I've spent a good deal of time of late talking about average draft position and snake drafts but have spent comparatively little time talking about auctions. I'll rectify that situation today.
There are, of course, a myriad of ways that one can set up an auction league, but for the sake of simplicity I'm going to set a baseline for our discussion. I'll go with the "standard" setup in my example.
$260 budget 14 hitters: C, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CI, MI, OF, OF, OF, OF, OF, UT 9 pitchers: P, P, P, P, P, P, P, P, P 6 bench spots: any combination of players you like
This is the basic setup, whether you are talking about a mixed league or a league specific setup (AL or NL only).
Stars and Scrubs
Stars and Scrubs is just what it sounds like. You spend as much as you can to roster the elite talents, and then you fill in around them with cheap options. What this strategy does is enable you to roster elite level talent at key positions. However, you end up having to "hit it big late" as you're left to fill in around your seven or eight star level players with bunch of $1 and $2 options. If you are lucky/smart and grab cheap guys who pay off you are in great shape (if you grabbed guys like Aubrey Huff, Angel Pagan and Neftali Feliz last year you would have been doing cartwheels), but if you don't, it can be a long season. Plus, what happens if one or two of your "Stars" goes down with injury? If that happens your roster is sunk because you won't have the depth needed to overcome that loss from the top of your roster. Basically, this is an all your eggs in one basket type approach.
Personally, I don't like this option as I tend to go for the "Balanced Approach" which I will discuss next.
The mutual fund of auction options, the Balanced Approach allows you to evenly spread your risk over a series of assets instead of going top heavy with pyramid type setup. Instead of spending $30 on a handful of players and then filling in with cheap $1 and $2 options around them, you roster a balanced squad filled with a bunch of players in the $10-$15 range. This strategy will leave you without the top heavy stars of the previous plan, but you have more freedom to build your roster. Think about it. If you have a bunch of cheap players because you don't have the resources to spend, then you are limited to rostering players that no one else wants. If someone goes $3 on the guy will you be able to afford going the extra dollar? Probably not in the Stars and Scrubs approach. In the Balanced Approach you have more wiggle room to fill out your roster with players you actually want. Plus, if a $12 player goes down you'll likely be able to replace that, whereas if that $30 guy goes down you are hosed.
Tier Based Drafting
If you are new to auctions this is a solid approach to take as it gives you a blueprint of what to spend for each position at the draft. Here's an example of how you could divvy up your cash to fill out your roster (let's use a 70 percent offense, 30 percent pitching split for the sake of this example).
Hitters: $30, $25, $20, $20, $15, $15, $10, $10, $10, $10, $5, $5, $4, $3 Pitchers: $25, $15, $15, $10, $5, $3, $2, $2, $1
Of course, you can move the numbers around anyway you like. You can allocate more funds to pitching, or hitting, and make the necessary changes to your budget. You can also easily modify the slots during the draft. Let's say for your last $10 offensive player you only spend $7. You can then add the "extra" $3 to your first $5 hitter meaning you'll know have $8 to spend on that slot.
Again, this is a nice outline to follow in many cases, especially when you are new to putting a roster together through an auction.
Some final general rules...
* Don't slavishly follow any plan. If there are bargains out there, jump on them.
* Don't be afraid to go an extra dollar or two if you really think the guy can be a difference maker. At the same time, do not get tunnel vision. Don't wildly overpay for a player just because he is your "guy." Remember, your resources are limited.
* Don't be so scared to bid early that you miss out on the best players. There's nothing worse than getting to the end of your draft with $9 still left. At the same time, don't be afraid to wade in slowly if the players you're targeting aren't named or if people are overpaying early. Sooner or later that scale will tip toward you allowing you to maximize your assets.
* Mix up the players that you present for bidding. Don't always name players that you want. Throw someone out there that you know others desire and let them spend their money. Also, don't be afraid to zig early. You don't have to throw out the name of Miguel Cabrera or Hanley Ramirez off the start. Why not try to sneak a 'Chris Iannetta for $2' out there early? You might be able to find a bargain while others are focused on the superstars.
Speaking of that, here is a pet peeve of mine. Don't the guy who tosses Albert Pujols out there for $1. You know Pujols will go for more than $30, so even if you don't want him at least say "Pujols for $24" or something like that. You don't want your draft lasting seven hours because of needless bids.
And that brings up my last point - know the player pool. If you think things go fast in snake drafts, things fly in auctions. You won't have time to research a player to decide if he is worth going that extra dollar. You'll need to know it --- now. A knowledge of the player pool and budgets can also be helpful. Why not toss Chase Headley out there for $4 early? You might catch people off guard and end up with a bargain, or you might initiate a bidding war that will cause others to reach because they don't really know how much they should spend on Headley.
Have fun with it. If you go the route of auction drafts, snake drafts may never seem the same again.
By Ray Flowers
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Thurs 7 PM, Fri. 9 PM EDT), Ray also hosts a show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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