When it comes to advice, I’ve always been more of a “do as I say, not as I do” type of guy. I like to take risks. I like to work off my gut feelings and instincts as much as, if not more that, I rely on empirical data. I still do the necessary research to remain as informed as possible, but on many occasions, I like to take a left even when the directions say to take a right. It’s probably not the most sensible way to go about things, but I always seem to end up in the right place. It’s no different for me with when it comes to fantasy football auctions.
The way I go about my own auctions is not how I would instruct a beginner, and I often encourage others to play it safe rather than linger outside the box with overly bold or unconventional methods. Obviously, there are certain leaps of faith you must take in regard to player selection, but this isn’t a piece about choosing players. This is a piece about how you go about acquiring those players in an auction format.
You obviously don’t have to take everything I say here as gospel. Consider it more of a guideline than anything else. After all, there is no one right way to be successful at an auction. However, what I can do is assure you that if you do follow these eight easy steps, you’ll put yourself in a much better place to win your league than if you don’t.
DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: SN fantasy football cheat sheet
Fantasy Football Auction Draft Strategy
1. Strategy Goes a Long Way, So Have a Plan
This seems easy enough to follow, especially for the beginning player. Auctions can be confusing, overwhelming and even a bit intimidating if you don’t have a strategy picked out, so make sure you go in with a plan. You want to pay up for wide receivers? Go ahead. You want to invest a little more in your running back’s handcuff? By all means. You want to spread your money around rather than using more of a “stars-and-scrubs” approach? For sure. However you feel you want to attack this auction is fine. Again, there is no one right way. To each their own. Just do it with purpose and with a methodology intact. Draft a player for a specific reason. Nominate with purpose. The worst thing you can do to yourself is go in blind and just say you want to grab Players X, Y and Z and whatever else happens, happens. That’s not a plan. Set yourself up with a very specific strategy/game plan and follow through with it from start to finish.
2. Put Together a Budget and Stick to It
You have a salary cap and you are not allowed to go over. The trick is to decide exactly how much you want to spend and where. You can break it up however you like, but personally, I like to set a budget for each position. This is your team and you can dole out the auction bucks any way you like. Personally, if it’s a $200 budget, I’ll throw about $170 toward running backs and wideouts alone. I’ll budget a dollar for each a kicker and a defense, maybe $15-$18 for two quarterbacks and maybe $10 for my tight ends (assuming everyone knows I love David Njoku and they bid me up.) Again, that’s just what I like to do. You can do it any way you prefer. However, if you don’t set up at least a basic budget, then you could end up blowing all your money on running backs and leave yourself nothing for your receivers and such. That’s simply no good. Take a look at the potential auction values in the Fantasy Alarm Ultimate Cheat Sheet, get a basic feel of the suggested pricing and from there, make a plan, and stick to it.
3. Rank your players in tiers and be sensible with your targets
Player rankings are all well and good and can be very helpful when looking at the fifth-ranked tight end versus the 18th-ranked tight end, but how much of a difference is there between the fifth-ranked tight end and the ninth? Maybe the fifth guy sees more targets and gets high yardage totals but the ninth guy gets more red-zone looks. Sometimes, the difference in value is negligible, as each guy can help you differently. That’s why you group them in tiers.
Player A may have an estimated value of $25 and Player B’s is $22. Both do roughly similar things for you with respect to the raw numbers, and while Player B may be considered cheaper, their overall values and expected return are extremely similar. Breaking up your rankings into tiers will allow you to pivot much more easily if someone is over-bidding on a guy you originally wanted.
As for being sensible, make sure you’re not just targeting the top guy at each position. You’ll never win them all. If you want a top-tier running back, then know you’re going to have to downgrade elsewhere. Use the above tiers to help you. Even if you’re trying a “stars-and-scrubs” approach, you have to be very specific with your lower-tiered bargains. Don’t just haphazardly grab guys to fill out your roster.
Fantasy Football Auction Draft Tips
4. Learn to let go
Yes, I know — you want Saquon Barkley. Who wouldn’t want him? The guy’s going to be a stud. But as much as you may want him, if you’ve only budgeted $45 for him and your idiot friend is jacking the price up to $55, you just might have to let him go. Of course you don’t want to, but what you really don’t want is to blow up your budget to the point where you’re going to hurt yourself in the long run. Again, a few bucks here and there is fine, but the player pool is vast and if you don’t get Barkley, well maybe that $45 you budgeted can be flipped into acquiring someone like Antonio Brown or DeAndre Hopkins. You may not have been originally targeting one of those guys, but now you can since you have to downgrade to a much-cheaper Jordan Howard.
5. Don’t get lazy. Do the math
If you’re doing the draft online, most sites will show you how much bid money you have left and what your maximum bid can be for a player while leaving yourself enough extra money. It does not, however, show you how much money you have left based on your budget and potential allotments for each of the positions. Do the math. Keep track. Yes, even if you’re down to just a few bucks, having the correct numbers in front of you is a must. The only thing worse than being that tool who bids more than he is able to and screws up the draft is the guy who leaves money on the table at the end and kicks himself for missing out on a big-named player earlier on because he didn’t spend $5 more.
6. Pay attention at all times
Unless there’s a life or death emergency or you’re using it to look up a player’s stats, put your damn phone away. This is league time. Text your girlfriend on your time. Got a funny story to share? Save it for after the draft, or, if you guys are a bunch of wussies, when you take a mid-auction break to go squat and pee. There’s absolutely nothing worse than the flow of your draft being screwed up because some idiot isn’t paying attention. We’ve seen it a million times as some dipstick nominates players who have already been taken or, as we said earlier, loses track of his bid money and starts flashing cash he doesn’t have. An auction is long enough without some nimrod extending your stay because of incompetence.
7. Watch your pre-game meal
In similar fashion to paying attention, you also need to make sure you watch what you consume. While the heading says pre-game, we can also include in-draft snacks. Got a sensitive stomach? Maybe scarfing down a plate of nachos doused in Cholula isn’t the smartest thing to eat. Sure, lots of people like curry, but most of those people need to put a roll of toilet paper in the freezer before they go out to eat it for a reason. Extra spicy wings? Undercooked chicken? A bowl of Colon-Blow cereal? Whatever the meal of choice may be, make sure it agrees with you. Guys who need multiple bathroom breaks are a pain in the ass and end up grinding the draft to a halt. If you think this is you, invest in some Depends.
8. You are not Tommy Boy
Every league has “that guy”. You know the guy I’m talking about. He’s usually the guy who walks in with the half-drank case of beer and somehow thinks last call is five minutes away from whatever time it is when he looks at his watch. He’s also the clumsy oaf who forgets his fantasy magazine in the cab and asks if he can look on with you. He also doesn’t have a pen or a piece of scrap paper, let alone a clue as to just how much of a pain in the ass he is. You want to booze it up? Fine. Just show a little moderation. You want to smoke? Go right ahead. Just make sure you don’t turn yourself into a Cheech and Chong movie and constantly have to ask which player you were just talking about. Drafts are supposed to be fun. I get it. But when one guy seems to be having the time of his life and 11 others are staring at him with seething hate in their eyes, guess what — it’s not such a good time. Auctions, again, are complicated enough. If you can’t handle your liquor or your smoke, don’t do it. Save it for later. Not only will the rest of your leaguemates appreciate your restraint, but you’ll probably have a much better team in the long run.
Again, not the gospel here. Just a guideline. But a sensible one at that. Adhering to these eight simple steps will not only help you succeed at your auction, but also your whole league will probably have a much better time. Good luck and I’ll see you all in the money this year!
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