Fantasy Football: 10 Players Worth Max Value in Auction Leagues

Ethan Norof@ethan_norofCorrespondent IAugust 31, 2010

Fantasy Football: 10 Players Worth Max Value in Auction Leagues

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    How much is Calvin Johnson worth in your auction league? Did you pay for him based on his production or his potential? Can he stay healthy over the course of the year? Such are the questions for those owners who play fantasy football under the auction league platform. 

    If you're unfamiliar with an auction league, here's how it works: each owner has a draft pick (just like in the standard process), and they put a player up for "bidding". Owners don't always pick the player that they want to select, of course, as they hope others in the league will foolishly waste money on undesired talent.

    While it's certainly easy to spend big money and throw valuable dollars at big name players, that simply won't win you a championship. Auction league owners have to be smart, shrewd, and have a crafty draft strategy in mind in order to dominate the dojo, so here are ten guys that should provide solid bang for your buck this year. 

Legedu Naanee, WR San Diego Chargers

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    There’s at least one man in the Chargers organization that’s happy about WR Vincent Jackson’s continued holdout: Legedu Naanee. After having been buried on the depth chart behind V-Jax & Malcom Floyd, Naanee will finally be given an opportunity to show exactly what he’s capable of doing and could very well impress many owners.

    The young man seems to be poised for a breakout season as one of the Chargers' starting WRs and is an absolute steal toward the end of your draft. Let another owner spend his valuable auction dollars on over-hyped sleeper Dez Bryant, Naanee will pair auction league value with real life production. According to Chargers beat writer Kevin Acee, Naanee’s potential is “almost limitless”. 

Mike Williams, WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    This year’s depth at the wideout spot has many owners drooling, and rightfully so. Arguably the deepest position in fantasy football, why would any owner in their right mind want to burn a quarter of the team’s salary on a single player? Unless his name is Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, or Ray Rice, you’re simply misallocating your funds. 

    Enter Mike Williams, a fourth-round selection in 2010 from Syracuse who was suspended for the ’09-’10 season for academic issues. The Bucs decided to roll the dice on the uber-athletic prospect, and they couldn’t have been happier with the return thus far.

    Making at least one highlight play per day in camp, Williams has already entrenched himself as TB’s No. 1 and has backed it up with a very strong preseason. With many pegging him to become the focal point of the offense for years to come, owners may want to wait to pick up this kid. Don’t wait too long, though, as he’s sure to be on other owners’ radars as well.

Matt Forte, RB Chicago Bears

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    Last year at this time, owners were ready to spend, spend, spend on Forte and make him the RB1 of their team. Flash forward to 2010 and suddenly he’s available for 50 cents on the dollar, but why?

    Yes, Forte had a terrible 2009 and didn’t look to resemble his ’08 self whatsoever. Yes, the Bears brought in RB Chester Taylor to help take some of the responsibility off of Forte’s shoulders. However, if the speedster from Tulane keeps playing like he has been, there isn’t going to be much time on the field for the veteran Taylor.

    Forte has looked downright explosive this preseason and once again resembles the rookie RB that so many owners fell in love with so quickly. He’s currently being targeted as a mid-tier guy and if you can steal him for a reasonable price in your league, do it. This guy is going to be an RB1 this season and will make all the owners who passed on him look as silly as the ones that overspent for him just a season ago. 

Dustin Keller, TE New York Jets

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    Viewed by many to be a value pick at this time last year, Keller really disappointed a lot of owners who selected him to be their team’s TE1 last season. Not all the blame goes to Keller, though, as rookie QB Mark Sanchez had to work through some growing pains last season & the Jets offensive attack focuses around the running game.

    Having said that, I fully believe that 2010 will be Keller’s year to explode. Those that cover the team have pegged Keller as Sanchez’s favorite receiver throughout preseason, and the talented TE from Purdue should benefit the first few weeks with WR Santonio Holmes suspended until Week 5.

    With the team making him a priority in the passing game, consider him a top-tier TE2 with nothing but upside. 

Matt Ryan, QB Atlanta Falcons

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    Ryan’s 2009 was what I’d call the prototypical “sophomore slump”, at least from a fantasy owner’s perspective. Ryan’s TD:INT ratio of 22:14 were definitely not what owners sought from him last season after drafting him as a breakout candidate. Additionally, he failed to break the 3,000 yard barrier, which is a mandatory order for a starting QB on any fantasy roster. 

    What do we expect from Ryan in 2010? Frankly, I’m not quite sure. With a supposed revamped running game thanks to Michael Turner getting back into shape and another year under his belt, Ryan could blossom into a top-10 QB by year’s end, or he could wallow in mediocrity and become fantasy irrelevant by mid-season.

    I wouldn’t feel comfortable making him my QB1 right off the bat, but he’s going much cheaper than he should right now and should provide solid production for an owner who doesn’t want to invest heavily at the position.

Mike Thomas, WR Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Perhaps this year’s least-hyped sleeper, Thomas has solidified his role as Jacksonville’s No. 2 wide receiver and should get plenty of looks from QB David Garrard. Another testament to the depth of the position, Thomas is going undrafted in most leagues despite his legitimacy as a rising impact fantasy performer. 

    Thomas reportedly stood out throughout the Jaguars training camp, even earning praise from star running back Maurice Jones-Drew as the team’s camp MVP. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has pegged Thomas as the team’s breakout player this season, so be sure that he doesn’t fly under your radar despite his playing for Jacksonville. He’ll see a lot of one-on-one matchups playing opposite Mike Sims-Walker.

Ricky Williams, RB Miami Dolphins

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    I’m sure I’ll draw the raised eyebrow of many owners with this particular pick, so let me explain: it’s not that I’m a Ricky Williams fan, it’s that I’m just not a Ronnie Brown fan. Sure, Brown is explosive out of the Wild Cat and can definitely be a weapon, but Williams is the better pure RB of the two. 

    Brown had his ’09 campaign ended early with a lisfranc fracture in his foot—never terribly good news, especially for a running back. When Brown went down, Williams looked to be an explosive runner who powered between the tackles and was even capable of bouncing it outside.

    Williams is an immediate RB3 who comes on the cheap as most will be smitten with Brown’s potential, but if Brown goes down again (and with his track record, it’s sure to happen), Williams becomes an immediate starter whose value soars tremendously high. 

Greg Camarillo, WR Minnesota Vikings

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    Sometimes, all it takes for a guy to become fantasy relevant is a change of scenery and that’s exactly the case with Camarillo.

    After just being acquired from Miami, Camarillo led the Vikings in receptions his first preseason game with the team. Obviously with Sidney Rice’s injury, the team needs all the help that they can get at the position and Camarillo could see a significant boost in value as the season moves forward. 

    He should be able to push incumbent Greg Lewis for his spot in three-wide sets rather quickly and could very well lead the team in receptions this season. Camarillo is an excellent later-round selection that will cost owners next to nothing. He provides a fantastic chance for a heavy ROI and should be stashed away accordingly. 

Arian Foster, RB Houston Texans

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    For some reason unbeknownst to me, Steve Slaton is still getting drafted in most leagues—AHEAD of Arian Foster.

    Coach Gary Kubiak has gone on record saying that Foster will be the team’s feature back, but for some owners that’s simply not good enough; they prefer proven production to the coach’s word, so allow me to illustrate Foster’s value. An undrafted free agent out of Tennessee, Foster’s ability to swiftly pick up the offense has led to his quick ascension up the depth chart in Houston.

    He’s looked fantastic this preseason and in his most recent game ran for 110 yards and a TD on just 18 carries. A big power back with quick feet and soft hands, Foster has breakout candidate written all over him and should score double-digit touchdowns this season if he stays healthy. He is 100% worth the gamble. 

Ben Roethlisberger, QB Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Big Ben’s suspension may have been the best thing to happen to him from a fantasy perspective this season. Despite him missing the first four weeks of production, his ADP has moved tremendously downward and it simply continues to amaze me how many people are staying far away from Roethlisberger this season. 

    He’ll be back in Week 6, folks! With the team’s bye week separating the end of his suspension and the start of his play, Roethlisberger should have plenty of time to get himself back into gear and be ready to roll for the remainder of the season.

    He’s the best “backup” option on the planet right now and could easily be paired with someone like Carson Palmer on an owner’s team.  He’s being purchased at an insanely cheap rate, and you’d have to be crazy not to take a flier on a guy who threw for over 500 yards in a game last season. 

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