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   Auction Draft Strategy - Do's and Don'ts

May 22, 2024
Mark Cacko

Auction Leagues are continuing to gain in popularity among fantasy football leagues and are becoming a preferred method of drafting for many fantasy football enthusiasts. It really makes for a more interesting draft. They help eliminate the crying and whining over who gets the #1 pick, or even the top few picks of the draft. Yes, the top few picks of the draft is the difference of landing, say, Todd Gurley, Aaron Rodgers, or Antonio Brown rather than Darren Sproles or Blake Bortles. If an owner in your league really wants someone badly enough then they can bid for his rights. Owners won't be able to make excuses about why their season tanked because they had the 11th pick in a 12 team draft.                     

Beware, auction drafts aren't necessarily easier than traditional round-by-round drafts. They do require more research and skill than a traditional draft. In order to be successful, you have to really do your homework. In a traditional draft you can follow your cheat sheet for the most part and pick the next guy on the list in order fill a need at a position. In an auction league, owners take turns calling out a player's name to start the bidding on that player. Therefore, some more big name talented players may be available later in the draft once owner's begin to spend their money.                  

I am basing this article on a $100 salary cap (typically imaginary money) with a $1 minimum bid on a player. I am also taking into account a standard TD + yardage league scoring system which starts 1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 K, and 1 Team Defense. The roster limit is set at 16 players. So, with the particulars out of the way, here's some Do's and Don't that will help you score success in your fantasy league.


Do's and Dont's

1. Do your homework and estimate the projected value of all players that may be drafted. Pencil in the value that you think the player is worth to you and/or the value that the player could be worth to other teams in your league. If you participated in an auction draft last year, look back at the value that the top players were drafted for last year. This can be used as a base for judging the general value of the top players in this year's draft. Remember, in a 12 team league with 16 players there will be 192 players drafted, many of which will go for the minimum bid. Focus more on the players that you would be willing to spend more than the minimum on and target a few quality players that could realistically fall to the end of the draft for $1.


Don't just go into your draft with cheat sheets and rankings with typical auction values. These are helpful, but it is more helpful to have a general idea to know what YOU feel comfortable spending on players. The reason is that you might end up with a top player at a position that you were planning on waiting to draft. If you spend more money on that position, then your entire draft will change. Let's say for example, the QB position. If you shell out big money to draft Aaron Rodgers and you were planning on drafting a much cheaper alternative at QB and loading up on talent at the RB position, then you will need to revise your draft strategy. It will be helpful to know which players to target and for what cost. This will help you analyze your options.


2. Do call out big name players that you're not necessarily very interested in early in the draft. Especially name the players that you feel will be drafted for more than the value you assign for them. This will deplete your other owner's cap space leaving you with a better chance to gain value for the players you select.

Don't call out a players name early on that you feel is a sleeper in which you are targeting to land at a good value.


3. Do spend some money on the stud players. No matter how dumb you think the guys in your league are, they know that Le'Veon Bell is 'the man', they know that Antonio Brown stands above the rest at WR, and yes, they even know the rest of the top studs as well. None of these guys is going to fall to you at 10-15 bucks. The rationale for drafting a stud player is as old as time - How often does someone win a league with average players and backups? Exactly never. So let the moths fly out of the wallet and get a difference maker.

Don't be stupid and go overboard with drafting two top tier studs either. It would be nice to have Bell and Brown on the same roster, but if it costs you $85 to $90 to get them, you are not likely to get any other quality back up RBs or starters at other positions. Your WRs will be weak and you will be forced to start a poor performer at QB. If you sustain one injury to a stud player your season is over.


4. Do call out players off your buddy's or other owners favorite teams. Along the same line, call out rookies from their former or favorite colleges. You get some sentimental guys who will throw away money and overspend on these guys. Some owner might spend $15 on rookie WR Calvin Ridley because they were an Alabama fan. You really want to see players go for more than their value because that depletes the funds from the other owners. That will decrease their team value and will automatically increase your team value because your money will be spent on better talent, thus providing you more value.

Don't be that guy that I just talked about. I don't care if Albert Wilson "won the title" for you last year after hauling in a clutch TD grab late in the season. He really is not worth more than the minimum $1 bid. Along the same lines, don't be that guy thinking Frank Gore or even Eddie Lacy will have one more stud year left and spend too much money on them. Likewise, just because you showed up to the draft sporting your Jamaal Charles jersey don't overspend on Charles because he's your favorite player. What happened in the past is over, move on to the future, even if a player was on your team when you won your league in 2010.


5. Do bid up the price on players wisely. However, don't get too carried away. Drafting in auction leagues is like playing poker. If you bluff too much, you could be in trouble. Bid up the guys that you won't be upset with if they stay on your roster. If you get stuck with a player that you don't want or need because you were trying to bid them up, then you'll hurt the value of your team. If you know Antonio Brown is really being pursued by an owner and you bid $25 and he backs out, well you still landed possibly the #1 overall WR. You wouldn't feel so great if you were bidding up a player like Torrey Smith for $20 or if you threw Zay Jones name out and didn't want him on your roster. You'll be stuck with those players.

Don't bid up QBs if you already have a starter. Mid-tier QBs are a dime a dozen. You should never spend more than 20-25% of your cap on your QBs because you can only start one QB. If you get stuck with $34 worth of QBs, you only have $66 for the rest of the team including RBs. Even if you just over-drafted Rodgers for $25 and find Russell Wilson's value stalls out at $12 don't stay in the bidding just because you feel Wilson is going to go for too low of a price. If you wind up with both QBs you'll have spent $37 (37% of your cap) on that same position.


6. Do pay attention to every owner's money situation and team needs. Example: You have $15 of cap space left and already have 3 good RBs on your roster. Most of your other positions filled. There are 2-4 other owners with $35-$45 left with 1 or 2 RBs. You should call out the best RB available. These owners will recognize their need and may get in a huge bidding war. This will deplete their cap space so they can not out bid you for players you may need or want later in the draft.

Don't spend more than $1-2 on Kickers or Team Defenses (unless you will land one of the top #3 at one of those positions). There will be a lot of players at these positions available. You can always find them in free agency or on the waiver wire. Besides, there always seems to be some surprises: three years ago, the 49ers defense was tops in the league and didn't command much of a price. Last year the same San Francisco D/ST was terrible.


And for the Extra Point...


7. Do hang onto $10 to $12 until towards the end of the draft because there will be quality players still left near the end of the draft. You should be able to fill out your depth with players that can be had fairly cheap (for a few bucks). It's these players that could provide the depth and sleeper prospects that often propel owners to championships. Adam Thielen helped many of fantasy owners last year.

Don't pass up on value. Example, if you set TY Hilton's value at 12 dollars and after doing your homework you feel that he is capable of helping you win a championship, don't be bashful to bid on him even if the bidding seems to be stopping at 10 bucks. Go after him unless you have 3 other good WRs. The goal is to come out of the draft with a roster worth $125 to $140 (based upon your projections), instead of the $100 you start with. If you can accomplish that then you should find yourself in the playoffs.

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