2019 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Auction strategies to buy the perfect team

We live in an incomparable era. We have more information at our fingertips than ever before. We have more resources to learn from and expand our horizons. We can connect with people near and far with the swipe of a finger or the click of a mouse. We can order dinner from an app on a phone and have it delivered personally to your house in under 40 minutes. 

And yet we can't convince enough people to ditch boring, archaic snake drafting for thrilling, fun-filled auctions. 

You control your destiny in auctions in a way you never can in drafts. Want Saquon Barkley and Alvin Kamara? You can only get both in an auction -- and you can't get either one if you pick past fourth overall in a snake draft. Prefer to load up on players with an ADP in the 20s and 30s? An auction can make that happen. 

If you haven't picked your team yet, text your league-mates and suggest the idea to change formats. Auctions are way more fun and allow for a bunch of different ways to build a team. Where else do you get to spend fictional money for Fantasy gain? Nowhere, that's where. 

Plus, most people are clueless how to do auctions right. 

That's where more advice comes in. I can't just recommend auctions and not tell you how to go about crushing them, can I? There's a lot to take in and many ways to go about building a team, but once you get a gist on what to expect, you'll look like a pro in no time. 

Before the bidding

1. Know your rules! Kind of obvious, but good advice for any Fantasy league. Find out how many players you have to start at each position, what the scoring is (PPR or nah?) and how many bench spots you have. The deeper your rosters, the more of your budget you'll have to allocate to fill each spot. PPR scoring creates deeper talent pools to choose from. Knowing how many receivers, running backs and flexes you'll start is just for your own awareness. 

2. Put players into tiers. You'll have an advantage if you group players at the same position together by your expectations. So anyone who you think will get 1,700 yards and 10 touchdowns goes together, anyone with 1,500 yards and eight touchdowns go together, and so on. When the bidding starts, you'll see what players in every tier end up going for. When a tier gets down to one or two players, you'll know how much to spend and still get a player with similar projections. 

Here's a real-life example following the first 20 player selections of our August 26 auction

Using this information, I had a good idea of what to expect to spend on similar running backs from the top two tiers. I watched as Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara went for $32 each, but was thrilled when Joe Mixon fell into my lap for $19 (same price as Gurley!). I was a smarter buyer because I used tiers to my advantage. 

(P.S. I have already done the hard work here. My latest tiers: QB | RB | WR | TE)

3. Know who you don't want. Most auctions give Fantasy managers the chance to nominate players for bid. The best strategy is to put up names of players you don't want so that others in the league bid on them and spend their precious buckaroos. The more they spend, the less they can use to get players you'll want later. 

During your auction

1. Honor the 20/50 rule. If you want to take advantage of the bargains that nearly every single auction format has, save at least 20 percent of your overall budget for the last 50 percent of the auction. 

A few of real-life examples of players who were steals after 80 nominations in our August 26 auction: 

2a. Pay attention to the results. This might be hard for some of you, but you'll lose an edge if you zone out during an auction like you might when you're 10 picks away in a snake draft. You have to keep track of who's been chosen and how much they went for if you want to apply your tiers and find steals. 

2b. Pay attention to your opponents' needs and wallets. You also should note the players your rival managers get and what they paid for them. You can particularly use this information against the ones with a lot of money left to spend by nominating players you think they might shell out dollars for. 

3a. Nominate busts early. Remember the list of players you didn't want? Use it! Spend your first four or five nominations to put your personal bust list on the block. 

3b. Nominations matter in the middle. Once you fill a couple of starting spots, begin nominating players you don't need. That'll force other bidders to spend on players you're not chasing. 

3c. Nominate intelligently later. Maybe after 50 or 60 players have been awarded, start nominating guys you do want. Don't be afraid to bid $2 to force your opponents to spend $3 or more if they want someone. Late in auctions, very few paddle-hoisters can afford to go even that high on a player. This is prime stealing territory.

3d. Nominate like Jamey Eisenberg. I gotta give credit to my colleague for this one -- nominate a top-tier DST and kicker you want early on for $1 each. If someone spends more, they're probably wasting their bills. If no one bids, you get the DST and kicker and don't have to worry about filling the position the rest of the auction. This is how Jamey squeezed an extra buck out of me on the Bears DST. 

4. Bid smart. Do not try to drive up the price of players you don't really need. Several people did that in our auction and it cost them dearly. I know you think certain players should go for certain values, but you are almost always better off letting someone else get a bargain than messing up your roster and your budget by winning a player you don't even want. 

5. Spend smarter. There will be a couple of knuckleheads who blow their funds early on. Don't be like them. There will be a couple of thrift-minded folks who think the auction dollars are real money. Don't be like them either! By utilizing tiers and paying attention, you'll know what the going rate should be for players once you're past the first 10-20 nominations. Scared money is never good, and you shouldn't be nervous to spend. You need players to win the league, right? Go get them! 

6. The almighty dollar. Don't spend more than a buck on a DST unless it's the Bears (they're worth $2). Don't spend more than a buck on a kicker (yes, even Stephen Gostkowski or Justin Tucker). If you happen to overindulge in a couple of skill-position players, keep in the back of your mind that you can find quarterbacks for a buck in one-QB leagues (the position is far costlier in two-QB and SuperFlex formats). 

But most of all, don't be afraid to spend an extra dollar or two to get the player(s) you especially want. When in doubt, spend. 

And be assured, there's no doubt that auctions are the way to go to have fun and play Fantasy now and well into the future! 

Dominate your draft with our free Draft Strategy Guide, which gives you must-have sleepers, rookies, and quarterbacks. Plus see the top players at each position, complete with winning projections. Get your guide now!
Senior Fantasy Writer

Dave Richard has spent nearly his entire career covering the National Football League. Beginning with NFL.com at the boom of the Internet, Richard was that site's first Fantasy Football writer before transitioning... Full Bio

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