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Fantasy Intelligence Report: Auction Drafting, Four Downs, and Fantasy Risers

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The countdown for this year’s SOFA Auction is on, and I’m more excited than a twister chaser in Oklahoma. You see, I’ve always been a big fan of auction drafting and there’s one simple reason for that. With auction bidding I can throw money at every single fantasy player not named Jay Cutler without breaking a sweat, worrying about strategy stealing or stressing over the “what ifs.”

Now, I’m a firm believer in the notion that there is no right or wrong way to assemble an auction league team. As I’ve discovered over the years, every owner has their own preferred method, and every type of method seems to work about the same, or at least from what I’ve experienced. However, I do have a few tips fantasy owners should consider before wildly tossing any kind of green at something not so clean.

Tip No. 1: Don’t tip your hand. Stay consistent with how you bid on players, and avoid staying silent early on, even if the players being bid on are not what you have in mind. Because as soon as you finally speak up, some smart jerk-face will start driving up the price if he/she suspects you have a woody for a player you’re truly in love with.

Tip No. 2: Avoid getting in to bidding wars, if you can. For years I’ve tried to perfect this, but even I slip up every time Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning’s name is up for auction. The problem is that when you’re a fantasy Jedi like me it’s very hard to not want to conquer and take down the enemy. But after the Storm trooper throws two George Washington bids down on the table, take the smart road and let him/her suffer with a player they don’t desire.

Tip No. 3: Don’t be afraid to overbid on players you consider to have higher upside early on in your draft. For example, one player I’m targeting is Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin. After doing my wide receiver study, I discovered that he is as good as advertised and highly consistent from a fantasy perspective. Now, being the primary playmaking receiver on a team that will probably play from behind a lot I believe Harvin could be on the verge of Top 10 numbers. In his case, I may choose to overpay for him for the potential of him finishing as high as I believe he’ll finish.

Tip No. 4: Don’t draft a kicker unless you have to. This tip could turn your season in to gold, and here’s why. Most leagues have kicker parameters set so the good ones average about 5-9 points per game. So instead of worrying about getting in a bidding war over Stephen Gostkowski, forfeit the 5-9 points in Week 1 and put the extra cash in to an extra sleeper or two you have your eyes on as your draft winds down.

Tip No. 5: Don’t ever set a dollar amount limit on any player. I know setting a cap sounds like the right thing to do, and is often the recommended procedure to take as you do your pre-draft homework, but mark my words – it will cause you mass chaos on draft day. The owners who wait on every player because they don’t fall within their projected dollar signs are often the ones scrambling to fill in the gaps later on.

F.D. – Four Downs

It’s time to try to move the chains, and shorten the distance to a fantasy championship.

First Down: Name three players who many fantasy owners will overvalue?

Jahvid Best, Michael Vick and Dez Bryant.

I’ve seen Best drafted as early as the second round in mock drafts, a round that should be an afterthought when it comes to the injury-riddled and unproven runner, even for points per reception formats.  Best’s numbers diminished as the season progressed last season, and he has had a history of not finishing seasons (dating back to college). In other words, he kind of reminds me of Kevin Smith.

Vick will definitely win fantasy owners at least a third of their games on his back alone. The other two-thirds though will either be filled with goose eggs and injuries, or Matt Cassel-like numbers. I’ll still take a chance on Vick as a Top 10 quarterback. I’m just not reaching for him at the end of round one.

There are two things that have me worried when it comes to Dez Bryant: character/locker room issues, and a lack of effort at times. The pressure will be on Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo to lead Dallas back to the promise land, and Romo will not go down the Terrell Owens diva road again. Plus, Romo has historically leaned on tight end Jason Witten on important downs, something I don’t see changing with the quarterback’s job on the line. Bryant has potential, but is too big of a risk as early as the third round.

Second Down: Is it a good idea to draft a quarterback-wide receiver combo from the same team, like Matt Ryan and Roddy White?

No, but it’s not exactly a bad idea. It all depends on who you select. I’ve used this strategy in the past and have seen solid results, but have also been burned by it. If I were to utilize a strategy like this today I would maybe choose to do it with my bench quarterback, only because then you don’t have to worry about bye week issues or putting too much stock in to it and failing. Below are a few combos I would consider.

Kevin Kolb to Larry Fitzgerald; Ryan Fitzpatrick to Stevie Johnson.

Third Down: Are there any running backs who could follow in Arian Foster’s footsteps and come out of nowhere to rise to the top?

I don’t see any within the current fantasy landscape, but I do have an eye on a few bloomers who could provide great value in the later rounds of most fantasy drafts.

The first is Washington Redskins runner Tim Hightower. The latest word out of Redskins camp is that the starting job could be his to lose, especially with Ryan Torain struggling to combat a hand injury. Hightower looked like a man running with a purpose against the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first-team defense in Washington’s preseason opener, and could really excel in Mike Shanahan’s running back haven offense.

The second is Denver Broncos backup Willis McGahee. Yes, Knowshon Moreno will be the starter and get the majority of the work, but keep in mind that new coach John Fox has shown a passion in the past for running the football, especially inside the red zone, a place fantasy owners could see a lot production out of McGahee. Plus, Moreno is coming off an unfinished 2010 season, and has had his fair share of nagging injuries in the past.

Fourth Down: What is the one position for which you have to have one of the top tier players? Why?

Hands down, it has to be tight end. As much as the NFL has evolved to put more emphasis in to the position itself, there are still less than a handful of top producing tight ends. I mean, let’s face it, as fantasy owners we can find solid waiver wire material to fill gaps in starting lineups at every other position while alleviating fantasy headaches on a weekly basis. You really can’t do that with the tight end position. Sure, you can roll the dice on a Jacob Tamme or Tony Moeaki as a backup early on in the season, but it’s not like there’s talent growing out of the cracks like weeds on a driveway.

I will make it a point this season to snag a high end producer like Jason Witten early on. He’s totally worth the higher price, especially because I won’t have to scramble all season long to play the best match-up on a week-to-week basis.

O.T.R. – On The Rise

Here are a few players who have seen their average draft positions ( myfantasyleague.com) rise in the past two weeks (re-draft formats).

Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy: McCoy’s after July 1 average draft position (ADP) was 171.67, and it has risen to 165.39 this month, probably due in large part to his performance last week against the defending champions. And while there is no doubt that McCoy is an upgrade over what the Browns trotted out on the field last season, I don’t know if I’m convinced yet that he’s worthy of a roster spot in 10- or 12-team formats.

New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley: The rookie Ridley was pretty much an afterthought in after July 1 drafts with an ADP of 212.19. In August, his ADP has risen to 190.18, and will continue on the move upward, especially if he keeps performing like a veteran in the preseason.

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Denarius Moore The overachieving rookie went from an ADP of 229.47 after July 1 to an ADP of 201.62 after Aug. 1. I suspect that his value will continue to rise, especially in dynasty leagues. I’m not touching him though until the Raiders find themselves a real quarterback who can make opposing defenses shake in their cleats.

F.T. – Final Thought

There are three types of people I would be delighted to educate if I were a teacher: union protesters who wouldn’t know common sense even if it hit them on the back of the head, rude strangers who fail to utilize the words please and thank you, and any fantasy owner who doesn’t use FantasySharks as their primary resource or listen to Greg Kellogg inform and entertain radio audiences on Blog Talk Radio.

Yeah. You know who you are. Bait.

Thanks for reading.

Eric Huber is a staff writer for fantasysharks.com.