Fantasy Football: 2020 Early Auction Trends

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It is really difficult to find good auction values this early in the year. Lucky for you, I am a degenerate and start auction drafting in real money leagues starting in February. I love taking a step back and looking at three or four drafts to spot trends that can be used to formulate auction strategies. Knowing these types of trends helps immensely when you’re trying to develop your own roster construction, budgeting, and nomination strategies.

Prices are based on 12-team bestball drafts using a $200 budget. Scoring is PPR with lineups that consist of QB-2RB-3WR-TE-Flex-Def-Pk. These drafts took place between February and April. You will need to adapt expected auction values based on your league’s settings.

Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson

“Am I going to pay up for Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson” may be the first question you’re going to need to answer when planning for your auctions. You’re going to see these two QBs within the first 24 nominations and they will be expensive:

[lptw_table id=”163268″ style=”default”]

If you plan on paying up for Mahomes or Jackson, you’re going to have to figure out a way to build up your RB and WR corps on a reduced budget. The other QBs were placed there for reference-just saying, but seriously.

Show Me the Money-Backs

There are always a few RBs among the top few most expensive players, but RBs are dominating the top 24 most expensive players. Here is where the money is being poured:

[lptw_table id=”163366″ style=”default”]

Those five RBs alone are accounting for 10% of the league’s total spending. The only non-RB to crack the top-6 spots is Michael Thomas. The trend continues past the top six spots where half of the 24-most expensive players are RBs. The numbers could become even more skewed if Miles Sanders moves up having escaped a significant challenge to touches post-draft and Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s value skyrockets post-draft.

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Breakout Receivers

One of the things that may be suppressing WR values at the top of the draft is some of the values later in the draft. There were still some spectacular stud-WR performances last year, but a lot of very cheap or free WRs came out of nowhere to put up WR2 seasons in 2019. Not only are these WRs still affordable, but they’re also well-positioned for another productive year.

[lptw_table id=”163375″ style=”default”]

If you need to save money at WR to spend up at a different position group, then you can skip the $30+ WRs and pick off a few mid-priced guys to round out your WR corps.

TEs and Opportunity Cost

I was trying to find a pattern with TEs, but they’re pretty much all over the place. What did become interesting was the players right around them. Travis Kelce is by far the most expensive TE coming in between $32 and $35 in all four auctions with a $33.67 AAV(Average Auction Value). Davante Adams was just above Kelce with an AAV of $35 and Chris Godwin was one spot below at $31.33.

George Kittle is in a similar spot. He’s averaged $25.33, with Miles Sanders, Kenny Golladay, Cooper Kupp, and Odell Beckham Jr all averaging between $25 and $26. When you start to think of values in terms of opportunity costs(the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen), the allure of having one of the elite TEs starts to fade.

There are plenty of opportunities to pick cheaper TEs sprinkled throughout the draft. Zach Ertz and Mark Andrews are coming in around $20 with Darren Waller and Austin Hooper hovering around $13. Even that $13-20 range has a bunch of players I like better like some of those value WRs from earlier. Hunter Henry, Evan Engram, Jared Cook, and Tyler Higbee all have top-6 TE upside but are coming in for around $8. Here are the other players going for around $8:

[lptw_table id=”163377″ style=”default”]

It’s not that I don’t like any of those players, but they’re all replacement-level players. I can save a lot of money by getting one of those $8 TEs and still get good production. Jonnu Smith, Ian Thomas, Hayden Hurst, Mike Gesicki, Noah Fant, and Blake Jarwin all have an opportunity to post fantasy-friendly seasons and they’re costing $5 or less. This is where drafting preference comes into play. Would you rather spend up for a single stud-TE or draft two or three cheap TEs hoping for a breakout while investing more in other position groups? I find myself forgoing the more expensive TEs and playing the cheapy-TE lottery.

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Risers and Fallers


[lptw_table id=”163378″ style=”default”]

I have no idea what was going on with David Johnson‘s values, but it looks like he’s trending up. You would think this trade would have affected DeAndre Hopkins‘ and Kyler Murray‘s values, but they pretty much stayed the same. It seems like auction markets react to bad news a lot faster and more dramatically than they do to the good news.

It’s mostly too early to tell how the draft has affected auction drafts with one very notable exception:

[lptw_table id=”163380″ style=”default”]

It also looks like some moves in free agency have had some effects:

[lptw_table id=”163381″ style=”default”]

It’s going to be really interesting to see how the auction landscape changes over the weeks and months to come.

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Eenglish says:

Awesome analysis. Any way to get access to this data?

Darren Gray says:

Doing my first Auction/ contract league startup soon, Loved the article, Gave me some very good advice going into my draft.

mdmozol says:

Great article! Love the additional auction analysis!

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