Auction Draft Strategies

As you may know, the preparation and strategy for an auction draft is much different than for a traditional/snake draft. Below are some hints and strategies to help you prepare for your upcoming fantasy league auction draft.

How to Dominate Your Fantasy League Auction Draft:

First, some assumptions to keep in mind:
(1) Each manager has $200 to spend. You must spent at least $1 on each roster spot.
(2) There are 15 total roster spots. Starters = QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, K, DEF.
(3) Passing points: TD = 4 pts., INT = -1, 25 yards = 1 pt.
(4) Rushing points: TD = 6 pts., 10 yards = 1 pt.

Now, for some advice…

Draft Strategy

Develop a strategy. And (try to) stick to it. It is very important that you have a draft strategy in mind going into the draft. It is more important that you try to stick to your strategy. It is very easy to get caught up in the moment (or the beer) and make a mistake or two. Which will happen. Just do not let it ruin your draft. Accept it, move on, and adjust your strategy accordingly.

There are two basic auction draft strategies:
(1) Spend all your money on a few big-names and fill your bench with scrubs; or
(2) Avoid all the big-names and fill your roster will moderately-priced talent.

It is hard to say if one is better than the other. I have seen both work and I have seen both fail (miserably). Basically, it comes down to who you buy, not how much you spend on a player.

Obviously, the risk with spending a ton of money on a few players is that your team is ruined if one gets injured or under-performs. The other major problem with this strategy is that the players who cost the most money are not always the players who end up scoring the most points. In 2008, for example, the top two scoring RBs were RB DeAngelo Williams and RB Michael Turner. However, neither of those two players were among the high-priced players on draft day. Similarly, QB Aaron Rodgers probably cost $5 on draft day in 2008, and he ended up outscoring every QB (and player, for that matter) except QB Drew Brees.

But there are risks with the conservative approach, as well. It should not be a surprise that the team with the players who score the most points usually wins the championship. But, as I said above, it is not always the highest-priced players who end up being the highest-scoring players.

So, to repeat, the key is who you buy, not how much you spend. Which is why checking out my pre-draft rankings (and knowing the risks associated with each player) is very important.

My advice: Purchase a couple above-average RBs for around $40 or $50 rather than spending $75 on RB Adrian Peterson and then having someone like RB Ricky Williams as your RB2. For example, you can probably get a guy like RB Chris Johnson for $50 or $55, whereas AP will cost you $70 or $75. That is a $20 difference. And you could buy a guy like QB Aaron Rodgers for $20. Which combo would you rather have: AP and some QB you can get for $1 or RB Chris Johnson and QB Aaron Rodgers?

Pre-Draft Preparation

Separate players at each position into tiers. Fortunately, in an auction draft, the “overall” ranking of a player is not that important. What is important, however, is the comparative value of any given player at each position. Your goal should be to create a starting roster that will score 85-90 points per week. This type of output should win you most games. By separating players into tiers, you can know which RBs are left that can get you an average of 14 or 15 points per week. If you simply rank them 1-2-3-4-5 and so on, you might not realize where the drop-off is.

Create a budget for each position. You can always adjust along the way, depending on how you actually end up spending your money, but go into the draft with a general idea of how much you want to spend at each position. Here is a good guideline for how much to spend at each position (including backups):

QB = $20
RB = $110
WR =$56
TE = $10
K =$1
DEF = $3

Take your Average Draft Value (“ADV”) Figures and add 10%. Inevitably, you will end up paying more for most players than their ADV indicates, because your friends are jerks and they will not let you have a deal. So be prepared and add 10% beforehand. Then you will be ready to know what to expect.

Make a list of “sleepers” you can get for $1. At the end of the draft, there will be a plethora of players available for $1. The key is to draft the right ones. Last year, I bought WR DeSean Jackson and WR Eddie Royal for $1 in every one of my leagues. If you can find guys like this late, your roster will obviously be much stronger. Check out my list of sleepers for some tips.

During the Draft:

Remember your strategy. Because you will forget it quickly when the players are up for bid. Especially after you’ve had a few beers.

Do not blow too much money early. Last year, a friend of mine spent approximately $150 of his $200 on QB Tom Brady, RB LaDainian Tomlinson, and WR Braylon Edwards, all of whom were ranked near the top at their respective positions. You can quickly see, however, that this did not work out for him. Obviously, his team could have been amazing. But one injury or one under-performing player can derail your entire team when you spend too much money on a few players.

Nominate big-dollar players first. Try to get players like Adrian Peterson, Michael Turner, and MJD off the board early so the people start spending money early. The more money other people spend, the better off you are.

Do not panic. A point will come when you think all the good players are gone. But they are not. It just seems that way. If you separated your players into tiers, you will have a very good idea of how many players at each level remain. Do not panic and over-spend on a marginal player.

Do NOT bid up a player you do not want just to stick it to your buddy. There is a very good chance you will end up with said player, and it is not worth the risk. It will destroy your strategy. If you think someone else is getting a great deal on a player, let them have the player. Or, if you think it is a good deal and you want the player, then make a bid. But do not just bid to try and raise the price.

Late Rounds:

Pay attention to how much money your opponents have left. Trust me, there will be a lot of good players left at the end of the draft to be bought for $4 or $5. Every year, I find myself saying: “That guy is still left?” when we get to the end of the draft. Unfortunately, if you spent all of your money early, you cannot bid on them. But if you retain some cash for this purpose, you will want to know how has the cash left to fight with you for them.

Pay attention to your opponents’ rosters. Used in conjunction with how much money they have left, you can get a very good idea of who will be actively bidding against you for any given player.

Never EVER pay more than $1 for your Kicker. Seriously. There is no kicker in the NFL who is worth more than $1. You may not think it is that important, but there are a lot of opportunities to get very good players at the end of the draft, and sometimes that extra $1 can make the difference.

For your reference, here are the Average Auction Values (AAV) from ESPN.com’s live Auction Drafts.

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