Fantasy Football Auction Draft Tips and Strategy

Are You Ready For Your Fantasy Auction Draft?

Auction drafts are different than the standard snake draft you’re probably used to. The action is faster, you have a shot at any available player and you need to manage a fantasy draft budget.

Below you’ll find a quick overview of fantasy football auction draft strategy and tips to help you get the best value with your fantasy budget. While the focus here is on fantasy football drafts, these tips apply to auction drafts in most other fantasy sports also.

Many fantasy football sites now support online auction drafts. Be prepared if your league switches to an auction draft this year.

What’s An Auction Draft?

In an auction draft, each team gets a budget of fantasy dollars (usually $100 or $200) for the draft. Coaches take turns nominating a player to bid on and start the bidding. Any team can bid on the player. The coach with the highest bid wins (drafts) that player.

Teams can bid as much or little as they want on a player within their available budget but must draft a full roster. Once a team has filled its roster, it can no longer nominate or bid on players. Any fantasy budget left over is lost.

The fantasy budget adds a new dimension to your draft strategy. Spending your draft budget effectively to maximize value will help you draft a strong team. Bid too low and you’ll end up with a garbage team. Bid too high and you’ll have a couple top guys but little money to spend on other positions.

Check out this article on how to choose your fantasy football draft format for more info on the differences between an auction draft and a standard snake draft.

Build A Good Cheat Sheet

Like in a standard draft, a good cheat sheet is critical. In addition to the standard player rankings by position with bye week and projected fantasy points (using your leagues’ scoring rules), an auction draft cheat sheet should also include an expected auction price or price range.

Most fantasy sites that provide auction values base them on average prices from mock and real auctions. Check what league size and salary cap were used to determine those values and adjust accordingly.

Do A Mock Draft

Most of the major Fantasy Football sites offer mock drafts now. Mock drafts give you an opportunity to practice and understand the auction format before your real draft. You’ll be way more confident going into your league’s draft after doing a mock draft or two.

It’s best to use the same site that your league will use for its draft so that you’re familiar with using the draft tools and where everything is on the screen.

Even if your league does a live, in-person auction, participating in an online mock draft will help you get a feel for the flow of an auction and practice your strategies.

Stay Calm

Why do sellers like auctions? Because when there are multiple bidders, they get competitive, overbid and drive the price way up. It’s easy to get excited and overpay when the bidding is intense on a player you want.

Be patient, keep a level head and avoid getting caught up in a bidding frenzy. When a player’s price exceeds what you decided he’s worth, stop bidding.

The good news is that you can use bidding frenzy to your advantage. More on that below.

Pay Attention

Auction drafts are fast paced.  You can slack off in a standard serpentine draft and casually follow what other managers are doing until it’s your turn. Not in an auction draft.

You have to pay attention to every player nominated and decide to bid or not. Even if you don’t bid, it’s important to note how much the player went for. Then determine how that affects the value of remaining players at that position.

Pay close attention to the nominating and bidding patterns of your competitors. Who’s nominating players but not bidding on them? Which coach is waiting until the last second before bidding? Who’s throwing in a random bid just to drive the price higher? This info will help you avoid overpaying when a player you want is on the block.

Do yourself a favor and go easy on the beer during an auction draft, you’ll want a sharp mind…and an empty bladder.

Get Your Competition To Overspend Their Money Early

There’s a good reason to get other managers to overpay and spend a lot of money early in the draft. You’ll have more budget available and can outbid them on the players you really want later.

The following strategies carry a risk that you could end up owning a player you didn’t plan to. To minimize that risk, only bid the minimum amount when you nominate the player and only nominate players that should fetch higher than the minimum (ie: tier 1-3 players). That way, if no one else bids, you got a decent player for only $1.

  • Nominate An Already Purchased Stud RB’s Backup – This typically starts a bidding war between the stud’s owner and someone who likes drafting another owner’s handcuffs for future trade bait (there’s at least one in every league). Be warned that the stud’s owner, who was hoping to get his stud’s handcuff for $1 much later in the draft, won’t be happy with you.
  • Nominate A Player You’re Not Interested In – It helps if it’s a big name that others likely want on their team…an aging star or an over-hyped rookie work well. If you’re in a league with several guys who all graduated from Big State U, then nominate a star player from their school and watch them bid against each other to land him.
  • Nominate A Top Defense or Kicker Early – It’s easy to overspend on these positions. Put the top ranked Defense on the block early when everyone has plenty of budget and someone will overpay. There’s a potential ripple effect if others use that inflated price to value the next Defense nominated which helps get even more money off the table.

Final Auction Draft Tips

A few logistical tips to help your auction draft go smoothly…

  • Test Your Connection (Online Draft Only) – Your online draft site should have a way to test your draft tool connection in advance. Do this well before the draft to make sure that you can connect through your firewall, spyware blockers, etc. with enough time to adjust settings or download a plug-in if needed.
  • Hit the bathroom before the draft starts – If your league’s doing an online auction draft, expect to sit at the computer for about 3 hours. There’s no break or down time in an auction draft. You could easily miss out on players you want by running to the bathroom. Keep an empty bottle near you…just in case.
  • Get your snacks ready before the draft starts – Similar to the above tip. There won’t be much time during the draft to run to the fridge.

Now you’re ready to tackle your first auction draft.  Have fun and good luck.

Was this draft info helpful? Which auction draft strategies work best for you? Please leave a comment below.

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