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.

  1. KVC

    cleaver596 says:

    Once the season gets a little closer, I wonder if we can get enough people to do a few mocks with Razzball readers. It would be nice to get some practice with people who have a better understanding than the average Joe. I for one need lots of practice. I’m all ready worried about screwing up my football due to it being my first football auction.

  2. Doc

    Doc says:

    @cleaver596: For sure. I’m always up for a mock and I’m sure we could wrangle up some more.

  3. Levo says:

    it seems in leagues with a 200 budget, the top qb’s (from around Schaub and up) go between $20-$30. maybe a bit more for brees or rodgers. while the top running backs are going for around 50-60 (gore and up). All of that seems reasonable but what about 2 qb leagues. Obviously qbs are going to be more scarce and thus more valuable but i havent been able to figure out a range for them.

    I play in a deep league and qbs always go a round or two before standard projections but for a deep league that uses 2 qbs and an auction style draft, i have no idea what to set the values at.

    Any thoughts Doc?

  4. I am in an 18 team auction draft – not sure what $200 will buy – there will be 18 bidding here – how would you budget your money here

  5. Doc

    Doc says:

    @mrfootball: The percentages for each position will stay relatively the same, but the caliber of player will decrease. In such large leagues there will be a some variations on strategy, especially in QB’s. The drop off from 12th best to 18th best is fairly severe and prices will be driven up on 3rd, 4th tier QBs. Same with TE’s, but I would still wait on value with them.

    @Levo: That is tough. With 2 QB’s it changes everything. Just like mrfootball’s 18 team league the QB pool in a 2 QB league is shallow. Setting value is tough, but I would work really hard at getting two 10-14 ranked QBs. The guy that pays for Rodgers is going to have a hard time balancing his cash without grabbing a Stafford type. If you can grab Cutler/Flacco for example I think you are ahead of the curve. I would still allocate a large chunk of your cash to RBs, but you’ll have to raise those percentages up for QBs to something like 15-20 percent and possibly more to keep from being stuck with a dud 2nd QB.

    As an aside, a player like Roethlisberger in a 2 QB league might go really cheap since teams need their QBs to play all season. I’d keep an eye on him for a backup.

  6. Cheese

    Cheese says:

    @Levo: I’m in a 2 QB league auction league, and top QBs usually go for about 16-20% of the cap each.

  7. temron says:

    for the qb’s there isnt much difference between say the number 8 to 16 for me if i didnt get say a Rodgers for 50 but bought 2 2nd tier QB’s for the same price in my league i somewhat get ahead we have bench pts though….the way i went is to get my guys i want but not over paying for them bue still have depth since we have bench scoring….last year i ended up with MJD Rice S Jax which all turned out great but took flyers on Favre and Eli……so if you want someone take them to me that is the best strategy but again don’t over pay…..you may want a guy but if you can get the same point value for less…..just go with your gut

  8. temron says:

    and one more thing of course work the free agent wire……i ended up with miles austin jamaal charles and sidney rice……so work them

  9. math man says:

    Wow, that all sounds great…..BUT you’re math is wrong! It’s REALLY wrong!

    You said that after your 3 RB ($95) and 3 WR ($60) you’ve got about $45 left….That’s correct.

    You say you’ve got $45 left but then you spend $25 on a QB and $10 on a TE…..that leaves you $10 (45 minus 25 minus 10 = 10). You then buy a Kicker and Defense each for $1 leaving you with $8.

    Great………..but you then say that all those numbers leave you with about “$5 per bench player” and there are 5 bench players?!?!?! Your now saying you’ve got about $25 for 5 players when you actually have $8 for 5 bench players!


  10. Doc

    Doc says:

    @math man: Yep, you’re right. I did have it right, but tweaked the numbers the other day and messed them up. Too many irons in the fire! I re-tweaked. Should be right again.

  11. xaj says:

    i’m doing auctions for the first time this year. i’ve been googling for budget suggestions, but it’s tough to figure out how to balance my starters with my bench. i don’t want to throw away all my money on studs, but i also want at least 2 lower-1st tiered rb’s and probably 1 low-1st tiered or high 2nd-tiered wr.

    the budget i’ve created so far looks like this: (15 players—5 bench, 1 flex, 1qb, 2wr, 2rb, 1 te, $200 cap)

    qb1 – $10
    rb1 – $50
    rb2 – $40
    wr1 – $32
    wr2 – $16
    flex1 – $21 (planning on a rb here)
    te – $7
    k – $1
    def – $1

    qb2 – $3
    rb4 – $11
    rb5 – $1
    wr3 – $5
    wr4 – $1
    rb6 – $1

    how does that budget look to you? with that i’m looking at a possible team including mendenhall/gore and shonn greene/charles rb tandem, miles austin, hakeem nicks, felix jones at flex and zach miller or winslow at te. with a qb of someone like cutler (if lucky) or kolb/mcnabb/favre and a joe flacco type at backup.

    but it still seems like my bench is going to be too bare. am i right in spending that much on my starters and going cheaper for the bench? with this setup, i’ll only be able to have 1 decent player on my bench.. maybe a justin forsett if i’m lucky and maybe TO as my bench receiver with the rest being $1 upside sleeper picks.

    the other thing is that if i set a budget of $90 for my top 2 rb’s and $30 for my wr, my money tends to disappear really quickly as those guys are generally the first nominated…yet every article i’ve read suggests waiting around to gain “power” in the draft. so how do you hold on to your power and not spend money, while still getting good players at the top positions?

    would it be better to pass on the mendenhalls and jamal charles in order to get cheaper guys like beanie wells and ryan grant (who are typically nominated way later), and thus gain the “power advantage” ?

  12. Doc

    Doc says:

    @xaj: I wouldn’t be married to any backs. You need to be flexible since they might just be bid up so high it makes no sense to take them. That budget is fine and I think if you are flexible you may end up with a few more dollars for your bench. But on the whole I see nothing wrong with those numbers as parameters.

  13. xaj says:

    how, exactly do you know when someone is bid up too high? do you just compare prices with other players who have already been drafted from the same tier? or do you just your gut in thinking it’s too much? or a little of both?

    i keep reading about finding “value” but i’m having a hard time (in mocks anyway) actually spotting a value pick. is a value pick someone like greg jennings or roddy white going for $24 while austin and wayne and calvin johnson are going for like $34?

  14. Doc

    Doc says:

    @xaj: Going with what percentages you want to pay at each position, rankings, and things like your last example is the only way to judge. The more prepared you are going in the easier to judge value.

  15. Gavin says:

    Doc; how might you split up that RB and WR money between the three of them? I don’t know where your “tier” splits are, but there’s no way you can get Reggie Wayne, Desean Jackson and Anquan Boldin for $60.

    Nice article, though. Super helpful.

  16. Doc

    Doc says:

    @Gavin: Yeah, looking at something like Jennings, Smith(car), Maclin. They could be had at 60 give or take.

  17. scott says:

    do you have a mock of this type of league with 2 RB 3WR and a flex?

  18. Doc

    Doc says:

    @scott: Ive done a few, but they always turn out where a couple people suck so they don’t seem like good representations all around. I guess that is how most auctions go, but they seem skewed. I’ll see if I can get one together.

  19. zack neugut says:

    can you make a list of suggested prices for every player

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