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Fantasy Baseball Salary Cap Draft Primer (2024)

Fantasy Baseball Salary Cap Draft Primer (2024)

Most people who’ve played in fantasy baseball leagues played in the typical snake drafts where you take turns drafting a player one pick at a time in turn. However, the original and best way to play is actually the auction format.

The auction format is the best way to play fantasy because it allows you to build your team any way you want. Want to build a team of a bunch of studs and a bunch of sleepers? You can do that. Want to have no lower-end players on your roster? You can do that. In a snake draft, you can get sniped. In an auction draft, everyone has an equal shot at every player. It is the truest test of fantasy skill.

However, because the format is so equal for every player, it makes having a strategy that much more important. In this article, I will cover everything you need to know about how to win your auction league.

2024 Salary Cap Draft Primer

Before The Draft

There are two types of auction players: The prepared and the unprepared. Don’t be the latter.

Salary Cap Draft Values

You should enter your auction with a few things, first of which is auction values. Every player has a value of what they are worth to each player. Having what each player is worth to you will allow you to not overspend on a given player. Some people enter saying, “I am leaving the auction with player X no matter what.” This is a dangerous strategy because they could go for what they are worth or way over what they are worth. Having a set price of what you think a player is worth gives you the ability to maximize the most amount of value for your budget. If your budget is $260 for 23 players, your goal should be to leave the auction with as much value over $260 as possible while building a team that fits well together.

To help determine value, check out our Fantasy Baseball Salary Cap Calculator. It allows you to create custom rankings and dollar values based on expert consensus projections.

Determine How to Build Your Team

The next most important thing to do before you sit down at the auction is to have a plan of attack. You should know how much of your budget you want to spend on hitting versus pitching. The traditional split is in between 65-70% on hitting and the rest on pitching depending on your league formats. Some leagues or formats dictate that you use a different hitter/pitcher split so check previous year’s auctions and how they went before you determine your plan.

When you have your hitter/pitcher split figured out, you should determine if you want to build a balanced team or a stars-and-scrubs team. A stars-and-scrubs team is when you buy up a bunch of expensive players and then leave yourself with no money and fill out your roster with a bunch of $1 players. This allows you to have the best talent in the league and then hope to get lucky with some breakouts from your cheaper players. A balanced approach is the opposite. You tend to miss out on the stars, but you also have very few weak points because the vast majority of your roster is $10-$20 players. If you lose a high-priced player in a stars-and-scrubs approach, you could be pretty screwed, but in a balanced approach you have the risk spread out among all of your players. You can also split the difference by creating a stars and scrubs pitching staff and a balanced offense or vice versa.

Practice, Practice, Practice

And once you have your plan of attack in place, what better way to prepare than to run through mock salary cap drafts? You can do just that using our Salary Cap Mock Draft Simulator.

In The Salary Cap Draft

Be Flexible

Once you have a plan worked out entering the auction, you need to start putting it into action. One of the most important things when you are getting into the actual bidding is to be flexible. You may have planned to do a stars-and-scrubs approach, but if a lot of people are doing that, then it may benefit you to pivot to a balanced approach. The most important thing is to build the most cohesive roster possible while extracting as much value as possible. If the value is in waiting on players because people are overspending early, then be patient. If the value is early, then pounce early.

Salary Cap Draft Nomination Strategy

Another place where you can extract value from players or from your competition is in your nominating strategy. The most common nomination strategy is to throw out the players you don’t want early. This is common because it seems obvious. However, it is not always the best way to set up your team or extract the most value. For example, let’s say you really want one of the top-tier second basemen and you think that they are Mookie Betts, Ozzie Albies, Marcus Semien and Jose Altuve. Most people would say, “Hey, I am going to nominate Mookie Betts first and soak up other people’s money.” The smarter play may be to nominate Semien or Altuve before Betts because there will be people that don’t bid on them because they are saving their money for Betts.

You should use your nominations not to just take other people’s money out of the pool, but to gain information. Often one of the first types of players I like to throw out is whoever is the hyped up young guy or the popular “sleeper”. This allows me to see who has been reading the popular articles and who hasn’t. As the auction goes on, you should be looking to use your nominations to fill other people’s positions. If you have a sleeper at third base then as the draft goes on, you may want to nominate players at third base to fill other people’s third base position to block them off at bidding on the player you will want later. This means you should be tracking what each of your competitors is doing. This is easy to do when you are online, but if you are live, then have a spreadsheet or paper to track what positions each team has filled and how much money they have left. This helps in the end game when you are looking to grab your sleepers or fill out your roster. I try to keep a little more money than just $1 per player so I can make sure I get at least a few of the guys I want in the end game.

Auctions are the most fun you can have in an auction because of the strategy involved. They take more time and effort to put together and prepare for, but if you do it right, they are the most rewarding drafts and leagues to play in.


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