Guillotine League Week 12: First You Get the FAAB Money, Then You Get the Power, Then You Get the Gurley

In this series, I track weekly progress in my guillotine league. For the main post, covering the league’s details and my overall Bid Low, Bid Late strategy, click here.

I did finally pay up for Todd Gurley this week, just in time for his bye. I also got some other good players. More on this later in the article. But we begin with my team’s performance in Week 11.

After a roaring start between 1:00 and 2:30 pm on Sunday, all my players stopped producing, and but for a big Monday night for Travis Kelce and some bad performances by the chopped team’s big players (Carson Wentz 0.8 points, Todd Gurley 12.8 points) along with byes (Edelman, Michel, Kittle), I might not have made it. I ended up with 144.7 thanks to Saquon (35.2), Kelce (28.7)and Newton (24.5), and no thanks to Jeffery (7.3), Corey Davis (4.9), or Dalvin Cook (2).

My Week 11 Lineup

QB: Cam Newton 24.5
RB: Saquon Barkley 35.2
RB: David Johnson 16.4
WR: Alshon Jeffery 7.3
WR: DeAndre Hopkins 14.6
TE: Travis Kelce 28.7
Flex:  Corey Davis 4.9
Flex: Dalvin Cook 2
Flex: Tyler Boyd 11.1

Total: 144.7

Bench: Baldwin, Watkins, M. Davis, Landry, Humphries, Gronkowski, Cousins, Edmonds, Lockett, Desean Jackson, Josh Adams

The Chop

Some probable Week 16 targets, possible Week 16 targets, and usable players got chopped. To clarify, “probable Week 16 targets” means players who I would want to target for Week 16 either as a starter or to avoid having the other team have them available as a starter. “Possible Week 16 target” means a player who I might target for Week 16. “Usable player” means a player who could be useful in my lineup before Week 16 but is not a probable or possible Week 16 target.

Probable targets: Gurley, Adam Thielen, Keenan Allen
Possible targets: George Kittle, Nick Chubb
Usable players: Julian Edelman, Sony Michel

I started with a huge FAAB advantage: $389, more than quadruple the FAAB of the only other team with any FAAB left, which had $84. I was determined to get Gurley this time – I figured the team with FAAB left would likely make the final and make me make Gurley if he wasn’t on my roster. For this reason I adopted a mixed biding strategy, bidding $85 on Gurley and $43 on Thielen, the two players I was definitely targeting for my Week 16 roster. I got both of them. I made lower bids on Keenan Allen (16), Nick Chubb (7), and Julian Edelman (7), mostly to make sure that my opponent couldn’t build his team too cheaply by adding players for $0 or $1. And I bid $1 on Sony Michel for upside. For some reason  didn’t bid at all on Kittle.

I got Gurley, Thielen, Edelman and Michel. My opponent got Allen for $20, Chubb for $14, and Kittle for $10. I emerged from waivers with more of a FAAB advantage than I had going in: $254 to $40, more than 6 times his FAAB plus one.

Rest of Season Bidding Strategy

I can figure out how much bidding power my FAAB advantage gives me by using the formula from my bidding strategy article, y = n(x/(a+1) + 1). If x equals my opponent’s FAAB budget, I can get n out of the top n+a players if I have a FAAB of y or more. For example, if my opponent has 40 FAAB and I want to get 14 out of the top 15 players, we set n = 14 and a = 1, and solve:

y = 14(40/(1+1) + 1)
= 14(40/2 + 1)
= 14(20+1)
= 14(21)
= 294

It takes $294 to be guaranteed 14 out of the top 15 players. I don’t have 294, so I can’t be guaranteed this result. What about 12 of the top 13 players? We would set n = 12 and a = 1 and calculate:

y = 12(40/(1+1) + 1)
= 12(40/2 + 1)
= 12(20+1)
= 12(21)
= 252

I do have more than 252 FAAB, so I would be able to get 12 out of the top 13 remaining players. The second to last line tells me I would do so by bidding 21 on each of the top 13 players.

Right now I have six players who I think are probable Week 16 starters: Gurley, Saquon, David Johnson, Kelce, Hopkins, and Thielen. I have one possible Week 16 starter, Cam Newton. We roster 19 players in my league, which means I need to fill at least 13 slots, and likely a couple more to account for injuries or drop-offs in performance. So I figure I need to successfully bid on 15 players. Being able to get 12 of my top 13 gets me very close to there, leaving me with just three players to acquire after these top 12.

Could I be guaranteed to 15 of my top 17 players? We use the formula again, setting n = 15 and a = 2:

y = 15(40/(2+1) + 1)
= 15(40/3 + 1)
= 15(14+1)
= 15(15)
= 225

The formula tells me that I could bid 15 FAAB on my top 17 players and definitely get 15 of them. Note that when I needed to divide 40 by 3, I rounded up.

The top 15 players not on my team might looks something like this:

Alvin Kamara
Christian McCaffrey
Melvin Gordon
Zeke Elliott
Kareem Hunt
James Conner
Michael Thomas
Odell Beckham
Devante Adams
Antonio Brown
Julio Jones
Tyreek Hill
Keenan Allen
Zach Ertz
Patrick Mahomes

Out of the top two teams that I see as likely Week 16 competitors, one has Kamara, Julio, Tyreek, and Keenan (this is the team with FAAB). The other one has Conner, McCaffrey, Antonio, Beckham and Hunt. So either four or five of these top 15 will not be available, meaning that I’m basically trying to bid on players in my top 20. This means adding players such as Joe Mixon, Leonard Fournette, Brandin Cooks, AJ Green and Juju Smith-Schuster, or maybe Robert Woods to the list.

Next week’s waivers will likely be a challenge, since the team most likely to be eliminated has none of my top 15, but several of my top 20ish guys: Woods, Mixon, Green, Smith-Schuster, and Cooks. I would be tempted not to bid too much on these guys. Plus Drew Brees is not in my top 20 list but would be cut if this team loses, and he is tempting.


Todd Gurley went for $135 last week, and I got him for $85 this week. Keenan Allen went for $301 after Week 7, $20 this week. Chubb went for $51 after Week 9, $14 this week. Sony Michel went for $133 after Week 3, and $301 after Week 7. I got him for a dollar. For the players other than Michel, that’s about a 40% linearized deflation rate.


My chances of winning get stronger each week from this point, as I add top players or usable ones each week. ESPN’s projection has me as the top projected team with 156 points. Two teams are projected at less than 125. Some of my players are seeing poor defenses, like Landry at Cincinnati, and Edelman, Michel and Gronk at New York Jets. Some are facing tougher matches, like Hopkins vs. Tennessee and David Johnson at the Chargers.

The survival calculator says I have a 99.7% chance of surviving, assuming the ESPN projected team points as means, and assuming a standard deviation of 15.

Starting Lineup

I’m not quite set on my flexes, but my starting lineup will probably look something like this.

QB: Cam Newton
RB: Saquon Barkley
RB: David Johnson
WR: Adam Thielen
WR: DeAndre Hopkins
TE: Travis Kelce
FLEX: Julian Edelman
FLEX: Sony Michel
FLEX: Jarvis Landry

Other flex options include Alshon Jeffery, Tyler Boyd, Dalvin Cook and Corey Davis.

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