Auction Success in a Running Back Crazy World: Part 1

Finding auction success without spending on top running backs

Before you get started here, if you haven't done so already, please check out my auction series.

When trying to come up with your auction strategy for this year, there are a lot of things to consider, but many of those considerations don’t have concrete answers. Unlike serpentine drafting, auctions are far from an exact science. As a result, you can’t ever know exactly what’s going to happen when the draft starts. The order in which players are nominated by your league-mates won’t follow any pre-planned draft course you can count on because it’s highly likely they don’t even know who they’ll nominate before it’s their turn. So much of what determines the value of a player flows from that very unpredictable starting point, and thus, you must be ready to execute your plan while knowing that it won’t always go perfectly.

So what can you anticipate in your auction to help you come up with your strategy? That varies from year to year, so trying to predict it is part of what makes you a good, mediocre, or poor auction drafter. Here are a few things to consider:

  • What does your league typically do? Do they slough off quarterback until late? Or are they excited about Patrick Mahomes II and Lamar Jackson and will go after them aggressively? This is a big one. Quarterback prices will determine a lot about what you can do in a draft.
  • What is the current overall fantasy football climate? Are owners excited about running backs, or receivers, or top tight ends? There are no exact answers here, but Average Draft Position gives you some clues, as do Average Auction Values the closer you get to the end of draft season.
  • How flexible is your starting lineup? How flexible are the overall roster requirements? If you have maximum flexibility in your lineup then you can let others go after certain players and you aren’t forced into any corners you don’t want to be in.

The answers to these questions in 2020 should lead you in one direction in particular. It’s clear that running backs are king again this year, and you should be prepared to exploit this. Obviously, you can go into a draft and have a “top running back” mentality no matter the cost. But that path is fairly easily defined, and also quite common. In that situation, you’ll be mining for wide receiver value late while spending almost nothing on quarterback and tight end. There is nothing wrong with that strategy, but fantasy football is about becoming as risk-proof as possible while still possessing the requisite upside to win on a weekly basis. Putting all your money into two top running backs isn’t necessarily faulty, but it makes your roster more volatile and more dependent on those couple players. Just ask the guys who left drafts with Alvin Kamara and Saquon Barkley last year. With the strategy outlined below, you can take advantage of the current running back craze and compile 4-5 top players at other positions and spread out your risk while still giving your lineup plenty of punch.

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