Auction Draft Strategy Part One: How to Prepare for Auction Drafts

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Going Once, Going Twice...

An auction is the most exciting way to draft in fantasy baseball, but it can also be the most difficult. For this article and the three to follow, I will be using the assumption that your league’s standard settings give you a $260 allowance. For those unfamiliar with the process, that is your total budget for every player on your team. Before you spend that money, however, you need to get prepared.

 

Player Research

Unlike snake drafts, auctions give you the opportunity to own any player you want. Ample studying of every player is required to have any idea what you are looking for, especially at shallow positions like second base and shortstop. Position scarcity creates a premium on top players at thin positions. Accounting for that premium will help you adjust your cash flow for the rest of the draft. Knowing what lies beyond the top tier will keep you mindful of what you will get if you pass on those guys.

It takes more than knowing basic stats. You also need to know his actual value versus his perceived value. Knowing his actual value will prepare you to recognize a good deal when it arises. Perceived value is a little trickier, but it is definitely valuable knowledge if you have played with the same players for a couple of years. If your league has a couple of Braves fans in it, you can bet that Freddie Freeman will cost more in your draft due to a bidding war. This premium also applies to the top overall players in fantasy. Owners tend to overspend on players that are understood as the best.

 

Budgeting

Part three of this series will delve more into how to properly budget your allowance. For now, it is still important to realize that you will not be able to afford the top 10 projected players in fantasy baseball this year. Learning how to control the urge to try and win every bid for the top players will go far.

The most important part of budgeting is sticking to it. While that sounds redundant, getting caught up in the excitement of bidding on players will leave you strapped for cash. If you budget a certain amount of money for outfielders versus infielders, pitchers versus hitters, or any other combination, you have to stick with it. If not, all that preparation was for nothing.

 

Know Your League Settings

A comprehensive understanding of your league settings can also help you gain an edge. For example, what is your league’s pitching innings limit? Is it 15 innings or lower in a H2H league? If so, grabbing seven starting pitchers might not be your best strategy. Sure, you will sacrifice strikeouts and wins by stacking relief pitchers. However, you can target ERA, WHIP, and saves while re-allocating budget to your offense.

Of course that is not applicable in all league settings. Some counteract that by requiring a certain number of both starting and relief pitchers. Still, knowing the ins and outs of your league settings can absolutely give you a leg up on the competition.

 

Prepare Back Up Plans

As Ron Burgandy once said, “You’ve got to keep your head on a swivel when you’re in the middle of a vicious cock fight.” The same holds true for auction drafts. As much as you have prepared, that plan can get blown up before you know what hit you. Having backup plans and different options can help you avoid having to draft on the fly. Meaning, if your plan does get busted, you will at least know another route to take and avoid drafting without a plan.

 

Know the Other Owners

I’ve already mentioned one benefit to knowing the other owners in your league. Even if this is your first year in a league, there are ways of reading other players. Team names are a fantastic way of getting to know the other owners. Often times, owners will create a team name using their favorite player on their favorite team.

How do you use this? Try nominating players who you have no interest in that play for what might be their favorite team. If you guessed right, you should see these owners pay a premium price for them. Do this often, and you can coax your opponents into wasting their money.  If it happens, you'll be in a position to bully everybody.

Good luck in your preparations this year. If you have not started yet, now is the best time to do so. Also, stay tuned for the three other parts of how to develop a strategy for auction drafts.