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Fantasy Football Auction Draft Strategies: Part 2

by Matt Okada | @MattOkada | Featured Writer
May 19, 2018

If you haven’t read Part 1 of this auction strategy series, check it out for some quick tips on the nomination game! Combine those with the strategies we cover below and you’ll be well on your way to dominating your auction drafts.

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Spending Strategies

The most important aspect of an auction draft, naturally, is how you spend your money. There are a lot of ways to do it, and the flexibility in comparison to a snake draft can be overwhelming. In reality, every single player is available – a big departure from typical drafts where you will never get Todd Gurley from the No. 12 position. That means good financial planning – and your imagination – are the only limits to constructing the perfect team.

Stars and Scrubs

Perhaps the most discussed auction strategy, this is a simple and exciting tactic that’s only possible in auction drafts. Essentially, the idea is to spend the majority of your budget (well over 50%) on a few superstars, and then fill in your roster with inexpensive players.

The draw, of course, is the thrill of having multiple elite, first-round fantasy talents on the same team. Who doesn’t dream of heading into a matchup with Gurley, Antonio Brown, and Rob Gronkowski spearheading their lineup? With the Stars and Scrubs strategy, you can. Using a typical $200 budget in a 12-team league, Gurley will probably cost about $65, Brown will be around $55, and Gronk will come in at $30. That’s $150 – or three-quarters of your entire warchest – on three players. Plus, there’s some enjoyment in the challenge of balancing out the rest of your roster with sleepers and undervalued budget picks. You will have apparently poor depth, but if some of those guys hit, they will combine with your studly corps to catapult you towards the playoffs.

Stars and Scrubs is a great strategy for those aggressive, go-getters out there who eschew safe drafting in pursuit of greater glory. Just be wary, if one of your superstars gets injured, your team will likely find its way to the bottom of the standings in no time.

The Patient Pouncer

The near antithesis of the Stars and Scrubs strategy, this one features a much more measured approach that seeks to capitalize on other owners’ aggressiveness. As the Patient Pouncer, you’ll stay on the outskirts in the early “rounds,” where owners typically nominate big-name players and deplete their wallets. You likely won’t come up with any of the elite guys, unless you catch an unwary league napping.

But when the time comes for the RB2s, WR2s and high-end TEs, you’ll be the fat cat in the draft room. While the Star-and-Scrubber spends all his money on a few tier-one players, the Patient Pouncer stocks a starting roster full of Adam Thielens, Joe Mixons, and Zach Ertzes.

While it’s certainly not as flashy, it is almost always more reliable and can still carry big upside. Keep in mind, buying a player at a first-round-type price means they can only return value or bust. Buying a slew of players for $15-25 leaves plenty of room for over-production and lessens the losses suffered through injury or under-performance considerably. This is no more evident than in last season’s finish, where the top RB (Gurley) and WR (Hopkins) both came from well-outside the first round.

The Air Raid

You probably haven’t heard of this one before, as I just now stole the name from the popular collegiate offensive style and slapped it on an auction strategy that uses the same principle – one running back and a whole lot of receivers. The concept is pretty simple. RB is a typically top-heavy position, while receiver holds value across far more players down several tiers. As such, your money may be best spent locking up a reliable stud running back and then investing heavily in solid wideouts.

From a stock market standpoint, this is kind of like putting a chunk of cash in something big and full of upside, like Amazon or Apple, and diversifying the rest of your investments across a reliable, established index. (Disclaimer: my stock market advice is nowhere near as trustworthy as my fantasy advice). It gives you a stable floor with an established ceiling, and could also open opportunities to sell high when several of your WRs overperform early in the season.

The main difficulty with the Air Raid is finding a serviceable RB2 for a few bucks. If you play in a PPR league, I strongly suggest grabbing a pass-catcher like Chris Thompson or Tarik Cohen. If not, try to find guys in timeshares who could suddenly win or step into a productive role (Packers RBs, D’Onta Foreman, Latavius Murray), or overlooked rookies with upside (Royce Freeman, Kerryon Johnson).

Poor, Poor QBs

If you thought the strategy of the “late-round quarterbacks” was offensive to the NFL’s most important position, just wait until you see an auction draft play out. After the top four or five guys go for $15-25, there’s a pretty massive drop off in selling price. In my own rankings, the tier that spans from around Carson Wentz to somewhere near Jameis Winston – nearly a 15-spot gap – is essentially a single tier. That means you’re greatly served investing your dough elsewhere and picking up a Philip Rivers, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, or Winston for less than $5. Plus, you can always add a capable backup/streamer (Case Keenum, Marcus Mariota) for a single dollar at the end of the draft.

Unless you’re a big fan of Rodgers, Wilson, or Brady, this strategy is a near must-follow in my book. The $30 combo of, say, Rodgers and James White is rarely going to trump the combo of Rivers and Christian McCaffrey for the same price.

Last, But Not Least

And, last but not least, the Last-But-Not-Least strategy! This is one of my personal favorites, and one of the most satisfying to carry out. The goal is to save a decent portion of your budget, roughly 5-10%, to ensure you win the sleepers you truly love at the end of the draft.

Nothing hurts more than dedicating your last dollar to your must-have sleeper-of-choice only to see another owner steal him for $2 at the end of the draft. If you have a wish-list of sleepers you’ve been studying and drooling over since the NFL Draft (ahem, Nyheim Hines), set yourself in a strong position to grab them in your auction. Auction drafts are the best format to exercise your own personal takes and convictions, so don’t be afraid to spend the balance of your budget on the guy you like most with your last purchase.

Here’s hoping this mini-series on auction draft strategies gives you the tools you need to dominate your draft! And look for the FantasyPros Draft Wizard later this year, as it includes some incredibly powerful auction tools to help optimize your spending and strategizing!

Fantasy Football Auction Draft Strategies: Part 1

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Matt Okada is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him @FantasySensei.

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