I have already waxed poetic on the advantages and strategy I take with an auction league, so I won’t go there again. Instead, I want to call upon my optimistic nature and assess what I believe were the best auction victories by every team during the startup process. The criteria I will use include my personal rankings of the player, the length of the deal, the average annual salary, and the team construction. A few points regarding the Reality Sports Online (RSO) league setup:
- Quarterback passing touchdowns are worth 5 points, interceptions worth -1.5
- The league is PPR, no tight end premium
- 16 teams, 25 player rosters (1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, 2Flex starting spots)
- Two round rookie mock of only players drafted in round 3 or later of NFL draft has already taken place
- Contracts available – Two 4-year contracts, Three 3-year contracts, Four 2-year contracts, unlimited 1-year contracts
With all that in place, let’s look at each team’s best value starting with my own:
Keenan Allen, WR SD (4 years, $41.5 million)
Locking up Allen for four years might seem crazy to some, but he’s a 23-year old wide receiver with two 70 catch seasons already under his belt. Add in a value contract at just over $10 million per year (roughly 7% of salary cap) and I have a receiver who has a WR2 floor for a low end WR3 (WR35 overall) average annual salary.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR DEN (2 years, $24 million)
Sanders may be polarizing among both redraft and dynasty owners, but this was a player who was seventh in the NFL for total targets last year. Jeff mitigated risk by signing him to a shorter deal but received great value as Sanders is paid as the WR26, a low bar he should be able to hurdle over easily in 2015.
Jarvis Landry, WR MIA (3 years, $27 million)
Eric pulled off a major heist here with Landry, taking advantage of the draft room discount based on the offseason moves of the Dolphins. The $9 million average annual salary makes him the WR41, a level that even the strongest Landry detractors would be comfortable with. For comparison, Terrance Williams was $9.25 million annually.
Golden Tate, WR DET (3 years, $33.5 million)
At first glance, Jarrett’s third receiver pricing out at the WR31 does not seem like a bargain, but Tate may be the strongest WR3 on any team in this league. Anyone would be happy to get a player who was on pace for 92 catches and 1,209 receiving yards with Calvin Johnson in the lineup and has little reason to regress. Well played.
Philip Rivers, QB SD (2 years, $12.5 million)
Ghost had several great deals but Rivers may have been the best quarterback value in the entire draft. He has thrown for 4,000+ yards and 27+ passing touchdowns in six of the last seven years, but was purchased as the QB22. Keep in mind, this is a 16-team league so top quarterbacks should be a premium.
(Tie) Rob Gronkowski, TE NE (4 years, $88.5 million) and Odell Beckham Jr., WR NYG (4 years, $85.5 million)
No, this is not a tight end premium league, but Gronkowski was paid the same average annual salary ($22.1 million) as the WR10. Meanwhile, Beckham received the WR13 salary. Meylor took advantage of the uncertainty at the beginning of the draft and found two huge bargains. Kudos!
Tom Brady, QB NE (1 year, $8 million)
Jeff built a team ready to win now and saw an arbitrage opportunity with Brady. The suspension looming allowed him to get Brady on a one-year deal at QB18 pricing. Having Palmer at $8.5 million gives Jeff insurance and a quarterback streaming scenario if neither one stands out.
Tony Romo, QB DAL (2 years, $15.5 million)
Doug also owns Teddy Bridgewater (3 years, $28.5 million) but Romo was a massive discount and I can’t blame Doug for acquiring him. Romo provides insurance in case Bridgewater falters and at the QB20 price, somehow one spot lower than Robert Griffin III, he represents some trade flexibility for a cap strapped owner.
Dorial Green-Beckham, WR TEN (3 years, $23 million)
[inlinead]DGB has all the tools to be a great receiver and Kyle’s three year deal was reasonable and should limit the damage if Green-Beckham does something stupid. At an average annual price that places him at the WR51, DGB has lots of room for profit.
T.J. Yeldon, RB JAX (3 years, $40 million)
Running backs went fast and furious in this auction given the short contract lengths and number of teams. Nathan pounced on Yeldon, a rookie with full workload expectations at a price of the RB18 for the next three seasons. It’s a great lockdown move for a player who should reach that threshold on volume alone.
Jordan Reed, TE WAS (2 years, $14.5 million)
Admittedly, I am not Reed’s biggest fan, but he has shown to be quite effective when healthy. At the price of the TE19, even his shortened 2014 season would make Reed a bargain at this price tag. Add in the low number of years and this also protects against dead money if the concussion risk proves real.
Danny Woodhead, RB SD (2 years, $14 million)
My name is George and I have a man crush on 2015 Danny Woodhead. People forget that he had 76 receptions in 2013 and with the recent news on Antonio Gates, Woodhead will be needed even more. As the RB35 for average annual salary, Woodhead should pay this back in a PPR format easily.
Eddie Lacy, RB GB (3 years, $45.5 million)
Among the top running backs, Lacy was the biggest value in this auction. Being bought as the RB11 secures Jacob a low floor for a runner who has been a top-10 back each of his seasons in the NFL. In a league like this, any discount on a running back is extremely valuable.
Dwayne Allen, TE IND (2 years, $9 million)
I believe Allen is the better bet compared to Coby Fleener when assessing the Indianapolis tight end situation. He should be on the field more given his superior blocking skills and ability in the red zone. That warrants higher than the TE30 in average annual salary. Zach stole Allen here with an out if he is not re-signed by the team after 2015.
Markus Wheaton, WR PIT (3 years, $11.5 million)
I really like Russell’s team and Wheaton was that under the radar signing who will easily outplay his contract. When you get a player who had 86 targets in 2014 and is just 24 for the WR80 price, there is zero downside. Even with Martavis Bryant (who I own) around, Wheaton should still be involved as an underneath option.
Dwayne Bowe, WR CLE (1 year, $6.5 million)
Even the Browns have to throw and I suspect Bowe will be a 100+ target player in 2015 barring injury. Ryan paid WR57 value and gave just a one-year deal, which should mitigate the risk of future dead money. It may not look pretty, but Bowe will accumulate numbers he can use.