Auction Day
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 8 - Auction Day

    The Auction Itself

    Auction Day is finally here! You have your location set up, all your owners have agreed to the date and time, and you even have an auctioneer set to be there and help you to get everything rolling.

    Here's a list of things to keep in mind during your auction:

  • Track the money - See who has it and who doesn't. Usually you won't have to police other owners as it is rare for an overbid to happen (and that's why you have an auctioneer) but it does help to know where you sit in comparison to other owners as far as how much money you have left. If you are at or near the top of the remaining budget list, that's usually a good thing - but don't stay there all day. You have to buy players at some point and that's what matters the most.

  • Pay Attention! - Even if the player in the market at the moment does not interest you in the least, you have to pay attention. Pushing up the bid on him may not be the best idea (as you may get stuck with a guy you really don't want at all), but do keep track of who winds up with everyone and who is overspending.

  • Watch out for your side conversations - If you are distracted and not paying attention, you are missing out on what is going on and that is what is most important. Remember, you prepped for this day, so don't let all that work go to waste. Stay focused and keep the side conversations and other distractions to the bare minimum. Don't worry if you are isolating yourself during the auction if that is your style. Whatever works for you.

  • Taking Breaks - You can have them, but be prepared to be on top of the auction from start to finish (or at least your finish). Sometimes some owners will try and sneak a player through when no one is paying attention (and you can pull this trick yourself if you want to slip a guy in when it is your chance to nominate). Get a feel for the dynamics of the room and who is more worried about the food, the beverages or the next bathroom break.
  • Try to set up logical breaks every hour or so for the auction to Take 5 and reset. Everyone is having a good time and taking a few minutes now and then helps everyone.

    Now that we have some general thoughts, let's talk about the flow of the auction itself.

    The Three Phases of Every Auction

    Every auction has three distinct phases, and you can remember them as simple as “A, B, C and D” (yes four letters for three phases, work with me here):

  • Phase 1 - All Aboard / Big Bucks - Everyone has all their money and they are itching to buy one, two or even three big names. Some owners may have no plan or budget but they are flush with cash and raring to bid - so watch out! Prices will go up quickly and possibly way over what you are prepared to see. Watch the bidding closely and if you think you need to, do not be afraid to jump in and get a stud or two. Just be careful to work whatever plan you have to complete your team (and be sure to read the different budget plans in the Strategy Section of this Auction Guide). Think of this phase as the first night of a Las Vegas weekend.

  • Phase 2 - Conservative Cash - After 20-40 players are off the board, the shine is off of the spending spree that happens in the first hour or so of an auction. Think of it as the sugar crash after the birthday cake at a kid's party, or the first day after the first night in Las Vegas. Reality starts to set in, as you take stock of what happened so far and what you have left in your wallet. Can you afford some second or third tier players, or are you about to be drinking for the next 60-90 minutes until the $1-3 guys start getting bid up? That will really depend on your plan and how crazy you spent in Phase 1. Many experienced auction players will look to stock up and fill the majority of their roster during this portion of the auction. Most of the players that will be added to most teams come out of this portion of the auction, which is usually also the longest portion of the bidding - but the quality of players you get here can range widely based upon how you spent in Phase 1.

  • Phase 3 - Dollar Days - The end of the auction is upon us with the onset of Phase 3. Bargain hunters await this section of the auction, as well as those who went crazy in Phase 1. The owners that have $2 or more on average for their remaining roster spots (for example, $10 for five spots) will be in a dominant position to get many of the players that they want simply because many owners will only have a buck or so to spend and cannot top a $2 bid. This is when you want to grab your sleepers - especially for $1 - plus a kicker or defense if you have not secured one already. Many unprepared owners will experience buyers' remorse from overspending early on - to complete the Las Vegas trip analogy, this is the long trip home after a wild weekend having blown all your money.
  • Nominations

    Nominations are when you throw out a name to be up for bids. This is a key part of the auction process and there are a few strategies involved in how this is done. First you have to understand the three goals of nominations:

    1. Get other owners to spend their money.
    2. Get players you want, preferably at a bargain price.
    3. Gauge the marketplace.

    Once you understand these three goals, you have a pretty good sanity check on what you should be doing when it is your turn to nominate a player. If they do not immediately address one or more of these three goals, find another name that fits at least one of these three goals. Timing is another key element as you really cannot do the third item (gauge the market) except at or near the beginning of the auction. You might be able to gauge where the market is trending later in the auction (to see if you are at the $1-2 guys yet or to see what a WR3 might cost, for example), but gauging the marketplace is predominantly an early auction activity.

    Strategies for the nomination process are numerous and were covered in Section 7.

    Auction Day is one of the most fun times a fantasy owner has throughout the year. Now that you have a better understanding of what to expect and all the strategy thoughts behind it, it is time to build your team and dominate your league. Let the bidding begin!

    This section concludes our discussion on auction leagues, and I hope that it was informative and helpful. As always, feel free to provide comments or suggestions to pasquino@footballguys.com.

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