RotoWire NFL Steak League Salary Cap Draft Review

RotoWire NFL Steak League Salary Cap Draft Review

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

Peter Schoenke Paul Martinez$Erik Siegrist$Mike Doria$
Ja'Marr Chase$55Travis Kelce$49Alvin Kamara$13Daniel Carlson$1
Jaylen Waddle$36Jonathan Taylor$36Harrison Butker$2Austin Ekeler$47
Anthony Richardson$8Najee Harris$34Joe Burrow$17Lamar Jackson$17
Dallas Goedert$12Keenan Allen$27Breece Hall$32T.J. Hockenson$17
Daniel Jones$4Patrick Mahomes$20A.J. Brown$49Jahmyr Gibbs$30
Isiah Pacheco$19Zaven Collins$1CeeDee Lamb$49DeAndre Hopkins$18
Brian Burns$2C.J. Mosley$1Talanoa Hufanga$1DJ Moore$19
Mike Williams$18Jake Elliott$1Greg Rousseau$1Kyle Hamilton$1
Kenneth Walker$28Kadarius Toney$10Devin White$1Dalvin Cook$10
Logan Wilson$1Jordan Poyer$1David Njoku$5Bobby Okereke$1
Treylon Burks$10Van Jefferson$5Zach Charbonnet$8Michael Pittman$9
L'Jarius Sneed$1Michael Thomas$9Jahan Dotson$15Matthew Judon$1
Riley Patterson$1Deon Jackson$1Evan Hull$1Brandin Cooks$12
Tyler Allgeier$2Isaiah Hodgins$1Sam Howell$1Aaron Rodgers$5
Ezekiel Elliott$1Clyde Edwards-Helaire$2Jalin Hyatt$2Brian Robinson$5
Pierre Strong$1Darius Slayton$1Chase Brown$2Jakobi Meyers$3
Malik Davis$1Gus Edwards$1Khalil Shakir$1Kendre Miller$3
Chriss Liss$Jeff Erickson$Tim Schuler$Herb Ilk$
Roquan Smith$3Justin Fields$20Foye Oluokun$3Cameron Dicker$1
Bijan Robinson$48Maxx Crosby$4Stefon Diggs$43Christian McCaffrey$54
Darren Waller$17Derrick Henry$42Davante Adams$43Zaire Franklin$1
Dexter Lawrence$1Minkah Fitzpatrick$2Cam Akers$23Russell Wilson$4
Richie Grant$1Garrett Wilson$43Myles Garrett$4Josh Jacobs$29
Amon-Ra St. Brown$44Aaron Jones$28James Cook$25Deebo Samuel$27
Younghoe Koo$1Dameon Pierce$25Antoine Winfield$1Christian Wilkins$2
Christian Watson$21Matt Milano$1Brandon Aiyuk$17J.K. Dobbins$19
Chris Godwin$23Diontae Johnson$17Rachaad White$20AJ Dillon$12
D'Onta Foreman$3Jameson Williams$4Tua Tagovailoa$4Marquise Brown$12
Jaxon Smith-Njigba$10Quentin Johnston$6Dak Prescott$9Jaquan Brisker$1
Jared Goff$2Jason Myers$1Tyler Bass$2Pat Freiermuth$5
Zay Flowers$14Rashod Bateman$3Gerald Everett$1Elijah Mitchell$4
Brock Purdy$1Cole Kmet$1Dalton Schultz$2JuJu Smith-Schuster$6
Jerick McKinnon$5Jonathan Mingo$1Aidan Hutchinson$1Evan Engram$5
Dalton Kincaid$5K.J. Osborn$1Allen Lazard$1Rashee Rice$3
Chase Edmonds$1Tyler Higbee$1Kyren Williams$1Romeo Doubs$4
Jason Thornbury$Josh Ross$Len Hochberg$Scott Jenstad$
Nick Chubb$50Justin Tucker$2Nick Bolton$3Jake Moody$1
Tony Pollard$44Cooper Kupp$44Saquon Barkley$48Joe Mixon$33
DK Metcalf$34T.J. Watt$4Kyle Pitts$17Fred Warner$1
Micah Parsons$3Jalen Hurts$19Graham Gano$1Jalen Pitre$2
Jerry Jeudy$29Derwin James$5Chris Olave$33George Kittle$15
Deshaun Watson$6T.J. Edwards$1Kirk Cousins$7Justin Herbert$13
Bobby Wagner$1Miles Sanders$26Amari Cooper$30DeVonta Smith$30
George Pickens$17Calvin Ridley$31Tyler Lockett$17Nick Bosa$2
Devin Singletary$2Alexander Mattison$29Joey Bosa$1Tee Higgins$34
Odell Beckham$4Elijah Moore$12Javonte Williams$26D'Andre Swift$21
Jerome Ford$1Jeff Wilson Jr.$3Kyle Dugger$1Christian Kirk$15
Alec Pierce$2De'Von Achane$10Skyy Moore$8Gabe Davis$13
DJ Chark Jr.$1Adam Thielen$3Samaje Perine$4Antonio Gibson$5
Bryce Young$1Greg Dulcich$3Roschon Johnson$1Geno Smith$3
Kamren Curl$1Raheem Mostert$3Tyquan Thornton$1Damien Harris$8
Juwan Johnson$1Tank Bigsby$3Kenneth Gainwell$1Chigoziem Okonkwo$2
Matt Gay$1Joshua Kelley$2Kyler Murray$1Marvin Mims$2
Joe Bartel$Ken Crites$    
Tyreek Hill$49Evan McPherson$2    
Travis Etienne$33Justin Jefferson$57    
Budda Baker$3Rhamondre Stevenson$34    
Trevor Lawrence$13Mark Andrews$24    
Jordan Addison$13Josh Allen$20    
Aaron Donald$2Josey Jewell$1    
Drake London$18James Conner$18    
Mike Evans$17Terry McLaurin$25    
David Montgomery$12Alex Highsmith$1    
Khalil Herbert$10Rayshawn Jenkins$1    
Rashaad Penny$10Jamaal Williams$8    
Courtland Sutton$14Rondale Moore$2    
Frankie Luvu$1Nico Collins$2    
Brandon McManus$1Jaylen Warren$2    
Zamir White$2Kareem Hunt$1    
Sam LaPorta$1Tyler Boyd$1    
Darnell Mooney$1Hunter Henry$1    

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.

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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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