Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: 28 Ways to Own an Auction Draft
Auction drafts are an entirely different way of drafting your fantasy football team, but there are still ways to dominate your auction fantasy draft.
In snake-style drafts, there is a lot more luck involved. There is no way to get a player you love to fall to you if another owner loves him as well.
In an auction draft, you can pay for this player more than the rest of the league to get him.
Let's take a look at 28 ways to own your fantasy auction draft.
28. Get Lucky
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Sometimes, fantasy owners get lucky by taking a risk on a player, like Arian Foster in 2010, and hoping for the best.
Last year, those that took Foster at a low price were rewarded thoroughly as he turned into the top fantasy player of the season.
In many cases you just have to get lucky in fantasy football.
In your auction draft, rack up the high-potential running backs and wide receivers in an effort to find this year's Foster.
27. Be Confident
Confidence is key in a fantasy football auction draft.
It intimidates opponents, who will begin thinking you know more than they do.
It will help you get the players you want in bidding wars.
It helps you believe in your own decisions.
Make sure you have had your extra dose of confidence for the day before arriving at the draft.
26. Be Prepared for the Unexpected
The one thing that is always consistent with fantasy drafts is that they are always unpredictable, and that will not change in your auction draft.
There might be another owner that outbids you for your favorite sleeper at any cost.
You may accidentally end up with an unwanted player by trying to push up the price for other owners.
No matter what happens, you must stay level headed and know that anything can happen.
That includes losing a guy you are high on or ending up with one you are down on.
It's a long season, and your chances are not slashed by one unfortunate event on draft night.
25. Find $1 Values You Like
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Each year, there are low-ranked players like Davone Bess that avoid everyone else's radar but provide nice value for a dollar near the end of the auction.
Players like Bess will likely not be the difference that puts you over the top.
Still, they are crucial to a successful fantasy team.
You will need good bye-week fill-ins and good depth for tough matchups and injuries.
Find some cheap players that you are high on, and pursue them near the end of the auction.
24. Spend on a Stud or Two
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In auction drafts it is a good idea to pick your spots and land a stud or two that you trust, like Roddy White of the Atlanta Falcons.
Obviously, you won't have the available cap room left over to spend on, say, Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles.
However, if you choose wisely and grab, say, White and Steven Jackson, you will be sitting pretty with two studs on your roster and room to work with for the rest of the draft.
23. Push Up Prices on Players You Don't Like
Auction drafts allow you to screw over your opponents a little more easily than the snake format.
In the latter the only way to take a guy that an opponent wants is to know that he wants him and fall into the right position in the draft to grab the player at the correct spot according to value.
In an auction you can act like you want Chris Johnson right off the bat, even if you don't, and start raising the bids right away until you feel that Johnson's price is too high.
Then, you can back out either when you feel uncomfortable that the rest of the league will quit bidding or that you have done your job already and the other bidders are paying too much no matter how far they go from that point on.
It may be cruel, but it's also effective. We all know friendships can be lost in fantasy football before we throw down the buy-in anyway, right?
22. Talk Trash
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Fantasy football drafts are all about the camaraderie and atmosphere between you and your league-mates.
Talking trash is part of the draft.
In an auction draft, you need to be the one giving others a hard time.
"Wow, that's a high price for Bernard Berrian."
"Hey Jim, I thought you were gonna go after Bernard Scott this year. Isn't he your sleeper candidate? Oh, I wasn't supposed to say that out loud?"
Whatever you can do to get in the heads of your opponents and help them lose focus is a positive on draft day.
21. Stock Up on Cheap Wide Receivers and Running Backs
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Wide receivers and running backs are extremely hit or miss in fantasy football as evidenced by both Arian Foster and Shonn Greene in 2010.
So, in your auction draft, make sure to load up on cheap running backs and wide receivers to give yourself higher odds at finding the next Foster.
That doesn't mean you should not pay for a go-to player at these positions.
It just means that you should back them up with an a long list of potential breakout candidates.
20. Get an Elite Tight End
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Tight end is a position that can give you the single biggest advantage at a position in fantasy football, and Antonio Gates is the man to get.
While teams may think you are overpaying for the San Diego star, you will be smiling during the season when Gates posts 16 points to Jimmy Graham's 7 and 22 points to Kellen Winslow's 5.
Do you see where I'm going with this?
The only other tight end I consider elite in 2011 is Jason Witten.
Still, do your best to get Gates at a fair price, and laugh off the criticism you receive on draft day.
19. Don't Overpay for a Defense
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Defenses, even the Pittsburgh Steelers, are a dime a dozen in fantasy football.
Yes, the Steelers defense may have led them to a Super Bowl appearance in real life.
That doesn't mean they will be the difference in getting your fantasy team over the top.
Let others pay big bucks on defenses, and take the minuscule hit in lower points per game from a super-cheap defense.
18. Don't Draft Emotionally
This year, there might be someone in your league that drafts Peyton Hillis, Colt McCoy, and Greg Little because he has been a lifetime fan of the Cleveland Browns.
The point is, you cannot select players emotionally.
It will turn out to be wasted money, and in most cases other owners know you will bid higher than the average person to get your sentimental picks.
Like I said, this is a vicious game, and those opponents will take advantage of your weakness.
Leave your emotions at the door on draft day.
17. Get One of the Top 6 Quarterbacks
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No, you should not bid far past the value you personally give these players.
Still, you should do everything you can to get one of them on the roster.
They are the closest thing to guaranteed return on investment in fantasy football.
16. Don't Let Your Opponents Intimidate You
Trash talk is part of a fantasy draft, especially an auction, but you need to make sure that the noise coming your way does not affect how you draft.
If you grab a player from your hometown team and immediately get criticized as a "homer," don't let it stop you from getting another player from the same team.
If you pay a little more than expected for a favorite sleeper of yours and the taunting starts thereafter, don't let it stop you from paying a few extra dollars on the next guy you really like.
Trust yourself. After all, the only way to gain an advantage in fantasy football is to think independently and correctly.
15. Grab Two Second-Tier Running Backs
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One of the better strategies in fantasy football this season is to grab two second-tier running backs—like LeGarrette Blount and Darren McFadden—in your auction draft.
On ESPN these two players are listed at a combined $45 price, less than six running backs alone.
Now, interest in these players could vary in your league, so you could end up paying a lot more.
Still, getting two very solid running backs that have the potential to be as good or better than the six priced higher than they are is a great bargain when you are getting two for the price of one.
This year, the best auction strategy when it comes to running backs is to grab two second-tier backs rather than a stud and a bunch of mediocre fill-ins.
14. Never Pay $6 over Your Own Price
Although you should give prices to each player based on your own opinion, you should avoid going too far over that price to get any single player.
Even if you absolutely love a player, it must be your first priority never to waste more than six dollars going over your already decided price.
Each dollar counts, and if you make this mistake even once, you might lose out on another opportunity due to a lack of available cap room.
13. Pay Attention
An auction draft is a long affair that requires an attentive participant.
You need to listen when other owners start talking.
Many times, they reveal more information on their opinions of players than you would think.
This information can help you in bidding wars against them.
12. Do Your Homework
It is clear that the fantasy owners that prepare the most do the best on draft day, especially in auction drafts.
Make sure that you come prepared with dollar value placed on each player based on your own opinions.
Don't be the guy that shows up with the freshly purchased magazine asking questions about the most current news on injuries.
11. Stay Away from Rookie Wide Receivers
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The two big-name rookie wide receivers of 2011, A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals and Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons, are being overhyped.
Yes, Green's highlight reels are impressive, and the Falcons did make a big trade to snag Jones.
They will undoubtedly be very good players in this league, but all rookies go through major growing pains.
Do not make the mistake of overpaying for them in this year, their rookie campaigns.
10. Take Some Chances on Rookie Running Backs
Rookie running backs like Daniel Thomas of the Miami Dolphins and Mark Ingram of the New Orleans Saints have better chances at success than this year's rookie wide receivers.
It is not because they are more talented.
In fact, A.J. Green and Julio Jones may have been the two most talented offensive players in the draft.
It is all about the position they play.
Rookie running backs have a track record of success. (Just look at the NFL's top rushers in 2008.)
This year, take a chance in your auction on one these backs.
9. Keep Track of Each Team's Rosters and Needs
In an auction draft, you must come prepared, but the work does not stop there.
You must have roster cards ready for each team, filling them out as each player gets selected.
This will help you identify how long each bidder will stay in the bidding war.
The person that already has Aaron Rodgers will probably not last in the Ben Roethlisberger bidding war, but the person that has yet to grab a quarterback is likely in for the long haul.
This will also help you see what teams have the most expendable money remaining.
It may require a lot of work during the draft, but it provides you with an advantage over owners that are bidding blindly.
8. Stick to Your Gameplan
No matter what your auction strategy is, make sure you follow it for the entire length of your draft.
If you want Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson, grab them, and find cheap assets as the draft progresses.
If you want to pursue Tom Brady and Antonio Gates, make sure you get them, and live with run-of-the-mill running backs and wide receivers.
If you want to have the best wide receivers in your league, select three of the most affordable top 10 guys.
Even if you love the Dallas Cowboys offense in 2011, go ahead and grab Tony Romo, Miles Austin, and Felix Jones.
You need to pick a strategy and follow it for the entire draft.
7. Mix in High-Risk, High-Reward Players
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A well-balanced fantasy football team is key to finding consistency week in and week out.
You cannot have three Dez Bryant-type wide receivers—high-upside guys that still have a lot to prove.
You cannot have three Wes Welker-type wide receivers, either. Welker has a much lower ceiling as a nonexistent red-zone target but is a trustworthy starting fantasy receiver for his ability to rack up yards.
You can have a Bryant, a Welker, and a third of your choice.
This set has balance.
Balance is good in fantasy football.
6. Stay Away from Unproven Players
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In 2011 there are too many unproven players, like Ryan Mathews and Jahvid Best, that require too high of a price to acquire.
Everyone knows that it's risky to select a guy like Best based purely on upside rather than past production.
Still, that doesn't stop us from overrating them and overpaying for them in auction drafts.
Stay away from guys like this, unless you can get them at a bargain.
5. Come Prepared
Before your fantasy football auction draft, you need to do your homework, but showing up with the proper draft materials will help you execute your game plan.
In certain scenarios a lack of organization in your notes and rankings can lead to mistakes on draft day.
Make sure you are prepared to dominate on draft day.
4. Stay Focused
You may think the last few additions to your roster are irrelevant, but checking out too early brings no benefit to your own chances.
In fact checking out causes you to neglect the importance of not only that bid but the draft in itself.
After acting like a real-life general manager in the first few rounds, many people turn back into the average Joe far too early.
Don't let this happen to you.
You never know what those last few roster spots will turn into.
3. Pay for Opportunity
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Opportunity is what gives players upside in fantasy football, which is what gives a guy like Cedric Benson value.
Benson is not all that talented of a player.
Yet, he is the feature back on a team that will be forced to run the ball, with a rookie quarterback at the helm.
It sounds a whole lot better to take your chances on 25 carries from Benson than nine from Jonathan Stewart.
When in doubt, pay more for the guy that will have opportunities to succeed in 2011.
2. Make Your Own Rankings
Matthew Berry of ESPN may be the Talented Mr. Roto, but at the end of the day, he is still a human being.
You are not playing your league for him or any other expert on the web.
The reason you play is to have control over your own team.
It's fine to use web resources as a starting point, but in the end you need to put in the work to prepare for draft day.
Make your own rankings, and place dollar values on each player based on your own opinions.
1. Trust Yourself
One of my biggest pet peeves on draft day is when someone makes a selection with doubt.
Though it's more common in snake-style drafts when the clock winds down, owners are still forced to make quick decisions under pressure in auction-style drafts.
Don't ever make a bid with "I guess I'll make another bid" in your mind.
Always trust every decision you make, whether it is simply another bid or choosing a sleeper to overpay for.
Good luck on draft day!