Fantasy Baseball: Auction Strategy

Definitely Too Dumb For Auctions
Photo Credit: istolethetv


I’m so adamant about how superior fantasy auctions are to snake drafts, I’m not even doing a goddamn snake draft strategy piece. Honestly, what advice can I give to fantasy owners doing snake drafts?


“Be lucky enough to land a picking spot towards one of the ends so you can pick up back-to-back players.”


If you and your friends are still doing snake drafts, these are the only possible reasons:


1) You are relatively new to fantasy sports and are intimidated by auctions


2) You are too dumb to understand auctions


3) You are old (we all know how much older people hate change)


The auction format puts you in total control of your team. The onus is completely on the owner to craft a championship-caliber team. That’s right, no hoping that you luck out and get a sweet spot in the draft order. Just pure, unadulterated skill. 


New to the auction set-up? No worries. I’m not only here to convert you to auctions, but to help you maneuver through them like a seasoned pro. Some auction columns offer concrete strategies, which are fugazi. Auctions are like your mom: they are tricky whores that can twist in all different directions. So trying to apply an etched-in-stone approach is foolhardy as your decision-making could alter every few picks.


Instead, I’ll provide some do’s and don'ts that should help you successfully navigate through an auction and put you in a position to build a championship-worthy roster. Pretty f’ing nice of me. 


More after the jump:


DO Make Lists Ahead Of Time

This is probably the best advice I can give anyone (whether an auction rookie or a vet). For every auction, I categorize each position into the following:


1) Players Whose Fantasy Value I Believe Will Be As Good Or Better Than Their Projected Value (I was originally gonna roll with “Players I Really Want,” but that would’ve evoked a “pause” of epic proportions)


2) Players I Hate


3) Dirt-Cheap Options


The first group can actually be broken into two sections: pricey players you think are worth the money, and potentially popular sleepers who you are very confident in. Either way, these are players you are willing to shell out ducats for. The players you hate are who you will be nominating throughout the auction. These include the overhyped and overvalued fantasy options that you want nothing to do with (but that you know someone will spend good money on). Nominating the most expensive “players you hate” not only gets those players off the board, but it also gets people to spend their money (which can come in hand later in the draft when bidding wars go down for players you actually want). The third group is pretty self-explanatory: players that will be cheap enough to pick up in the late rounds. These guys become really important if your top targets slip through your fingers.


So what’s the benefit of doing all this categorizing? Well, during the auction you will cross players off your lists that are no longer available. As the auction moves along, you will have a good idea of the acceptable depth that is at each position you need to fill. For example, say you are in need of a 3B and can see that you only have one three-bagger you “really want” and the dirt-cheap options remaining for you are less tempting. Well, that will spur you to allocate your money properly so that when said player becomes nominated, you’ll have the do-re-mi necessary to add them to your roster. Similarly, having these lists also helps you capitalize on fantasy owners who are susceptible to “position runs” (i.e., when a bunch of players at the same position are getting snatched up by owners worried the position is drying up with talent). If you see that the 2Bs people will spend decent coin on are starting to disappear, nominating a player that people value could force bidding wars and goad them into overspending. 


Making lists is honestly the best way to stay ahead of the game and keep track of legitimate roster options. If you ain’t making lists, you ain’t making hits.


DON’T Focus Too Heavily On Saving Your Money

Tightening the purse strings early can ensure getting any player you want in the last few rounds, but it can backfire. Many leagues see top players go $8-15 less than their projected value during the first couple of rounds of nominations. Spending early when great players (even ones who aren’t on your list) are available on the cheap is just one way that an auction can destroy any concrete plan you concocted. Because auctions can be exhausting mentally, it’s recommend that you…


DO Have Mind-Altering Substances Handy

Beer, Weed, Bath Salts. Whatever it takes to keep you from getting “bored” at the auction, drink/snort/inject it into your system. I’ve seen many a good player get scooped up for way cheaper than they should’ve been and it was because they were nominated in the late-middle rounds and the other owners were asleep at the switch. If you turn the auction into a party, then you’re more likely to be engaged throughout it. 


DON’T Feel The Need To Bid Everyone Up

You hear a lot of people talking about how they love to bid people up. What those same people DON’T tell you is that if you do that throughout the auction, you WILL get stuck with at least one “oopsie” buy. Probably two. Maybe three. Don’t get it twisted, if you know a league-mate has a boner for a certain player, feel free to make sure they pay close to market value. However, if you get greedy and really try to get them to overbid, you could get stuck with a player you never wanted in the first (or last) place.


DO Use the Chat Feature To Throw Suckas Off

The chat often gets ignored when an auction starts, but if there is a player who gets nominated that you want no part of, start saying things like:


“Teixeira? Def worth $45”


“Josh Hamilton? Would be shocked if he went for less than $60”


You may get a couple complaints from those kind of posts; they usually look like this:


“Guy, NOT COOL. It is NOT COOL to talk about player prices while they are on the block”


It’s hard to gauge how much this “weapon” works as a price-raising technique, but it sure as shit is fun to do when people start whining about it.


DO Load Up On Cheaper SPs

Starting pitching is the running back position of fantasy baseball. It’s volatile as hell and you usually have to spend solid-to-stupid money to get the better options. I’m not saying only drop dough on the really cheap arms. Guys like Gio Gonzalez always end up on several of my squads. He cost around $11-15 last year. You get a few types like that (high upside, but has not reached full potential) and a couple of $1 buys with some $3-7 cheapies mixed in, and you stand as good a chance to win the pitching stats as your league-mates do. 


Let’s face it, hitters are easier to predict and are less injury-prone, making them safer. You want to spend the bulk of your dollars building your offense, because it’s very difficult to piece-meal a competitive offense in fantasy leagues if you come out of your auction with a mediocre lineup. The way you create the money necessary to ensure a top offense is to sacrifice your pitching staff’s budget. Fortunately, you have the Sons of Roto draft kit handy, which will point you in the right direction for pitching, hitting, and all other dominance-related advice. 


About Starbonell

Starbonell is the co-founder of Sons of Roto and one of the most insightful and colorful fantasy analysts in the game. Mixing intelligent and well-researched advice with an entertaining style of writing that is easy to digest, Starbonell is the king of info-tainment.