Mastering the Auction, Part 3: Beginner Preparation

Learning the mechanics of how to prepare for auction drafts as a beginner

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:

So by now, you know what mistakes to avoid and you know what a beginner auction is likely to look like. But you’re still a beginner yourself, so what should you do to reduce that adrenaline spike you get in the middle of a big moment? How do you get around the likelihood that you wilt in the heat of an intense bidding war until you have more experience? You need to be in control of three separate lists that you continually update until the day of the draft.


A whole article could be written about the usefulness of Average Auction Values (“AAV”) when preparing for a draft. You can read Section II of Jeff Pasquino’s auction primer to show you how to come up with individual values for each player on your own prior to the draft. But assuming you aren’t ready for that level of involvement, AAV acts as sort of a cheat sheet for coming up with price points for each player. AAV is compiled by taking all the prices that have been paid either in mock or real auctions to that point in the preseason and averaging every price to come up with a value that is supposed to approximate what players will go for in a real draft. The problem, of course, is that there are a lot of variables that affect draft values such as when the nomination was made, who is left at the position, and what money is left in the room. So, you can use AAV to tell you what everyone else is thinking, and then use those initial AAV prices to give you a baseline to tweak each number up or down according to where you want them in your rankings.

Then what you’ll do is study those numbers, break each position into tiers based on where your price breaks are, and tweak them up until it is time to draft. Then you need to erase those numbers from your tier sheet. You read that correctly. Erase them from your tier sheet before you go into the draft room. When you walk in there you must have your tiers, but as a beginner, you do not want to have a dollar value for each player in front of you or it will cause you to feel anxious when players don’t go for what AAV predicted before it started. You’ll also be tempted to try and jump on every perceived deal that you see happening or stop bidding every time someone gets too expensive. Creating those hard lines is the worst way to approach auctions because those who thrive are the ones who can constantly adjust and be flexible in their approach. When the bids start flying AAV rarely holds up as more than a general guide. A strong case can be made that as your experience goes up, the effectiveness of AAV goes down. Use it to help you as a guide as you prepare, but don’t be handcuffed by those estimates when the draft starts.

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