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Five Mistakes Auction Players Make On Draft Day (Fantasy Football)

by Jason Katz | @jasonkatz13 | Featured Writer
Feb 20, 2020

Never leave money on the table in an auction draft.

I never want snake drafts to go away permanently, nor would I ever suggest I don’t enjoy them. I like a healthy balance between snake and auction, but make no mistake about it, auctions are the objectively superior format. I absolutely love auction drafts. Between my own leagues, friends, and clients, I want to do as many as I can every season.

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but every auction is different. You can do 100 auction drafts with the same 12 people and get 100 very different results. That’s the beauty of an auction — you never know how it will play out. Even amidst the inherent uncertainty, there are common mistakes you will frequently see in auctions. Here are five you should not only avoid, but capitalize on when you see someone make them in your draft.

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Price Enforcing

I know. I know. You want all the good deals for yourself. You are the only one allowed to get players at a discount, and you will do your damnedest to make sure no one else does! But seriously, you should only have one concern during your auction: your team. That’s it. Your goal is to put together the best roster you can of players you want. There is no worse feeling than getting stuck with a player you don’t want. That can only happen if you get cheeky and bid up a player in an effort to get one of your opponents to spend more money. Even if you succeed at getting one other team to spend a few extra dollars on one player, what are you really accomplishing? Is that going to help your team? It’s highly unlikely.

Think about what you’re risking for minimal gain. You risk spending valuable money, that you need to buy the players you want, on a player you don’t actually want just to maybe hinder one out of 11 other teams by a few bucks. I know you hate to see someone else get what you perceive as a great value, but if you really thought the value was that good, you would want that player. There’s a reason you, and it’s because the so-called value is based only upon average cost. You clearly don’t think it’s a great value since you’re not truly interested. I can distinctly remember multiple picks I’ve made that I thought were tremendous values that turned out to be awful. The same can very well be true for your opponents. I’m not saying you should never bid on players you don’t necessarily want, but you should never bid more than you are willing to pay for a player.

Refusing to Spend Early in a Tight Room

When your auction begins, you should always head in with the mindset of getting other people to spend money so you can scoop up the value later. However, just because that’s what you want to happen doesn’t mean that it will happen. Within those first few picks, you need to read the room quickly. If you diagnose that everyone else is being tight with their money early, it’s time to spend because the value is available now. If you see the top players (who are usually nominated early) going for $5-$10-$15 above value, by all means, sit back and wait. Eventually, your opponents won’t be able to overspend anymore, and that’s when you clean up. But if you see those same players going for at or below value, you need to get involved early. Just like overspending early leads to value later, underspending early leads to overpaying later. Always be on the right side of the ledger.

Player Value Stubbornness

In my first ever auction, I went in with the mindset of never overpaying for a player. I stuck to it, and every player I drafted was a value. Every…single…one. This is a very bad thing. Unlike a snake draft, you and your opponents aren’t constructing your teams with the same relative value of players each round. What I ended up with was a roster full of deserving starters devoid of any clear standouts. If you have a stacked bench in an auction, you probably did something wrong.

No one likes to overspend on anyone, but you are doing yourself no favors by having a ton of money when all the superstars are gone. You need at least one superstar. That’s not to say you must overpay for first or second-round talent. But if your entire starting lineup consists of fourth and fifth-round caliber players, you are not going to compete. Having all the money to vacuum up those mid-round guys does you no good when you can’t start them all. Spending an extra few bucks to secure a stud is worth it. That late $5 guy is probably going to miss anyway.

Getting Caught in a Tier Break

In a snake draft, you are thrilled when you can take the last guy in a tier. It is usually a product of blind luck resulting from your draft position, which you had no control over, but it’s nevertheless a great feeling. In an auction, when there’s one player left from a tier, bedlam ensues. You typically don’t want to be the first person to buy a player in a tier, but even more so, you don’t want to be last. The last player in a tier is usually the most expensive because everyone knows that, after him, the caliber of players available drops. Don’t get caught waiting for that last strong WR2 and end up having to spend more on him than most of the WR1s went for. It’s pretty much unavoidable that this will happen to someone in every auction. Don’t let it be you.

Leaving with Money

You should never leave your auction with money. No buts. No excuses. Literally never. And no, this doesn’t mean you’ve successfully avoided this pitfall if you spent $17 on your last player. If you have an excess of money remaining during the end game, you’ve done something wrong. That’s not to say you don’t want money to control the late bidding; you do. You just don’t need $17. If you are really dead set on having end-game power, you ideally want the ability to go to $2 or $3 on a couple of players. If you’re down to your last two picks and you have $15 left, you’ve failed to effectively allocate your funds. You will surely look back at the draft and see spots where you could have spent an extra dollar or two and gotten a superior player. Those $1 and $2 players simply aren’t that important. Your hit rate on them is going to be very low. It is far more important to use your money earlier to make sure you get more expensive players than it is to save so you can throw the dart of your preference.

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Jason Katz is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jason, check out his archive follow him @jasonkatz13.

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