Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: 5 Ways to Approach Your Auction Draft
Snake drafts have been around since the beginning of fantasy football, and many fantasy experts and players alike swear by it.
However, over the past few years a new method has emerged.
Auction drafts are becoming more and more popular each year; in fact, I am in two auction leagues this year, my first two auction leagues. I have done many mock auctions, and I've wanted to do one for a while, but I could never gather enough interest in doing a league. This year, I'm doing two.
With the growing popularity of auction drafts, we have to make up for lost time when it comes to strategy. Analysts have been perfecting snake strategies for a long time, but auction plans are still evolving.
Here are five things to consider before the bidding starts.
5. Never Leave the Draft with Money in Your Pocket, Ever
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It may not seem like a tragedy to end the draft with $7 or $8, but the question becomes, "What could have been done with that money?"
Seven dollars could be the difference between Kenny Britt and Miles Austin or Peyton Hillis and Steven Jackson, or even Jason Witten and Antonio Gates.
Don't be scared away from a player you want because he's going for a dollar more than his projected value. I'm not saying you should go out and overspend for every player you want, but make sure you don't leave the draft with money in your pocket—it could end up costing you the league.
I know this isn't as much strategy as much as advice, but please, make use of every penny.
4. Get Two Elite Receivers
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I used this strategy in one of my auctions this year, grabbing both Hakeem Nicks and Larry Fitzgerald for a combined $63. It cost me almost one-third of my total budget, but with those two receivers, you'll probably be the best at the position.
I almost got Calvin Johnson, and I would have rather had him, but at $38, I just couldn't go higher.
Although you probably won't get an elite running back, you still have room for Drew Brees or Tom Brady and possibly a good tight end. The upside to this strategy is that you can get the running backs you want. You don't have to pick from what's left in the middle of the draft—you can get whomever you want.
If you think Shonn Greene is going to have a monster year like I do, you can get him. Obviously you aren't going to get everyone you want, but if you have four great mid-round sleepers in mind, you can get them and hope two end up performing.
Two great wide receivers and a top QB could be a winning strategy, it's one of many that are important to keep in mind come draft day.
3. Get an Elite Running Back
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This strategy is probably going to apply to about half of your league. Right now, I would count Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles, Ray Rice and Chris Johnson as the elite running backs, in that order.
If you're going to pay $53-plus for a running back, your strategy has to change.
Do me a favor, though, don't get Foster when you can pay the same money for AP.
Getting one of the best rushers can be great because of the consistency, but it takes a lot off the table for your team, and it's not something I would recommend. The biggest side effect would likely be having a weak bench.
You probably aren't getting a top-four player at any other position besides maybe tight end, so you're probably spending about $17 or $18 per starting spot, roughly. That will leave you with about $50 to fill your other nine roster spots, assuming you don't grab another star.
If you decide to get a star running back, you're going to have to make sacrifices, and picking the right sleepers becomes essential.
For me, putting all my eggs in one basket is too risky. In my opinion, you're much better off going with a guy like Mendenhall for $38 if you really want a top back. If you're set on AP, you have to do what you have to do, but just know I don't condone your actions.
If you need more convincing on why you don't need a top-tier running back, look no further.
2. Take Too Many Mid-Round Fliers
Personally, I'm fine with this strategy. It's technically not a great one to use, but if you're really confident you've done the research necessary to pick the right sleepers, it can really pay off.
Obviously you would go after at least one high-priced player, say Michael Turner or Calvin Johnson, and a decent quarterback like Tony Romo, but after that just fill out your roster with sleepers and mid-round value.
A sample roster could look like this:
QB: Tony Romo
RB: Rashard Mendenhall, Felix Jones
WR: Miles Austin, Mario Manningham
FLEX: Shonn Greene
TE: Vernon Davis
That roster could likely be had for somewhere around $120. After that you have about $10 per slot to grab high upside backups such as Austin Collie, Mark Ingram, Brandon Marshall, Mike Tolbert and more.
You may not like those guys, but I do, and it's my fake team. Your whole bench could look like that. It would be a nightmare deciding who to play week to week, but that's one of those good problems.
At least a couple of those guys are bound to pop, and the more of them you have the better. This probably isn't my favorite plan, but I can definitely respect its use.
If you choose this method, you'd better make sure you've done your research.
1. My Favorite Strategy
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There are many different approaches you can take at an auction draft, and you just have to pick the one that you like the most. Getting AP or Foster isn't something I would do, but that doesn't mean it's wrong.
It's all about personal preference.
Personally, I go into most auctions or mock auctions targeting Aaron Rodgers, Antonio Gates and a top-four wide receiver.
I love Aaron Rodgers this year because he scores a ton of points and he's a guy you can trust. I'm a little concerned about concussions, but I really don't think it will be that big of a problem. He still gets rushing yards, but he's safer than Michael Vick.
The Packers don't run the ball all that much, and the Packers are behind in the fourth quarter more than the Eagles or Patriots, so Rodgers is going to throw tons of passes. For less than $50, I think Rodgers is a reliable option that puts you well ahead of the field at quarterback.
Gates is the best at his position by about 100 times, yet he's only going for about $20. He is a game-changer and he gives you at least a few points per game above the competition at that position. I would probably go close to $30 before I let someone else take Gates.
I recently wrote an article on why I believe you must have Gates on your team if you want to win championship. He's a crucial component of any fantasy team, and I can't recommend picking him highly enough.
You can find that post here—I really think it could be of value to you.
The reason I recommend taking a top wide receiver is that I believe they are reliable. Barring injury, I think Roddy White, Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson and Hakeem Nicks are all locks to have dominant fantasy seasons. I also feel that way about the top-five running backs.
The difference is, you have to pay at least $55 for a top RB while you're only paying $37 for a top wide receiver.
I probably won't be paying $44 for Andre Johnson or $41 for Roddy White, but I would pay $33 for Nicks or Calvin Johnson. Maybe even Fitzgerald would be okay if you can get him in the $20 range.
If you add all that up, you're spending about half your budget on three players. That may seem crazy not having a running back and all, but if you haven't noticed, I favor a method that puts a premium on quantity rather than quality when it comes to running backs.
They're just too injury prone, and backups come out of the woodwork to dominate too often. I don't trust any of them.
A sample team for this method could include the following:
QB: Aaron Rodgers
RB: Shonn Greene, Felix Jones, Mark Ingram, Ryan Mathews, Daniel Thomas
WR: Calvin Johnson, Santonio Holmes, Mario Manningham, Chad Ochocinco
TE: Antonio Gates
Those players would probably cost you somewhere between $175-$190. You might have room for one other good backup and then roster fillers.
Obviously the team is weak at running back, but if just two of those guys are good, you're fine. You have the No. 1 players at QB and TE while also having a solid receiving corps. I believe this is a winning strategy, but that's just my take.
You just have to pick a plan that works for you. The best advice I can give you is just to have a plan in the first place, or Slide 1 could doom you. And believe me, you really, really do not want that to happen.
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