Mining For Value In Auctions - WRs
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 themselves a series of questions in order to best chart a plan of action. For the Wide Receiver position, the two questions were:

  • e. What level of WR1 do I want? If going with a lesser WR1, do I compensate with a strong WR2?
  • f. With so many many wide receivers producing similar numbers after the top 25 or 30, should I pursue the ones I like the most or wait for the cheaper options after the first 40-45 are gone and possibly take two of this group?
  • 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 Wide Receiver 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 fantasy WR1 options. It includes Average Auction Values and Average Draft Position (ADP):

    #
    Wide Receiver
    Avg $ Val
    % Of Cap
    ADP
    1
    Andre Johnson
    $40
    20.0%
    WR1
    2
    Larry Fitzgerald
    $35
    17.5%
    WR3
    3
    Calvin Johnson
    $35
    17.5%
    WR13
    4
    Brandon Marshall
    $30
    15.0%
    WR7
    5
    Roddy White
    $29
    14.5%
    WR6
    6
    Reggie Wayne
    $29
    14.5%
    WR4
    7
    Miles Austin
    $27
    13.5%
    WR5
    8
    Greg Jennings
    $27
    13.5%
    WR10
    9
    DeSean Jackson
    $27
    13.5%
    WR8
    10
    Randy Moss
    $25
    12.5%
    WR2
    11
    Vincent Jackson
    $24
    12.0%
    WR11
    12
    Marques Colston
    $24
    12.0%
    WR9
    13
    Michael Crabtree
    $23
    11.5%
    WR18
    14
    Sidney Rice
    $22
    11.0%
    WR12
    15
    Anquan Boldin
    $21
    10.5%
    WR15

    Looking at the graph above, there are several good options to target as a WR1. The Wide Receiver position is especially deep this year. Just like with the Running Backs, we will look at different strategies for the fantasy starter positions as well as depth.

    Strategies

    Balance with stud wide receiver: There are a few very good options for stud receivers in redraft auctions this year. While most owners would love to have one of the top three pass catchers, the value lies in the group below. Calvin Johnson is too expensive to risk such a high percentage of the cap on a player who has enjoyed only one great season. Larry Fitzgerald might not be a good gamble with Matt Leinart replacing Kurt Warner. Plus, Anquan Boldin was traded to Baltimore. Teams will focus on stopping the athletic Fitzgerald. While Andre Johnson is a stud, 20% of the cap is a lot to spend when other receivers produce similar numbers. Randy Moss, Roddy White, Reggie Wayne, and Miles Austin are all great options as a fantasy WR1. Backing the stud up with two solid receivers is always a great way to go. Getting two of the group below would set an owner up in great shape at the Wide Receiver position. Players like Wes Welker (with or without Julian Edelman), Mike Sims-Walker, Chad Ochocinco, Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace, and Pierre Garcon all are good options for the WR2 and WR3 spots. So, a combination of Randy Moss ($25), Chad Ochocinco ($13), and Pierre Garcon ($8) is a great group of starting wideouts for your fantasy team. Sprinkle in a few cheaper options and you can have a strong receiving corps while utilizing less than 30% of the cap. One player who will be mentioned below because he offers tremendous value is Hines Ward, costing only $6. You could do much worse than the veteran Ward as you third fantasy receiver.

    Balance with great depth: The Wide Receiver position is so deep that an owner can target three or four strong receivers and back them up with good depth receivers. While striving for balance, it is best to get a lower end WR1 and pair him with two or three strong fantasy starters. Sidney Rice and Moss make very good anchors as a WR1. Add in Steve Smith (Car), Sims-Walker, Ochocinco, and Garcon and you have a great receiving four-player group. This combination would only cost a little over 30% of the cap and would offer weekly production and plenty of upside. If an owner went the cheap route at the Quarterback and/or Running Back positions, adding Ward to the receivers would make the position a team strength while using less than 40% of the cap.

    Studs and Duds at the position: This strategy works especially well at the receiver position since there are good options that only cost $1 or $2. Being able to start a group like Roddy White, Moss, Rice, and Ward is always desirable. The key is which cheap players to add late. We will have some suggestions a later on in the article. But, this group of receivers would still only cost a little more than 40% of the total cap dollars. If the league starts three wideouts, this would undoubtedly be the best group in the league, with Ward as a spot starter. If the league starts four receivers, Ward makes for a great WR4.

    These are just suggestions as to how to manage the best group of receivers for the dollars. Just like with draft leagues, many of the higher priced options are not worth the cost. If you want to spend more at the Quarterback or Running Back positions, then it might be best to plan ahead and look at what group of receivers you can get for less than 30% of the total cap. With the great value that Ochocinco and Ward provide for the price, they are a great place to start. Add in Garcon and Mike Wallace and the total is still less than 20% of the cap. The key for this strategy will be getting good depth wide receivers at a cheap price. The good thing about auctions is that you can build a team any way you want. If you want strong a strong quarterback and elite running backs, you can plan ahead and target cheaper options at wide receiver.

    #
    Wide Receiver
    Avg $ Val
    % Of Cap
    ADP
    16
    Dez Bryant
    $20
    10.0%
    WR34
    17
    Steve Smith (NYG)
    $19
    9.5%
    WR16
    18
    Hakeem Nicks
    $18
    9.0%
    WR22
    19
    Steve Smith (Car)
    $18
    9.0%
    WR14
    20
    Wes Welker
    $16
    8.0%
    WR37
    21
    Dwayne Bowe
    $14
    7.0%
    WR21
    22
    Percy Harvin
    $14
    7.0%
    WR19
    23
    Mike Sims-Walker
    $14
    7.0%
    WR20
    24
    Chad Ochocinco
    $13
    6.5%
    WR17
    25
    Jeremy Maclin
    $13
    6.5%
    WR26
    26
    Santonio Holmes
    $11
    5.5%
    WR31
    27
    Kenny Britt
    $9
    4.5%
    WR35
    28
    Mike Wallace
    $9
    4.5%
    WR28
    29
    Pierre Garcon
    $8
    4.0%
    WR25

    Dez Bryant, Dwayne Bowe, Santonio Holmes, and Kenny Britt are all severely overpriced compared to the other options. Why bid on these guys with better choices at much better prices? The table below shows some great options for fantasy WR3 and WR4.

    #
    Wide Receiver
    Avg $ Val
    % Of Cap
    ADP
    30
    Robert Meachem
    $8
    4.0%
    WR27
    31
    Demaryius Thomas
    $8
    4.0%
    WR45
    32
    Golden Tate
    $8
    4.0%
    WR52
    33
    Hines Ward
    $7
    3.5%
    WR23
    34
    Braylon Edwards
    $6
    3.0%
    WR33
    35
    Steve Breaston
    $6
    3.0%
    WR32
    36
    Eddie Royal
    $6
    3.0%
    WR43
    37
    Arrelious Benn
    $6
    3.0%
    WR57
    38
    Devin Aromashodu
    $5
    2.5%
    WR36
    39
    Donald Driver
    $5
    2.5%
    WR24
    40
    Santana Moss
    $5
    2.5%
    WR29
    41
    Julian Edelman
    $5
    2.5%
    WR46
    42
    T.J. Houshmandzadeh
    $5
    2.5%
    WR30
    43
    Antonio Bryant
    $4
    2.0%
    WR38
    44
    Dexter McCluster
    $4
    2.0%
    WR62
    45
    Lee Evans
    $4
    2.0%
    WR41
    46
    Devin Hester
    $4
    2.0%
    WR42
    47
    Mike Williams
    $4
    2.0%
    WR74
    48
    Devin Thomas
    $4
    2.0%
    WR50
    49
    Jerricho Cotchery
    $4
    2.0%
    WR40

    Since so few rookie wide receivers perform up to expectations, it is best to let others waste their money on the first-year players. Mike Williams would be the only rookie to consider. But, there are a couple of good, young receivers to target. Steve Breaston and Devin Aromashodu are good values at this point in the auction. Breaston is just one year removed from a 1,000-yard season. Also, it is interesting to see the auction owners discount the old veterans so severely. Ward, Donald Driver, Santana Moss, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Jerricho Cotchery all offer good value this late. If you overspent at running back, taking two of these receivers (especially Ward, Moss, and Driver) as WR3 and WR4 is a good way to address the position inexpensively. This is the group of receivers who were reference in the second question above. It might be best to target a few of these cheaper WR2/3/4 options instead of the tier above. The fantasy production will likely be very similar.

    So, which low-end receivers should I target late in the auction? Below is a table of the rest of the receivers. There are a few that stand out as outstanding value options. Just like with the running backs, the only reason to bid on, and ultimately roster, a specific player is because he can either be a good spot starter or has the potential to be an every-week starter if things bounce right. As we examine the group, we should dismiss the rookies once again. It is not common to see a NFL team's number one receiver priced so cheaply, but that is the case with Donnie Avery, Mohamed Massaquoi, and Chaz Schilens. All offer good value for the price. Others that stand out are Jabar Gaffney, Chris Chambers, Johnny Knox, Malcolm Floyd, and Terrell Owens. Each of these have a good chance to be their teams' best fantasy producer at the wide receiver position. In addition it is amazing how far Derrick Mason has slid in the court of public opinion. With Boldin's injury history, Mason makes a great fantasy WR6.

    It is suggested that an owner get as many of these cheap options as possible. They add value to your team and provide insurance. Also, if the plan is to go the cheap route at the Wide Receiver position, it is imperative to "hit" on a few of the players at the bottom of the roster. Most of these can be spot starters at the very least. Gaffney, Chambers, and Owens all have WR3 upside. Avery, Massaquoi, Schilens, and Knox have the potential to be every week starters if things break right.

    So, what would be an ideal group of receivers, using less than 35% of the cap? Moss ($25), Ochocinco ($13), Garcon ($8), Ward ($6), Driver ($4), Santana Moss ($5), Gaffney ($1), Chambers ($1), and Terrell Owens ($1). This group represents just 32% of the total cap and offers big upside. There are many combinations that could be employed. Moss is a great fantasy WR1. An owner can start two of Ochocinco, Ward, and Garcon any given week and have a strong lineup. Add in Driver, Santana Moss, Gaffney, Chambers, and Owens and there is plenty of upside combined with potential starters. While some leagues may not be deep enough in order to roster nine receivers, this only shows what a deep group can be assembled on the cheap. Not all leagues will undervalue all of these receivers, but there will be values in every auction. Using a receiving corps like this, an owner could go the cheap route at quarterback and load up on elite running backs. The key is the ability to get good production from the bargain receivers.

    #
    Wide Receiver
    Avg $ Val
    % Of Cap
    ADP
    50
    Austin Collie
    $3
    1.5%
    44
    51
    Donnie Avery
    $3
    1.5%
    51
    52
    Anthony Gonzalez
    $3
    1.5%
    61
    53
    Johnny Knox
    $3
    1.5%
    48
    54
    Mohamed Massaquoi
    $3
    1.5%
    49
    55
    Brandon LaFell
    $3
    1.5%
    87
    56
    Derrick Mason
    $3
    1.5%
    39
    57
    Josh Cribbs
    $2
    1.0%
    n/a
    58
    James Jones
    $2
    1.0%
    76
    59
    Chaz Schilens
    $2
    1.0%
    56
    60
    Mardy Gilyard
    $2
    1.0%
    n/a
    61
    Danny Amendola
    $2
    1.0%
    77
    62
    Malcom Floyd
    $2
    1.0%
    60
    63
    Damian Williams
    $2
    1.0%
    85
    64
    Mike Thomas
    $2
    1.0%
    71
    65
    Roy Williams
    $2
    1.0%
    63
    66
    Early Doucet
    $2
    1.0%
    65
    67
    Nate Burleson
    $2
    1.0%
    59
    68
    Darrius Heyward-Bey
    $2
    1.0%
    80
    69
    Jabar Gaffney
    $1
    0.5%
    68
    70
    Chris Chambers
    $1
    0.5%
    54
    71
    Brandon Tate
    $1
    0.5%
    75
    72
    Mario Manningham
    $1
    0.5%
    52
    73
    Laurent Robinson
    $1
    0.5%
    70
    74
    Earl Bennett
    $1
    0.5%
    98
    75
    Jacoby Jones
    $1
    0.5%
    66
    76
    Josh Morgan
    $1
    0.5%
    69
    77
    Emmanuel Sanders
    $1
    0.5%
    100
    78
    Davone Bess
    $1
    0.5%
    72
    79
    Bernard Berrian
    $1
    0.5%
    58
    80
    Jacoby Ford
    $1
    0.5%
    n/a
    81
    Louis Murphy
    $1
    0.5%
    67
    82
    Eric Decker
    $1
    0.5%
    n/a
    83
    Terrell Owens
    $1
    0.5%
    55
    84
    Lance Moore
    $1
    0.5%
    89
    85
    Taylor Price
    $1
    0.5%
    93
    86
    Jarett Dillard
    $1
    0.5%
    n/a
    87
    Kevin Ogletree
    $1
    0.5%
    86
    88
    Andre Roberts
    $1
    0.5%
    n/a
    89
    Sammie Stroughter
    $1
    0.5%
    104
    90
    Carlton Mitchell
    $1
    0.5%
    n/a
    91
    Malcolm Kelly
    $1
    0.5%
    82
    92
    Ted Ginn, Jr
    $1
    0.5%
    91
    93
    Devery Henderson
    $1
    0.5%
    64
    94
    Brian Hartline
    $1
    0.5%
    78
    95
    Kevin Walter
    $1
    0.5%
    47
    96
    Dezmon Briscoe
    $1
    0.5%
    n/a

    Just like the other positions, it is important to plan ahead and decide where to spend the cap dollars. The Wide Receiver position is deep enough that value can be found at all levels. The key is to establish a plan as to what you want your team to look like.

    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.