Monday, September 07, 2009

Auction draft

Last night, my auction keeper league ran its draft. (This is, by the way, the only league I'm in this year. Funny how things work out sometimes.)

It's an interesting setup: 10 teams, max of 20 players, $115 cap, $2 raise per player during the offseason. Undrafted players become $2 free agents, dropped players retain their salary through the end of the season. We start 2 RB, 2 WR, and 2 flex; other than that, it's pretty much standard lineups.

I came into the draft with $56 to spend and several spots to fill. Here's how it went for me ...

Quarterback


Keepers: Matt Hasselbeck ($14), Matt Cassel ($4)
Draft: Tom Brady ($26)
Most expensive keepers: Hasselbeck ($14), Tony Romo ($12)
Most expensive picks: Brady, Peyton Manning ($25)
Grade: A

For the third straight season, I'll have New England's starting quarterback. (I had Brady two years ago, when we first went to a keeper system. He was $17 in 2007; last season, I couldn't afford $19 in an injured QB, so I released him and picked up Cassel.) Hasselbeck has potential, but also has injury issues, and with Cassel's health also a question mark (never mind the Chiefs as a whole), it helps to have a real #1. Of course if Brady gets hurt again ... on the other hand, Hasselbeck moves from a decent #1 to an expensive #2. Which is worth more, one veteran QB or seven $2 players? Right. (I have 14 now, so dropping Hasselbeck and picking up 7 $2 players would work perfectly.)

There are several starting QBs still available, and $14 is too much in this league for a guy who might only start one game for me.

Running back


Keepers: Steve Slaton ($4), Pierre Thomas ($4)
Draft: Ronnie Brown ($10)
Most expensive keepers: LaDainian Tomlinson ($39), Frank Gore ($23)
Most expensive picks: Maurice Jones-Drew ($25), Steven Jackson ($23)
Grade: C

Last year I picked up two rookies, McFadden and Slaton. I spent $18 on McFadden. Not worth it. With Thomas as another cheap holdover, I had a tolerable starting lineup, but with two flex positions, I really need at least 5 RBs. Brown is a good pickup, but I need more depth, and I couldn't justify spending more cash at a position that is so fungible. (This was, by the way, the theme for the season.) I definitely need FA help here. At least all three RBs have different bye weeks.

Tomlinson's owner is trapped; $39 is way too much, particularly for a player who is likely on the downside of his career. (At 30, a RB is running on borrowed time, so to speak. He may be one of the rare guys who can keep playing, but you should find that out at a lower cap cost.) Expect to see LDT on waivers to stay this season.

Wide receiver


Keepers: Dwayne Bowe ($8), Larry Fitzgerald ($14), Derrick Mason ($6)
Draft: Donald Driver ($6), Domenik Hixon ($4)
Most expensive keepers: Steve Smith, Carolina ($25), Reggie Wayne ($19)
Grade: B

Obviously I had a pretty good set coming in. Fitzgerald is arguably worth $14, Bowe is going to be catching a lot of passes in KC from someone, and Mason is surprisingly productive and a nice hold at $6. Driver and Hixon are probably Mason-type numbers this year, but it may not have been the best place to acquire depth. On the other hand, I have five good receivers with different bye weeks, so once I shore up my RB crew, the flex spots should be covered.

There are clearly some overpaid WRs in this league; the guys who have Randy Moss ($13) and Anquan Boldin ($10) have to be happy with those prices.

Tight end


Keepers: none
Draft: Antonio Gates ($9)
Most expensive keepers: Tony Gonzalez ($6), Jason Witten ($5)
Most expensive picks: Gates, Dallas Clark ($6)
Grade: C

Partial credit for dropping Gates at $16 and regaining him for slightly more than half that. Of course, while he may be a productive tight end, he may not be worth $9 when there are decent TEs now available for $2. Backup help will be coming in the great Waiver Wire Raid after week 1. (Our league doesn't allow waiver wire pickups until then.)

The top TEs are split: about half are $5 or above and about half are free agents. This is typically a boom-or-bust position, and unfortunately a number of us will have busts.

Kicker


Keepers: Stephen Gostkowski ($5)
Draft: none
Most expensive keepers: Gostkowski, Nate Kaeding ($4)
Most expensive picks: three at $2 each
Grade: B

I drafted Gostkowski for $1 in 2007 and he's definitely been worth it the last two seasons. Is he a $5 kicker in 2009? Probably not, but I didn't mind locking down the kicker position for 16 weeks again this season. Once again, backup coming off waivers.

With money to spend, you can sort of justify a kicker for more than $2, but wit ha reasonable amount of talent still available, even Gostkowski may prove to be more expensive than he's worth.

Defense


Keepers: none
Draft: Chicago ($1)
Most expensive keepers: Pittsburgh ($6), Minnesota ($6)
Most expensive picks: three at $2 each
Grade: I

The one thing I did right was spend little money. Actually, three defenses went for more than $1, and considering there were two Bears fans in my league, I did okay with this. (Of course, the problem is that Chicago has significant injury questions on defense.) If I keep $2 aside for a defense spot, then I can cycle these teams through as matchups permit. Worst-case scenario is that I don't get much from my defense, but it's not a high-scoring position in our league anyway. Hard to rate this pick one way or the other.

In this league, where you get only 5 for a shutout, 2 for a safety, and nothing for return yards (only return TDs), defenses are not going to produce much for you on a regular basis, although at least you can't do worse than 0. Spending more than $2 is probably not a good investment.

Overall


The one thing I did was spend the last of my money quickly. Unfortunately, this season a lot of owners chose to be more conservative with their money, which meant I probably could have managed my money better, particularly at TE. (Yes, Gates is good, but as good as a $1 or $2 TE and a few other cheap players?) We're starting to see the implications of a keeper league ... of course at some point you have to play for the present rather than the future, but when you don't know the true current value of a player, how much should you really spend on him?

I made some good pickups last year and ended up losing in the finals. I think if I can add two more decent RBs, and if Brady can stay healthy, I should be in a good position again. We'll see.

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