Auction Draft Strategies

Many of you are familiar with the auction draft as it has become very popular in the recent years. I myself can say that once I tried this draft format, I became addicted. Check out these tips to help you prepare for your auction draft this year!


In a standard setup (10 teams), each team is given a $200 budget. With this budget, you can bid on any player that you want. Each owner takes turns putting a player up for bid. With so much freedom in making picks, and ability to throw your $200 ESPN or Yahoo! dollars around, it’s easy for your draft to go awry if you do not plan ahead. There are two basic strategies that work well for auction drafts: Studs & Spare Parts or the Balanced approach. Below I will walk through the pro’s and con’s of each strategy, as well as some helpful tips to keep in mind during the draft.

Studs & Spare Parts
This approach is pretty simple. Take a few of the big name players, and try to scrape together a roster with the few remaining dollars you have left. If you are going with this strategy, do your research on the $5-$10 players as you will be drafting many of them near the end of the draft. If you are choosing to go with this strategy, you MUST get one of the top 4 running backs (See our rankings for who those players are). They are in a class of their own, and quality RB’s are very hard to come by. You are going to get 3 top notch players so ideally you could get a top five RB, and either two top 10 WR's or a second top ten RB and a top ten WR. Below I listed a sample team of what you could expect to get taking the studs and spare parts approach. I used the suggested ESPN price in the example team below.

QB Ben Roethlisberger - $8
RB Jamaal Charles - $56
RB Legarrette Blount - $8
WR Antonio Brown - $52
WR Dez Bryant - $45
TE Dwayne Allen - $2
FLEX Latavius Murray - $15
DST – Defense is hard to predict each year, don’t pay more than $1, and don’t take the Redskins.
K – Any kicker that plays in a dome. Don’t pay more than $1
BE Sam Bradford - $1
BE Doug Baldwin - $2
BE Cody Latimer - $2
BE David Cobb - $2
BE Duke Johnson - $2
BE Pierre Garcon - $2
BE Michael Crabtree - $1

Pro’s
  • You know you can count on your stars each week no matter the matchup
  • Your stars will retain good trade value if you want to trade them later
  • You can take chances and draft more of the Vincent Jackson types (players who get 20 points or 2 points in any given week) since you know you will have a reliable base of points coming from your Studs.
 Con’s
  • An injury could derail your season
  • If any of your Studs has a bad week, you can't rely on the rest of your team to pick it up
Balanced Approach
A balanced team approach is different from the Studs & Spare Parts approach as you will try to target depth for each position rather than trying to get the pre-season top 5 player at each position. You will sit back and watch the big spenders as they shell out for the big names, while you wait for the bargains later in the draft. Patience is the key to this strategy. Once you have made a decision to go with the balanced team approach you must stick with it and not abandon it mid-draft. Here is what your roster could look like with the balanced approach (ESPN suggested prices).

QB Ben Roethlisberger - $8
RB Jeremy Hill - $41
RB Mark Ingram - $32
WR Mike Evans - $31
WR Kelvin Benjamin - $29
TE Travis Kelce - $7
FLEX Brandin Cooks - $24
DST – Defense is hard to predict each year, don’t pay more than $1, and don’t take the Redskins.
K – Any kicker that plays in a dome. Don’t pay more than $1
BE Sam Bradford - $1
BE Doug Baldwin - $1
BE Michael Crabtree - $1
RB Legarrette Blount - $8
BE Jeremy Maclin - $8
BE Nelson Agholor - $5
BE David Cobb - $2

Pro’s
  • Your team has the depth to handle a big injury
  • Can better handle a down year from a player since you have multiple quality players
  • Your team has the depth to handle bye’s more effectively
Con’s
  •  You don’t necessarily have a go-to guy that you know will guarantee you top 5 points at his position
  • More decision making each week on which players should start
Which Player Should You Nominate? 
Each owner gets to nominate the player that is up for bid during the auction draft. Determining who goes up for bid is a huge part of the strategy that gets ignored by most owners. The goal should be to get other people to spend money on players you don’t want so that when a player that you want comes up to bid, the bidding won’t get out of hand since other owners already spent their money on the players you put up for bid. For example, let’s say you drafted Peyton Manning early on in the draft. Some good players to nominate would be the remaining top QB’s since you definitely won’t be drafting one and others will need to spend top dollar if they want a Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers.

The next tip I have is based on the logic that people spend big early in the draft when the stars come up. Generally speaking, owners bid up to the point that the ESPN or Yahoo! rankings say they should. In the early rounds owners are willing to pay a little more. To make sure other owners spend their money on players of little value, make sure to nominate people ranked in the $10-$20 range. These types of players will go for their suggested price if nominated early on, or they will go for $5 near the end of the draft when no one has money left. The result of getting owners to spend big on these lower tier players is the increase in your purchasing power (see below for description of purchasing power).

Tips to Consider While the Draft is in Progress
You need to keep track of the value of the dollar as the draft progresses. This is known as your “purchasing power”. If you see that other owners are consistently overpaying for players in the early rounds, the value of the dollars you have left increase as you hold a greater percentage of the dollars left to be spent. Conversely, if players are being drafted below their suggested price, the value of the dollars you have yet to spend will decrease. This is extremely important to monitor as the draft goes on so that you know how to adjust the maximum bid you will make for each player on your draft board. Luckily, the Fantasy 4um crew has your back on this one. Check out our Draft Tools page for an in-draft Inflation Calculator.

Another thing to take into consideration in an auction draft is the background of the owners in your league. If the league contains owners with little football knowledge, expect the bidding to get out of hand for the well-known star players, which would leave you with the opportunity to sit back during the over-bidding and get plenty of steals in the RB 2 and WR 2 tiers. Also, it is sometimes possible to take advantage of people who seem to be attached to certain players. This is a weakness in auction drafts as some owners will pay any amount for their favorite players.

Hopefully this helps you build a championship squad! You may remember the old addage "practice makes perfect". Well, this is no different in fantasy football drafting. Practice your strategy in a mock draft to see how you can react to different scenarios. Good luck and don't forget to comment and post your favorite tips!

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