Approaching Fantasy Football: Auction Draft Planning August 27, 2015  |  Chet


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If I had to choose a draft format to play with, it will always be an auction. I’m not an auction Nazi or anything, as I still respect the hard decisions in roster construction snake drafts force owners to make, but give me the freedom to do what I want whenever I want to do it once I walk into the room. More and more people are adopting the auction format to their drafts as well, so here’s a breakdown of the ins and outs on how I handle the format. You can also listen to the latest Faked Goods Podcast in which we cover some of the same topics with JJ Zachariason from NumberFire.

 

Know Your Format – Position Allocation

 

Often dismissed before owners begin any draft, make sure you’re aware of your league settings and how they will affect your roster construction. If you’re starting three wide receivers as opposed to two, then inherently you’re lowering the baseline for how many receivers are required to not only start by your league as a whole, but also needed to get you through the season including replacement players.  This also applies to leagues that are adding a flex spot(s) on top of the requisite number of starters.

In turn, know your scoring as it relates to positional supply and demand. If you’re playing in a PPR league and your league naturally forces a lot of receivers to be drafted, you know you’re going to need to invest more at that position. That’s how I tie a normal snake draft plan into an auction philosophy.

Under that scenario, you may be investing two to three or even more of your opening five selections on the wide receiver position in a snake draft, so you’re going to want to allocate your cap in a similar fashion as you would a normal draft. Only now you can now aim higher or lower since the entire player pool is at your disposal. In a normal PPR, start 3WR league with an added flex, you may want to be spend on three receivers that would normally all cost a second round selection or earlier. In that event, I want to enter the room having set 75 percent of my budget out for those three players since I know on average the typical first rounder in a snake draft is generally in the area of 25-30 percent of the cap in an auction. I will then make a rough outline of potential budget allocation for the remainder of my roster as it placates off of my initial desired roster construction.

Some owners will allocate a specific percentage of their cap to their starting lineup only, so if you’re someone applying a Zero RB/Upside Down drafting approach, you’re still going to want to allocate a higher portion of your funds to bench spots than normal since even with bench spots under that scenario fall under the same logic that applies to the strategy in a normal draft. Your goal under that pretext isn’t to build a balanced roster. By drafting backups at a position you’ve already invested in, you’re not only increasing your potential of consistently maximizing your own lineup, but you’re also decreasing your opponents’ resources. Even in an auction that applies.

The same applies to the other positions as well. Know your settings and roster needs, carve out a game plan as it would relate to snake draft tie in and then hash out your tiers and rankings to develop your target list.

 

Know Your Tiers, Being Too Cheap and Playing the Nomination Game

 

Once you know what level of players you’re going to be targeting, you need to then map out what tiers they belong to entering the draft. As Mr. Zachariason pointed out on the podcast, tiers in an auction often move with “U” shape when it comes to pricing. Players that are the first be nominated within a tier set the market for that tier and then when then the tier is at it’s end, the pricing often bounces back up to to where those first players went for since owners don’t want to miss out on that bucket of options. You want to get as many players within your targeted tiers between those two price points.

sammmThat’s where nominating players plays a role in drafting. You can start out a tier of players with one of the options you’re not really targeting to gauge the price point and alter your anticipated capital as need be, or you can close out a tier you’re done with or not targeting to clear the room of some cash. This works especially well when nominating players in those high tiers at positions you may not really want to invest in such as quarterback or tight end.

The part of the nomination game is understanding how bust rates that apply to a normal draft apply to an auction one. In a typical draft, players being selected in the middle portion of your draft often don’t have much better odds as hitting as your late round picks. I love picking out players that I specifically don’t like that usually go in the middle of drafts to try and coax some money out of the room. Often, those players usually have an owner or two who may have them higher and are willing to invest such as a Golden Tate or Sammy Watkins.

No matter your initial plan, it’s important to still always stay fluid in your approach in an auction since every room is different. Generally, a few odd things shake out in every auction and sometimes you’ll find value on a player that was unexpected in relation to your created pricing. Don’t be scared to vacuum up a top tier option that is falling under cost. The tough thing to do in an auction though is to find balance on getting the players you set out to get or just having the room draft your team for you, which can easily happen if you’re sitting back and just waiting for values to present themselves. This can happen to anyone, has happened to me before and is your worst nightmare since you’re going to end up with a team full of third to seventh rounders. You can tread water or even make the playoffs with that team, but you still need ceiling options to close most championship runs.

 

Going All In vs Mitigating Risk

 

Since the player pool is wide open, there are a plethora strategies you can take when forming your rosters in an auction. As mentioned, since everyone is available at the beginning of the draft, owners often are enticed by finally being able to acquire multiple stars at once. A popular strategy is often referred to as “Studs and Duds” in which you will your roster with as many alpha talents with week tilting powers than you can possibly afford and then backfill your roster with players that cost the minimal salary.

Although it’s a nice bonus, my favorite component of an auction actually isn’t being able to acquire as many studs as possible. It’s now being afforded to mitigate risk and opportunity cost. As an inherently risk averse fantasy player, there are now a number of players open on the board to me that I normally would avoid at their price point in a snake draft since I can now insulate myself with either more players surrounding that option from a similar tier he would’ve been selected in or more anchors at the position that would’ve normally gone before him. Most often these are players that I like a lot on the surface but believe have a lot of their ceiling outcome already priced into their normal snake draft cost. A few examples of these players would be Mike Evans, Brandin Cooks, Amari Cooper, Ameer Abdullah, Joseph Randle, C.J. Spiller and Frank Gore. Those are players I normally won’t land in a regular draft unless a ripe opportunity presents itself, but are ones that I will target (not all together) in an auction.

The same logic applies to the quarterback and tight end position. My approach from a snake draft at those positions also isn’t altered by the auction format as for the most part, I’m going cheap at those positions, often at only $1-$5 on each. That said, I will take down a value inside the position when it presents itself since you’re not risking as much opportunity cost as you normally would. If the room is decidedly a pro late round quarterback or tight end crowd, then you can land a quarterback target of yours at a solid price point.

 

Knowing Your Own Room

 

I’m sure you’ve read something above and said “That’s not how my league works.” I do several auctions per summer and they all are vastly different. In one league, wide receivers go for way above your normal price points and in another rookie players are valued highly since there is a keeper component. If your league allows keepers, then of course prices will be altered as players on high tiers are vastly under their normal cost. As mentioned, all auction rooms breathe their own unique air. You know your league better than I do.

Below, I set out some loose pricing for owners that may be in their first auction this summer or are just looking for a building block to start their planning. The pricing is for 10/12/14/16 team leagues under a start 1QB/2RB/3WR/1TE standard scoring format with 16 overall roster spots and created from the projections found in the Team Outlook series I’ve been running. I’ve pulled out the player names so you know where tier breaks in relation to other positions may fall and so you can apply your rankings to them. Just because I have Julio Jones as my WR1, doesn’t mean you will, so you can apply your own or our staff rankings or another one of your favorite analyst’s rankings. Remember to treat anything with rankings and projections with the proper context and handle these as an outline only, not a hard price point for you to bail or bid up a player on. If you have an auction question, feel free to blast the comment section and I’ll try my best to  provide a sound answer.

 

POSRANK10TM$$12TM$$14TM$$16TM$$
RB1$54$50$50$44
RB2$49$48$47$41
WR1$49$48$48$41
RB3$45$45$45$39
WR2$47$44$45$40
RB4$43$44$43$38
WR3$45$43$44$39
TE1$49$42$39$40
RB5$41$41$41$36
WR4$44$41$42$38
WR5$43$41$42$37
RB6$40$41$41$36
RB7$39$40$40$35
RB8$39$40$40$35
WR6$38$37$39$35
RB9$35$37$37$33
WR7$36$35$37$33
RB10$29$32$33$29
WR8$32$32$34$31
RB11$27$30$32$28
RB12$27$30$32$28
RB13$27$30$32$28
RB14$24$28$29$26
RB15$24$28$29$26
RB16$22$27$28$25
RB17$22$26$28$25
RB18$22$26$28$25
WR9$24$26$29$26
WR10$24$25$28$26
WR11$23$24$27$25
RB19$19$24$26$24
RB20$19$24$26$24
WR12$22$24$27$25
WR13$22$24$27$25
TE2$26$23$23$26
WR14$21$23$26$24
RB21$18$23$25$23
QB1$26$23$23$30
RB22$17$22$24$22
WR15$20$22$25$24
WR16$18$21$24$23
WR17$18$21$24$23
WR18$18$21$24$23
RB23$14$20$22$21
WR19$17$20$23$22
RB24$14$20$22$21
QB2$20$19$19$27
RB25$12$18$21$20
WR20$15$18$22$21
RB26$11$18$20$19
WR21$14$17$21$20
WR22$14$17$21$20
TE3$18$17$17$22
WR23$13$17$21$20
RB27$10$17$19$18
WR24$12$16$20$20
RB28$9$16$19$18
TE4$16$15$16$21
WR25$11$15$19$19
WR26$11$15$19$19
WR27$10$14$18$18
WR28$10$14$18$18
RB29$6$14$17$16
WR29$9$14$18$18
WR30$9$14$18$18
WR31$9$14$18$18
QB3$14$14$15$23
RB30$6$13$16$16
RB31$5$13$16$16
QB4$13$13$14$23
QB5$13$13$14$23
WR32$8$13$17$17
RB32$5$13$16$15
WR33$7$12$17$17
TE5$12$12$13$18
RB33$4$12$15$15
WR34$7$12$16$17
WR35$7$12$16$16
QB6$12$12$13$22
WR36$6$12$16$16
WR37$6$11$16$16
WR38$6$11$15$16
RB34$3$11$14$14
QB7$11$11$13$21
WR39$6$11$15$16
QB8$9$10$12$20
WR40$4$10$14$15
TE6$9$10$11$16
RB35$1$9$12$13
WR41$3$9$13$14
TE7$7$8$10$16
WR42$2$8$13$14
QB9$7$8$10$19
WR43$2$8$13$14
TE8$7$8$9$15
RB36$1$8$11$12
WR44$1$8$12$13
TE9$6$7$9$15
RB37$1$7$10$11
TE10$5$7$8$14
WR45$1$6$11$12
QB10$4$6$8$18
QB11$4$6$8$18
RB38$1$6$10$10
TE11$4$6$7$14
RB39$1$5$9$10
TE12$3$5$7$13
QB12$3$5$7$17
WR46$1$5$10$11
WR47$1$5$10$11
RB40$1$5$9$10
QB13$3$5$7$17
RB41$1$4$8$9
QB14$1$4$6$16
TE13$1$4$5$12
TE14$1$3$4$11
WR48$1$3$8$10
WR49$1$3$8$10
QB15$1$3$5$15
WR50$1$2$7$9
WR51$1$2$7$9
WR52$1$2$7$9
RB42$1$1$4$6
RB43$1$1$4$6
RB44$1$1$3$5
RB45$1$1$1$3
RB46$1$1$1$3
RB47$1$1$1$3
RB48$1$1$1$3
RB49$1$1$1$3
RB50$1$1$1$2
RB51$1$1$1$2
RB52$1$1$1$1
RB53$1$1$1$1
RB54$1$1$1$1
RB55$1$1$1$1
RB56$1$1$1$1
RB57$1$1$1$1
RB58$1$1$1$1
RB59$1$1$1$1
RB60$1$1$1$1
RB61$1$1$1$1
RB62$1$1$1$1
RB63$1$1$1$1
RB64$1$1$1$1
RB65$1$1$1$1
RB66$1$1$1$1
RB67$1$1$1$1
RB68$1$1$1$1
RB69$1$1$1$1
RB70$1$1$1$1
RB71$1$1$1$1
RB72$1$1$1$1
RB73$1$1$1$1
RB74$1$1$1$1
RB75$1$1$1$1
RB76$1$1$1$1
RB77$1$1$1$1
RB78$1$1$1$1
RB79$1$1$1$1
RB80$1$1$1$1
RB81$1$1$1$1
RB82$1$1$1$1
RB83$1$1$1$1
WR53$1$1$6$8
WR54$1$1$5$8
WR55$1$1$4$7
WR56$1$1$4$7
WR57$1$1$4$6
WR58$1$1$4$6
WR59$1$1$2$5
WR60$1$1$2$5
WR61$1$1$1$4
WR62$1$1$1$3
WR63$1$1$1$3
WR64$1$1$1$3
WR65$1$1$1$3
WR66$1$1$1$2
WR67$1$1$1$2
WR68$1$1$1$2
WR69$1$1$1$1
WR70$1$1$1$1
WR71$1$1$1$1
WR72$1$1$1$1
WR73$1$1$1$1
WR74$1$1$1$1
WR75$1$1$1$1
WR76$1$1$1$1
WR77$1$1$1$1
WR78$1$1$1$1
WR79$1$1$1$1
WR80$1$1$1$1
WR81$1$1$1$1
WR82$1$1$1$1
WR83$1$1$1$1
WR84$1$1$1$1
WR85$1$1$1$1
WR86$1$1$1$1
WR87$1$1$1$1
WR88$1$1$1$1
WR89$1$1$1$1
WR90$1$1$1$1
WR91$1$1$1$1
WR92$1$1$1$1
WR93$1$1$1$1
WR94$1$1$1$1
WR95$1$1$1$1
WR96$1$1$1$1
WR97$1$1$1$1
WR98$1$1$1$1
WR99$1$1$1$1
WR100$1$1$1$1
WR101$1$1$1$1
WR102$1$1$1$1
WR103$1$1$1$1
WR104$1$1$1$1
WR105$1$1$1$1
WR106$1$1$1$1
WR107$1$1$1$1
WR108$1$1$1$1
WR109$1$1$1$1
WR110$1$1$1$1
WR111$1$1$1$1
WR112$1$1$1$1
WR113$1$1$1$1
WR114$1$1$1$1
WR115$1$1$1$1
WR116$1$1$1$1
WR117$1$1$1$1
WR118$1$1$1$1
WR119$1$1$1$1
WR120$1$1$1$1
TE15$1$1$3$10
QB16$1$1$3$14
QB17$1$1$3$13
QB18$1$1$3$13
QB19$1$1$3$13
QB20$1$1$1$12
QB21$1$1$1$11
QB22$1$1$1$10
QB23$1$1$1$9
QB24$1$1$1$9
QB25$1$1$1$9
QB26$1$1$1$8
QB27$1$1$1$8
QB28$1$1$1$8
QB29$1$1$1$6
QB30$1$1$1$2
QB31$1$1$1$1
QB32$1$1$1$1
QB33$1$1$1$1
QB34$1$1$1$1
QB35$1$1$1$1
TE16$1$1$3$10
TE17$1$1$2$10
TE18$1$1$2$9

 

12 Responses

  1. Mark Johnson says:

    Great article! A lot of useful information on auction leagues that you cant find anywhere else.
    In a 12 tm ppr league where you start 1QB/2RB/2WR/1Flex/1TE (you can start a RB or WR or TE in the flex) how do you advise spreading your budget around?

    • Rich Hribar says:

      You can go in any direction with those required roster spots. If it’s PPR, I’d edge towards starting strong at WR and anything else at RB or splitting the two. Just like stated above, find your targets and their tiers and delegate your salary cap accordingly.

  2. Dean says:

    Rich, how would you approach a 12-tm PPR league that starts 1/2/2/1 w/ 1 flex & 1 Superflex? I normally play in leagues that start 3 WRs w/flex, so I’m trying to figure out how much, if any, the WR values are depressed. It’s a league made up of “more casual” players (though still somewhat knowledgeable) – if that paints any clearer a picture. In this format, would it be a mistake to spend
    big(ger) $ on receivers (dez, Julio, etc…) since we only start 2? However, I’m drafting with the plan to start a QB & WR at flex, so should I just treat the league like a start 2/2/3/1 to begin with? Thanks Rich.

    BTW, SbtB “Rockumentary” is one of the best episodes ever. ;-)

    • Rich Hribar says:

      Saved By the Bell drops will always get your questions answered. For that format, you nailed it as treating it as a 2/2/3/1 league as you absolutely want 2 QB (and ideally three including the bye weeks from the first). Even if they are “bad” ones. For perspective, the average weekly QB20 scored on par with the weekly RB20 and WR32. Those are starters for teams in your league that they paid decent coin for. You don’t have to shell out for Luck or Rodgers, but I’d definitely look at two guys from the QB8-15 area and see where values lie. I love that fantasy is finally approaching how to make the QB spot relevant again, but you have to add more non QB flex spot to go along with it instead of one or else you’re just making it a 2QB league really. And in this league, they’re also wiping away a starting WR spot down to two.

      In PPR, WR are still very valuable and you’ll want one in that flex spot. I’d approach it by getting a serviceable QB duo for around 25% of your budget and then hammering WR’s, taking whatever RB values fall your way. Good luck.

  3. andrew says:

    Rich,
    What are your thoughts on a 1st year Dynast Auction? 12 teams, standard starting lineup, but you draft 24 players.
    Does drafting such a large bench and the fact that you keep players as long as you want cause you to want to focus on more depth than in a standard re-draft auction?

    Thanks

    • Rich Hribar says:

      I usually join one new Dyno startup per offseason that’s an auction and just as stated above, take a similar approach with it in how you’d approach a regular startup. If you’re someone who wants to secure to high end WR’s, account your $$ for that plan. Generally, older players go for much cheaper in an auction, especially early on, so if you want to grab your vets for roster smoothing while spending on players that commitment, that’s a good spot.

  4. JSmith says:

    Good read…Rarely find much on auctions so nice to see an article on it.

    We do sort of a unique league where we auction the first 8 players with a $100 budget and then snake draft the final 8 spots. We start 1QB, 2RB, 3WR with 14 teams and it’s slightly weighted toward scoring with no PPR.

    Any thoughts on how you’d approach a format like this? We just switched to this a couple years ago from a full auction and not sure I’ve really figured it out yet. I always liked to use a balanced approach with a full auction trying to land a deeper roster with values later in the draft but with this shortened format, think it lends itself more to a studs and duds approach since you can still land some decent players once the snake format hits after everyone has 8 players.

    Just curious how you’d approach a draft like this and maybe what players you’d be looking to build around or allocate your $100 budget? I’m kinda thinking about $30-$35 on my RB1 (Lacy, Lynch) and about $25-$30 on my WR1 (Dez, DT, Julio) and then basically just letting the rest of the auction play out and fill in values where I can. I’ll probably wind up skimping pretty good at my QB and WR3 with this approach. However, QB scoring in our league is a point for every 50 yards with 4 point TD’s as opposed to a point for every 15 yards for rushers/receivers (6 point TD’s), so QB seems to be worth skimping on.

    Love your analysis so would appreciate any thoughts you might have.

    • Rich Hribar says:

      Pretty unique format since you’re really auctioning off 112 players and then drafting for there. That’s interesting because you’ll inherently have some mid round guys going for a $1-2 at some point (here’s where you can potentially get your cheap WR3 targets). I’m assuming those price points you laid out are based on previous year pricing for RB1/WR1’s? If so, then your approach of attempting to land two first rounders is where I’d start and then play it from there. I like the idea of getting two big backs if possible under that scoring and then cobbling a WR unit around TD upside, but this also feels like an ideal league to target a guy like Mark Ingram, Alfred Morris-type as your secondary back, so securing an alpha WR is no bad plan, either. Just make sure you’re landing a first round talent somewhere. I likely wouldn’t use any of my auction spots on a QB or TE unless there was some extremely low hanging fruit given the scoring you laid out.

      • JSmith says:

        Thanks for the reply!

        Yes, there will be plenty of good values to be had in the $1-$3 range at the end of the auction format. I’m basically looking to spend about 90-95% of my budget on 4 or 5 players at most and will be fine getting 3-4 players that I toss out for a $1 at the end of the auction. I was amazed last year at guys that were going for $1 and I had 8 spots full and couldn’t even bid…Guys like L Miller, K Benjamin, M Evans, J Matthews all were $1 guys.

        Thanks again for your time and analysis. I’m pretty picky about the sites I follow for fantasy advice since there are so many out there but I like the depth you put into yours so I’ll be following along :)

        Take care and good luck.

  5. Michael says:

    In a 12-team PPR auction that’s deeper (QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, Flex, Flex, Flex, TE), how are you spreading around your money? One stud and let the draft room dictate the rest?

    • Rich Hribar says:

      You’re going to want to ideally use all of those flex spots on WR’s and the low baseline for usable WR’s is going to be set really, really low in your league. I’d target as many as a I could and since the rosters are so deep, I’d probably target one alpha WR and several secondary and third tier ones. Since you’re lowering the baseline for WR so far, I’d just ignore the TE spot and come away with 2-3 $1 types i can rotate in a platoon that also may have some upside. Same at QB. I’m not worried about investing into those spots here.

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