2014 Auction Draft Bargains
In the last few years, there's been a big increase in auction-style fantasy drafts. The format has a lot of merits. It's exciting, because you don't have to wait half an hour between your picks. And everybody has an equal chance to draft any given player if they're willing to pay the price.
The risk of an auction, though, is that you get carried away by your emotions and end up spending way too much on a single player you love. I can't count how many bidding wars I've seen in drafts, when the bidding stops being about the objective value of the player being auctioned, and instead becomes a power struggle between two owners. I've been part of these bidding wars myself, and I can tell you first hand that they don't end well for a guy who ends up holding the bag, and has to buy Doug Martin for $72 on a $200 budget. Whoops.
One thing that helps me take my emotion out of the game is to assemble a list of cheaply valued players before the draft, which I think are bargains at their going rate. This way, when a hyped-heavy player I really want is being bid up beyond what's reasonable, I can look at my list and see that there are plenty of other, cheaper, almost-as-good fish in the sea.
I've put one of these bargain lists together this year, and I'm going to share it here now.
Note: Valuations are based on the auction value FFToolbox's cheatsheets, available for your review and use here. Prices reflect a 12-team league with a $200 draft budget.
($15) Look, he had one fairly bad year. Now all of a sudden everybody discounts him as a top-ten quarterback. I think that's a mistake. The way I see it, we saw Tom Brady's floor last season. It will get better. Rob Gronkowski is coming back, Julian Edelman is Wes Welker 2.0, and Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins have a year of experience under their belt. There are weapons in the arsenal for Brady this year. I believe he has every chance to get back to top five QB status, and can be bought for less than Matthew Stafford and Robert Griffin. Sign me up.
($8) Dalton was made to look pretty cheesy on 'Hard Knocks' last year with his rubber wedding ring and his couples' Pilates workouts. And there's no doubt that he blew the Bengals playoffs bid, with three turnovers in their Wild Card game against the Chargers. Regardless of his great production, Dalton doesn't have the likability working in his favor. This drives his price down. But Dalton finished fifth among QBs in fantasy points in 2013. He was two points behind Andrew Luck and five behind Cam Newton. Dalton's perceived value has taken a beating for the way his season ended, but if you can get the bad taste out of your mouth, he's a good buy for eight bucks.
($10) I'll admit it - I've fallen victim to the irrational hatred that's kept Romo's stock so low in fantasy for the last few years. The dude's just… goofy. He doesn't look like a stud quarterback. He's played badly in some huge games (the internet will never, ever forget this.) But guess what? None of that affects his fantasy value. He's playing in a Scott Linehan system this year, and he's still throwing to Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. He costs half as much as Newton, but he'll give you a lot more than half the stats.
($8) Bell is my favorite RB sleeper candidate this year. He very quietly had almost 1,200 yards from scrimmage last year in Detroit. He and Reggie Bush are complementary threats, so they both have value in this offense. And if Bush is injured, as he often has been, Bell could end up as an RB1 for the fantasy season. For eight bucks, you can't go wrong with Bell.
($8 for Gore & $9 for Carlos Hyde) I love the idea of taking both these guys in drafts this year. I think that if you have these two, you own the 49ers backfield. Gore is on the decline without a doubt, but that doesn't mean he won't churn out one more 1,000-yard season. And if he is indeed done with his days as an elite runner, as many suspect, Hyde is the best candidate to replace him. Hyde was thought by a lot of scouts to be the best RB in the draft. And if he gets reps in the 49ers' powerful running game, he'll be one of the best rookies in 2014.
($5) Jackson didn't get a totally fair shake his first year in Atlanta. He missed six games to injury. And with Julio Jones out, the whole offense had a down year, as the passing game struggled and opposing teams were able to stack the box with defenders. There won't be a return to the glory days for Jackson, but he should have dependable value as a flex play this year, and that's easily worth the price being asked at auctions now.