Auction Primer: Section VII

Nomination Strategies

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.

There are lots of ideas about strategy for nominations. Here are a few:

  • Throw out a top line player you think will be overbid (homers, overvalued, stud you don't like). Do you think that last year's top tight end is going to be much closer to the next 3-4 tight ends? Throw him into the market and see what happens. Odds are that he will be bid up high, especially if this is early in the auction. Now you get several benefits - other owners have less cash and the market is now set for the perceived top player at the position. Now you know that your top guy (or comparable guy) will be about the same price or less when his name comes up.

  • Nominating a player you do not like has a downside, which is you could be stuck with him. This can be tricky but the safest time to do this is early in the auction and with players you know that will be bid up.

  • A common strategy for auctions is to never nominate a player you like early. Shake things up and ignore that idea, especially if you are going for the "Go Big or Go Home" or "Hybrid" strategies. If you do this and if this is out of character for you, even better - the rest of the league will be scratching your head long after you have rostered a valuable stud.

  • Zig when the auction zags. If several recent nominees are all in the same position, go to a different position. This allows you to possibly get a bargain at that position or at least gauge where the marketplace is for that position. This is also a good time to not only change positions but also go after a player you like at that position. If the first five nominees are running backs it might be time to go WR or QB for your top stud and set the market - hopefully for less than you think the player should really cost.

  • Nominate players at a position that you just secured. So what if you now have Aaron Rodgers? Throw out Tom Brady and watch the dollars fly. Remember that part about getting the rest of the owners to spend, right?

  • Monitor what other owners need. If the supply of top running backs is getting low but the demand should be high (several teams that have no running backs yet) - light the match and watch the fire you set blaze away - and take lots of auction dollars with it.

  • Defense and kicker nominations for $1 early. Either you get a Top 5 kicker or defense you like or someone overpays by bidding you up. Win-win.

  • Nominate backups and handcuffs that you know will be wanted soon after the other member of that running back pairing is auctioned off. Did Melvin Gordon III just go? Throw out Austin Ekeler. Latavius Murray should be brought up for bid soon after Alvin Kamara. If the owner of one wants both you can bet that he will be willing to overpay, and that's your goal.

  • It is better to nominate the $1 players you want too early than too late. Keep this strategy for players you are only looking for at exactly $1 and not a penny more. For this reason, it is important to know who are your $1 guys and who are your $2-5 guys. The ones in the latter category you are willing to bid back up to $3-4 before you lose them. The goal here is to add your sleepers for as cheap as possible early to give you more budget to work with for the rest of your starters and top backups.

Nominations are a big part of the auction process, and it is something that is a key part of auction day. No auction on any player can begin without a nomination, so if you can figure out a winning strategy for this phase of an auction you will have that much more of a leg up on your completion.

Next, we'll complete our discussion on auction leagues by talking about several different league setups and how they can affect your auction plans.