If you have a choice when drafting, do an auction. (Especially since Razzball just released it’s Auction Values!) If you do an auction, do it live! Nothing is better than that. If you can get a group your friends together in one place, for one draft, annually, you will be able to do it in perpetuity. I say this while participating in one live auction draft league for more than a decade and it shows no signs of slowing.
Auction strategy will cross apply with snake drafting and that’s cool as we all play in those leagues too. This isn’t the first Razzball Auction Draft post, here’s the link to malamoney’s post last year, which is a excellent read. One great part of auction drafting is that strategy can differ, and in some cases greatly, compared to snake draft strategy. So I agree with him on some things, disagree on others, and that’s OK! I’m a big fan of the idea of KISS (Keep it simple, stupid – Mr. James Carville) and it’s true in life and Fantasy Football…
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The biggest reason to keep it simple is the unpredictability of auction drafts. I’ve compiled values from mocks before; taken multiple website prices and averaged those; then used a combination to compile my values. You know what I’ve found? It doesn’t matter much. 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.
Ranking players: Using a tier ranking system is my preferred method as I feel this works even better in the auction format. There are guys at the top of every tier that are worth spending the extra and guys at the bottom (not drafting). So I set price ranges for tiers to give the most flexibility. For example, this season, based on a $200 budget with standard rosters, I’ll likely set a second tier RB range at, say, $30-50, which hopefully allows me to grab one of them at a value and the other not so much. So stick to your ranges. I set a budget per position, but keep that fluid, too. Since you have a range of pricing and tiers of players you can be more flexible when you draft a guy for less (or more) than you budgeted.
With that being said, we all have guys we like and if you really want a guy, draft him. You want to be excited about your team leaving the draft, not feeling like “I got all these great deals…but I hate my team” (which I’ve heard before more than a few times over the years). Being excited about your team will keep you more engaged and should contribute to managing better in-season I’ve found.
My strategy this season (and most seasons) is star power at the RB and WR position, with a little QB mixed in there. I don’t need David Johnson or LeVeon Bell, but I’m good with two from Tier 2. Though if you want Johnson and Bell, you should do it; it’s your team and your season. I’ll also aim for two Tier 2 WRs and then look at Tier 3 for flex, and Tier 4 for WR3. For QBs, if a top tier guy falls, you can pounce; but normally what I recommend is taking two QBs from Tier 2 – Tier 3 and figure one of them is going to be a full season starter which almost always works out. Sometimes both are every week starters which leads to trade bait…mmm…trade bait.
Quickly, this is how I feel about drafting defenses and kickers: take the best one for $1; if you miss on good ones take the best week 1 matchup. Next!
So I budget top heavy for the skill positions while leaving $1-2 in any format for Defense, Kicker and Tight End. The last one has become more surprising in recent years, but it’s simply a position where, by my rankings I’ll end with a top ten guy for cheap (since no one needs two…seriously). Every year without fail there’s a couple teams that do it; doesn’t matter the type of league and I’ll never understand it. To reiterate No one Needs Two TEs, please take another RB or WR or QB even, just not a second tight end. Shame the guys in your league that do this and it’ll be better for the world.
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.
Keep your head in the draft at all moments (which can be hard as the draft can be tedious, especially not live), because there are usually two or three guys that go at a deep discount, and it’s those guys that everyone after the draft is talking about as being a steal. It’ll never be the same guys, that I can promise. For example in a high stakes league with six point passing touchdowns I drafted Aaron Rodgers for well under market price. I can speculate as to why it happened (goes back to league history and psychology of leaguemates), but it did and I was ready to pounce. You want to be ready too.
Make your $1 list. I usually want to fill 60% of my bench, D, K, TE with $1 guys. So I know I won’t get a lot of the $2-10 guys so those guys don’t make my $1 list. It’s all about fliers and upside and most likely, getting cut week 1. Then you have to manage your team, which is at least half the battle. Half of my leagues this season will be auction and snake. I know leagues are already drafting so I’ll be coming out with some auction values as soon as possible, cause I know you need some more $$ values, especially mine, right?
Sadly I moved and had to give up my spot last year in my long running auction league. It was a good group, very little turnover. I had a few good friends in the league while the rest of the were people I spent time with usually at softball or at the local bars in the early years but after a decade on it became seeing them once a year at the draft. Never made the draft less fun. There are friendly rivalries and camaraderie, lots of good food and drink, and the excitement of the auctioneer “going once, going twice, gone.” Quick advice: If you’re thinking about doing a live auction, get an auctioneer, don’t let it be someone already in the league. We discovered that it really screws that guy, so find a lively friend that doesn’t like fantasy football to be your auctioneer.
Now take all this strategy, realize what happens when you draft LeVeon Bell and David Johnson and Julio Jones and have $3 max bid and all that strategy is out the window (but you have 3 of the top six players, how awesome is that? That’s why I love auctions!). In that case I hope you made a list of $1 guys!