The way in which you nominate players is a crucial tactic within overall auction strategy. On the surface, it might seem like you can throw out any old player and bid or not bid on him accordingly. If you do that, however, you will be missing out on a chance to better craft your own roster and force your league-mates into uncomfortable decisions. Below are some best practices for nominating players to maximize each dollar in your wallet.
SI's 2014 fantasy football preview: Rankings, projections, stats and more
Draining your opponents’ budgets
There are bound to be a handful of high-priced players that are not on your target list. At the same time, they’re also high priced for a reason. Most of the fantasy community likes the players you are predicting will go bust, or at least will not perform up to their preseason expectations. These are exactly the types of players you want to nominate early in your auction.
Put simply, any dollar spent by one of your rival owners on a player you don’t want is a potentially harmful dollar rendered toothless. For example, one player I’ve been vocal about disliking this summer is Zac Stacy. His average auction value, according to FantasyPros, is $30. That’s one dollar fewer than Alfred Morris, three dollars fewer than Jordy Nelson and Alshon Jeffery, two dollars more than Randall Cobb, and two dollars more than Andre Ellington.
The other five guys are players that I am targeting in all my leagues. If an owner spends $30, or perhaps even more, on Stacy, that same owner might bow out of bidding on one of the players I actually do like. This becomes even more acute if I can get Stacy out there early in an auction. This owner might be wary about spending too much too soon, thus taking a pass on someone like Jeffery or Nelson. One fewer bidder in the mix can make all the difference.
What’s more, when everyone is flush with cash in the early stages of an auction, they might be willing to spend a bit more freely. That could lead to an even higher price tag on a player you have no intention of buying. This is the single most effective way to drain your opponents’ resources.
Fantasy Draft Primer: Three highest ceilings
Sports Illustrated's lead fantasy writer Michael Beller unveils the three players with the highest fantasy football ceilings going into the 2014 season.
Get your secondary players out there when better players are still available
While owners may more likely act like spendthrifts early on in auctions, they similarly may be unwilling to go after second- and third-tier players when the elite players are on the board. An owner who is dead set on getting one of the top-five backs may not go too strongly after someone like DeMarco Murray, Le’Veon Bell or Montee Ball if guys like Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy and Matt Forte are still on the board. That could lead to bargains on those players who aren’t quite elite, but who would typically go late in the first round or early in the second round of a draft.
What does that mean for owners in auction leagues? If you’ve got a player you like in the No. 40-50 overall range in terms of average draft position, get them out there early in your auction. These are the types of players who have first- and second-round ceilings but can be had at a serious discount in auctions if they hit the block at the right time. Some players I will have in mind to nominate early include Roddy White, Michael Floyd and Rashad Jennings.
FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKOUTS: AFC | NFC
FANTASY FOOTBALL BUSTS: AFC | NFC
FANTASY FOOTBALL SLEEPERS: AFC | NFC
Don’t be too predictable in your nominations
Even in an auction, you don’t want your league mates to know what you’re thinking. It’s not as dangerous as it is in a draft. In the draft format, if a rival owner picking next to you catches on to your thought process, they can easily pick up a player you want. In an auction, it’s going to be obvious whether or not you’re interested in a player given that you will either be bidding on him or sitting idly by. Still, you’re better off if you can keep everyone else in the room guessing.
To keep your fellow owners off the scent, don’t always nominate the same types of players. Yes, you should throw big-name players out there that you don’t like early in an auction. But you should mix it up by nominating players that you actually want on occasion. If you only nominate players you aren’t interested in, that, by extension, will hint at the players you are targeting. It might not matter too much early in the auction when you have plenty of money to spend, but when funds get thin in the latter stages, one of your leaguemates can pin you in by starting the bidding for a certain player higher than you can afford. By nominating both players that you want and players you wouldn’t touch regardless of the cost, your motives can remain hidden.
Try to steal your favorite kicker
As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t spend more than a dollar on kickers. You never know when you’ll need an extra dollar, and you’d much rather use it to get a skill-position player rather than, say, Stephen Gostkowski.
At the same time, most everyone would agree that Gostkowski, Matt Prater, and perhaps a select few other kickers are a cut above everyone else at the position. Instead of waiting until the endgame to get a kicker, nominate one of those elite kickers early on in your auction. Either you get them for a dollar, or you force someone else in your league to spend $2 on a kicker. You can’t lose.
Auction Strategy Series:
Part I -- Setting position budgets
Part II -- Deliberately nominate players