How I Dominated the RotoWire Steak League Auction

Last year, I titled my piece: “How I Botched the RotoWire Steak League Auction,” and that team finished with by far the most points in the league. So maybe my assessment doesn’t mean much. But I’m happy with how things shook out this year, the details of which I’ll get into below.

This season, the league was only 14, rather than 16 teams (actually it’s now two 14-team leagues with the winners of each meeting in the final Week 17), but everything else is unchanged. It’s a 1-QB, 2-RB, 3-WR, 1-TE, 1-K, $200-budget auction, with three IDPs (one defensive lineman, one linebacker and one defensive back.) It’s standard (non-PPR) scoring, and there’s no flex position.

Of course, the key isn’t to win this league (which pays out ~$250) but to avoid buying steaks, i.e., losing the total points side bet which can cost you north of $300. In case you haven’t heard me mention it incessantly on Sirius XM, we’ve done this league since 2000, with half the participants buying steaks in a given year, and I’ve only bought twice, once for myself in 2005 and once for myself and two others (last place) in 2010. Every other season, I’ve eaten for free, putting me about $1500 to the good, steak-wise. (Actually, given I order the full shrimp entree as an appetizer and the surf and turf (market price) as my entree, let’s call it $2000.)

This year, my strategy was to buy expensive players I liked early in the auction for anything resembling fair prices and figure out the end game later. Because we moved from 16 to 14 teams, and there is no flex, this league isn’t much deeper than your standard 12-teamer – at least at RB and WR. As such, it made more sense to go stars and scrubs. The shallower the league, the higher the replacement value and the less valuable the mid-level players are. The deeper the league, the lower the replacement value and the more valuable anyone with a guaranteed role is. Because most people price players based on past experience, I suspected the top end would largely be too cheap, now that the league got considerably shallower from one year to the next.

Here are the results:

Pos Peter Schoenke $ Shannon McKeown $ Erik Siegrist $ Mike Doria $
QB Jameis Winston 11 Derek Carr 13 Aaron Rodgers 25 Tom Brady 16
RB Carlos Hyde 24 Doug Martin 31 Duke Johnson 12 Todd Gurley 51
RB Matt Jones 19 Jeremy Langford 17 James Starks 2 Jonathan Stewart 14
WR Alshon Jeffery 30 Jeremy Maclin 22 Mike Evans 40 DeSean Jackson 10
WR Odell Beckham 55 Golden Tate 24 DeVante Parker 21 Julian Edelman 23
WR Donte Moncrief 24 Stefon Diggs 15 Jordy Nelson* 39 Eric Decker 25
TE Zach Ertz 8 Gary Barnidge 7 Rob Gronkowski 32 Coby Fleener 15
LB Eric Kendricks 1 Telvin Smith 3 C.J. Mosley 1 Jamie Collins 2
DL Rob Ninkovich 1 Carlos Dunlap 2 Dante Fowler 1 Muhammad Wilkerson 2
DB Antoine Bethea 1 Reggie Nelson 2 Karl Joseph 1 Landon Collins 2
K Dan Bailey 1 Chris Boswell 2 Josh Lambo 1 Stephen Gostkowski 4
Bench Marcus Mariota 6 Ameer Abdullah 14 Brock Osweiler 1 Derrick Henry 9
Bench Charles Sims 9 Nelson Agholor 6 Dorial Green-Beckham 4 Matthew Stafford 6
Bench Josh Doctson* 2 Michael Crabtree 9 Andre Ellington 1 Frank Gore 10
Bench Phillip Dorsett 5 Jay Ajayi 13 Isaiah Crowell 8 Vincent Jackson 5
Bench Josh Ferguson 2 Justin Forsett 7 Devontae Booker 3 Chris Hogan 3
Bench Chris Thompson 1 Markus Wheaton 13 Javorius Allen 8 Antonio Gates 3


Pos Chris Liss $ Jeff Erickson $ Tim Schuler $ Herb Ilk $
QB Drew Brees 18 Russell Wilson 24 Blake Bortles 17 Matt Ryan 1
RB David Johnson 43 Adrian Peterson 40 LeSean McCoy 28 Jamaal Charles* 36
RB DeAngelo Williams 7 Arian Foster 17 Mark Ingram 29 Rashad Jennings 12
WR Allen Robinson 42 Demaryius Thomas 31 Keenan Allen 33 DeAndre Hopkins 46
WR Brandin Cooks 38 Sammy Watkins 32 Allen Hurns 21 T.Y. Hilton 38
WR Sterling Shepard 16 Larry Fitzgerald 23 Michael Floyd 25 Josh Gordon* 14
TE Jordan Reed 20 Martellus Bennett 4 Delanie Walker 14 Greg Olsen 19
LB Lavonte David 4 Khalil Mack 7 Luke Kuechly 10 D’Qwell Jackson 1
DL Jason Pierre-Paul 1 Michael Bennett 1 Robert Quinn 3 Olivier Vernon 1
DB Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 2 Reshad Jones 3 Kenny Vaccaro 1 Kam Chancellor 1
K Cairo Santos 1 Chandler Catanzaro 1 Justin Tucker 2 Mason Crosby 2
Bench Andy Dalton 2 Deone Bucannon 1 Kirk Cousins 9 Giovani Bernard 19
Bench Breshad Perriman* 1 Michael Thomas 6 Will Fuller 2 Jerick McKinnon 3
Bench Rishard Matthews 1 Bilal Powell 6 Zach Miller 2 Alfred Morris 3
Bench Spencer Ware 2 Keith Marshall 2 Chris Johnson 1 Jaelen Strong 1
Bench Paul Perkins 1 Terrance West 1 Terrance Williams 2 Jermaine Kearse 1
Bench Wendell Smallwood 1 Ryan Fitzpatrick 1 Robert Woods 1 Kenny Britt 1


Pos Jason Thornbury $ Josh Ross $ Vlad Sedler $ Scott Jenstad $
QB Andrew Luck 23 Ben Roethlisberger 18 Eli Manning 14 Carson Palmer 9
RB Thomas Rawls 31 Dion Lewis* 7 Lamar Miller 39 Ezekiel Elliott 46
RB Latavius Murray 24 Melvin Gordon 20 DeMarco Murray 19 Matt Forte 16
WR A.J. Green 43 Dez Bryant 43 Julio Jones 50 Doug Baldwin 25
WR Brandon Marshall 38 Amari Cooper 36 Randall Cobb 26 Emmanuel Sanders 16
WR Marvin Jones 11 Travis Benjamin 9 Tyler Lockett 22 John Brown 17
TE Eric Ebron 2 Ladarius Green* 10 Tyler Eifert* 6 Travis Kelce 16
LB Bobby Wagner 2 Sean Lee 2 Alec Ogletree 1 NaVorro Bowman 4
DL Leonard Williams 1 Aaron Donald 5 Everson Griffen 1 Calais Campbell 2
DB Barry Church 2 Harrison Smith 2 Johnathan Cyprien 1 Corey Graham 2
K Steven Hauschka 2 Brandon McManus 1 Josh Brown 1 Blair Walsh 1
Bench Mike Wallace 3 Ryan Mathews 16 Julius Thomas 3 Jeremy Hill 19
Bench Sammie Coates 4 LeGarrette Blount 5 Chris Ivory 10 Willie Snead 6
Bench Jordan Howard 5 T.J. Yeldon 6 Devin Funchess 4 Tavon Austin 7
Bench DeAndre Washington 3 Mohamed Sanu 3 Bruce Ellington 1 Tyrod Taylor 4
Bench Davante Adams 3 Kamar Aiken 6 Shane Vereen 1 Laquon Treadwell 4
Bench Karlos Williams* 2 Cameron Artis-Payne 11 Anquan Boldin 1 C.J. Prosise 3


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Pos Joe Bartel $ Ken Crites $
QB Philip Rivers 10 Cam Newton 25
RB Le’Veon Bell 39 Devonta Freeman 41
RB Eddie Lacy 29 C.J. Anderson 26
WR Kelvin Benjamin 23 Antonio Brown 50
WR Jarvis Landry 22 Jordan Matthews 21
WR Kevin White 19 Torrey Smith 15
TE Jimmy Graham 5 Dwayne Allen 6
LB Ryan Shazier 1 Chandler Jones 3
DL J.J. Watt* 6 Ezekiel Ansah 3
DB Morgan Burnett 3 Kurt Coleman 1
K Roberto Aguayo 1 Adam Vinatieri 1
Bench Danny Woodhead 5 Darren Sproles 1
Bench Corey Coleman 12 Ryan Tannehill 1
Bench Tevin Coleman 7 Pierre Garcon 1
Bench Tony Romo 4 Theo Riddick 2
Bench Tyler Boyd 4 Brandon LaFell 2
Bench Jordan Cameron 2 Jason Witten

I went after Allen Robinson (love him especially in non-PPR where his red-zone and big-play ability gets him TDs and his modest targets for a superstar don’t hurt as much) and David Johnson (Le’Veon Bell without the suspension) right away, looking to add another star receiver or two. But I got “stuck” with Jordan Reed for $20 and Drew Brees for $18 while price enforcing, and I was fine with that. I also got DeAngelo Williams for $7 while bidding up Bell-owner Joe Bartel who knew what I was doing and stuck me with him on purpose. That was fine with me as it buys me four weeks to find a back to go along with Johnson. I spent up for Brandin Cooks and with only $30 or so left, broke my budget on Sterling Shepard for $16. That was the one place I might have held off and had more control over the end game. But there were still decent upside backs like Spencer Ware and Paul Perkins for $1 each.

Bottom line, I got two first rounders (Robinson and Johnson), a second rounder (Cooks), a third-rounder (Reed), two sixth rounders (Brees and Shepard) and a seventh (Williams). That means I traded a fourth and a fifth for a sixth and a first, while tossing in some 8-10 rounders for 11-13s. I’ll take that deal any time.

As for IDP, I attribute a lot of my eating (as opposed to buying) to having success with them. I targeted Jason Pierre Paul (the No. 2 lineman in 2014) for $1 as it looks like he’s his pre-injury self in camp. And I was willing to pay a bit for LaVonte David and Ha Ha Clinton Dix, two top-five IDPs at their positions.

Finally, I made sure to get Andy Dalton as a reserve because Brees is great at home and below average on the road. I’ll use Dalton for most of Brees’ road starts and hopefully wind up with top-three QB stats.