More and more leagues are abandoning the round-by-round draft in favor of auction-style play. This type of play allows everyone in the league to have a shot at every single player in the draft. If you want Patrick Mahomes II, Saquon Barkley, and Travis Kelce and are successful at outbidding everyone for these players, then you get them on your roster. You will probably not get much else, but you get the idea. This article isn't going to debate the merits of auction leagues, but simply attempt to explain the art of succeeding in one.
The following assumptions will be used in the analysis that follows:
- 12 team league that starts 1 QB, 2 RB, 3WR, 1 TE, 1 DEF/ST, and 1 K
- Scoring is a point per reception
- $200 salary cap per team, $2,400 dollars available league-wide
- Bids are whole numbers only
- The auction will last 20 rounds for a total of 240 players selected
- Teams are allowed to pick up free agents during the season (with a different cap or waiver system)
Some people seem to think the Principles of Value-Based Drafting (VBD) don't apply to an auction...that you can just show up with a cheat sheet and write down the values as they get determined, then pay a little more for a better position player and a little less for a worse one. I am not going to deny that you could do that, but that won't lead you to maximize value in an auction.
To maximize value in an auction, you need to accomplish these things:
- Predict what players will cost
- Value what players are worth
- Get value with the majority of selected players
1. Predicting What Players Cost
I used average draft position and my auction curves in my VBD app to estimate what players should cost. This approximates $2,400 spent on the top 240 players.
2. Value What Players are Worth
Using the same auction curve in the VBD app above, I calculate worth based on the Top 300 players that we publish on the website.
3. Getting Value with Most Selections
This is pretty easy to do. On most selections, simply don't pay more than a player is worth. I say most selections because sometimes it is correct to target a player that will make your team dominant. And if you get the value up to that selection, overpaying slightly could yield a dominant roster.
I have provided a table that attempts to explain my thought processes that are in play during an auction. I have ranked the players according to my worth by position and provided the "normalized" pricing as a guide on what this player will typically go for. I have included a 75% worth number that I generally make sure the top players sell for unless he ends up on my team.
All of this is visible here. I show this to work through the example, but if you are serious about dominating your auction, you are crazy to use old school methods when our Draft Dominator software will do all the calculations necessary. This includes establishing prices and modifying those prices based on money spent and your own team needs.
Let's have the perfect auction...
This article is going to jump around a bit because there are a few dynamic strategies that are taking place. Namely, the early auction pricing (and what players you get here) and your overall positional spending plan. Both are dynamic based on the players you get making this article very difficult to write to handle every possible scenario.