The inaugural DFL Auction is in the books and the event wasn’t without its moments. From heated bidding and surprising deals — to South Africa being two steps shy of declaring war on Sint Maarten — the league had a successful first player acquisition day.
So, who won the day?
Well, grading the results of an auction is quite difficult, especially in a dynasty league in which you won’t know how good some players are until two or more years down the line. Plus, relying on statistical projections as a basis for determining how an auction fared is playing with fire.
Nevertheless, we proceed.
The grades and analysis in this article are largely based upon statistical projections with a touch of subjective reasoning sprinkled throughout.
The criteria for grading was as follows:
- Points per total dollars spent: How much bang for the buck did teams get?
- Points per player signed: How quality were the players that were signed?
- Points per starter: Not that bench players don’t matter, but who has a strong projected starting lineup?
- Dynasty Rank: Points are fine, for this season only. What about the long game?
Let’s get into it!
*PPD = points per dollar
Papua New Guinea Pigs – A
It should come as no surprise that one of the league’s perennial wise owners would come into this new league, claim he doesn’t know what he’s doing, and then proceed to clean up. Of the four criteria, the Pigs had two No. 1 finishes and two other Top 3 finishes. PNG landed the top projected quarterback (Josh Allen) with his wealth of projected points, along with a couple strong running backs in D’Andre Swift and James Conner. If J.K. Dobbins returns from his injury and plays to his capabilities, look out. Davante Adams theoretically should see a dip in production, but that’s not stopping the projected points predictors from loading him up. Brandin Cooks is the perennially underrated receiver who always brings a nice ROI. If Pat Freiermuth can follow up his promising rookie season with an encore sophomore one, the Pigs will be set at tight end, too.
Best Value: Tyler Boyd, WR/CIN ($1.3 / 129.4 PPD)
Most Questionable: Josh Allen, QB/BUF ($17.0 / 22.2 PPD)
Possible lottery ticket: Trevor Lawrence, QB/JAX ($1.3 / 200.1 PPD)
Colombia Capybaras – A
Have we learned nothing from The Tortoise and the Hare? Sometimes slow and steady wins the race. The Capybaras were the last team to sign its first player as they lay in the weeds biding their time and finding good value throughout the auction. The Capybaras received three Top 3 grades along with a No. 1 finish in overall projected dynasty rank. Somehow, when D.J. Moore and Chris Godwin project as FLEX starters, you know you did something right. Teams that got scared off of Tyreek Hill and Saquon Barkley might rue the day if those two players exceed sour expectations. Matthew Stafford, Joe Mixon, and Tee Higgins play for explosive offenses that won’t lack for scoring, and T.J. Hockenson is looking for a rebound after failing to meet lofty expectations last year. The Capybaras are looking to make an early play for the West Division crown.
Best Value: Kenny Golladay, WR/NYG ($1.2 / 136.8 PPD)
Most Questionable: Tee Higgins, WR/CIN ($16.5 / 14.4 PPD)
Possible lottery ticket: Jalen Tolbert, WR/DAL ($1.3 / 116.9 PPD)
South Africa Ballstrikers – A-
Don’t look now, but I think Sint Maarten just raised South Africa again. No matter. The Ballstrikers wound up bidding their way to a truly balanced team. I suppose the one area of weakness on South Africa’s team is the tight end position, where the chronically underperforming Evan Engram and the off-and-on-again Tyler Higbee will compete for the top of the depth chart. Outside of that, there’s little not to like about this roster. The ‘Strikers finished tops in Points Per Player Signed and second in Points Per Dollar Spent. They were only middle of the pack in Dynasty Rankings, as several veterans make the team ready to compete right now more so than long term. The ‘Strikers are four-strong at running back and will probably have a solid ground game this year, but they’re also deep at receiver.
Best Value: Russell Gage, WR/TB ($1.5 / 123.7 PPD)
Most Questionable: Josh Jacobs, RB/LV ($7.0 / 30.6 PPD)
Possible lottery ticket: Christian Kirk, WR/JAX ($3.5 / 54.0 PPD)
Peru Gurus – A-
The Gurus went from making Deshaun Watson — who might not play much, if at all this season — their first signing of the auction to forming a deep roster. Peru scored second in Dynasty Rankings and was Top 5 in the other three grading categories. They’re led by a strong running back depth chart, featuring at least three players — Christian McCaffrey, Travis Etienne, and Aaron Jones — who could be among the top pass-catching backs in the league. The Gurus loaded up on four rookie wide receivers with promising futures along with a pair of third-year receivers looking to break out. And if Michael Thomas regains even a fracture of what he once was, this could be a dangerous receiving corps. Peru added Aaron Rodgers and Justin Fields to the quarterback room at a cheaper cost than Watson. The tight end group is probably the weakest position on the team where Cole Kmet and Irv Smith are waiting for their breakout seasons and rookie Trey McBride will require some wait time.
Best Value: A.J. Dillon, RB/GB ($4.3 / 37.0 PPD)
Most Questionable: Christian McCaffrey, RB/CAR ($25.1 / 12.4 PPD)
Possible lottery ticket: Treylon Burks, WR/TEN ($2.9 / 63.5 PPD)
Kazakhstan’s Very Nice Team – B+
Kazakhstan spent about 73% of their budget on their Top 4 players and then spent the rest of the auction trying to fill out their roster with budget buys. Judging by their grades, they did pretty well for themselves. ‘Stan scored well in points per starter, finishing second in that category. They were just above average in Points Per Dollar Spent, Points Per Player Signed, and Dynasty Rank. The Very Nice Team landed 12 wide receivers, the most in the league. Quarterback is probably their biggest question mark, where the team will be relying on a hopeful Derek Carr and a vengeful Baker Mayfield to anchor their team. Veteran Zach Ertz could very well have another good year left in him, else the tight end position could be an area of weakness. The team’s fortunes will rely on “the Big 4” signings: Austin Ekeler, Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown and Alvin Kamara — the latter of whom may be facing a suspension.
Best Value: Allen Robinson, WR/LAR ($1.7 / 117.0 PPD)
Most Questionable: Deebo Samuel, WR/SF ($18.0 / 14.4 PPD)
Possible lottery ticket: Calvin Ridley, WR/ATL ($1.4 / 0 PPD)
Greece Trojans – B
Nobody signed more combined running backs and receivers than the Trojans did. Of course, that leaves them thin at quarterback and tight end, but they’ll figure the depth chart out later. Greece scored in the Top 5 in Points Per Dollar Spent and Points Per Player Signed as they signed several veterans who should give their team a boost in scoring. Lamar Jackson, Najee Harris, Ezekiel Elliott, and DK Metcalf will lead the charge for the Trojans this season. Hunter Renfrow earned a big payday and will be joined on the depth chart by Marquise Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Adam Thielen. The Trojans have no backup for Jackson and they are thin at tight end with Dalton Schultz and Robert Tonyan as the lone players at the position. The three of those players should be able to pull their weight, though. The Trojans ought to compete for the North Division crown this season.
Best Value: Robbie Anderson, WR/CAR ($1.0 / 164.6 PPD)
Most Questionable: Hunter Renfrow, WR/LV ($11.0 / 18.1 PPD)
Possible lottery ticket: Devin Singletary, RB/BUF ($2.0 / 93.9 PPD)
Sint Maarten Savages – B-
The Savages were quite the thorn in South Africa’s side for much of the afternoon, in between assembling a competitive squad. Sint Maarten received above average grades in Points Per Dollar Spent and Dynasty Rank, while they were a little lower in Points Per Starter. Patrick Mahomes received a big payday and is joined by up-and-comer Trey Lance at the quarterback position. Cooper Kupp will look to repeat his historic season from a year ago and is joined by fellow receivers Brandon Aiyuk, Michael Gallup, Jarvis Landry, and Tim Patrick, among others. George Kittle, Mike Gesicki and Albert Okwuegbunam form a formidable tight end trio. The Savages are hoping second-year pros Elijah Mitchell and Michael Carter can help David Montgomery anchor the run game.
Best Value: Tim Patrick, WR/DEN ($1.2 / 129.8 PPD)
Most Questionable: Patrick Mahomes, QB/KC ($14.0 / 25.3 PPD)
Possible lottery ticket: Dameon Pierce, RB/HOU ($1.2 / 95.5 PPD)
Australia Blue Heelers – B-
The Blue Heelers led a very balanced approach in the inaugural auction, hoping to build a deep young squad for the future while still being competitive in 2022. After busting out of the gates with a league-high $31 million salary for Jonathan Taylor, the team played it safe for much of the rest of the auction and found some good bargains as it unfolded. Rookies Drake London, Jameson Williams and Chris Olave join Rashod Bateman, DeVonta Smith, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Kadarius Toney to form a relatively deep receiving corps. Antonio Gibson and Melvin Gordon will add a little something to what Taylor will inevitably bring to the table. Veteran quarterbacks Tom Brady and Kirk Cousins will anchor the passing game for Australia while Dallas Goedert will hope to bring a good ROI. The Blue Heelers received a very strong mark in Dynasty Rank, but were lacking in the three other categories.
Best Value: Rashod Bateman, WR/BAL ($4.5 / 41.6 PPD)
Most Questionable: Jonathan Taylor, RB/IND ($31.0 / 10.3 PPD)
Possible lottery ticket: Ronald Jones, RB/KC ($1.3 / 83.2 PPD)
Italy Emperors – C+
Running the auction and trying to build a franchise from the ground up was no easy task for the Emperors. And in hindsight, they could have been a little more aggressive with their funds from the get-go. Italy drew average grades in Points Per Starter, Points Per Player Signed and Dynasty Rank, while falling short in Points Per Dollar Spent. The Emperors found a pair of strong backs in Dalvin Cook and Breece Hall to lead their run game. Mike Evans and Darnell Mooney ought to receive a strong target share while Dak Prescott will look to engineer the passing game. Second-year pro Kyle Pitts could be in for a big workload. How well Robert Woods returns from injury and what kind of lift DeAndre Hopkins provides after returning from suspension could determine whether the Emperors can compete in 2022.
Best Value: Robert Woods, WR/LAR ($2.6 / 65.4 PPD)
Most Questionable: Breece Hall, RB/NYJ ($18.0 / 11.7 PPD)
Possible lottery ticket: DeAndre Hopkins, WR/ARI ($3.1 / 48.3 PPD)
Ireland Shamrocks – C
One of three teams auctioning remotely, the Shamrocks had a nice start to the auction, scoring a good grade in Points Per Starter. They had to leave the auction early, which left them to sign a handful of remaining players at the end of the auction. This brought down their grade in the three other criteria, so they’ll be relying heavily on their starting lineup to propel them this season. Joe Burrow is surrounded by weapons and is set up for success. Travis Kelce ought to be the focal point for the Shamrocks. Javonte Williams has the talent and ability to explode, if his team lets him do so. Ireland has a nice receiving corps led by Jaylen Waddle, Terry McLaurin and Keenan Allen, and are hoping something clicks for second-year pro Rondale Moore.
Best Value: Rondale Moore, WR/ARI ($2.0 / 70.8 PPD)
Most Questionable: Travis Kelce, TE/KC ($25.0 / 9.6 PPD)
Possible lottery ticket: Rhamondre Stevenson, RB/NE ($3.0 / 52.3 PPD)
Bolivia Llamas – C-
Bolivia, like Ireland, wound up auctioning remotely and put together a good core of starters. But when the funds got thin, they struggled to round out the bottom of their roster with players whom the experts think will bring them much value. The Llamas paid handsomely for quarterback Justin Herbert, running back Derrick Henry, receiver Stefon Diggs, and tight end Darren Waller. Bolivia will need that quartet to engineer their offense this season. The team did get rookie running back Ken Walker for good value if he does seize the starting job at some point in his rookie season or early in his career. The uncertainty surrounding Diontae Johnson’s contract and quarterback situation brought down his value and made him more affordable for the Llamas. Potential rising star Gabriel Davis was signed at good value and could really help make the Llamas competitive. If Allen Lazard does turn into a No. 1 receiver, he will have been a steal for Bolivia.
Best Value: Allen Lazard, WR/GB ($1.8 / 89.7 PPD)
Most Questionable: Justin Herbert, QB/LAC ($14.1 / 23.5 PPD)
Possible lottery ticket: Ken Walker III, RB/SEA ($3.6 / 36.5 PPD)
Saint Kitts & Nevis Shockers – D
Well … at least they tried, right? The Shockers astonished (see what I did there?) the rest of the league when they burst out of the gate with three high-profile signings, leaving them with little money to spend on the rest of their team. The strategy left them with the lowest grade in each of the four scoring criteria. Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb, and Mark Andrews will have to carry the load for Saint Kitts & Nevis if the team hopes to contend this season. The team also signed beloved Kyler Murray to a $7.5 million contract — and then promptly placed him on the trade block shortly thereafter. Quarterback, wide receiver, and tight end actually look pretty good in the starting lineup. It’s the running back and FLEX positions that are in need of some TLC. Damien Harris needs to have a career year while Trey Sermon and Zack Moss fight for their careers. Mark Ingram actually might provide short-term success if Alvin Kamara is suspended. The Shockers could really use one of their late signings to step up.
Best Value: Jamison Crowder, WR/BUF ($1.2 / 107.8 PPD)
Most Questionable: Justin Jefferson, WR/MIN ($29.1 / 9.9 PPD)
Possible lottery ticket: Mo Alie-Cox, TE/IND ($1.0 / 102.7 PPD)