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10 Tips for Fantasy Auctions
David Dorey
August 16, 2007

Auctions are the most fun way to have a local draft because it involves everyone in the room on every player. They create the most fair leagues in that way - any team owner can own any player, he just has to want him a little more than anyone else. They also bring an entirely new level of entertainment to the room when people get into heated bidding wars or someone lands a player far too cheaply and everyone looks at each other "why did we let that happen?".

But those of you new to auctions sometimes find it more daunting since it is more involved than merely reading the next name on a cheatsheet. Some act like they are going into a store in a foreign country with no idea of the value of the currency they are spending while others act like sailors on home leave for the first time in six months when LaDainian Tomlinson comes up for bid. Some previous articles at The Huddle which can help:

The Three Styles of Bidding

How to Budget for an Auction

Following on the lead of those, here are the top ten things to remember when you go to your fantasy auction.

1. Bid on every player if only initially when you know he will go for more money. This helps to cloak who you really are pursuing. If you only bid on "your guys" then it becomes pretty evident that you can be pushed to spend more money.

2. Budget your positions and realize that an auction is about creating an optimal team within the constraints of limited dollars. Re-evaluate your budget each time you acquire a player, but have a strong sense of what you are willing to play overall for positions and then how much for players within those positions.

3. Never get locked onto one player. Unless you are so dead certain that this one individual is going to be a huge difference maker for your team, go for the best values on players. If you acquire players that are priced at or below their true value, it is like having more money to spend than others who overpay.

4. If possible, try to save enough money so that your final picks can go for more than the bid minimum (typically $1). Sometimes there is an amazing difference in the quality of players you can get for $2 over just $1. Once you reach the point where you can only pay minimum amounts, you have lost all control of who will be coming to your roster. This often comes more into play the larger the league because the higher valued top tier players are and many teams will blow their wad on a few players and hope to backfill with minimum cost players.

5. Never, ever finish with money left over. Spend your entire salary cap. That seems obvious but in many auctions, those reticent to spend end up with money left over that could have been used to create a better roster. Budget and spend. Budget and spend.

6. In the initial rounds of a smaller league (ten teams or less), it is usually a good idea to always throw out players that you do not want in the attempt to let people burn up their cash on someone you would have never wanted. Do it early for more desirable players and you can set yourself up to spend less when your favorites come around. Conversely, the larger the league (anything over 12 teams), throw out the players that you do want because there will be a lot of cash sitting around on those other teams and you are likely not going to get any bargains. Throw out the players you want and chase them as far as your budget allows. If nothing else, do this so that you can know you will not get player "X" and can make other arrangements for the position.

7. The first player in his position always seems to go for a lot of money and that often ends up to actually be a bargain. The first player up for bid in a position sometimes will not go for quite as much because other team owners are waiting to see what sort of price the position is bringing.

8. Auctions are about supply and demand. The best values are usually when you are bidding on a player from a position that some already have filled and many others have not. In a twelve team league that starts two running backs, the league will need 24 starters and each team owner will be willing to spend money in order to get two decent starters. So after 6 players or so are out, often values happen because while half the league still needs a starter, there are still plenty to chose from and many are waiting on "their guy". By the same token, the 11th running back coming up for bid may go for much more than they should because you have two teams desperate for their first starting tailback and they get into a war. This usually happens the most noticeably when the final two or three teams are hunting for their second starting tailback after 20 or so running backs are taken. They get desperate and end up driving the cost of the 21st best back up to the same level of the 10th best back. Happens all the time. Pay attention to your league - it is supply and demand.

9. If you have a big desire for some certain player, the earlier you bring him out for bid, the better off you will be. The worst thing you can do is to fixate on a player and allow great values to pass by only to discover that one or two other team owners were doing the same and suddenly you do not have your player, have missed great values and are looking at far less attractive options for the position. If you gotta have one guy, playing waiting games can burn you.

10. Avoid handcuff players. Like running backs where you would really want their back-ups. That sets you up to need two players to make the set and controlling what you pay for just one of them is hard enough. Best bet is to go after players that do not have an injury history or that are in an unsettled situation because the "other guy" can get stolen from you. Each year there are typically about four to six NFL teams with unsettled backfields which mandate you get both players to be safe. If you can avoid them, you remain in better control of your team and salary cap. You can play the gamble that you have the right one of the two (or three sometimes), but never pay much for that headache.

Auctions are a blast to participate in and they are quite different than drafts in many ways. The end result is no different - full rosters for all teams in the league. But getting there is all the fun.

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