Education - Experienced fantasy players love to show off how much NFL knowledge they have - but it all has to come from somewhere. Whether it is Footballguys, Twitter feeds, news articles, NFL Network, ESPN or hundreds of other media outlets, you have to get an education on the NFL - and that learning never stops. The league evolves week by week, day by day - and while you can take time off from reading every last news blurb, at some point you have to catch up. Be sure that you are on top of things before getting ready for your auction.
Auction Tools - There are a number of these as well, including the old school paper and pencil, but most auction players have gone towards the laptop and software package approach. Footballguys offers the Draft Dominator to help you monitor the entire league in every way - budgets, rosters, player pool, adjustments to auction values - so that has to be a top consideration for you. Whatever you choose, pick one of them and use it during the auction. Don't worry about being mocked for having a laptop - a league championship quiets all those remarks in a hurry.
Preparation - Now that you have your education and a tool to help you put together your thoughts, you need to do some homework. The extent of the amount of time you spend on this task is up to you, but the more effort you put into it the more rewarding it is likely to be for you, and the more your auction team will reflect your own views of the upcoming year. For example, every NFL player worth owning in fantasy is going to post a set of statistical numbers for the coming season - but no one really knows what those will be. What you need here is to project what you think the numbers will be, as those will be the foundation for determining that player's value and worth in your auction league format.
So how do you go about doing all of this? Fortunately, Footballguys both does this for you and has a pretty darn good track record of getting a lot of these numbers either spot on or pretty close for the coming season. While no one is ever perfect, starting from a projector like David Dodds is a good idea, and then you have the option of adjusting his numbers if you feel like you know more about a given player.
Now that you have projected numbers, you can use a tool like the Draft Dominator to calculate the projected fantasy points for these players and then use the same tool once again to get an idea of auction value. There are tons of articles on how to determine the valuations of players, most notably Maurile Tremblay's article, but for now, let's talk about the general valuation process:
- Only the players you project to be purchased in your auction need a value. To say that a simpler way, if you have 12 teams and 20 roster spots, only 240 (12 x 20) purchases will be made. Everyone else should have a value of $0.
- The baseline price for every player on that value list (I will say “Top 240” to continue the example) is $1. That means that the marketplace for all the players is $1 or more. To determine how many extra dollars there are in the marketplace, you have to do a little math. Take the number of teams in the league and multiply by the total budget for each team. For a 12-team league where everyone gets $200, that is $2,400. The last step is to subtract $1 for every roster spot (since everyone is worth $1 or more). For 240 roster spots, that leaves $2,160 extra dollars for the entire league to spend on players. When your valuations are done, all player values should add up to $2,400.
- So what do we do with these extra dollars? What does that mean? The extra dollars reflects the value increase for a given player over a $1 player. To say that a different way, you are trying to put a dollar value on extra fantasy points for your team. Your goal is to buy as many extra fantasy points as possible so that you have a dominant fantasy roster. Do not worry about the names of these players - points are points.
- Find your baseline players for every position. The baseline player concept is a really important one to understand for putting dollar values on the player pool for your auction. These players are the line for common talent players, and it helps to set the expected values for all the players above them when it comes time for your auction. Let's use an example to explain it better. So let's say you think that every team will buy two quarterbacks and six of them will be in the $1 bargain bin. That means QB19 is your top $1 quarterback, and his projected fantasy points are your baseline. You should continue to baseline all positions, determining what spot (TE20? QB19? RB40? WR50?) is your first $1 player.
- After you have your baselines figured out, you have to look at the projected fantasy points for all the fantasy players in each position for all the players at or above your baseline. Going back to the example at QB19, you have to look at the projected fantasy points for QB1 to QB19. Subtract the fantasy points projected for QB19 from all the fantasy points for all the QBs above him on the list. Add them all up to get your extra fantasy points total. Repeat this for all the positions (and you can usually ignore defense and kicker).
- The last step is division. Take all of your extra fantasy points and add them across all positions. Let's say that is 800 for QB, 1,600 for RB, 1,400 for WR and 520 for TE. The combined total is 4,320 points. Divide that total by the extra dollars ($2,160) and you see that two extra fantasy points are worth $1. That should be your criteria for figuring out player values. If QB1 is supposed to get 50 more points than QB19, he should be worth $25 more, or $26 total.
Get a list of Average Auction Values (AAVs) - MyFantasyLeague.com is usually a good place to start, but there are numerous sites out there to find this data at all points of the year. You can also use the Footballguys Draft Dominator to provide some numbers and AAVs once the first set of projections are available. Just remember that every single auction is different and that those numbers quickly get tossed aside as soon as the overbidding begins.
Master Team Plans - Now that you have the knowledge, it is time to start applying it and building a few possible teams. This is when and where everything starts to come together. Take your entire budget and list all of the positions that you plan on having on your team, including bench players, and start putting values next to each position (for example, RB1 = $50, RB2 = $20, RB3 = $8, etc.). Make sure that you get all the spots covered and that your total is very close to your total budget. Do not be concerned if you are 1-2% off as the numbers are just estimates anyway. Having a few plans to work with or consult during your auction can really help to calm your thoughts during a hectic day.
Please note that the Footballguys Auction Guide provides several Master Team Plan options later in Section 5 - Strategies for Building an Auction Team.
Maintain Flexibility - You might walk into your auction room with a set plan for your budget and bidding for your team, but more often than not the plan is not worth the scrap of paper it was written on after a round or two of nominations and bids. Having multiple options and plans at your disposal affords you with many different directions in which to take your team as the auction unfolds. Did you expect top WRs to be over $40 and they are in the $25-27 range? Are $10-15 RBs overpriced? Are QBs going cheap? You have to maintain flexibility to adjust on the fly.
Run Some Mock Auctions - Take the time to either join a mock auction or to run a few through with the Draft Dominator. Do not keep trying the same strategy, however - that's not the point. Mix it up and see what kind of team you will wind up with if you go big at different positions or if you just sit back and wait for values. Look at the various end results and see which teams you like the most. That will go a long way in deciding what your auction day strategy will be.
Now that you are better prepared for your auction, the next article will cover getting to know your league, inside and out.