I’m going to give you 200 bucks to buy a team of NFL players. The problem is, you have to outbid 11 other people for the players you want. Have at it!
Going into any draft you should have some type of game plan so you don’t feel like you are constantly on the edge of a great precipice after you just had a sixer of Old Milwaukee. But just as in any draft you have to be ready to switch up your strategy. And this can be more difficult in an auction than in a snake, but most things are also pretty difficult when inside a snake. I usually feel like I need to be slightly more prepared for an auction. So this is what I do —
Don’t waste money on your bench. This is usually a tenet of someone using the “Studs and Duds” draft strategy, but who in the hell wants a dud? Unless it’s a milk dud of course. Do you want to build your team with Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson as the anchors, well, sure, but you can’t afford them. If you do get both you will be playing the ultimate studs and duds strategy with real life duds. So when I say don’t waste money on your bench, I don’t mean go into the draft thinking you’ll be grabbing 1 dollar schmoes for your bench, but that you will concentrate on building a team where you feel good about your starters, because yes, they are the ones scoring points. Do you want five 3rd and 4th tier receivers or three 1st, 2nd and 3rd tier starting receivers? I think you know what I’d answer.
Throw out players you don’t want early. This tidbit is becoming old hat to most auction drafters, but it still holds true. When you have more money you are more likely to throw it around. And even if every guy/gal in your league knows this rule, it isn’t going to hurt you if it doesn’t work. The best players to toss out early are those that are being hyped a lot at the time of your draft. Always throw out hype machine players that you don’t want first. And rookie wide receivers are always good to go early. Mike Williams may be on track for greatness, but he’s a rookie on a bad Tampa team with a green QB. If you can get someone to pay starter prices for him because he’s getting good press, then do it. And the opposite holds true also; be sure to not throw out a guy you really want. Let a few people fill out their positions and spend some money so you have less people to bid against.
Have a budget. A lot will depend on your salary cap and the number of starting slots, but come up with a rough number for each starting position just so you don’t go crazy. As you know I am a running back fiend; it’s the way I roll or whatever. So I will want to put a big percentage of my cash in RB’s, no not Arby’s, even though I do like their Cheddar Melts. But what percentage? In this default league we have 1 QB, 2 RB, 1 Flex, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 D/ST and 5 bench players. I like to spend about 40% of my cap on my top 3 running backs. So in our default league that’s 80 dollars. Does that get you three top tier RBs? Nope, but how often do you get that in a snake draft? Don’t get greedy! I also like to get a WR from each of the top 3 tiers. That doesn’t mean they have to be the first WR in each tier. Any place will do. I think this can be accomplished with 30% or 60 dollars.
You’ve just spent an arse-load on your starting RBs and WRs and you are a little afeared you are going to have Trent Edwards and Anthony Fasano starting. I can understand; been there, done that. So you’ve got about 60 bucks to spend on a QB, TE, K, D, and 5 bench spots. That ain’t much, but let’s take a look at what we have here. If you pay more than a dollar for a kicker it better be because you accidentally had 2 dollars left over and it was your last pick. So, 1 dollar for a kicker, 1 dollar for a defense, 10 dollars for a TE, 20-25 for a QB and that leaves you with 23-28 dollars for your bench, around 5 bucks a bench player, which, by the end of a draft, when people are out of money and have mismanaged their whole draft, is not that bad. Remember, just because this is an Auction doesn’t mean you can get everyone you want. In Snake Drafts you are taking fliers on backups toward the end. Those guys can be had for 1-3 dollars usually. With these projected prices and percentages I think you are safe to overspend a smidgen on that guy you are sure is going to break out, and it still won’t leave you with a dollar for your QB.
Be polite and let the others go first. Gauge how the draft is going. Are people driving up the price of certain positions? Is one person collecting all the top RBs? Are people playing it safe? Don’t sit out of the bidding, but unless there is a player on your must have list that is going for dirt cheap (which won’t happen), then just throw some drive up the price bids in there to make your league mates think you are ready to spend.
Throw in drive up the price bids, but only if you are willing to take that player at that price. If you see someone who isn’t your favorite, but has good value at the current bid, then bid. But if you get too sneaky, you might just get jacked hard. Say you really despise Clinton Portis so you nominate him early. He could be the starting back in a Shanahan run team. People will want him for 5 or 6 bucks at least. So, somebody throws in a couple bucks, then three, then four, and you chuck a five in there to keep things rolling, but the bus stops here and you are stuck on it. You now have Clinton Portis clogging up a spot on your bench. You suck.
Be frugal as a default position. This goes along with the letting people go first position. If you have more money than the dude you are bidding against, you win. You may have to miss out on some of your guys early on, but there are more of “your guys” and they will be a little cheaper later in the draft and you will have the cash to get them. Patience is not a strong trait in fantasy footballers or people in general.
Spend on the guys you want. Contradiction alert! When you look at a list of average auction prices there is about a 99% chance the guy you want will go for more than that. Have a budget, but don’t be afraid to splurge a little. You only live once!
Don’t back yourself into a corner. You are being patient and looking for value and all of a sudden you need a QB, but somehow all the guys you want are almost gone and you are suddenly in a bidding war for Mark Sanchez. Track who is left on the board carefully. The more of “your” guys that are left, the easier it is for you to pass on players that are getting bid sky high.
Get the snake out of your head. Or, don’t play like Medusa? Anyway, think of how the talent flies off the board in a snake draft. CJ, gone, AP, gone, MJD, gone, and so on and on. And in an auction draft you might go in with the same mentality. First I need to fill up my RB slots, then my WR’s and, well, you get the picture. But you can draft a bench player first. It’s ok! This is why you need a budget. If only there were auction draft credit cards.
This also allows you to nominate a kicker you want early. People want to get kickers for a dollar (as they should), so throw Hartley or Kaeding out there early and if someone wants to up the bid, let them. If not, you’ve got the dollar kicker you want. Same is true with defenses. Pick your sleeper D’s and throw them out on the table. You’ll be playing matchups mostly anyway.
Handcuffs are pricey later in the draft. If you are really high on Chester Taylor this season then try to get him before Matt Forte is paid for. If you wait, and the Forte owner is really keen on getting Taylor, the price goes up. Same goes with all backups.
Pay attention to who your opponents want. In auctions you get a good idea who your opponents are after which might help you in trades later, but this idea goes both ways. Don’t cry when you just don’t have enough money for Beanie Wells. There are other fish in the barrel, take another shot and one will float up. Is this really a thing? Shooting fish in a barrel? When you miss a guy you want to shrug it off. They probably paid too much for him. You are the one coming out ahead.