A couple months ago, I came up with the idea for my magnum opus of a fantasy football league. I always wanted to play in a league that mirroed the NFL as closely as possible. I also love auction drafts. So, I merged these ideas into a full dynasty league with an initial auction draft, followed by yearly rookie draft. I wanted something ultra competitive, so I pooled my resources and invited local owners that were the epitome of savvy fantasy veteran. To my surprise, and delight, each of my original invites were accepted, and last night, we held the initial draft. I am still on cloud nine that this project is officially on the ground and running.
Of course, as you’ve probably read, ep is part of this league, and that is exciting in itself. Anyone who knows him knows that he’s one of the few class acts around, and as much as I value sitting next to him at work, I also value his fantasy sports know-how. As ep mentioned here, this was his first official auction draft rodeo. How’d it go? See ep’s followup. I’ll be posting more later about specifics of how it all shook out and some of my personal favorite values from the draft.
For now, however, here are a few additional pointers on auction drafts …
First, drafting this early in the NFL preseason, there wasn’t much in the way of online guides or cheatsheets, especially for auctions. I did find something on NFL.com and some other pertinent information on cbssportsline. I posted a message at the fantasy football cafe to see if anyone over there had any leads for me, and I unexpectedly got some really good advice from cafe veteran poster LoveBoatCaptain. Here are some of his tips for an auction draft:
1. Don’t overpay. This can’t be said enough, but it happens EVERY draft. You goal should be to get the best starter +1 at each position. Getting a stable of 3 starting RBs is MUCH more valuable than getting Peterson and crap.
2. Bid early on everyone. If nothing else, this speeds up the process. However, it also keeps other owners from picking up on who you’re really interested in.
3. There will be a guy that spends all his money early on stars and an owner who ends the draft with lots of cash left over. Don’t be either, but definitely don’t end the draft with extra cash.
4. Take unsexy players. Brees, Peyton, Brady… these guys are going to cost big bucks. What about the old man in Arizona? Comparable stats for half the price.
5. If there’s a player you REALLY want, auction him early. There’s no point in holding all your cash in your back pocket for Warner. If there’s a guy you want, suggest it. Maybe you were banking on him going for $15 but he ended up at $8. That’s $7 you now have to pursue other players that you wouldn’t have spent otherwise.
6. Avoid handcuffs. In regular drafts, handcuffs are magic workers. In auctions, they’re dead money. Take players with backups that won’t get selected (MJD, for example) over players with backups who will (AP, Chris Johnson, FWP).
In addition to his feedback, there were several observations from last night that I felt important to share here…
1. Everyone knows the mantra “Don’t drink and drive.” It is safe to add, “Don’t Drink and Draft.” As a guy with a family, I don’t get many opportunities to have a total guy night. I can’t thank my wife enough for helping make last night’s draft a reality. However, as I was setting up throughout the day, I found myself tapping into the stash of beer in the garage fridge. Not a lot, but enough to leave me with a few brain farts when I was helping to keep track of the draft’s progress, including forgetting a time or two about which guys we were bidding on. I also could not remember, for the life of me, which late-draft sleeper/supersleeper picks I was planning to target. I had a whole list of them stored away in my brain, but when it was “Go” time, I found myself struggling to recall names from that list. I wound up with a few guys that I typically would have avoided.
2. Pairing an auction draft with a dynasty league has certain ramifications. For one, it is hard to avoid wanting certain NFL players simply because you root for them in real life, and are enamored with the idea that they could be the core of your dynasty team for the forseeable future. In an auction draft, as ep pointed out, you have the ability to draft ANYONE, as long as you are willing to pay the price. I was worried about going hard after Aaron Rodgers and other Packer players and overpaying, so instead, I shied away from them. I was worried that my drafting would have been impaired, moreso than it was already impaired by the Lionshead. In the end, most of the Packer players did go more than I would have been comfortable with. However, in hindsight, I think that this illustrates the importance of pre-draft planning as far as how much money you want to blow on certain positions and players, just in case a good deal is thrown your way.
3. One Packer I planned to target regardless of my stance in point 2, was Greg Jennings. I figured he’d sneak under the radar for most people and ultimately, I was giddy at the prospect of ultimately getting him to play at my WR2 spot. However, someone nomimated him for bidding in the first round of the auction. He was the first real WR to be available, and since I wasn’t sure at that point how WRs would be valued in our draft, $26 seemed a little far out of my price range. Figuring I had a whole cast of other WRs to target, I let him go. By the end of the draft, however, I was kicking myself. Other receivers went for as much as $44-$43 (although these were obviously the big two of Fitzgerald and Johnson). Other receivers that went for within a dollar of $26 included Marques Colston, Brandon Marshall, Terrell Owens and Roy Williams. I would rather have Jennings over any of these guys easily — not just for this year, but for the long haul. Heck, even Anquan Boldin went for $28. My point here is that if there are certain players you really want, it may serve you well to wait until the market has been set at that specific position before throwing your guy out there. Obviously, you don’t want to wait forever … so you know how much of your pot is available for other positions and players … but it doesn’t hurt to hold off a little on nominating your “dude” for bidding.
What are your suggestions for auction drafts? What are your favorite auction draft memories? What were some of your best value picks in an auction draft? We’d love to hear it!