Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Steak League Auction Review

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Steak League Auction Review

This article is part of our Fantasy Football Draft Strategy series.

Tuesday saw the completion of the annual RotoWire Steak League auction — a 14-team, half-PPR IDP league with a $200 budget. While there is a monetary prize for first place, the real stakes revolve around steak, or rather an entire steak league meal, which has grown increasingly pricey since I joined the league six years ago (let's just say I wouldn't blame the rise on inflation). If you're familiar at all with RotoWire you've certainly heard of this draft, so it's not worth going into greater detail. Just know it's arguably my most important league every year along with many others at the company.

I've had mixed success over the course of my Steak League "career," but I've been on a bit of a rough skid lately, paying for a steak meal in two of the last three years. Determined to change the course this go around, I spent an embarrassing amount of time reviewing my past drafts, compiling a few of my league mates tendencies and reworking my planned auction budget three separate times. I discussed a number of different auction strategies in a podcast a few weeks back, ultimately going with a mix of a couple of successful approaches I've seen completed. 

Here's the results:

Peter Schoenke$Paul Martinez$Erik Siegrist$Mike Doria$
Justin Jefferson$55Elijah Mitchell$26Danielle Hunter$3Daniel Carlson$1
Zach Ertz$10Cooper Kupp$59Deebo Samuel$37Kyler Murray$12
Jalen Hurts$15Darren Waller$15Mark Andrews$25Travis Kelce$31
Travis Etienne$34James Conner$34Stefon Diggs$48Najee Harris$51
Mike Evans$39Jeremy Chinn$2Cam Akers$29Josh Jacobs$23
DeForest Buckner$2Aaron Donald$3Trey Lance$10Michael Pittman$30
Trevor Lawrence$3Davante Adams$42Minkah Fitzpatrick$1JuJu Smith-Schuster$21
Tony Pollard$10Matthew Stafford$3Rashaad Penny$15Adam Thielen$14
Eric Kendricks$1Tyler Bass$1Shaquille Leonard$1Haason Reddick$2
Damien Harris$10C.J. Mosley$1Dustin Hopkins$1Kenneth Walker$7
Kyle Dugger$1James Robinson$6Nyheim Hines$3Harrison Smith$1
Chris Olave$14Kenny Golladay$2Kirk Cousins$3Mac Jones$1
Rodrigo Blankenship$1Marlon Mack$2Julio Jones$3Mark Ingram$1
Rondale Moore$2Marvin Jones$1Michael Carter$4DeVante Parker$2
Tyrion Davis-Price$1Mecole Hardman$1Kenneth Gainwell$9Noah Fant$1
Jaylen Warren$1Wan'Dale Robinson$1Romeo Doubs$7Robbie Anderson$1
Pierre Strong$1Jarvis Landry$1Nico Collins$1Cole Holcomb$1
Chriss Liss$Jeff Erickson$Tim Schuler$Herb Ilk$
Ja'Marr Chase$49Patrick Mahomes$16Michael Thomas$20D'Andre Swift$41
Saquon Barkley$45Jaylen Waddle$26Justin Herbert$18Lamar Jackson$17
Javonte Williams$38James Cook$6Isiah Pacheco$3Antonio Gibson$11
Aaron Rodgers$5Alvin Kamara$40Jordyn Brooks$3Diontae Johnson$24
Cameron Heyward$1Nick Chubb$37Myles Garrett$4Miles Sanders$12
Elijah Moore$20Brandin Cooks$21Terry McLaurin$31Gabriel Davis$23
Kadarius Toney$9Joey Bosa$3Keenan Allen$36AJ Dillon$19
Xavier McKinney$1Rhamondre Stevenson$15Ezekiel Elliott$26De'Vondre Campbell$2
Pat Freiermuth$1Evan McPherson$2Jamal Adams$2Cordarrelle Patterson$8
Brandon Aiyuk$15Micah Parsons$3David Montgomery$23Darrell Henderson$6
Jake Elliott$1Jerry Jeudy$20George Kittle$14Brandon McManus$2
Daniel Jones$1Kevin Byard$1Matt Gay$1Rashod Bateman$29
Skyy Moore$6Dawson Knox$2DeAndre Hopkins$7Christian Watson$2
Irv Smith$1Garrett Wilson$3Justin Fields$4Odell Beckham$2
Ronald Jones$1Joshua Palmer$2Isaiah Spiller$3Austin Hooper$1
Jerick McKinnon$2Jahan Dotson$1Melvin Gordon$7Johnathan Abram$1
Logan Wilson$1Tyler Higbee$1Zack Moss$2Sam Hubbard$1
Jason Thornbury$Josh Ross$Len Hochberg$Scott Jenstad$
Dalvin Cook$52Justin Tucker$2Leonard Fournette$35Christian McCaffrey$55
Joe Mixon$45Austin Ekeler$45Joe Burrow$14Tom Brady$7
T.J. Watt$3Chase Edmonds$21Blake Martinez$1A.J. Brown$33
CeeDee Lamb$45Derwin James$4Tee Higgins$36Nick Bosa$4
Russell Wilson$8T.J. Hockenson$10Mike Williams$33Breece Hall$25
Bobby Wagner$2Dak Prescott$7Allen Robinson$25Devin White$2
Amari Cooper$10DJ Moore$30Ryan Succop$1Dallas Goedert$12
Drake London$17Foye Oluokun$1Dameon Pierce$20Courtland Sutton$26
Jessie Bates$1Amon-Ra St. Brown$17Darnell Mooney$15Budda Baker$2
DJ Chark$5Kareem Hunt$8Kenny Moore$1Robbie Gould$1
Michael Gallup$2Harold Landry$1Maxx Crosby$1DeVonta Smith$14
George Pickens$5Allen Lazard$13Mike Gesicki$1Tyler Lockett$4
Albert Okwuegbunam$1Christian Kirk$16Khalil Herbert$3Tua Tagovailoa$2
Mike Davis$1Tyler Allgeier$11Alexander Mattison$8Rachaad White$3
Alec Pierce$1Chase Claypool$6Jamaal Williams$1Tyler Boyd$3
Kyren Williams$1Raheem Mostert$5Marquez Valdes-Scantling$1Treylon Burks$3
Greg Joseph$1Zamir White$3K.J. Osborn$1D'Onta Foreman$4
Joe Bartel$Ken Crites$    
Jonathan Taylor$63Josh Allen$20    
Kyle Pitts$29Derrick Henry$49    
J.K. Dobbins$26Aaron Jones$38    
DK Metcalf$27Dalton Schultz$14    
Roquan Smith$2Tyreek Hill$34    
Clyde Edwards-Helaire$13Jordan Poyer$1    
Chris Godwin$17Harrison Butker$1    
Antoine Winfield$1Devin Singletary$11    
Hunter Renfrow$7Marquise Brown$16    
Matt Prater$1Brian Robinson$7    
Cole Kmet$3Jonathan Allen$1    
Derek Carr$3Fred Warner$1    
Robert Woods$4Hunter Henry$1    
Khalil Mack$1Jakobi Meyers$3    
Sammy Watkins$1Jeff Wilson$1    
J.D. McKissic$1Russell Gage$1    
Jalen Tolbert$1Jameis Winston$1    

I feel confident I at least predicted how the rest of the league would react to a couple key position groups, and just overall some players specifically, though I'm not sure I capitalized on the knowledge as much as I would have hoped.

I was incredibly thankful COO of RotoWire and Bills superfan, Tim Schuler, wound up with the first nomination because Josh Allen's modest price tag of $20 to begin the draft set the tone on the only point of demarcation that I've noticed in past drafts, i.e. the price of QBs. Had Allen been nominated at pick, say 20, a possibly less reserved group of bidders might have pushed up the MVP front runner even further, creating a trickle down effect for the rest of the signal callers. As a result, I immediately adjusted my budget for a cheap QB and was pleasantly surprised to get my preferred target in Derek Carr. It was frustrating ESPN's mobile draft software automatically upbid me to $3 despite already having him at $2, but I probably shouldn't have put myself in a position to be so reliant on one more dollar, so I considered the malfunction a product of deserved punishment.

That set the stage for a Steak League first for me — paying for the most expensive player in the draft. Yes, I did want a piece of Jonathan Taylor and I knew with my bad luck that just wouldn't be possible, but, more important, I wanted a safe first-round RB, and I knew some of the other targets I'd consider (Joe Mixon, Najee Harris, Derrick Henry) just weren't ever going to be "values" in a group of smart drafters. I priced JT at $66 and felt fortunate to get him just a bit lower, especially after it was revealed the sister Steak League ultimately got him at $69.

From there, I wanted to remain patient. I knew the big-budget RB would remove me from any WR in the upper echelon, but it also meant I had to be aware of when the tier price changed and make sure I was proactive. Getting Kyle Pitts fell right into my plan, especially because I anticipated my flex spot would likely be filled by a $3-5 tight end to zig from what I anticipated would be an overzealous market for second-tier WRs.

That didn't really unfold. DK Metcalf is absolutely one of my "guys" this year, and I was frustrated to see Liss had just drafted Metcalf in a NFFC RotoWire Online Championship earlier in the day basically ensuring I would be in a bidding war, but I felt comfortable if I got him early enough in the process he'd ultimately be a value. While $27 is certainly reasonable for his upside, the decision to commit to Metcalf meant I'd be unable to capitalize on any sort of value that cropped up. That value ultimately materialized in the form of so-so RBs like Miles Sanders ($12), Antonio Gibson ($11), Rashaad Penny ($15) and my choice, Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($13). I didn't want to battle with someone else at the end of a tier and sitting with a rocky RB2 in J.K. Dobbins I knew I had to plug my nose and wade into uncomfortable waters, but I would have much preferred Penny at his price had I known how lukewarm the rest of the room would be.

I love Drake London, Allen Lazard and Christian Kirk this year, but it became clear pretty quickly that the rest of the room had anticipated spending their money on the trio, so I evacuated a bit early snapping up Chris Godwin as my WR2. I should have been more proactive and also tried to get Marquise Brown ($16), fully committing to a stars/scrubs approach, but thankfully my timid heart was rewarded because the 0.5 point PPR scared off people just enough to land Hunter Renfrow at a reasonable discount.

I'm going to have to get a waiver-wire gem at some point during the season to feel confident in this team, and Dobbins needs to be healthy pretty early on, but it's a team pretty full of guys who have comfortable upside with little risk.

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Joe Bartel
Joe Bartel is RotoWire's Operations Specialist and football contributor among many other things. When not at the office, he's probably playing a variety of Gen 4 console games or rooting on his beloved Green Bay Packers.
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