Auction drafts are alot of fun, but they obviously require different strategy from normal ‘snake’ drafts. So how are you best placed to deal with them? And what do you need to consider? That’s what we take a look at here.
Auction Draft Tool
First of all we created a tool to help you in your auction drafts. It takes your league’s roster and scoring settings to work out what each player is worth in your league. Then, as the draft is being completed, it makes adjustments to show you how your league is drafting. Based on that, it will give updated values for your player’s value.
Have a look and get involved!
Benefits of Auction Drafts
Why should you go for an auction draft over a snake draft? Simply, you can get any combination of players that you want. You want Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara? No problem, just pay up for them! As a result, your roster can look exactly as you want it to.
Basic Auction Draft Strategy Options
Stars & Scrubs
This strategy is where you spend up big on some big name players early (think top-tier RBs and WRs) spending the vast majority of your budget in the process.
Once you have those pillars in place, you take some shots on players that could breakout but are cheap, hoping that you can muddle a lineup each week out of them and the waiver wire. It’s quite high-risk as you could find yourself being outbid and unable to compete against teams that have saved some of their budget. You are also unable to deal with injury to one of your stars, unless you have truly struck gold with some of your scrubs.
Sit & Wait
This strategy is literally the opposite of the one above. Here you are letting people get heavily involved in the early stages, and picking up value later when you can outbid people that have blown their budget.
The overall strategy is to build up talent that would typically go in the 4th/ 5th/ 6th rounds of normal snake drafts, that way you have a team of solid starters and can cycle through players if you have injuries etc. However, this strategy has some pitfalls too. Typically, teams that win fantasy football leagues have some top-tier talent and sprinkle in some players that are able to break out.
Balanced Approach or Goldilocks
This is the middle ground. But this strategy is maybe the most involved. You need to try and pay attention to what is going on, nominating players that you think are going to drive bidding wars, while silently bidding up on players you like. Typically, I’ll do this on players that I like to different levels, depending on how strongly I feel about them. If I really:
- Love them- I’m spending the value I have on my sheet
- Really like them- between 80-90% of their value
- Like them- between 60 to 70% of their value
Doing this will either leave you with some great values on your roster, or budget that you can pick up talent later in the draft.
Budget Allocation & Auction Values
It’s really important to enter the auction with a general plan of where you think you are going to spend your budget. Obviously you should have some movement, but generally I would try to have a plan. So for example, in a league format with 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 Flex (RB/WR) I’d be looking at an allocation of:
If you have kickers/ defenses in your league, then save the minimum for these positions too.
You’ll see that the vast majority is being spent on the RB/ WR positions. The reason being is twofold:
- Starting requirements
- Position scarcity
The other positions, I’ll typically look to spend a small amount on- forming committees that I can cycle through. Playing matchups (especially at QB) mean that you can save for the more important positions.
This is, and I cannot stress this enough, CRUCIAL for your success. These are to be used as a guide only. They’ll give you a picture for the overall value of each player’s relative value compared across positions.
Auction Drafts Strategy & Tips
I’m going to give you a list of tips, and then breakout into them further down below:
- Don’t offer to be the Auctioneer
- Understand your league
- Are you a QB streamer or not?
- Avoid Tier Breaks
- Focus on RBs, WRs and TEs
- Nominate with the minimum bid
- Calculate the Maximum Bid of Your Competition
- Pay attention to the room
- Fill & Nominate
- Don’t panic!
Don’t offer to be the Auctioneer
This applies more to live auction drafts, but don’t offer to be the guy running the budgets and the board. It’s going to mean you are taking your eye off of your team, which can be costly when you are looking to win a championship!
Understand Your League
What I mean is- understand how your league is going to play, and what you can get on the waiver wire. Don’t pay for production that you can pick up for free. Drafting for depth is great, in deeper leagues, but in shallower ones you don’t need as much.
You can pick up a player like Sterling Shepard on waivers most weeks in shallow leagues, but in deeper leagues players like him will often be overlooked- as he doesn’t have ‘big games’
Are you a QB streamer or not?
This is more for single QB leagues, so if you are in a 2QB or Superflex league just skip it. This is something you need to work out before you get into the draft. If you are happy to stream for the season, then don’t go wasting budget on a mid-level QB. Save your money, and pick up a streaming QB for a minimal amount.
But, if you aren’t going to stream the position, don’t waste your budget on a player that is unlikely to be a top fantasy option each week. I guess what I’m saying is don’t spend 10% or more of your budget on Kirk Cousins, or Ryan Tannehill- you’ll regret it.
Avoid Tier Breaks
You want to try and avoid tier breaks- those are the players that are going to see bidding wars. For example, let’s take the RB position. The top tier are gone, as have Derrick Henry, Jonathan Taylor, Nick Chubb and Aaron Jones. Next nominated- Ezekiel Elliott. The bids are going to be coming in thick and fast for teams that haven’t committed to a starting RB as they don’t want to ‘tier-down’.
Keep a track of the players that are still available, and avoid being part of that panic buy
Focus on RBs, WRs and TEs
Don’t worry about QB, kickers or defenses. There are going to be plenty of options on the waiver wire for those. Instead, save your cash and get a player with better upside. Remember injuries can shake things up in an instant. Kareem Hunt was a backup running back, until Spencer Ware (remember him!?) got injured. Having a gamble with a sleeper RB at 2% of your bankroll is better than a kicker and defense that cost you 1% each
Nominate with the minimum bid
This might seem really obvious. But when you are nominating players, open at the minimum. You might stumble across a player that no-one else wanted and have spent more than you needed to! Keep that cash in the bank!
Calculate the Maximum bid of your competition
This is more important the further you get into the draft, as you’ll know the exact spot you can press to put pressure on your leaguemates. Assuming there is a minimum bid of $1:
Maximum bid = Remaining bankroll – Empty Positions + 1
You can keep track of this with a simple spreadsheet on your computer (or use the once below). It will help you know how aggressively a team is chasing a player/ how you can block them
Pay attention to the room
This is sensing the way the other people are behaving in your league. Has an owner just missed out on a bidding war? Well, now might be a good idea to nominate a similar player- they’ll overbid 99% of the time.
Look at the players that have gone, and how much they cost. Are players typically going for over their maximum suggested bid? Or are they going for less? Navigating this and making the right adjustment can help you get the best of your opponents in bids.
Fill & Nominate
This might be frowned upon, but all is fair in fantasy football! The logic is simple. You’ve just filled your RB position, nominate another RB! And another! Make the owners around you bid and compete for these players, so they are burning through their budget. When it comes to that bid on a WR you’ll be thankful you did!
Stay the course. You might have lost a few bidding wars, and other teams are filling their rosters with studs. But, don’t panic- it’s the worst you can do. Instead, just keep a track of how much people are spending and you’ll be able to exert your control later in the draft.
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Image Credit: Stan Szeto – USA TODAY Sports