Practical Tactics: Your Guide to Winning Every Auction

By Tim Ferrel

Tim has a knack for acing almost all his auction drafts. Below, in a no nonsense format, Tim shares some of his techniques...

DON'T BE THE AUCTIONEER 
It's going to take you away from thinking about your team, studying what the other managers are doing and it's a thankless job. If you want to be the best manager, stay focused on the job at hand. 

STAY WITH QBs, RBs and WRs
Don't worry about backup TEs and kickers. If your league allows you to freely work the waiver don't even bother bidding for a backup kicker. Save that cash and land another player of greater value. Remember, injuries often pave the way for NFL stars to emerge. Having a well targeted sleeper RB at 2% of bankroll is much better than having a journeyman backup kicker at 1%. 

USE MY GUIDEPOST NUMBERS
If you're new to Auction Style, arm yourself with a good auction styleMaximum Bid Cheat Sheet. Next, follow a predetermined spending limit by position. This will keep you out of trouble. Unless your league awards extremely high bonuses for Team Defense, I suggest you follow the below percentages. 

1QB = 5-10%
2RBs = 55-65%
2WRs = 25-35%
All others, minimum bid

This should get you two quality RBs, a good QB and two decent WRs. Follow this formula and you'll come away with a decent, well-balanced team. Use the above as a guidepost, not an absolute. 

DON'T GET CAVILER
Nominate with the minimum bid. I've seen guys open for 5% of their bankroll and nobody else bids on the player. For all we know, that manager could have landed the player for 1 or 2%. 

WORK B-GRADE PLAYERS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
For purposes of this tactic, B-Grade players are considered players that definitely have value to you, but typically go toward the end of a draft and you believe their fair market worth is a minimum bid. Your goal here is to nominate a B-Grade player early with a minimum bid. Now if someone bids higher, let them have him. What just happened here? You made the other guy overpay. Next time around, bid the minimum on another B-Grade player. If yet another manager wants to overpay, let them. If they don't, you just got your targeted B-Grade player for the minimum amount. The key here is nominating these B-Grade players early in the draft. Remember every dollar counts and if you can get others to spend even an extra dollar, that could come back to hurt them later in the process. 

KEEP TRACK
Monitor all the bids. Keep track of what every player has gone for on your cheat sheet and keep track of what each team manager has spent and what players they have on their roster. 

CALCULATE MAX BID
Toward the middle of the draft, knowing the maximum the other managers can bid can be very helpful. With the help of a simple PC spread sheet, apply this formula to each team: 

1 + remaining bankroll percentage - #positions left to fill 

Here's an example to show how it works.

  % Bankroll
Remaining
Number of
Roster Spots
to Fill

Team-A

12

3

Team-B

22

10

Team-C

9

2

So, 

Team-A's max bid is 1+12-3 = 10%
Team-B's max bid is 1+22-10 = 13%
Team-C's max bid is 1+9-2 = 8%

With this data live on your PC you can quickly see the maximum anyone can bid. In addition, you can see exactly how aggressive each manager can become. 

FEED THE MISTAKE
If two owners get in a bidding war on an overvalued player, then nominate an even better player at the same position. This works like a champ when you want managers to continue over spending. The manager that lost on the last bid will be even more excited to land a better player at the same position. And, plenty of others, while they would never admit it and may not even realize it, have been influenced by the bidding war they just saw. I've seen this tactic really get guys going and overbid on players. This is one of my favorite tricks! 

MAKE THEM SPEND EARLY
Early in the draft nominate players you don't want and that are overvalued. Use the 4for4.com Bargains Report to find them. These are players that are ranked very high using ADP, but not so by 4for4.com. Nominate these players early and watch all the other managers bid for them and use up bankroll. It's fun watching your competition burn up valuable money. If you can get the other teams eating up extra cap dollars early, you'll be in control down the line. 

DON'T WAIT FOR THE LAST ONE
If you want an elite WR and feel there are six on the board, don't wait until the first five are gone. At that point other managers may also realize that only one stud WR is left, and a bidding frenzy could result. Actually, this is a fairly common event with top-tier RBs each season. 

START THE RUN, DON'T FINISH IT
In some auction drafts, you'll see a run at a particular position. In the beginning it's often the RB. Midway thru it can be the TEs. Late in the auction, it can be the defenses. In general you're better off starting the run than being the one finishing it. At the end of the run, the talent at the "hot" position is usually two or three tiers lower. 

DON'T PANIC
It can be unnerving, nine or 10 picks into the auction, all the other managers are clearly overpaying, but they have some great studs. You on the other hand don't have a single roster spot filled. Don't panic, the math will come to your rescue and put the odds in your favor. Exaggerated Example: The nine other managers in your league have all spent 75% of their bankroll for a stud RB. You don't have a Top-9 RB. Don't worry, be happy! You can now get the 10th best RB and the absolute most you'll have to pay is 26%. And, after you land that RB, you'll easily be able to outbid any other manager for the two next best players on the board. 

IF YOU LOSE SOME BIDS DON'T GET EMOTIONAL
I've seen managers lose a few bids early, start to steam and then really lose it on the next few players. Don't let you emotions run amuck. In fact if you have a hot head in your group, you can often bait hem into this type of overspending. Just don't bid a guy up because you might just get stuck with him. 

HOW TO LAND YOUR KICKER
First off, you don't need the best kicker on your team. Let someone else over pay for a kicker. Your goal should be to get a good kicker with a minimum bid. And, here's how you should do it. Target a good B-Grade kicker. Bid the minimum on him. Now if someone bids higher, let them have him. What just happened here? You made the other guy over pay. Next time around, bid the minimum on another B-Grade kicker. If yet another manager wants to overpay, let them. If they don't, you just got a good kicker for the minimum amount. 

KNOW YOUR COMPETITION
If you're in an auction with rookies, they will really spend early. If you're in a room with savvy auction veterans, ironically, they may actually wait to long to spend. Understand your competition and monitor how they are bidding early. In some cases, if you're in with veteran mangers, you may actually get your best bargains early in the auction process. 

FILL IT, THEN NOMINATE IT
If you're one of the first guys to fill your starting lineup requirement at a given position and if you're strong at the position, then be sure to nominate plenty of NFL players at that position. The logic is simple. Let the other owners spend money at that spot in a potential bidding war. After they burn off bankroll you'll be better positioned to work on your other starting lineup requirements. 

EXPONENTIAL VALUE
In regular serpentine drafts, managers usually avoid players in a training camp battle. Why burn a draft spot on an uncertain player and then wait 5, 10, 15 picks until you get your next one? In auctions however, while it's still true you want to avoid an uncertain situation, I've found the format actually makes it more palatable to grab up the two guys competing for the job. The reason? Auctions tend to be top-heavy. In other words, the top few guys demand huge bids. After the elite guys, the auction values tend to drop off very quickly. In other words, the two guys in the training camp battle tend to be devalued in auctions and they can be had on the cheap. Yet, when one of the players finally emerges, his value grows exponentially and you come out ahead (e.g. draft RB-1 for $5 and RB-2 for a $5, if RB-1 is named the starter, his value will be much more than $10). 

GRAB SOME STUDS
Don't get so fixated on not over paying that you end up with a team of mediocre players. In many leagues, you're much better off having 3 or 4 elite fantasy studs and a modest bench, then 12-15 middle tier players. If you see you're spending less than 75% of your cap on starters, target and land some studs. You're going to need it. 

DON'T OVERSPEND EARLY
Most managers tend to overpay early in the draft. But, if you're the one with most of the money, you'll have control. In the beginning, everyone is on an equal footing with an equal bankroll. If you're rolling in auction dollars midway thru the draft, you'll be in the drivers seat. Also, having a few extra auction dollars at the end can make the difference between landing the one or two players you really want and going home empty. 

DON'T SAVE YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS
You need studs on your roster. Use all your auction dollars. If you finish the draft with unspent dollars, you didn't optimize the situation. If you leave 15% of your auction money unused, it's like over spending 15% on a kicker. In fact, not using the money is worse; at least the manager that over spends on a good kicker prevented someone else from getting him. 

FOLLOW YOUR LOCAL EXPERTS
If your league has a real expert and you see that expert really wants a player then take notice. Mirror the expert's bids, but don't get caught holding the bag on a player you really don't want. 
 

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