Ah, auction drafts. My favorite. If I had my way we’d kick snake drafts to the curb (or curb stomp them if you just watched America History X or just played Gears of War – you get those supercool, not at all dated references, amirite?). I re-read my Auction primer from 2017, and there are some good nuggets in there I suggest you go peruse, either now or at your leisure, I’ll leave it up to you…
But let’s say you chose to ignore my advice and not read my Auction Primer. That’s ok (my feelings can take it), so I’m going to pick out the most important lines, and it wouldn’t be a Razzball post if it wasn’t me quoting me. The biggest takeaways that still and always apply are:
“The pricing of the website you are using to draft is the most important. Because most leaguemates will use the default pricing as a guide and as such won’t typically exceed those values by more than $5. So compare your values to the default site your using is the best way I’ve found to determine pricing.”
Furthermore, to keep it simple, what I’ve done for this season is add $5 for guys I want and take $5 from the guys I don’t. There are auction values all over the interwebs, but what really matters is knowing the costs of the website you are drafting with, since that is the anchor that most, if not all, of your leaguemates will use. If this paragraph reads like different wording but saying basically the same thing as the preceding one know it’s on purpose because that’s how strongly I feel about this.
“For nominating: I nominate guys I don’t want until the middle to end of the draft. I want others to spend their money early which makes them more hesitant to go higher on the guys I want. Don’t nominate Kickers and Defense early, because then your leaguemates can budget better knowing they have those positions filled. This has more to do with psychology of auction drafting, which is a real thing and if you’ve been paying attention you’ve already noticed me mentioning it throughout; the psychological aspect comes from experience of doing auction drafts with real people.”
Obviously it’s better to personally know your leaguemates, so you know your one buddy is a Ravens fan who will overpay for them, or your other friend is a Bears fan and he won’t draft Packers, or your one friend bailed at the last minute and someone’s wife had to step in and all she knows is she’ll overpay for this Mahomes guy. Even if you don’t know your leaguemates, they are still people, not bots. If you’ve ever been in a bidding war, that’s a prime example of the psychological aspect of auction drafting. It’s like when you go to pass someone going slow on the freeway and when they see you start to pass them they speed up, you know what I’m saying?
I also can’t stress enough about the Kickers and Defense nominating. Besides being lame, it also doesn’t force people to spend their auction dollars. You want your opponents to spend money on guys you don’t want so you can get more of the guys you want for cheaper. Disagree if you want at your own peril.
My favorite part of auction drafting is getting the guys we want. In a snake draft, that often doesn’t happen. So my best advice is Draft the Team You Want. Fantasy sports are so much more fun when you have guys you like. Go the extra $5 on the guy you want and I promise you in almost all cases you won’t miss that $5 by the time the draft is over and you’ll be happier psychologically rooting for a team you like rather than having a bunch of “value” guys that you aren’t excited about.
I say this from experience, as I’ve noticed that many other managers won’t go the extra dollar since its outside their “value” for the player, and then they get to the end of the draft with $15 left, so they spend $15 on a kicker. How is that fun? You can’t take the money with you, so spend it.
There are so many different draft strategies, from Stars and Scrubs, to zero-RB (which isn’t really zero RB, it’s more like crappy RBs) to spreading that money around. My personal strategy is Stars and Scrubs, but as its your team I won’t tell you how to draft. Just take note of making a solid list of $1 guys. The guys you take with your last few picks probably will be cut week 1 for the hot adds, so don’t waste more than a buck on them. Same with Kickers and Defense (and TE to an extent), don’t spend more than a buck on them either, cause the money you don’t spend on those 3 positions and ending bench spots can be better spent on a top WR or RB.
Lastly, remember every auction draft is different. I’ve been in ones where the top guys (and this dates me too, but I remember after LDT’s huge season the next year we didn’t nominate him until the 3rd round) don’t go until deep into the draft, or ones where the first round was filled with TEs, Kickers and Defenses. Be ready to zig when others zag (a theme I picked up from Grey many years ago) and make changes on the fly. Say you see the top RBs going for $20 more than the top WRs (seems to be happening this year) but in your draft, the top WRs are going for more than the top RBs. So you see this in real time, and adjust your strategy from drafting the top RBs and taking second/third tier WRs to top WRs and second/third tier RBs. Be flexible and embrace the chaos of Auction drafts and you’ll be fine.
Yahoo! Values Section
Now let’s get on with 2019. This is for Yahoo! values only, so if you’re in ESPN or Fantrax or CBS or another host site, the dollar values won’t be applicable to those leagues, but the overall message can be applied to any auction draft.
Note: The values above as of 8/23/19 with a $200 budget, 1 QB 2 RBs, 2WRs, 1 Flex, K, D.
Yahoo uses projected values and average cost, which I think is kind of silly, as average cost for auctions is primarily determined by when a player is nominated. Since you can nominate any player when it’s your turn, this can lead to guys drafted late having a really low average cost, but if they’re thrown out early, they go for closer to their projected values. It’s an imperfect system, but how much can we really complain about a free site?
Anyhoo, let me talk about my strategy for 2019 and Yahoo! Dollar values, which is what you’re really here for. I’m going with stars and scrubs strategy, ideally looking for one of the top RBs, and pairing him with a high tier two RB and a top tier WR, or two top tier two WRs.
Running backs are up first. This season (especially in PPR) I want one of Christian McCaffrey or Alvin Kamara. I’ll take whoever is cheaper, but I’m getting one of them. Even if I have to “overpay.” Quotation marks there because value is relative, but regardless the likelihood of them going much more than $5 over their average cost is slim, and I can make a good team with them even with a slight overpay. The floor is so high for both that I can’t see going wrong with either to start a team. Currently Kamara is at $68 and McCaffrey is at $67, and I’d pay $70ish for them. However, if you like Saquon Barkely better, go get him. I’m just not going to as his floor isn’t as high as the other two and Zeke I’m avoiding since who knows about his holdout (as of this writing).
Next I want to pair my top RB with a Tier Two, $50ish RB. Here we have David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, James Conner, Nick Chubb, Melvin Gordon and Joe Mixon. Of this group, who are going for an average cost of $45-58, I am only considering Conner. The others have too many questions and too low of floors for me to consider at their prices. Gordon’s situation especially worries me. If Conner goes for too much, I’m looking at Todd Gurley and his $36 average cost. That value for his ceiling is worthwhile enough, and I can use the extra money saved to put toward my flex or get a better WR1 or WR2.
The rest of Tier 3 RBs, I see are Damien Williams at $35, Aaron Jones at $24, Devonta Freeman at $23, Kerryon Johnson at $20. All are good value plays for an RB2 or Flex spot. Williams especially is undervalued and has a reasonably high floor, same with Freeman. Depending on how the draft goes, you may be able to get a lot of the following RBs for less than even these costs:
Sony Michel $10
Chris Carson $8
James White $4
Tarik Cohen $4
Lamar Miller $4
Wide Receivers at the top seem undervalued compared to their RB counterparts, but we can use that to our advantage. Going off of Average Cost, the top tier of DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr, and Michael Thomas; coming in with values between $49-57. No problem with any of those guys in that price range. JuJu Smith-Schuster falls right in between tier one and tier two pricing-wise at $44, and he’s the guy I want most this year.
With that being said I am really liking tier two and hope to get two guys from the group of: Tyreek Hill, Mike Evans, Keenan Allen, Amari Cooper and Adam Thielen. Their costs are between $28-36, and I may very well get two of them; I highly advise doing the same if possible.
Tier Three Value plays:
Stefon Diggs $22
Robert Woods $18
Brandin Cooks $13
Julian Edelman $15
Cooper Kupp $9
Rest of the Wideout Value Plays:
Tyler Boyd $6
DJ Moore $6
Will Fuller $3
John Brown $1
Josh Gordon $1
Mark Andrews $1
Tight End is a position I already said I don’t want to spend more than a buck on; however I see Kelce as a Gronk type of Tight End as he’s the number one option on the Chiefs and could see spending $50 on him; doing that just means your #2 wide receiver is going to be a value guy and not a tier two or three guy. But that can work, just know that is your strategy going in. An easier way to do this may be to go after the cheaper George Kittle, who also is his team’s number one option and is about $20 cheaper than Kelce. I am passing on Ertz, Howard, Henry and Engram as I don’t see them as head and shoulders above the cheaper options. If you don’t do the Kelce/Kittle strategy, here are the value TEs and getting one for a buck shouldn’t be difficult, just can’t be choosey on which one:
David Njoku $3
TJ Hoeckenson $2
Kyle Rudolph $2
Trey Burton $2
Saving Quarterbacks for last makes sense in my mind, as there are so many value plays here it is silly to pay more than $5 for any of them, and in most cases a dollar should be all you need to spend. I did manage to draft Mahomes and Kelce in a league and added Gurley and Jones as my starting RBs, but I was left with Tier 3 and beyond wideouts. If you can stomach that, getting the Chiefs juggernaut combo may be worth it. I recommend drafting two QBs for less than $5 total, knowing that the odds are good one will work out, and possibly both. Here are the value plays at Quarterback:
Cam Newton $3
Drew Brees $3
Dak Prescott $2
Matt Ryan $4
Jared Goff $2
Kirk Cousins $2
Sam Darnold $1
So that’s it, and if you’ve made it this far know that I appreciate you, and have blessed you with the most fantasy luck I can give. Now go dominate your drafts Razzballers!