Analyst mock auction draft: Paying up for top WRs

We've been doing a ton of mocks drafts this summer. The latest of which was a standard 10-team mock auction, arguably the most fun draft of the preseason for us. It helps when you know the room and can bid up your leaguemates on players they are high on. There's nothing like driving up the price on Jarvis Landry when you know your pal is a hardcore Dolphins homer. Anyway, what follows is a complete breakdown and full results of our recent auction mock with our top analysts, writers, and producers of NFL Fantasy LIVE. It should give you a decent idea of how players should be valued on draft day. Keep in mind that player values may fluctuate depending on your league's budget. For this specific mock, each team had $200 to start with. (By the way, you can join a mock draft of your own by clicking here.)

Draft participants

  1. Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano)- NFL.com Senior Fantasy Analyst
  2. Adam Rank (@adamrank)- NFL Fantasy LIVE analyst
  3. Marcas Grant (@MarcasG)- NFL Fantasy Editor
  4. Alex Gelhar (@AlexGelhar)- NFL.com Fantasy Writer/Editor
  5. Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB)- NFL.com Fantasy Associate Writer/Editor
  6. Matt "Franchise" Franciscovich (@MattFranchise) - NFL Fantasy Associate Writer/Editor
  7. Elliot Harrison (@HarrisonNFL) - NFL Fantasy LIVE analyst
  8. Cynthia Frelund (@cfrelund)- NFL Fantasy LIVE analyst
  9. Dylan Milner - NFL Fantasy LIVE Senior Producer
  10. Alex Wilk - NFL Fantasy LIVE Producer

Who had the best team? Who had the worst? Discuss in the comments below or let us know on Twitter!

Alex Gelhar's team

Julio Jones, WR, Falcons - $52
Lamar Miller, RB, Texans - $40
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots - $31
Josh Gordon, WR, Browns - $7
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers - $12
Ryan Mathews, RB, Eagles - $13
Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals - $20
Terrance West, RB, Ravens - $3
Frank Gore, RB, Colts - $5
Torrey Smith, WR, 49ers - $4
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills - $4
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns - $1
Kamar Aiken, WR, Ravens - $4
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals - $1
Zach Miller, TE, Bears - $1

Normally in auctions, I avoid bidding on players early, but I felt Julio Jones at $52 was a huge bargain. That turned out to be the case when OBJ went for $59 and Antonio Brown went for $67 (!!!). Sometimes it pays to pay early. Lamar Miller is a borderline first-round pick in my book, so snagging him for $40 -- while pricey early -- paid off for me when I saw what other elite running backs cost later in the mock.

I had zero intention of paying big at tight end, but Gronk for $31 was impossible to pass up. By spending so much at the top position on my roster for each skill group, I had to be judicious with the rest of my budget and really hunt for values. Overall, I felt I was very successful, especially with my cheap late additions like Frank Gore ($5), Torrey Smith ($4), and Kamar Aiken ($4). Those are three players with potentially massive workloads who I collected for a whopping $13 of my $200 budget.

Overall, I'm very happy with this squad, even though I was nervous a bit after dropping $92 in the first five picks of the auction!

Alex Wilk's team

Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers - $25
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants - $59
Doug Martin, RB, Bucaneers - $22
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers - $26
Brandin Cooks, WR, Saints - $21
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks - $12
Eric Decker, WR, Jets - $16
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos - $7
Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers - $4
Los Angeles Rams D/ST - $1
Chandler Catanzaro, K, Cardinals - $1
Markus Wheaton, WR, Steelers - $1
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots - $1
Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans - $1
Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins - $1

I came in with a pretty clear strategy for this auction draft format, namely to snag one elite receiver and two top-15 running backs early, then fill in the rest of the roster with mid-tier players who were going below their average auction value later in the draft. My first three auction wins, Odell Beckham, Eddie Lacy and Doug Martin cost me just over half my budget at $106 total. It was more than I would have liked, but still within shouting distance of my original goal.

I wish I could have resisted the temptation to spend $26 on Cam Newton. It felt like a steal at the time, but waiting on a quarterback is even more important in auction leagues. Russell Wilson came off the board a short time after Cam at $14, which probably proves I reached for Newton. Sadly, I had to auto-pick starting after my Emmanuel Sanders selection, so the back end of my draft isn't quite what I would have hoped for. In theory, though, I should have been able to stretch what budget I had left to load up on deep sleepers and high-upside rookies.

Adam Rank's team

I know a lot of people are going to see my team and say, "How did WR-first Adam Rank end up with two of the top three running backs?" I know, I'm as dismayed as you are. It really wasn't the way I wanted to get into this thing. But it was like the time I went to go eat at the Corner Bakery, only to find out it was closed. I wandered into the Chronic Taco shop next door and my life has never been the same, since.

But this is kind of the beauty you get with auction leagues. I have my set values and I want to adhere to them. I had placed a value of $50 on Todd Gurley and $40 for Ezekiel Elliott. Both players were going off the board for a much cheaper price. So I got into the bidding because I wasn't going to let somebody walk with a deal. It's like being at a garage sale. I remember one time this guy was holding my toaster and said, "Hey, how about I give you a $1 for this." And I was like, "The price is $3." And then he retorted, "But there isn't a cord on it."

Hence the discount.

So that wasn't going to happen here. I didn't necessarily want Gurley, but you're not walking out of the store for less than $50. Ditto for Easy E. I was delighted both guys came in under the budget I had for them, so I felt good. I did break the bank a little bit for Mike Evans and Jordy Nelson. But I wanted to make sure I had two great low-end No. 1 receivers. I lost out on A.J. Green, so I wasn't going to be deterred here.

My quarterback is money. My depth is a little strange because I had to auto-pick most of my draft. Love getting Christine Michael for $3. Willie Snead was a nice pull, too. Overall, I'd be pretty stoked for this team. I kind of wish I got somebody into the $50s for Gurley so I could have bailed. But I'm not going to be too bummed out about it.

Cynthia Frelund's team

As you get to know me, you'll realize that I am serious about modeling. Not the kind with a camera, but rather the one that involves code, spreadsheets and analytics (which are so much more than just stats). Like every good nerd, I name my algorithms and strategies, so today I used my favorite and most successful standard scoring model, the two-of-three-year-winning algorithm named Schoolly-D.

Here are three notes from our auction draft:

Note 1: I overpaid for RB1, made it up with later running back selections ... My first pick was David Johnson, who I decided to overpay for at $51. While I don't like to overpay, I believe that using my projections helps me achieve really strong value for mid- and lower-priced players, leaving me a little extra coin to reach for a few stars. For my top-tier guys, I am even more ok with overpaying if I observe other teams drafting over my projected values for the same position. David Johnson is my third highest ranked standard-scoring running back overall, with only AP and Jamaal Charles ranked ahead of him (Todd Gurley is No. 4, don't freak out too much). In our draft, Johnson was the fourth running back nominated:

Lacy: target price - $27 upper bound- $36, sold for $25 (under target)
Gurley: target price - $34 upper bound - $39, sold for $48 (above upper)
L. Miller: target price - $28 upper bound - $35, sold for $40 (above upper)

I rounded it out with Latavius Murray for $17 and Jeremy Langford at $12. For me, Murray has an ideal target price of $20 with an upper bound of $25, due to his low-40s overall and RB15 rankings. I have Langford ranked in the low-60s overall, as the 21st highest ranked back, and at target price of $15 with the upper bound of $20.

Note 2: I have two tight ends ... Here's the truth. I paid $21 for Jordan Reed primarily because I was trying to bid other players up. I'm not proud of it, but I'm not not proud of it ... Reed is my No. 3 ranked tight end overall, his target price is $11 per my math, with an upper bound of $18. Greg Olsen, my other tight end, I acquired for $16. He's my No. 2 ranked tight end on the season and his target price was $15 with a $20 ceiling. My new coworkers seem to be super disciplined, lesson learned.

Note 3: Quarterbacks ... I took Carson Palmer for $16, which was a slight discount to his $17 target and $25 upper bound. Palmer is my fifth ranked signal-caller and I was happy, that is until I saw Fabs STEAL Drew Brees for $9. I have Brees ranked just ahead of Palmer with a target price of $20 and an upper bound of $27.

Sidebar: If you don't know Schoolly-D, remedy that immediately (start with "What Does It Mean?").

Matt Harmon's team

Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars - $43
Randall Cobb, WR, Packers - $16
A.J. Green, WR, Bengals - $45
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos - $20
Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants - $7
Thomas Rawls, RB, Seahawks - $19
Julius Thomas, TE, Jaguars - $7
Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals - $13
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks - $5
Danny Woodhead, RB, Chargers - $6
Bilal Powell, RB, Jets - $6
Charles SIms, RB, Buccaneers - $5
Stefon Diggs, WR, Vikings - $4
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers - $2
Travis Benjamin, WR, Chargers - $1

I think this is the ideal way to build a team in an auction draft. You come out heavy-handed and hammer the wide receiver position, pick up values at the running back position and wait until your final bids before snagging a quarterback (I'm never paying more than $3/$200). One strategy I like to implement in auctions is to go after an unsexy player clearly being undervalued in the early going of the draft. Auction brings an increased psychological element to fantasy, and that's especially noticeable in the early bidding. That's how you end up with a strong option like Randall Cobb for $16 while others chase the new names or elite talents. Another thing I like to do is to nominate players I have no interest in winning early in the auction. In my opinion, Todd Gurley, DeAndre Hopkins and DeVante Parker are overvalued at their current redraft ADPs. All three were among the first five players I nominated and went for more money than I've be willing to pay for acquiring their services. If there was one mistake I made it was my moves at tight end. I was fine with Julius Thomas at $7 but then got into a bidding war later on for Tyler Eifert, a move I wanted to make because those delayed gratification picks are much more tenable in auctions. However, I would have liked to have that $7 back that I spent on Thomas after seeing Dwayne Allen and others go for dirt cheap in the closing nominations.

Michael Fabiano's team

I wanted to spend a good portion of the budget on at least one elite running back, but I didn't want to spend more than $50-plus dollars if at all possible. Peterson might be 31, but he's a special athlete who doesn't fall under the same negative trends of past runners at his age. It's difficult to envision a scenario where A.P. isn't a top-10 choice. I engaged in a huge bidding war on Landry, which is the reason for his higher-than-normal price. After missing out on a few other wide receivers I wanted (and having plenty of money to spend as a result), I had no problem spending on the talented wideout from Miami. He's a good bet to haul in 90-plus passes from Ryan Tannehill under new coach Adam Gase.

*For a full pick-by-pick breakdown of Michael Fabiano's mock auction team, click HERE.

Elliot Harrison's team

Usually in a mock draft, I play the double star, viable supporting cast strategy. Basically, I look to pay high for at least two guys that I know will give me a huge matchup advantage on Sunday, while filling out the other starting spots with mid-tier guys. In a $200-budget auction league, I will look to spend $40 or more apiece on two guys, and about $15-$20 on the rest of my starting lineup (QB, RB1, RB2, WR1, WR2, TE, Flex). My highest paid backup is usually an running back.

That said, this time around I bought Le'Veon Bell and Tom Brady on the relative cheap ($52 combined.) I realize they are both due to miss four games, but if I go 1-3 without them, all I have to do is go 6-3 or 7-2 with them. With the supporting cast I drafted (Brandon Marshall, LeSean McCoy, Julian Edelman, Travis Kelce, Matt Forte, Larry Fitzgerald, Chiefs and Broncos defense), it should be easily doable. Then, in the postseason, I would have Brady and Bell with that group. You don't need to go 13-0 in fantasy to make the playoffs, although the first round bye is nice. I enjoy owning the best playoff lineup. Getting those two on the cheap made sense. Yes, I drafted DeAngelo Williams in Bell's absence. I also have no problem streaming quarterbacks based on who they're playing. There would be plenty of solid candidates on waivers in this league.

Oh, and one more thing ... watch those buttons you push on your tablet, as I accidentally paid mucho dinero for Duke Johnson.

Dylan Milner's team

My league of record is an auction league. It's fun but it's hard. It's so much different than your normal snake-draft prep every draft throws a huge curveball at you. Usually, I fail to adapt. I usually try to wait it out so not spend early and I'm left with a bunch of bleh (B.O.B. for short). So in this mock, instead of a B.O.B. I tried a new strategy and spend to get my top players.

I love DeAndre Hopkins. I don't care about trends or regressions or his quarterback. He's a stud and going to remain a stud. I must have him. I also came into this draft wanting ... no ... NEEDING Antonio Brown. My goal was to get the best 1-2 punch at WR I could even if that means breaking my bank.

My running back situation isn't great, but I got a lot of value. Just look at the numbers. Besides my bank-breaking picks of Hopkins and Brown, I didn't spend over $17 on a player. I feel GREAT with Hyde ($17), Wilson ($14) and Abdullah ($3). Heck, I even liked Melvin Gordon at $15.

After many auction drafts bidding on nothing but B.O.B. I needed to shake things up and grab a can't fail duo, and I think I did just that.

Matt Franciscovich's team

Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers - $31
Mark Ingram, RB, Saints - $20
Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys - $48
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears - $40
Andrew Luck, QB, Colts - $13
Marvin Jones, WR, Lions - $8
Derrick Henry, RB, Titans - $6
Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals - $12
Matt Jones, RB, Redskins - $4
Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots - $10
Kevin White, WR, Bears - $4
Dwayne Allen, TE, Colts - $1
Chris Boswell, K, Steelers - $1
Cincinnati Bengals D/ST - $1
C.J. Prosise, RB, Seahawks - $1

For the most part, everyone's strategy going into this mock auction was similar. Pay up to lock in a few elite players at each position and then sit on your hands and wait for the value picks to trickle in later. Then the draft actually started. Sometimes, the best time to get bargains on top players is right off the bat. I consider Keenan Allen at $31 one of those picks considering that guys like Jarvis Landry ($35) and Amari Cooper ($33) were both more expensive. Allen is more of a top-tier WR2 though, so I wanted to lock up another elite WR1. I got Dez Bryant, and then got into a bidding war over Alshon Jeffery, which I'm fine with in my flex. My running back depth is deep - people had forgotten about Dion Lewis until late so I nominated him and was able to use $10 to secure him. I waited until I had about $3 left to nominate a tight end and snagged Dwayne Allen for $1 which is a ridiculous bargain and a lesson in why you can wait/pay bottom dollar for your tight end this year. I also consider Andrew Luck an insane bargain at $13 considering his average price is above $20.

Marcas Grant's team

I was happy with my strategy even if the results didn't exactly fire me up. I chose to sit back and let others spend big early on before jumping into the fray. Considering how deep the wide receiver position is, I felt comfortable letting a few big names go off the board before making a run at a couple. I might have let a few too many big names get picked up, however, which left me with a roster full of solid No. 2 guys at running back and receiver and not enough elite options. I was happy with my combination of T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief for a total of $31 -- especially when Jarvis Landry went for $35. Grabbing Devontae Booker and Jerick McKinnon at the end of the draft wasn't super exciting but when you don't draft a kicker or defense, it means those players will likely be the first on the waiver wire for me.

Why wait? CLICK HERE to get your 2016 NFL Fantasy season started.

-- Follow Matt on Twitter @MattFranchise

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