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Faceoff: Auctions: Studs and Duds or Value

June 27th

Clayton Gray: What is your preferred method in an auction? Do you prefer landing a handful of stud players and then rounding out the roster on the cheap? Or would you rather stock the team with a high number of value players?

Jason Wood: The answer really depends on the type of competition I'm dealing with. I think one of the keys to an auction draft is scouting your competition. If everyone tends to go stars and scrubs, you know it's going to be a lot harder to grab those cheap value plays and even harder not having to break the bank on the true studs. But if your league has a bunch of guys that are into balance, and basically price off a linear decline in line with ADP, you can try to be a bit more aggressive. I think the key though is to have a fluid understanding of price inflation/deflation during the draft. You need to be able to track whether players are being auctioned off higher/lower than expected pre-draft dollar values would've implied, and then adjust your own prices and willingness to spend accordingly. I can't say I have a definitive process, but I will say that in most drafts I tend to be one of the guys that's done filling out their roster first.

Jeff Pasquino: I think my general auction strategy is starting to change, but overall I think you have to really understand the dynamics of your league before you formulate your strategies - and yes, I do mean the plural. If your league has any sort of history, I would start by looking there first. Take a hard look at how many of each position get picked / bought during the auction and then plan accordingly. For example, if only 20 tight ends get purchased, I think it is safe to say that you can either go big on one tight end and then forget a backup or even think about waiting on the position entirely until late in the auction, since a guy like Jared Cook or even Heath Miller could be sufficient to round out your roster while you build a better lineup elsewhere.

The second step would be to look at the league-wide depth. Is the league shallow as far as the number of players on a roster (such as a 10-team, 16-roster spot league). Anything under 180 or so roster spots is a shallower league, so that means you can shoot for bigger names early and then round out your roster either from the sleeper pool, bargain bin or the waiver wire. If the rosters are deep (say 14 teams, 20 roster spots) with over 220-240 players selected, most backup RBs and third wideouts are not going to be on that waiver wire. That means you better get good depth, so planning on controlling the back end of the auction (say by holding back $10-12 of a $200 budget) to get 4-5 good backups is key. That likely means going for less bigger studs and adding more values along the way during the auction. Basic idea here is that the shorter the bench, the deeper the waiver wire pool and the better off you are by shooting for bigger studs early in the auction and not sweating having depth at the end of the auction (since you can always add a few waiver wire guys).

The next part of your plan has to be to have an idea of what each position is worth in your league. Everyone knows that the Top 3-5 RBs are going to go for big money - and again, this is where history can really help - but how big is big? Ninety bucks out of a $200 budget? Or is it eighty? Is seventy bucks a bargain? Then you have to relate the other positions to RBs (QB/WR/TE) to see what studs should be worth. I've seen it time and time again where you get in an auction and the first guy to grab a QB either overpays a ton or he gets a steal. The real trick is knowing which end of the spectrum you are on when it happens.

Lastly - have more than one plan. I try and go with a "starter budget" (say $150 out of $200) and then go looking for bargains along the way. If I think Adrian Peterson should be worth $90 and the bidding slows down around $70, I am jumping in for sure - and then I know that another position is going to be in the "find a bargain" position. if Aaron Rodgers is worth $25 to me and no one goes over $18, count me in and now I have more money to play with elsewhere. Flexibility is key, and having a budget and a feel for what I should pay for studs at each position allows me to let the flow of the auction guide me to the best roster. Auctions are very dynamic and fluid, so you better have more than one plan in mind. The budget plan allows me to do that.

Matt Waldman: Four factors determine which approach you're going to take:

  1. Lineups
  2. Scoring
  3. ADP
  4. Competition

Most league lineups use more QBs, WRs, and TEs than RBs. Therefore I think auctions are great places to use a strategy where higher value is placed on top players at those three positions and you look for value at RB. Logic dictates that most fantasy owners still value top RBs higher than any other position, but history shows that they tend to be wrong abut who those top 12 RBs are. It means these owners will overvalue these RB candidates. Personally, I'd rather spend more money across more positions where it has been easier to predict who the top players are and then shoot for values at RB. This would be my baseline strategy heading into most auction drafts. Competition might temper it some, but not usually.