Many fantasy baseball players are hesitant to use the auction format during draft season because it is an admittedly more complicated and strategically focused format than your standard snake draft. By removing the natural randomness inherent in a snake draft, having a proper fantasy draft strategy is more important than ever. This level of control over your fantasy team can be intimidating, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. Keeping a few key things in mind during 2014's draft season will hopefully help you walk away from your fantasy draft pleased and excited for the coming baseball season.
Top 5 Rules For Auction League Drafts
1) Do Your Homework
A sure-fire way to have your draft end in disappointment is to walk into it not knowing what each player is worth. When the bidding on Miguel Cabrera hits $40 you need to know whether you're in or out, and in order to do that you first need to know how much Miguel Cabrera is worth in the first place.
If you're a first time auction player, I recommend using one of the auction value lists put out on the expert sites like ESPN. Constructing your own customized values can be a lot of fun, but it's also a complicated process that can take a lot of time and isn't something I'd recommend for an inexperienced player. No matter how you do it though, when you walk into your draft, you should know the players, the expectations, and most importantly the dollar values (and don't forget to bring a cheat sheet along with you with all this important information on it).
2) Avoid Tunnel Vision
One of the worst mistakes fantasy players make in auction formats is letting themselves get fixated on a particular player to the point where they'll bid anything to get him. Let's say you think Stephen Strasburg is going to have a huge 2014 and you have him valued at $25 to reflect that. You'd obviously like him on your team, but if the bidding on Strasburg hits $32 because you play in a league with a ton of National fans, you need to be okay with walking away. The worst mistake you can make is blowing too much of your budget on a certain player just because you decided that you have to have him, only to see David Price go 3 turns later for $22. At a certain price even Miguel Cabrera isn't worth owning and that's just a fact of the game.
3) If You Have to (Over) Spend, Spend On Stars
A good auction draft is a balance of looking for cheap (hopefully high-upside) value players to fill out your team and then spending big on top talent to anchor it. It never pays to be so bargain happy that you're willing to pass on top talent just because it's going at market price. Market price isn't a bad thing if the player is worth it. You'll have to spend your money on someone after all, so it might as well be for Robinson Cano, even if that means you might have to overpay by a dollar or two to get him. You don't want to be in the ugly position after all of being in a bidding war for the 8th-best second baseman in the draft because everyone better is already gone.
Note: This doesn't mean you get to ignore your auction values whenever a top 30 player gets nominated however. Putting out $33-$35 on a $30 player might be justifiable, but $40 almost certainly isn't. Like with most things you have to strike a balance, because as I said before, at a certain price even Mike Trout isn't worth owning.
4) Use Your Money
Every year I always see some guy walk away at the end of a draft with $15-$20 still unspent. While this might not seem like a big deal, not spending your total budget is just as bad as overspending on a player, if not worse. Think about what that extra $15 could have bought you at the draft. An extra $10 on your highest bid towards Mike Trout would have almost certainly won you his bidding. An extra $5 thrown at Jason Kipnis might have won you the rights to his season as well. That's a first overall pick and a top 3 second baseman you left on the table. You have money so use it. Use it wisely of course, but use it.
5) Stick To Your Plan
My last bit of advice is just to trust your plan and yourself. It's easy to panic on draft day after losing out on a couple players you might have wanted and talking yourself into abandoning your pre-draft strategies just so you can get a player, any player. Don't let that be you.