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AUCTION STRATEGY: How to Win Your Draft

With all the preseason injuries and impending roster cuts, hopefully you’ve waited to draft until as late as possible. Those who think snake drafts are the best leagues have probably never done an auction. In an auction, you can have any player you want – for a price.

David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell or Antonio Brown and Julio Jones? Have at it if you’re willing to spend big. It’s your team; do whatever you want. Auctions are a niche part of fantasy football that require more skill and devotion than a serpentine draft and anything besides an auction league just doesn’t cut it for some.

Auction Strategy

Like snake drafts, auction leagues can vary in size and structure. The most common is based on a $200 or $400 salary cap. For the past few years I’ve been in a league where each team has a $1,000 salary cap and a roster of up to 27 players. I like playing at, although many other host sites are available. Live auction drafts are the best. If everyone cannot attend in person, either Skype or have someone draft for them.

Set a budget of how much you want to spend on positions. I want to spend at least – at least! – 90 percent of my salary cap on starters. Having a good bench is important as bye weeks and injuries are inevitable, but studs are your bread and butter because they’re weekly starters. Inexpensive backups can be had later in the draft. Too many people get stingy with their money and back off players when the price rises, settling for a roster chock-full of inexpensive guys with upside who are only good enough to possibly get knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. The draft is only the start, as waiver wire pickups and trades during the season play a crucial role.

Every auction is different. Some owners are itching to spend in the beginning while others are hesitant. Expect elite talent to be nominated first, perhaps the initial 20 players. Deciding if a price is fair, undervalued or overpriced can be tricky based on your league scoring. Many sites provide suggestions on average auction values. Try to get your guys for the cheapest price as possible. If you need to spend a few extra dollars to get a game-changing RB1 or WR1, do so and adjust your positional budget accordingly.

Several strategies are available to use when bidding on players. I prefer high-risk, high-reward. I don’t advise sitting back and waiting while other owners buy the big-name players. If all the early prices are out of whack, then sure, waiting might be the best option. Another method is to pursue a couple elite options and then start to play defense and bid up players. Ending somewhere in the middle of those draft strategies is possible based on the aggressiveness of managers, but I’m always trying to be the aggressor from the get-go until prices become unreasonable.

High Risk, High Reward

If the price is right, come out of the gate spending. I want to win one of the top running backs and wide receivers, as well two WR2s or a RB2 and WR2 for 70-80 percent of my salary cap. The reason I’m aggressive early is because I don’t want to be stuck bidding for the last guy of a tier whose asking price skyrockets since everyone knows he’s the final best option. Again, don’t be nervous to spend a little more than your perceived max to get your guy. It’s a given you’re going to get outbid later in the draft by owners who saved their money. Like in real life, hope your top-tier talent remains healthy. If things go south such as injuries and poor performances, improvise with trades and waiver wire moves. Patience and guts are needed for this drafting style. Value can be found later in the draft even with a diminished remaining salary cap. Don’t leave a draft with extra money. Max out your salary cap to build the best team possible.

About Tyler Huey

A journalist for almost 10 years, he's won many sports writing awards including news articles and opinion columns, and has played fantasy football for more than a decade. He hopes you enjoy his point of view.