Fantasy Football 2013: Auction Draft Strategy

By John Miller
July 24, 2013 1:00 pm
4,740 Views 0 Comments

Drew Brees 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.


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