The RSO Writers League held its auction this weekend. Here’s a look at my strategy and execution for a free agent auction in this unique and fantastic format that you should try.
In case you haven’t heard of RSO’s site and leagues, here’s the quick rundown: It’s a contract-keeper-hybrid-auction league site that two former employees of the Philadelphia Eagles. One of the owners was a former capologist with the Eagles. The pair developed and earned industry awards for its auction application that uses realistic NFL salaries in the free agent bidding and contract management process. If you want more details, read my review. You can also catch up with the league franchise tags with my post earlier this week.
If you want to create your own league, use the promotion code RSP20%OFF to earn a 20 percent discount and check out the auction room in action. Pretty cool stuff. My regular readers that have created RSO leagues love it.
My roster strength before the rookie draft was receiver. Calvin Johnson, DeSean Jackson, Keenan Allen, and Cecil Shorts give me one of the stronger corps in the league. Vernon Davis was my tight end, but I had to choose between franchising him or Jay Cutler. I opted for Cutler for several reasons:
- Looking at my competition’s rosters, it was clear that free agent quarterbacks would be scarce and tight ends would be plentiful.
- I also needed a second running back, because Arian Foster and Ben Tate are capable of quality production, but injury is a concern and if I can have one strong runner, my team will be competitive because of the receiving corps.
- Marc Trestman’s track record with quarterbacks, Cutler’s talent, and the improvement of the offensive line sold me on taking a shot at Cutler returning to near-elite form.
Because quarterbacks are scarce in the draft, I set my sights on Teddy Bridgewater as my top choice. I traded back with Sigmund Bloom, exchanging late picks in the process, and gave my colleague and friend a shot at Cody Latimer — a receiver I’ve often traded up or taken before Bloom in multiple drafts.
Rookie wide receivers are safer picks than quarterbacks and in most leagues. However, the combination of RSO’s contract structure and this league’s tendency to hoard quarterbacks has me taking a chance on Bridgewater — a player I believe was underrated throughout this draft process. I hate to say it, but I am going against my typical recommendation for dynasty leagues: Stockpile talent to trade for a proven passer rather than take a chance on a rookie quarterback who isn’t a luxury pick. Bridgewater is no luxury–I need him as depth and when my franchise tag for Cutler ends next year, I’ll in the market for a free agent quarterback.
My second pick, Browns RB Isaiah Crowell, was a consolation prize for a potential trade to acquire Seahawks WR Paul Richardson from Rivers McCown that fell through when Matt Deutsch took Ka’Deem Carey the pick before me. To tell you the truth, I’m not excited about Crowell despite loving his talent. I dislike giving him a second-around deal, but three years is the best time frame for me to wait and see on the runner.
I earned two third-round picks based on a trade in 2013. I took two more runners–Charles Sims and Marion Grice. Sims’ ankle surgery is a minor blow, but I wasn’t counting on him this year. The concern is how the surgery will impact him in 2015. Grice has been a training camp disappointment according to beat writers. I watched Grice in the second preseason game and for what it’s worth, I thought he wasn’t bad at all: decisive, good balance, and good hands. If the Chargers cut him, don’t be surprised if Grice lands somewhere else.
Due to my trade with Bloom and another deal with Jeff Tefertiller in 2013, I had three fourth-round picks and I took a few of my favorite long-term projects at receiver: Jeremy Gallon, Albert Wilson, and Kevin Norwood. Patriots observers seem hopeful that Gallon will somehow find his way to the New England practice squad after all put this week on the PUP list. Wilson has been a steady surprise for the Chiefs as a UDFA. I think he’ll make the team, but I’m not starry-eyed about him earning a starting job next year; Kansas City will likely draft a receiver in 2015. Norwood strikes me as the type of player who someday could at least succeed Jermaine Kearse as an active role player.
Here’s my roster before the auction and my auction picks:
How I Created My Auction Budget
I took all my free agents and separated them by position on an Excel spreadsheet. I then went through each position list and assigned my preferred contract length for each player. I based this on age, production, and talent. Then I looked at the values of signed players at each position and fit the free agents along the existing salary continuum based (mostly) on my rankings.
Once I looked at the list, I used bold font to note the players that I liked the most at each position regardless of salary and deleted a fair number of options that I had no interest in acquiring so I had a manageable list of 144 players for this 12-round draft. Funny, I just realized I was 24 players shy of having a list to fit the entire draft (I didn’t include kickers…I winged it).
Note: the 1 year, $500,000 don’t count against my cap if I cut them.
I made some mistakes in this auction, but I got the one player I wanted most. You’ll see where I blew it pretty early. Even so, I think there’s a chance my bad decisions still have a chance to become good ones.
RB Matt Forte (4 years, $72 million): The Bears runner stood atop my “most wanted” list in this auction. I hoped to sign him to a 2-year deal and I budgeted $20 million. I saved $2 million on my budget, but I had to sign him to a four-year deal to win the bid. Most of us expect 1-2 years of Forte being Forte before the mythical cliff approaches — and I’m one of them. However, I believe I have a chance to win this year and next (QB/TE willing) and I’ll risk the cost of holding Forte two years longer than I hoped to be in contention in 2015-2016.
St. Louis Defense (3 years, $4.5 million): This is an expensive bet, but I believe this defense is trending upward. I was aiming for Seattle’s defense because I had them last year and they were the most productive unit in this league. However, I liked the value here even if I admittedly got a tad overzealous.
Seattle Defense (2 years, $3.5 million): Yep, two defenses, same division, same bye week. Brilliant. What can I say? That said, defenses score well enough that I might have some unusual trade bait in this league.
K Nick Novak (2 years, $2 million): This was an overzealous pick as well. The combined $6 million “extra” spent on Novak, the Rams defense, and the Lions defense (to account for the bye week) cost me bargaining power for several players I coveted as depth.
TE Heath Miller (2 years, $9 million): Because I could not afford the tight ends leaving the board before Miller — including the likes of Vernon Davis ($16.5 million), Jason Witten ($13 million), Greg Olsen ($14 million), and Dwayne Allen ($14.5 million)–I had to go $2 million over my budget to win Miller. The Steelers’ tight end is one of my favorite players in the league–smart, versatile, and reliable. I’m hoping the knee is healthy enough for Miller to post top-10 production. Considering that he was the No.4 TE in 2012, there’s a shot (even if I’m counting on tight end being my weakest link).
TE Josh Hill ($1 year, $500,000): After screwing up my tight end budget due to my strange desire for defenses, I targeted a player with the athletic upside and scheme to become a big-time producer if the starter is lost for the season. Hill isn’t Jimmy Graham, but he is a good enough receiver to earn top-12 production in the Saints offense.
Detroit Defense (1 year, $500,000): The janitorial pick to clean up my mess. Not a bad unit. I should have waited to pick them as my second unit to the Seahawks.
WR Nick Toon (1 year, $500,000): I regard Toon as a potential Marques Colston substitute if there’s an injury to the veteran receiver. Otherwise, I’m not expecting much unless Kenny Stills’ quad injury is more serious than I believe. Toon is more of a possession threat with long-striding speed to get deep with the help of the play-action game.
K Jay Feely (1 year, $500,000): I like the Cardinals offense just enough to regard its kicker as a decent bet for a bye week.
WR Brandon Lloyd ($1 year, $500,000): The type of high upside pick worth the one-year minimum.
RB Rajion Neal (1 year, $500,000): I like Neal as a potential committee option with Dujuan Harris if Lacy and Starks get hurt. It’s happened before that Green Bay has lost multiple runners. In other words, I’ll probably be dropping Neal when I find another option on the waiver wire.
TE Taylor Thompson (1 year, $500,00): Thompson is making strides at the position and if Delanie Walker gets hurt, Thompson could earn some worthwhile playing time.
My Complete Roster and Contract Details
You can download the 2014 RSO Auction Board to see the rest of the event. I’ll profile more teams as the season unfolds. Remember, If you want to create your own RSO league, use the promotion code RSP20%OFF to earn a 20 percent discount and check out the auction room in action.