Being slotted in a specific spot in a fantasy football snake draft allows you only so much control. Even in a 10-team snake draft for a redraft league, you’re not getting Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley no matter where you’re picking, and you’re likely not getting either one if you’re at the end of the first round. You could have the best draft strategy in the world, but it doesn’t matter if you randomly get assigned the No. 9 pick. What if I told you there is a way to get both McCaffrey and Barkley on the same team, and it’s actually pretty easy? All you have to do is join an auction league and follow the tips below.
For those unfamiliar, in auction drafts, each team gets a budget of hypothetical money to bid on players. The standard is a $200 budget per team. The snake draft format is replaced with a nomination order that goes from top to bottom each round. The nominator gets 20-30 seconds to select a player, and once the bidding begins, a running clock starts which determines how long the player is up for nomination. Once the clock is inside 10 seconds, every raised bid will add more time that the player stays on the table. Once the clock hits zero, the highest bidder gets the player.
Quick side note: Everyone must show up on time when the auction begins. Unlike auto-drafting in snake drafts, “auto-bidding” doesn’t work as well on league websites, and the absent owner will auto-bid as much as it takes to acquire the first few players put up for nomination until their budget is maxed out. It sucks and ruins the auction!
There’s a lot of strategy behind fantasy football auctions, from the player nomination process to the bidding to the roster construction. The auction continues until every team has filled their open slots all the way down the bench. If you want Barkley and McCaffrey on your team, go after them! Top players could cost 60-70 dollars each, a huge chunk of a $200 budget. However, you’ll notice that a lot of players go for under 10 dollars that would otherwise be drafted in the middle to later rounds of snake drafts.
The bottom line is auctions, as frustrating as they can be when seemingly similar players go for noticeably different amounts, give you more control over your team’s destiny. Yes, they take more focus and time to complete than snake drafts, but if you have the ability to fight for certain players who are brought up consecutively, why not protect your investment and get the players you truly want?
Below, we’ll highlight some of our favorite strategies and tips for dominating your auction drafts!
20201 Fantasy Football Auction Tips, Draft Strategy
Auction Budgeting Tips
As said in Spiderman, “With great power, comes great responsibility,” and while fantasy football auctions give you the power to go after whoever you want, you have to keep yourself in check. It’s easy to want to keep spending and feed into the emotions and pressure during these drafts. With help from our draft guide combined with your general player interest, make a list of 15-20 players and the amount you would be willing to spend on each. Make your own evaluations for each player and on cornerstone players that you want to spend big on, then add a plus-$5 valuation. Spend on who you want! Have players listed who would be drafted in different parts of a snake draft and check Fantasy Alarm’s ADP to help you compile your list.
Auction Nominating Tips
When it comes to nominating players, I’ve noticed that in my casual leagues, there is hesitation on spending right away because of the notion that there is a ton of great talent on the board. Why spend right away when you could wait until there’s less money in play? Don’t hesitate early if one of your major draft targets is nominated, though. Get that player because other top targets disappear quickly. To get your opponents to spend early, nominate bigger-named players who you don’t want. If you are someone who opts to budget $8 total for your tight end position, nominate Travis Kelce in the first round of bidding to get the spending going. Someone will spend at least $30 on him.
After nominating players you don’t want for the first half of the draft, nominate one of your mid-range players and go after him. Changing up the strategy a bit midway through will throw your opponents off who are looking for bidding patterns and teams needs. Auctions involve a lot of psychology when it comes to getting money off the table. The appropriate time to nominate a player you want early is if you have the very first player nomination. The hesitation spending that often occurs at the start of the auction draft could work to your benefit. Once the rest of the league sees the minor discount you got on bigger-named players, the aggressiveness of spending will quickly rise.
Auction Bidding Tips
Again, don’t be afraid to spend big on a couple of players early. You’ll make up for it later in “dollar days.” After a lot of players normally drafted in the first and second rounds of snake drafts are off the board, you’ll notice the prices of players will drop very quickly. You’ll only have to pay $1-3 for a certain team’s second-prioritized wide receiver late in the auction.
Remember that list of players we talked about earlier? Having it in front of you will encourage you to spend and not get wiped out during bidding wars. Additionally, it will keep you from pressure spending (spending out of fear). Seeing the list will serve as a reminder that there are guys you want who you won’t need to spend much on later.
That being said, if you miss on your early targets, don’t panic. When a bidding war ensues in a one-on-one situation, feel free to raise the bid by $2 instead of the customary $1. This throws off your opponent and likely gets them to hesitate on raising the bid further. Your opponent is in a pattern mentally, and raising the bid by a different amount takes them out of rhythm.
Another way to take advantage of bidding is by “focusing on the 9s.” I’ve seen owners hesitate to raise the bid to the next decade of numbers. It looks daunting on paper and you can take advantage. As the bidding goes up, ($24, $25, $26, etc.), raise it to $29 and there could be a pause from the opposing bidder. Often, you end up with that player as the time clock hits zero. With a lot of moving pieces and quick reactions happening during the auction, every dollar raised seems like a huge deal and seeing “$29” vs. “$30” means a world of difference from the naked eye’s perspective during this pressure situation.
In fantasy sports auctions, you’ll often hear the phrase, “having the hammer”. What this represents is when someone has the most money left. When that owner “drops the hammer,” they essentially set the price so high no one else can/will bid it up. Don’t let that be your strategy going in.
The strategy of not spending early just to “have the hammer” later is often flawed in fantasy football. In fantasy baseball, there are a lot more players and positions in which having more money midway through the auction would be beneficial. In football, you only have so many options. I’ve made that mistake before, thinking I was being smarter than everyone else and nobody in the auction room knows who I truly want. When I tried that, I ended up with horrible running backs and an unbalanced team.
With only four positions commanding high-dollar bids (and realistically, only a handful of QBs and TEs can even make that claim), by the time an hour of bidding passes and you’re ready to “drop the hammer”, the running back position could be depleted. You have to spend at certain times and make sure you spend your whole budget. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it and there’s no merit being the team with $12 left on the table.
For cheap ($1-4) late auction targets, make sure you keep a strong max bid so when you want a player in that range, you can start at $2 rather than $1 to scare off other bidders in the same budget range as you. Most kickers and team defenses go for $1. A top defense could be a good first or second-round nomination because if your leaguemates don’t spend, you’ll get a top defense for $1. If they do, you could get $5 off the table early. Every dollar counts.
Finally, if you want to be an auction bully and bid up leaguemates, pace is everything. As the pace slows drastically, it should be a warning sign that if you’re too greedy. Don’t be reckless and get caught holding the bag on a player you don’t want.
Fantasy Football Auction Advice
- Talk to leaguemates, trying to get them to spill the beans on which players they like and take notes. Don’t be too obvious!
- Make tiers of active targets with values of your choosing to keep with you during the auction. Look at ADP and projected dollar values to create your own tiers.
- Make sure everyone knows the starting time of the auction.
II. Start of Auction
- Show pp to the auction on time. (I repeat) Show up to the auction on time! Auctions are ruined if someone is auto-auctioning. Please show up on time or ideally 10 minutes before!
- Nominate players/defenses that you don’t want early.
- To speed up the auction a bit, instead of putting Christian McCaffrey up for $1, start the bidding at $30 or $40. You can do this for all top-level players.
- Find the players you want and put them in your queue. Getting to the draft early will help avoid rush jobs.
III. During Auction
- Cycle through your opponents’ rosters during the bidding of players you don’t want and write down team needs if they are obvious. It will help you bid up players without getting caught.
- Add a +$5 valuation to top-tier players on your draft target list.
- Keep message board chatter to a minimum. Don’t give away your secrets and strategy. React to value purchases you like or dislike, but keep it short and sweet.
- Don’t hold your whole budget for too long, aka “Have The Hammer.” If you haven’t won a player an hour into your auction (in 12-team leagues), become more aggressive. Adjust values of active draft targets from a budget standpoint and be more open to spending.
- There will be viable starting tight ends, quarterbacks, and wide receivers that you can spend $1-$3 for late in your auctions, so don’t be afraid to spend early.
- Keep a high maximum bid at all times. $30, $15, $10, and $5 are good maximum-bid benchmarks to have during the various stages of an auction. Don’t nominate your mid-to-late draft sleepers until most teams have a similar budget to yours.
IV. Late Auction
- Prioritize RB depth when down to “dollar days.”
- If you’re only starting one QB and one TE, you don’t need to bid on another.
- Spend $1 on your kicker and defense.
- If you have a maximum bid of $2 at the tail end of your auction and there’s a player you want at your turn to nominate, nominate the player for $2 instead of $1. Even if you’re at $3 and really want the player, just start the bidding at $3.
- Spend all of your money! There’s zero reason not to!