Fantasy Football Auction Draft
How many times has it happened that the newest member of your league wins it all? You know, the guy who has to ask what a tight end is halfway through the draft. Any fantasy newcomer can walk into a snake draft with his top 200 sheet from an online resource and make it to the championship. In a league with a snake draft format, that is. Trust me, I was that guy my first year and I made it to the championship by liking the idea of Tom Brady and Randy Moss being on my team, simply because I recognized their names. And I would have won it all too, if it wasn’t for that other first-time owner who liked another QB/WR combo for the same reason! This is part of why your next draft should be a fantasy football auction draft.
Don’t get me wrong, the snake draft is a fine system and a fantastic way to help casual owners play and enjoy the world of fantasy football. It is quick, simple, and equalizes teams for closer gameplay. But it’s overly restrictive, leaves you with only a few choices for how to build your team, and means that anyone with a top 200 list can be mocking you during the entire offseason at the water cooler. And you don’t want that. That’s where the control, adrenaline rushes, and quick decision-making of the auction put this draft style as the superior method for choosing your two quarterback fantasy football team.
This article is dedicated to general auction strategy. Each year we provide a lot more advice about the strategy for that specific season, write a bunch of thoughts and articles, and send you off. After all, it’s a lot of fun to dream and plan for your team.
In this article, we are taking a step back and looking at how to dominate in an auction format for two quarterback fantasy football leagues. Whether this is your first auction of any type or you’re a seasoned veteran, this article is a helpful resource for how the auction affects two-QB leagues. If you are looking for specific auction prices for the 2014 season, here is the link you need for the top 200 rankings and auction values. And as always, you can message me on Twitter @BergerTwoQBs with any comments or questions you have.
The 2-QB Effect
Because of the extra position for quarterbacks, every QB’s dollar value increases drastically. Whereas most years the top 3-6 running backs would be worth significantly more than the best quarterback, this is no longer true. Now an Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning can sell for $60, and pairing him with Matthew Stafford could take you all the way to the playoffs even with a relatively mediocre team around them. This same increase would occur if you were in a league that required 3 or even 4 wide receivers: with every extra starting spot the value of great players increases. But with quarterbacks the stakes get taken even higher because they average the highest points of any position.
Another way that the second QB spot affects drafting is that the amount of money available to draft each starter decreases. Let’s say that your strategy is to draft great starter talent without much bench depth: having to draft a second quarterback means that you have around $3.50 less for each position! This is where many owners overpay for their team, and you end up seeing players like DeSean Jackson or Joe Flacco selling for half of their actual value.
But let’s say that you’re an owner that’s a bit more risk averse; you like to draft a deep bench and hope one of those players becomes something big. Even for you, adding that one measly quarterback position means that you have $2 less for each roster spot on your team. This is one of the reasons why patience, especially in two-QB leagues, can pay off so well. So many owners do not account for the altered values, and so they run out of money and the draft becomes ripe for the taking!
Now remember, even your number 3 quarterback will be starting for your team at least twice this season. So do you really want an injury-prone backup that you will need to rely on? Remember that owning three quarterbacks is a minimum in the two-qb format unless you’re willing to start Chad Henne or even possibly an NFL backup quarterback that you’re not sure will see the field this Sunday. Generally, you want to draft 2 solid starters with a reliable backup and only pick up a fourth if you are confident in your other positions
For Any Draft, Make Sure You…
Set Your Goals
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Before going into a draft, start to plan for how much you are going to spend on each position as a whole. For example, this year you might decided that you are going to budget $65 QB – $73 RB – $50 WR – $10 TE – $2 D/K. With this you realize that you can either get Aaron Rodgers and two scrubs or possibly Tony Romo and Matthew Stafford with Ryan Tannehill as your backup. It’s your choice which scenario you prefer, but by setting these miniature budgets you help yourself determine how the draft will go for you and where you can go big and where you need to keep the budget tight.
Come in Confident
Whether you’ve been prepping since February 4th or you’re walking in looking up values on your phone, play it confident. The auction draft is often won by how you draft. Keep your mannerisms under control, and relax. Even if you make a mistake, no one else knows that you messed up unless you let them know. And no single mistake ruins your team. So enjoy the process, and let the sweating be for your friendly rivals.
Are you desperate to draft Jordy Nelson this year? Do you need a running back? Start throwing out other names at that same position when it is your turn to pick. You diminish the amount of money in other owner’s pockets. They may even fill enough roster spots to where they are only able to pay backup money and there are still great starters available at a huge discount.
Remember, the auction is a game of power and money is power. One of my personal favorite strategies is to draft either my defense, kicker, or tight end early. I like to know exactly how much money I have to spend on my big name players, so by throwing out Stephen Gostkowski in the first or second round I either make sure I’m locked in with a decent kicker or someone else outbids me and spends twice what any kicker is worth.
Flexibility is King
This is where prepping can actually become a risk, because it is so easy to get rigid in your strategy and for it to burn you in the end. Personally I recommend doing a lot of mock drafts to help expose these potential holes in your draft strategy.
In any auction the first few players that sell help determine what the market value is at each position. For some leagues this could be as many as 10 players, but for others 1-2 players go and you have a good feel for what the values are going to be like early. But here’s the catch: the market is able to change dramatically at any time.
Often owners are reluctant to spend $50 or more early in a draft on a premiere quarterback because of how deep an investment that is. It just feels too early to go all in. So you see Manning, Brees, and Rodgers sell in the high forties. But as the elite talent disappears off the board owners begin to realize that they might get stuck with Carson Palmer as their QB1 if they don’t act quickly. All of the sudden, Tony Romo and Matt Ryan sell for $55, and Andrew Luck brings in $59. It is highly unlikely that any of these 3 players are worth as much as the elite 3, but this is the nature of the beast that is the auction.
So here’s what you do in your draft: start looking ahead 4-5 picks and plan accordingly. Keep track of who everyone else has on their team if possible and how much money they have left. This takes a lot of practice and even the best owners will make mistakes. But if you can keep a sense of what other owners are looking to pay for, you can work the auction to your advantage.
Don’t Be Too Patient
My best value last year was AJ Green. Seriously, I put him on the block first to see what the market value would be for premiere running backs. Quickly I realized that most people were still gathering their notes, and so I kept bidding until I had Green for $31. Within the next 5 minutes, I had Green significantly cheaper than others who picked up Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, and even Roddy White. This early lull often happens as the market is being set, and some great deals can be snatched up before people even realize what they’re missing out on. Whenever auctions started to come around for fantasy football, a lot of people believed that it was best to not buy anyone for the first 30 minutes of the draft. Their advice was “Don’t do it, don’t even make a bid; in fact don’t even show up until 30 minutes into it”.
The problem is that now so many people use some portion of the delay strategy that its value has disappeared. Go for value. If you can get a good player for a few dollars less than you think they are worth and you still have a starting spot available, pick them up. The worst indication of over-waiting is when a team completes their roster with $10, $20, or even $30 left over. Unless your league has incentives to stay under the salary cap, these dollars are wasted opportunities and at least one missing star from your team.
As always, remember that fantasy football is a game. If you want to root for a player from your favorite NFL team, pick them up even if the price is a bit high. Compile a team that you believe in and that you want to cheer for. Don’t let all of the rankings, articles, or advice ruin what all of these resources are about: having fun with friends during football season.
Photo Credits: aawiseman, 5150fantast, borman818, and xjyxjy via Compfight cc