This article is part of our Fantasy Football Draft Strategy series.
Wednesday saw the completion of two concurrent drafts in the annual RotoWire Steak League -- two separate leagues of 14 teams that use half-point PPR, a minuscule total roster and three IDPs built around a $200 budget.
There's technically an overall league winner, but the real prize -- if you finish in the top half of either league -- is a steak dinner paid for by leaguemates who finished in the bottom half. Total points are all that matter in this area, and you certainly want to be on the right side of things, as the tab has risen far higher than typical inflation rates would suggest in recent years.
I've been on a real skid lately, having paid for far-too-expensive meals three of the past four years. Despite the extensive research I put in last year analyzing different strategies, bad injury luck doomed my team almost from the get-go. Hopefully my atypical roster construction will turn it around.
Now, let's get to this year's picks in the league I am part of.
2023 Steak League Draft Results
I went in with the hope of getting either Travis Kelce ($49) or Nick Chubb ($50), two players I think are undervalued relative to their NFFC ADP. But it was quickly apparent neither were going to present the same type of value.
The nomination strategy doesn't get talked about enough when analyzing these drafts. Early nominations of some top quarterbacks and a heavy emphasis on the top 12 or so RBs naturally meant that wide receivers were going to be cheaper, and I think I correctly capitalized on that during the middle portion of the draft. While I'm way more picky on the lower-tier running backs -- more on that later -- I really find most of the wide receivers in the Mike Evans tier of the same ilk. Getting values on those guys over Calvin Ridley ($31), Terry McLaurin ($25) and Chris Godwin ($23) -- all later nominations -- when it was clear money was being saved for that group, felt like a win.
Onto the mistakes, of which there were plenty. I was also hoping that by wading into the upper-echelon territories at wide receiver I'd get a bargain of similar value, but Hill at $49 wasn't too much of a difference relative to Stefon Diggs ($43), Davante Adams ($43) or even the Chris Olave/Tee Higgins ($34) tier. It wasn't the be-all, end-all -- especially given the price I was surprised to land Travis Etienne at, but typically in this kind of scoring system I'd prefer to spend top dollar on a consistent running back and mix in a healthy number of high-floor wide receivers.
I tossed out Justin Fields as one of the first nominations A) because I'm lower on him compared to the other usual six and B) because I wanted to get a lay of the land knowing I budgeted a higher amount for a quarterback. That Jeff Erickson went to $20 -- a strategy he outlines with Chris Liss on Wednesday's RotoWire podcast -- wasn't surprising, but affirmed that our league -- which typically plays it cheap at quarterbacks -- was going to more aggressive. That didn't exactly pan out.
Guys like Joe Burrow ($17), Lamar Jackson ($17) and even Jalen Hurts ($19) to a lesser extent all were priced appropriately, but what I didn't take into account wasn't the whittling away of the top QB options, but a removal of people who wanted them. By the time Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes jumped to the negotiating floor, money had been spent at other positions and others still planned on waiting for lower tiers of signal callers. Had I predicted Mahomes/Allen/Hurts would have settled at that range, I'd have been more aggressive getting a top option instead of jumping the gun on Lawrence, or even just waiting a few more nominations for Justin Herbert ($13), who I like significantly more. I had already decided I wasn't going to go after Deshaun Watson for personal reasons, but as a competitive player it's hard not to be envious of that price ($6) too.
The few extra dollars paying up/down would have helped raise the floor of my roster. I didn't plan on completely punting on RB2, but after losing out on Kenneth Walker ($29), Alexander Mattison ($29) and Javonte Williams ($26) in the last 100 picks or so, I ultimately decided to dedicate that to a smattering of backfield options. Frankly I was scared to commit one of the worst sins of salary cap formats -- too much money left without anyone to spend on. I really don't like any of the three $10+ backs all that much, but I'm hoping I can strike gold with one of them. The Courtland Sutton buy was a bit of a misplay, as I should have just used some of the excess money to complete the erroneous Jaguars stack with $5 Evan Engram, but I wanted to make myself as attractive as possible for a team leery of their wide receiver depth -- AKA someone please trade me a RB2.
I definitely wouldn't consider this "my" kind of team, but after years of bad luck and worse drafting, maybe that's what will turn things around.