Auction drafts can seem overwhelming the first time. Maybe even the first few times. But once your get the hang of it, you'll realize how much fun it can be.
Not only are auctions a ton of fun, they allow fantasy owners to more easily target the players they want.
An auction draft is pretty simple. Every owner gets the same amount of "draft money". Usually it's either $100, $200 or $250. When the draft begins, there is a set order of owners, just like in a traditional snake-style draft. Instead of drafting a player when it's your turn, you nominate a player.
Nominating a player is just what it sounds like. You pick the player and what you want to start the bidding at. If I nominate "Nick Foles for $1", then another owner must make a bid of at least $2. Owners just keep bidding until the highest bidder has been establsihed. Players are nominated until every owner has filled out his or her roster.
No matter what, you have to fill out your roster. If you have 15 roster spots, you have to draft 15 players. It's up to you how you allocate your money. That's the beauty of the format. If you like a player, you don't have to reach for him or hope that he falls to you. The auction allows you to target and acquire that player more efficiently.
That's the nuts and bolts of the auction format. It's just a bunch of auction bidding like you've seen dozens of time in movies and television. Unfortunately, you usally don't get one of those cool placcard things to put up in the air when you bid. Unless your fantasy commisioner is particularly awesome. Now that you know what's going on, it's time to examine some more in-depth auction strategies.
The most popular auction strategy is commonly referred to as "Stars and Scrubs". The basic premise is that you spend almost all of your money on a few "superstar" fantasy players. That would mean spending something like $185 of a $200 budget on five players. You would then use the remaining $15 to fill out the other ten spots on your roster.
There is a reason that this strategy is popular. Everybody loves having "superstars" on their fantasy team. Not to mention that owners will fell comfortable spending a ton of their draft money on an establsihed star like Adrian Peterson or Aaron Rodgers. This strategy also gives you some roster flexibily. You won't feel bad cutting $1 players to chase the next hot thing on the waiver wire. Not to mention it is easier to make trades if you can include some star-power.
On the flipside, the popularity of "Stars and Scrubs" will mean that star players are generally overvalued in fantasy drafts. Then the owners that spend a ton of money early will be mining all of the cheap players that might otherwise be available late in the draft. This means that the best value will be found in the mid-priced players.
Trying to find value in an auction draft doesn't mean that you can take any high-priced players. To the contrary, it's actually important to make sure that you spend your money. There's no reward for having a bunch of money left at the end of the draft. Ideally, you should spend every dollar. A valued approach just means only draft a couple high-priced players instead of five or six of them.
Just because a player isn't highly-priced doesn't mean that he's necessarily a value. The key is to find a player you like at a price cheaper than you would actually pay for him. For instance, say I like Hakeem Nicks and I would pay $18 for him. If I only have to pay $15 to get him, that's a value.
You don't always have to get "value". It's your auction. In this scenario, like like Lamar Miller and I have him valued at $22. I wind up paying $26 for him. Is that a "value"? In theory, no it's not. But I got the player I wanted and it only cost me a couple of extra bucks. The key to a good auction is finding a mix of players you want and players whom are available to you at an excellent value.
Those are the two basic ways that I approach options. Sometimes, I don't even know which way I'm going to go until the first few players come off of the draft board. Again, every draft is different and owners can be even more unpredictable in auction drafts. Here are a few tips to use during your draft.
- At the beginning and middle of the draft, never nominate players that you actually want. That could mean nominating players that you just don't like or players that you don't need. If you've already drafted a starting QB, keep nominating QBs. Make the other owners spend money on players you have no interest in or need for.
- Be careful when "Price Enforcing". Price enforcing is when you feel that an owner is getting too good of a price on a player, so you put in a higher bid. This is usually done with the thought that the other owner will then make an even higher bid. Sometimes this can work. If you know that an owner is hell-bent on getting a particular player, keep rasiing the price. Just be aware, you will get caught with your hand in the cookie jar occasionally. I would only price enforce heavily on players whom you would be willing to have on your team.
- Don't be afraid to nominate the top kickers and defenses early. It sounds stupid, but fantasy owners are people too. When everybody has money early in the draft, players cost most. Either somebody winds up blowing at least a few bucks or you get a top fantasy defense of $1. You can't lose either way.
- Be patient when drafting your QB. That doesn't mean that you need to be the last owner to select a QB. It just means that you need to wait until you find a good bargain on a QB you would be willing to start every week. Once you've got him, the only time you'll have to think about the position is when you might add a backup for $1 late in the draft.
- Don't count on being able to get many of the players that your targeting for $1-$2 late in the draft. The owners who still have money left won't let you get away with sneaking them through for cheap. If possible, wait to nominate these players until all of the owners only have $1 bids left.
- At the beginning of drafts, players will be overvalued. At the end of drafts, players will be overpaid. When an owner is stuck with way more money than everybody else at the end of the draft, he's going to get the players he wants no matter the cost. Again, there's no point in saving any draft money. Don't be that guy.
It sounds like a lot. But I guarantee that you'll pick up on it pretty quick. Just like any draft, let it come to you. Don't come out of the gate firing and bid on every single player. Otherwise you might be stuck with little money to spend and a bunch of players that you really didn't want. Not to mention that they draft is going to get boring if you only have $1 bids left after only ten minutes. Sit back, have fun and draft they players you want.
Thanks for reading and good luck this season. Please feel free to use the comments feature if you have anything to add to the discussion.