Auction drafts are a great change-of-pace from snaking drafts and are becoming more popular each year. It's a great draft type for anyone who likes to target specific players, rather than crossing your fingers and hoping someone worthy is there when it's your pick. It's something we'll be talking about on future episodes of the Prime Time Fantasy Football podcast.
You'll probably end up paying top dollar for one or two players. With an average budget of $200, though, you'll need to find a couple of inexpensive successes in your draft. Luckily, you have help.
Here are a few players from the key positions that could be a great value for you when you look back on your 2014 season. Below you'll find their average cost from both ESPN and Yahoo.
Anyone not named Peyton, Brees or Rodgers
All three average over $35. No one else is over $20. Let someone else pay a ton for them and spend your money on a thinner position like RB.
Tom Brady (NE) $9.1 ESPN/$6.0 Yahoo
I get it. The guy had a rough year in 2013. With those weapons, or lack of, who wouldn't? Normally, that doesn't prevent Brady from having a good season.
Going into 2014, he'll have another year of work with his receivers. Two of his main targets last year were rookies (Kenbrell Thompkins & Aaron Dobson). Brady is good, but he's not a miracle worker. He'll also be getting back a few guys from injury, including Danny Amendola, Shane Vereen and, the monster of a human being, Rob Gronkowski.
If that still doesn't convince you, in 2012 he was the 3rd highest scoring QB.
Tony Romo (DAL) $3.6 ESPN/$3.1 Yahoo
In the off season, the Dallas Cowboys hired former Lions OC, Scott Linehan. In his five years with Detroit, Linehan's offense never finished worse than 6th in the league in pass attempts and led the league twice.
The quarterback for that offense, Matthew Stafford, scored 6th among fantasy QBs in 2013 and 10th in 2012. Romo, who's been cleared for camp, isn't so bad himself - 9th in 2013 and 8th in 2012.
Jay Cutler (CHI) $2.2 ESPN/$2.0 Yahoo
In a 12-team league, Cutler is a QB1. He may even be one in a 10-team league. You're only concern here is injury. No question, he has some of the best offensive weapons in the league.
In the 10 games he played in 2013, not counting the one he was injured, Cutler averaged just over 18 points per game. If he played a full season, he would have finished 7th among fantasy QBs.
So Cheap He’s Practically Free - EJ Manuel (BUF) $1
EJ Manuel should only cost you a buck. If he remains healthy, that could be the best value of all quarterbacks taken in auction drafts.
The Bills added some WR help for him, plus he has speed coming out of the backfield. In his 10 games in 2013, he averaged just over 14 points per game. That will increase in 2014.
Pierre Garcon (WAS) $15.9 ESPN/$19 Yahoo
Pierre Garcon quietly had a career high in receptions and yards last year. Even without the catches, he was the 13th highest non-PPR WR last year. His number of receptions is bound to go down with the addition of DeSean Jackson but, overall, it should help him more than hurt him.
Percy Harvin (SEA) $12.0 ESPN/$13.5 Yahoo
Doug Baldwin. Currently, that's the other starting receiver on the Seahawks. Look for Seattle to go Harvin's way early and often. At an average just over $12, he makes a great buy to help you fill out your receivers.
In his only regular season catch last year, Harvin went for 17 yards. Can’t argue with averages.
Michael Floyd (ARI) $7.1 ESPN/$6.5 Yahoo
As I mentioned on Episode 5 of the Prime Time Fantasy Football podcast, I love Michael Floyd this year. He's going for $7. That's around the 24th receiver. Floyd will finish top 20 this year. In PPR scoring, he only hit single digit fantasy points 5 out of 16 times last year.
Cecil Shorts III (JAX) $3.5 ESPN/$1.7 Yahoo
His cost has gone down even more with Shorts injuring his hamstring. Injury is definitely a concern here, but with the team drafting Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson, Jacksonville is filled with young receivers.
Cecil Shorts will be playing in his fourth NFL season. That's tied for the most out of all WRs on the current roster. Look for whoever is behind center to look Shorts' way first, when he’s on the field.
So Cheap They're Practically Free - Tavon Austin (STL) $1.6 ESPN/$1.5 Yahoo
Spending $1-2 on a guy means you're taking a flier on him. The Rams don't have many other potential weapons like Austin on their team. He claimed that last year he didn't have a grasp on the playbook, and it showed. According to him, he's got it down now. If this is true, getting him for a couple of dollars will pay dividends all year long.
Robert Woods/Mike Williams (BUF) $1
Robert Woods was looking to be the starting receiver opposite Sammy Watkins up until recently. Williams got the start ahead of Woods in the Bills' first preseason game against the Giants. I still like Woods a little better between the two. This will be his second year in the league, and second year with quarterback EJ Manuel. He could be a sneaky play and a great value. If you're drafting closer to the end of August, keep an eye on which of the two secures the starting job.
Giovani Bernard (CIN) $26.1 ESPN/$35.1 Yahoo
Giovani Bernard will be a top 10 fantasy running back in 2014. Don't read too much into the Bengals drafting Jeremy Hill. I still see Bernard as the feature back.
As a rookie, he averaged 4.1 YPC and had 56 receptions. That was while splitting carries with BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Considering he was also the 15th highest scoring RB, outscoring Green-Ellis by 50 points, his numbers will only go up.
Ray Rice (BAL) $11 ESPN/$4.9 Yahoo
His price may go up now that it's been released he will only miss the first two games of 2014. Rice struggled last year. He didn't even crack the top 25 for running backs. But, he was 6th in 2012 and will be 27 this season. If you can grab him for $10 or less, the upside is too high to deny.
Toby Gerhart (JAX) $9.2 ESPN/$12.7 Yahoo
It's no secret. The Jaguars are not a great team. But with all of the young offensive talent, look for them to lean heavily on 5th year back, Toby Gerhart. He has a career average of 4.7 yards per carry on 276 carries. Though he's unproven, Gerhart is a 27 year old running back with the miles of a 24 year old.
So Cheap He's Practically Free - Lamar Miller (MIA) $1.7 ESPN/$1.9 Yahoo
Knowshon Moreno will be mostly healthy for the start of the season, but will he be in shape? There was already talk that he had gained weight and was out of shape at OTAs. That was before his knee surgery.
Look for Lamar Miller to at least begin the season getting the bulk of the work. Under $2 for a starting RB at this "thin" position? Sold!
Jordan Reed (WAS) $2.2 ESPN/$1.8 Yahoo
Though he missed the end of the season, he's one of the most talented tight ends in the league. In PPR scoring, he averaged over 12 points in the 9 games he played.
Kyle Rudolph (MIN) $2.3 ESPN/$1.8 Yahoo
There's a lot of hype surrounding Kyle Rudolph this year. It may very well be warranted as tight ends in a Norv Turner system often flourish. That alone is worth taking a stab at Rudolph for a couple of bucks.
Zach Ertz (PHI) $1.5 ESPN/$1.6 Yahoo
Look for Zach Ertz's role in Chip Kelly's offense to grow even more in his second year. As a rookie he pulled in 36 catches and 4 touchdowns. Both of those numbers will increase as he separates himself as the number one option at tight end in Philly.
So Cheap He's Practically Free - Garrett Graham (HOU) $1
If you spent $20 plus on Rob Gronkowski or Julius Thomas and are worried about them playing all 16 games, Graham is a great option for you. With Owen Daniels out of town, he'll step in as the number one tight end.
We saw some flashes of great production last season. This year we'll see if he can be a little more consistent.
If you haven’t done any auction drafts yet, give it a try. With training camp underway and preseason games coming up, injuries are bound to happen and values will fluctuate. Keep an eye on these guys and, if you can get them for the right price, they may just help you win your auction league.
Listen to Steve Richards and I, weekly on the Prime Time Fantasy Football podcast. And e-mail us any questions you have or topics you'd like to hear on the show.