Phases of a Fantasy Football Auction
As we’ve talked about and many of you probably already know, auction drafts are a different beast compared to most other types of drafts. You have to be on your toes the entire time because you have the ability to acquire players at any time. You will find that the ebb and flow of most auction drafts can be broken into 3 main phases. Let’s take a look at these phases and see what you can expect in each of them.
PHASE 1: The Big Money Phase
This is the phase in rounds 1 through 5 where you will see the majority of top tier players being nominated and bought. This is also when you will usually spend the majority of your budget. Depending on what strategy you opt for, you could spend anywhere from 40-90% of your budget.
If you are doing the “Studs and Duds” strategy, you will probably be closer to the 80-90% end of the spectrum. By doing that you probably won’t be able to fill out the remainder of your roster until Phase 3 so get comfortable. If you go for a more “Balanced Budget” approach you may be closer to 50% and should be active throughout the draft.
What I personally like to do in Phase 1 is nominate big name players that I don’t particularly want. My thought is these players should command big money and make other owners spend large chunks of their budgets on them hopefully not allowing them to bid on players I do want. If I know that other owners know I’m doing this sometimes I’ll try and mix in a player I do want and try to aggressively get that player. I feel that this can keep other owners guessing and not allow them to predict players I’m targeting with certainty.
PHASE 2: The Values
This is my favorite phase it it typically lasts from rounds 6 through 10 or 11. The reason I like this section of the draft the best is because these are the rounds where you will typically find the best values. A good auction drafter will be able to take his already good team and turn it into a title contender.
Now you really have to pay attention to what the positional needs are of each team and what the remaining budgets are for each owner because this phase is where you have to really start looking for potential values in your tiers. For example, if you see 4 wide receivers left from your 4th tier, two of them being guys you like, then you have to try and make those players last as far into the draft as possible so that they can be had as cheaply as possible. You can do this by continuing to nominate players that you don’t want in order to make others further spend their money and reduce their budgets. You can also try and create a run on a position. What I mean is if you notice that not a lot of owners have drafted tight ends or quarterbacks and you have decided you’re comfortable waiting on those positions then I like to nominate players at those positions. What it does is make many owners panic when they notice that the talent is getting thin a position and they have yet to fill that roster spot. This works particularly well with the quarterback position because most owners can’t stand to not have a top 10 quarterback on their roster and will try desperately to get the last few that they think are startable. Also if you’re fairly set at the running back or wide receiver position you can keep nominating players at those positions. This makes people spend money at a position that isn’t a need for you and allows you to make owners reduce their budgets so they can’t spend on the value players you are targeting.
I’ll provide a personal example of how you can use this phase to your advantage. In 2011 I remember in our major auction draft we were in this phase and both Larry Fitzgerald and Hakeem Nicks were undrafted at this point. There were a few other wide receivers that were near their tier that also had not been drafted yet. I knew Fitz was a player I wanted to target, but so was Nicks. I kept nominating lower ranked wide receivers since most teams had their WR1 and WR2 filled at this point. Nicks ended up getting nominated and bought by the only other owner I thought would go after Fitz, which was good for me because it reduced my main competition. I ended up getting Fitz in around the 10th round for $15 and he went on to finish the season as the 5th ranked fantasy wideout. I also made it clear by how much money I had left in my budget and by how I aggressively over bid other owners, that I was going to get Fitz. Other owners I think may have even backed down which allowed me to get him for even a little cheaper than I even thought.
There will usually be a handful of players in every draft that can be had for significantly less than their Average Auction Price (AAV).
PHASE 3: The Grind
This phase lasts from around rounds 10-11 till the end of your draft. This is where the draft may be entering the fourth hour and dragging on for some. If you went with the “Studs and Duds” strategy this is where you will find yourself busy again trying to fill the remainder of your roster while most owners are almost finished. Even though you have many roster spots to fill you can still use your situation to your advantage.
One thing you can do is nominate low priced players that may be garnering a lot of hype that don’t really do it for you. You can also nominate players that you don’t want but know specific owners in your draft like. For example, if you’re in a draft with a 49ers fan, maybe you nominate Kendall Hunter knowing that owner may have a soft spot in his heart for him. Or even better the guy who drafted Frank Gore may get into a mini bidding war for him too.
Also, some owners are mentally exhausted by this point, or maybe too drunk, so all they want to do is fill their team and relax or go home. By throwing players out to these desperate wolves you can get them to hopefully finish off their rosters which creates less competition for the players you really want.
The trick is nominating one dollar players you want and getting them for a dollar. There is nothing more frustrating than tossing quality names only to see someone outbid you by a buck every time because you are hampered by your budget. If possible I like to have a couple bucks left in order to be able to go to $2 or $3 for quality values very late in your draft. I realize that its not always possible, but it you can I recommend doing so because it gives you some flexibility even late in your draft when a lot of owners won’t have any.
Remember the entire draft will be somewhat of a grind and will be many hours. By knowing what to expect, you will be more prepared than your competitors. Keep mocking so you can try some of these strategies to be even more ready for the real deal. Have a look at our player rankings and our auction values to help you as you mock!
Good luck and happy drafting!