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Fantasy Football Auction Strategy and Tips

Updated on July 18, 2012

We are all certainly familiar with a Snake Draft, its high points and its challenges. But, I want to tell you -- heck, I want to insist that! -- you move to an Auction Draft. Once you do it, you'll never go back.

The Auction has all the fun of the Snake Draft* PLUS a lot more excitement, tension and strategy. You want Ray Rice or Aaron Rodgers in a Snake Draft this year? You're shut out if you pick at the end of the first round. In an Auction? Pay, and he's yours. You could even purchase both of them! There is no more fair way to build a roster. And, the strategy needed is huge. You need to know every player and his worth.

At its core, in an Auction Draft, each team gets a pre-assigned amount of Auction money, say, $200. With a sixteen player roster, for example, you can bid up to $185 on a single player (you must fill your roster during the Auction with a minimum bid of $1 per player). You take turns nominating a player, and then high bid wins. It's that simple.

And, most websites have free fantasy football leagues that support Auction Drafts, so you don't even need to change over your existing league.

Okay, are you looking to get an Auction going but don't know how to plan for one? Here are some very basic tips to get you going. For Advanced Auction Strategy, you can check out this two-part Hub here and here.

*One possible exception is that there is no trading of picks. You can, of course, trade Auction money instead.

1. Pre-Auction preparation. This is the most important part. By far. You must, must, must price out every player that you expect to be drafted. You can use a website or magazine for a baseline and then adjust by personal preference or start from scratch. But, you MUST know what you think guys are worth. If you stick to it, go over or under -- well, that is based on your Auction strategy (see numbers 2, 3 and 4 below). But, you cannot walk in cold and just hope to make it work.

Dan Snyder, owner of Washington Redskins
Dan Snyder, owner of Washington Redskins

2. The Dan Snyder approach. You want a guy? Go get him. Doesn't matter the cost. Doesn't matter the value. Pay whatever it takes, and fill in your team with $1 scrubs or brilliant waiver wire adds around your big-money guys. Otherwise called the Studs and Duds approach

3. The Bill Belichick approach. I know what a guy is worth. Unless I think that he will have a far better season than his auction value would suggest, I don't spend $1 more than I think he is worth. My team will be a well-rounded group of my preferred stars, middle-range players and flyers.

Ted Thompson, General Manager, Green Bay Packers
Ted Thompson, General Manager, Green Bay Packers

4. The Ted Thompson approach. I am smart, and I can know that there will be bargains everywhere. I only bid on players up to 10% below what I think their value is. That way, I'll get all the bargains later. I have Foster as worth $50 but he is only at $42? Bid. Once he gets to $46, pass. At the end of the day, I'll have a roster on which I spent $200 that will be valued at $220 or more!!

NOTE: Any of these approaches can win. There is no better or worse one. Just know your style, and figure out what is best. Do you like the Ted Thompson approach best but know that you're a get-caught-up-in-the-moment person? Well, it might not work for you; it takes too much discipline. Do you like the Dan Snyder approach but know that you're risk averse? Well, that might not work for you; you don't want to rely on just one or two players to carry your team. So, how do you figure it out?

5. Mock Auctions. Do 'em. Lots of 'em. Lots of sites have 'em. Try different approaches. Assemble different teams. Look at the results and see which team you like best. Then, figure out your style and how to get that team.

6. Don't get caught up in emotion... There is an energy and excitement that builds. You see a stud WR that you have at $35 going for $27, and you go $28. Then the guy that you lost to in last year's Superbowl goes $29. Back and forth, back and forth. Before you know it, you're bidding $42 on him just to stick it to your nemesis. But, who really won and who really lost here?

7. ...but, be flexible! In the same example, is he the last stud WR left? Maybe you have to overbid. Have you spent money wisely and now have a tremendous excess? Hmm.... Or, maybe you got three stud WRs already at a shocking value. So, you might pass on this guy even though he is under market. Of course, this also depends on the approach that you use.

Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford

8. Nominate studs that you don't want. Do you think that Matthew Stafford will be hurt again next year or that Cam Newton is one-year wonder? Nominate them early, getting other guys to bid big money on them. Bid them up, and watch other owners foolishly blow their stack on players that you know will not meet expectations. Then you sweep up and clean up the other studs at a bargain price. Remember, though, you could out-smart yourself and get "stuck" with this player!

9. Sleepers, sleepers, sleepers. Do you nominate them early and try to sneak them in while others hold back their cash for bigger names? Do you try to hide them until the end when no one has cash left and you can get them for $1 or $2 each? You'll have to assess the Auction as it goes along. If people are throwing money around early, hold back your sleepers; they'd go for too much at that point. If people are being cautious, get your sleepers out early; no one will bid big.

10. Have FUN! There is no better way to draft. Got out-foxed for your guy? Complain, moan and laugh it off. Stole a stud for cheap? Rub it in. Got caught up in emotion and over-bid on a player? Hah! Saw your #1 sleeper fall to you for $2? Word. Enjoy, friends. You'll never go back to a Snake Draft after this...

Any auction glory stories or horror stories? Post them below.


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