Navigate Auction Draft

How to Successfully Navigate Auction Drafts

While all types of drafts have their advantages and disadvantages, one of my favorite drafts is my 14-Team Auction league each year. Why are auction drafts so great? Simple, you can get whoever you want (outside of keepers). If there is a guy you have planted your flag on for the upcoming season, there’s no hoping that he drops to you or trying to figure out if he’ll last until your next pick. So spend the money and get your guy. 

However, if you don’t plan out ahead of time, you can find yourself digging through the $5 DVD bin at Walmart, hoping to find a gem in a sea of C-Level actors. In more than a decade of doing auction drafts, I have learned a multitude of lessons. I am now passing my knowledge and strategies on to you.

know your opponents in an auction draft
Know your league and your opponents

Know Your League

The cardinal rule for all leagues that you are in is making sure you know everything about the league’s format, settings, and managers. This knowledge plays a large part in your success in Auction Leagues. 

Details to acknowledge:

  • Roster construction (single quarterback/two quarterback/superflex, number of flex positions, IDPs, etc.)
  • Scoring (STD/PPR/Half PPR, tight end-premium, bonuses, etc.)
  • Salary cap
  • Keepers (How many are allotted, what do they cost to keep from year to year)
  • Free agency (waiver wire or FAAB and if the latter, how much free agents cost against your cap)

After considering the above, make sure you know as much about your league mates as possible.

  • Is this a league where certain positions go for ridiculous amounts compared to what research would suggest? Find the PFF Guide here.
  • Which league mates are more conservative than others?
  • Are there certain players that your competition is higher on than others? In my league, we refer to this as a “binky,” and a seasoned auction drafter will make you pay a premium for yours. Twitter, Facebook, and team avatars are great ways to see which players your league mates might target.
Spreadsheets are your friend

Create a Budget Spreadsheet

Some platforms will track your budget for you, but most will not (Sleeper just started this year). Because of this, I strongly suggest creating an Excel spreadsheet to track your budget. A spreadsheet will allow you to budget by position based on your strategy and adjust as the draft goes. The last thing you want is not to have enough money when bidding for someone you like. Knowing how much you have, how much you want to spend at that position, and what your max bid is ([Remaining Budget] – [Number of Open Spots – 1]) will help you adjust your strategy as the draft goes on.

Each league will have that person who blows their budget on 2-3 players and the player who waits for everyone to spend their money and pounces on the deals of the B-Level players. There is no wrong way to approach it, and that’s one of the parts that I love. If you love a player, get them. If you love a bargain, wait patiently. 

To be successful, you need to know who you are bidding against and budget properly. Maybe you can squeeze a few bucks out of them so they won’t have to bid against you later. Keep in mind, four to five dollars adds up if they overpay a handful of times.

Click here to view my Auction Tracker Spreadsheet.

Add Projected Values to Your Rankings

Whenever you go to a draft, you bring your rankings. When you are doing an auction draft, it helps to have player values attached to each player. If you’ve never done it before, sites like Fantasy Pros will provide you with a calculator that is adjustable to your league settings. Adjust your values based on the tendencies and the scoring in the league. 

Track your opponents moves throughout the draft

Track All the Teams Throughout the Draft

While this may sound difficult if it is your first time doing an auction draft, tracking all the teams provides beneficial information and helps choose future bids. Keeping track of the other competition enables you to determine:

  • How much everyone has left to bid
  • Max bid available (useful if you are in a bidding war with someone)
  • Positional depth/scarcity—if several wide receivers are off the board already, the remaining ones will likely cost less.
  • Opportunities to squeeze others into paying more if they waited on a position (if you have the funds and the bravery)

An Excel spreadsheet with formulas set up to track the salary cap has been my go-to. They are also easily adjustable if someone outbids you on a player and you need to pivot your strategy.

Set the trap to get your opponents to spend on players you don’t want

Nominate Players You Don’t Want Early

This concept may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how often I have told people this and blown their minds. In the first 2-3 rounds, I like to nominate players I know will be popular and cost a lot that I am not interested in at their price (or at all). 

My Florida Gators fan card will be pulled after this one, but Kyle Pitts is a great example. The hype train has gone off the rails for Pitts. He is an unbelievable athlete, but tight ends historically do not produce in Year 1. So, nominate him and let your league mates get into a bidding war. They overspend on the hype, and when your guy comes up to bid, you have more bullets left to fire and could even be getting a discount.

Don’t let emotion make you spend too much

Don’t Become Attached to a Player if the Price is Wrong

One of the most significant advantages of doing an auction draft is the ability to get whoever you want. Therefore, if you are planting your flag on a particular player, you can budget properly to make sure you have the funds to secure them. Be careful, though. Don’t overspend on a player just because you love them. If others are over-valuing that player, you have to know when to cut bait and avoid putting yourself in a bad cap situation.

Snag some cheap, high upside guys at the end

Snag Some Lottery Tickets

When you get towards the end of the draft, and all the big names are off the board, it’s time to take a couple of flyers on some high upside guys. Not only will these players be easier to drop if you have an injury, but if they pan out, they can be gold in an auction draft that has keepers. Likewise, if you want to trade for a higher-priced player, they can fill holes on your roster and be great trade chips if your league has keepers.

In the end, research, adaptability, and discipline are key to a successful auction draft. Careful planning will help you get your guys, get your opponents to spend their money elsewhere, and have you primed for a championship. 

Be sure to check me out on Twitter @NessyFFB for more content!

Auction Draft Tracker

Click below to get a copy of Ben Nestor's Auction Draft Tracker!
Copy and paste into your own spread sheet!

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