Dynasty Watch: My First Rookie Auction

Dynasty Watch: My First Rookie Auction

This article is part of our Dynasty Watch series.

For all my experience playing fantasy football, I'd never taken part in a rookie auction before last month. DFS, best ball and traditional redraft leagues account for the vast majority of my fantasy action, and both of my dynasty teams are hosted on Ottoneu where rosters run 20 deep and players can be stashed while they're still in college.

Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity when RotoWire coworker Eric Caturia scored me an invite to the aptly named General Manager Fantasy Football League (GMFFL) hosted on MyFantasyLeague.com. I thought those aforementioned Ottoneu leagues were complicated, but GMFFL is on a whole different level, featuring a 19-page constitution to explain everything from contract extensions to practice squads to prize payouts. The overall idea of the league is exactly what the name suggests — we're approximating the role of a general manager rather than that of a coach.

Weekly lineups are determined by best-ball scoring, automatically filling in the top players for the following positions: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 FLEX (R/W/T) and 1 SuperFlex (Q/R/W/T). With 12 teams, 22-player rosters, a Superflex spot and six-point passing touchdowns, the league successfully achieves its goal of making quarterbacks just as valuable as they are in real life. I won't digress too far with a rant on why more leagues should do this, so let's just agree that it's absurd to be drafting Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers in the same round as Courtland Sutton and Jerick McKinnon. Maybe, just maybe, there's a better way to play fantasy football that more closely approximates the player values from the real game?

Anyway, I entered the GMFFL auction with hopes of acquiring Kyler Murray, as Jared Goff was the only quarterback on my roster, with his $41 salary accounting for 13.7 percent of the $300 cap. The team I inherited had a few other nice pieces in Nick Chubb ($25), Amari Cooper ($28), Calvin Ridley ($27) and Matt Breida ($3), but none of the crazy bargains like a $1 George Kittle or $5 Jimmy Garoppolo. While not entirely out of the question, a 2019 playoff appearance feels like a lot to ask. The last thing I want to do my first year in a dynasty league is mortgage the future in a desperate attempt to grab one of the final few playoff spots.

Murray would've been the perfect building block, but I chickened out when he was the first player nominated and the bidding quickly skyrocketed past $30. He ultimately went for $42, and I'm still kicking myself for not going up to $50. I'm confident in Murray being at least decent, and I knew I needed to acquire young players and a second quarterback. Simply put, I got weak at the wrong moment, not wanting to be perceived as the new guy who comes in way too hot overpaying for a trendy name. Oops.

Fallback options were non-existent, as the only other quarterback I care about from this rookie class had the misfortune to land on a team with terrible wide receivers and an even worse front office. As much as I'm impressed by Jay Gruden's ability to squeeze 7-to-9 wins out of a six-win roster, it's only a matter of time before Dan Snyder fires a perfectly good coach in his latest pathetic attempt to shift blame away from himself and GM Bruce Allen. In a vacuum, Dwayne Haskins at $18 would be a great bargain for Eric. In the reality we occupy, I expect Snyder somehow will create circumstances that somehow suck the life out of the rookie's career.

Plan B

Instantly resigned to failure in my quarterback quest, I took solace in having the financial flexibility to load up on wide receivers from an underrated rookie class. The group doesn't have any prospects on the Cooper or Julio Jones level, but there are a bunch of players that would've been nice fits for my beloved Baltimore Ravens late in the first round. I actually preferred Deebo Samuel and A.J. Brown over Marquise Brown, while N'Keal Harry or DK Metcalf wouldn't have upset me. I also believe Mecole Hardman, Andy Isabella, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Parris Campbell were excellent picks for their respective teams late in the second round — all appear worthy of top-50 selections from where I'm sitting.

On the other hand, Josh Jacobs feels like a Day 2 prospect who went about 30 picks earlier than he should have thanks to hype and positional scarcity in his draft class. He's no better of a prospect than Darrell Henderson, who was a nice pickup in the third round for Los Angeles. The problem? I'm not fully on board with the Todd Gurley fade; certainly not to an extent that would justify paying big money for his backup. I think the left knee is a new concern for fans and fantasy players, but not so much for the Rams — or at least that's what it sounds like based on recent comments from his personal trainer. Even if the days of 20 touches every week are gone, Gurley should be fine to handle most of the backfield snaps for another year or three.

Last and also least, we have tight end, where useful fantasy production rarely happens before a player's second pro season and the recent track record for first-round picks is poor. O.J. Howard, David Njoku and Evan Engram may be ready to change that perception to some extent, but it's still a position where I'd rather take a shot on cheap players ($1-3) drafted in the middle rounds. Unfortunately, none stood out to me from the 2019 class, as nearly all the tight ends selected after Round 2 are either blocking specialists, subpar athletes or extremely raw prospects with minimal college production. Josh Oliver was the one guy I could get excited about...until he got the #Duval treatment and was banished to a lifetime (or at least four years) of irrelevance in Jacksonville.

All of the Wide Receivers, Please

In true Ron Swanson fashion, I asked the waiter to bring me ALL of the rookie wide receivers. Deebo Samuel for $13? Yes, please! It's of the utmost importance that a man's actions speak louder than his twitter account, and I just so happen to have a twitter account that's been pretty obnoxious about #DeeboSzn. Having successfully proven myself a fanboy rather than a hypocrite, I then secured N'Keal Harry for the unexpectedly low price of $11, staying consistent with my stated strategy:

The master plan appeared complete when I won Hardman for $9....until we learned that a software malfunction had cut my main competition out of the bidding. I bowed out at $16 on the repeat auction, with the initial tease perhaps serving as preemptive punishment from the universe for repeatedly linking to my own twitter account in an article.

Karmic justice or not, the show must go on, and on it went for me with DK Metcalf ($12), Marquise Brown ($13), Arcega-Whiteside ($6) and McLaurin ($4) bringing my total to six rookie wide receivers. I'm not sure which of the bunch will pan out besides Samuel, but I'm happy to have them all locked in for a combined price of $59 — 19.7 percent of my budget — for each of the next five seasons under max-length GMFFL contracts. 

I don't feel great about McLaurin for the same reasons I didn't bid on Haskins, but I'm beyond thrilled with the price for Arcega-Whiteside, who makes perfect sense for a rebuilding roster like mine. He's stuck as the No. 4 receiver in Philadelphia for his rookie season, but he should have a top-three role no later than 2020, as it's hard to say which of Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson or Nelson Agholor will be on the Eagles' roster beyond next year.

The Finishing Touches

I closed out the auction with $1 selections of running backs Devine Ozigbo and James Williams, both of whom I'd written about in a May article discussing the top undrafted rookies in the 2019 class. This made me feel really smart until the Chiefs cut Williams after June minicamp, all but ensuring that I'd flushed a buck down the drain. It would've been smarter to just bite the bullet and spend $12 or so on Henderson, a player I actually believe in from a talent standpoint.

Thoughts from Eric

Caturia was kind enough to send me an email with some of his auction observations, including a good point about the price on Haskins being low enough to justify the risk:

First, I couldn't believe Haskins went for only $18. That buy was not planned, but when the bidding slowed in the mid-teens, I had to see where it stopped. The franchise tag amount for quarterbacks in 2019 is $61. If Haskins approaches that tier during his first five seasons, the $43 savings will instead be allocated to the other skill positions or even on another signal caller. After all, QB is the most important position in a super-flex league with six points for passing TDs.

Otherwise, I think I got deals, Darwin Thompson aside. I was willing to go $1-2 higher, but even $7 may have been too much. Nonetheless, I'm obsessed with any RB in the KC offense and not swayed by the Damien Williams - Carlos Hyde combo for the long term. Even if it takes until 2020, Thompson should get a chance to be the featured back.

Also, I was able to get shares of the Steelers backfield (Benny Snell - $3), the post-Doug Baldwin passing attack in Seattle (Gary Jennings - $3, Travis Homer - $2) and the Bucs under Bruce Arians (Scott Miller - $1) on contracts that are easy to move on from if they don't yield fruit.

Looking at your buys, you clearly went all in on what's deemed to be a strong WR class. In particular, I love the values for Arcega-Whiteside ($6) and McLaurin ($4). If even just two of those six WRs hit, your 2021-2023 receiving corps could be the best in GMFFL, and cost-controlled at that.

Final Notes

-The commissioner of the GMFFL, Moishe Steigmann, is incredibly helpful and does a great job running such a complex league. He's easily the best league commissioner I've seen, and also seems to be a big proponent of restoring the value of QBs in fantasy football.

-The process of writing this article inspired second thoughts about Josh Oliver, who I then tried to acquire in a one-for-one trade for Donte Moncrief (also a $1 player in GMFFL). The offer was declined, but I still think Moncrief will build enough hype to return a similar prospect in a trade later this summer.

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Jerry Donabedian
Jerry was a 2018 finalist for the FSWA's Player Notes Writer of the Year and DFS Writer of the Year awards. A Baltimore native, Jerry roots for the Ravens and watches "The Wire" in his spare time.
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