Tips to Kill It at Your Auction Draft
Focus on Running Backs, Wide Receivers
Auctions are different than a snake draft but the same principles apply. Build your team around running backs and wide receivers. More than any position, the running back dropoff is frightening going into the RB3, RB4 and RB5 territory. Even if it’s not Johnson or Bell, other names like Melvin Gordon, Devonta Freeman, LeSean McCoy and DeMarco Murray should be in your mental draft queue. And who knows, maybe rookie running back Kareem Hunt will become a superstar in Kansas City after Spencer Ware injured his knee in the third preseason game and will likely miss the season. I’ll also be targeting cheaper options such as running back Danny Woodhead and wide receiver Pierre Garcon. Unless Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce or Greg Olsen are being undervalued, wait on tight end for someone like Kyle Rudolph, Zach Ertz or Hunter Henry. Don’t draft a backup tight end, kicker, defense – they are often interchangeable and not worth a roster spot – or individual defensive player.
Keep Track of Everyone’s Team
Knowing which players everyone has, including cost, is advantageous when bidding and/or nominating. I like to see what my opponents have in their roster to get an idea of what they may or may not do. This works well later in drafts. After winning a player, nominate that same position. Like not fighting for the last player in a tier, doing so can drive prices up because the scarcity of a position is too obvious to ignore. If people start to panic, that’s a win-win situation. Keeping track also helps you start a run on players instead of losing out. For instance, years ago I won Antonio Brown early for less than his value. A wide receiver run started and one of the last top wide receivers, Dez Bryant, went for more than Brown. Hesitancy rarely pays off.
Pursue a Kicker Early
Kickers are unpredictable. Throw out a name like Stephen Gostkowski, Justin Tucker or Matt Bryant within the first 30 picks. If you win them with a minimum bid, fantastic; if not, know whoever wins that kicker is going about it all wrong. Never pay more than the minimum bid. I was outbid on a few kickers last year until I won Adam Vinatieri. That worked out well. This is the easiest position to replace. You can play the matchups all year off the waiver wire and likely have at Top 10 scoring kicker.
Nominate Whomever First
It’s common for people to use their first nomination on someone they don’t plan to own to try and get others to deplete their salary cap. You’ll get a feel for the draft right away. Keep in mind that sometimes the best discounts can be had early. If you’re planning to draft a quarterback late, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are great options to nominate; however, if they’re surprisingly going around 60 percent below market value, it’s OK to change plans, bid, and take the points.
Don’t Go on Tilt
Being outbid on a few elite players in a row is frustrating. Think of a poker player who loses his cool and makes a dumb decision afterward to get eliminated from a tournament. Don’t be that person. At an auction draft, I’ve seen it happen and have been on the verge myself. Worst-case scenario is you’ll be able to load up on second round-type talent with RB1 and WR1 potential. Be aggressive, not reckless.
Quarterback by Committee, Stream Defenses
Quarterbacks score the most points at a super deep position, and defenses are almost as unpredictable as kickers. Spend the minimum on a defense and play the matchups off the waiver wire. As for quarterbacks, try to spend no more than 3 or 4 percent of your budget on a signal-caller unless the likes of Rodgers, Brady or Drew Brees can be had for slightly more. That probably won’t happen because quarterbacks are often overvalued. I’ve seen Rodgers go for 20 percent of a manager’s budget – tsk, tsk. Be better than that.
Ideal Roster Construction
There’s a lot of league settings out there. For this example, I’ll use one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end and two flex. Remember to spend at least 90 percent of your salary cap on starters. In some order, you could own David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell, or Antonio Brown and Julio Jones followed with running backs Frank Gore, Eddie Lacy, Danny Woodhead and wide receivers Pierre Garcon, Stefon Diggs, DeVante Parker and tight end Kyle Rudolph. By loading up on top running backs and wide receivers, you’ll be playing your cards right as a large chunk of the budget is spent wisely.