Just like yesterday, we’re going to go back and revisit some great information from last year that still applies to this year. As with yesterday’s article, I’ve made some updates to make it new and fresh while keeping the core content that you need!
So here it is, I’m going to share 5 strategies with you to ensure that you kick ass at your next fantasy auction:
Be Flexible: Have a Plan but Don’t Be Afraid to Change It Up
Every year I see guys who enter an auction with no plan and they always end up at the bottom of the league – don’t be that dumbass! While you may be able to fake your way through a snake draft by just following a random cheat sheet, the same cannot be said for an auction. If you bid too much early, you get stuck with no budget and have to wait forever to get scrub players at the end. If you don’t bid enough early, you get stuck overpaying for mediocre talents. There’s a definite balance in how you bid and where you spend your money so it is important that you identify which positions you want to spend your money on and how you want to divide it up.
For example, if you feel good about getting a bargain QB and TE, then plan to budget a small amount for those spots and allocate most of your money towards RB and WR. The most important thing here is that you know going in how much money you plan to spend and where you want to spend it so that you have a direction. Otherwise, it can be easy to just spend on guys you recognize early and miss out on players you need later.
The caveat here is that draft flow is going to play a huge part in whether you stick to your plan or not. If others are hesitant early, then it makes sense to pounce on some early bargains even if you had not planned to go after those players. You can always adjust your budget to account for what you’ve done. Don’t let somebody else steal the top 4-5 RB at a discount, bid aggressively even if they don’t fit into your plans. You can always drop out of bidding somewhere around 90% of the price you have them listed at if you don’t want them, but at least make others pay and be prepared if you get “stuck” with a bargain that you weren’t planning on.
Be Unconventional: Nominate Your Kicker And/Or Defense Early (Like First Round Early)
All of the top guys are going to get put out there, it’s inevitable to happen. While your leaguemates are tossing out players like David Johnson and Julio Jones to get money out of the auction, there is no reason why you have to do the same. If you want one of those guys and they get nominated then just, you know, bid. Otherwise, many people are hesitant to go more than $1 for a kicker and, in many cases, a defense. The hesitation may have its merits but realistically we don’t care about that, we care about getting the best team. If some team is going to get Justin Tucker for $1 and another team is going to get Cody Parkey for $1, I’d rather be the team getting Tucker. If you aren’t willing to spend $2 on Tucker then you need to be the first person to say his name. Why not get it out of the way in the first round and cement one of the better kickers instead of waiting until there’s only mediocrity left?
People are generally more willing to spend up on the top defense or two so this won’t work with them, but many times when you get into the 3rd or 4th defense the cap ends up being $1. Just be the first to say their name!
Know Your Dollar Amounts: Don’t Just Trust Any Dollar Amounts, Adjust For Your League’s Settings
There are plenty of magazines and websites that will provide dollar amounts for every player. It is never terrible to take a look at the dollar amounts of players on the website you use for your league (i.e. Yahoo, ESPN, CBS, etc.) because odds are good that many of your competitors will be using those dollar amounts and you can identify good buys and overpriced players with that information. However, you should always look at a different source that you trust (I’d of course suggest RotoStreetJournal’s draft guide) to get an idea of how much value each individual player should command.
That being said, even our numbers aren’t going to be an exact perfect match for every league out there, it’s just impossible to do. Some leagues use PPR scoring, some use 1/2 point PPR, some don’t use PPR at all. Some make you start 3 WR and 2 RB with no flex, others use 2 RB and 2 WR with a Flex. Regardless of how your league works, the point is that there are many different ways to set up a fantasy football league and all of those scoring and lineup options are going to affect the values of individual players. Additionally, whether you are an 8 team, 10 team, 12 team or other league will change how much talent is available per team and therefore change the player value. If you don’t have time to work on your own dollar values, try to find values that match as closely to your league settings as you can. Also, once you have dollar values, it is fine to go over by a few dollars for players you really want, but don’t fall into the trap of “having to have” one particular player at any cost. Even if you love the guy, he probably isn’t worth going $10 over your value for him. As with anything, there’s a fine balance here, you have values for a reason so stick fairly close to them but recognize that no value is going to be exact so it’s okay to go an extra dollar or two for guys that you really want.
Pay Attention To League Size: Your Strategy Should Depend On How Deep Your League Is
While it is important for you to keep your league size in mind for any fantasy draft, it is exponentially more important in an auction. You have significantly more control in an auction about who you choose to invest in and how you want to shape your team than you do in a snake draft. The three most common strategic approaches tend to be “Stars and Scrubs”, “Balanced” and “Bargains”. Basically with a “Stars and Scrubs” approach, you spend big on a handful of players and fill in the rest of your team with $1 players at the end. With “Balanced” you spend fairly evenly across all positions and players so you don’t have any real studs but even your worst starter is a quality player. With “Bargains” you just wait around until guys start selling for prices lower than what you value them at and scoop them up. If you are in a small league (8 team league or 10 team league with minimal starting positions) then you are best served by using the “Stars and Scrubs” approach. You get the top talent to carry your team and then try to hit on a cheap player or two. This works because you have less teams sharing the talent so your $1 players aren’t total trash and if you make a good move or two on the waiver wire you can go all the way. With a deeper league you can’t get away with loading up on $1 guys because the talent level is too low so you’re better off trying to employ a combination of scouting for bargains and balancing out your budget.
To be clear, by bargain hunting, I do not mean that you should avoid paying for studs. If you have a guy or two that you like, then spending for them is fine, just don’t overspend because you fall in love with a guy. Your value for a player should be based on what you expect them to do, if they are starting to cost more than the value you have for them, then you’re just paying extra for less production. However, if you’re frozen at a value and assume that everybody must go for cheaper, then you’re just going to roster mid-level guys and leave money on the table. For example, if you have your top four RB valued at $50-$55 each and two of the three sell for $60+ then getting the last one for $55 may actually be a bargain even though it is not cheaper than your dollar value assigned to the player. Bargains can often be determined by the cost of similar players, so don’t feel that you must get a player for cheaper than your value or you risk getting stuck with lesser players.
Be Mindful of Drop-offs: Try to Never Wait Until the Last Player In a Tier
There’s a concept in fantasy sports that each position has tiers or levels of talent. I think it’s pretty clear that there’s a drop-off between guys like Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce (and maybe Zach Ertz) and the next crop of tight ends. That’s a tier. You usually don’t want to wait until the last player in a tier because oftentimes they can go for the same or even more than a better player in the same tier just because two owners absolutely feel like they have to have a guy from that tier and he’s the only one left. This happens most often with RB and WR. People are usually more willing to pass on a QB or TE and go down a tier if it means they aren’t overpaying but when there’s just one good RB or WR left, that’s where spending happens. Instead, you should try to get your players when there are still one or two guys left in that tier so that you know you won’t be stuck in the bidding war. The only exception to this is if it’s clear that only yourself and one other owner are looking for a player from that tier. For example, if there were only three owners (including you) that bid heavy on Gronkowski and then only yourself and the remaining original bidder going after Kelce, it may make sense to let Kelce go and assume that you’ll be the only person willing to spend up to get Ertz, hopefully at a discount.
This is particularly important to keep in mind at the midway point of the draft when you and a few other teams may have similar budgets left and you share the same need. That’s when the team’s who avoided spending early will start to recognize the lack of remaining talent and will start paying higher prices than you’ll want to pay for less talented players. Avoid the trap!
Again to summarize, don’t be afraid to bid on players at the top end of a tier if you like their price but also don’t wait until the last player in a tier because that often backfires and costs you more than he should.
If you’ve never tried an auction league before, there’s never a better time than now to do it. They can be more fun and engaging than a regular snake draft and the action never stops. Follow these rules and you should be poised to take down the trophy in any auction league you enter!