The NFL season doesn’t kick off until September 10th but the beginning of the fantasy football campaign is right around the corner for most of us. It is time to start preparing for your championship run. For me that has entailed breaking down the three main positions into tiers and doing countless mock drafts. If you don’t want to take the time to break down the groups yourself, you can check out my rendition at illinisoul.blogspot.com. Next week I plan on getting into different strategies for a successful snake draft, but today I want to walk you through the preparation, execution, and overview of a standard 12 team auction draft.
I have already done my homework. I know the guys I will target at specific price ranges. I have a plan A, B, C, and D. If those plans come crashing down around me I feel that I have enough experience to be able to make something up on the fly because of all the practice I have put into place. I typically let the other owners in the draft room dictate what strategy I employ. As most of you know, I love me some A.P., but not at $70. If the best RB in the game is going for $63 then you better believe that I am jumping on that train. Because I set a budget for each position I am able to restrain myself from overspending at any one position. My budget breaks down like this; $100 for RB, $25 for QB, $65 for WR, $8 for TE, and $1 each for K and D. The asking price of 2 players typically dictates what direction my draft goes. The first is A. Peterson. In most drafts he is one of the first players put up for auction. If I nab him in the low $60’s I know that I’m not drafting another RB for a while. That is unless someone throws out a lower rated guy sooner than normal. The 2nd player that is an indicator for my draft is M. Forte. Forte is the only other RB that I am willing to spend big bucks on. If I do land Forte, I will approach the draft the same way as if I signed A.P. but knowing that there is an extra $10 in my back pocket to spend on an upgraded bench or another top tier WR. If both Peterson and Forte slip past me I simply move down to the next group of guys, plan C, and go on with my draft. Now, if every one of Williams, L.T., Gore, and Slaton goes for outrageous prices we turn to plan D. Plan D is all about quantity. I hoard RBs who range from $15-$25 and hope a couple of them pan out.
The following is a list of five things that I will do or bring with me on draft day:
1. A list that is broken down by position of all available players ranked in order of the most you are willing to pay for each player. Break this list into tiers and highlight your real targets.
2. A chart, on one piece of paper, that shows the players drafted and cash remaining of every team.
3. Your team budget. How many dollars you are allocating for each position. Update this budget as you spend.
4. A poker face. Not a MP3 file of the stupid song, but a cool demeanor. Don’t get into a bidding war just because you are upset someone is bidding up your player.
5. List of sleepers. You need to have at least 5 guys at the three key positions. More than once in your draft a $1 sleeper will be bumped up to $2 by some jerk that is only doing it to be a jerk. If you only have one sleeper, you may fall into the trap of paying $7/$8 for a guy who is really only worth $1 or $2 max.
Now it’s time to enter the draft room. Let me give you some highlights…
How about we will start with some overpriced RBs, eh? Peterson went for a whopping $75, M. Turner for $65, S. Jackson got up to $56, a $61 Forte, $26 for K. Smith, and last but not least is a ridiculous $56 for Bandon Jacobs. I thought the best buys came in the form of W. Parker for $15, R. Williams for $1 could be a sleeper, I like a $8 C. Benson, M. Barber went for $27 when I have seen him go in the mid $30s, and a $16 Addai may be worth a gamble. There weren’t a lot of big surprises at WR or QB. The top guys got up there in price with Brees going for $46 and Fitzgerald bringing home $48. Before I break down my team I wanted to point out a couple of big mistakes by other owners.
One owner, let’s call him Bob, has a shit ton of expensive RBs. M. Forte (61), K. Smith (26), R. Brown (22), T. Jones (21), and R. Grant (20). Bob also drafted a $34 R. Moss, which I don’t think is a bad price, but left the rest of the team in shambles. Joe Flacco is the starting QB. D. Driver is the #2 WR with guys like Muhammad and Jenkins as the back-up WRs. Maybe he can deal one of his RBs for a decent QB or WR but Bob has to count on at least 4 of his 5 RBs getting off to great starts to be able to afford trading one.
We have another owner who went the complete opposite direction. Let’s call him Ron. Ron started off by drafting a $46 D. Brees. If you have read my “QBs grow on trees” article you know how I feel about this move and if you haven’t read it, read it as soon as you finish this. Anyway, Ron has a couple of very nice WRs to go along with Brees in A. Johnson (41) and S. Smith (31). Guess what Ron doesn’t have. That’s right, RBs or any depth at all. His RBs include; Portis (33), Sproles (10), Norwood (2), and Hightower (2). That doesn’t look like a championship group to me. Portis is a #2 fantasy RB and Sproles may be a #3, but is more useful as a #4. Overpaying for a QB and two stud WRs is no way to win.
My team is far from perfect, but I think they are pretty darn good. Here it is.
QB Aaron Rodgers 19 – Going to be a top 5 QB.
RB DeAngelo Williams 47 – The #1 fantasy RB last year for $28 less than A. Peterson.
RB Pierre Thomas 19 – I may have overpaid slightly here.
RB/WR Darren McFadden 17 – I hope one of McFadden or Thomas pan out.
WR Reggie Wayne 26 – A little less than I expected to pay for this stud WR.
WR Greg Jennings 26 – 3 players later White went for $22. I may have paid a bit much.
TE Greg Olsen 5 – I love me some Greg Olson. Top 3 TE this year. You’ll thank me later.
D/ST Jets D/ST 1 – Don’t care.
K Ryan Longwell 1 – Don’t care.
BE Vincent Jackson 15 WR – I spent way too much here. It was my big mistake of the draft.
BE Matt Hasselbeck 2 QB – Gerrard went for $4 so I moved to my second choice.
BE Torry Holt 7 WR – I got a go-to WR for $7, he may be old but I like it.
BE Felix Jones 4 RB – Could be a great value if Barber gets hurt again.
BE Donald Brown 5 RB – I love this rookie. Perhaps this year’s Matt Forte.
BE Rashard Mendenhall 2 RB – I have a man-crush on Rashard.
BE Devin Hester 4 WR – Hopefully Hester can become Cutler’s Brandon Marshall.
The only complaint I have about my team is that I don’t have a reliable #2 RB. I do feel like one of the 5 RBs on my roster other than Williams will step it up. I love my group of WRs. Wayne and Jennings are about as solid as it gets and Jackson appears poised for a breakout year. Holt should be a solid spot starter if needed and Hester has potential. This team has balance, depth, and potential. I can smell another fantasy championship coming my way.