Mastering the Auction Draft, Part 4: Nomination Strategies

Learning different nomination strategies for auction drafting. 

Note: This series is designed to take auction drafters of any ability and refine their auction skills to those of a seasoned auction veteran. The articles will go from very simple concepts all the way to the most advanced auction theories. Each article is designed to build on the previous articles in the series. For best results read each article before proceeding to the concepts in the next article. For a breakdown of auction mechanics and strategies see Footballguy Jeff Pasquino’s excellent 8-part Auction Primer Series.

Other sections of this series:

If you have followed along in this series, or you have some auction drafts under your belt, then you are ready to take your next steps to refine your auction skillset. To this point, the strategy has argued strongly for preparation in advance that gives you a reliable backbone to fall back on as you draft. But as you become more experienced, the beginner techniques become more second nature and you can begin to slowly loosen things up. You can begin to explore mid-draft changes in strategy, nominations that target specific owners, and price ranges instead of exact values. This series will hit all of those before it’s over, but for now focus on something that is entirely within your control: Nominating a player for bid. In an auction, the one thing you can always count on is that unpredictability will rule. So when you are faced with uncertainty you must find your edge wherever you can. Nominations are one of those edges. It is quite possibly the only thing you have that you control completely, but that also gives you the power to drastically affect what other teams are doing. Here are some vital concepts to be aware of when crafting your nominations.

DEFINE YOUR DRAFT EARLY

It is sometimes easy to make the mistake of coming up with players you want and then attempting to sit on those players as long as you can to try and find a lower price. But while it is rarely correct to simply call out every player you want, on the other hand, if you want to execute your strategy there are going to be some key players that will send your draft off in different directions. You must nominate those players as early as the draft allows in order to avoid missing opportunities along the way if you’re waiting for “your” players to be called out. Some common situations:

  • Top Quarterback – Aiming for a player like Patrick Mahomes II or Lamar Jackson
  • Running Back Heavy – Aiming for 1 elite running back and another top 12-15 running back as your RB2
  • Wide Receiver Heavy – Aiming for 2-4 top 24 wide receivers
  • Top Tight End – Aiming for the truly elite options, in 2020 this is limited to Travis Kelce or George Kittle, and to a lesser extent Zach Ertz and Mark Andrews

In each of these situations defining your draft looks a little different, but it means doing the same thing: Picking one or more key players that will tell you if your strategy is viable right from the start. For example, you are set on owning Patrick Mahomes II this year and have budgeted $42 to land him on your team. But if you don’t get Mahomes you have decided you are going to switch to a Top Tight End track instead. Your first nomination needs to be Mahomes 100% of the time. This performs a very important function for you. If you have $42 set aside for Mahomes you need to know immediately if that number is going to hold up. With top players, there is no need to wait to nominate them because you aren’t going to get much value, if any, on the elite guys. So if you wait on Mahomes and nobody gets around to nominating quarterbacks you might watch Kelce, Kittle, Ertz, and Andrews come off the board before you know if you’re getting Mahomes or not. That puts you in a tough spot because if the bidding stops at a reasonable price on a tight end you have to make the call whether to jump ship on the top player you had targeted. If you choose to do so then you may see Mahomes go for $40 and then you have yet another tough decision to make. Take the guesswork out. If you want top receivers? Get Michael Thomas or Davante Adams out there and see if your idea is going to work. Define your path early through your own nominations.

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