Auction drafts are one of the fastest growing types of leagues in the fantasy football world. Auction leagues allow fantasy owners to get whichever players he or she wants, whereas snake drafts force managers into drafting certain players, depending on draft position. Sports Illustrated invited 12 high-stakes experts to participate in an Auction Mock Draft this past weekend. Each owner was expected to field a 16-man roster in this PPR league, and to draft a starting roster consisting of 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 2 Flex, 1 K and 1 DEF. Each owner begun the draft with a $200 budget. Here are their teams, and their respective thoughts.
In addition to their analysis of their own teams, you can also check out Brad Kruse’s auction primer with some strategies to consider as you prep for an auction. And Kevin Hanson’s position rankings and Top 200 have his suggested auction prices.
QB: Jared Goff; RB: Leonard Fournette, James White, Jordan Howard, Jaylen Samuels, Peyton Barber; WR: Adam Thielen, Alshon Jeffery, Jarvis Landry, Calvin Ridley, Josh Gordon, Geronimo Allison; TE: Zach Ertz, Eric Ebron; K: Wil Lutz; DEF: Chicago Bears
I wasn’t sure what strategy I was going to use until the draft started. Should I open my wallet early for some of the big names and supplement as I go with less expensive players? Should I try to target players that were less expensive, but with good upside? I decided to go for the latter once the first player (Saquon Barkley) hit the auction block. The going price for Barkley, Alvin Kamara, and Christian McCaffrey were 60-plus dollars, and I was not prepared to go that high.
I settled on my first RBs of Leonard Fournette and James White (that I got for a combined $43). Not the big name studs, but both have potential for nice production. Peyton Barber, Jordan Howard and Jalen Samuels finished off my running back stable all at a single digits or low teens price point. Again, they were all affordable and will get plenty of playing time with some upside. I paid a premium of $28 for Zach Ertz, but he was the tight end I was targeting, and I felt like it was a good value. I supplemented Ertz with Eric Ebron at a modest $3.
I needed a stud WR, but again, I was not willing to jump into the 50-to-60 dollar range. Adam Theilen at $34 felt like a superb value, so he was my anchoring wide receiver. Alshon Jeffery, Jarvis Landry and Calvin Ridley in the low-to-mid teens rounded out an unspectacular, but solid starting corps. Wide receivers I added for depth were Geronimo Allison and Josh Gordon (plenty of potential with both). Jared Goff is a nice quarterback to have as your starter. He is young and has a plethora of weapons. The Chicago Bears defense and Wil Lutz rounded out my team. I spent my whole $200, but I felt I did not skimp anywhere. While I project some of my players to outperform expectations (Ridley, Fournette, Gordon), I believe my production should be solid up and down the lineup.
—Rick Briggs, Co-host of The Asylum Fantasy Podcast
QB: Dak Prescott, Philip Rivers; RB: Saquon Barkley, Marlon Mack, Royce Freeman, Lamar Miller; WR: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Julian Edelman, Kenny Golladay, Michael Gallup, Anthony Miller, Randall Cobb, James Washington; TE: Austin Hooper; K: Robbie Gould; DEF: Minnesota Vikings
I went into the auction with the strategy to pay up for a few studs and fill out my roster with low-dollar players. I used Fantasy Pros average auction values (AAV) to determine my target price.
Fantasy Pros currently has Saquon Barkley at $62 and Juju Smith-Shuster at $42. I paid $61 and $47 respectively. I feel pretty good about having two potential top five players at 54% of my budget. The Andrew Luck news broke during the draft causing Colts players who had not been drafted to drop in value. I secured Marlon Mack for $15, a full $10 below his average auction value. I do think he will experience a little dip in production, but the improvements in the Colts’ offensive line did not retire with Luck. Speaking of the Luck retirement, you’ll notice my drafting of Lamar Miller. I got a little sidetracked updating rankings. My bad.
With three WRs and two flex spots, I took aim at a couple of mid-priced targets in Julian Edelman for $26 ($1 under AAV), and Kenny Golladay at $22 (also $1 under AAV). I filled out the WR/RB with some cheap guys who have upside such as Anthony Miller $3, Michael Gallup $6, James Washington $3, Randall Cobb $4 and Royce Freeman $7. I went cheap at QB and TE. I paired Dak Prescott and Philip Rivers for $2 and Austin Hooper for $2. I can stream tight ends throughout the season if Hooper does not work out.
—Dennis Bennett, Co-host of the FF Roundtable Podcast
QB: Carson Wentz; RB: Aaron Jones, Josh Jacobs, Derrius Guice, Matt Breida; WR: Stefon Diggs, Tyler Boyd, Tyler Lockett, Cooper Kupp, Will Fuller, Dede Westbrook; TE: Hunter Henry, Jordan Reed, Kyle Rudolph; K: Justin Tucker; DEF: Dallas Cowboys
The overarching strategy for this auction for me was to manage my spending at the running back position. With the myriad of RB2-plus options available to me at around $25, I decided to pull the trigger on Aaron Jones ($26), Josh Jacobs ($21) and Derrius Guice ($11) as my top three. Snagging Matt Breida late for only $2 covered my bases and allowed me to sustain an injury at a position where I would only look to start two in ideal circumstances. The strategy of snagging a TE early (Hunter Henry for $16) was a bit of a misstep considering the guys that went later went for an average of $5 cheaper.
The reason for the measured spending at RB for me was so that I could focus most of my attention on the wide receiver position. Stefon Diggs was the big-money buy at $34, but being able to add Tyler Boyd, Cooper Kupp, Will Fuller, Dede Westbrook and Tyler Lockett allowed me to field no less than a solid WR2 at each of my five allotted WR spots. Considering the high probability of an injury at the RB or TE spots compared to WRs, this team structure will allow this squad to remain competitive in most cases all season. Late-round $1 pickups included Jordan Reed and Kyle Rudolph as “break glass” TEs. Carson Wentz at $9 early proved to be a good purchase as well because of his plethora of weapons in his offense and due to the other spends at the position.
All in all, I’m very happy with this team.
—Etan Mozia, Co-host of The Dynasty Diagnostic Podcast
Shane P. Hallam
QB: Cam Newton; RB: Le’Veon Bell, Kerryon Johnson, Duke Johnson, Austin Ekeler, Miles Sanders, Justin Jackson; WR: Keenan Allen, T.Y. Hilton, Christian Kirk, A.J. Brown, Trey Quinn; TE: O.J. Howard, T.J. Hockenson; K: Greg Zuerlein; DEF: Los Angeles Rams
My goal with the auction was to get a stud RB and a good stable of RBs to rotate into the flex spots, three solid WRs, a cheap QB, and top 6 TE. I think I accomplished most of these goals. Le’Veon Bell was my stud RB at $50 and though there is disagreement on his talent and effectiveness, I think he will thrive for the Jets. Kerryon Johnson should be a fine RB2 at $24, and with the Lamar Miller injury happening during the draft, Duke Johnson should be a good third option. I overspent on Austin Ekeler ($22) toward the end of the draft, but figured getting him and Justin Jackson ($4) locked up was flex value. Plus, I added Eagles rookie running back Miles Sanders.
At the wide receiver position, Keenan Allen was the top-end player I wanted to grab at $31. The Andrew Luck retirement news came out during the draft, so people were skittish on T.Y. Hilton, so $15 for him seemed great. With Jacoby Brissett, Hilton was the WR26 in 2017. That number should rise to WR2 levels. I love Christian Kirk this year and felt I got good value. My WR depth is weak, but A.J. Brown or Trey Quinn could prove to be decent bye-week fill ins.
O.J. Howard for $11 felt like an absolute steal to me. He is my third ranked tight end, and will be on the field for all of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ snaps. I like how T.J. Hockenson has looked and for a dollar, he is a fine TE2. Cam Newton should be a good QB1 assuming he is healthy, and for a $1 it was an easy buy. I also nominated kickers and defenses early. It is a good strategy so that if people want to only spend $1 on those positions, you will get top options. If they want to spend more, you will get that money out of the way. The Rams DST and Greg Zuerlein for $1 each are top-5 at their given position.
—Shane P. Hallam, Fantasy Football expert for @FakePigskin
QB: Kyler Murray; RB: Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, Ito Smith, Darrel Henderson, Damien Harris; WR: Mike Evans, Amari Cooper, Deebo Samuel, Mecole Hardman, Keke Coutee, Tre’Quan Smith, N’Keal Harry; TE: Travis Kelce; K: Harrison Butker; DEF: Denver Broncos
The goal is to win this league, so I took some risks with discounted players like Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon. Add the top tight end, Travis Kelce, to Mike Evans and Amari Cooper (both with potential for increased volume due to offensive changes) and I am happy with the base of my team.
Once I spent the main chunk of money, my goal was to add players that have high ceilings and can be league-winners if they hit. With that in mind, I am very pleased that I was able to get Kyler Murray at quarterback, Rams running back Darrell Henderson and Chiefs receiver Mecole Hardman. These are the type of ancillary players I want. If they don't perform early in the season, no problem, I can cut them and play the waivers game with very little money wasted.
—Bill McCarthy, fantasy football expert for SuperFlexFootball.com
QB: Russell Wilson; RB: Christian McCaffrey, Mark Ingram, Dion Lewis, Nyheim Hines, Chris Thompson; WR: Davante Adams, Brandin Cooks, John Brown, Adam Humphries, Cole Beasley, Parris Campbell, DaeSean Hamilton, D.K. Metcalf; TE: George Kittle; K: N/A; DEF: New Orleans Saints
Rarely will a player see a draft in which he or she can afford two top-five players at their position, let alone three. In this draft, however, I managed to do just that. Davante Adams, Christian McCaffrey and George Kittle are my number one, two and three players at their respective positions. Russell Wilson and Brandin Cooks find themselves firmly at the back of my positional top 10 lists. Six players in, with five in the top 10, and one more in the top 24? I was on cloud nine. Then scarcity reared its ugly head. Players in the middle tiers of my draft board started going for $5, $10 and even $15 more than their expected values.
So there I was. Two hours into the draft, and my team looked exactly like it did 15 minutes in. Chris Godwin, Tyler Boyd, Calvin Ridley, Duke Johnson and Latavius Murray were all players I hoped would come at a value. None of them did. So in the end, I was stuck with stars and scrubs. I had six players any fantasy owner would die to have in their starting lineup each and every week paired with a bunch of nobodies. As a veteran deep dynasty player, I did my best to identify the $1 and $2 values and strike where my limited remaining budget allowed. Nyheim Hines, Dion Lewis, Cole Beasley, and Adam Humphries should provide safe PPR floors while D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell, John Brown and Chris Thompson may provide a matchup-based weekly ceiling to help me win the flex. My overall feeling as I closed the draft window and headed to bed? Cautious optimism. With good waiver wire management and a little luck on the injury front, this team could be a contender. Without those things, it could be a long season.
—Joe Pollock, Co-host of The Fantasy Takeaway Podcast
QB: Patrick Mahomes; RB: Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, Ty Montgomery, Devin Singletary, Darwin Thompson; WR: Robert Woods, Robby Anderson, Sammy Watkins, Zay Jones, Golden Tate, Jamison Crowder; TE: Delanie Walker; K: Kaimi Fairbairn; DEF: Baltimore Ravens
Playing in several auctions leagues each season, I approached this mock with a different strategy than I wanted to put forth. As someone who generally likes to spend my money modestly and not overpay for players, I decided to be aggressive early on. Going with the "Stars and Scrubs" mentality, I went in knowing I wanted to come away with two stud running backs to be the cornerstones of my team. Getting Alvin Kamara ($67) and Dalvin Cook ($40) puts me in line to have two of the top five RBs by season's end and an advantage in most matchups each week. Add in the winning bid for the league's top QB in Patrick Mahomes ($26) and I will be set with my starters at these two positions.
Using this strategy felt good early on as you see the big names on your roster. But what it did was put me in a tight spot as I was attempting to fill my roster. I was constantly being outbid throughout the draft. Although I am very strong at RB, this strategy made me very weak at WR. My starting trio of Robert Woods ($19), Robby Anderson ($9), and Sammy Watkins ($9) very well could be the weakest in the league. It will put me in a position to focus in on matchups for all players on my WR depth chart and play the best guys. In the latter stages of the draft, I was able to grab some of my sleeper targets in Devin Singletary ($9) and Darwin Thompson ($5) as the money eventually started to come off the board. But by the end of this draft, I was strongly reminded why I typically approach auctions with a more patient mindset. Let the big dollars come off the board early so that you can build great depth in the middle of the draft. You might miss out on the top players at each position, but by the end of your draft, you will have a more well-rounded roster that can compete for a title.
—Brandon Murchison, Co-host of The Hot Take Fantasy Football Podcast
QB: Lamar Jackson, Jameis Winston; RB: Joe Mixon, Devonta Freeman, David Montgomery, Gio Bernard; WR: DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham, Marvin Jones, Robert Foster, DeSean Jackson; TE: Mark Andrews, Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten; K: Jason Myers; DEF: Houston Texans
Originally I wanted to find value with the running back position in two players that I am high on: Nick Chubb and Todd Gurley. That changed when Gurley went off the board for $60. As in any draft, you have to be fluid. This applies even more in auctions, and I saw an opportunity to grab my top-ranked wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins for $53, which I consider a value. I could not think of a better pairing than my second-ranked receiver overall in Odell Beckham for $40.
Joe Mixon was a steal at $37 but I found myself short on money right away with three top-24 players. Overall it did not hurt me as I was able to acquire Devonta Freeman AND David Montgomery for under $45 combined, and found value at receiver with Marvin Jones, DeSean Jackson and Robert Foster. I then decided to to pair my “one slots” with Ravens - Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews for a combined $5.
This team has some legs to win the whole thing. I do not think I overpaid anywhere while still providing my team with studs at wide receiver and running back.
—Steve Toroni, Co-host of The Hot Take Fantasy Football Podcast
QB: Matt Ryan; RB: Nick Chubb, James Conner, Chris Carson, Kalen Ballage, Justice Hill; WR: Chris Godwin, Mike Williams, Courtland Sutton, Donte Moncrief, Tedd Ginn; TE: Vance McDonald, Jack Doyle, Tyler Eifert; K: Matt Prater; DEF: New England Patriots
My strategy for any auction is intentionally skipping out on the first tier of running backs, but if presented with the opportunity, make sure I nominate them early and often, to get some money off the table. It allows me the opportunity to get two running backs or one back and one wide receiver in that second tier with just as much potential to jump into that first tier by year’s end. For example, I spent $30 less (almost a 45% discount) on Nick Chubb for $38 compared to Alvin Kamara who went for $67. This afforded me the chance to also get James Conner for $40.
I paid a total of $78 for two backs in my top eight instead of just one back in the top three. It adds depth to a crucial part of my starting lineup, a consistent foundation of points on a weekly basis, and a distinct advantage of saving auction dollars, or at the very least, spreading out my auction dollars, instead of investing them into one single asset.
At first glance, the combination of Chris Godwin and Mike Williams seems like I don’t have a true WR1 on my roster, but that’s a matter of perspective. While they may not be the “top” wide receiver on their actual teams, I’m expecting monster seasons from both of these young pass catchers. In fact, I believe Godwin will finish among the top 12 receivers by the end of the season, and Williams will finish in the top 24.
Typically I’ll never have a QB like Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers or Deshaun Watson on my teams in snake drafts simply because I always wait on my QB. But in the auction format, it allows a fantasy manager to go after any QB if the price is affordable and doesn’t break the bank. Matt Ryan for just $5 was incredible value considering Mahomes went for $26 and Watson went for $20. Still, it is incredible to see QBs like Cam Newton and Jameis Winston going for a buck each. That certainly takes a lot of patience and staying organized during the auction as those QBs came at a fifth of the cost of my passer but both have the same potential to yield similar results.
—Bill Enright, FFChamps Co-Director and Bull Market Fantasy Contributor
QB: Baker Mayfield, Andrew Luck; RB: David Johnson, Damien Williams, Derrick Henry, Latavius Murray, LeSean McCoy; WR: Larry Fitzgerald, Sterling Shepard, Curtis Samuel, A.J. Green, Dante Pettis, Marqez Valdes-Scantling; TE: Jared Cook; K: Jake Elliott; DEF: Los Angeles Chargers
There were a few things I knew I wanted headed into this auction: A stud RB, to wait on WRs and grab the best values, and to keep the QB, TE, K and DEF cost down
So one by one, let's discuss. I did in fact grab a stud RB in David Johnson for $54. But I like this value when Alvin Kamara went for $67. I am really high on Johnson this year because I expect the up-tempo offense to play well against the fact the team has a terrible offensive line. The Cardinals will constantly have QB Kyler Murray on the move which will work well with Johnson’s strengths. I then followed him with Damien Williams for $33 and Derrick Henry at $15 to give me a solid set of starting RBs.
I did in fact wait on wide receivers and the most I spent on one was $15 for Larry Fitzgerald. After Fitz, I spent a total of $42 on five other receivers. They included Sterling Shepard, Curtis Samuel, A.J. Green, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Dante Pettis. I think these players, while not sexy on the outside, give me very solid depth and plenty of choices to start each week.
But the last one is the best one. I did well to keep TE and DEF costs down, but I did pay $14 for my kicker. Okay stop laughing. It was the last player I needed, and I had $14 left, so I used it. Get over it.
The QB part though was not quite as successful.
We were into the meat of the auction and some QBs were off the board, so I decided I wanted to get cute. I nominated Andrew Luck for $10 thinking with all the bad press he had gotten lately, I could slide him through. AND IT WORKED! YIPPEE!!!
For about 30 minutes...
Then the world caught on fire and we all learned that Luck had just retired. D’OH! Luckily, I was able to get Baker Mayfield after the big bomb dropped. So if anyone ever asks me where I was when Luck retired, I am certain I will never forget.
Overall, I really like my team and would love to see this league play out, but as with all auctions, there were ripples on the matrix in this one.
—Jim Day, FFChamps Co-Director and Director of the FullTime Fantasy Podcast Network
QB: Aaron Rodgers; RB: Ezekiel Elliott, Tevin Coleman, Tony Pollard, Rashaad Penny, Kareem Hunt, Ronald Jones; WR: Michael Thomas, Allen Robinson, Corey Davis, Emmanuel Sanders, Josh Doctson; TE: Evan Engram, Dallas Goedert; K: Stephen Gostkowski; DEF: Jacksonville Jaguars
In my first auction draft of the 2019 season, I decided to take a bunch of chances. That included targeting Ezekiel Elliott. Despite being a Giants fan, I expect Zeke to sign with the Cowboys either just before, or just after the season opener. Still, as an insurance policy, I made sure to get his handcuff in Tony Pollard, who I actually think will have standalone value as a pass catcher out of the backfield even after Elliott signs. I spent $63 on the Dallas backfield ($57 on Elliott and $6 on Pollard) and $13 on my RB2, Tevin Coleman. My backfield should be pretty solid, so long as Elliott returns to the field.
I was surprised to get Aaron Rodgers at such a cheap price and felt like he was definitely a steal at $9. I paid a premium to get Evan Engram, but I truly feel like he will take the next step and produce elite numbers this season. The Giants lost Odell Beckham, Golden Tate is suspended the first four games and the team will be trailing in most games. Engram should get peppered with targets.
Hopefully Engram plays well, because my receiving corps is where I struggled with the budget. I anchored the squad with Michael Thomas, who I paid a good $52 for, but the rest of my wide receivers are hit or miss. Allen Robinson for $14 may be a bit of a bargain, but who knows how he will perform on a week-to-week basis. He is a pretty volatile player, just like Corey Davis, who I got for $11. Davis has skill, but playing in the Titans’ system with Marcus Mariotta will make it difficult for him to be a reliable WR3. Emmanuel Sanders was a risky player to decide to bank on, but because this team is either going to be awesome or terrible, I decided to take the shot.
Overall, I have a team that I think will actually perform quite with Zeke and Thomas as the anchors.
—Matt Brandon, FullTime Fantasy Managing Editor
QB: Deshaun Watson; RB: Sony Michel, Tarik Cohen, Phillip Lindsay, Kenyan Drake, Adrian Peterson; WR: Julio Jones, Tyreek Hill, Antonio Brown, D.J. Moore, Tyrell Williams; TE: David Njoku, Trey Burton, Greg Olsen; K: Georgia Tavecchio; DEF: Cleveland Browns
I decided to spend most of my budget on wide receivers since I believe in a PPR league where you can potentially start five receivers, it is the most important position to lock down. I built this team around Tyreek Hill ($42), Julio Jones ($48) and Antonio Brown ($32), easily the best receiver-trio in the league.
I also added D.J. Moore to fill one of my flex spots and selected some pass-catching running backs such as Tarik Cohen, Kenyan Drake, Sony Michel and Phillip Lindsay. That should easily suffice when my receivers give me such an advantage. I also snagged one of the top quarterbacks in the league in Deshaun Watson and will play the matchup game with my tight ends. David Njoku, Trey Burton and Greg Olsen may not be the top players at their position, but I’m hoping one of them breaks out and can provide TE1 stats.
Overall, I think this team can easily compete for a championship in this league.
—Chris Ventra, fantasy sports analyst