On July 16, twelve fantasy pundits strapped on a helmet, wrapped their fingers in athletic tape and squeezed into their favorite pair of Chris Cooley hot-pants for the second annual Yahoo! Auction Invitational.
Last year, in his first ever experts league, Mike Horn of FantasyGuru.com hoisted the coveted Yahoo! pigskin trophy, riding the coattails of fearsome tailback twosome Steven Jackson and Willie Parker.
Who will claim the prestigious Yahoo! hardware this year?
Orange Division: Yahoo! Sports fantasy writers, Brandon Funston, Brad Evans, Andy Behrens, and Matt Romig; Dalton Del Don-Rotowire.com; David Young – Free lance columnist
Blue Division:, Scott Pianowski-FantasyGuru.com; Gareth Davies-FantasyAuctioneer.com; Ben Ice-FantasyAuctioneer.com; George Del Prado-FantasyAuctioneer.com; Nick Minnix-KFFL.com; Ryan Dodson-KFFL.com
Hosted by our close friends at FantasyAuctioneer.com, numerous verbal jabs were exchanged along with obligatory Michael Vick puppy pugilism jokes in three hours of auction bliss. How did the experts fair? What were their biggest accomplishments? What were their biggest failures? Who spent more than a buck on Joe Nedney? Below are the expert's takes on ten burning questions from this year's draft:
Scoring format: standard performance (4 pts/pass TD, 6 pts/rush/rec TD, 1 pt/10 yds/rush/rec, 1 pt/20 yds passing)
Roster: QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, WR/RB/TE, K, DEF, six bench)
For full rosters and results click here:
1. What was your beverage of choice for the draft?
Evans: As always, shots of Wild Turkey followed by multiple Guinness chasers.
Young: Grape Propel. Nectar of the Gods.
Davies: Molson Canadian, or what I like to call it, liquid courage.
Romig: Water, with a soda pop kicker once my budget got below $30.
Behrens: It was a noon draft, so coffee was my beverage of choice. My herb of choice was basil. What was yours, Brad? (Noise note: my herb of choice was Fenugreek – it makes you smell like Mrs. Buttersworth)
2. What strategy do you typically employ in a football auction? Do you budget specific amounts for each position? If so, what percentage?
Del Don: I have a couple of guys I'm targeting and count on spending at least 60-70 percent of my budget on top-two RBs.
Pianowski: Normally I'm a stars-and-scrubs guy – spend your money big on known commodities, then try to out-speculate the room on the penny stocks. For reasons I still can't really figure out, I decided to toss that successful plan into the trash and go with a depth-over-stars approach today, and I'm not even sure why.
My other angle was to stay young at the key positions, thinking about career arc, hoping to buy guys who still haven't had their best season. I did okay with that, landing Reggie Bush, DeAngelo Williams, Marques Colston, Chris Cooley, some others. (The "rationalization" sign should be flashing now).
Del Prado: I usually target 2nd and 3rd tier guys with upside, which allows me to weather any injuries and provide me with trade bait later in the season.
Funston: One strategy was to spend a total of $3 on my tight end, kicker and defense – mission accomplished (Randy McMichael, Matt Stover, Miami). I also wanted to splurge for two middle-first round running backs, taking advantage of an opportunity not afforded in a traditional snake draft – I ended up with Shaun Alexander and Rudi Johnson. I normally will allocate upwards of 60 percent on RBs, and I did so again this time. But instead of bringing in a bunch of lower-tier flyers to surround Alexander and Johnson, I splurged on one more name-brander (Ronnie Brown) – we have a flex spot. Once I had those three, I just wanted to make sure I was able to secure their backups for $1 apiece (I got Maurice Morris and Lorenzo Booker for $1, but had to pay $3 for Kenny Irons – I'll remember that, RotoWire!)
Evans: Because Lamont Jordan raped and pillaged me for 48-large last season I decided to spend the 60 percent of my allocated RB budget more evenly in the hopes of adding plenty of depth. Normally, I employ a balanced approach spending roughly 25 percent on wide receivers and 15 percent on QBs, TE, K, DEF.
Minnix: As per KFFL's strategy, I typically budget roughly half of my salary cap or more to the running back position. I also make it a priority to land one of the top-end fantasy passers.
3. Who was your best bargain buy? Why?
Dodson: Say what you want about Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, but getting him for $4 was a bargain.
Young: Has to be Peyton Manning. At $36, he was within range of Carson Palmer and less than $40, which is all I wanted. If I'm reading the numbers right, he outscored most of the RBs last year that were going for $50-plus in this auction. I like the $8 Hasselbeck as insurance as well.
Behrens: I'm plenty happy with my starting WRs (Coles and Moss), and they only cost a combined $18. The elite receivers don't separate from the pack enough – or generally score enough – to justify the cost.
Evans: Snatching the "Football Frankenstein" Brandon Jacobs for four bucks under his AAV ($28) was orgasmic. Honestly, he's has the best chance to make a Frank Gore-like leap netting 20 carries per game. I'm confident he can meet my 1,100 yard, 10-12 TD projection. If you thought my man-passion for DeAngelo Williams was restraining order worthy last year, just wait until Jacobs bulldozes Dallas Week 1.
Funston: I loved the value of each one of my three macro running backs (Alexander $56, Rudi Johnson $51, Ronnie Brown $40). Based on the values paid in this auction, it's the equivalent of landing Alexander sixth, Johnson ninth and Brown 15th. Considering top RBs usually go for inflated values in these "experts" drafts, coming in at or under AAV price for each was sweet.
4. Regrettably, what player did you break the bank for? Why?
Del Don: Maurice-Jones Drew – I like him a lot, but $54 is quite steep, especially considering Joseph Addai went for only $3 more.
Pianowski:Marc Bulger is rock-solid, but $29 in a one-QB league is normally not how I operate. At that point in the auction I had a healthy share of cash left and I think I prematurely got concerned about inflation. I should have waited a little longer and got better support at the six-point positions.
Funston: I'm high on Jon Kitna this year … as a later-round steal, not as the sixth-highest priced QB, which is what I made him ($14). I'm almost equally as high on Philip Rivers, who went for $9. I didn't want to pay more than $10 for a QB, and the extra four bucks I paid for Kitna in a bidding war could have helped me late at the wide receiver position.
Del Prado: I almost had Houshmandzadeh for $23, but Evans decided to twist the knife and drove his price up. I like all the looks T.J. gets in the red zone, which should increase even more with Chris Henry on his sabbatical.
Minnix: I wouldn't say I broke the bank for Arizona Cardinals wideout Anquan Boldin, but in hindsight I wish I had saved a few bucks and grabbed someone like Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward, who went for $10. Those few extra dollars would've enabled me to grab a viable backup signal-caller, a higher-rated defense or a No. 3 receiver like the San Diego Chargers' Vincent Jackson, who went for $6.
5. If you could go back and slap the wallet for one more George Washington you would chase …
Young: Jessica Alba. Wait, that's question nine, isn't it? Corey Dillon. I bid $2, he went for $3, and I hesitated for $4. Should have taken the chance. Could be the S.O.D. if he gets a good job.
Behrens: >Peyton Manning only went for $36, and he might be an order of magnitude better than the number two QB, fantasy-wise. It would've been nice to lock up Steven Jackson and Manning, then try to find bargains.
Funston: I was pretty happy with Andre Johnson ($15) and Hines Ward ($10) as my top receivers, but my bench (Ronald Curry and Deverey Henderson) is woefully thin. Some of my favorite breakout candidates went cheap (Vincent Jackson $6, D.J. Hackett $6, Kevin Curtis $6). Throw in a Laveranues Coles at $7 and I would have loved to have any one of them offering insurance on my bench.
Evans: Willie Parker was the last prime running back remaining and with plenty of surplus cash I failed to add one more coal to the fire – dumb. Considering Del Don had a sugar overdose for the Oopma Loompa, getting a top-seven back under $50 was a great bargain for Davies.
6. Overall, what purchase was the S.O.D. (Steal of the Draft)? Why?
Pianowski: Vince Young at $14. I overrated the scoring system, which at the end of the day won't matter. He's a profit guy.
Romig: I just took three hours out of a day in July to do this auction draft. Do you honestly think I'm going pick-by-pick to find the steal of the draft? There's hockey news to digest. Rob Davison signed today. Rob Davison! Peyton Manning looks like a decent pickup at $36.
Dodson: I like Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander at $56. San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore went for $65, and Indianapolis Colts running back Joseph Addai went for $57, and I feel Alexander is a better bet than either of those backs. I also liked my cohort Nicholas Minnix's bargains of Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver ($15) and Dallas Cowboys running back Julius Jones ($7)
Davies: LaDainian Tomlinson at $80 – if he comes even remotely close to last year – will return a lot of value. Nobody will agree right now, but nobody wants to face Dalton's team either, with both LT and MJD running wild each week.
Behrens: I really like Santonio Holmes at $4. Huge talent, a definite breakout candidate.
7. What was the biggest B.O.D. (Blunder of the Draft)? Why?
Funston: I thought DeAngelo Williams at $35 was an exhorbitant price to pay. He was the 22nd-highest priced player in this draft. I understand the hype – he's very exciting. But I think he brings questions (durability, role) that you don't want with a $35 back. If he did it to spite Brad Evans, though, I'm totally cool with it.
Evans: Frank Gore-d Romig's pocketbook like incensed bulls pierced random asses at Pamplona. His $65 winning bid was $10 above his AAV, or the combined price Migs spent for his entire bench.
Minnix: The $26 it took to nab Buffalo Bills receiver Lee Evans is awfully high, especially when you consider the prices of some the other more proven wideouts and the fact that Evans has been remarkably inconsistent.
Del Prado: As I've said, I've learned never to question Scott Pianowski, but $35 for DeAngelo Williams was a bit of a head-scratcher.
Behrens: Someone … I forget who … spent $2 on Rex Grossman (Evans).
8. Other than your squad – because we all love our own picks – what team is the most balanced across the board?
Davies: I like team Evans a lot, but only because he has brainwashed me with his Yahoo! columns. Nick Minnix from KFFL and Ben Ice from Fantasy Auctioneer have great teams as well.
Pianowski: George del Prado and Brandon Funston graded out best when I initially ran through the rosters. I'm also afraid of the Andy Behrens team (maybe I'm just afraid of Behrens).
Young: Really, I hate mine, but that's fine. I like Minnix's team as he got good value at his 2 RB spots for less than $100, a viable RB at the flex position, a great TE, and decent K and DEF. Dodson's looks nice as well. What is it with these KFFL guys?
Romig: I'll cast my vote for Behrens because he's a Yahoo! guy not named Evans (prima donna) or Funston (past his prime). I think he did a nice job going big on Jackson without diluting the rest of his roster.
Funston: Well, he won't get much sleep at night with the likes of Brian Westbrook, Clinton Portis and Fred Taylor on his team. But if those players can avoid the injury bug, Nick Minnix is set up nicely (Carson Palmer, Anquan Boldin, Donald Driver) to push for league supremacy.
9. If you had the opportunity to bid on a date with one of Hollywood's Jessicas – Alba, Beil, Simpson, or, wildcard, Tandy – who would you raise the paddle for and how much would you be willing to shell out?
Evans: Tandy. In the early 90s, Mrs. Daisy would have been well worth a $20 gift certificate to the Piggly Wiggly. I'm all about the learning experience a seasoned woman can teach.
Davies: Alba is the Tomlinson of fantasy babes, so I would spend at least 50 percent of my budget on her. Though I might handcuff Jessica Beil, if you know what I mean
Romig: I have no measurable social skills so a date with any of the Jessies (Alba leads the class – though Hahn might be a good intellectual match if I can go off the menu) isn't worth the expense. I'll bid $45 on Alba and hit the local muni when I lose out.
Del Don: Jessica Biel – I'd probably be willing to shell out more than I can afford.
Young: While Tandy would likely get me the best value – and I'm all about value – I'd likely go with Alba so I could see the Baxter Building. You of course forgot Jessica Rabbit.
10. Finally, would you rather take a Ray Lewis spear to the chest – without pads – or spend more than a buck on a kicker?
Del Prado: One of the few things scarier than Ray Lewis is Ray Lewis with a spear, so I'm fine paying $2 for Graham.
Pianowski: Normally, yes. But since I had money to burn (not a good thing) in the pre-endgame, I spent some of my profit on Adam Vinatieri. Not recommended, kids.
Funston: I learned as a starting running back for an 0-9 high school team that I can take a hit. As long as it isn't in a dark alley with some of his friends outside a nightclub, I'm taking my Lewis hit and coughing up just a single $1 for a kicker.
Behrens: I do not fear Ray. But no, I wasn't going to spend $2 on my kicker.
Evans: I would rather take my chances with Lewis than take a kick to the groin from Adam Vinatieri.