If there’s one thing I love, it’s getting a bargain on something; players in an auction draft are no exception. In fact, doing this for top producers is everyone’s goal in a draft and often makes the difference in a run for the title. Perhaps nowhere is this truer than an auction draft, since you didn’t pay top dollar for them and therefore were able to afford better players elsewhere.
So from top players to retreads, I present the following short list of players who I think are best bets to be a good bang for your buck.
Note: since auction caps vary, I’ve included their expected or going price range as percentages vs. dollar amounts. The top end is about as much as you should probably pay and even then might be a bargain.
Granted last year does not equal this year, but these guys all put up
huge numbers last year and their offenses appear about the same for ‘09. So why spend up to double or more (!) on someone like Drew Brees or Tom Brady? The reasons I’m hearing – Warner’s age/injury history, Rivers’ lack of “stud” WRs, the Pack’s expected improvement greatly minimizing Rodgers’ “air time” – are in my opinion rather weak ones to ignore what a bargain these guys appear to be. Heck, you might be able to get TWO of them for little more than what Brees or Brady alone will cost, although I suggest instead using that savings to bolster your roster elsewhere. Any of these guys should serve you very well for a price that should be hard to resist.
Portis produces very well year after year, yet is always reasonably priced and goes cheaper than guys who are lesser RBs and/or bigger risks (and therefore often bigger busts). Why? I think it’s primarily because he never blows up in an L.T. or Peterson-like way and has this image of being an “OK” pick. This is foolish, as he’s rarely far behind the top RBs; in fact, those of you in love with Adrian Peterson might note that Portis wasn’t far behind him either of the last two years in total production. I don’t see why this year should be any different. The passing game should be similar, i.e. not horrible, but lacking enough that Portis will again be relied on heavily. The addition of mental midget (but talented) DT Albert Haynesworth to an already fairly stingy D should further help stuff the other teams, giving the Skins more time on the field. So you basically have a guy who – for the price – has a pretty high floor, which is something you should always keep in mind with those top picks.
RB Steve Slaton (15-22 percent):
Slaton appears to be inching up in cost, but I still like this guy a lot as good value, with strong changes for a Top 5 finish. He came in and put up some fairly impressive stats last year, showing strong running and receiving ability. His competition? Zero. His team? A passing game that ensures he won’t be keyed on too much. The guy has no serious question marks that I can see; what’s not to like? As with Portis, I would generally keep bidding a bit past the 20 percent mark if you must. In fact, it’d be pricey, but I love the idea of a Portis/Slaton combo as a deadly 1, 2 RB “punch” that could pay huge dividends.
RB Bernard Scott (1-2 percent):
I’m not buying the hype on the “new” Cedric Benson. He stinks. Being a high draft pick and having a couple good games at the end of last year doesn’t change that. I would instead opt for this guy, who is making some preseason noise and has apparently impressed the coaching staff enough that they are cutting backup RBs left and right. If Benson gets hurt or stinks it up (again), do not be surprised to see this guy move in. He seems to have his bonehead attitude under control and certainly has the talent to make things happen, meaning huge upside that you look for in those picks near the end of the draft.
WR DeSean Jackson (4-7 percent):
This guy has breakout written all over him and I can’t believe unreliable schleps like Braylon Edwards and Roy Williams are generally going ahead of him. True, Donovan McNabb has a fair share of weapons, including the promising Jeremy Maclin, but
WR Sean Avery (2-5 percent):
I know he’s injured, but ironically, this has if anything perhaps enhanced his value, as people are shying away more now and his price has taken a slight hit. Avery is sort of a poor mans’
TE Chris Cooley (2-4 percent):
Thanks largely to his low TD output last year, Cooley is going after far less proven guys like Owen Daniels and Greg Olsen and often for little more than minimum bid. He’s likely to bounce back to previous levels and could easily be a Top 5 TE or more, making him a fine starting TE and saving you money to spend elsewhere.
D/ST – all but the top-rated (1-2 percent):
As I said in my overpriced article, D/STs are too hard to predict and so not worth spending much more on than minimum bid. Given that, I don’t see any of them as true value moves unless you spend right around the minimum on them. If you wait till the top few are out of the way, you’re bound to be able to do this and get a solid, possibly top D. My best bet picks that might be available to work this strategy include the Bears, Chargers, Patriots and Titans. Some may go for a bit more, but if you wait till the draft is nearly over and people are broke, the odds are good you can at least one of these without “wasting” money.
PK – pick a PK, any PK (1 percent +):
I mentioned this in my overpriced article and it applies here: if you pay more than minimum bid for any PK, you overpaid. They are even more unpredictable than D/STs and generally score too similarly to waste extra money on. However, a few do appear to offer a better chance at a good year than others, so if you can get any of the top-rated PKs (Nate Kaeding, Rob Bironas etc) for minimum bid, they’re a modest value pick.