The Agnostic Auction

Last Monday I participated in Brad Evans’s first annual Sin City Auction in Las Vegas, preceding RotoWire’s annual company trip there during the MLB All-Star break. It’s a 14-team league a pretty unique roster structure – QB Flex, another Flex, two TE’s, plus three WR’s – essentially patterned after the Stopa 10K League that a number of us have played in the last few years, but without kickers. It was a little bit of a bummer that the RotoWire Vegas League drafts occurred one day after instead of prior to this auction, only so that I could get a better feel for the position tiers before heading into an auction.

In auction leagues this deep (14 teams, 10 starting spots), I prefer a spread-the-risk approach rather than a Stars-and-Scrubs draft. Once you hit the bye weeks, it’s incredibly tough to start a full productive roster, especially when the league is full of engaged, experienced players. So while I didn’t have fully mapped out slots, I had a good general idea of how I wanted to stock my roster. Before I post the results, here are the participants in the league:

  1. Jeff Erickson, RotoWire (hey, me!)
  2. Jason Thornbury, RotoWire
  3. Luke Hoover, RotoWire
  4. Brad Evans, Yahoo
  5. Andy Behrens, Yahoo
  6. Dalton Del Don, Yahoo
  7. Liz Loza, Yahoo
  8. Tank Williams, Yahoo
  9. Al Zeidenfeld, ESPN
  10. James Koh, DirecTV’s Fantasy Zone
  11. Nate Lundy, Mile High Sports
  12. Ryan Harris, Former NFL player, Broadcaster 92.5 FM Denver
  13. Orlando Franklin, Former NFL player, Broadcaster @1043thefan Denver
  14. “TedBell” (not his real name but twitter handle), self-described SuperFan

Because of Brad, this league has a definite Denver feel. Here’s the full grid, with a link if you’d like to see a bigger version:

The result here is a pretty agnostic draft for me – my only targeted player, such that he was, is Kenyan Drake. It’s early, but I really like the combination of his skill set, a new coaching staff and uninspiring competition. Overall I had one misstep, and that was miscalculating the value of QBs in this league. It’s essentially a two-QB league, as you’re almost always going to use a QB in the SuperFlex spot when you can. In most of my leagues in this format, most third-tier QBs approach $20 in the auction, and the top ones eclipse $40. So in a vacuum I like the prices on Aaron Rodgers ($34) and Matthew Stafford ($14) for my team, but the rest of the league didn’t behave that way. After I bought Stafford, Ben Roethlisberger went for $15, Carson Wentz went for $22 (about $10 too cheap, IMO), Derek Carr $11, etc… When the rest of the league is off what you think the prices should be as a category as a whole, they’re not wrong – you’re the one that’s wrong about estimating what the league values. That miscalculation cost me a better third receiver, which is a bit against what I was trying to do with my budget.

Here’s a rundown of my roster:

QB – Aaron Rodgers ($34), Matthew Stafford ($14), Eli Manning ($4).

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– Getting two starters was mandatory, and I wanted three to account for bye weeks and have a little trade leverage. But given how the relative prices went, my leverage is pretty low for now, and could evaporate entirely if Eli blows up in a negative way early and loses his job to Daniel Jones. When Marcus Mariota instead goes for $6 and Nick Foles for $4, that’s not a win for me.

RB – Leonard Fournette ($25), Tevin Coleman ($19), Kenyan Drake ($16), Ronald Jones II ($5), Matt Breida ($2).

– This is where you can see the agnostic approach. I didn’t have Fournette anywhere last season and he’s not an outright target for me, but at the same time, I think that at least here, his price dropped too low relative to other running backs. I think that Coleman has the best chance of winning the Niners’ starting RB job, and I love his skills pairing along with the Shanahan system. Ronald Jones was the second player I bought, after Fournette, and I think that while he’s second on the Bucs’ depth chart for now, I think he has the upside to carve out a significant role with a new coaching regime. Breida is my lone handcuff for my most volatile starter.

WR – Odell Beckham Jr. ($39), Kenny Golladay ($19), Mecole Hardman ($4), DeVante Parker ($2), Parris Campbell ($2).

– In retrospect I probably would have been better off not paying full price for OBJ, instead getting a receiver from the the next tier down, just from a structural standpoint. But he came out earlier among the top tier wide receivers in the nomination, and I should have exercised more self-control and bought in the next tier below – I prefer the $26 that Thorn paid for Mike Evans or the $22 that Ryan Harris paid for A.J. Green, and the subsequent WR3 I could have purchased with the savings. Of course we’re not shadow-drafting – there’s no guarantee I would have gotten those guys for +$1 over their auction price. I caught some grief for the Hardman buy, but even if Tyreek Hill’s suspension is cut down to two or three games, I think Hardman works his way into a decent number of targets even as the #3 once Hill returns. DeVante Parker? Bah … I can’t quit him. Two Dolphins on my roster is probably one too many.

TE – Evan Engram ($12), C.J. Uzomah ($1).

– This is about how I wanted to structure my two tight ends – one top-10 guy, and one $1 guy. Engram’s price was commensurate with the other tight ends in his range – Hunter Henry (16), Eric Ebron (12), David Njoku (15), Jared Cook (13) as some examples. What about the Big 3? Al Zeidenfeld bought Travis Kelce for $37, Dalton Del Don bought George Kittle for $27 and Andy Behrens bought Zach Ertz for $26. I really thought that between Dalton (Niners guy) and Andy (Iowa alum), Kittle might even go for more, but Andy bought Ertz early in the auction before Kittle came out. Dalton might have gotten the best TE bargain in O.J. Howard at $15.

DEF – Eagles ($1).

– We didn’t have to fill our defensive slot now, so arguably I should have added one more RB/WR/TE instead. Had I been topped on this nomination, that’s probably the route I would have taken. But I like getting this defense – getting to face the Giants and Redskins twice is a nice start.

Every auction dynamic is different. Orlando Franklin came out spending big early on, whereas Dalton Del Don didn’t spend anything until at least the fourth or fifth orbit of players. We had 3-4 savers that were bidding against each other in the middle portions of the draft – Dalton, James Koh, Nate Lundy and Al. In the case of Nate, he never went that big on anybody – doing more I was intended to do, though I don’t think he perfectly executed his strategy, as he essentially left about $10 on the table, spending big on the Rams defense just to clear the rest of his auction budget.

What stands out to you in this draft? Who has the best team? Hit me up on Twitter to share your reactions!