Mining For Value In Auctions - QBs
By Jeff Tefertiller
June 21st, 2010

Sold To the Highest Bidder

In the initial article to the series, we suggested that each owner entering an auction should ask himself a series of questions in order to best chart a plan of action. For the quarterback position, the two questions were:

  • a. Do I want to spend the money for one of the top quarterbacks? If not, which tier am I comfortable with as my starter? In auctions more than drafts, the quarterback values fall off quickly so the low-end fantasy starters are very cheap.
  • b. How strong of a QB2 do I want? Am I happy with a $1 or $2 backup like Alex Smith or David Garrard or do I feel more comfortable with Carson Palmer for $4 or Eli Manning for $6.
  • The answers to these two questions will help shape how we want to attack the position in the auction. In every auction, the focus should be on getting the most total value for the team as a whole. We will offer suggestions and ideas on ways to address the quarterback position that can help maximize the total team value.

    For this series of articles, we will be using a $200 cap and a standard 12 team league that starts 1QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, and 1 DEF.

    The chart below gives us an indication as to how fantasy owners view the options at the quarterback position. It includes Average Auction Values and Average Draft Position (ADP):

    #
    Quarterback
    Avg $ Val
    % Of Cap
    ADP
    1
    Aaron Rodgers
    $32
    16.0%
    QB1
    2
    Peyton Manning
    $31
    15.5%
    QB3
    3
    Drew Brees
    $30
    15.0%
    QB2
    4
    Philip Rivers
    $23
    11.5%
    QB5
    5
    Tom Brady
    $22
    11.0%
    QB4
    6
    Tony Romo
    $21
    10.5%
    QB7
    7
    Matt Schaub
    $21
    10.5%
    QB6
    8
    Jay Cutler
    $14
    7.0%
    QB11
    9
    Kevin Kolb
    $13
    6.5%
    QB12
    10
    Joe Flacco
    $13
    6.5%
    QB10
    11
    Matt Ryan
    $11
    5.5%
    QB9
    12
    Ben Roethlisberger
    $10
    5.0%
    QB15
    13
    Donovan McNabb
    $10
    5.0%
    QB14
    14
    Eli Manning
    $9
    4.5%
    QB8
    15
    Matthew Stafford
    $9
    4.5%
    QB18
    16
    Carson Palmer
    $7
    3.5%
    QB16
    17
    Sam Bradford
    $5
    2.5%
    QB31
    18
    Mark Sanchez
    $5
    2.5%
    QB21
    19
    Chad Henne
    $5
    2.5%
    QB19
    20
    Brett Favre
    $5
    2.5%
    QB13
    21
    Vince Young
    $4
    2.0%
    QB17

    These are the choices for starting quarterbacks and the major parts of committees. To address one of the questions above, auction owners have established the top seven passers as the elite group. To best manage the auction dollars, you must ask yourself if you must have one of these fantasy quarterbacks. If the answer is "yes", then it might be best to concentrate on getting one of Rivers, Brady, Romo, or Schaub. For the price, Romo seems the best bet. Brady finished as QB8 last year and could start the season without the services of Wes Welker. So, why should we continue to pay a premium for him? Philip Rivers could be without his top wide receiver, Vincent Jackson, for much of the season if he chooses to extend his holdout. While Schaub is coming off a great season, it was his first full season as a starter after two 11-game years. With each of these others having major concerns, Romo seems to be coming into his own. He has a great group of receivers, aided by the selection of Dez Bryant in April's NFL Draft. If getting an expensive starting quarterback, it is best to spend as little as possible on a backup. There will be several to choose from. The optimal strategy is to make a list of backups you like and nominate them in order. When one gets outbid to $2, nominate the next. Just keep going down the list until you get your reserve quarterback. Pay close attention to the bye weeks when putting together the list.

    In the past few seasons, the fantasy quarterback with the consensus QB1 ranking in ADP and Auction Values has failed to finish in the top spot. When we think back, Tom Brady was not drafted highly before his monster season in 2007. He then became the highest valued passer in 2008 before the injury against Kansas City and Drew Brees finished atop of the rankings. Rodgers was not considered an elite fantasy option going into year two as a starter, but had a great season in 2009. It is so very difficult for a quarterback to repeat great seasons to finish as the best passer in fantasy football. For this reason, Aaron Rodgers is way overpriced. Too much has to go right for him to finish in the QB1 position in consecutive seasons.

    One thing to remember is that if you target a top quarterback, accounting for at least ten percent of the cap, there is less money for the other positions. Many like the comfort level provided by getting good points each week out of the quarterback position without having to "guess" which one of a committee will have the big week. If this is how you feel, just plan the other positions accordingly. It may mean targeting a lesser WR2 or TE1. This is why it is imperative to answer the questions above and chart a course.

    If you are fine with passing on the expensive options, there are several ways to maximize value while getting a very good group of quarterbacks. If you notice on the chart above that the values drop considerably after the first ten quarterbacks. To illustrate how cheap the "lesser" quarterbacks are, you can acquire Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, AND Brett Favre for less than any of the three most expensive players, and only $1 more than Philip Rivers. That is amazing to me. Roethlisberger, Manning, and Favre each ranked in the Top 10 last season, with Favre as highest finisher at QB3. Since we are looking for ways to conserve money, the following are combinations to maximize impact, save dollars, and have depth to handle any situation:

    The cost for a Roethlisberger, Favre, and David Garrard combination is only $17, just 8.5% of total cap. This combination offers upside and three reliable and startable passers each week. Favre and Garrard can easily start the first five weeks while Roethlisberger serves his likely four-game suspension and is on bye week five.

    Almost any of the midrange passers combined with Favre and Garrard make a great combination. An auction owner can bid each of the ones he likes up to 75% of the Average Auction Value and wait to steal a passer in the QB8-15 range to pair with Favre and Garrard. Just like with the example above that includes Roethlisberger, there is upside to and the makings of a great quarterback committee to play matchups or ride the hot hand. In addition, if all three are playing well, an owner can trade one of the quarterbacks away in order to bolster another position.

    If you are wishing to go the ultra inexpensive route, a combination of Favre, Garrard, and another cheap option could allow an owner to get three quarterbacks for around $10. That is only 5% of the total cap. Vince Young, Alex Smith, Matt Moore, Matt Cassel, Kyle Orton, and others will not garner much attention late in the auctions.

    Any combination with Favre is a great place to start. Owners should consider targeting him and basing the quarterbacks position around the graybeard. From all indications, the assumption is that he is coming back. The perceived uncertainty to his future is what is keeping down the price. To think that last year's third best fantasy passer is going this cheaply is crazy value. If you are worried about Favre's uncertainty, just pair him with a quarterback like Eli Manning or Ben Roethlisberger who are proven fantasy starters. This way, you have insurance and the makings of a very good committee. It is interesting how fantasy drafters value Manning much higher than those in auctions. This is because he is one of a large tier that auction owners can just take the cheapest one. quarterbacks like Kevin Kolb, Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler, and Donovan McNabb seem "sexier" and go for a little more money. Manning did finish as QB10 last season and has a good group of young receivers. He makes a great committee member at a good price.

    The second question above asks about the comfort level of selecting a backup quarterback. Below are the quarterback choices for the QB2 position:

    #
    Quarterback
    Avg $ Val
    % Of Cap
    ADP
    14
    Eli Manning
    $9
    4.5%
    QB8
    15
    Matthew Stafford
    $9
    4.5%
    QB18
    16
    Carson Palmer
    $7
    3.5%
    QB16
    17
    Sam Bradford
    $5
    2.5%
    QB31
    18
    Mark Sanchez
    $5
    2.5%
    QB21
    19
    Chad Henne
    $5
    2.5%
    QB19
    20
    Brett Favre
    $5
    2.5%
    QB13
    21
    Vince Young
    $4
    2.0%
    QB17
    22
    Matt Cassel
    $4
    2.0%
    QB22
    23
    Alex Smith
    $4
    2.0%
    QB20
    24
    Matt Leinart
    $4
    2.0%
    QB24
    25
    Josh Freeman
    $3
    1.5%
    QB28
    26
    Matt Moore
    $3
    1.5%
    QB29
    27
    Jimmy Clausen
    $3
    1.5%
    QB30
    28
    David Garrard
    $2
    1.0%
    QB23
    29
    Kyle Orton
    $2
    1.0%
    QB25
    30
    Tim Tebow
    $2
    1.0%
    QB32
    31
    Jason Campbell
    $2
    1.0%
    QB26
    32
    John Skelton
    $2
    1.0%
    n/a
    33
    Michael Vick
    $1
    0.5%
    n/a
    34
    Dan LeFevour
    $1
    0.5%
    n/a
    35
    Matt Hasselbeck
    $1
    0.5%
    QB27
    36
    Colt McCoy
    $1
    0.5%
    n/a
    37
    Charlie Whitehurst
    $1
    0.5%
    n/a
    38
    Jake Delhomme
    $1
    0.5%
    n/a
    39
    Trent Edwards
    $1
    0.5%
    n/a
    40
    Tarvaris Jackson
    $1
    0.5%
    n/a
    41
    Mike Kafka
    $1
    0.5%
    n/a
    42
    Derek Anderson
    $1
    0.5%
    n/a

    These Auction values are for redraft leagues, but there are still some players whom we should not consider. With the lack of success by rookie passers, we should avoid Bradford, Clausen, Tebow, McCoy, and the other first-year quarterbacks. Unless using a committee approach, there is no need to spend more than $4 on a backup quarterback. If you have a starter you like, why not look for a $1 option that matches best with your starter's schedule? Just employ the strategy above of nominating quarterbacks on a list. It is not as though if your starter (i.e. Romo) went down, Carson Palmer would help your odds of making the playoffs more than Garrard or other cheap option.

    Along with Favre above, Garrard is another great value play. With a cost of just $2, an owner can use the Jaguar passer as part of a committee or as a backup. He is a proven commodity at a great price. Garrard and Jason Campbell have finished in the Top 15 fantasy passers each of the last two seasons. Each only costs $2 on average.

    One of the keys to auction is finding players who represent value that you can base your strategy around. Getting Favre and Garrard on the cheap is one such strategy. It allows an owner plenty of flexibility for the other positions. We will look at other such value plays for the other positions.

    Please feel free to email me at tefertiller@footballguys.com with any questions or comments. Also, I am on Twitter, so feel free to ask me questions there.