Lights, Camera, Auction: The Beginners' Guide to Fantasy Football Auction Drafts
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
In fantasy football, auction drafts are quickly becoming the favored method of drafting over the serpentine or "snake" draft. The beauty of the auction draft is that teams are possible that couldn't ever exist in snake-draft leagues.
A starting lineup of Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson and Jimmy Graham would never happen—except in an auction draft. In this article, we'll walk you through how to prepare for your draft and how to effectively draft once your auction begins.
For this article, we'll assume a standard budget of $200 and a 10-team league. We'll also assume a 45-second bid timer in the auction. The rosters will consist of a quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, a tight end, a flex player, a kicker, a defense and six bench players. When you have an auction draft, be prepared to set aside at least an hour or two to do the draft.
1. Dream about your ideal team.
Just imagine how awesome your team would be if it had the four aforementioned players. Take some time and figure out your dream roster. Anything is possible in auction, so dream big. Think about all the positions as well as your bench.
2. Review average auction value (AAV) data.
Before your draft, take a look at what players are going for. For example, here's the link to the information on ESPN.com. Regardless of which site you want to use, review the information provided. The reason you do this is so that you don't potentially overpay for a player.
Let's say you're a fan of Joe Flacco, for example, and you check the chart to see what his AAV is going at. Line 116 of that chart has him at $2. You can use that as a guide to help build your budget around him or any other player.
This can be done to help budget for players who are cheap like Flacco or will be expensive like Peterson ($61), Rodgers ($42) or Johnson ($45). Going in knowing how much players are going for will help you with your in-draft strategy. Getting Peterson for $50 is a steal, but paying that amount for Rodgers might be a little too much.
Use that data to plan ahead about who you might want as bench players, and be sure to check bye weeks.
3. Formulate a nomination strategy.
Unlike snake drafts, players get nominated by the team that is up in the order to nominate. Any player can be nominated at any time as long as they are not on a roster.
Here's what you can do. If you have two quarterbacks that you are happy with, start nominating other quarterbacks. While you may not need them, other teams will, and it will start to drain the other teams' funds as they fill out their roster at that position.
Consider nominating players that are drawing a lot of buzz, like Montee Ball in Denver, or Danny Amendola in New England to name a couple. You might be able to get them cheap, or you can take away another team's funds as they buy that player.
It's okay to nominate players you want for your team. It's also okay to nominate players you don't want to bait the other teams into spending.
4. Formulate your draft strategy.
You have to decide which kind of player you are going to be at the auction before it begins.
Will you be the player who bids big on the superstars and then sees how the rest of it shakes out?
Will you be the player who tries to get superstars but is okay with second-tier talent?
Will you be the player who is more conservative early on and try to clean house at the end of the draft?
If you try the first strategy, you might get three stud players but have someone like Jay Cutler at quarterback and little depth if someone gets hurt.
If you try the second one, you should still have a good team and might be okay to run through the season. Would you be okay missing Arian Foster but having Matt Forte at running back?
If you try the last one, you could miss out on a lot of top-tier talent, but you could build a roster out of what's left. The downside is you don't know what will be left at the end.
What is your auction strategy?
It's a hard decision to make. All of them can yield championship teams. Yet all of them can yield teams that barely make it to .500.
So the big day is here, you've got your plan and your paddle for the auction and it's time to bid. Now what?
1. Pay attention.
It sounds simple, but it's much more complicated in an auction draft. You have to look and see what positions you need to fill to complete your roster. You need to see who has been nominated and who hasn't been nominated. You'll also have to check other team's rosters as well to see what they have. It's a lot of checking and re-checking, but it will help as we'll explain later.
2. Watch the clock.
In an auction, you have a limited amount of time (usually 30 seconds) to nominate a player. If you don't pick someone, the computer will auto-draft the highest ranked player available based on their site's rankings. To help counteract this, build a list of players you want to nominate and choose from there.
3. Watch the clock.
No, we're not repeating ourselves. You still need to watch the clock when the actual bidding takes place. In our example, you would have 45 seconds to bid on a player. Usually, the bids will get faster and more frantic as you get closer to the end of the 45 seconds. But there is a catch. If a bid is placed in the final 10 seconds on a player, the clock will reset to 10 seconds to allow all other teams a chance to bid.
It doesn't matter if you bid with nine seconds left or just one second left, the clock will reset to ten seconds. This resetting process will continue as long as teams keep bidding on the player who is nominated. Once they're "sold," the process ends and the next player is nominated.
4. Bid early, bid often.
In the early going, expect to see a lot of the big-name players get nominated. You have the chance to get every single player who is nominated, so put in bids to get your feet wet. You might not win anyone right off, but it will help you greatly. You'll get an idea of how the auction flows and be able to see which teams are more aggressive and which are more relaxed in their bidding.
5. Get your kicker and defense units early.
Wait. what? Did you really say early? Yes, it says get them early, and there's a solid reason for doing so. Most fantasy football players have it plugged in their minds to get their kicker and defense towards the end of the draft. That works in snake drafts but is not as effective in the auction format.
The reason you want to get them out of the way is so that you have bench spots open at the end of the draft. You never know who will be left over after 125 players have been taken. If all you have left to fill are your kicker and defense spots, you won't be able to bid on any quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers or tight ends that might come up late. This is why you check what the other rosters look like.
I have seen it before, where players like Jordy Nelson have been the 141st player nominated in an auction. Wouldn't you hate to miss out on a player like him late because you didn't have the roster spot?
Owners can paint themselves into corners like that without having foresight for the end of an auction draft. Don't be one of them. There's nothing wrong with nominating defenses and kickers at any point in an auction. It can throw the other owners for a loop if you put up one of them early.
6. Be conservative with your auction money, but spend it all.
If you decide to blow your money early in the auction, you're going to find it's a long time waiting for players you can afford to come up. You can also find yourself getting outbid easily in the latter stages of the auction. That team could have six dollars left and five slots to fill, so they'll be boxed out of most of the action.
When it comes down to it, make sure you still have some money left towards the end of the auction. You should have those bench spots available, and players you want might still come up. The other advantage to being conservative is that as players get nominated, you might be able to easily reduce your competition for a certain player. If nobody else can bid more than $8 for a player and someone comes up that you want, you could just bid $9 and get him.
Above all, spend all of your money. There's no bonus for getting through your auction draft and having anything left. There's also nothing wrong with spending everything you have on your final pick. It's fine to spend $22 on Pittsburgh running back Le'Veon Bell if the rookie winds up being your last player on your roster and takes your balance to zero.
7. Know when your draft ends.
Your draft ends when you get a full roster of players, which includes a starting lineup. However, if you are one of the first teams to get done, you might miss out on great bargains at the end of the draft.
On the flip side, if you are one of the last teams to finish, you might find yourself with little competition and be able to pick and choose your players easily. Because of that, try to be one of the last teams to finish out. The auction will only end when all rosters are filled.
In closing, auctions are a fun, hectic way of choosing teams. Everyone has a shot at every player, and dream teams are possible. It requires a lot of planning and some gut instinct to know when to bid and how much to bid.
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