The Stopa Law Firm is a different kind of fantasy football expert league.
It’s a big-money league (thanks to Mark Stopa, benefactor) and it’s a league about jumbo starting spots (super flex — which strongly encourages two starting quarterbacks — two tight ends, another flex spot) and limited bench space. A modified PPR scoring format is used.
And oh yeah, it’s an auction. And it’s a party that goes down in Las Vegas in mid-July. We can’t post all the photos here, someone would get divorced or arrested.
The challenge is steeper this year, with noted experts Scott Jenstad and Vlad Sedler jumping in, bringing us to 14 teams. We also welcomed back Michael Salfino after a one-year absence.
(Keep in mind teams were not required to fill out their starting roster on draft day; several teams passed on defense and kicker).
2016: Jeff Erickson over E. Brad Evans
2015: Andy Behrens over Chris Liss
2014: Andy Behrens over Mike Salfino
2013: Dalton Del Don over Scott Pianowski
2012: Scott Pianowski over Dalton Del Don
I asked the league members to comment about their strategy, the auction, or anything they wanted. Here’s what they had to say. Your full auction results are viewable here.
(Summary: TL; DR)
QB: Matt Ryan 30, Alex Smith 5, Jared Goff 1
RB: Ezekiel Elliott 48, LeGarrette Blount 10, Frank Gore 7, Jamaal Wiliams 1, Alvin Kamara 1, Wendell Smallwood 1, Wayne Gallman 1, Jeremy Langford 1
TE: Tyler Higbee 1, Ben Watson 1
Most “experts” don’t want to admit when the screwed up an auction, but I did on this one. Not so much on the players. I got some decent values (Blount $10, Moncrief $11) and don’t hate my team. However, I wanted to spend at WR and QB, but early in the draft I priced enforced on Zeke Elliott and got “stuck” on him at $48. That’s likely $5 less than he’d typically go for but people were sitting on their hands early in the auction. However, it sent me down a path that I don’t think fared as well for me, similar to how when you take a RB in the first round of an auction.
I’m a WR-first guy. I stubbornly decided to still pay for WR and likely overpaid for T.Y. Hilton and Jordy Nelson, but I decided I wanted some high-floor players since we’re drafting so early and about half your roster is going to be picked up in free agency with this league’s thin benches. Those choices had me chasing for QBs and I never was able to pull the trigger on the $15 – $20 QB I desperately needed. As a result, that left me with Alex Smith as my superflex and Jared Goff as my backup QB. There’s a hint of floor and upside in that duo, but not exactly what I had in mind in a 14-team league.
QB: Aaron Rodgers 48, Tom Brady 40
WR: Amari Cooper 32, Sammy Watkins 22, Jamison Crowder 10, Malcom Mitchell 1, Devin Funchess 1, Chris Hogan 1
TE: Xavier Grimble 1, Jesse James 1
DST: Buffalo 1
In a deep format like this, everyone will have weak spots. Given how RBs, WRs, and TEs emerge from nowhere each year, I’d rather be weaker at those positions than QB, and I auctioned accordingly. There’s simply no chance any QB outside the top 20 is going to be someone you want to use each week, and many owners doing so are wasting a valuable bench spot on a third crummy QB to make up for the crummy one in their superflex.
As for the rest, Rawls and Richard are great ways to fade Lacy and Lynch, two guys I won’t be owning in 2017 seasonal. I like my cheap Pats guys (Lewis, Hogan, Mitchell) because if injuries strike (Cooks, Edelman), they’ll be gold. Remember, the earlier in 2017 your draft/auction occurs, the more upside on bench matters, as preseason injuries will happen. Bills D gets the Jets at home Week 1; picking on NYJ will be an ideal way to stream defenses this year.
QB: Jameis Winston 30, Carson Wentz 16
RB: Ty Montgomery 30, Mike Gillislee 21, Dalvin Cook 18, Gig Bernard 1, Rex Burkhead 1, Devontae Booker 1
WR: Allen Robinson 24, Keenan Allen 13, Stefon Diggs 6, Jermaine Kearse 1, Jordan Matthews 1, Will Fuller 1
TE: Greg Olsen 19, Delanie Walker 16, Evan Engram 1
I got a starting lineup with the majority of my money and then went $1 for every bench spot. Didn’t draft a kicker or defense. Drank a lot of vodka. I’d recommend this for all.
QB: Drew Brees 37, Kirk Cousins 30
RB: Le’Veon Bell 54, Marlon Mack 3, Matt Forte 2, James White 1, Chris Thompson 1
WR: Michael Crabtree 13, Adam Thielen 5, Randall Cobb 8, Kenny Britt 3, Rishard Matthews 3, Tyler Lockett 2, Chris Conley 1
TE: Travis Kelce 33, Coby Fleener 2, Dwayne Allen 2
The story of the draft was that QBs went for too little in this format and WRs went for too much. So I’m thrilled to land Drew Brees ($37) and Brees Jr., Kirk Cousins. The endgame worked for me because I got some really good WR values by my rankings: Britt, Matthews, Thielen, Cobb for a combined 9% of my budget. Britt for $3 thrilled me even though I want to avoid paying for players on teams that are likely to have major QB problems. The thing is, I think Cody Kessler is pretty good — if only I believed the Browns did, too.
I wish I said $53 for David Johnson instead of later having to say $54 for Le’Veon Bell. I have to worry a little about a holdout and Bell is a greater injury risk given their respective histories. My other regret is not saying $4 for Kareem Hunt, who has a David Johnson 2015 vibe.
Scott Jenstad/Vlad Sedler
QB: Derek Carr 25, Tyrod Taylor 20
RB: David Johnson 52, C.J. Anderson 18, Ameer Abdullah 11, DeAndre Washington 1, Shane Vereen 1
WR: Demaryius Thomas 24, Willie Snead 15, DeSean Jackson 11, Corey Coleman 2, Mike Wallace 2, Josh Doctson 1, Ted Ginn 1
TE: Kyle Rudolph 11, Charles Clay 1
DST: Denver 1
(Jenstad replies) — We came in with a plan for 2 of the top 22 QB (that is where we set our cut off) but not one of the top 3-4, one stud RB and then to play with the depth at WR and attack the mid-range WR after people had spent money on the top WR. I regret $29 total on CJ Anderson and Ameer Abdullah, although I do like Abdullah, but I think we could have bargain shopped for our 3rd RB slot and used that money to upgrade a bit at WR and TE. However, I absolutely love our late bargain WR and I think Coleman, Wallace, Doctson and Ginn for $6 made our depth and is an absurd group for the prices. I worry about 2nd TE in a 2 TE league as we ended up having to go bottom of the barrel there so that is a spot we will need to work on pretty quickly. I regret letting Jeff land Prescott for only $21, I would love to swap out $20 Tyrod Taylor for $21 Dak.
QB: Russell Wilson 33, Ben Roethlisberger 26, DeShone Kizer 1, Paxton Lynch 1
RB: Demarco Murray 36, Isaiah Crowell 26, Duke Johnson 3, Kareem Hunt 3, Darren Sproles 1
WR: Davante Adams 25, Julian Edelman 9, Pierre Garcon 6, Eric Decker 6
TE: Jack Doyle 13, Hunter Henry 9
PK: Adam Vinatieri 1
DST: Minnesota 1
We bumped the league size up to 14 teams this year, which is pretty much the outer limit for a two-TE superflex format. The depth of this league led me to balance my spending across positions. I didn’t want to leave the auction with an unfinished team, knowing I had work to do on the wire. Going in, I’d intended to wait on receivers, the position offering the greatest depth; that approach resulted in decent deals on Garcon, Edelman and Decker.
If you guys want to see a roadmap to despair, check out Liss’ team. A disgrace to the fantasy industry.
Derek Van Riper
QB: Joe Flacco 15, Carson Palmer 15
RB: Lamar Miller 25, Paul Perkins 17, Jamaal Charles 3, Rob Kelly 2, Darren McFadden 1, Aaron Jones 1
WR: Julio Jones 45, A.J. Green 40, Emmanuel Sanders 14, Tavon Austin 1
TE: Tyler Eifert 9, Martellus Bennett 9, Vance McDonald 1
PK: Matt Bryant 1
DST: Kansas City 1
My plan going into the auction was to have one elite QB (Rodgers, Brady, Brees) and one elite RB (Bell, Johnson, or Elliott). It fell though, however, as the pricing at the top exceeded my expectations, and at 14 teams, I was slightly less adamant about sticking to a stars-and-scrubs approach. The value at the top of the pool came with the elite receivers, leading me to build around Julio Jones and A.J. Green instead. The most unexpected trend from the auction that makes my team vulnerable is the high cost of the mid-range and low-end quarterbacks thanks to two additional teams in the league, and our use of the Superflex. My hope, however, is that the likes of Carson Palmer and Joe Flacco can be within a couple points per game of the options who were priced up $10-15 higher, and that my strength at WR, TE, and lack of a hole (initially) at running back gives me good balance from week-to-week.
QB: Sam Bradford 8, DeShaun Watson 5, Mike Glennon 4
RB: Melvin Gordon 39, LeSean McCoy 36, Samaje Perine 16, Bilal Powell 12
WR: DeAndre Hopkins 25, Alshon Jeffery 25, Tyreek Hill 22, Cooper Kupp 1, Cole Beasley 1, Zay Jones 1
TE: Jared Cook 2, Antonio Gates 1
PK: Mason Crosby 1
DST: Seattle 1
When tequila happens, you land Mike Glennon, Sam Bradford and Deshaun Watson as your only QBs. Intended at the onset, I purposely ignored the QB and TE positions and instead focused on acquiring high floor RBs/WRs. Though loaded in the latter areas (RBs: McCoy/Gordon/Powell/Perine; WRs: Alshon/Hopkins/Tyreek), it came at a tremendous cost elsewhere. Inevitably, I’ll spin a RB off at some point for a passing upgrade, but my roster-construction experiment could blow up the lab.
QB: Eli Manning 20, Blake Bortles 16
RB: Jordan Howard 35, Marshawn Lynch 25, Joe Mixon 20, Jeremy Hill 3, Jonathan Stewart 6
WR: Michael Thomas 38, Kelvin Benjamin 10, Tyrell Williams 7, Corey Davis 5, Brandon Marshall 4, Quincy Enunwa 3
TE: Julius Thomas 4, Austin Hooper 3, Jason Witten 2
DST: Arizona 1
Overall, I’m happy with the roster I was able to pull together – no glaring positional weaknesses. Miracle of all miracles, I was able to be a patient shopper and not blow my budget in the early-round inflationary period. But maybe I was a tad too patient, as I had $6 to play with at the end when everyone else was pretty much in $1-draft mode. I ended up using that $6 on Jonathan Stewart, but if I think back on how it could have played out better, it would have probably been to pay $8-9 for a tight end like Hunter Henry or Zach Ertz instead of $4 for Julius Thomas and gone with a $1 DeAndre Washington (I have Marshawn Lynch, so it would have made some sense) in the end at RB instead of J-Stew.
(Note: Funston traded Eric Ebron to Pianowski for Corey Davis and Jason Witten, shortly after the draft ended.)
QB: Philip Rivers 26, Josh McCown 1
RB: Jay Ajayi 39, Leonard Fournette 30, Adrian Peterson 16, Eddie Lacy 13, Jonathan Williams 3, James Connor 2
WR: Martavis Bryant 20, John Brown 14, Jeremy Maclin 5, Beshard Perriman 3, Robby Anderson 1
TE: Jordan Reed 24, A. J. Derby 1
PK: Chandler Catanzarro 1
DST: Los Angeles Rams 1
Thank goodness for Grey Goose and Jeremy Maclin. After spending the bulk of my coin on RBs, I needed to snag an undervalued wideout. With over 300 targets up for grabs in Charm City, Maclin is a steal late in drafts… and I got him for just $5!
Dalton Del Don
QB: Cam Newton 32, Marcus Mariota 30
RB: Joe Williams 3, Jacquizz Rodgers 1
WR: Odell Beckham 44, Mike Evans 42, Brandin Cooks 37, Marqise Lee 2, Sterling Shepard 1, Eli Rogers 1, Paul Richardson 1, J.J. Nelson 1, Allen Hurns 1
TE: David Njoku 1, Austin Sefferian-Jenkins 1
PK: Brandon McManus 1
DST: New England 1
I entered with a “stars and scrubs” strategy, planning on spending big on quarterbacks and wide receivers. Whether that strategy works (or if I got the right players) remains to be seen, but I certainly executed it. I regret not securing more $1 running back fliers, as I need to get lucky there (my starters are ugly). But this auction took place in mid-July, and RB is by far the most volatile position. I’ll have to be extra aggressive with FAAB at the position.
QB: Andrew Luck 35, Andy Dalton 21, Cody Kessler 1
RB: Carlos Hyde 27, C.J. Prosise 3, Charles Sims 2, D’Onta Foreman 1, Robert Turbin 1
WR: Dez Bryant 36, DeVante Parker 10, Kevin White 3, Curtis Samuel 1
TE: Rob Gronkowski 34, Jimmy Graham 20, O.J. Howard 2
PK: Justin Tucker 2
DST: New York Giants 1
Here’s my writeup from Rotowire.
My thoughts are you need to have a decent QB at the QB flex spot. And one who won’t lose his job unless he gets hurt. If I were to do it over again, I’d probably have bought a third instead of Carlos Hyde and punted RB altogether. I’m fairly sure I could trade a $27 QB for a $30-plus back.
I didn’t intend to go big on TE, but Pianow and I were advancing the bid on Gronkowski, who’s worth $40 in this format, and he stopped at $34. I was actually happy to get him even though I probably won’t have him anywhere else.
I went big on Graham because I had some money left, though he was the best player available (again in the two-TE format) and would rather struggle in the end game than leave $ on the table. It cost me a couple Stefon Diggs types, who I could use, but I’m probably better off with Graham.
QB: Matthew Stafford 19, Brian Hoyer 6
RB: Devonta Freeman 37, Todd Gurley 29, Danny Woodhead 8
WR: Antonio Brown 51, Golden Tate 17, Cameron Meredith 10, Larry Fitzgerald 7, Marvin Jones 1, Robert Woods 1
TE: Eric Ebron 5, Cameron Brate 3, C.J. Fiedorowicz 3
PK: Stephen Gostkowski 2
DTS: Houston 1
I agree with most of Peter Schoenke’s comments, up top. I like to go into auctions with a highly agnostic strategy, but this was a league screaming for more urgency at quarterback. Most fantasy players can take that position casually, given the league-wide depth, but that is not the case in a 14-team league where everyone is highly incentivized to play two QBs a week. I should have grabbed three solid starters or two high-level guys who could land in the Top 10 with a reasonable runout. If we did this auction again tomorrow, I’m sure a bunch of teams would approach the QB position differently.
It’s never a bad idea to make an early overpayment in an auction if it’s something you really want or really need. I should have parked one major QB early, then seen how the market unfolded. Instead, I stuck to my agnostic leanings and probably paid for it.
I do like the rest of my team, but I’m thin at the one position you can’t be thin at. The trade market probably won’t be much; Brad Evans can tell you that. And it’s hard to imagine a lot of QB talent coming into the league, guys we haven’t already drafted.
(Note: After the draft, Pianowski traded Corey Davis and Jason Witten to Brandon for Eric Ebron and an open spot, to be filled later).
QB: Dak Prescott 21, Ryan Tannehill 18, Trevor Siemian 3
RB: Christian McCaffrey 25, Spencer Ware 13, Doug Martin 9, Theo Riddick 7, Derrick Henry 5, Terrance West 3, Kenneth Dixon 2
WR: Doug Baldwin 37, Terrelle Pryor 29, Jarvis Landry 17, Taylor Gabriel 1
TE: Zach Ertz 8, Zach Miller 1
PK: Dan Bailey 1