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Auction Nuthouse – Part 2

“They want you to cook the
dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.”

–Bill Parcells


It’s the no-frills Auction
Nuthouse, Part 2 for 2008. In this installment, we move from holistic draft
strategy to budgeting for specific positions. In order to appease the ADD
crowd, I’m taking a meat cleaver to the near 2,000-word epic from previous
years. No muss, no fuss. Let’s go.


Disclaimer redux: No player
values/projections or detailed budgets. Budgeting is fairly simple, anyway. If
you want to be stud-centric, the majority of your cap is going to be spent on
three top players, followed by discount talent. If you prefer depth, you’ll
avoid most high-priced players and start gathering second-tier talent
after the first 25-30 guys are gone. Or you could try a mix of the two: two
studs and then midrange talent.


That all brings us to the quote at
the top, one of many dandies uttered by Bill Parcells over his long and
distinguished career. In the auction draft, you do get to buy your own
groceries, and spend your cash in any way you choose. It’s a matter of
determining the positions or players you value most for your team, and their
relative value to not only the rest of your league, but to sensible cap
management. In the auction arena, knowing when to spend your money – or when
not to – is the key to surviving amongst the wanna-be Sharks in your league.



In most leagues, the deck is
stacked against the QB position because they touch the ball on every play. They
lose points for fumbles and interceptions, and only gain a point for every 25
yards passing. Some leagues only give a QB 4 points for touchdowns. So the
common line of thinking was to not waste your money on the QB position unless
it’s a sure thing (for the past few years, that sure thing has been Peyton
Manning). Hence the $10 QB Theory – Thou shalt not spend more than $10 on a
quarterback in your auction draft. I guess it’s the $20 theory for you $200 cap
folks out there.


And theory was proven right AGAIN
last year. Sure, Tom Brady tore apart the record book, but who was the No. 2
QB? Tony Romo. Cost? A whole $8. Not to mention Derek Anderson at No. 5, who
was probably a waiver wire pickup in every league except those in

Other than the aforementioned Peyton Manning, the top QBs are never the same
from one year to the next, so picking a QB or two out of the Top 8-10 for
minimal amounts of money can be a low-cost, high-reward proposition.


But be aware that the landscape
has changed
. With stud RBs a scarcity in today’s NFL, and a move to RBBC
and pass-first offenses, a stud QB has become one of the biggest weapons in
fantasy football. So by all means, if you want to spend $15+ or more for a
Carson Palmer or a Ben Roethlisberger, go ahead and let rip. But be confident
in their viability over a Donovan McNabb, who’s hovering around that $9 mark
this year.


Last year, I violated the sanctity
of the $10 rule – I got caught bidding up Peyton Manning. But I will hold
steadfast to the rule this year… uh, unless Drew Brees is available for
$12-$13. Take a look at an Average Auction Value list; you may see some
mid-tier QB’s on the cheap that you like, such as Matt Hasselbeck or Marc
Bulger. Scoff if you’d like, but it beats shelling out a quarter of your cap on
Tom Brady when you could be stocking up on…



Ah, the lifeblood of fantasy
football champions. Spend your money wisely here, people – RB depth is not what
it once was thanks to the dreaded RBBC. And the top guys will command large
sums of money, so you better like the guy you’re picking. Across the board it
seems to be the same five guys in the top tier: Tomlinson, Peterson, Jackson,
Westbrook and Addai. With those guys you know what you’re getting, big rushing
numbers but also large receiving numbers – and no vultures.


The real auction warfare will be
found with the second- and third-tier backs this year, and outcomes will depend
on where your opponents had specific players ranked. You should be relatively
safe with the Barbers, Lynches and Portises of the world, but after that, the
slope gets slippery. Frank Gore is a good example – some love him as a Tier 2
back, others cite his injury history and will go Tier 3. Some folks (including
the Sharks) are way down on Laurence Maroney, others see him with a larger role
in the Pats offense. Fred Taylor was a Tier 3 back last year and had a Tier 2
season for $6. This year more than ever, highlight the backs you want – even if
they’re mid-tier guys – and go after them.


If you remember any of last year’s
columns, you’ll remember that after a successful depth draft two years ago, I
tried the same strategy – only the running backs remaining before I got my butt in gear were crappy and
injury-plagued. Hence Cadillac Williams, Cedric Benson and DeShaun Foster. Fragile
Fred saved my season. If you’re depth drafting, don’t take bargains just
because they’re bargains – you’ll end up with bargain garbage. Make sure you
know why you’re sitting on a player. And after last year’s injuries, make sure
you’ve got their handcuffs.



With WRs, my mantra is usually, “if
they’ve consistently produced in the past, they will do so again.” And it played
out last year. But with an added wrinkle – WRs across the board produced like
never before. And for cheap – Randy Moss costs $9 and Terrell Owens cost $13.
Were there surprises? Absolutely, Braylon Edwards exploded, Brandon Marshall
emerged and Roddy White had a big year on a horrible team.


Wide receiver is a position where
you will see a lot of busts – Deion Branch and Santana Moss are examples from
2007. Thankfully, there is a tremendous amount of depth at the position, which
makes it easier to balance the purchase of a stud with some good depth picks. And
there are always veteran receivers (veteran meaning “too old”) available who
will have solid seasons. Look where Marvin Harrison and Lavernaeus Coles are
ranked this season.


One last thought: More than running
backs, a WR’s performance is subject to the performance of his QB. Most money
wideouts are so because they have a decent QB feeding them the ball. Braylon
Edwards emerged because Derek Anderson emerged. Any Bears receiver stunk because
Rex Grossman stunk.

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