An auction draft in Fantasy Football is a completely different sport than the more common snake draft. I am not here to pick a side (personally, I like both equally depending on the league set-up, size, members, etc.) but to help you strategize with seven important auction draft strategy tips.
There are years when you can really be screwed over by your draft position in a snake draft. I think this actually might be one of those years with such a small top tier of uber-elite running backs.
In an auction draft, the only person that can screw you over is you. Every person has the ability to draft whomever they want. Some see it as a true test of skill: instead of mindlessly going down another person’s set of rankings, you have to strategize on the fly.
With all of the free tools online that can help you calculate values and adjust for inflation, I think that the skill-gap has been closed. Nevertheless, an auction draft has its intricacies and tricks that can help you gain value.
If I was ever big enough to have a nickname, it would probably have something to do with the word “value.” I just feel that no matter what style of Fantasy Football league/draft/waivers, obtaining the best value is of paramount importance. In an auction draft, value takes on a whole new meaning.
Here are some auction draft strategy tips to help you dominate your auction draft.
Auction Draft Strategy
First and foremost, you must calculate a value for every draftable player. As I mentioned, there are many tools that can help you plug in your league scoring and set-up to spit out a spreadsheet with dollar values.
I prefer to make my own. Why? Because I’m sadistic and love making spreadsheets that have more data than the Apollo 11 spaceship could compute.
The biggest flaw I have seen in calculating player values for an auction draft is using rankings instead of projections. Just because a player is “ranked” one spot below another does not mean that their auction values are that close.
For example, the drop-off from the Top 3 running backs this year to the next tier. Just because you may have Ezekiel Elliott ranked third and LeSean McCoy ranked fourth does not mean that their values are really that close.
You need to have a solid set of projections so that you can see the drop-off between players at a position. This is the process of creating tiers within your rankings and auction values.
Tiers are like rankings in the sense that they help you quickly evaluate data/players but you should not be a slave to them. This is especially true in an auction draft where the last guy in a tier can become extremely expensive for his value.
As I said, every pick is about getting the best value. Well, that value changes with every subsequent pick. In a snake draft, this builds into my Dynamic Value-Based Drafting philosophy. In an auction it is harder to quantify.
Think of it this way: what if there is a massive bidding war on David Johnson. In a $200-budget, 12-team league he normally goes for around $70. However some dimwit thinks he is winning the league with just DJ, and ends up getting him for $100.
There will now be deflation for the rest of the players. Normally, there would be $2,330 left for the rest of the players to be drafted. Now, there will only be $2,300. I know, that does not seem like much, but if a few guys go much higher or lower than expected, it really affects other players’ price values.
This is where tiers are extremely important. My simple rule of thumb: try to not take the first or last guys in a perceived tier. If you have a three-back elite tier that you are set on getting one, try to snag the second guy off the board (as long as it’s still a good value).
Make sure you stay flexible, though. If you are set on getting one of the elite backs but all three go for 10% more than your value, leave them be. You can then snag two of the next level at bargains.
Comparing Your Values
Whatever site that your league is hosted on will have their own values on each player. The site will also have the average cost. Compare your personal dollar values to these other quantities.
I look less at the average cost and more at the site’s rankings. The average value can be skewed by different league set-ups. If you are in a 2-QB league then your quarterbacks will obviously cost more.
It is important to notice any drastic differences in the website’s default values and your own. Whether we want to admit it or not, when drafting we take the default rankings/values into account.
By knowing the discrepancies in the comparison, you can be ready to scoop up good values. If you know that you have higher dollar values on the second tier of running backs, then you can probably leave the top tier alone when the bidding wars start.
If you have a lot of time and really like to delve deep, pull the website’s dollar values as well as the amounts from FantasyPro.com consensus rankings, and compare them to yours. This way you have a better idea of the consensus opinions on players compared to your own thoughts and values.
Before the draft, highlight all of the value plays that show. Keep in mind that normally the nominations go in somewhat of a top-to-bottom of the rankings flow. This way you can be ready to jump on values, and splurge elsewhere.
Set A Budget … Kind Of
Speaking of splurging, have a loose budget set for your team. There are three different ways to budget: position, starters, and picks.
The first way would be to set a certain percentage of your total budget for each position. For example, you plan to spend your $200 budget with $20 on quarterbacks, $10 on tight ends, $1 each on a kicker and defense, $100 on running backs and the last $68 on wide receivers.
Another way you can budget out your starting cash is by starters and back-ups. I’ve gone this route before, and it can be risky especially with a “Studs ‘N Scrubs” mentality. The most common way to use this budget is leave only $1 for your back-ups and kicker/defense. Therefore, with a standard starting line-up and seven bench players, you use $9 for your bench and kicker/defense, and $191 on all of your starters. You can certainly grab some studs, but one bust or injury and you are screwed.
The last way to budget your money is by picks. Think of it as a snake draft and you want to grab one player from each round. So you would budget something like $60 for one player, $40 for your second, $25 for your third and so forth.
The last way is my favorite strategy, with a twist. Instead of just trying to get one player from each round, I try to stack up on Round 2 and Round 3 guys. I let all of the high bidding wars happen for the Top 15 players or so, then snag all of the bargains for the next 15 guys.
The most under-rated part of an auction draft strategy is how you nominate players. Most people think that it is just a formality or use it to make jokes.
However, you can really obtain value by your nominations.
The easiest (and some would call it cheap or below-the-belt, to them I say show up for the draft!!!) route is if someone is auto-drafting. You can nominate guys that are hurt, lost their starting job, or the kickers/defenses that are set at more than $1. The auto-picker will scoop them up.
Another route is to nominate guys in the tier below the level you want. If you want a second-tier quarterback, nominate the guys in the third tier. Everyone will use their quarterback funds on these guys and you can get good value on whichever second-tier quarterback you draft.
As auction drafts become more popular and the Fantasy Owners become more savvy, the common nomination strategy has dealt with nominating guys you DON’T want, especially higher priced players. The thought is that there will be bidding wars and people will over-spend money on a guy you don’t want anyway.
Well now that people are ready for this, you need to zag to their zig. I have found in the past couple of years that you can nominate the $25-$35 (on a $200 budget) players early and get them at good values. People are thinking you do not want them and will not try to bid you up, thinking you are doing the up-selling. This will also want to save money for the more glamorous and expensive guys.
Now that I mentioned bidding up, let’s take that on. For the novice, bidding up is bidding on a guy at or around his average cost just to make someone else pay more for him.
This is a common auction draft strategy not just because it gives you an advantage for every extra dollar someone else spends, but because it is an adrenaline rush. You could have no interest in rostering David Johnson but you just bid your best friend up to $77 because you KNOW he wants him.
It is a great way to auction draft, except when you get your hand caught in the cookie jar. If you are willing to bid someone up on a player, you HAVE to be ready to take that player at the value you bid. In other words, don’t bid up to just be a jerk, do it strategically.
If a guy that you might not like is going for $8 less than the value you have on him, then by all means bid him up a couple of times. But if it crosses the value threshold you set, let it go.
SAVE! SAVE! AND SAVE SOME MORE!
The last and arguably most important thing about an auction draft: SAVE. YOUR. MONEY. As I have said over and again, obtaining the most and best value is your primary goal. Saving your money is the easiest and best way to do this.
Without fail, there will be players going for complete bargains later in the draft. We cannot subdue the subconscious sense to buy. We just want what is right in front of us.
This will lead to the majority of your league sitting with only a max bid of a few bucks. If you save your money, you can snag these guys as your opponents try to get $10-players for $1 or $2 and you can offer that extra dollar.
This is the beauty of not spending too much on the Top 15 players. It allows you more flexibility with your money later. You can still build a solid roster while maintaining about $30 or so for the back end of your bench.
This thought harkens back to my favorite cliché: you cannot win your Fantasy Football League in the first round, but you can lose it. This is particularly true in an auction draft. If you spend over a third of your total capital on one player and he busts, you bust. If you spread out your funds over as many good players with as much upside as possible, you give yourself the best chance to succeed.
Auction Draft Strategy
There you have it, the simplest way to succeed in an auction draft Fantasy Football league.
You need to compile a set of dollar values for each player. These need to be unique to your league set-up and starting money. There should be more emphasis toward player projections rather than rankings.
Within these values, you then create tiers of players. This way you can see where the drop-offs are at each position.
Once you have your values and tiers, you compare everything to the host website as well as the consensus. With that in mind you can create a kind of budget to know where you want to spend your money going into the draft.
After the draft begins, you can use your nomination strategy and “bidding up” to obtain the best values. As always, value is the keyword. Make the most of every dollar you have. An auction draft Fantasy Football league is won with $5 players, not $65 guys.
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If you are looking for a place to conduct a mock draft or need assistance with drafting in general, check out the Fantasy Pros Draft Wizard. This is a terrific tool that will help you dominate your league, along with So-Called Fantasy Experts, of course.
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