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 CBSSports.com. 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: February 13, 2009 1:44 am
Edited on: February 13, 2009 1:52 am

NL-only auction follow-up

Not as pleased with this one.

We had our 12-team, NL-only 5x5 Rotisserie auction Tuesday, and only now do I have a chance to comment on it. It's not that I think it's a disaster or doesn't stand a chance of competing. But I feel like it could have gone so much better, and our AL-only auction the next day pretty much confirmed my suspicions.

Oh well. Let's just look it over and talk it up.

C - Angel Salome ($1)
C - Yorvit Torrealba ($1)
1B - Travis Ishikawa ($3)
2B - Blake DeWitt ($12)
SS - Hanley Ramirez ($51)
3B - Aramis Ramirez ($34)
MI - Stephen Drew ($29)
CI - Chad Tracy ($1)
OF - Carlos N. Lee ($32)
OF - Bobby Abreu ($8)
OF - Elijah Dukes ($6)
OF - Jerry Hairston ($2)
OF - Nate Schierholtz ($2)
DH - Jonny Gomes ($1)
SP - Yovani Gallardo ($21)
SP - Ryan Dempster ($19)
SP - Brett Myers ($14)
SP - Micah Owings ($1)
SP - Braden Looper ($1)
SP - Jorge De La Rosa ($1)
SP - J.A. Happ ($1)
RP - Jose Valverde ($18)
RP - Ryan Franklin ($1)

Granted, any time you've had a steady stream of mixed-league drafts, a jump in the NL-only pool will come as a shock to the system. Understandably, your team will look worse, and that immediate reaction might help explain my disappointment. But I do detect some clear pitfalls, beginning with my outfield.

Obviously, Abreu came at a discounted rate based on the possibility he'd sign with an AL-team, which he eventually did. Oops. If Dukes ends up moving to the bench with the signing of Adam Dunn, I suddenly have an outfield of Lee and ... garbage, potentially. I like Schierholtz, but I get the strange feeling the Giants don't, at least not as much as poor-hitting team like them should.

Fortunately, my infield -- by design, mostly -- makes up for the shortcomings of my outfield. The Ramirez duo should generate plenty of stats, and having Drew as my middle infielder should give me some sort of advantage. Looking back, though, I showed a little too much love for both him and DeWitt, who I like as a sleeper but not for $12. Those $41 between the two of them would have better served my team elsewhere.

Like maybe my starting rotation. Or maybe not. Maybe I just needed a slightly better dollar distribution throughout. Hard to say. But while a top three of Dempster, Gallardo and Myers looks like an advantage at first glance, that heap of garbage behind it might more or less counteract it. Then again, as with all leagues this deep, half of those low-end starters will eventually give way to whatever middle relievers emerge on the waiver wire during the early months.

If Franklin opens the year closing for the Cardinals, which I think could potentially happen, I suddenly have a nice little purchase. If De La Rosa remains in the rotation and builds on his impressive second half (7-3, 3.08 ERA, 8.4 K/9), I might have another. If Happ beats Kyle Kendrick for the fifth spot in the Phillies rotation -- ah, who am I kidding?

But that's the problem with this team. I have to hope for a few too many breaks. If some go my way, I might end up in pretty good shape, but I could just as easily finish in the bottom half of the standings.

And that's not the way I like to play.

Posted on: February 10, 2009 1:19 am
Edited on: February 10, 2009 1:21 am

Auction follow-up: Blowing it all on four players

We had our 12-team, mixed 5x5 Rotisserie auction Monday, and I thought I'd share some thoughts on my team, which you'll find so conveniently listed below.

After the general disappointment I felt following each of my last two drafts, I have to call this team my favorite so far:

C - Kurt Suzuki ($1)
C - Brandon Inge ($1)
1B - Adrian Gonzalez ($22)
2B - Ian Kinsler ($39)
3B - Alex Rodriguez ($41)
SS - Jose B. Reyes ($43)
MI - Jimmy Rollins ($40)
CI - Aubrey Huff ($10)
OF - Ryan Ludwick ($14)
OF - Rick Ankiel ($6)
OF - Elijah Dukes ($3)
OF - Nelson Cruz ($2)
OF - Denard Span ($1)
DH - Jason Giambi ($1)
SP - Chad Billingsley ($12)
SP - Zack Greinke ($6)
SP - Aaron Harang ($3)
SP - Jair Jurrjens ($1)
SP - Gil Meche ($1)
SP - Wandy Rodriguez ($1)
RP - Brian Fuentes ($9)
RP - Mike Gonzalez ($2)
RP - Chris Ray ($1)

Notice anything unusual? Yes, I spent $163 of my $260 budget on four players: Reyes, A-Rod, Rollins and Kinsler.

Some people call it a studs-and-duds approach, but I don't really feel the need to qualify it. To me, it just makes the most sense in this particular format. In an auction, where you have the ability to get any player you want, assuming you have the money to follow through with it, why not give yourself as much of an advantage over the competition as possible by securing elite players at the four positions that offer the fewest elite options? In Reyes, A-Rod, Rollins and Kinsler, I have four of the eight elite shortstops, second basemen and third basemen (with Hanley Ramirez, Chase Utley, Dustin Pedroia and David Wright making up the rest of that group). In a draft, you could never, ever, ever, ever do that.

I wouldn't try it in a deeper league, like an AL-only or an NL-only. But in a reasonably sized mixed league, where you know plenty of sleepers will go unclaimed at the end, you could pretty easily patch any shortcomings that result from the big spending. For all the "studs," there really aren't any "duds." You just have to make sure you wait at the positions -- in this case, outfield and starting pitcher -- where you can find the most bargains.

But before you decide this approach sounds too risky or too stressful for you, you should know I don't feel like I spent the majority of this auction biting and clawing for every underpriced talent I could find. In fact, the rest of my picks fell into place rather easily. If you correlate each of my bids to the rounds of a standard draft, calling my highest bid my first-round pick and so on, I got the big four in the first four rounds, obviously putting me ahead of the curve. I got Gonzalez in the fifth round -- no problem there. I got Ludwick in the sixth round -- a little early, but reasonable. I got Billingsley in the seventh round -- still a reasonable pick. I got Huff in the eighth round -- again, perfectly rational. I got Fuentes in the ninth round -- everything good still. I got Greinke in the 10th round -- eh, kind of a reach. You could even defend Harang in the 11th round before running into a clear issue with Dukes in the 12th, but I hopefully made my point. By shelling out all that money early, I really didn't lose anything until the second half of any hypothetical "draft," and considering how much that last half of a mixed-league roster gets turned over during the first weeks of the season anyway, what does it matter?

Of course, when we actually tally up the statistics at the end of the season, will I come out ahead using this approach? I don't know. I obviously can't guarantee it. But in an offseason where I generally haven't felt comfortable with the teams I've drafted, I feel surprisingly good about this one.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com