First and foremost, it is an honor to be asked to participate in the Flex Leagues the last three years. Jake Ciely, for some reason, keeps inviting me back to compete against the best in the fantasy football business. This year I had to make sure I made the trip to Washington D.C. to pick up my 2015 Flex Standard League Championship Belt. I got scared for a second when I saw Eric Young in the corner of the Sirius XM Studios looking like he was ready to break a chair over my head for the fantastic belt FantasyJocks belt, but alas, EY was just eyeing up what he was going to be competing for in the PPR Snake Draft.
With any draft, whether it be auction or snake, I always want to make sure I go into it with a fresh mindset. Too bad for me the evil temptress named Jack Daniels had other plans. A bunch of us booked a hotel room near the Nationals Stadium and the roof top bar beckoned as soon as we all get settled on Friday night. We drank and caught up and took in a game between the San Francisco Giants and the Washington Nationals. After the festivities, I was in no shape to draft, or bid, or do anything. I was toast!! At one point I’m pretty sure I was like Frank “The Tank” thinking everyone was following me as I went from one bar to the other. The reason I told this story is to implore you to not follow my example but to instead rest up before your upcoming fantasy football drafts.
The next morning I was a mess. I was clutching my computer bag on the Uber ride to SiriusXM Studios like it was my life preserver as the Titanic was sinking. I walked into the studio with only one thing on my mind, HYDRATE! Orange juice, apple juice, water, anything to help how I was feeling. I had an hour to get myself together before the auction started and I needed every last second.
I took my seat in between Chad Parsons and Corey Parson and began to set up my little auction bunker. I pulled up my Values Spreadhseet. I pulled up my Teams and Picks Spreadsheet. I checked the formulas to make sure I knew how much every team had for their max bids. I scanned the room and realized I was in for a tough morning with the group seated around me. They were locked and loaded.
Steve Gardner was the auctioneer and Matt Camp and Joe Dolan were going to be breaking down the action as we went along for SiriusXMFantasy audiences.
Flex Leagues Standard Auction Strategy and Review
As the clock ticked towards 11 AM we all took a deep breath and the madness began.
Flex Standard Auction League
Flex (RB,WR or TE)
Flex (RB,WR or TE)
6 Bench Spots (Short Bench- Waiver Wire is used as an extension of your bench with a $100 FAAB being used.)
Strategy #1 The main strategy I had going in was adjusting pricing based on this being a league of experts. Each and every draft the last three years QBs and TEs have been undervalued during drafts and I thought it could be even more pronounced in the auction draft. By pulling money out of my QB and TE Values I was able get truer values on my RBs and WRs. Your leagues will, of course, be different, but it will be useful for you to adjust pricing based on your specific league tendencies. If your long time home league over values QBs, pump up their prices and adjust down at the other positions. This way your not caught having no money left towards the end of your auction.
Strategy #2 Get involved on the early RBs and WRs when they are put on the block. Almost every time I do an auction someone walks away kicking themselves that they didn’t bid on the first or second player off the board. Inflation at positions aren’t in effect and you are on a player before the tier runs out. Those RBs and WRs that go up at the end of tier end up costing an arm and leg compared to the early guys. (Ray Summerlin of Rotoworld touched on this in his piece as well.)
Strategy #3 Let the auction values create my strategy for team building. Whether it was ZeroRB, 1RB/WRHeavy, or Gronk and values I wanted the values to tell me how I wanted my team to be built.
Strategy #4 Spend all of my money!!!! Make sure that you are on top of when those last startable players are being bid on and pay up if you have to fill your 10 starting slots.
Strategy #5 If multiple teams start showing that they are going ZeroRB, start putting up the usual ZeroRB targets early in the process. Put up Rashad Jennings, Jonathan Stewart, and Frank Gore and see if they take the bait and drive up the price on those players. It’s a good way to keep ZeroRB teams from being comfortable.
Before we even knew what was going on Jeff Haseley threw out Todd Gurley for $1. This being a standard league, I was definitely getting involved in the bidding on Gurley, but I had no idea if I would be in until the end. As we approached $40 I had to start to think about if I wanted to use over 20% of my budget on the very first player off the board. It slowed down at $40 and I knew I was going to try to win him at that point. $43 was the final price and once again the first big name off the board went for a relative value. Factoring the low prices on QBs and TEs I had Gurley around $48, so I was pleased.
From there I had to sit back and really evaluate how the room was valuing players. Top tier wide receivers were at a premium. Antonio Brown going for $53 made me think that I was not going to be able to pair Gurley with a Top 5 WR. There were some values in the WR2 range, but you had to be on the right side of the tier to get them.
Brandon Marianne Lee showed her hand early, that she wanted to build using ZeroRB and you had to keep that in the back of your head when she was bidding. She spent big for Odell Beckham Jr. at $57, but made up for that with a really nice value on Demaryius Thomas at $24. The only reason I will even mention another owner is when we were in on the same player and I feel like I made a mistake in the bidding. I don’t like to evaluate other expert’s teams or strategies because you can never be truly honest. If you hate a team you will say things like “I don’t know what strategy they were using” or if you really loved it, it can come off as being an ass-kisser. Seriously, people can be sensitive in this business.
I was in on Thomas. It was early in the WR2 market and a lot of experts are down on Demaryius. He’s going off the board in the early to late 3rd in best ball leagues and I thought he’d be a nice way to grab a slightly depressed value as my WR1. Going against Brandon was two-fold tough. She was on ZeroRB so she was bidding on WRs and she’s a Denver fan. As much as that may not sway her, like I try not have the Giants fan in me pay a premium for Shepard or Beckham, it is still in the back of my head. I bid 23 and she quickly bid 24. I had to make a choice, bid 25 and let her get to the number I set for him at 26 or jump from 24 to 26 and make her go to 27 and drop out there. I contemplated my bid a little too long and by the time I decided on 26 the first S sound from sold was rolling off of Steve Gardner’s tongue.
That one hurt, but it wasn’t the only big L in my column. I was in on Larry Fitzgerald and Julian Edelman and let both go as $11 values to Jake Ciely and Ray Summerlin, respectively. I don’t love either in Standard leagues, but they were values and I should have price enforced a bit more even if I didn’t really “want” them on my team.
The wide receivers started to fly by me in the auction. I just couldn’t pull the trigger on a few guys. TY Hilton to Corey Parson for $29 was one I wanted and just couldn’t pull the trigger on going to $30 or more. Donte Moncrief for $21 to Chad Parsons was one where I was willing to overpay based on upside, but Chad is a dynasty guy at heart and I thought he would push pretty high for Moncrief. $21 was a nice price and I probably should have pushed to $23 at least, but I didn’t. I thought one of Alshon Jeffrey, Brandon Marshall and Mike Evans would go for under $30, but all went for $30 or above. They were fine values at those prices, but I couldn’t afford it. I had to bide my time and get a value.
I decided to change gears and concentrate on Running Backs and make sure I grabbed at least two more. I got Doug Martin and CJ Anderson for $60 combined and I was extremely happy with that. Anderson was a bit of a gamble at that price, but there weren’t any WR2s left on the board so I had to turn my focus to RB2s. I made sure I grabbed Devontae Booker at the end of the auction for $5. I also grabbed Ameer Abdullah and TJ Yeldon for a combined $15. They are both in time shares and could end up on the wrong side of them, but they are in their second year and the competition in their time share could push them to improve. It’s all about price.
Finally, a value presented itself in Golden Tate at $18. I had zero wide receivers and Matt and Joe were openly talking about it on air and wondering why no one was making me pay through the nose for the clear best WR2 left on the board. I grabbed DeSean Jackson for $11 which was a nice value to me in a standard league. Especially with what was left on the board. I grabbed Steffon Diggs for $6 as my WR3 and I like him, but I see him more as a nice WR4 or flex option. I then went ahead and grabbed Laquan Treadwell for his mid to late season upside for $3. I do not like being so heavily involved in the Vikings passing game, but for $9 it wasn’t a bad price.
I wanted one of Sammi Coates or Phillip Dorsett as a high upside play and got Dorsett for $6 while Coates went for $9 to Ciely.
Quarterback was once again a position that was undervalued. With QBs only being 1/10th of your team score it’s easy to understand why, but you still have to make sure people aren’t walking away with too big of a steal. Last year in the snake draft I passed on Drew Brees and Russell Wilson in the 8th round and I ended up having to make sure I hit it out of the park with my late round pick of Phillip Rivers. Not only did I suffer, but I made those teams just that much stronger.
In this auction Cam Newton went for the highest price at $20 to Karl Safchick and that set the value board for QBs. Drew Brees went for $16 before Aaron Rodgers went for $16 as well. Once I saw Rodgers go for $16 I knew I had to get in on Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson when they went up for bidding. I ended up with Luck for $11, which was not part of the plan going in, but for $11 I had a hard time saying no. Wilson was also a value at $14. Ben Roethlisberger went for an absurdly low $5 to Michael Beller and it gave him enough ammo to over bid on a couple of players. (Yes, that’s a subtle shot, LOL)
At Tight End we were all looking at what was left after Karl Safchick cleared out the TE store. Karl bought Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed and Tyler Eifert. Even with one team going TE heavy the values were there. Only Coby Fleener and Greg Olsen cracked double digits. I ended up grabbing Gary Barnidge for $5. I’m fine with the price, but I did target Zach Ertz going into the auction and Ertz ended up going for the same amount late to Chad Parsons. I then decided that I would take Jimmy Graham as a $1 lottery ticket if the room would let me. Sure enough, no one believes a player can come back from that surgery and I got him for a buck. For a buck, I’ll take the chance.
Defenses. The rule is to not spend more than $1. I broke the rule when someone put Denver up for $1 and I knew I would get them at $2 and not have to wait until later in the auction to try and grab crappy D for $1.
My biggest L came towards the end of the auction when Allen Hurns was put up for bid. He was clearly the top WR left on the board. He was like 30 spots higher than the next best WR not taken. I was in on Hurns early, with Jake Ciely and I going back and forth, but then I let feelings get involved as I really didn’t want to piss off the commissioner of the league as I already outbid him in a bit of bidding war for CJ Anderson. I backed off for a second and looked down at my computer to see who else I could spend on and there was no one. Steve Gardner was counting it down. Going once, going twice, sss………. “Yo, Yo, Yo” from my left. Corey Parson jumps in just as I was opening my mouth. Jake thought he got Hurns for $11. Parson bid $12 and then there was a discussion. As this was going on, I was hoping the bidding would be opened up again at $12 to Corey Parson with another countdown, but it didn’t happen. I was prepared to bid $14 and get Hurns as my WR3. This mistake in the bidding and my mistake for not keeping my bidding going both cost me big time. Why? Well, there was literally no one left for me to bid on with my remaining $18. Besides Booker for $5 everything else was $1 or $2. I broke the cardinal rule and left $13 on the board. I didn’t leave the most money on the board, but I did make some of the biggest mistakes.
Learn from me. Learn from this experience. Spend your money! That extra $13 would have had me rolling with Edelman, Fitz, Kelvin Benjamin, Kevin White, John Brown or Tyler Lockett over Stefon Diggs.