“If your enemy is secure at all points,
be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If
your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to
be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give
him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them….Attack
him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.”-
Sun Tzu, the Art of War
In other words, zag when your enemy zigs.
Congratulations, you’re a fantasy football rebel. While
the Bud-swilling fantasy football proletariat is snake drafting,
you are one of the elite auction drafters, a card-carrying member
of the Sierra Nevada IPA-quaffing bourgeoisie. So why would you
follow the same old warmed-over auction advice that has been floating
around the fantasy football echo chamber for the past several
years? Every other guy is going to walk into the draft clutching
a fantasy football mag like you grabbing Kelli Cooper’s
teat back at the ninth-grade dance intent on following its advice
like it were gospel. Not you. Now let’s talk guerrilla tactics.
Published Auction Values Are Useless
I have never seen accurate auction values in the magazines or
on websites, and for good reason: Auction values are arrived upon
in the relative calm of the veal-fattening pen that most writers
generously call an office, with all the pertinent information
at the fingertips and a calculator unsullied by spilt beer. There’s
no beer, there are no taunts from your enemies, there’s
no beer, there are no split-second decisions, there’s not
a synapse outside the loving embrace of alcohol. That’s
nothing like the scrum of a live draft.
If you must, make your own values. Take the actual prices from
last year’s draft and figure out what percentage of the
entire available money went to each position. If your league devoted
27% of the pot to wide receivers last year, take 27% of this year’s
pot and allocate all that money to the drafting of wide receivers.
If the total pot is $1000 auction dollars (10 teams x $100 per),
and there will be 50 wide receivers drafted, take a popular consensus
ranking of the top 50 wide receivers and allocate the $270 amongst
them appropriately. Take into account the idiosyncrasies of your
leagues, especially homerism or college affiliations (got a guy
in my league who graduated from USC and drafts heavily from its
ranks). Let the calculator keys cool for a sec. Now add 10-15%
to the LTs, Mosses, Bradys, and Gates, the top-tier guys, and
take that money from your third tier players to balance the numbers.
This is the beer and over-hyped studs (Studs and Suds) tax. In
another column, pencil in a dollar amount for each player that
represents the max price you would be willing to pay for that
Good, now you’re looking at a value sheet far better than
any you’ll find in a publication, but again take it with
a grain of saltpeter—you’re unstressed and sober at
Let others bid up the big names early while
you focus on sleepers.
Throw Out Big Names in the First Rounds…(Not)
Classic advice found in every auction article…but useless.
The argument goes like this: Throw out the big names—the
ones you’re not interested in—to drain your opponents’
budgets so that you can control the auction by the mid-rounds.
Can’t agree. I think this time can be better spent. Let
everyone else throw out the big names. This is where you make
hay with your deep sleepers.
Though an entirely different beast than a conventional draft,
the auction works much the same way in that most owners will seek
to fill out the upper end of their rosters first. Not sure if
Reggie Bush can tear himself away from the pneumatic charms of
Kim Kardashian long enough to shoulder the load? Think the Deuce
is done? This is where you bid for Pierre Thomas, my friend. Because
there’s someone else who likes him too but that guy is still
saving his shekels for Joe Addai as his RB #1.
A Dollar Saved Is a Dollar Wasted
Conventional fantasy football auction advice has you aiming to
have the biggest bankroll in the middle and late rounds so you
can pick up the real bargains. Some noobs overshoot this mark
and save far too much money for far too long. There’s nothing
like getting into a bidding war with another poor tool over Rob
Bironas in the waning moments of what should now be apparent is
a sucktastic draft. The only thing worse is ending the draft with
auction dollars left over.
It Brings a Tier to Your Eyes
In your rankings, tier your players according to similar expected
production. This helps prevent you from getting too attached to,
and over-spending on, any one player. (Non-attachment, the center
tent-pole of Buddhism, is a damn fine way to approach a fantasy
football auction draft).
The last player bid upon in the second tier of the glamour positions
(QB and RB) typically goes for far more than fellow second-tier
players as owners panic and realize they need a bell-cow at the
position—and those are running out. To wit: For the past
few years Rudi Johnson, perennially second tier, has gone for
substantially more than Clinton Portis, also a second-tierer,
in my 14-team league, precisely because he’s just unsexy
enough to end up at the bottom of the second tier.
Back-up Before Moving Forward
If you’re targeting a valuable backup, get him before the
stud he handcuffs comes up for bidding. Chester Taylor’s
price goes up if you’re bidding against Adrian Peterson’s
The Late Entrance
Once again, unscrewing the brainpan of the your opponents: Few
things are more devastating than clawing your way to the final
stages of bidding on a prized player and it’s just you and
another owner mano o mano when, all of sudden, a previously
silent third party enters the bidding. It’s a kick to the
wedding tackle. Be that third owner for the psychological waste
it lays to your opponents’ psyches. As an added plus: Usually
the weary combatants are upping each other by a dollar at this
point. Come in with a bid five or ten bucks higher. Crack a beer
and watch them bleed out emotionally.
Murder the Inner Cock-Eyed Optimist
Contrary to the common refrain, “In an auction draft you
can get any player you like,” you never end up with anything
approximating the starting lineup you want. There’s no Santa
Claus, no Nigerian Internet benefactor, and, no, the stripper
isn’t giving you the eye. It isn’t going to happen,
get comfortable with the idea now. You’ll end up with a
couple of stars and a bunch of David Pattens. Embrace this reality
and you’ll enjoy the draft exponentially more. And work
that waiver wire.