Posted on: August 26, 2010 3:10 am
Edited on: August 26, 2010 3:28 am

My Fantasy Football auction strategy

We conducted a 12-team Fantasy Football auction today. You'll find the complete results here:

For my team specifically, you don't need to go anywhere. Behold:

QB - Philip Rivers ($7)
RB - Michael Turner ($30)
RB - Frank Gore ($23)
WR - Mike Sims-Walker ($9)
WR - Pierre Garcon ($6)
RB/WR - LeSean McCoy ($11)
TE - Kellen Winslow ($2)
K - Ryan Longwell ($1)
DST - Chargers ($1)
QB - Donovan McNabb ($2)
RB - Fred Jackson ($3)
RB - Sammy Morris ($1)
WR - Devin Aromashodu ($2)
WR - Lee Evans ($1)
WR - Braylon Edwards ($1)

I feel OK about it. I felt better about last year's, but you can't always get the perfect storm. My primary goal was to land two of the top-five running backs, and though I didn't accomplish that, I came pretty darn close. Yes, I realize I didn't get an elite wide receiver, which is generally discouraged in this day and age since so few elite running backs exist. But in an auction, you have complete control over how many of those elite running backs you get. I'd rather nab a second one and take my chances on a sleeper receiver, especially since breakout receivers are generally easier to find off the waiver wire than breakout running backs. I secured the No. 1 seed with an 11-2 record last year even though I drafted Anthony Gonzalez and Antonio Bryant as my top two receivers. It doesn't get any worse than that.

I don't know if this team will win it all or even make the playoffs, but I'm convinced the approach is the right one. There's nothing worse than having a roster full of 50-yard performers. Unless you play in an abnormally large league, you're better off shelling out for the high-end guys. What you'll lack in depth at the beginning of the year you'll build off the waiver wire as the season progresses. Remember: The draft is just a starting point. It's not intended to give you everything you need for the entire season.
Posted on: February 19, 2010 5:05 am

A tale of two auctions

One day after participating in a 12-team mixed-league auction with representatives of various publications throughout the industry, I conducted one of our own here at This time, bids came more aggressively, forcing me to take a different approach that I think yielded a better team:

C - A.J. Pierzynski ($1)
C - Jeff Clement ($1)
1B - Joey Votto ($21)
2B - Chase Utley ($41)
3B - Pablo Sandoval ($25)
SS - Troy Tulowitzki ($36)
MI - Derek Jeter ($24)
CI - Billy Butler ($13)
OF - Justin Upton ($26)
OF - Adam Lind ($23)
OF - Jayson Werth ($17)
OF - Johnny Damon ($4)
OF - Julio Borbon ($4)
DH - Carlos Gonzalez ($1)
SP - John Danks ($4)
SP - Gavin Floyd ($4)
SP - Ricky Nolasco ($3)
SP - Brett Anderson ($3)
SP - Randy Wolf ($3)
SP - Aaron Harang ($1)
RP - Billy Wagner ($3)
RP - Leo Nunez ($1)
RP - Kerry Wood ($1)

In the earlier auction, the majority of my competitors chose to forego the big-dollar players, instead saving their money for the middle-round bargains. So naturally, I loaded up on the supposedly expensive types, landing Hanley Ramirez for $43, Ryan Howard for $38, Tulowitzki for $36, Joe Mauer for $29, Victor Martinez for $24 and Justin Morneau for $22. Hey, if nobody else wanted to bid on them, why should I let them go for cheap? Meanwhile, the supposed bargains ended up the more hotly contested players because everyone had stashed away money for them. Votto went for $30. Nelson R. Cruz went for $21. Adam LaRoche went for $11. It was a topsy-turvy auction.

In this auction, though, everybody went all out for the studs, shelling out $40-plus bids as if they had the Steinbrenner family purse at their disposal. With so much money flying off the board early, I realized some of that middle-round talent -- as well as the typical second-, third- and fourth-rounders -- would go for too cheap, so I eased up a bit, jumping in only on Utley and Tulowitzki and staying far, far away from the fistfight for Mauer and Martinez. Sure enough, I ended up with a deep arsenal of second-tier talent, with Upton, Sandoval, Jeter, Lind, Votto and Werth all plenty capable of putting up early-round numbers.

The one common thread between the two auctions was my approach to my pitching staff. I spent only $23 on this one, and I think you'd agree it looks pretty stout -- certainly better than my $22 staff one day earlier. Of course, in that auction, I never would have gotten Danks, Floyd, Nolasco and Anderson for the bargain prices I did here -- not with everyone saving up for sleepers.

If I could change anything, I'd rather have a $4 Andrew McCutchen and a $4 Nate McLouth than a $4 Damon and a $4 Borbon, but those are relatively minor mistakes for such a frenzied exercise. Overall, I think I did the best I could in each auction given the differing circumstances. Having them back-to-back underscores just how much an auction can vary based on the attitude of your competition.
Posted on: February 18, 2010 1:25 am
Edited on: February 20, 2010 1:27 pm

Mauer, V-Mart, Hanley and Tulo on one team!?

I just completed my first 12-team mixed-league auction for 2010, and though I came out of it with some of the usual regrets, I think my general plan worked out pretty well. Here's the rundown:

C - Joe Mauer ($29)
C - Victor Martinez ($24)
1B - Ryan Howard ($38)
2B - Ben Zobrist ($18)
3B - Chone Figgins ($14)
SS - Hanley Ramirez ($43)
MI - Troy Tulowitzki ($36)
CI - Justin Morneau ($22)
OF - Vernon Wells ($3)
OF - Chris Coghlan ($2)
OF - Nick Swisher ($2)
OF - Dexter Fowler ($1)
OF - Milton Bradley ($1)
DH - Hideki Matsui ($1)
SP - A.J. Burnett ($7)
SP - Edwin Jackson ($5)
SP - Ted Lilly ($1)
SP - Daisuke Matsuzaka ($1)
SP - J.A. Happ ($1)
SP - Ervin Santana ($1)
SP - Shaun Marcum ($1)
RP - Leo Nunez ($4)
RP - Jason Frasor ($1)

The first thing you should notice is I have both of the elite catchers. The second thing you should notice is I have both of the elite shortstops. I have a monopoly on two positions, meaning I have 100 percent assurance that nobody in the league will better me at either of them -- well, as much as you can have 100 percent assurance of anything in Fantasy.

That was one of my goals. The other was getting Albert Pujols, but when the bidding got up to $54, I had no choice but to back down.

Why was I willing to spend so much? Hey, it's a 12-team mixed league. In such formats, particularly ones that don't offer benches, the waiver wire is deep and the $1 bargains plentiful. Middle-dollar players won't take you very far with so many low-dollar players capable of rising up and outperforming them. I wanted studs, and with five first- or second-rounders -- six if you count Morneau -- I got them.

If I have one regret on spending, it's the $38 I devoted to Howard. If I knew I'd get Morneau for $22 a couple picks later, I would have let Howard go to someone else. Then again, the assurance he offers in home runs and RBI allowed me to target speedster Figgins as my starting third baseman, giving me potentially a more balanced offense.

As for those $1 bargains, most of them went toward my pitching staff. In fact, they comprised the majority of my pitching staff. With a $7 ace in Burnett -- who, for all his shortcomings, certainly does some things right -- I managed to spend only $22 on nine pitchers. That's $22 of $260, or 8.5 percent of my entire budget, on my entire pitching staff. For as much as I knock pitching, even I hadn't done anything that extreme before. I realize Lilly and Matsuzaka have injury concerns and Jackson, Happ, Santana and Marcum have risk factors of their own, but come on: If just three of those guys pan out, I'll have a good enough nucleus to survive with stopgaps off the waiver wire. And as for saves, someone will get a big enough advantage in the category to drop a closer sooner or later. That's how I got Andrew Bailey last year.

My biggest regret is leaving $4 on the table -- $4 that could have gotten me Gavin Floyd, a pitcher who could have conceivably become my ace. But again, I can't complain too much. As long as I'm willing to put a little work into my outfield and pitching staff -- two positions that always have talent emerging off the waiver wire -- this team should turn out a-OK.
Posted on: December 7, 2009 7:35 pm

My take on the Meachem controversy

I wanted an opportunity to weigh in on the Robert Meachem issue without dedicating any more column space to it.

Frankly, whether or not it's the right call is a moot point to me. The ruling had to go one way or another and would affect different people differently no matter which way it went. We could argue which way is "more right" without coming to any real consensus, so in the end, it's nothing more than a waste of energy.

What I don't understand is why so many people blew a fuse over the call, knowing a ruling had to be made, knowing that ruling could go either way and knowing it was made without any sort of bias. If your commissioner chose not to credit the touchdown to Meachem and happened to be playing the guy who started Meachem -- a game he won by five points -- I could understand the controversy. But nothing like that happened here.

Nobody likes to lose, sure, but that goes for the people helped by this ruling as well as the ones hurt by it. So even if in all your complaining, with your "heightened logic" and "airtight reasoning," you did get the call reversed, what exactly would you have accomplished? You'd have an opponent with just as much of a right to complain as you do, with a burning rage just as fierce as yours -- perhaps even more fierce since he originally had the call go his way. And would that be a fulfilling victory? Would it give any sort of indication of your Fantasy Football prowess?

Which brings me to my next point: What exactly did this decision deny you? A deserved victory? Really? Fantasy Football is about making accurate predictions, and when the lineup deadline came Sunday morning, nobody on the face on planet said, "Heck yeah, I'll start Meachem. I don't want to miss out on those six points he'll get when he strips the ball from a defensive back and returns it for a touchdown." Not a one. In fact, I'd argue nobody -- at least nobody reasonable -- expected him to have 142 receiving yards and a touchdown, in which case anyone who started him already got lucky with him. Another six points added to Meachem's total is not at all reflective of your assessment on him going into the game, so if you need those points to win, you quite frankly don't deserve to win.

And that's the most consolation I can offer you. If you play Fantasy long enough, you'll have more moments like this where a questionable call doesn't go your way. The best way I've found to handle them is to remind myself that if I had made better decisions or if my other players had performed the way they should have, I wouldn't have needed those extra six points. That line of thinking helps put the supposed "injustice" in perspective.

Because as a willing participant in any game, be it Fantasy Football, horseshoes or Monopoly, you kind of just have accept the rules as they are, assuming they're fair, regardless of whether or not you agree with them.

Hey, if you want all the calls to go your way, you could always run a one-team league.
Category: NFL
Posted on: November 12, 2009 11:49 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2009 11:53 pm

Early mock draft results

I recently took part in a mock draft for another publication. Kind of early, I know, but at least it gives you some idea what to expect. It's a 15-team league, so don't take the specific rounds too much to heart (unless you play in a 15-team league, of course).

Here's the breakdown, with the rounds in parentheses. I picked eighth overall:

C - Joe Mauer (1)
C - Jesus Flores (20)
1B - Derrek Lee (7)
2B - Ben Zobrist (4)
3B - Pablo Sandoval (3)
SS - Troy Tulowitzki (2)
MI - Alcides Escobar (18)
CI - Garrett Jones (11)
OF - Shane Victorino (5)
OF - Michael Bourn (6)
OF - Nick Swisher (14)
OF - Seth Smith (22)
OF - Will Venable (23)
DH - Hideki Matsui (16)
SP - Tommy Hanson (8)
SP - Gavin Floyd (12)
SP - John Danks (13)
SP - Daisuke Matsuzaka (15)
SP - Wade Davis (19)
SP - Joel Pineiro (21)
RP - Brian Fuentes (9)
RP - David Aardsma (10)
RP - Kerry Wood (17)

For the most part, I like what I did. According to the tier approach -- where with each pick, I target the position most likely to see the biggest drop-off in talent before my next pick -- Joe Mauer in the first round and Troy Tulowitzki in the second seems like the ideal way to start a draft this year. That doesn't mean I'd take Mauer before Albert Pujols or even Hanley Ramirez, but if you pick third or later and have the good fortune of drafting Mauer, you should hold your breath and pray Tulowitzki slides to you in Round 2. That's the only realistic way you can come out of the draft with top-tier players at the two weakest positions in Fantasy. You can still get top-tier players at the deeper positions in the rounds that follow.

Going with Mauer and Tulowitzki does have its drawbacks, though. I don't have a sure 30 homers anywhere, and if Derrek Lee (who should go sooner than Round 7 even in 12-team leagues) regresses back to his usual numbers, I might fall behind in that category. Fortunately, drafting Mauer and Pablo Sandoval gave me the luxury of drafting power hitters who might drain my batting average, such as Garrett Jones and Nick Swisher. Michael Bourn should help me contend in stolen bases, though if I knew I'd end up with him and Alcides Escobar, I would have opted for Andre Ethier's homers instead of Shane Victorino's steals in Round 5.

I waited until the eighth round to draft a pitcher and still ended up with a competitive staff, which is always the plan. Daisuke Matsuzaka and Wade Davis have some potential for implosion, but I like their upside. I normally avoid non-strikeout pitchers like Joel Pineiro, but rarely do 15-game winners last so long in leagues so deep.

What do you guys think? I'm still forming my opinions at this early stage of the offseason, so any dissenting viewpoints can only help. Send an e-mail with the heading "15-team draft" to
Category: MLB
Posted on: April 9, 2009 11:39 pm

Davies and a couple comebacks

A pair of pitching performances caught my eye Thursday.

First, Kyle Davies -- a guy I chronicled all spring only to shy away from him in the end -- pitched his best yet in a start against the White Sox, allowing only five baserunners and recording eight strikeouts in seven shutout innings. I don't know that you can expect him to strike out so many batters going forward, but his other numbers continue a trend he started last September, when he went 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA.

So would I pick him up in a mixed league? If I already had a scrub pitcher on my bench, I wouldn't mind making an exchange. Ian Snell for Davies is already all-systems-go in one league. When trying to find an out-of-nowhere breakout, you want to keep shuffling the hottest pitchers on and off the waiver until one sticks by staying hot. Nobody will pick up someone like Snell, coming off a miserable start, if you drop him, but someone else might look at Davies if you don't grab him first.

Of course, the pitching performance that won't go unnoticed is Chris Carpenter's seven innings of one-hit baseball against the Pirates. He had a 1.52 ERA in 23 2/3 innings this spring, and now this. I feel confident and not the least bit premature declaring what 71 percent of Fantasy owners had already come to realize: He's baaaa-aaaack.

Speaking of back, Andruw Jones not only started for the first time this season, but he hit cleanup for the Rangers . Oh, he also went 3-for-5 with a double.

How long before he replaces David Murphy in the lineup?

Category: MLB
Posted on: April 5, 2009 7:25 pm

Quick predictions

I unfortunately won't get a chance to go into much detail, but I wanted to get my predictions on record so people can ridicule them and me and whatever else they want.

So here we go -- my expected standings, as well as award winners, for the upcoming season:

1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Atlanta Braves
3. New York Mets
4. Florida Marlins
5. Washington Nationals

1. Chicago Cubs
2. St. Louis Cardinals (wild card)
3. Cincinnati Reds
4. Milwaukee Brewers
5. Houston Astros
6. Pittsburgh Pirates

1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Arizona Diamondbacks
3. San Francisco Giants
4. Colorado Rockies
5. San Diego Padres

(These first three will be ridiculously close.)
1. Boston Red Sox
2. New York Yankees (wild card)
3. Tampa Bay Rays
4. Baltimore Orioles
5. Toronto Blue Jays

1. Minnesota Twins
(These next three will be close.)
2. Chicago White Sox
3. Kansas City Royals
4. Cleveland Indians
5. Detroit Tigers

1. Los Angeles Angels
2. Oakland Athletics
3. Texas Rangers
4. Seattle Mariners

NL MVP: Albert Pujols
AL MVP: Mark Teixeira
NL Cy Young: Dan Haren
AL Cy Young: CC Sabathia
NL ROY: Jordan Zimmermann
AL ROY: Matt Wieters
NL Comeback: Chris Carpenter
AL Comeback: Victor Martinez
NL Manager: Tony La Russa
AL Manager: Trey Hillman

World Series: Red Sox over Cardinals, 4-2

Category: MLB
Posted on: April 3, 2009 2:37 am
Edited on: April 3, 2009 2:38 am

Street earns job; Rasmus closing in

With most of the roster spots filled and starting pitchers making their final tuneup starts before the regular season, Thursday was a relatively quiet day in baseball.

Most notably, the Rockies named Huston Street their closer over Manny Corpas, which wouldn't have even been a story if they hadn't scared Fantasy owners away from Street earlier this spring. Really, he deserved the job all along. The Athletics drafted him and raised him as a closer, so he doesn't know anything else. He'll suffice as a No. 2 Fantasy option, but he'll have a short leash after his struggles last season.

Cardinals top prospect Colby Rasmus finally homered for the first time, raising his batting average to .286 in the process. No word yet on whether or not Rasmus will start over Chris Duncan in left field, and the two might ultimately end up splitting at-bats. Quite frankly, fellow rookies Jordan Schafer and Dexter Fowler look like safer bets to make an impact this season than the Cardinals outfielder, who has the most upside of the three.

Brad Penny went another five strong and looks like a safe bet to open the season in the Red Sox rotation. He couldn't have a better situation to help return him to Fantasy prominence, so don't sleep on him late.

Also, Wandy Rodriguez rebounded from a mostly disappointing spring, allowing just one hit and recording 11 strikeouts in six innings. Granted, he was facing the Astros' Double-A affiliate, but at least he proved he could still make batters miss. After striking out 8.6 batters in nine innings with a 3.54 ERA last season, he tends to go overlooked as a sleeper. Really, he deserves a roster spot in all leagues.

Category: MLB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or