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30 Aug 2006

Scramble for the Ball: Sheep League Review

by Ian Dembsky and Bill Barnwell

Ian: Welcome to an early-week edition of Scramble for the Ball. This past Sunday, the annual Football Outsiders and friends draft took place in Boston in a league known as the Boston Area Auction, a.k.a. the BAA, a.k.a. The Sheep League.

Our league runs in an auction format, which I've touted before. With an auction, the top players don't go to the people who randomly get the top picks. Instead, an auction lets you get whoever you want, if you're willing to pay the price. League scoring is pretty standard, though yardage is important. 1 point for every 10 yards rushing or receiving, and 1 point for every 20 yards passing. 4 points for a passing touchdown, 6 points for all others. Each team gets $160 to spend on 16 players. Starting rosters are 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DT, and teams also draft one bench player at each position, as well as one more bench player at any position. Onto the draft.

First, a warning though. It would be a mistake to take the prices we paid, and use them as clear guidelines for how you value your players entering your draft. A lot of people have been asking for us to produce auction projections as part of the KUBIAK spreadsheet, but as FO main man Aaron Schatz pointed out to me after the draft, "auctions are 90 percent poker and 10 percent projections." Adjusting on the fly based on how your opponents draft is a huge part of the process, and was a big reason why I think my team turned out among the league's elite.

The other difference in our league, of course, is that everybody knows exactly what one specific owner thinks about every single player, because he published all his thoughts in a large book.

It's well-known that the top running backs go for lots of money. They seem to go for more money each season. I don't know if they can go for much more than they did this year. Running backs were called early and often, and here were the top 10 salaries:

Shaun Alexander -- $90 (!)
LaDainian Tomlinson -- $86
Larry Johnson -- $80
Rudi Johnson -- $66
Tiki Barber -- $63
Steven Jackson -- $62
Ronnie Brown -- $61
Edgerrin James -- $58
Clinton Portis -- $55
Cadillac Williams - $55

Note that no non-running back came close to these prices; the top two other player salaries were Peyton Manning at $45 and Chad Johnson at $36. It's astounding that a single player went for $90. As grizzled veteran and ex-Scramble For The Ball writer Al Bogdan put it, "I'm pretty certain that soon the top running back is going for $145 [the maximum bid allowed]." Seeing so much money being spent on the top running backs could only mean one thing -- the money would run dry soon, and if you had some later you could buy anyone you wanted. Seeing this, I held off early and waited on Willie Parker at a nice value of $50, then got Frank Gore for $34. This allowed me to buy a starting wideout trio of Reggie Wayne, Donald Driver and Plaxico Burress, while adding Todd Heap at tight end. Here's my team:

QB: $7 Kurt Warner, $1 Chris Simms
RB: $50 Willie Parker, $34 Frank Gore, $7 Laurence Maroney, $3 Thomas Jones
WR: $18 Reggie Wayne, $12 Plaxico Burress, $9 Donald Driver, $2 Michael Jenkins
TE: $10 Todd Heap, $1 Alex Smith
K: $2 Josh Brown, $1 Sebastian Janikowski
DT: $2 Tampa Bay, $1 Dallas

My only mistake was not grabbing Matt Leinart to protect Kurt Warner, though he's still a free agent, and Chris Simms wouldn't be the worst fallback option. My running back depth is a strength -- Thomas Jones will be a nice third back, and I'm a big fan of Laurence Maroney this year. As team owner Rusty "Headphones" Dillon put it, "He's gonna be the guy after Dillon pulls his labia." Um ... yeah.

I can't imagine not being extremely competitive with this team -- It's solid top to bottom, and should put up good scores week in and week out. Here's how the rest of the fantasy teams panned out, listed in my view from best to worst:

QB: $2 Steve McNair, $2 Ben Roethlisberger
RB: $52 Brian Westbrook, $25 Mike Bell, $11 DeShaun Foster, $10 Tatum Bell
WR: $31 Larry Fitzgerald, $9 Santana Moss, $4 T.J. Houshmandzadeh, $3 Reggie Brown
TE: $5 Chris Cooley, $2 Tony Scheffler
K: $1 John Kasay, $1 Matt Bryant
DT: $1 Seattle, $1 Philadelphia

There's a lot to like here. I've been touting Steve McNair for awhile; he'll be a solid starting quarterback. It's an incredibly deep roster of running backs, led by Brian Westbrook, who should be healthy when the season starts. Having both Denver running backs can be looked at as problematic since they share carries, but that hasn't stopped them from being valuable in the past. Adding DeShaun Foster as a fourth running back was a nice pickup and good value at just $11. The wide receiving core is a very nice one. We here at Football Outsiders all seem to agree that Larry Fitzgerald has a great chance to have the best season of any receiver. Santana Moss was called out early, and it worked well, as he went for just $9 since other auctioneers were waiting to save their money for the bigger names still on the board. I'm not a huge Moss fan, but $9 is a very nice price to pay for his services. And finally, landing Chris Cooley for only $5 was a nice coup. He seems primed to have a great season, and many of us were shaking our heads that no one had the money to bid more than $5 on him. This team is good up front, and has running back depth, two of the most important qualities in a fantasy football team.

QB: $7 Eli Manning, $1 Jon Kitna
RB: $47 Willis McGahee, $20 Reuben Droughns, $4 Domanick Davis, $2 Cedric Benson
WR: $31 Torry Holt, $22 Steve Smith, $14 Chris Chambers, $1 Michael Clayton
TE: $2 Heath Miller, $2 Dallas Clark
K: $2 Neil Rackers, $1 Stephen Gostkowski
DT: $3 Carolina, $1 NY Giants

This would probably be the top-ranked team if not for the injury questions surrounding its top two receivers, Torry Holt and Steve Smith. Holt just underwent an MRI, and Smith's hammy problem is the kind that can linger throughout the season. If we were to assume that both of these guys will be the All Stars they can be, then this is a team to be feared. McGahee should have a very nice bounce-back season. Eli Manning is an above-average starter at quarterback. Heath Miller will probably score more touchdowns without a clear goal-line back in Pittsburgh. The biggest question here (aside from the wideout injuries) is at the second running back slot. As I've said before, I'm not a big fan of Reuben Droughns this season. $20 wasn't an unreasonable price, but I wouldn't be happy if he was one of my starters. At least Domanick Davis bottomed out to a $4 pick -- this is before Kubiak announced that he might get cut due to his knee issues -- and Cedric Benson has an outside shot of being useful as the season goes on.

QB: $9 Michael Vick, $3 Daunte Culpepper
RB: $62 Steven Jackson, $23 Chester Taylor, $18 Kevan Barlow, $2 Michael Bennett
WR: $25 Terrell Owens, $5 Joe Horn, $3 Derrick Mason, $3 Nate Burleson
TE: $2 Randy McMichael, $1 Jermaine Wiggins
K: $1 Jason Elam, $1 Mike Vanderjagt
DT: $1 Baltimore, $1 Minnesota

Admittedly, a lot hinges on Terrell Owens' performing like he's expected to. Even if he doesn't though, Joe Horn, Derrick Mason and Nate Burleson is a nice trio of wideouts. Steven Jackson and Chester Taylor should put together solid numbers at running back, though the backups are very questionable. Kevan Barlow for $18? Even if he becomes the clear-cut starter in New York, he's still playing for the Jets, who I don't see being much of a force offensively. That might have been the overbid of the draft. The $2 bid on Michael Bennett was intended to make Larry Johnson's owner go to $3, but he didn't bite, so be careful when playing those kinds of games. The quarterbacks are very nice though; Vick's running game makes him quite valuable in our league where you get one point for every ten yards rushing. Adding Culpepper as a backup is sweet. He could have a big year if healthy, and become a nice trading piece for a team that for whatever reason ends up in need of a quarterback. In the mean time, he protects against a freak injury to Vick, who tends to be exposed to more potential injuries than other quarterbacks.

QB: $24 Tom Brady, $14 Donovan McNabb
RB: $37 Warrick Dunn, $35 Julius Jones, $2 LenDale White, $1 Fred Taylor
WR: $20 Randy Moss, $10 Darrell Jackson, $3 Laveranues Coles, $2 Isaac Bruce
TE: $7 Jeremy Shockey, $1 Jerramy Stevens
K: $1 Ryan Longwell, $1 Olindo Mare
DT: $1 Indianapolis, $1 Buffalo

Ladies and gentleman, your biggest bargain of the 2006 Sheep League draft: Julius Jones for $35! Incredible. To explain how this happened -- Money was flying early and often. People were spending like crazy for everyone that was called, and eventually the money began to dry up. And for whatever reason, Julius Jones simply didn't get called for a long time. By the time he did get called, no one could really compete with the $35 bid; people were just out of money. And like that, he went for the astounding value of only $35. This allowed the luxury of spending on two top quarterbacks, though I highly recommend against the practice. Hopefully this team can trade one away for a better receiver, or maybe package one with a running back for an upgrade there. The recent injury to Greg Jones makes Fred Taylor's job safe, which makes LenDale White a reasonable fourth running back to take a chance on. The biggest problem here is at wide receiver. Randy Moss should be fine (although I thought the same thing before he killed my fantasy team last season). Darrell Jackson is a major injury risk. Laveranues Coles and Isaac Bruce will get some fantasy points, but are unlikely to be especially helpful. At least Jeremy Shockey will make up for some wide receiver issues.

QB: $4 Trent Green, $3 Drew Bledsoe
RB: $55 Clinton Portis, $55 Cadillac Williams, $4 DeAngelo Williams, $2 Marion Barber
WR: $16 Anquan Boldin, $7 Javon Walker, $2 Lee Evans, $1 Donte' Stallworth
TE: $3 Alge Crumpler, $3 Vernon Davis
K: $2 Jay Feely, $1 David Akers
DT: $2 San Diego, $1 Jacksonville

This team followed the sound strategy of spending lots of money on two good running backs, while spreading the rest of the money around the team. Drew Bledsoe should have a decent fantasy season, especially if T.O. gets on the field. $55 for Clinton Portis is a bit risky though -- The acquisition of T.J. Duckett could mean the end for his goal line carries. This would definitely make him overpriced, and that's not even factoring in his current shoulder injury. Boldin, Walker and Evans are a very nice trio of starting wideouts, and Crumpler will always be valuable as long as Michael Vick is healthy. Other than the risky Portis pick, the only other real problem is running back depth. DeAngelo Williams may or may not have much fantasy value in his rookie season, and it's probably leaning toward "not." The $2 bid on Marion Barber was simply bizarre. Not sure what the point was, though he'll probably just be waiver bait for someone more useful, like T.J. Duckett or Ladell Betts.

QB: $7 Marc Bulger, $5 Jake Delhomme
RB: $61 Ronnie Brown, $54 LaMont Jordan, $6 Jamal Lewis, $6 Corey Dillon
WR: $8 Hines Ward, $5 Rod Smith, $1 Kevin Curtis, $1 David Givens
TE: $1 Ben Troupe, $1 Courtney Anderson
K: $1 Jeff Wilkins, $1 Mike Nugent
DT: $1 Cleveland, $1 NY Jets

Again, another drafter spends his money on two reasonably-priced running backs, while spreading the rest of the money around well. The result here is a nice tandem of quarterbacks and some solid starting wide receivers. The backup running backs aren't all that exciting, but they're not worthless, either. The third wide receiver slot is horrible -- Kevin Curtis and David Givens? Hopefully a waiver-wire pickup will fix that; those guys could easily score a combined zero on any given week. The tight ends are also long-shots, as are starting the Cleveland or the New York Jets defenses. This team's strength lies mainly in its starters.

QB: $4 Jake Plummer, $1 Byron Leftwich
RB: $66 Rudi Johnson, $58 Edgerrin James, $2 Chris Brown, $1 Jerious Norwood
WR: $5 Eddie Kennison, $2 Drew Bennett, $1 Antonio Bryant, $1 Braylon Edwards
TE: $8 Tony Gonzalez, $5 Ben Watson
K: $1 Matt Stover, $1 Jeff Reed
DT: $3 Chicago, $1 Cincinnati

Here we go again. Unfortunately, the amount spent on these two running backs made things really tight for the rest of the roster, which made the terrible bid of $8 on Tony Gonzalez all the more painful. Thankfully, picking up Ben Watson (for less, ironically) salvages the tight end position, but this roster is a mess beyond the big two. Jake Plummer is decent, but nothing special. Chris Brown may be the starter for now, but he hasn't exactly proven he's going to keep the job. The switch from Billy Volek to Kerry Collins will make a it a rough season for the Titans passing game and for Drew Bennett, and I wouldn't be happy with a team that has Eddie Kennison as its top wideout -- especially in a three-wide receiver league. Antonio Bryant and Braylon Edwards? Maybe later in the season there will be some value there, but there isn't right now. And finally, while Rudi Johnson will have a very nice season, Edgerrin James is primed for a regression following his transition to one of the worst offensive lines in football.

QB: $45 Peyton Manning, $1 David Carr
RB: $90 Shaun Alexander, $4 Ahman Green, $2 Dominic Rhodes
WR: $3 Terry Glenn, $2 Joey Galloway, $2 Keyshawn Johnson, $1 Eric Moulds, $1 Amani Toomer
TE: $1 L.J. Smith, $1 Bubba Franks
K: $3 Adam Vinatieri, $1 Kris Brown
DT: $2 New England, $1 Detroit

A trend you'll notice in my rankings is that the teams that paid for the big three are all near the bottom. This is because of the insane cost it took to get these guys. Surprisingly, I find that the best of the three teams is here, after having also spent $45 on Peyton Manning. This is because this team came away with the best group of cheap wide receivers in the league. Joey Galloway, Terry Glenn and Keyshawn Johnson can provide solid fantasy stats week in and week out, while Eric Moulds is nice to have as a fourth receiver. The $1 L.J. Smith pickup was also a nice bargain; he was the only $1 tight end drafted that is truly worth starting every week. Vinatieri should add a nice handful of points each week. The obvious problem is the second running back slot. Both Ahman Green and Dominic Rhodes are risky propositions to have as starters, though it's not unreasonable to think they'll turn out useful. Basically, this team blew its wad on Alexander and Manning, but did a nice job of filling out the rest of the team with solid bargains.

QB: $1 Drew Brees, $1 Philip Rivers
RB: $80 Larry Johnson, $30 Reggie Bush, $27 Kevin Jones
WR: $5 Andre Johnson, $4 Muhsin Muhammad, $2 Matt Jones, $1 Keenan McCardell, $1 Troy Williamson
TE: $3 Jason Witten, $1 Kellen Winslow
K: $1 Nate Kaeding, $1 Josh Scobee
DT: $1 Arizona, $1 Green Bay

Larry Johnson was the first name called in this year's draft, and he went for the seemingly crazy price of $80. Amazingly, this turned out to be a bargain when Alexander went for $90 and Tomlinson went for $86. The rest of the money was spent on running backs, netting the useful Kevin Jones and the high potential of Reggie Bush. I really like the $3 Jason Witten and the $1 pickup of Keenan McCardell, but not much else. Drew Brees and Philip Rivers are very questionable as starting fantasy quarterbacks. Andre Johnson might be nice as a third wideout, but it's a bad situation when he's your most expensive one. I don't expect much out of Muhammad, Matt Jones or Troy Williamson either. This team has a good chance of winning when L.J. has his 180-yard, 3 touchdown games, but is extremely unlikely to win when he has more "human" ones. I'd have liked to see this team spend its money on some wide receivers and a decent starter instead of buying both Jones and Bush. It could have easily been a top-three team in that case.

QB: $14 Carson Palmer, $1 Brett Favre
RB: $63 Tiki Barber, $3 Deuce McAllister, $1 Mike Anderson, $1 Ryan Moats
WR: $36 Chad Johnson, $3 Roy Williams, $2 Jerry Porter, $1 Reche Caldwell
TE: $29 Antonio Gates, $1 Zach Hilton
K: $1 Shayne Graham, $1 Lawrence Tynes
DT: $2 Pittsburgh, $1 Miami

If Carson Palmer turns out healthy, he will obviously be one of the better bargains of the draft. If his knee flares up, Brett Favre isn't a very sexy backup option. It would have been preferable to spend the extra buck or two on a better backup. Tiki Barber is good, but I don't see him being worth $63 due to the presence of Brandon Jacobs. The second running back spot is a mess -- No one should have Deuce McAllister, Mike Anderson or Ryan Moats as a starting running back in all but the deepest of leagues (or maybe Anderson in a touchdown-only league). I've never been a big believer in Roy Williams, and apparently it wasn't noticed that Jerry Porter seems to have lost his starting job. It's great to have Antonio Gates, but it left too many holes elsewhere on the roster here.

QB: $30 Matt Hasselbeck, $1 Aaron Brooks
RB: $86 LaDainian Tomlinson, $5 Joseph Addai, $2 Michael Turner, $1 Wali Lundy
WR: $23 Marvin Harrison, $4 Deion Branch, $1 Roddy White, $1 Ernest Wilford
TE: $1 Eric Johnson, $1 Daniel Graham
K: $1 Michael Koenen, $1 Joe Nedney
DT: $1 Atlanta, $1 Washington

At last we come to the team at the bottom. Guess which team ran out of money first? Being at the bottom of these rankings isn't all that bad, as every team has $160 worth of value in one form or another. There are certainly three players to be proud of here -- Hasselbeck, Tomlinson, and Harrison. It's what lies beneath that's the problem. Joseph Addai and Wali Lundy are completely unproven, and having one of them as a starter is not a good place to be. When Deion Branch signs the receiving core will certainly improve, but even then, Roddy White and Ernest Wilford aren't very pretty as third wideouts. Eric Johnson and Daniel Graham? It's not like your starting tight end is crucial to the success of your fantasy team, but this is really terrible. Neither one is even the number one tight end option on their own offenses! Without a trade or a decent waiver pickup, this team is likely looking at zero points from its tight ends every week.

Still, maybe Wali Lundy will take the starting job and run with it (literally). Maybe Carson Palmer will be fine and a fantasy force. Maybe Andre Johnson will have a huge bounce-back season. Early waiver pickups can make a big difference. And that, as they say, is why they play the games.

Keep Choppin' Wood Award

Bill: We forgot to include this last week and really, it's a shame that we did. This week's Keep Choppin' Wood Award goes to Lions head coach Rod Marinelli for the following quote:

"I'm very aware of that," Marinelli said of the team's past road woes. " The way I've put it is that we're just going to keep chopping wood. We're just going to go do what we do, we're just going to go pound. I don't care if we go to Alaska, I don't care where we go.

Yes -- you read that right. The man actually urged his team to, in fact, keep choppin' wood. What's more beautiful than that? Life is wonderful, folks.

Next week, Scramble will have a look at the likely fantasy free agents to be coveted after Week 1, just in time for you to snap them up beforehand, plus a new Scramble for the Ball Mailbag. Jason Beattie's cartoon returns next week to its regularly scheduled place and time as well. If you'd like to see your fantasy football question answered in next week's column, send an e-mail to scramble-at-footballoutsiders.com.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell and Ian Dembsky on 30 Aug 2006

38 comments, Last at 10 Sep 2010, 3:59am by uggs outlet


by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 4:04pm

The question is whether Marinelli would have his team leave at 11 P.M. in Detroit, if the Lions were playing a game at 1 P.M. the next afternoon in Anchorage, so as to allow his team a night's sleep on the plane, or would he think sleeping was for babies, and thus have the charter depart at 3 A.M., so as to arrive at the stadium just in time for warm-ups?

by karl (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 5:04pm


I think that the team you listed at the bottom is actually stronger than your own team:

Significantly better at QB.
Better at RB - while your talent is more evenly spread and this team is more top heavy, Laurence Maroney and Thomas Jones have the same questions surrounding them as do Joseph Addai and Wali Lundy.
WR: 4 #1 WRs, two of which are on arguably the two best passing offenses in the league vs 3 #1s and a #2, 3 of which are on teams whose passing attack is suspect (NYG, ATL, GB). I'm counting Wayne and Harrison both as #1 WRs, there'll be enough passes to go around and they'll both end up with similar stats most likely.
TE: Todd Heap is better than Eric Johnson.
K: Kickers are so variable I don't evaluate them in my draft strategies. Just pick up a replacement on a good offense and roll the dice.
D:I think you are even in this category - right down to being in the same division twice.

So, summary: the team you listed at the bottom is better than your team at the three positions that generate the most points.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 9:19pm

Ian, I hate to say it, but I think your team unimpressive, mostly because you way overpaid for Willie Parker. ($50)

PFP has a projection for him of 1218 yards, 6 TD, 215 yards receiving, 1 TD.

Compare that to Clinton Portis and Carnell Williams ($55 apiece, to the same team). Portis is projected for 1420 yards, 11 TD, 227 yards receiving. Four touchdowns and two hundred yards more than Parker, for only $5 more. Williams is also projected for significantly better numbers than Parker.

If you want to be a cheapskate and not take one of the top running backs, that's fine. But you shelled out nearly enough for one of the top running backs anyway.

by Bill Barnwell :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 9:23pm


What makes you think Marinelli would let his team FLY?

Bering Land Bridge, baby!

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 10:39pm

Here's, in my view, the best team possible from that auction league, with the benefit of hindsight.

QB Carson Palmer - $14
QB Drew Bledsoe - $3
RB Clinton Portis - $55
RB Carnell Williams - $55
RB Joseph Addai - $5
RB Dominic Rhodes - $2
WR Hines Ward - $8
WR Rod Smith - $5
WR Deion Branch - $4
WR Roddy White - $1
TE Jason Witten - $3
TE Kellen Winslow - $1
DEF Jacksonville - $1
DEF Indianapolis - $1
K Shayne Graham - $1
K Lawrence Tynes - $1

Total: $160

It's interesting to see how auction leagues can overvalue or undervalue players by incredible amounts. I really wish I could play in an auction league some time. It looks really hard not to lose your head and either spend your cash too soon, or not spend enough.

by asg (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 12:53am

I won my auction league last year, largely due to the Priest Holmes buyer not saving enough to outbid me on Larry Johnson. The dynamic in my league is very interesting, and I imagine the variety in auction leagues would be tremendous. It'd be interesting to play in two auction leagues with all different owners and compare the styles.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 2:06am

I would kill to play in an auction league, but frankly the guys in my two normal leagues are not intelligent/curious enough to think its worth a try.

by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 2:20am

I actually convinced my league to go to auction this year. We're all in finance so it seemed to make sense as I don't draft bonds, I bid them.

The general thing I found is that you want to spend early. As it gets towards the end of a tier the run starts pretty abruptly and it isn't pretty when it's over. The basic idea is that most of the dollar value ends up being extracted in the first 30 picks. For example in a 12 team 16 roster league with a $200 cap $1245 was spent on the first 30 players. If you're the guy sitting on $200 after the first 30 are gone, it's a long night.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 12:09pm

I don't do fantasy anymore, but back when I was in college I participated in an auction league in the infancy of fantasy football, at a country club I worked at. A lot of the city's most successful bookies belonged to the club, and they were the ones who organized the league, and they all participated. Each team had four club members, and I was the general manager (not participating financially) for a team, because the guys knew I was an NFL nut. In any case, this was a no-limit auction, sorta like having total free agency and no salary cap in a league full of Steinbrenners. Let's just say that the money involved was rather substantial, and the championship we won paid for a lot tuition and some very good times. It was a complete blast, although that's easier to say when you're risking other people's money. I was excluded from managing a team the next year, unfortunately.

If I were to get back into fantasy, I'd only do it in an auction league, although there definitely would be a salary cap, given I'm not a degenerate gambler.

by karl (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 12:45pm

Re 8:

I think knowing when to call out players is just as important as bidding strategy. And I disagree with you that it's always all-important to spend your money early for this exact reason.

by Ian Dembsky (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 1:53pm

Re #1 - "significantly better at QB" - Actually, I think Warner will be huge, as long as he's healthy. Everyone puts Boldin and Fitzgerald near the top of the WR rankings, so who's going to throw them the ball? "significantly" is a stretch. "better at RB" - yes, Maroney/Jones are risky like Addai/Lundy. But in case you didn't notice, those are my backups, and one of them is his starter. As for WRs, I think Driver will have a monster season. He's the only guy Favre trusts, and thankfully he doesn't lose points when Favre throws picks. I think Driver will be as valuable as Branch. Burress will be much better than Roddy White or Ernest Wilford. Heap vs a non-starting TE is a big difference also.
Since we all spent $160, I don't think the top team is much better than the bottom team even; we all got plenty of good players. Time will tell.

by Ian Dembsky (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 1:53pm

Oops... That last one should have said "Re #2"

by Ian Dembsky (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 1:58pm

Re #3- Perhaps you haven't heard, but Duce Staley is on his way out in Pittsburgh. It looks like Parker might be getting the goal line carries, which would make him better than Cadillac or Portis. Also, Portis is not getting 11 touchdowns due to the presence of TJ Duckett. And frankly, I agree that I'd rather have Cadillac at $55, but as a steadfast rule I won't draft the best player on my favorite team; if he gets injured it's the dreaded double-whammy.

by Ian Dembsky (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 1:59pm

Re #9- You mean they paid actual money for whoever they wanted with no cap? WOW. That has to be the most hardcore fantasy sport I've ever heard of. How much did the top player go for?

by Whiskey (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 2:25pm

This is a case of supply and demand. In an auction for a league with a fixed # of starters, you're bidding for points above replacement. Let N be the total points above replacement available, and let M be the total amount available to spend. Then the value of each point above replacement will be M/N. If a player goes too cheap early, then the value of each point goes up, and you have to bid more.

I don't have the KUBIAK spreadsheet available, but, based on your league settings, how much was Larry Johnson worth? If he went too cheap, that would explain why other RB's were more expensive.

by JKL (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 2:58pm

The fact that Shaun went for $10 more than LJ is further evidence that you dont want to be bidding on the last guy in a tier. The first guy in a tier group usually goes for less, even if in retrospect.

I like the bottom team much better than the top. That's the kind of team I build with success, and I am usually the team nobody likes coming out of the draft, while they drool over the team with a bunch of good but not great players.

I do an auction draft. Last year, I came out of the draft with LT, Torry Holt, Steve Smith, Darrell Jackson. My 2nd and 3rd RB's were a rookie named Cadillac and a guy I got real cheap in Thomas Jones. I went QB by committee with Carson Palmer as the #1, I got Houshmandzadeh for cheap to pair with Palmer if needed. I had no running back depth, people said. All that team did was shatter the league point record before the regular season ended. The "balanced" teams with lots of names on the bench were mired in mediocrity.

Nominating is an art. Knowing when the time to strike is an art. The guy with the most money halfway through our draft this year now has Tatum Bell as his #2. I disagree that it is 90% poker. The basis is the projections. If you overpay for the right players, it is better than getting value for the wrong ones.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 3:54pm

Well, with everyone saying they like the last team more, I'll chime in and say I really don't like the 4th team (with Vick/Culpepper/Jackson/Taylor). I don't like Jackson very much this year, because I think a more run-based offense based around him is really going to struggle. I don't like Taylor very much either, because I think Minnesota will be a running back by committee, regardless of what Childress says. The WRs really will likely disappoint, as Glenn is too good to not cut down Owens's number significantly, and Horn is just too old. Derrick Mason could end up outperforming both of the more expensive pickups easily.

That entire team just looks like it has potential to be entirely underperforming. Very risky, in my opinion.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 4:17pm

Ian, not to date myself, but it was looonnng time ago, so I don't remember what individual players eventually sold for, but yeah, it was cash that went into a safe for the duration of the year, and there was no cap on how much could be spent in building a team. Keep in mind that these were guys for whom it was not uncommon to play skins games for five hundred bucks a hole. Pretty educational for a nineteen year old college kid.

I do remember that the total kitty divvied up among the top four teams at the end of the season was just shy of six figures. We won, and and we weren't even among the top five in terms of money risked, which made it even more sweet. Non-degenerates could do this with a team salary cap of a couple hundred bucks, and have a lot of fun, without risking the kids' tuition fund. Maybe this is common now; like I said, I don't do fantasy anymore

by warnpeace14 (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 4:24pm

QB: $4 Jake Plummer, $1 Byron Leftwich
RB: $66 Rudi Johnson, $58 Edgerrin James, $2 Chris Brown, $1 Jerious Norwood
WR: $5 Eddie Kennison, $2 Drew Bennett, $1 Antonio Bryant, $1 Braylon Edwards
TE: $8 Tony Gonzalez, $5 Ben Watson
K: $1 Matt Stover, $1 Jeff Reed
DT: $3 Chicago, $1 Cincinnati

Is the worst team... Edge blows, Plummer and Leftwich are just ok.. and Bennett is the only breakout candidate in that WR corp... and like you said Watson > Gonzo..

This guy is a candidate for last place.

by Ian Dembsky (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 4:36pm

By the way, it was not my intention to label my team the best in the league; I simply commented on it first since it is my own. I'd probably rank my team third-best.

by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 4:42pm

Not strictly related... okay, not related at all, but... When does the Loser League 2006 start?

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 4:49pm

Aaron's quote in the Mailbag thread:

I forgot to mention above: People have been asking about the Loser League. That should be coming next week.

by JKL (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 5:41pm

My methodology for figuring auction values is in the #32 of the thread linked.

By my calculations using the league point system, 12 team league, and starting requirements, Larry Johnson should go for roughly $88, so the team that got him actually got a discount, though the price may seem high. According to my numbers, outside of the top 3, no running back should have gone for more than $50, and any running back outside the projected top 10 should have gone for $30 or less. A baseball executive (Veeck?) once said something like, "it's not the high price of excellence that bothers me, it's the high price of mediocrity."

In my opinion, it was not the top 3 that people overpaid for. It was running backs ranked 5-20, sometimes overpaying on the order of $20-$30 what they should have. I like both Parker and Gore, and have Gore on my team. Let's optimistically say they are the 15th and 20th best RB's available. According to my numbers, if the top 3 were worth in the $75-$85 range, the #15 RB is worth about $20 and #20 RB is worth about $16.

The top QB and WR went for about the right price, as I have both at about $40. Gates went for a slight bargain. Hasselbeck at $30 was not a bargain, but was not overpaying either. The team with Harrison at $23 and Branch, Roddy White and Wilford for a combined $6 got incredible value at the WR position. If even 1 of those guys is a top 20 WR with Harrison, this team is going to put a world of hurt on teams. A top 30 receiver in a 3 starter league should be worth $8 or more, and a top 7 guy like Harrison is worth close to $30 in this format. And needless to say, even if Addai/Lundy are merely replacement level, getting that for the price and pairing it with Tomlinson, Hasselbeck, and Harrison is still great value. The only thing I dont like about the way that team is built is the TE position. I am not sure if either of those guys is even replacement level, so a deal may have to be made there.

by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 6:05pm

Re 8:

I think knowing when to call out players is just as important as bidding strategy. And I disagree with you that it’s always all-important to spend your money early for this exact reason.

The only hitch there is that you can only nominate one out of 12 players. The other 11 guys in my case can throw out whomever they want, whenever they want.

Whiskey, generally the PAR argument works but I actually adjusted it just for the starting player requirments not the total pool of available players. I think assigning some deminimis amount for backups, kickers and D.

If I did this problem backwards and looked at PAR divided by price paid (to get a PAR/$) and use the Kubiak projections then the clear trend is that the last guy purchased in each tier (lets just look at RB's for simplicity sake) is generally getting a much lower PAR/$ invested than the first. That's not to say there weren't some absolute steals (Droughns for $13, Kevin Jones for $15) but you can't plan your strategy around that.

I actually have the info necessary to analyze this and when I get home I'll run some numbers and post results.

by JKL (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 6:49pm

Are you all going to post updates on this league's standings, as well as who the other owners are? So we can check in November how truly genius or utterly stupid we are. Here are my rankings:

1) TEAM LT, by a hair over;
2) TEAM LJ, the WR's a slight concern;
3) TEAM CADILLAC & BRO SWEETS; extremely solid team all around, and will have the best press conferences;
4) TEAM FITZ; outstanding WR's, the QB's keep the ranking down, the artist known as Denver Running Back plus Westbrook and Foster, with KUBIAK's favorite son Cooley;

those are my favorites for contending for the title, then . . .

5) TEAM MIKE NUGENT, downgraded because you should never draft a Jets kicker with your 2nd round kicker pick;
6) TEAM CARSON, Carson, Chad, and Gates good enough alone to merit this spot. Healthy Tiki = outperform this spot. Over the Hill Tiki = uh oh;
7) TEAM ELI MANNING FACE, loaded at WR, solid but not spectacular enough at RB;

and the bottom 5 are all fairly close . . .

8) TEAM BRADY; Brady deserves better than this! And this ranking would be a lot lower but for Brady. The best RB is Dunn? At least this team has Randy Moss to fall back on, lord knows he has never submarined a fantasy season;
9) TEAM WEE WILLIE PARKER; The best RB is Parker. This team has depth and good WR's but I dont see any top end guys that are needed to win championships;
10) TEAM SHAUN ALEXANDER; Apparently, this team doesn't believe in taking a WR unless he is eligible for social security;
11) TEAM RUDI & EDGE, if FO is right about the Edge's decline, then this team is in trouble with the remainder of the roster. With Watson, that $8 on Tony G sure would have provided a big upgrade at WR or QB;
12) TEAM RON MEXICO, got to go with Pat here. I would be interested in seeing a reality show where the members of this team had to live together and interact on a weekly basis. Joe Horn's 3rd person references, Ron Mexico's night club adventures, TO's antics, McMichael's domestic violence, and Culpepper's boating adventures. And I just about vomited in my mouth when I saw that someone paid $18 for Kevan Barlow.

by Whiskey (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 7:11pm

According to KUBIAK, there are 2,450 points above replacement in this league. Each player has $160 to spend, less $9 for bench players, kickers, and defenses. That makes each point above replacement worth about $0.74. If Larry Johnson is worth 167 points above replacement, then he is worth a bid of $123. If Tomlinson is worth 148 points, he is worth a bid of $109.

This may explain why there was a crunch in your auction. You actually underbid for the top 3 RB's. If you take out Johnson, Alexander, and Tomlinson, then based on KUBIAK, the cost per replacement point already goes up to $0.77. Rudi Johnson then goes from a bid of $60 to $62.

I may want to recompute the baseline, and I may want to include kickers and defenses, but even if I do, the top RB's, with perhaps the exception of Shaun Alexander, price higher than $90.

by Whiskey (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 8:27pm

I would reformulate this as follows:

1. You must spend at least $16 to field a team. Any money you spend beyond $16 is what you use to obtain points above replacement, giving $146 per person to spend. When you bid on a player, you take the player's marginal worth + $1 as your bid.

2. I would set the baselines using the best team you can field with $16. For each position, pick the best player you can get if you were to bid $1 and no one would overbid you. This is generally the last starter at every position, or exactly as baselines are set in KUBIAK.

3. I would count kickers and defenses with full replacement value.

As a result, the total number of replacement points available is 2817, and there is $1752 available. Then,

Larry Johnson : 167 points * $1752 / 2817 = $103.
L. Tomlinson : 148 points * $1752 / 2817 = $92.
S. Alexander : 115 points * $1752 / 2817 = $71.
P. Manning : 104 points * $1752 / 2817 = $64.
L. Fitzgerald : 63 points * $1752 / 2817 = $39.

I still think these apply for the first bid only. If you allow a bidder to get a player cheap, the cost of the other players goes up. If other people in your league over-value RB's, then that just means there are more points to go around in other positions.

by Whiskey (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 8:29pm

Re: 27

Whoops! Add $1 to each of the above bids.

by JKL (not verified) :: Thu, 08/31/2006 - 7:32am

Whiskey, I think we arrive at similar conclusions. Now, I use multiple baselines rather than one. Under your methodology, you would conclude that the #25 and #45 RB have the same value at $1. My method of setting values would say clearly not. The #25 RB is far more likely to contribute and have value because of starting on bye weeks, injury replacement, or favorable matchup starts.

That aside, I think both of us would say that the top 3 running backs actually went at or below their actual worth, once you take into account points over replacement, while the overpaying occurred on the other running backs.

by Whiskey (not verified) :: Thu, 08/31/2006 - 10:40am


I see your point. I was hoping to avoid the issue of how much backups are worth, which is why I calculated as I did. In reality, I described an upper bound for the bid value of a player. A lower bound would be to set the baseline to be the lowest backup at each position, with any player at or below the baseline being worth $1. Where you set this is probably position-dependent. You could then take an average of the two bounds as a first approximation.

by Frick (not verified) :: Thu, 08/31/2006 - 4:15pm

I'm in an auction league with a $200 cap. I somehow ended up with LJ and LT. Granted the rest of my team is comprised of dregs, but I think it should be competitive. The reason I decided to go with the all or nothing approach is that LJ and LT share the same bye week this year. I am tanking week 3 to win the other weeks.

Another way to look at it would you rather have Manning/Gore or Simms/LT with LJ being your other back?

I don't think any top tier QB is going to to outpoint another middle tier QB the same way a top tier RB will outpoint a middle tier RB.

I am a huge fan of 2 QB leagues to help inject a position other than RB in the top spots.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 08/31/2006 - 4:26pm


Don't 2 QB leagues depress the QB market? The difference between Manning + Random Guy and 2 x Random Guy is likely to be lower than straight-up Manning vs. Random Guy, because you have two random guys hedging your bets (a big part of Manning's value is his consistency). With 2 QBs, the high-middling QBs have significantly less value, since one of their middlings could ascend to high-middling during the season, a higher pick would generally be spent on a WR, simply shoving QBs down further.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 08/31/2006 - 4:55pm

Fnor, you're forgetting the supply & demand factor. If you're in a 12 team league, that's 24 starting QBs each week. So instead of it being Manning and some schmoe riding the bench as a backup, it's Manning and some schmoe starting. And when you factor in teams taking a 3rd QB for a backup, you can easily have every single viable starter taken. Which means that waiver wire flyer for a bye-week fill-in could end up being a 2nd stringer that you just hope and pray somehow manages to get in the game. So QB value is driving up considerable.

In my 12 team / 2 QB league Payton Manning (stupidly #1 overall, but I think 4th overall would have been completely reasonable) and Hasselbeck (#12) both went in the 1st round. Eli went 11th in the second round. Then Palmer went 7th in the third round, and I took Brady 10th in the third and McNabb 3rd in the forth. How many times have you seen 6 QBs taken in the first 4 rounds of a draft?

by Reinhard (not verified) :: Thu, 08/31/2006 - 5:45pm

I have Simms, Plummer, and Rivers in a new keeper league. I have to drop one in order to pick up Leinart. What do you guys think?

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 08/31/2006 - 5:57pm

If you really want Leinart, I'd probably drop Rivers. But honestly, I don't really see him as being much of an upgrade over Rivers or Simms this year plus he's not going to start the season.

by Bill Barnwell :: Thu, 08/31/2006 - 9:59pm

Drop Simms or Plummer before you drop Rivers. I feel very strongly about this.

by hector (not verified) :: Mon, 09/04/2006 - 1:44am

Two-QB leagues are far more interesting. I also don't see the point of having bench restrictions - let owners fill those spots anyway they want. But hey, it's your league. At least you're auctioning, chess to the checkers most others play.

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