOU) Rotoworld $1
103 Benjamin Watson Patriots (NWE) Grumblings $2
104 Vernon Davis 49ers (SFO) FF_com $7
105 Braylon Edwards Browns (CLE) FI_Tim VP $17
106 Miami Dolphins Dolphins (MIA) Grumblings $1
107 Minnesota Vikings Vikings (MIN) FG $1
108 Stephen Gostkowski Patriots (NWE) FBDieHards $1
109 Jake Delhomme Panthers (CAR) FBDieHards $3
110 Donte Stallworth Patriots (NWE) FOX Sports $4
111 Olindo Mare Saints (NOR) Grumblings $1
112 Joey Galloway Buccaneers (TAM) FBDieHard $11
113 Chris Cooley Redskins (WAS) FBDieHards $5
114 Brian Leonard Rams (STL) FF_com $3
115 LaMont Jordan Raiders (OAK) FI_Tim VP $13
116 Tony Gonzalez Chiefs (KAN) fbguys $5
117 Michael Turner Chargers (SDG) FBDieHards $5
118 Vincent Jackson Chargers (SDG) Grumblings $6
119 Matt Schaub Texans (HOU) Rotowire $2
120 Jason Elam Broncos (DEN) The Huddle $1
121 Jay Cutler Broncos (DEN) Rotowire $4
122 Jeff Garcia Buccaneers (TAM) FBDieHards $2
123 Eric Johnson Saints (NOR) FFToday $1
124 Brandon Jackson Packers (GNB) fbguys $7
125 Shayne Graham Bengals (CIN) Rotowire $1
126 Wes Welker Patriots (NWE) FBDieHards $3
127 Greg Olsen Bears (CHI) Rotowire $2
128 Mike Nugent Jets (NYJ) FI_Tim VP $1
129 Ben Roethlisberger Steelers (PIT) fbguys $10
130 Kevin Curtis Eagles (PHI) Rotoworld $6
131 Greg Jennings Packers (GNB) Grumblings $2
132 Terry Glenn Cowboys (DAL) Grumblings $3
133 Devery Henderson Saints (NOR) Rotowire $3
134 Reuben Droughns Giants (NYG) FI_Tim VP $2
135 Anthony Gonzalez Colts (IND) Grumblings $2
136 Jerricho Cotchery Jets (NYJ) fbguys $15
137 Todd Heap Ravens (BAL) fbguys $7
138 Philadelphia Eagles Eagles (PHI) FOX Sports $1
139 Mike Bell Broncos (DEN) FOX Sports $2
140 Warrick Dunn Falcons (ATL) Grumblings $3
141 Alge Crumpler Falcons (ATL) FBDieHard $1
142 Vernand Morency Packers (GNB) FFToday $1
143 Ronald Curry Raiders (OAK) FF_com $1
144 Brett Favre Packers (GNB) FI_Tim VP $2
145 Bo Scaife Titans (TEN) The Huddle $1
146 Randy McMichael Rams (STL) FF_com $1
147 Najeh Davenport Steelers (PIT) FBDieHards $2
148 Santonio Holmes Steelers (PIT) FI_Tim VP $11
149 J.P. Losman Bills (BUF) FG $2
150 LenDale White Titans (TEN) FG $2
151 Tony Hunt Eagles (PHI) FOX Sports $1
152 Mark Clayton Ravens (BAL) fbguys $10
153 Chris Brown Titans (TEN) Grumblings $4
154 Eric Moulds Titans (TEN) Grumblings $2
155 Isaac Bruce Rams (STL) FBDieHards $3
There are two other strategy points employed in this auction that I should mention. One was the strategy of David Dodds of, and the other by Fantasy Insights. Dodds decided he would save his money until the auction was at least 25% over. I’m not saying he purposely waited until exactly that point, but it is clear he was waiting to a certain point to hopefully land bargains and use his salary cap as bargaining power.

His first winning bid was Ladell Betts for $9. If you view Betts’ prospects to be as good as his 2006 production, this was a genius play and a steal of massive proportions. If you believe Clinton Portis will return to prominence or split time, then the reaction is “eh….” The same goes for Tatum Bell at $15 and what happens with Kevin Jones. Jamal Lewis at $11 is probably his best pick of the three. I believe Cleveland’s offensive line will be better and Lewis will be a respectable #2 fantasy back at the price of a reserve.

Dodds then went with Julius Jones (beginning to see the theme of going with one side of an RBBC or injury situation and hoping you win out? Betts, Jones, and Bell all qualify) at a price that isn’t that great of a bargain when Marion Barber III went for the same price. If you add both players together you get a $36 starter, a good deal for their combined production but one of the owners of a Dallas co-starter is going to lose out.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh was a solid deal at $25, considering his production last year, as was Donald Driver at $22. Neither could be considered huge bargains but they are consistently high producers and he had the bargaining power to keep bidding for them. His selection of DJ Hackett for $3 was definitely a nice deal for a starting receiver, but will be a significantly better option than say, a Derrick Mason for $1? Hackett at 82 additional yards and a score more than Mason in the last five weeks of the season, but Mason was a top-40 receiver, Hackett wasn’t. In essence this completely depends on upside. In my opinion, Hackett wasn’t a deal. Neither was Tony Romo at $10—a decent price, but about where I’d expect him to go.

What I gathered from Dodd’s strategy was he was able to grab the players he wanted that were available in the mid-rounds without much resistance or chance of engaging in a bidding war that would dramatically inflate their value. It also gives him more players on his roster who are in a situation to possibly break out. On the flip side, one could come away from Dodd’s draft and to paraphrase what one owner said during the draft, feel that Dodd’s has mid-grade talent across the board. His greatest amount of talent is at the tight end position. He picked three of them! Shockey, Heap, and Gonzalez were all the best values on the board to him. Honestly, Dodds must have a lot of confidence that he will get good value through in-season trades. Personally, I think trading players is like trading any commodity: you don’t quite get the actual value of the player, and rarely more. It’s never a straightforward proposition to make a trade. I’d rather use the draft and free agency first. Still, I believe he’ll hit on enough players to be competitive, but I wouldn’t make him the favorite to win this league.

Fantasy Insights (FI_Tim VP) also took a strategy to control the draft board, but his approach was even more interesting to me. He snagged Antonio Gates for a whopping $27—the next highest priced TE was Kellen Winslow for $11—because of the point per reception scoring system making Gates a dominant player at his position. Then he took two productive second-tier backs with the hope one will out perform his status. I thought McGahee was a fair deal at $42, but Thomas Jones was larceny at $23. This still gave Insights enough dough to pony up $18 for Barber III, a redzone threat and excellent #3 RB.

His ploy to pick a kicker in the early rounds worked because he selected a player with a good chance to be a top tier kicker (the Lions Jason Hanson) but not a top-tier name that would cause another other to up the ante. Jerry Porter for $4 was another potential act of theft, because there were still several more productive receivers from 2006 on the board. This was a good example of taking a player people would rather take a chance on with limited funds late and placing him up for bid out of the context where most owners hoped to see him.

Coles, Burress, Braylon Edwards, and Lamont Jordan were all purchased for less than $20 apiece. This may seem similar to Dodds strategy, except Insights didn’t wait to win bids, they active pursued players who don’t have the marquee name, but have a solid track record of production and won’t be relying on injury to “become the man.” Insights also got so many decent prices on players that he still could afford more depth in the late rounds and have the bargaining power to outbid most of the teams. Brett Favre for $2 and Santonio Holmes for $11 are examples of a good deal (Favre) and having enough cash (Holmes) to target a desired player late with the bidding advantage over the league.

If you like the approach of using your money to get as much established talent as possible, I would study Insights’ draft. Other than having the clear advantage of Antonio Gates and spending a lot of dough to get him, he spent money early on under-hyped, but productive players. His range of bids rarely exceeded $25 and this netted him a lot of solid talent.

In contrast, you can see my team is living and dying by Reggie Bush and Maurice Jones-Drew at RB. I could only afford Fred Taylor as another viable back with a chance at playing time. After Taylor, I had to resort to taking a chance on the rehabbing Vernand Morency with hopes he’ll supplant a potentially overwhelmed Brandon Jackson within the next 4-6 weeks.

Knowing I couldn’t win a bid on one of the top TEs still on the board, I picked a sleeper I knew I could land in the Saints Eric Johnson. The former 49er has a history of injuries, but when healthy he has proven to be a very productive threat. Drew Brees spreads the ball around very well and if Johnson can be 2/3 as productive as Gates had been with Brees, then I made out fine. Plus, talented but underutilized, Heath Miller came back to me late and cheap ($1). It is not a major bargain by any means, but it did reassure me I didn’t have to panic about spending so much on my starting backfield.

Now we get to the bargain bin time of the draft. Muhsin Muhammad and Joe Horn are this year’s Rod Smith and Isaac Bruce of an auction draft: veterans with productive years left. Throw in Eddie Kennison to the mix for $2—he’s at least a productive sub. Same for Derrick Mason at $1—everyone talks about Donald Driver as this statistically under appreciated receiver for the past few years, but Mason was that guy until two years ago. A $1 bid is a reasonable chance on a last hurrah on the level of Keenan McCardell moving to Tampa or his first year in San Diego.

Daniel Graham for $1 was another good deal. I considered him before I went with Heath Miller, but decided I’d roll the dice on the Steeler under Bruce Arian’s more pass-happy offensive system.

Nom. Player Team Winner Price
156 Brandon Marshall Broncos (DEN) FOX Sports $2
157 Matt Jones Jaguars (JAC) FG $1
158 Rex Grossman Bears (CHI) Grumblings $5
159 Muhsin Muhammad Bears (CHI) FBDieHard $2
160 Leon Washington Jets (NYJ) FG $5
161 Ron Dayne Texans (HOU) Rotoworld $1
162 Brandon Jones Titans (TEN) Rotowire $3
163 Michael Bennett Chiefs (KAN) FBDieHard $1
164 Joe Horn Falcons (ATL) FBDieHard $3
165 Steve McNair Ravens (BAL) FF_com $1
166 Adrian Peterson Bears (CHI) The Huddle $1
167 Eli Manning Giants (NYG) FI_Tim VP $4
168 Jason Witten Cowboys (DAL) The Huddle $2
169 Heath Miller Steelers (PIT) FFToday $1
170 David Akers Eagles (PHI) FBDieHard $1
171 L.J. Smith Eagles (PHI) Rotowire $3
172 Maurice Stovall Buccaneers (TAM) Rotoworld $1
173 Drew Bennett Rams (STL) FOX Sports $3
174 Daniel Graham Broncos (DEN) FI_Tim VP $1
175 Dallas Clark Colts (IND) Grumblings $1
176 Demetrius Williams Ravens (BAL) FG $1
177 Eddie Kennison Chiefs (KAN) The Huddle $2
178 Sidney Rice Vikings (MIN) FBDieHards $1
179 Bobby Wade Vikings (MIN) FG $1
180 Amani Toomer Giants (NYG) FI_Tim VP $1
181 Dominic Rhodes Raiders (OAK) FOX Sports $1
182 Jason Campbell Redskins (WAS) Rotoworld $1
183 Jacoby Jones Texans (HOU) Rotowire $1
184 Chris Henry Bengals (CIN) FBDieHard $1
185 Derrick Mason Ravens (BAL) FFToday $1
186 Kevin Walter Texans (HOU) FF_com $1
187 James Jones Packers (GNB) The Huddle $2
188 Sammy Morris Patriots (NWE) The Huddle $1
189 Craig Davis Chargers (SDG) FF_com $1
190 Steve Smith Giants (NYG) FFToday $1
191 Troy Williamson Vikings (MIN) FBDieHard $1
192 Josh Brown Seahawks (SEA) Rotowire $1
193 Jacksonville Jaguars Jaguars (JAC) Rotoworld $1
194 Michael Robinson 49ers (SFO) FOX Sports $1
195 DeDe Dorsey Colts (IND) FG $1
196 Bryant Johnson Cardinals (ARI) FBDieHards $1
197 T.J. Duckett Lions (DET) FBDieHards $2
198 Jesse Chatman Dolphins (MIA) FG $1
199 Michael Pittman Buccaneers (TAM) Rotoworld $1
200 San Francisco 49ers 49ers (SFO) FBDieHard $2
201 Kenneth Darby Buccaneers (TAM) FFToday $1
202 Patrick Cobbs Dolphins (MIA) FF_com $1
203 Joey Harrington Falcons (ATL) The Huddle $1
204 Maurice Morris Seahawks (SEA) The Huddle $1
205 Devin Hester Bears (CHI) FF_com $1
206 David Boston Buccaneers (TAM) FFToday $1
207 Anthony Thomas Bills (BUF) FBDieHard $1
208 Arnaz Battle 49ers (SFO) Rotoworld $1
209 Ted GinnJr. Dolphins (MIA) FG $1
210 Lorenzo Booker Dolphins (MIA) FBDieHards $1
211 Carolina Panthers Panthers (CAR) FBDieHards $1
212 Tony Scheffler Broncos (DEN) FG $1
213 Hank Baskett Eagles (PHI) Rotoworld $1
214 Byron Leftwich Jaguars (JAC) FFToday $1
215 David Martin Dolphins (MIA) Rotoworld $1
216 Dennis Northcutt Jaguars (JAC) FBDieHards $1

My dumbest move was spending $2 on the Raiders defense when Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Miami, and Minnesota were still on the board. I like the Raiders defense, but an extra dollar can mean a lot this late in the draft. I could have saved that money for another back like Dominic Rhodes ($1), a player I hoped would come back to me, but he was opened for bid 4 spots ahead of me. This is the time of the draft where an auction most resembles a snake draft. Only 2-3 teams have the money up a bid and generally only for 2-3 players. Having that extra room to bid more than a dollar can make a difference.

James Jones of the Packers was another player I hoped to grab. I actually couldn’t find him on the fantasy auctioneer application fast enough to place him for bid. I am happy with my choice of Mason, though. I’ll consider it a happy accident that I didn’t get Jones—unless Donald Driver gets hurt or David Boston has another problem involving something stupid in a motor vehicle…you know, I’m feeling less happy by the moment.

At this point, I took chances on rookies and under the radar picks that I think have the talent to produce, but not necessarily the situation. The Giants Steve Smith will at least be the #3 WR and I liked the fact he has continued to show the same toughness as a pro to hold onto the ball when hit as he did at USC. Smith is for real, and after Calvin Johnson he is one of the two best bets to put up strong, rookie stats.

Kenneth Darby has performed well enough to have a shot to supplant Michael Pittman as the 3rd down back. The Bucs are actually considering Pittman for a FB role. I’ve long thought Darby was one of the better RB prospects in this draft class and I can easily drop him for any hot free agents during the year.

Rounding out the draft, I chose David Boston three days prior to his legal incident. At that time, he was getting mention as a viable starter for the Bucs. If he somehow escapes restitution for being passed out at the wheel of his car in the middle of the street with the transmission in drive—sounds like one of those old movie serials your parents or grandparents used to talk about, doesn’t it—he may very well be a steal. Personally, I think starters Arnaz Battle or Dennis Northcutt for $1 is a more sensible choice and so are Byron Leftwich and Joey Harrington for the same price. Anthony Thomas was a player I hoped to get with my last pick, but he want right after I chose Boston—compounding my potentially bad judgment.

Overall, I’m pleased with my team. It’s not the most impressive squad on paper, but there’s a lot that happens between week three of the preseason and weeks 14-15. Between Leinart and Young I should have a productive young starter. I’m a bigger fan of Young’s potential as a player long-term, but I think Leinart has the weapons perform well for me in 2007. I’m worried Young will not be as much of a surprise to NFL defenses this year. At the same time, if he takes his game up a notch we could be looking at an elite player in the making.

Week four is going to be a killer bye week for me unless I find some RB help within the next month, but if my team is performing well, I won’t care about one really bad week. If Young, Bush, and Jones-Drew perform in 2007 as they did in the last 6 weeks of 2006 (Young was #9, Bush #6, and Jones-Drew #4), I will likely have three of the overall top-10 fantasy performers in 2007.

And keep in mind I paid a combined $3 for Jones-Drew, Philip Rivers, and Amani Toomer. All three were productive players for decent stretches. I also added Vince Young and Santonio Holmes from the waiver wire. This is why I like the risk big-win big strategy—it’s really not as big of a risk as people portray it. Can Steve Smith be this year’s Santonio Holmes at the end of the year? Absolutely. Is David Boston a viable comeback player of the year candidate? If he keeps himself out of trouble, surely this is possible. I’d rather spend $1 on these possibilities than spend $9-$18 on a player who has to wait for injury to fulfill his promise. The payoff for the investment is not as strong.

Updated Crank Projections

More changes this week as developments in the preseason unfold. Once again, the tight end position remains unchanged at this point. Significant risers are in bright green and those in decline with the red jersey.

2007 Crank Score Projections
QB Player ADP Crank RB Player ADP Crank WR Player ADP Crank TE Player ADP Crank
1 P. Manning 2.01 69.3 1 L. Tomlinson 1.01 96.23 1 C. Johnson 2.06 64.03 1 A. Gates 3.1 25.89
2 C. Palmer 3.04 62.59 2 F. Gore 1.03 75.78 2 R. Williams 3.05 56.99 2 V. Davis 7.08 16.84
3 D. Brees 4.06 54.82 3 B. Westbrook 1.06 73.18 3 S. Smith (Car) 2.04 53.11 3 J. Shockey 6.09 14.42
4 J. Kitna 5.12 47.04 4 J. Addai 1.05 61.96 4 M. Harrison 2.1 50.31 4 T. Heap 6.07 13
5 T. Brady 4.02 44.37 5 R. Bush 1.09 51.74 5 R. Wayne 2.12 49.22 5 T. Gonzalez 5.05 12.38
6 M. Bulger 4.1 40.24 6 L. Maroney 1.1 48.58 6 L. Fitzgerald 3.03 45.48 6 B. Watson 10.02 11.23
7 B. Roethlisberger 9.04 37.81 7 M. Jones Drew 2.07 45.27 7 T. Owens 2.11 43.92 7 C. Cooley 7.12 10.69
8 T. Romo 6.02 36.39 8 E. James 2.09 42.76 8 D. Jackson 6.11 39.22 8 H. Miller 10.12 7.85
9 M. Leinart 7.11 35.78 9 S. Jackson 1.02 39.9 9 T. Holt 2.08 38.04 9 K. Winslow 7.1 5.95
10 C. Pennington 12.01 31.76 10 L. Johnson 1.03 33.91 10 C. Chambers 6.1 35.68 10 D. Graham 14.09 5.45
11 D. McNabb 5.07 27.88 11 T. Henry 1.11 37.02 11 R. Moss 4.06 35.26 11 E. Johnson 13.03 4.64
12 V. Young 7.06 27.71 12 R. Brown 2.05 35.05 12 L. Evans 4.05 32.63 12 G. Olsen -- 4.17
13 A. Smith 10.09 25.15 13 W. McGahee 2.01 32.43 13 R. Brown 5.07 31.07 13 O. Daniels 12.11 3.96
14 P. Rivers 7.11 23.25 14 C. Benson 2.12 26.37 14 A. Boldin 3.09 26.74 14 A. Crumpler 8.07 3.67
15 M. Hasselbeck 7.03 23.15 15 S. Alexander 1.06 28.73 15 M. Colston 4.04 25.7 15 J. Witten 9.03 2.78
16 B. Favre 9.11 22.45 16 R. Johnson 1.1 28.58 16 D. Stallworth 8.03 24.93 16 R. McMichael 11.02 2.32
17 R. Grossman 13.02 22.04 17 C. Portis 2.07 26.29 17 D. Branch 23.58 17 Dal. Clark 12.05 2.14
18 B. Leftwich -- 20.69 18 C. Williams 3.12 20.7 18 J. Galloway 7.06 22.56 18 B. Scaife -- 1.84
19 J. Cutler 8.04 20.16 19 T. Jones 2.11 20.61 19 T. J. Housh 3.1 21.73 19 L. Pope -- 1.18
20 S. McNair 13.04 19.78 20 W. Parker 1.08 19.14 20 S. Holmes 9.08 21.41 20 M. Lewis --. 0.99
21 J. Garcia 12.1 19.33 21 A. Green 4.1 16.91 21 J. Walker 3.11 19.94 21 J. Stevens -- 0.79
22 J. Delhomme 10.03 19.1 22 B. Jacobs 3.04 16.44 22 A. Johnson 3.1 19.41 22 M. Pollard -- 0.66
23 E. Manning 9.01 18.43 23 J. Lewis 5.03 13.4 23 L. Coles 5.08 19.01 23 Z. Miller -- 0.52
24 J.P. Losman 12.04 18 24 L. Jordan 6.04 14.52 24 D. Driver 4.06 18.3 24 C. Baker -- 0.36
25 T. Green 14.04 17.85 25 D. Foster 15.92 25 P. Burress 4.11 17.65 25 D. Martin -- 0.32
26 D. Culpepper -- 17.38 26 W. Dunn 13.79 26 Mark Clayton 7.03 16.36
27 J. Harrington -- 14.37 27 J. Jones 9.06 13.09 27 B. Berrian 9.01 15.69
28 J. Campbell -- 13.47 28 C. Taylor 7.03 8.24 28 H. Ward 5.06 15.19
29 M. Schaub 12.01 11.39 29 M. Barber 5.08 11.39 29 Cal. Johnson 5.12 14.76
30 T. Jackson -- 11.03 30 J. Norwood 5.07 16.38 30 V. Jackson 7.07 14.65
31 D. Huard -- 10.63 31 D. Williams 4.08 10.02 31 G. Jennings 9.02 13.46
32 C. Frye -- 9.19 32 F. Taylor 7.05 9.6 32 D. Henderson 10.05 13.01
  33 D. McCallister 4.04 6.14 33 J. Horn 11.04 12.93
  34 L. Betts 7.1 4.13 34 S. Moss 6.02 12.36
  35 L. White 9.04 6.32 35 E. Kennison 13.09 10.15
  36 A. Peterson 4.12 5.92 36 J. Porter 9.12 9.47


Rex Grossman and Byron Leftwich move back down the rankings this week. Both have upside, but the will likely have bouts of inconsistency to begin the season. Both are excellent value picks as back ups. Daunte Culpepper moves up after a good preseason performance and an increased possibility he could become the starter to open the season. Drew Brees moves up, because the Saints offense is hitting on all cylinders regardless of the receivers brought into the game. I think Brees will have another banner year.

Running Backs

Jerious Norwood makes a serious slide in my rankings, because Warrick Dunn made a successful return from surgery and is slated to resume his role as starter. Surely this could change sometime this year, but the fortunate news for Dunn is not a great sign for Norwood owners. DeShaun Foster gains ground after retaining his hold on the starting job. He makes a very high-end reserve—a great number-three fantasy back. Lamont Jordan should have more room to run this year and with Rhodes’ suspension, I’m coming around to the idea that this high talented, yet under performing runner could do well enough for fantasy owners to use in their starting lineup.

Wide Receivers

Marques Colston moves up my rankings for similar reasons I stated for Drew Brees. I toyed with the idea of dropping Randy Moss out of my top 12, but I think he’s sandbagging and will be ready to start the season.