Links to similar discussions on other positions:
The notion of who to target in an auction draft takes on a much different meaning than it does in a serpentine format. For traditional drafts, you are locked into a certain pool of players based on where you are picking, and that pool shrinks in a fashion that greatly limits your options. But in an auction, you can do so much more with the targets you enter a draft with. Your strategy for when you nominate your targets, how you can massage your budget to acquire the players you want, and the unpredictable run on positions all make it possible to grab a larger share of your targets than you can in a traditional draft.
When talking about auction targets, it is natural to think of them as being low-cost options. But that is not necessarily the case. Targets are going to be lower-cost options than the players around them in the fantasy rankings. So targets can be high, moderate, or low-priced players. But they become targets because you can hopefully acquire them cheaper than similar players in the same tier. The way you make your roster a championship roster is to pay the market price for the guys you want, but then get deals on strong, productive players that the rest of the room is fading. It is a tall task, but that’s why you’re here.
The quarterback and tight end positions are similar in an auction room in that most leagues only require one of them to be in a starting lineup. In that regard, these two positions are much easier to navigate for true bargain hunting. You can often wait and be one of the last ones to get a starter at these positions and see prices truly bottom out when others don’t want to draft a backup or don’t want to pay for a starter quality player when they already have one on their team. Nevertheless, there are some targets that 2021 auction drafters should have on their radar at all price levels because of the combination of their price and upside.
Dak Prescott – The Top 5 quarterbacks this year – Patrick Mahomes II, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Josh Allen, and Prescott – are in a tier by themselves and are widely considered to be the elite options in this year’s drafts. Of those five, only Prescott has much of a chance to deliver value in the way of his auction price. Through his first four games before the injury in 2020, he had already compiled 12 touchdowns (3 rushing), and had thrown for over 450 yards in three of the four contests. Put bluntly, the pace at which he was scoring fantasy points was astounding and his upside reaches the top of the position. His offensive line should be much better this year and he has one of the top wide receiver corps in the entire NFL. The key to Prescott is making sure to nominate him before the top tier of five quarterbacks is drying up. Ideally, you should nominate him with 2-3 of the Top 5 still on the board, and hope you get a small break on the price.
Middle Tier Targets
Jalen Hurts – There are enough fantasy managers who think highly of Hurts that it may be hard to get a big discount. But that’s okay because he still has plenty of room to deliver value even at his current auction price. On average, he’s being drafted as a low-end QB1, but with a price that is entirely reasonable given his upside. Last year the conversation around Josh Allen was somewhat similar as it is around Hurts: accuracy issues, a new weapon, and rushing upside. No, Jalen Hurts isn’t Josh Allen, but he did rush for 272 yards in only four full games (68 per game) while scoring four rushing touchdowns. Hurts is still a risky pick, however, as there are Deshaun Watson rumors swirling, a new coaching staff, and he's only started a handful of NFL games. But that's keeping his price low so you should try to score a deal on him and then back him up with a solid floor play.
Ryan Tannehill – His auction price rose slightly after the Julio Jones trade, but Tannehill remains perennially undervalued. The Titans lost their offensive coordinator Art Smith to the Falcons, so some caution is warranted, but have you ever seen a quarterback account for 40 touchdowns and then barely crack the Top 12 in drafts at the position the following year? The disdain for Tannehill’s chances is odd but consistent. His auction price will be higher than the bargain-basement shoppers want to pay but lower than the top 7-8 quarterbacks. He is the perfect quarterback for you to be targeting in every auction you are in this summer.
Tom Brady - This is a tough one because there might be somebody in your draft who is high on Brady. If that's the case don't overpay or it ruins the point. But there is growing evidence that he can be had for low QB1 prices in auctions and he has the potential to deliver well beyond that. Unlike some other targets, it is wise to let people fill up their rosters with their starting QBs and try avoid having Brady be nominated for as long as possible. Either way, pay attention to the price on Brady as he's likely to be cheaper than the QBs being drafted around him. Last year Brady was banged up with a knee injury, was learning a new offense, and was adjusting to new receivers (including Antonio Brown coming in late in the year). Last season's 40 touchdowns through the air is achievable once again, and the upside is there for a monster season for Brady. See if you can land Brady for a discount.
Kirk Cousins – It seems like Cousins has been a quarterback target for auction drafters since the beginning of time. But here he is again. He threw for what might be the quietest 35 touchdowns in recent memory, and though his wide receivers are both going off the board as Top 20 options, his price still lags in the mid-QB2 range. What is even better for auction drafters is that if you want to grab him as your QB1 he is only a few dollars ($5 Average Auction Value [AAV] right now) and has thrown for 30+ touchdowns in two of the last three seasons. That kind of value is hard to come by. He can be paired with a riskier option loaded with upside (see below) for the perfect auction quarterback combination.
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