Different Approaches in Fantasy Football Auction Drafting


Auction drafting is an alternative to snake drafts. In most iterations, the league gives you $200 to spend on building your roster. At the draft, each owner takes turns nominating players for $1 who are then bid on by the rest of the league. This type of league allows for much more flexibility on how your roster is built and oftentimes can leave the entire league happy with their teams.

Auction drafting can be an overwhelming experience as there is a lot more variety in the types of draft strategies to choose from compared to normal snake drafts. You have limitless options when it comes to constructing the roster; however, that also comes with limited guidance and harder decision making. Below are four different routes that you can take to tackle your auction draft.

Stars and Scrubs

This is one of the most popular and polarizing strategies to go with. Essentially, you target 3-4 traditional first and second-round talents and use all of your budgets on those players. Then you fill out the rest of your roster with $1 late-round talents.

Pros: This kind of draft strategy can easily lead to an absolutely dominant team. In my auction league last year the winner had gone for Michael Thomas, Christian Mccaffrey, and Dalvin Cook. Between those three you really only need minimal production from the rest of your lineup to win each week.

Cons: This strategy puts a ton of risk into a very select few guys. This strategy is all about your stars staying healthy. There is always luck involved in fantasy football, but I would argue that the luck involved with this strategy is magnified by this dependence on stars.

Who Should Employ This Strategy: I would argue that the first step is that you need to have a very strong belief in a few top guys. Following this, you must be confident in your $1 picks and waiver-wire ability. While you do not need a ton of production, you need to be able to manufacture production from these extremely low-value players. In leagues small enough to stream QB and TE this can be a huge benefit by being able to mix and match and again, manufacture points at these positions.

The Value Menu

Using some online sheets, or making your own, you can designate a dollar price quite efficiently to each player.

Here is a link to my favorite auction sheets by ElBoberto on Reddit

The way this strategy works is you bid up each player to their value price, and as soon as that price goes past their value (which will happen very frequently early on), you stop bidding. The genius of sheets like ElBoberto’s is that it accounts for inflation or deflation of value based on how much everyone else has spent on other players. You will always end up with the most possible value for your $200 in auction using this method.

Pros: Extreme value and a very deep roster. Using his method will allow you to have an abundance of 2nd or 3rd tier players at each position. This will decrease risk and increase trade value opportunities for you throughout the season.

Cons: It is very likely that you will not have any top players, as you almost always have to overspend for them. There will also be times where players you like end up getting bid on just a bit too high and you have to resist from going for them. You may not love your players, but need to love your value.

Who Should Employ This Strategy: If this is your first time in an auction league and you want to make sure you simply get into the year with a solid roster, this could be the strategy for you. You also need a sheet that you absolutely trust or need to make a sheet using a template yourself. I highly recommend this to the player who loves trading and is in a league in which trades are plentiful. The value you have accompanied by the right roster decision should lead to a playoff birth.

The Tier 2

Instead of going for stars and scrubs, how about going after all the tier 2 talent? For example, currently on Yahoo, CMC is going for $73. Instead of grabbing CMC and three $1 RBs, you could grab all of Josh Jacobs at $42, David Johnson for $12, James Conner for $12, and Devin Singletary for $10. With this strategy, your objective is to stack your RB and WR core with tier 2 players, as well as having plenty of money for a top TE.

Pros: Again, your team is going to have value. However, this strategy is very similar to stars and scrubs just with a lot more risk mitigation. Instead of 3 stars to rely on and hope they do not get injured, you have 6-9 great players to interchange. This also decreases the importance of hitting on the waiver wire, or the $1 end-of-draft picks.

Cons: You may not have any dominant players. You also run the risk of everybody waiting for the 2nd tier of players and driving up the price way past what would make this strategy viable. However, by the time you may realize this, the tier 1 players will most likely be gone and now you are stuck with tons of money with no solid starters left.

Who Should Employ This Strategy: The seasoned-vet who knows their league. This strategy can lead to an absolutely stacked team, one that should win the championship but only in the right league with the right player. If you know that your league overspends on the top players, you should be able to get guys with just slightly lower production for half to 1/3rd of the cost. You have to be active in the draft making sure that they are overspending for those 1st tier players because if they are not, then you may need to jump in to grab one of those players. This is because you will not be able to snatch up as many RB2s and WR2s as you want.

The “My Guys”

Making a spreadsheet and budgeting your money for a pool of players you are confident in is a great option. This is the strategy that I use the most. It allows you to draft a team you love, which is part of the reason that so many people prefer auction drafts.

Pros: You get the guys you want, at the value you want them at. There are not any strict rules here which allows for flexibility; however, with the right preparedness, there should not be too many surprises as long as you have a group of players you like at each value and position.

Cons: You could be wrong. This strategy all depends on the value of each player. It can also lead to a spot where a lot of your guys are also favorites of league mates, causing them to go for too much and forcing a very uncomfortable mid-draft pivot to players that were not on your board.

Who Should Employ This Strategy: Once you are comfortable with auction drafts, and you have played enough fantasy football to trust your gut and evaluation skills, I recommend you go with this strategy. It forces you to do your research and create a spreadsheet and allows you to almost always come out of the draft extremely happy with your team. At the end of the day, fantasy is about winning and having fun. This strategy is the perfect balance of both, especially if you consider yourself a smart fantasy player.

Below is an example of my spreadsheet. You will notice that the top is my targeted players with their average price on Yahoo. Below is a chart with my budget for each position and a spot to fill in the players as I get them and how much I pay. It allows me to see if I am over or under budget and allocate or shift funds on the fly during the actual auction draft. I will leave a link to a blank Google sheet version of this for your own draft below, simply copy it to your Google Drive.

Screenshot 20

Link to Google Drive Blank Auction draft sheet

Whichever draft strategy you decide to employ, make sure you come in prepared. I highly recommend mock drafts, and getting a feel for the real price that players will go at. Each league is different and the price in which you may pay for one guy in one league could be completely different to the next, and this is why flexibility is so important.

Matthew is a UC Berkeley economic and philosophy graduate. He has played DFS, Football pools, and survival leagues for most of his adult life. Matthew brings to the table great strategies for both your GPP and Cash plays as well as a winning track record with his picks of the week.

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