Fantasy Football: Auction Draft Strategy

The Stars And Scrubs Approach Will Net You A Bret Hart, But Will Also Land You A Bunch Of Useless Anvils
Photo Credit: John McKeon

In life, I abide by three simple rules:

1. When in doubt, eat it out
2.  Never place all your eggs in one basket
3. Snake Drafts are quicker, but Auctions are sicker!

When it comes to Fantasy Football, auctions are by far the most exciting way to draft your team. It is a much more dynamic experience. One where YOU have control over your team and not the randomly selected draft order. It is also a much fairer process, as it allows every owner every opportunity to grab every player. It’s your prerogative how you decide to go about formulating the “dream team.” Over the years, I have become accustomed to schooling those less fortunate in the art of auction sharkdom. I rarely come out of an auction draft feeling uneasy about my team (can’t say the same about snake drafts though). Luckily for you, I have decided to not be a hoarder and share with you my secrets to auction draft success. Pay attention, it’s about to get real.

More after the jump:

Tip 1: Auction drafts are for champs, not for chumps
Too often, I come out of auction drafts feeling like I drafted the perfect team. Obviously this isn’t necessarily true, but I am always confident with my results. This confidence is what I believe sets me apart from other auction drafters. So, the first rule of auction drafting is to go into the draft believing that you are Bret Hart (the best there ever is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be). It’s important to feel confident for one reason; the more confident you are, the more likely you are to get what you want from the draft room. You have to make sure your league mates know you are the top dog in the room. You shouldn’t be afraid to bid on players, just like you shouldn’t be afraid to win the players you want. If you don’t like a price a player is going for, you should bid him up. The biggest mistake you can make in auction drafts (and in life) is to not do what you actually want to do. If you want to have any success in auction drafts, you have to go in guns blazing. Be a champ, not a chump.

Tip 2: It’s fake money fools, don`t be a Stingy Steven
Stingy Stevens, also known as Fantasy Sports writers not associated with the SoR, are your favorite people in the draft room. Instead of going after the players they like, they let the draft room determine who they get. They are always searching for the biggest bargains and they ache for undervalued players. Although there are certain moments in the draft when you too will have to search for value, to base your whole draft strategy on this mantra is a tad ridiculous. Sometimes players are undervalued for no good reason. Oftentimes, players are cheap because they aren`t any good or have no room for profit at their draft price. You shouldn’t have to settle for a team full of dudes like Benjarvus Green-Ellis, Willis McGahee, and Marques Colston (who is an exceptional WR2, but not someone you want as your WR1). Instead, I implore you to be a man (or woman) and spend your fake money. Spend it all, spend it where you want and how you want. If you think Brandon Lloyd is worth twenty-eight bucks, go get him! No one ever got ahead in life by being afraid to take chances.

Tip 3: Let the stars and scrubs drafters have their fun
Although often frowned upon, the Stars and Scrubs approach to auction drafting is still heavily used. My advice to you is that unless you are in an eight-team league , you should never use this approach. It will often leave your team gaping with holes larger than your mother`s… umm I mean the Grand Canyon. I’ll discuss into a better draft approach later, but the point I want to make here is simple: let those silly enough to use the Stars and Scrubs approach spend their money. If you find yourself in a bidding war with a manager who has already drained most of his bank account, suck it up and let him have the player. Your goal in any auction is to gain as much financial leverage over your opponents as possible before you make the majority of your buys. The quicker you remove a league mate from having the opportunity to buy from the player pool, the more likely it is you will get quality players on your team.

Tip 4: Draft as many top tier players as you can
I like to call this approach the Stars and Undervalued Stars strategy to auction drafting. As an example, I’ll show you who I spent my money on in a recent, very competitive, 16-team league:

Chris Johnson: $41
Jamaal Charles: $37
Brandon Lloyd: $28
Phillip RIvers: $25
Miles Austin: $22
Jason WItten: $14
LeGarette Blount: $6

That is my entire starting offensive lineup (it’s an IDP league). I spent the majority of my money on guys who I can trust, who I know barring injury will produce elite numbers. The rest of the team is then completed with solid value buys, guys who are priced in the 1-3 dollar range but who have the potential to be much more valuable. The following are who I added to my bench:

Danny Amendola: $2
Brandon LaFell: $3
Joe Flacco: $6
Doug Baldwin: $3
Chris Rainey: $1
Curtis Brinkley: $1

The hope is that all of these players will prove to be great bargains. Although a tad agressive and unorthodox, I find this approach to auction drafting to be the most successful. Instead of grabbing value guys and having good depth or being talent heavy at one position while weak at others, you can see that my entire starting offense (except maybe LeGarette Blount) is filled with studs at their positions. As such, there is a greater likelihood that my starting lineup will put up more points than other starting lineups. I can dig that and you should too! Employ the Stars and Undervalued Stars strategy.

Tip 5: Pay for your unquestioned starters, don`t for your unquestioned bench.
This plays into my last tip. The goal is to surround your team around quality players from the first couple of tiers. You don’t want to grab a bunch of value guys to fill out your entire roster. Your bench is your bench for a reason, they aren’t good enough (or they haven’t proven enough) to warrant a spot on your starting roster. This is why spending money on mid-tiered backups is useless. Let us say that you draft a team using the Stingy Steven approach. You are likely going to get solid players all around, and because you didn`t spend money on some big name players, your bench is probably going to be filled with some other solid players. Now, let`s say that your roster does exactly as you expected it to. Your starting value buys are doing moderately well, and your value buys on the bench are also performing admirably. What this leaves you with is a group of bench players who could be starting on your team. You are essentially leaving talent on the bench, and as my friend Kanye West likes to say, that shit cray. Sure, you might be able to trade these bench players later on, but that`s assuming that other owners will want to trade with you. Don’t be down Charlie Brown, make your starting roster dope, and fill your bench with cheap, high-ceiling buys.

If you are still stuck in the stone age, and enjoy watching Melrose Place reruns and snake drafting, I strongly consider you go see a therapist. You have serious mental issues and you shouldn’t be allowed to walk around in society. All kidding aside, auction drafts are much more interesting than snake drafts and you should move on with the times and enter yourself in one. Trust me, you won’t regret it.  Alas, If you have any other auction tips you want to share, please do. I love hearing other opinions and I understand that there are numerous draft strategies out there and that all–if orchestrated correctly–can yield excellent results. So, without further ado, I will let you take it to the comments where I’ll either agree or disagree with you. I may humiliate you too, but know its because I love you.



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.