All about fantasy football auctions

All about fantasy football auctions

Fantasy Football Auction Drafts

All about fantasy football auctions


Auctions are a better, more fun way to fill fantasy rosters. Creating your fantasy team should allow for the most freedom and fair access to players – all players. Any player. Your only limits are the ones you place on yourself.

This is the next level. It may seem scary to a less dedicated owner but in reality, there is nothing to fear. And there is everything to gain. I’ve never known any league that regretted advancing to an auction. The fairness and fun cannot be matched. And that includes involving those still new to fantasy football.

Why auction?

You know what a draft is like. There is a virtual pile of players that you get to pick from after waiting up to 22 picks in a 12 team league. Wait and wait and scratch off names that you had no chance at drafting. Make a pick! Then wait and scratch off more names. At least one person will drain every allowable second from the clock regardless that “it’s just a kicker, Steve!”   It does not matter what sleeper you want if the guy in front of you lazily throws a dart and takes your guy.

With an auction, YOU can bid on every single player. YOU can target  several players and pay the price for them.  Then build the rest of your team on the best value you can get.  No waiting. You have to pay attention at all times. All you have to do is bid $1 more on any NFL player and he is yours.  It is YOUR team, not one built by whatever players left for you to pick. In an auction, you wanted every single player on your team more than anyone else in your league. Think about that.

There is an unfounded concern that auctions take too long. Not so – they take only little more time if any at all. After the first half of the draft, player  bidding decreases and are awarded quickly. And even if it did take a little more time – an auction is the most fun event of the league year.

How is it more fun?

In a draft, the guy with David Johnson has a scoring advantage because he had one of the first picks.  In an auction, the Johnson owner is at a spending disadvantage for the rest of the auction. With every big name player taken, you know there is less cash for their owners to use later on.

Are there players that you would never take? Throw them out early when everyone has cash and let someone pay up for someone you had no intention of drafting. I am not alone when I say the majority of players I nominate are ones I don’t want..

The more coveted players will often cause bidding wars. That’s the joy of an auction – just one more dollar! It is easy to get caught up in the madness and it never feels good when you win a player and immediately realize you went too far.

It’s not just top players that provoke over-bidding. There always comes a point  when there is only one or two players who are worth a fantasy start in their position.  And there is always more than one team that realizes they have no RB2 and the quality is almost gone. When the bidding stops, someone owns a  RB2 at the price of a RB1.

Players from the local NFL team always draw more interest. If you are not a fellow fan, then throw those players out and let the homers beat each other up as they overpay.

There can be amazing bargains later on. Once most teams have spent most of their money, the sleepers could end up cheap. You can wait a player out until later but always remember you have to like him $1 more than anyone else.

Nothing like bidding up players if you know they will go for more. It cloaks who you want and makes others pay more.  That all said, I admit to buying at least player I got caught bidding up in every auction. And most often, I end up happy to have bought him. The bottom line to winning is buying players that will exceed the level of performance that they cost.

If you are uncomfortable with your player evaluation skills, then no problem. Just pick out the smartest guy in the room and always bid $1 more than him. It will piss Mr. Big off – funny in itself – and will build a better team than a complete neophyte might do by himself.

It is always entertaining when you have a secret sleeper and wait on him. Late in the draft, you throw him out and discover everyone else was saving their final dollars for him as well. A $2 value ends up costing $10.

Every auction is different. And using an auction in a live setting brings a league together more. You never get to know people as well as when they are spending limited money on a limited number of players. By the end, you’ll know who in your league is the drunken sailor, the cheapskate, the smart shopper and the “I just can’t pull the trigger” owners.

Spice up your league

If you have been playing for a few years, switching to an auction will reinvigorate the process of building teams. Whether online or in person, it is a far more exciting and involved process. Suggest it to your league mates. Again – it is just a different way to build teams. You can throw away the salary cap once the auction is over and treat it like any other league.

Almost all fantasy league products have auctions as an option., ESPN, MyFantasyLeague and others offer this online functionality. Conducting it in person is the ultimate in fantasy football fun. It is best to have an auctioneer that is not a team owner but it can still work out if that is not possible.

Salary Cap

The point of a salary cap is to provide enough “bidding units” that teams have flexibility in acquiring players.  But not too many “dollars” to spend that you end up with two guys endlessly upping their bid by one dollar.  The best cap to use is $200 if there are 10 or 12 teams. It is becoming the standard amount for a good reason.

Bid clock

When auctioning online, the timer can be set but it becomes a more inexact thing when live. I would suggest 15 seconds on the initial bid and then it resets to 10 seconds on every bid. That moves it along well and yet gives enough time to weight your choices. A live auctioneer should say “going once” after five seconds and “going twice” after five more seconds.  He should also point at the bidder and repeat the bid when made. And the auctioneer must always be considered as the final say. No questions.

Budget budget budget budget

Maybe you don’t bother with a checkbook register. Maybe a budget is just something that your spouse uses against your impulsive nature. But knowing how you intend to spend your salary cap is the only way that you can create an optimal team.

There are always fantasy owners that end up with a full roster and yet money that they did not spend. That alone says you could have done better. Other owners blow their cap on a handful of players and spend the rest of the auction trying to sneak $1 players past everyone. Good luck.

Use this quick four-step process to make a $200 budget for a 16 man roster :

Step 1 – First Cut for Relative Positional Value : Make a rough cut at what you think each position is worth to your team. Consider how much the position scores for comparison.

Step 2 – Consider the Starting Players : For each position, distribute that cash down when the position requires more than one starter. Just take your total positional dollars and spread them out over the starting positions. Do you prefer one super-stud and an average player or two very good performers?

Step 3 –Consider Total Roster Depth: Spread out the money so that every player has an allocated value. You can save money on depth players but  realize that at least a few will be called on because of injury, bye weeks or under-performance by starters.

Step 4 – The Final Tweak : Decide where you might be able to scrimp a little more in order to get more money to spend on more important spots.

1. First cut 2. Starters 3. Depth 4. Final tweak
QB1 $15 QB1 $15 QB1 $10 QB1 $8
QB2 QB2 QB2 $5 QB2 $2
RB1 $100 RB1 $40 RB1 $40 RB1 $40
RB2 RB2 $40 RB2 $30 RB2 $35
RB3 RB3 $20 RB3 $20 RB3 $20
RB4 RB4 RB4 $5 RB4 $5
RB5 RB5 RB5 $5 RB5 $1
WR1 $70 WR1 $30 WR1 $30 WR1 $30
WR2 WR2 $30 WR2 $25 WR2 $25
WR3 WR3 $10 WR3 $10 WR3 $16
WR4 WR4 WR4 $3 WR4 $3
WR5 WR5 WR5 $2 WR5 $1
TE1 $10 TE1 $10 TE1 $8 TE1 $9
TE2 TE2 TE2 $2 TE2 $1
PK $2 PK $2 PK $2 PK $2
DEF $3 DEF $3 DEF $3 DEF $2

You will adjust your budget with every player acquired.  Some cost  more than expected and others were relative bargains. A budget keeps you in tune with your money and how you spend it. Don’t end up with unspent money. Know what you can afford.

Three styles of bidding

Before your auction, at least decide on which  auction style is best for you.

Go Big – Going big means buying at least two if not three of the superstars. In my first auction this year, I spent $98 of $200 on Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott which felt awesome at the time. But 12 of my 20 players were only $2 or $1 for a reason. I spent it all on my starters. An injury or a flop will kill me. If all meet expectations, I will be hard to beat. Draft Equivalent – This is like getting two No. 1 picks, plus maybe a No. 3  and a No. 5 pick and then the rest of the team is from round eight or deeper.

Go Wide – This plan is the most common. It entails getting one top stud player, several good ones and then quality backups and filler. This lets you target individual players (within reason) and yet be flexible to pick up good values. This is great for those that are confident in their player valuations.  This person bids – a lot. A very active player since he helps establish the bid value of most players.  Draft Equal – The resulting team looks like it was drafted. Most people use this plan.

Go Deep – This strategy is not for the faint of heart. It entails sitting back while the expensive players are taken before winning a bid. Like maybe the first 40+ players awarded. He packs the roster with upside guys hoping to land as many sleepers as possible. While owning no big-name players, he dominates the bidding starting mid-auction.  Draft Equal – This is like having all your picks come between the fourth and tenth round of a normal draft. All of them. Have to hit the sleepers.

Final Tips

  • The first player taken in each position is usually a good value. Teams hold back wanting to see what the positional cost will be and let that first one go too cheaply. There are so many others left to acquire anyway.
  • Running backs that have handcuffs should have that second player thrown out immediately. Don’t let anyone pick up an insurance player for cheap at the end to complete their set. Derrick Henry, Jamaal Williams, Marlon Mack, Kareem Hunt, Latavius Murray and Joe Williams are among the No. 2 backs that are very prudent picks by the No. 1 back owners.
  • Winning in fantasy football means having difference makers. Don’t be afraid to go a bit higher than budgeted for top players. Always lean towards investing more in starters instead of backups.
  • If you really want a specific player, throw him out and do not wait. Chances are others want him as well and are holding money out to buy him. At least you’ll know early if you can get him and can still make other plans.
  • Kickers and defenses are no less risky or more of any advantage just because you can have anyone of them. Save your money.
  • Check out the Average Auction Values found on our site and on many others on the internet. That gives you a sense of common player value this year. We’ll have an expert’s auction to view in early August as well.
  • Make it known up front that the auctioneer will do their best and whatever he says goes without question. If he did not hear a bid, it did not happen. Everyone must agree to this. And they must thank him for performing a critical and challenging job.

Try an auction and see for yourself. If you already participate in one, may your favorite sleeper come up while people are not paying attention.



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