Draft Strategy

2019 Auction Strategy Guide

By Matt Schauf 1:08am EDT 8/16/19


Isn’t it annoying to watch that player you’re targeting with your next fantasy football draft pick go to another team the spot before your turn?

Know what’s even more annoying? Watching a league mate outbid you by $2 for that wideout you wanted … and then finishing the draft with $3 in your bank.

Why is the 2nd scenario worse than the 1st? Because that one is actually your fault.

There will always be other drafters who like some of the same players you do and target them in the same round of snake drafts. And there will always be fellow auction drafters willing to go just a few dollars higher on a player you both want.

But being too conservative early in an auction only to finish with leftover fake money you can never use? That’s an issue that you can prepare for and avoid. And, honestly, it’s an issue I’ve had in more than 1 auction.

The main purpose of this annual guide is to leave you more prepared than your league mates for your upcoming auction. But it’s also a time to learn from mistakes. Mostly mine.


The Basics

I assume that most of you reading this article have done auction drafts before. But just in case you’re not familiar with the format, here are the basics:

  • League owners take turns nominating players to be purchased.
  • Anyone interested bids on the player until the bidding stops.
  • High bid wins the player and loses that amount of money from the owner's preset bank.
  • Repeat until all rosters are full.
  • Realize when it’s over that you couldn’t have spent that 4 hours in a better way.

Auction drafting is great because it gives everyone in your league a shot at every available player. You’re not subject to the luck of draft position. You’re limited only by your own strategy.

Some of those limits are necessary, of course. You can’t buy every player you want. But you can choose from many paths to build the team your way. And we’re here now to prepare for just that.


The Approach

Let’s start with your overall strategy, which has been built into the MVP Board for the past couple of seasons. Just like entering your league’s lineup and scoring settings can deliver appropriate rankings and pick recommendations for your snake draft, it can also assign auction values to the players who make up those rankings.

When you set up your MVP Board for an auction draft, you’ll find a box to enter your starting bank (“Auction $/Team”), and then an “Auction Strategy” dropdown with 5 options:

1. Build strong starting lineup
2. Focus on starters over depth
3. Balanced roster
4. Focus on depth over starters
5. Build strong depth

The board will adjust player values throughout the draft, based on what’s available and your team’s needs. Those 5 settings above, though, will matter most for setting expectations near the top of your board.

I tested a 12-team PPR league with 16 roster spots, a $200 bank and the following lineup specifications:

QB
RB
RB
WR
WR
WR
TE
Flex
K
D/ST

This table shows the difference in prices for the 5 strategy settings:

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