Fantasy: The Art of The Auction - Part 3
Over the last two days, we’ve covered the preparation stage of an auction. We first asked what sort of pricing strategies managers use to value their players. Then we asked what sort of budget allocations they set out with these prices. What we learned is that preparation is even more important in an auction than in a snake — there are so many more variables to consider beyond your rankings and the ADP of the players going in. It’s not impossible to go into a snake draft blind and come out alright, but the odds aren’t in your favor if you just sit down at an auction without a plan.
Now it’s time to get down to what you’re actually going to do in the draft. We’ve got our prices. We’ve got our budgets. How is each player going to use them?
3) Do you follow a stars and scrubs approach, a balanced approach, or something in between?
Chad Parsons — Historically, my weakness in auction formats has been the tendency to be such a value-oriented owner that I miss out on every single impact player. Within the top-20 players, I now make sure to identify 1-2 players that I will target (within reason) as the cornerstone of my team. I usually don’t have difficulty in the middle and late portion of an auction to build a well-rounded squad.
Alex Miglio — I used to utilize a balanced approach, but nowadays I tend to do something in between that and a studs & duds strategy. I am not a gambler — the studs & duds approach is too risky for my blood. I found that using a highly balanced approach is a good way to routinely net a mediocre team, however. You will have solid performers all around and excellent depth, but rarely will you find the players who will put up huge numbers consistently. You will wind up with a bunch of good bench players whose points will fall into the ether.
Kevin Greenstein — It’s very, very hard to win without stars, and that’s true in both offense-only and IDP leagues. When you look at the math, it suggests that getting an above-average player at every position could be better than spending on stars at a small number of positions, but because there’s risk everywhere, the owners who win are usually those who bet correctly on a relatively small number of elite-level difference-makers.
Jeff Ratcliffe — Typically it’s stars and scrubs. However, each auction is different, and you have to be ready to audible and deviate from the plan if the draft calls for it.
Scott Spratt – I like to stick to my prepared prices for players, so I allow the other managers in the league to dictate my apparent strategy based on my opinions of their spending. In practice, that almost always manifests as a balanced approach, as managers tend to overspend on the elite tier of players.
Austin Lee — Most of the leagues I play in are casual leagues with friends. Casual leagues tend to have more studs and duds drafters. Because of this, I can’t sit back with my preferred, balanced approach. In these situations I like a hybrid where I pay a premium for 1-2 studs and save some money for a few value picks later in the draft.
Eric Yeomans – The shallower the league, the more top heavy I go, but even in deeper leagues I still subscribe to paying for stars where the talent is scarce. I really like to spend a lot on the stars at shallow positions, like RB, and wait on WR, QB, and TE. There will always be WR depth on the waivers, almost no matter how deep a league is, because almost everyone gets at least a couple targets a game. And because you usually only need to start one QB and one TE, you should also always be able to pick up numbers off the waivers as well. But even in the age of the committee back, there’s still only so many touches to go around in the backfield, so it’s best you pay for the high end talent. The same can be said of the DL position in IDP leagues. There’s an abundance of LBs and DBs, but only a few real impact DLs in a league that aren’t used simply to disrupt the offensive line, and it’s tough to find serviceable players in the free agent pool, so it’s best to stock up on the good ones. At the end of the day though, you want to have the best players at every position. While that’s pretty near impossible, it’s always good to have money left over so your scrubs aren’t made up purely of $1 players, but hopefully at least middle of the pack players at the deeper positions rather than marginal talent.
Here’s where we start to see a bigger divide amongst fantasy managers. We have those that subscribe to all sorts of strategies. While everyone loves to have as many stars on their team as possible, some see the value in going with a more balanced approach, and shouldn’t have their team fall out of contention if one player gets injured. Then you have those, like myself, who go with a hybrid approach in an attempt to go top-heavy, but not too top heavy that you handcuff yourself with subpar options at one or more positions. What will ultimately work best for you is completely up to what’s happening in the draft. If prices for stars are getting astronomical, then I’m fairly certain that most of these drafters would adjust their strategy, just as they would if bidders were hesitant to spend a bigger portion of their budget on one player, making stars a bargain.
It ultimately all comes down to each individual draft that really dictates what the best course of action should be, and flexibility is certainly the name of the game in an auction. This is the third time out of three articles that flexibility has been brought up, and I can almost guarantee it will be brought up every other time after as well. If you’re not flexible in an auction you’re chances of success are going to fall.