At the end of June, the Cafe started a PPR Auction Mock Draft. There were 12 owners who used a $200 budget to fill a 15-man roster. For many owners, myself included, it was our first auction-style draft. That being said, all owners are fantasy vets and had a very solid grasp on player values. In this article, I will analyze some notable draft happenings while explaining what I learned about auction draft strategy.
When clicking on the winning bids link, the first thing you might notice is the higher prices paid for top players, specifically RBs, than what other websites are recommending. This can be attributed to two things: owners new to auction-style drafting with a full pocket of money to burn overspending due to the slow style of auction (each auction ended after a period of 24 hours went by with no new bids), and owners realizing that fantasy championships are won with stud players, with top-tier RBs in particular being hard to find.
I like to think the inflated prices were more due to the second reason, as I started out my team by locking up Ryan Mathews at $49 and Darren McFadden at $47. This was a risky strategy, but I am of the old-school thought that RB is the most important position, and I wanted to lock up some good ones. I budgeted more money for the RB position and took that money from my QB budget, where I ended up getting good values with Robert Griffin III for $11 and Carson Palmer for $2. I believe RGIII has a good shot to crack the top 12 with his scrambling ability, and Palmer has a good shot at top 15.
Most auction-style drafts are going to be won in the mid-to-late rounds. In the early part of the auction, every owner has a lot of money left to spend, and there are going to be few real values. If you want a stud player, you are going to have to pay fair market value. That is why planning for the middle and late parts of the auction is so important. Divide players into tiers and assign two values to each player: first, the expected value you believe the player will sell for, and second, the value you believe the player is worth. Then you automatically have your player targets — the players with lower expected values than actual values. You can then scratch off each player as they are taken off the board, so you know when a tier of similarly valued players is about to be gone. Also, since many owners will have similar tiers, try securing your players in each tier before it gets down to the last player or two because there is a high probability of a bidding war for that last stud RB or WR available. Lastly, this method will make sure you don’t forget about any players. This may seem obvious, but a difficult aspect of auction drafting is the fact that players can be nominated in any order, and if a higher-valued player doesn’t get his name called until late in the auction, many owners may have used up their budget, leading to fewer bidders and a possible bargain.
The top six QBs went for an average of $39. The next seven QBs went for an average of $19. All the other QBs went for an average of $2. Some of the owners who spent big bucks on top QBs were disappointed that the likes of Eli Manning and Matt Ryan went for only $17 and $14, respectively. I am firmly in the camp of the strategy of waiting for a second-tier QB and using your extra money elsewhere.
The top 10 RBs all went for more than $40, with Arian Foster getting run all the way up to an eye-popping $59. After the top 10 RBs came off the board, values fell rapidly, with most running backs having a lot of questions attached to their names. With a lot of money spent on the front end, there were values to be had as the auction progressed. RBs I thought had good value include Stephen Jackson at $19, Doug Martin at $18, Jahvid Best at $13, Beanie Wells at $9, Jonathan Stewart at $8, C.J. Spiller at $6, Stevan Ridley at $4, Donald Brown at $2 and Ben Tate at $1. Don’t sleep on Martin, especially in a PPR. His value is skyrocketing after starting camp as the clear cut No. 1.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
I think WRs and TEs were ranked well value wise. Some good values of note include Antonio Brown at $12, Kendall Wright at $1 and Coby Fleener at $2. Mike Wallace’s holdout has Brown’s value rising, while Kenny Britt’s legal problems will lead to Wright getting more looks. Fleener is a very talented TE who should be a good safety valve for Andrew Luck, who will probably be throwing a lot.
If you have never tried an auction draft, I would encourage you to buy in. It is a fun new way to experience fantasy football, with a chance to get any player you want. No making excuses about draft position if your team crashes and burns. As one owner put it, auction drafting is like no-limit hold ‘em while serpentine drafting is like limit hold ‘em. There is more risk, but there is more reward.
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