Great news! Your league has decided to try a fantasy football auction draft this year! You might already know that auction drafts are fairer because every drafter gets a chance to draft every player. Plus, they remove draft position constraints and allow for a greater variety of strategies.
But you might not know how to best prepare for an auction draft. It can be a bit intimidating initially, but our four-part series will give you all the resources and advice you need to dominate your draft.
Step 1? Forming the most accurate “Player Prices” by embracing the value-based mindset and obtaining the right data. Thankfully, we have the perfect tool to help you do both.
WHAT IS VALUE-BASED DRAFTING?
Note: If you’re already familiar with value-based drafting or simply don’t care, jump on down to The Ultimate Tool.
You might have heard of the concept of value-based drafting (VBD). Value-based drafting can be useful in a standard snake draft, but it forms the backbone of the most powerful auction strategies.
Remember when I said auction drafts are fairer because every drafter gets a chance to draft every player? If you have the 10th pick in a 10-team snake draft, your opinions of consensus top-five guys like Jonathan Taylor, Austin Ekeler, and Cooper Kupp do not matter because you will never have a chance to draft them.
The same principle applies to players who are certain to be taken between your second and third picks and so on, so you do not need to know the value of every player in a snake draft, just the ones who are likely to be available with your limited selections.
But since you have a chance to draft every player in an auction, that means you need some way to determine how much every player is worth. To do this, you should use value-based drafting.
I highly recommend reading this in-depth breakdown of value-based drafting before reading further. To summarize, the value of a player is not determined by the number of points he scores. His value is determined by how much he outscores his peers at his position and the level of demand for that position in your league.
You already know this intuitively. You know that running backs and wide receivers are the most valuable positions because you start more of them. The demand is higher. You know that Austin Ekeler was more valuable than Ezekiel Elliott last year. But how much more?
Was Ekeler worth $70? $80? $100? What about Zeke? What if you play in a 10-team PPR league? Or a 14-team standard league? Or a 16-team, TE-premium Superflex league? How do you compare the dollar values of running backs to other positions?
Only value-based drafting can answer all these questions.
ULTIMATE AUCTION PRICE TOOL
Note: To get the full experience from this tool, you must use a Windows machine, as it functions off of Excel and uses macros.
Value-based drafting requires two steps: projecting stats for every player and using those projections to assign value to every player.
That sounds daunting, but don’t worry! Consensus projections are available from FantasyPros. As you’ll see in Step 3, you can also customize these to your personal predictions as well. Then, I modified this tool (created by Reddit user u/elboberto) that assigns custom auction values to each player based on league settings.
I also added the Build Team sheet that allows you to test endless combinations of players to help you build your ideal roster (discussed in Part 3).
Essentially, your homework is already complete.
STEP 1: ENTER LEAGUE SETTINGS
To use the tool, simply navigate to the LeagueInfo tab and change each of the yellow cell values based on your league’s scoring system.
STEP 2: ACCOUNT FOR YOUR PERSONAL LEAGUE TRENDS
High-stakes auction legend Jack Haan recommends compiling “historical sale prices for all players old in your auction league for past years… to reveal league trends.”
Perhaps your league gets overly excited for rookies. Maybe “bellcow backs” aren’t priced like the diamonds they are. No two auctions are ever the same, but our projection tool can help account for tendencies and make your prices the most accurate possible.
To do so, move on to the DefaultAuctionValues sheet. Here, you can input each player’s average auction value (AAV) and listed site values.
If you have access to auction data from previous seasons of your league (i.e. “League History” in Yahoo), you can use that information to change the “Actual Value Guess” column to the value you think each player will go for in your league.
The pre-filled data is based on a 10-team, half PPR league using Yahoo values. Using data from your previous league will yield better results, but the Yahoo values are the best publicly available data source I can find. (ESPN AAV data appears to be highly skewed by lobbies full of auto drafters).
Note: The DefaultAuctionValues sheet is not necessary, but it helps identify players who are overvalued and undervalued in your specific league. Note that the original figures in the article are from 7/17/22.
Edit: All data in the spreadsheet has been updated as of 9/1/22.
STEP 3: TINKER WITH PROJECTIONS & VIEW THE PRICES
As mentioned, we use aggregate projections from FantasyPros. They were updated on 7/17/22, and are an excellent benchmark source.
However, you’re more than welcome to create your own projections or download another source you trust more, and have the prices tailored even further:
Simply visit the red position tabs and map out your own projections. The prices will automatically adjust and reflect your personal predictions.
League settings and trends all set? Do projections reflect your predictions? Phew, awesome!
Finally, we’ve made it to the “Real Value” section in column F. This is the true value of each player perfectly customized to your league settings based on the projections fed into the tool.
No projections will ever be 100% correct, but these custom dollar values are the best you can get based on the available information.
Most auction dollar values on other sites are simply a copy and paste of that site’s standard rankings, with dollar values decreasing by arbitrary amounts as they go down the list.
Your values will be much more robust once tailored to your league settings and your projections. You can find more information about the original tool here and on the Intro tab of the Excel workbook.
If you have made it this far and utilized our tool, you have already set the foundation for a great draft. Still, the real value comes from interpreting these prices and forming a game plan. Be sure to check out Part 2, where I dive into specific pre-draft strategies that you can use to dominate the competition.
Our Auction Series is all you need to dominate your 2022 Fantasy Football Auctions. Don’t miss a single part: