I started playing “rotisserie” baseball in 1991. There were no websites like the one you are reading this on. In order to have a league you actually had to get together in a room and bid on players with your friends. The evolution of fantasy sports, aided by the internet, has transformed a game dominated by an auction format to one of drafts, but in my opinion, there is nothing like a live auction.
Watching the room’s personalities overbid, regret their last bid when all they hear is crickets after they bid $12 on Homer Bailey, and razz the guy who started out with a bid of $15 on a player who just was deemed out for the year. If you don’t have a home league auction draft, you’re missing out on something fun.
Getting ready for an auction requires a bit of work. For a draft, it’s pretty easy to subscribe to your favorite website and use their cheat sheets. Rankings vary from site to site, but for the most part they are pretty comparable. Also with the availability of the NFBC ADP rankings that are compiled from hundreds of drafts, you get a good idea of where players are being drafted. Don’t get me wrong, preparing for a draft requires work too, but the information out there and the format make it a little easier. There is no debating whether to go after Betts and Scherzer or Trout and Arenado. You can’t in a draft. In an auction format there are so many possibilities.
Although most sites will give you auction “values”, have you ever really analyzed them? The problem is that the numbers just don’t add up. They claim this is the “value” of the player being bid on. There are some sites that have “auction value generators” which ask for the number of teams, roster requirements, etc.., but there is no way to add in keepers, vary the percentage of spending on hitters and pitchers by team, and so forth.
Most leagues have 10-15 teams and 23-30 players that are bid upon in an auction draft. When you throw in keeper/dynasty leagues and the different rules and scoring systems in all these leagues, the variance in auction values is so dependent on your league that these values are only relevant if you are doing a complete redraft auction each season. Also, AL and NL only leagues are vastly different in their values. For instance, in a complete mixed league redraft you’ll see Mike Trout valued at somewhere between 40-45 units based on the traditional 23 player/$260 budget our fantasy forefathers started with. Is this the case when there are keepers with 30-50 players are off the board, many of whom are the most discounted priced superstars? Of course not. These discounts drive the price up of the entire player pool relevant to the values you are “quoted”.
It takes some work to sort this out. The total amount of “units” that will be spent in a 12 team/23 player league with a $260 unit budget is $3,120 units. If you project, based upon rankings, all the players that will be acquired and add up their auction values quoted on cheat sheets and websites, you will get a number several hundred units higher.
I checked values from 2018 and there was one instance where J.T. Realmuto was valued at -1. First of all, that is ridiculous. He was easily a top 5 catcher going into the season. Secondly, how can an auction value be negative? Do you get an extra unit to bid with if you get him at -1? Either you are bidding on someone and it will cost you at least a unit, or the player isn’t bid on, making him a zero.
When you are bidding on 276 players, how do you know which ones are valued correctly and which ones are overpriced? Again this is largely based upon your league type and settings. If you are in a keeper league, you have bid against the people in your league and should have an idea what players go for in your league. If it’s a redraft, online league, you have no idea what people are going to bid. To be prepared for both it takes some time, but this will put you in the best possible position to dominate the auction.
Make a list for each position of the players you think will be bid on. In a 12 league team league, that’s 12 catchers (or 24 in 2 catcher leagues), 12 first baseman, etc. For corner and middle infield I take the highest ranked players regardless of position so you can end up with 8 3B and 4 1B on your corner list. After you have your list, write down what you think each player will go for in your auction. Add up the prices and see how close it is to $3,120. If it’s higher, you’ve overvalued some players and undervalued if it’s under. Go through the list and adjust until you get it to $3,120.
For keeper leagues, this has to be done after the keepers are declared so their actual values can be accurately reflected in your budget. Your league should make you declare who you are keeping at least a few days and preferably a week before your auction to give you enough time to work on this. You can then compare what you think the players are worth versus what you see on valuations.
It’s impossible to cover all the different types of leagues and accurately project auction values. As our positional rankings come out I will then place auction values on these players based upon a mixed, 12 team, 23 player roster (14 hitters, 9 pitchers). If you have never done an auction before, there are some basic strategies that may help you get a leg up on the competition and ways to track the progress of the auction while it’s going on.
How much do you spend on hitting and pitching? What split on starters vs. closers/relievers? Do you spend for steals? Do you dump saves? I’ll try to cover these topics prior to the start of the season, and anything else you may have questions about as we get into spring training and drafting season.
Yes, a draft is clean, easy, and faster but instead of hitting a button that says draft, wouldn’t you rather say “Brad Ausmus for a buck”?