Every year, countless football fans fill their summers preparing for and drafting in fantasy leagues. Every competitor wants an edge. Every person wants to win. That is much easier said than done. During the season, I do a column with streamers for each week, but the season is still a couple of months away. I'll start out with some insights that just might help you get an edge in your next auction draft. Note, this article takes up 18 pages in a word document, so if you're reading this on the main page, click "read more" to read the rest. I attempted to be as detailed as possible in breaking down player values as they fell in my specific draft, so there's lots of detail. Your draft may not fall this way, but this will at least give you an idea of some players who might potentially fall. Now to the rest of the post:
I'll begin by looking at auction drafts. I recently did an auction draft on ESPN (random draft, just to get a look at how an average auction might play out), and some interesting trends popped up. This is a season where you can get value throughout your auction draft without over-spending on one guy. I went WR-heavy, because many of the top running backs have question marks around them. The league is a 10 team league, and starts 1 QB 2 RB 2 WR 1 TE 1 D/ST and 1 K with 7 bench spots. My roster is as follows:
QB: Andrew Luck and Drew Brees.
RB: Jay Ajayi, Matt Jones, TJ Yeldon, and Duke Johnson Jr.
WR: Mike Evans, Keenan Allen, Jeremy Maclin, Kelvin Benjamin, Donte Moncrief, Michael Floyd, and John Brown.
TE: Zach Ertz
K: Dan Bailey
Quarterbacks are probably my strongest point. Luck and Brees? I can live with that. If one of them goes down, I've got an extremely strong second option. If someone else loses a quarterback, plenty of trade value.
My running backs are clearly my weakest link. Ajayi and Jones both have a lot of upside, but also lots of question marks. I took a gamble on TJ Yeldon, and Duke Johnson has a lot of upside in Cleveland. I got stuck with Jeremy Maclin (the dreaded autobid on ESPN took over), and intend to trade him for a RB to even things out.
I over-indulged on receivers in this auction draft. Keenan Allen should be extremely valuable for me, and Donte Moncrief might outperform TY Hilton in Indy, so that's a good starting point. If Mike Evans can get over his drops and continue to develop with Jameis Winston, he should be in the running for a top ten campaign at WR. Benjamin was an injury bargain who I don't need to compete, and provides trade value. Maclin and Floyd are also trade bait, and I got stuck with John Brown attempting to price-enforce. I would have preferred Gio Bernard there.
Zach Ertz has a ton of upside at TE, but will he produce this season? If he works out, this dart pans out. The Jets defense should be strong as usual, and Dan Bailey will put up nice numbers with Romo and Dez Bryant both back and healthy this season. I'm happy with team other than running backs. Even then, if Ajayi and Jones both pan out, and if Johnson can put up good numbers under Hue Jackson, my team should be competitive this season. That being said, this draft was more a test run for me to get a look at how players are selling in a random auction. Not all auctions will pan out the same, but this is how an average, basic auction draft could play out.
Let's take a look at pricing. I'll separate prices by position. The auction was on a 200 dollar budget. Here's what guys sold for in the auction:
Cam Newton (Carolina) $19- Great quarterback, but is he overpriced? I'd rather have a combination of guys like Luck, Brees, and Brady.
Russell Wilson (Seattle) $16- Same case as Newton. Great player, but I'd spend less and grab one of the later options. Yes, you get a top two option with Russell or Cam, but there is great value at the position.
Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay) $9-Rogers has tailed off slightly from his peak seasons, but he still has a ton of talent and is always a threat to put up a dominant performance. Worth a look here but perhap a bit expensive.
Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh) $8-Great when he's healthy, but missing games is becoming a trend. I wouldn't pay more for him than some of the guys after him.
Andrew Luck (Indianapolis) $5-Injury bargain. If he can come back healthy, a top 3 performance at the position is not out of the question. Well worth it.
Tom Brady (New England) $4-You're going to have to find a contingency plan to cover his suspension (like the undrafted Blake Bortles), but gives you a great chance to win down the stretch.
Drew Brees (New Orleans) $4-Sure he's old, but in re-draft leagues, that doesn't matter at QB. The guy is still a stud, and is way undervalued.
Carson Palmer (Arizona) $3-If Palmer can stay healthy, he's a steal.
Derek Carr (Oakland) $2-Carr is developing into a good young QB. There's definite value here.
Philip Rivers (San Diego) $2-Probably one of the biggest values in the auction at $2. Lots of upside.
Tony Romo (Dallas) $2-injury bargain. Good player, but can he stay healthy?
Tyrod Taylor (Buffalo) $2-This might be the steal of the position. Taylor could put up top-5 numbers.
Kirk Cousins (Washington) $1-This isn't a terrible pick for a dollar. I'd have rather had Bortles.
Joe Flacco (Baltimore) $1-So you're telling me you'd rather have Joe Flacco than Blake Bortles, Andy Dalton, Marcus Mariota, or Jameis Winston? No thanks. I don't hate Flacco entirely, but I think there were better options left on the table.
Eli Manning (NY Giants) $1-Huge value at $1. The Giants should be greatly improved this season.
Matt Stafford (Detroit) $1-Stafford is capable of big numbers. Could be a nice value here.
HOW DID BLAKE BORTLES GO UNDRAFTED?!
David Johnson (Arizona) $52-There is no way that David Johnson should be the top paid RB in an auction draft at this point in the season. Chris Johnson could eat into his workload. While he has the talent to be special, and may be an elite RB as early as this season if he takes over the backfield entirely, let the situation play out a bit before spending too big. This is a huge gamble in re-draft leagues.
Le'Veon Bell (Pittsburgh) $51-Bell should be fine as far as recovery. As long as there are no complications, he deserves to be one of the top valued RBs in fantasy this year.
Jamaal Charles (Kansas City) $50-This pick is more of a reflection of Charles' past than of his present. When healthy, he's one of the best RBs in football, but he's getting up there in age and has dealt with injuries recently. With a younger player, that's not a huge issue, but they can compound as players age. Overvalued in my opinion, or at least a big risk.
Todd Gurley (LA Rams) $49-Gurley could be the best RB in football this year as long as he stays healthy. Expect the Rams to pound the rock with him early and often this season.
Zeke Elliot (Dallas) $48-I like Zeke Elliot, but will he start out the year in a committee with Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden in town? Both could eat into his workload early on, even if he has the potential to be a special player.
Adrian Peterson (Minnesota) $47-Every year I worry about Adrian Peterson's eventual breakdown. Every year, it doesn't happen. it's something to keep in mind when valuing him, but clearly Peterson is not your average RB. He should still be a top notch player this year. But be aware that RBs his age do tend to slow down, and they can break down quickly when it happens.
Devonta Freeman (Atlanta) $45-Yes,Freeman had a phenomenal season last year. That being said, Tevin Coleman will likely eat into his workload this year. Classic boom or bust pick. If it pans out, you've got a great player. However, he's going to lose touches this season. His ability as a receiver should keep his production from falling off too much this season, but don't expect a repeat of last year.
LeSean McCoy (Buffalo) $37-I expect McCoy to be in more of a committee setting this year. If Karlos Williams can lose the weight he gained in the offseason, expect Buffalo to use multiple running backs. McCoy's still a good player, but don't expect numbers like he used to put up with Philly at his prime.
Lamar Miller (Houston) $37-Lamar Miller gets his first chance to be a true bell-cow back. Miami always tried to limit his carries. How will he hold up under an increased workload? He'll either put up great numbers or be a big injury risk.
Mark Ingram (New Orleans) $35-Ingram had a rough start to his career, and I've been critical of him so far as a fantasy option. The Saints offense is seemingly almost always hit or miss when it comes to RB production. That being said, Ingram put together a really nice season last year. If he's finally hitting his prime in the NFL, he could be worth a big splurge. It's a gamble, but one that could pay off.
Doug Martin (Tampa Bay) $32- Consistency. That's Doug Martin's biggest problem. Some years, he's a machine, others he struggles. He is coming off of a huge year in which he earned a new, big contract. There's the potential for continued success, but there's also the very real potential for a post-contract dropoff with Sims vulturing carries.
Thomas Rawls (Seattle) $30-Rawls looked like the real deal when healthy in Seattle. Had you listened to me last season, you would have picked him up during the preseason. That being said, he's also an injury risk and hasn't played a full season since high school. The potential for a top 5 RB performance is definitely there, but so is the potential for injury. Prepare accordingly and keep in mind his injury history when bidding.
Carlos Hyde (San Francisco) $27-I'm not the biggest 49ers fan in the world. I'm also not the biggest Chip Kelly fan in the world. That being said, Hyde should be the lead back in this offense, and the 49ers should run the ball a ton. Hyde could be on the verge of a breakout, and he's slipping into value territory here.
Eddie Lacy (Green Bay) $27-If Lacy is out of shape when the season begins, then this is a ripoff. That being said, Lacy seems to be losing weight, and if he can put it all together in a contract year, he could compete for a rushing title and be a steal at this price. Personally, I think he pulls his act together this year to try to earn a big contract. Nice value here.
C.J. Anderson (Denver) $18- The Broncos are going to run the ball a lot this season. If Anderson was the surefire #1 back in the offense, then he'd be worth far more than this. If he winds up in a committee you may be overpaying. Watch to see how the Denver offense plays out in the preseason. If he separates himself from the competition, this could be a value pick.
Matt Forte (NY Jets) $18-I love Matt Forte as a player but I don't know how much I trust him as a Jet. He's still a talented RB, and the Jets will be forced to pound the rock most likely this year on a regular basis, but how many carries will Bilal Powell take from Forte? Don't expect the same numbers from Forte that he put up in Chicago at his prime, but he could be a good later round or low-bid dart that should put up at least flex numbers.
Matt Jones (Washington) $16-Maybe I paid a bit too much on Jones, but I like his upside as the #1 RB option in Washington. The Redskins liked him enough to let Alfred Morris walk, so he should see a large amount of carries at least.
Jonathan Stewart (Carolina) $15-When he's healthy, Stewart can and will put up decent numbers. When he's injured, his owners will be frustrated. I'd say this is a classic boom or bust pick. If he stays healthy, he's a good value here, if he misses the bulk of the season due to injury, he's headed towards the bust territory.
Jeremy Hill (Cincinnati) $12-I have no idea how to value the Cincinnati backfield following Hue Jackson's departure. The offense could shift towards a more pass-heavy backfield, which may benefit Bernard. Also, Hill's fumbles could hurt him as far as touches. He's a gamble.
Dion Lewis (New England) $11-When he plays, he's worth it. Then again, Bill Belichick is probably the hardest coach in the league to predict as far as running back touches. If he stays healthy, he's worth it for favorable matchups, but you're taking a gamble.
Jay Ajayi (Miami) $10-This auction took place before Miami signed Arian Foster, but I don't think Ajayi takes too much of a hit in value. Both players are injury prone, and Foster is likely injury insurance for Ajayi. I think you're looking at a time-share here most likely, but monitor the situation in Miami. Ajayi could be a value.
Ryan Mathews (Philadelphia) $10-Mathews gets the chance to be a #1 back again in Philly. If he stays healthy, he's worth the $10 following his last effort as the clear top back in an offense in San Diego. However, he's also injury prone. This pick is a gamble.
Latavius Murray (Oakland) $9-I'm not a huge Latavius Murray fan, but he'll be the clear top back in Oakland. He's a cheap bell-cow back, and if you're looking for volume, Murray could be a value here.
DeMarco Murray (Tennessee) $8-I have no idea how to value the Titans backfield right now. If Murray figures things out, this is a steal, but there are too many mouths to feed in that backfield. This seems to me like a fair value on him, but he could far out-play it if the pieces fall right. Worth a shot.
Duke Johnson (Cleveland) $7-Cleveland is likely to be a timeshare, but Crowell has been getting into some trouble lately, and Hue Jackson likes high character guys. Plus, Johnson fits what Jackson likes to do. This pick might be the steal of the draft, at least among running backs.
Jeremy Langford (Chicago) $7-With the Chicago backfield headed towards a time-share under Fox, it all depends on how things play out. If Langford gets the bulk of the carries though, he could be a big value here.
TJ Yeldon (Jacksonville) $6-Yeldon and Ivory should split Jacksonville's carries relatively equally. At that point, Yeldon is overpriced here at $4 over Ivory's price, but Yeldon is younger and has more upside. This is a gamble but not an expensive one.
Melvin Gordon (San Diego) $5-This pick could also be a huge steal if Gordon can figure things out. The new coaching staff in San Diego is one that favors the run, so Gordon is a great gamble at $5. Don't plan on him as your #1 back but target him as your flex guy. If he breaks out, you just hit the jackpot.
Ameer Abdullah (Detroit) $4-Abdullah will lose touches to Zach Zenner and Theo Riddick, but he's worth a $4 gamble. I'd also take a $1 flier on Zenner or Riddick though to cover my options.
Justin Forsett (Baltimore) $4-Forsett is probably the top RB in Baltimore to start the season. That being said, he's old and in a crowded backfield. I don't trust him, but $4 is probably a decent gamble on him. I'd rather snag Gio Bernard or Charles Sims at this point.
Danny Woodhead (San Diego) $4-Woodhead is the same player every single season, and will play a nice role in the Chargers passing game. My only question is when he will slow down. He's getting up there in age. At $4 he's a semi-value, but keep in mind that there is room for regression with him.
Chris Ivory (Jacksonville) $2-He's a great value here. He'll be splitting touches in Jacksonville, but there is definitely room for a decent amount of production. At $2, definitely worth it.
Rashad Jennings (NY Giants) $2-Another pick you can't go wrong with. I think he loses touches to Perkins this year, but at $2, its not a big loss if he doesn't pan out.
Gio Bernard (Cincinnati) $1-STEAL ALERT. Gio Bernard could legitimately emerge as the #1 RB in Cincinnati, and could outperform Jeremy Hill as a result. At $1, you're buying him.
Tevin Coleman (Atlanta) $1-Another steal alert. Coleman could begin to vulture more carries in Atlanta, and I expect him to emerge as at least a useful flex play, if not more. Worth it at this price.
Isaiah Crowell (Cleveland) $1-After that cop tweet, I don't trust Crowell at all. He may produce, but I'd spend my last $1 elsewhere.
Frank Gore (Indianapolis) $1-Gore isn't a sexy pick, but the Colts are still thin at RB. There's definitely value potential here.
Theo Riddick (Detroit) $1-Riddick's value is dependent on your scoring, but in any league he's worth a dollar flier. In PPR leagues especially, he should put up a sizeable amount of points. He's best as a receiver out of the backfield.
Charles Sims (Tampa Bay) $1-Another great dollar pick. I expect Sims to put up solid numbers in Tampa, even behind Doug Martin. He did really well last year as a backup and this season should be more of the same. Great value.
Karlos Williams (Buffalo) $1-His weight gain and suspension hurt his value, but at a dollar flier, he's worth a gamble if nothing else is there. Still, he's perhaps better as an in-season waiver claim.
NOTE: Arian Foster was unsigned by Miami at the time of this draft. He should be on your radar if he goes cheaply, but don't spend hoping for his production to be like it was at his prime. View him as a second back in a committee and hope for upside.
Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh) $58-Antonio Brown is, rightly so, the top priced WR in this auction. Him, Beckham, and Hopkins are definitely the top three options, and any of the three are worth buying in on. Brown is insanely consistent, and you can't go wrong with him.
Odell Beckham Jr. (NY Giants) $54-Beckham might be the best young WR in football, or that could be Hopkins. Beckham is breaking records already and with the Giants adding more weapons on offense, he's primed for a huge season. Well worth spending on if he can stay focused and avoid losing his temper.
DeAndre Hopkins (Houston) $53-Hopkins is one of the most underrated WRs in fantasy, and even then, he's valued very high. He's definitely a top three candidate, and you should buy heavy on him. His value here is reasonable, as he should put up numbers deserving of such a high price tag.
Julio Jones (Atlanta) $50-Julio Jones is also a top five WR candidate in football. If he stays healthy, he's worth the price tag, especially with Atlanta adding Sanu this offseason. Definitely a consistent producer when healthy.
Dez Bryant (Dallas) $48-If Dez can come back fully healthy, he's another WR worth paying a high price for. There's some uncertainty here; him and Tony Romo are both coming back from injury, and you should price Dez accordingly. If you spend high on him, be prepared to consider other options as well, but if everything falls right, he could surprise people and even make a run at the top WR in fantasy this year. Or he could get injured (or Romo could get injured), and tank his value. There's some risk here.
Sammy Watkins (Buffalo) $43-Let me preface this by saying I love Sammy Watkins as a player, but at $43 he's overpriced in my opinion. I worry about his health and also his consistency. If he can put everything together and stay consistent and healthy, he's worth it. If not, you're overspending by a lot. If you buy high on Watkins, have a backup plan as well.
Jordy Nelson (Green Bay) $43-I don't know how to value Nelson. He's 31 coming off of an ACL tear so that terrifies me. He's also being projected by some experts to put up as much as 1500 yards this season. I think that estimate is high given his age and given the fact that he's recovering from an ACL tear, and I'd rather take a guy like Allen Robinson or Keenan Allen cheaper. Heck, I'd take Randall Cobb over him and save $32. For what it's worth, Nelson's recovery is on schedule, per reports.
AJ Green (Cincinnati) $41-Inconsistency is key with AJ Green. When he's on, he's one of the best WRs in the game from a fantasy perspective. Then he has random games where he puts up hardly any numbers. If he can become more consistent, he's a surefire top 5 WR. At this point, he's close. I'd take him over Watkins and Nelson.
Alshon Jeffery (Chicago) $40-Jeffery is a good WR, but I'd rather target Brandin Cooks, Allen Robinson, or Keenan Allen. It's not that Jeffery is a bad player, I just feel like those guys will outperform him a bit. Still, not a terrible option as a WR1. Just keep in mind that he could be an injury risk.
Allen Robinson (Jacksonville) $40-I like Robinson a lot. He had a great season last year, and Jacksonville's offense is only getting better. He's a guy that could end the season as a top 5 fantasy WR, and worth the big price tag in my opinion.
Brandon Marshall (NY Jets) $36-Brandon Marshall is coming off of an amazing season. That being said, the Jets offense is an offense in flux. Their QB situation is unsettled, and Marshall is getting up there in years. He could produce at a level like last year, at which point you've got a good value here. However, he could also tail off, making this buy a gamble.
Mike Evans (Tampa Bay) $34-If Mike Evans can get over his mental errors, he will be a top WR. He should be better with more time with Jameis Winston. He should at least repeat his numbers from last year, and I expect improvement out of him this season.
Keenan Allen (San Diego) $31-Allen is a huge steal here. He could catch more passes than any player this year. He's young and consistently good, and even though he's coming off of a kidney injury, he's primed for a monster year. Big value here.
Brandin Cooks (New Orleans) $31-If Cooks can continue to develop, he's a great value here. If he regresses, he's not. I expect him to improve this season and view him as a value, but keep in mind that there is some potential for regression as well. He's a gamble at this price, but one I'd willingly take.
T.Y. Hilton (Indianapolis) $31-I think Hilton is overpriced here. He's the streakiest WR in football, and Donte Moncrief could legitimately outperform him this season. If you're paying high on a WR, I'd look at other options.
Julian Edelman (New England) $26-Edelman is a great option when he's healthy, but keep in mind that he is always an injury risk. Also keep in mind that he will be playing without Tom Brady for the first four games of the year. I'd rather have Amari Cooper here.
Amari Cooper (Oakland) $25-Amari Cooper is one of the best young WRs in football, and should put up great numbers in his second season working with Carr. At $25, he's worth taking.
Kelvin Benjamin (Carolina) $22-Kelvin Benjamin is a huge gamble. He dropped tons of passes in college, had a solid rookie season, spent last season injured, and here we are. If he picks up where he left off as a rookie, he's well worth it at $22, but keep in mind that the Panthers have other options at WR as well now. He should be a value here, but there is definite bust potential.
Eric Decker (NY Jets) $21-Decker is a guy I can't see spending this much on without knowing who will be throwing him the ball. There's the potential for a solid season, but there's also definite bust potential. You're better off with guys like Moncrief, Tate, Landry, and Baldwin.
Jeremy Maclin (Kansas City) $21-Maclin is a known commodity. He's the top WR in a passing offense run by Alex Smith. At $21 he may be worth it, but you still might be reaching. He's just not in a situation to put up huge numbers on a consistent basis. I'd rather take a gamble on Baldwin or grab Randall Cobb for $11.
Demaryius Thomas (Denver) $21-I don't trust DT in Denver. He's declining recently and will be playing without Peyton Manning. Also, Emmanuel Sanders played better than him down the stretch. There's definitely some bust potential here.
Jarvis Landry (Miami) $16-Landry intrigues me. He quietly had a great season last year and seems to be building a good rapport with Ryan Tannehill. He's a decent value here.
Doug Baldwin (Seattle) $15-Baldwin is the #1 WR in Seattle and entering a contract year. He had a nice season last year, and should be playing hard to earn a new, big paycheck. There's some upside here.
Golden Tate (Detroit) $15-Tate is the #1 WR in Detroit by default after the retirement of Calvin Johnson. I expect Marvin Jones to slot into the #2 position and fit as a complementary piece. I'm not the biggest Tate fan, but at $15, he's definitely a value worth buying on.
Donte Moncrief (Indianapolis) $13-I may have spent too much on Moncrief here, but he could be the #1 WR in Indy's offense this year. The Colts have a bunch of tiny guys with Dorsett and Hilton, but Moncrief is their only proven big receiver. He might have a huge season.
Randall Cobb (Green Bay) $11-At $11, Cobb is a huge steal. Sure, he's dealt with some injuries, but he's probably going to be the top WR in Green Bay's offense. If he goes for $11 in your auction draft, you had better be the one buying him. Steal.
Michael Floyd (Arizona) $10-Floyd is one of those guys who is always more potential than production. When he's on, he has some really useful games as a fantasy option. Then he disappears from time to time. However, he seemed to put it all together down the stretch, and may finally be emerging as a consistent option. At this point, I'd buy him at $10, and perhaps even higher.
DeSean Jackson (Washington) $10-I worry about Jackson. He disappeared a bit last year and may continue to struggle in Washington. Plus they have a lot of other options. He might actually be overpriced here given the uncertainty.
Emmanuel Sanders (Denver) $10-I'd actually take Sanders over Demaryius Thomas. At this price, I'd consider him, but keep in mind that Denver may be the most run-heavy offense in football this season given the uncertainty under center. That puts a low ceiling on Sanders' value this season.
Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona) $10-Fitzgerald is a great player heading into the twilight of his career. He had some really nice games last year, but Floyd and Brown are also taking lots of looks away from him in the Cardinals offense. He's worth a look here, but keep in mind that his production may decline.
John Brown (Arizona) $8-Brown may be a steal at $8. He had a nice season last year, and if Palmer stays healthy, he could emerge as a very nice 2nd or 3rd option on a fantasy roster. At worst, he's a good flex.
DeVante Parker (Miami) $8-Parker is more upside than anything right now, after missing part of his rookie year due to injury. That being said, he's one of the best WRs from last year's rookie class, and could be well worth a look here. You're banking on upside, but this pick could pay.
Jordan Matthews (Philadelphia) $7-At this price, Matthews is a steal. He's got the potential to way out-play his draft value, and is worth grabbing here.
Michael Crabtree (Oakland) $6-Crabtree is looking like a great #2 option in Oakland, and is worth a look at this price. I'm not a huge Crabtree fan, but I'm also not a hater. He's a good complementary piece in an emerging option, and there's the potential for value here.
Corey Coleman (Cleveland) $5-I hate this pick. Coleman is going to need a year or two before emerging as a solid every week option in fantasy, and may never do so. He's got a bad history of taking plays off, and that will upset Hue Jackson. He'll be coached to fix the habit, but this year may be a struggle for him. I'd rather have Allen Hurns or Dorial Green Beckham.
Stefon Diggs (Minnesota) $5-At $5, you're strongly considering Diggs here. He showed some really nice flashes this past season even though he was inconsistent. If he can grow more consistent, he could be a useful roster piece. Just keep in mind that Treadwell is the future #1 WR in Minnesota most likely.
Kevin White (Chicago) $5-Sneaky good pick at $5. White had what amounted to a red-shirt season last year with the Bears, but if he recovers from his injury fully, he could conceivably outperform Amari Cooper. Heading into the draft, the two were valued fairly similarly. White has breakout potential here after spending a season learning Chicago's offense.
Sterling Shepard (NY Giants) $4-I like Shepard's situation in ways, but he's the #2 or #3 option in the Giants offense and rookie WRs tend to take a bit of time to hit their stride. Plus, if Cruz comes back healthy, Shepard becomes at best the #3 option in the Giants passing game. I'd take him as a $1 flier, but I don't trust him enough to take him over Hurns, who went for less.
Willie Snead (New Orleans) $4-Snead had a nice season last year, and there's definitely some upside here. At $4, he's worth a gamble.
Laquon Treadwell (Minnesota) $4-Treadwell was the best WR in this year's draft, but his selection by the Vikings caps his value. They'll continue to be a run-first team with Adrian Peterson. That being said, there is some upside with Treadwell, as he was a consistently hard-working player in college and Mike Zimmer likes guys who put in extra effort. Might still be a slight reach at $4, but not a big one at all. If Hurns hadn't gone for $2, I'd consider Treadwell at $4.
Marvin Jones (Detroit) $3-I like the value on Jones here. He's not going to be the top WR in Detroit, and he was streaky in Cincy, but he definitely has the potential to emerge as a nice #2 for the Lions. They don't have as many weapons as the Bengals did when Jones was there, and he should see more looks. He's a decent value at $3.
Tyler Lockett (Seattle) $3-Lockett should improve this season with more NFL experience, and is worth a late flier. At $3, he's not a bad value; Seahawks WRs are definitely undervalued and have nice upside this season.
Michael Thomas (New Orleans) $3-Thomas is another great rookie WR, who falls in a more pass-friendly offense than Treadwell does in Minnesota. That being said, he will be, at best, the #2 WR, and might fall in line behind Fleener and Snead for looks, especially early on. The potential is definitely there, but I'd like to see how he does in the preseason before investing.
Will Fuller (Houston) $2-On paper, Fuller looks like a great option here at $2. He should get a long look as the #2 guy in Houston, especially with Jaelen Strong getting into trouble; O'Brien doesn't usually like guys with character issues. Fuller will have every chance to succeed in Houston, but he struggled terribly with drops in college. If he can fix that issue, he'll be a nice complementary piece with bye-week/flex upside, but if not, he's best left on waivers.
Allen Hurns (Jacksonville) $2-Allen Hurns at $2?! You get him if he goes for $2. Sure, he was touchdown dependent last season, but at $2, given the year he had last year? Go get him if he goes this cheaply in your league!
Steve Smith (Baltimore) $2-Smith is coming back from injury, but at $2, it's worth taking a flier to see if he has anything left in the tank in his final NFL season. It may be a lost $2, but at this point, it's not a big loss. He's worth it here, even if Hurns is more worth it.
Markus Wheaton (Pittsburgh) $2-I like Wheaton's situation a lot right now. He's in his walk-year and may not be back in Pittsburgh next season, and he's the clear #2 WR in Pittsburgh. This is a guy that's going to be playing for a big contract, and if he performs well, he'll make it hard for Pittsburgh to re-sign him. Nice value at $2.
Nelson Agholor (Philadelphia) $1-Out of all rookie WRs who were drafted highly last season, Agholor looked like the worst from a performance perspective. He just struggled across the board. Maybe it was Kelly's system, or maybe he was adjusting to the NFL, but I'd leave him on waivers until he shows improvement.
Tavon Austin (LA Rams) $1-With Jared Goff throwing to him, Austin has the potential to break out this year. Austin has shown some flashes in the past, and has a ton of upside as a $1 flier. I like this pick a ton.
Travis Benjamin (San Diego) $1-Benjamin left a Cleveland offense with no recognizable quarterback where he performed well, and lands in San Diego, where he will catch passes from Phillip Rivers. There is a ton of upside with this pick for a $1. If you can get Benjamin cheaply, he's well worth a long look.
Anquan Boldin (unsigned) $1-At the time this post was written, Boldin is still not signed. I'd wait until he finds a team to sign him to your fantasy team. Leave him as a waiver claim.
Tyler Boyd (Cincinnati) $1-I love the Tyler Boyd pick for Cincinnati. That being said, don't expect a huge season out of him. Long-term, he should slot into the Mohamed Sanu role in Cincinnati, but expect Brandon Lafell to put up better production early on. Marvin Lewis likes to make his rookies earn their stripes, and Boyd will be eased into action as a Bengal. I'd leave Boyd on waivers or wait for someone else to get impatient with him and cut him before he starts to get playing time later in the season.
Victor Cruz (NY Giants) $1-If Cruz is healthy, you get a steal. If Cruz isn't, you can cut him. At $1, you're not losing anything, and there's a ton of upside here.
Josh Doctson (Washington) $1-Doctson is a solid option at WR in Washington from a long-term perspective. He was a great player at TCU, but how will the NFL learning curve be for him? Also, what will his role be early on? He's worth a look but I'd take a stab at Green-Beckham, Garcon, or V-Jax first.
Philip Dorsett (Indianapolis) $1-Dorsett interests me. He looks like the same guy as T.Y. Hilton, expect without the production as of yet. Dorsett could cut into Hilton's production this season as they are similar players. That being said, he's most likely the #3 WR in this offense.
Pierre Garcon (Washington) $1-For $1, Garcon is definitely worth a look, especially in PPR leagues. He's not the points machine that he one was, but he'll at least put up nice enough numbers to be a bye week fill-in and even a flex guy in the right scoring settings.
Dorial Green-Beckham (Tennessee) $1-Green-Beckham is a classic boom or bust pick, but as a late/cheap pick, there's a lot of boom. The guy has the talent to emerge as one of the top WRs in the league, if you have the patience to sit on him through the preseason. He showed some flashes down the stretch, and if he can continue to develop, I love his upside.
Vincent Jackson (Tampa Bay) $1-Jackson is slowing down a bit, but for $1, he's worth a long look. Don't expect him to put up the numbers he did at his prime, but if you're looking for a flier, he's worth considering, depending on who else is there.
Breshad Perriman (Baltimore) $1-I like Perriman's upside, but he's an injury magnet. He has the potential for some big games, but I don't trust him enough to snag him right now even as a $1 bid with some of the other available guys. He has talent, he just has injury issues.
Mohamed Sanu (Atlanta) $1-At best, Sanu is a #2 WR in the Atlanta offense. Don't expect him to exceed his production in Cincinnati though. Sanu is a guy that does a lot of things well, but he's a guy that's far more valuable as a real-life player than as a fantasy player. He may be useful some weeks, but don't expect anything more than a bye-week fill in.
Torrey Smith (San Francisco) $1-Smith is a deep threat in an anemic 49ers offense. While he will have some big plays from time to time and some nice weeks, he's not going to be a consistent asset for your fantasy team. Then again, for $1, what can you legitimately hope for? Monitor the situation in San Francisco, and if the offense looks improved in the pre-season, he could be worth a flier.
Mike Wallace (Baltimore) $1-Wallace has struggled ever since leaving Pittsburgh. This suggests that his once strong production was the product of the Pittsburgh offensive system. While he has the chance to be relevant in Baltimore, he's had chances to emerge before and hasn't capitalized on them since leaving the Steelers. I don't trust him as a fantasy option even though he could be useful for the Ravens.
Terrance Williams (Dallas) $1-Decent receiver, but I'd target other guys before him as a fantasy flier at the end of my draft. Even a guy like Tajae Sharpe has more upside from a pure numbers perspective, and Sharpe should have some trade value early as the Titans keep talking him up.
Kendall Wright (Tennessee) $1-Used to be a great PPR option, still has some potential. If you're in a PPR league, he's worth a last round or $1 flier, if not slightly more. That being said, he's more of a fill-in than a flex at this point in his career.
Rob Gronkowski (New England) $46-Gronk is the best tight end in fantasy, even if he has dealt with injuries throughout his career. Even given his injury history, he's worth the price here. He gives you a clear strong advantage at the position when healthy.
Jordan Reed (Washington) $30-Reed has a ton of upside when healthy, but he's also a huge injury risk. If you're buying him this high, you're overspending in my opinion. I'd rather have Olsen at $17.
Greg Olsen (Carolina) $17-Olsen has been consistently good throughout his career. He's not the top TE in fantasy, but he's a consistently elite option. If you'd rather not pay for Gronk, he's a nice option.
Coby Fleener (New Orleans) $9-If you're buying Fleener hoping for Jimmy Graham, you might not get what you're hoping for. However, he should still put up some nice numbers in the Saints option. I trust Walker and Eifert (when healthy) more, but he's worth a look at least.
Delanie Walker (Tennessee) $9-Walker is a solid option here. I'd take him at this point. He's slightly less productive than Eifert, but he's not nearly as injury-prone.
Tyler Eifert (Cincinnati) $8-Eifert broke out last season, and then got injured. Eifert has struggled with injuries every year in his NFL career, and if you're going to select him, have a contingency plan in place. He also may not be ready for the start of the year due to injuries. I love his potential and his production when healthy, but I worry about him from a medical perspective.
Ladarius Green (Pittsburgh) $4-Green did some nice things in San Diego, and the Steelers gave him a big contract. The Steelers have also lost Heath Miller. That being said, I'd like to see how Green adjusts in Pittsburgh before investing in him, especially with guys like Antonio Gates and Julius Thomas still available.
Travis Kelce (Kansas City) $4-Kelce is a great player, but is in a tough situation catching passes from Alex Smith. He'll be productive, but won't break into the top three unless the Chiefs change quarterbacks or Kelce changes teams. Still, at $4, he'll at least be consistent. In fact, he could at least be a top 5 TE. Definitely a value here.
Gary Barnidge (Cleveland) $2-If Barnidge can repeat last season with a new coaching staff, he'll be a steal at $2. There's still uncertainty, but he's a guy to watch heading into the preseason. He could be a nice value.
Antonio Gates (San Diego) $2-Antonio Gates has slowed down in recent years, and at this point he's riding mostly on his history. The guy still has the talent to put up good numbers, and he could have a big year this year if the Chargers offense rebounds.
Jace Amaro (NY Jets) $1-Amaro intrigues me. He's got a ton of upside but has never fully realized his potential. He's a nice flier at $1.
Jordan Cameron (Miami) $1-Cameron has done some nice things in his career, but had a down year last season. If he rebounds, he's a nice pickup for $1.
Jimmy Graham (Seattle) $1-I don't expect Jimmy Graham to regain the production he had as a Saint. That being said, he should have a vastly better year this year. While the Seattle offense doesn't utilize the position at all like Seattle did, Graham is a great player, and should rebound.
Zach Miller (Chicago) $1-Miller had a great season last year, and the Bears let Martellus Bennett leave. That makes Miller the clear #1 option for the team. He's worth a dollar flier.
Julius Thomas (Jacksonville) $1-Thomas is another guy worth a $1 flier. He had a really down year in Jacksonville last year and burned many fantasy owners, but tight end is a tin position and he's shown that he is capable in the past. I expect a rebound year out of him as well and he's a value at $1.
A few undrafted guys in this league to look at:
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Tampa Bay)-Lots of upside, but also a lot of inconsistency. He could break out this year and is worth a flier, especially as your #2 TE, but he has struggled with injuries. Still, well worth a look. He has the upside to be a top 5 TE if he can put it all together this year
Will Tye (New York Giants)-Tye was a revelation for the Giants last year when he finally found his way onto the field. Watch how the situation in New York plays out, but if he looks like the starter, grab him.
Zach Ertz (Philadelphia)-Ertz is a guy that has intrigued me since his rookie year, but he has struggled to put together a big fantasy campaign. His value is extremely touchdown dependant, and that is worrisome from a fantasy perspective. He'll have a few big weeks, and a bunch of duds from a points perspective.
Dwayne Allen (Indianapolis Colts)-Allen is going to be the clear top TE in Indy now. That gives him a chance to shatter his career highs and emerge as a fantasy option. He's worth a look.
Jason Witten (Dallas Cowboys)-Tony Romo will be coming back from injury again this year, and as long as he stays healthy, he should look to Witten early and often. He's a guy that is getting overlooked, but he definitely has value at a thin position.
Panthers D/ST $3-I still like the Panthers' defense; they'll be good as usual. Still, are they elite? They've lost some pieces in the secondary, and could decline a bit this year.
Seahawks D/ST $3-The Seahawks, as usual, will have a strong defense, and I'd actually take them over the Panthers this year.
Bengals D/ST $1-Losing Vontaze Burfict for four games is worrisome. Luckily, the Bengals added Karlos Dansby to fill the void left by his suspension. This unit should still put up huge sack numbers, and will again be fantasy relevant.
Bills D/ST $1-The Bills added some nice pieces in the draft, but they're struggling with injuries to their rookies. Long-term this should be a dominant defensive unit, but they may still struggle to generate sacks this year. They're a team to monitor as they get healthy.
Broncos D/ST $1-The Broncos will one again be a very solid defensive unit. If nothing else, they will continue to have one of the league's stronger pass rushes, and should be an every week starter.
Cardinals D/ST $1-Bruce Arians knows how to build a defense. The Cardinals have one of the best secondaries in football, and should easily be an every-week starting caliber defense this season.
Chiefs D/ST $1-The Chiefs are always a touchdown-heavy D/ST unit, which leads to some inflation as far as rankings. That being said, they've been useful over the past few seasons and should continue to be.
Jets D/ST $1-The Jets D/ST will be at least a top 10 unit this year, if not a top 5. Well worth snagging.
Packers D/ST $1-The Packers may not quite be a top 5 defense, but they're definitely top 10. They keep drafting well, and will consistently provide 40+ sacks.
Patriots D/ST $1-The Patriots defense is one that never stands out, but Bill Belichick always puts together a top 10 unit. Another team that will get you decent points on a regular basis.
Raiders D/ST $1-The Raiders are quietly building an elite defense. They're a year or two out from being top 5, but this is a unit on the rise.
Rams D/ST $1-Best defensive line in football and Mike Singletary brought in as a defensive consultant? Sleeper pick for top defensive unit in football this year.
Texans D/ST $1-The Texans defense is always great. Because JJ Watt. Of course, they have other pieces as well, but having Watt definitely makes things easier.
Vikings D/ST $1-Mike Zimmer is a defensive genius and has built a dominant defense in Minnesota. This could easily be the best unit in the NFL this season.
Dan Bailey (Dallas) $9-Bailey more expensive than Gostkowski? He was my last pick and I had money left over. I never leave money on the table in an auction, and Gostkowski was gone. Bailey should put up nice numbers if the Cowboys can stay healthy this year.
Stephen Gostkowski (New England) $6-Gostkowski is the best kicker in fantasy, but this year might be a down year for him. He plays the first 4 games without Brady leading the offense, which might cut into his chances. That being said, Gostkowski should be the first kicker taken in your league.
Steven Hauschka (Seattle) $3-Hauschka has been consistently good in Seattle, and that should continue this year.
Roberto Aguayo (Tampa Bay) $1-Rookie kickers always make me nervous, but Aguayo is easily the best kicker prospect in the past 5 to 10 seasons to come into the NFL. He's a risk, but there is a ton of upside here. He could be the next Janikowski.
Josh Brown (NY Giants) $1-Consistently solid kicker for the Giants. The Giants offense should be a lot better this year, so he should continue to be a good option for fantasy.
Mason Crosby (Green Bay) $1-Crosby is an average option at the position. He won't win you a ton of matchups, but he won't lose you many either. If the Packers offense stays strong, he'll continue to have chances to produce.
Matt Prater (Detroit) $1-I don't hate Prater, but feel like there were better options such as Robbie Gould left on the table.
Justin Tucker (Baltimore) $1-Tucker is an elite option that you should feel extremely comfortable with. I'd rank him as a top three kicker.
Adam Vinatieri (Indianapolis) $1-At 43 years old, he's still consistently accurate and consistently good. The guy just keeps on kicking. He's no longer a top option, but he's a great fill in or a passable starter for your fantasy team.
Blair Walsh (Minnesota) $1-Walsh is one of the top kickers in fantasy, and should continue to improve as the Vikings offense does.
There are a lot of players left off of this list, but I chose to focus on only players who went in my auction. Hope this gives you an idea of how an auction draft might play out. Thanks for reading, good luck, and happy drafting!--Mike B.
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