Strategies for Building an Auction Team
By Jeff Pasquino
Jul 18th, 2012

Anyone who has ever played fantasy football knows all about the draft process for selecting their teams. If you have participated in even a few drafts, you know that everyone wants that first pick in the draft and the inherent advantage they get by being able to take that top guy that they really want. Many have wondered if there is a better way to distribute the talent more fairly and equitably amongst all the fantasy teams.

There is - and it is the joy of fantasy auctions.

Over the course of several articles I will be guiding you to the differences between an auction league and a draft league, with all the different elements, aspects and entertainment that come in an auction instead of the typical draft format.

  • Section 1 - Auction Leagues for Beginners
  • Section 2 - Preparing for Auction Day
  • Section 3 - Knowing Your League
  • Section 4 - Auction League Types
  • Section 5 - Strategies for Building an Auction Team
  • Section 6 - Strategies for Operating an Auction Team
  • Section 7 - Nomination Strategies
  • Section 8 - Auction Day
  • Section 5 - Strategies for Building an Auction Team

    Auctions can be won or lost before the first nomination. It is extremely important to not just have an overall roster strategy but also to have more than one, because every auction is different. It is critical to be able to adapt on the fly, so familiarizing yourself with multiple options and teams strategies is important during your homework phase before the auction.

    Let's start by talking about different team strategies and then dive into some overall strategy topics.

    Wait and Lurk Strategy

    This is a very common strategy where you decide to sit back and watch the opening moments of the auction unfold. The buyer's market takes over as everyone is flush with cash and spending is usually high and almost out of control. Take good notes of which players and positions are being overspent on and adjust your new values accordingly.

  • When it works best: When you need a deep team and want to dominate the middle and latter stages of the auction. Best ball leagues or large starting lineup leagues.

  • How it can fall apart: If you wait too long you will miss out on the stud player or players that you have to have to field a competitive team. Also if more than one owner adopts this strategy, you could wind up in a bidding war over the last feature running back, stud QB or WR - which will ruin both your strategy and your budget. Keep careful track of how many studs are left at each position and be sure to jump in before the well runs dry. A good rule of thumb is to not wait until the point where the number of teams that still need a stud is equal to the number of studs left. That is when the competition for the remaining studs will heat up and the bidding will become overinflated.
  • Go Big or Go Home Strategy

    This is the opposite of Wait and Lurk as you are gunning for 2-3 stud players early in the auction. You know you will be paying a lot of your money for these guys, but possibly you might get a bargain and you will get 2-3 studs that you can build your team around. This strategy will likely cost you at least 20% of your budget per player and possibly more - so be prepared to watch a lot of the middle part of the auction go by without participating in most of it.

  • When it works best: When you are perfectly fine with a minimal bench or backups. Smaller leagues and rosters and a deep free agent pool. When you have a deep list of sleepers (or your league does not know of many of the lesser name players who will be productive). Wide open free agency leagues.

  • How it can fall apart: Overspending early can hurt, especially if you want a deep team. If you get 2-3 studs it can be valuable, especially if you have value guys you can target later (or if most of your league will be overspending early too). Be careful not to overspend for second and third tier players as your wallet will be very light after getting your studs early.
  • Hybrid Strategy

    This is the middle ground of both Go Big or Go Home and the Wait and Lurk. Target one stud and go after him and then wait for the auction to play out in your favor.

  • When it works best: There are two really good times to work this approach, and they are often dictated by the nominations of the players. One option - if you have an early nomination - is to nominate a guy you want that you think might be a value or that the league might value him (or his position) incorrectly and get him as one of the first players in the auction. The second option is when the player you really want gets nominated early - again, typically the first player at his position. When this happens, be ready to adopt this strategy and get your stud.

  • How it can fall apart: If your research is poor or if other owners drive up your price, this can backfire. The good news is that by getting one stud you have locked up a top tier player and you also have not overcommitted your team or your budget to more than one player with a big price tag.
  • Table 1 shows three typical plans for small (16), medium (18 spots) and large (20) rosters.

    Pos
    16-Go Big
    16-Hybrid
    16-Lurk
    18-Go Big
    18-Hybrid
    18-Lurk
    20-Go Big
    20-Hybrid
    20-Lurk
    QB1
    $30
    $15
    $12
    $30
    $15
    $12
    $30
    $15
    $12
    QB2
    $1
    $8
    $7
    $1
    $8
    $7
    $1
    $8
    $7
    QB3
    $1
    $1
    $1
    RB1
    $60
    $60
    $45
    $60
    $60
    $45
    $60
    $60
    $45
    RB2
    $15
    $20
    $25
    $15
    $20
    $25
    $15
    $20
    $25
    RB3
    $2
    $10
    $15
    $2
    $10
    $12
    $2
    $9
    $11
    RB4
    $1
    $5
    $8
    $1
    $4
    $10
    $1
    $4
    $10
    RB5
    $1
    $1
    $2
    $1
    $1
    $3
    $1
    $1
    $2
    RB6
    $1
    $1
    $1
    $1
    $1
    $1
    WR1
    $50
    $30
    $30
    $50
    $30
    $30
    $50
    $30
    $30
    WR2
    $15
    $20
    $18
    $15
    $20
    $18
    $15
    $20
    $18
    WR3
    $8
    $12
    $15
    $7
    $11
    $12
    $6
    $10
    $12
    WR4
    $3
    $5
    $5
    $2
    $5
    $6
    $2
    $5
    $6
    WR5
    $1
    $2
    $3
    $1
    $2
    $3
    $1
    $2
    $3
    WR6
    $1
    $1
    $1
    $1
    $1
    $1
    WR7
    $1
    $1
    $1
    TE1
    $10
    $7
    $8
    $10
    $7
    $8
    $9
    $7
    $8
    TE2
    $1
    $3
    $5
    $1
    $3
    $5
    $1
    $3
    $5
    PK
    $1
    $1
    $1
    $1
    $1
    $1
    $1
    $1
    $1
    Def
    $1
    $1
    $1
    $1
    $1
    $1
    $1
    $1
    $1
    Total
    $200
    $200
    $200
    $200
    $200
    $200
    $200
    $200
    $200

    Table 1 - Typical Auction Plans

    Bid Up to 75-80% of Value Strategy

    In this approach you adopt the philosophy that you have properly valued all positions and players for your league. You decide to bid every player up to at least 75-80% of their value and then let the free market take over.

  • When it works best: When you are confident that the league will step up and bid on players and take them off of your hands.

  • How it can fall apart: Pretty obvious how this can backfire - you could get stuck with 1-2 players you don't want. The key is to not bid up a player that you would not want on your roster for a given price. This goes along with the concept of not loving or hating any particular player. If you really don't want a player, drop his value on your list so you don't mistakenly bid him up.
  • Five and Dime Strategy

    This strategy focuses on the final phase of the auction - sometimes known as the bargain basement. The concept is to hold on to $10 (the dime) for your last five roster spots. (Note: the numbers can change a little, but you should be looking at about $8-12 for your last 4-6 players).

  • When it works best: When you are sure that you have sleepers at the end of the draft and that you can find a $1 bargain.

  • How it can fall apart: Messing up your $1 guys. You have to know what players are $1 ONLY and which ones are $1-5 players. That means you cannot be upset when a $1 guy is bid up. The $1-5 players are guys you want to buy at the end of the auction and really want - that's why you have $10-12 at the end of the auction. Nominations are key here as you have to nominate your $1 guy and hope you get him, while you wait for the $1-5 guy to be nominated and drive the price up to $2-3. If you get two $1 guys, now you have $8-10 for three players and can safely go after all of them - so focus on the $1 guys first.
  • Early Kicker and Defense Strategy

    This strategy is another simple one - early in the draft you nominate a kicker or defense for $1.

  • When it works best: When everyone is focusing on the big name players, you can sneak through a kicker or defense that you want.

  • How it can fall apart: The only downside is to not get that kicker or defense you might want for $1. If you lose them to another team, at least you know that they overpaid.
  • Handcuff Forcing Strategy

    In this approach you nominate a player who is the perceived handcuff to a player that was recently won in the auction.

  • When it works best: When you know that a running back by committee or a true backup is really desired by the owner who just won that player.

  • How it can fall apart: No one bids on your backup nomination. Best strategy is to nominate very cheap or just be happy that you get a guy for $1 if he does have value.
  • These are just some of the big picture strategies and plans that you need to know before you start bidding in your auction. Now let's talk more about general strategy concepts that can be used throughout Auction Day.

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