2019 Fantasy Football: Auction Strategy Part 2

Brad Kruse

CLICK HERE to read the first part of this article, introducing my auction strategy guidelines!

How these values change during an auction:

Example in a two-player league format:

For illustration purposes, let’s assume there are only two owners in the league and the league plays a single game. Also, for further simplification, the player performance results are known ahead of time. You now need to assemble a starting roster of 1 QB, 1 RB, 1 WR and 1 TE given a $100 budget and the available choices along with their actual performances and you must acquire 6 players in the auction:

QB1

30

RB1

26

WR1

22

TE1

15

QB2

20

RB2

20

WR2

15

TE2

12

QB3

19

RB3

15

WR3

12

TE3

9

Since each of the two players need 1 QB, 1 RB, 1 WR and 1 TE we know two of each will be awarded in the auction. Your basis players will be the 3rd player at each position. So, we’ll assign their value as $1.

The total auction budget is $200 ($100 for each of two fantasy GM’s). 12 players will be auctioned off. Four of which you just assigned a value of $1. This leaves you $196 for 8 players. So we’ll determine the value of the other players by determining the value they bring to your team in relation to the total value available or:

(Player A’s Value/Total Value) * ($196-8) + $1 = Player A’s Fair Price

So let’s now assign a point value for each player above the basis player at their position and you’ll come up with something like this:

QB1

11

RB1

11

WR1

10

TE1

6

QB2

1

RB2

5

WR2

3

TE2

3

Total points being bid on is: 50 points. Therefore, QB1’s value is: (11/50)*($188)+$1 = ~ $42

Using that same formula, here are the results of the other players:

QB1

42

RB1

42

WR1

39

TE1

24

QB2

5

RB2

20

WR2

12

TE2

12

QB3

1

RB3

1

WR3

1

TE3

1

The total value in the table above sums to $200 which gives us a value for every auctioned player. If both fantasy GM’s use the above table to set their budgets, the starting rosters could end up like this:

Not so coincidently both owners who used the same system obtained the same value for their $100 budget.

Now, let’s assume both teams target obtaining QB1 at all costs. The demand for QB1 spikes and Team 1 acquires QB1, but this time for $58 instead of $42.

The auction has now assigned a fifth player’s value (the four $1 players being the others). The fifth player’s value is input as $58 and that changes all of the above assumptions. 11 value points have now been auctioned off leaving you with 39 value points remaining. Instead of $196 dollars to spend on eight players, however, the league now has a total of $138 to apply to 7 players so the value for each point changes as follows, using the same formula except with QB1’s value fixed at an inflated $58:

(Player B’s Value/Total Value) * ($138-7) + $1 = Player B’s Fair Price

QB1

58

RB1

38

WR1

35

TE1

21

QB2

4

RB2

18

WR2

11

TE2

11

QB3

1

RB3

1

WR3

1

TE3

1

Predictably, the extra money spent on QB1, lowered the value of the remaining players and put Team 1 into a difficult cash position. Team 1 can no longer outbid Team 2 for any of the top players at their positions, so the teams starting lineups could now look like this:

Clearly Team 2 was able to use Team 1’s over exuberance in spending on QB1 to his advantage in the auction and was able to now win the game by locking in 3 of the 4 top starters.

The above was a simple example of two players with small rosters and known results in order to demonstrate the process. A fantasy football league includes many more variables. Going into 2018, for example, no one would have dreamed of spending more for James Conner, for example, than for Le’Veon Bell. Had that happened, the Bell owner would have thought to have had a significant advantage. As it turns out the opposite was true. Anything can happen in Fantasy Football.


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In Auction Strategies

Ok, now that we have developed our budget for each player and we will try to be disciplined to adhere to the budget; there still needs to be some general overriding guidelines that need to be applied.

I summarize my guidelines in the following figure.

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Remember ~40% of the players will go for $1 or $2 and ~ 70% will be auctioned off for under $10. Therefore, if you stay out of the high end of the auction, your bankroll will be oversized for the talent remaining in the auction – encouraging you to overbid for players and/or have cash left at the end of the auction.

  1. Keep good records. This is a must for a successful auction in a competitive league. You need to know the minimum bids both you and your competition can make for players. You need to know where the various need levels are for each team and who’s left to be auctioned off. Is the current player being bid on the last of a tier (thereby increasing his demand)?
  2. Have a nomination strategy. First, many auctions will penalize you $1 from your auction budget if you don’t submit a nomination quickly (within 10 seconds) when it’s your turn. You don’t want to incur this penalty. More importantly, however, is to develop a strategy which helps you achieve your auction objectives by nominating key players.

Simple strategies for nominations include:

  • Get your kicker / defense early to have your pick for $1 - $2
  • Nominated hyped players you don’t believe in when money is available
  • After you’ve invested heavily in a position, start nominating that position to keep the demand rolling for those players you no longer have a strong interest in acquiring
  • Changing player values

A good strategy to cause money to be overspent (thereby changing player values) is to nominate a player who is clearly short of the top player in value at his position. The cap on his value won’t have been set yet, since the top player hasn’t been nominated and his ending auction value now sets a floor for the truly elite players.

For example, the following were the auction values by QB rank in two auctions I played at the FFWC that were ~ 24 hours apart. Many of the same auction participants were in each auction. Yet, the timing of the nomination of QB3 markedly impacted the auction prices of the entire QB position. The graph below demonstrates this phenomenon.

Auctions are really fun and exciting and those players that truly enjoy understanding roster construction and player valuations can gain an edge in an auction that cannot be gained in a draft as easily.

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Auction Values based on ADP

For this article, let me default to providing some guidance on valuations of players based on ADP. The X axis below is the ADP of a player and the Y axis is the market price at auction for that player. I’ve graphed two auctions I played in to show you that, there are some differences in each auction, but predominantly the same curves apply.

This is what I typically use as the ‘market’ price for players in an auction. Once you know their ADP or even draft round you can quickly figure out the Min / Max values you should pay for these players. Reference the figure below for the costs of the players typically drafted in the first 8 rounds.

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For example, the top 4 RBs will likely be auctioned off at the higher end of the market for a first-round player ($39 to $60). As you can see, a player with a fourth round ADP might be auctioned off between $18-$22.

If you keep these generic figures in mind, you can quickly assess if the auction is providing you a discount on a player or asking for a premium. You’ll then have to assess if the discount is deep enough for you to jump in on the player or if the premium steers you away from a player you were coveting. 

Perhaps at a later date, I’ll provide a comparison between player valuations using the model described in this article with Full Time Fantasy projections as well as mapping the high stakes ADP for players to the ‘market’ price for them at an auction.


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