Would you believe this is the 10th year in a row I've written a column about auctions? True story.
In the last 10 years, it feels like there's been no traction to make auctions the preferred way to build rosters compared to snake drafts. People seem to like simple, orderly ways to make a Fantasy team and prefer waiting to make picks rather than bid against each other for players.
WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!
Auctions are the only way -- and I mean the only way -- to guarantee yourself one player you really, really want. If you want Adrian Peterson really bad, you have no shot if you're picking 10th in a snake draft. Same thing if you want Julio Jones but are picking first overall because you're never going to take Julio first overall. Even if you really want a sleeper -- a Duke Johnson or DeVante Parker -- you aren't promised anyone in a snake draft quite who thinks like you is in an auction.
In an auction, you can make things happen. You have more control.
That's the main reason why auctions rule. They're more fun than drafts. And Fantasy Football is about having fun. And winning.
Anyway, I thought it would be fun to look back at the advice offered -- both for how to run an auction and then how to dominate an auction -- over the last decade and see if it's all still applicable in 2015. Turns out, most of it does!
Setting up an auction
From 2008: The standard auction will begin with each owner getting 100 "dollars" to use for bidding on players. One by one, owners take turns nominating players up for bid. A designated auctioneer will determine the winner of each player, and the process continues until everyone has a full roster.
For 2015: Yes.
From 2006: You will need an auctioneer to keep the bidding in order, and someone else to make sure everybody isn't spending over their budget. If two of your league's owners volunteer to do this, that's OK, but it's usually best if two people not participating in the auction do those duties.
For 2015: You definitely need an auctioneer and someone has to keep track of the fictional auction budget everyone has. Someone with honesty to keep everyone's cash in order and someone with integrity to make sure no bids count past "gone!" or "sold!" or whatever someone yells when someone wins an auction. But it's a job for one person, not two, and it can be someone who participates in the league. It's not that hard to keep track of both -- just use a spreadsheet on a computer or even a calculator and a piece of paper and pencil. I can do it and I'm the most uncoordinated person I know.
Taking advantage of the auction process
Plan in advance
For 2015: Yep, we're starting with something new! Before you hit the auction turf, draw up a mock auction of your own using our dollar amounts in our rankings or dollar amounts from our recently completed auction. See if you can put your own team together under a $100 budget. If you can, you should expect to come up with something close or better in your own session.
Nominate players you don't want
From 2010: If you're trying to cut back on spending, or if you just want other owners to spend, nominate players who you have no intention of winning. For instance, if you just won Aaron Rodgers, you're set at quarterback. But if you nominate Peyton Manning and start the bidding at a dollar, someone else will start unloading their money. The more your opponents spend, the less they'll have to take bargains from you later on. You could even look over the roster of the owner with the biggest budget left, figure out their needs and nominate players they might flash their cash for.
From 2013: When an auction kicks off, put the high-priced big names out there who you want nothing to do with.
For 2015: This seems obvious but not everyone realizes it. And, when the auction reaches its halfway point, you'll probably want to do the opposite and nominate players you do want. Often times the players you nominate late are the ones you end up with.
As for early nominations, this year there is no shortage of players with less-than-ideal outlooks who will fetch some cash. DeMarco Murray might be the first player I nominate in every auction I get in.
Nomination bids matter
From 2012: Also remember to open your nominating bids as low as possible.
For 2015: That's almost true. If you're vying for a player and really want him, you could nominate him for more than a buck. Maybe way more. Also, if you're purposely nominating someone you need and don't want a specific owner with limited remaining funds getting involved, bid enough to block out the other owner from getting him.
Dominating an auction
Why tiers really matter
From 2013: My No. 1 advice for auctions is to put players by position into separate groups based on expected production. When the best-available tier is down to two or three players, get in there and bid on them. You'll get players with a specific expectation and probably pay a few bucks less for them than the ones that got bid on earlier.
For 2015: Not only will you know when a run on a position is getting thin, you'll also know what to expect to pay since players within the same tier will have already been nabbed. Tiers are an absolute must.
Budgeting your bucks
From 2006: Let's say you have $100 to spend; if your league is RB-intensive, then figure 40-to-50 percent of your budget will be spent on RBs alone. That might mean 10-to-15 percent spent on quarterbacks, 20-to-25 percent on wide receivers and around 10 percent for your bench, kicker and DST unit. You may or may not stick to this plan, but it's a good exercise to do in advance.
For 2015: I think this is too granular. Things happen in auctions that you can't prepare for -- random players not being put up for bid until later on and random players going for more/less than you anticipated. It's better to be flexible in how you spend than setting up parameters for how much you should spend.
Paying attention to other people's money
From 2012: You only have so many dollars to spend for so many slots, and so do your fellow owners. You have to know what your maximum bid is at all times, but you also should know the maximum bids of your rivals. If you know that Big Johnny needs a quarterback just like you do but he has a max bid of $6 and you have the cash to spend, prepare to land the player for $7. It's annoying bookwork but it's worth doing to find an edge during the auction.
For 2015: This is easier to take care of if you draft online (CBSSports.com offers online auction drafts) but it's almost a necessity. It should pay off at least once for you during your auction.
Don't not bid on purpose ...
From 2008: Don't sit on the sideline. [T]here's always a thrifty owner waiting and waiting to spend. Sixty players will have been nominated and Mr. Cheap-o will still be rosterless. Look, you can't go buy a pizza with your fictional draft dollars later on, so you might as well get in there and pay for some players.
For 2015: True story
... but don't spend wildly early on
From 2010: If you spend too much too soon, you'll have no shot at late-draft bargains. This is not to say it's a good idea to clam up your wallet for the first 30 nominated players -- if a guy you want is out there and not too expensive, go get him. But the bargains happen late, not early, and if you want in on them you'll need to save at least 30 percent of your overall budget for the last third of the auction.
For 2015: I might lower the budget percentage amount to 20 percent of your overall dollar amount. Otherwise, don't go too crazy early on.
For a few dollars more
From 2011: Bidding the extra dollar or two to get the player you want is always advised so long as you're not going to be forced to add $1 players to more than four roster spots. The difference between getting quality starters and a couple of $2 steals that someone else might otherwise get for $1 is negligible.
For 2015: There's a surge of sleepers this year and they'll all go for $1, $2 and $3 this year. It's a good year to be stuck in the "dollar zone" when looking for bench players, so don't be afraid to bid a buck more for a player you really really want.
Bargains happen, but they happen later on From 2009: You'll rarely find bargains early in auctions -- maybe a star player going two or three dollars less than others in his tier. But in the second-half of auctions, you'll see a number of players who weren't nominated early going for absurd prices. ... This is definitely an argument for not blowing through your budget early. You'll also have the opportunity to dedicate more money to two good quarterbacks instead of one very good quarterback if you pay attention.
For 2015: Bank on this happening in an auction. Also, the quarterback suggestion is really, really helpful. You'll be able to collect two capable starters for a grand total of like $3 this year (look at our quarterback rankings from 10th through 17th to find great, cheap choices to pair up.)
Don't back up the Brinks for backups
From 2006: Don't bid more than a buck on low-end reserves, kickers or DSTs unless you can afford it. ... When you're thin in the wallet, every dollar counts, so skimp on the roster spots that aren't vital so you can spend on one or two players you'll really need.
For 2015: This is obvious, right? Your third and fourth running backs and third receiver should warrant more than a buck, but a backup quarterback, a DST, a kicker ... these should be dollar players. Don't even think about spending more.
Don't be a jerk on purpose
From 2012: If you have a position covered and a player at the same position is up for bid, eat a donut or something so you don't open your mouth and bid unnecessarily.
For 2015: You want your opponents to spend their dough! Don't get in their way if you don't need to.
Long story short
There aren't any new-fangled ways to approach an auction -- it's still about getting the players you want the most at the cheapest possible price. If there's a specific theory you've read about, such as Zero RB or WR-WR or whatever, you can definitely pull it off in an auction by spending bigger on the positions you want versus the ones you don't want. Seems simple because it is simple.
Like most things in life, if you pay attention to the financial details and know what you want, you should succeed in an auction.