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Approaching Your Fantasy Baseball Auction Draft - Johan Lang

Can you believe that baseball is already around the corner? With the helter-skelter scheduling of the NBA shortened season, coupled with the fantasy basketball playoffs around the corner and March Madness on the horizon, baseball has been nothing more than a distraction for most fantasy owners. Spring training just kicked off its first leg of what will sure to be filled with intriguing sleepers, busts, and a slew of Buster Olney. As half your league prepares for the playoffs, others should begin focusing on how to approach the upcoming fantasy baseball season.

So whether you are returning for yet another marathon baseball season, or entering your very first league, its important that you understand the Do’s and Don’ts of fantasy auction drafts. First off, let me preface this by saying that if Category leagues are the new Rotisserie, then Auction drafts are the new Snakes. Snake drafts are played out, while auction’s are not only much more fun and intense, but shows the true mettle of a fantasy owner. While most snake drafts are formulaic, as most players will be going within 1-2 rounds of their ADP either way, auctions are incredibly unique and different every time you are involved in one. Prices fluctuate, guys go at different times and for way different prices then they were supposed to (higher and lower) and everyone has a different strategy. The key is to be prepared.
Seeing as every auction is a separate entity of itself, you should approach it that way and adjust the ebb and flows of the draft. A rough flow of a typical auctions goes something like this:
  • Superstars come out early and go for the right prices
  • Next tier guys usually go a little cheaper than they should
  • The last 1/3 of draft pool goes for way too much money  as there are much less quality players and thus guys go much higher than they normally would
With that said, although this is a base of how a “typical” auction may go, it usually never happens that way. So the key is to be patient and wait for the right deal. Below are some tips and tricks to help you make the right decisions when the bids are flying back and forth.
  1. Be Patient: While other owners will come out firing, be patient and wait for the right deal to come to you. Baseball is the deepest of all the fantasy sports, it is a detriment to your future to blow your budget early. There are plenty of good players out there, and they can be had for a cheaper price if you wait a little longer than others.
  2. Build a COMPLETE Team: Unlike football where you can rely on 2 or 3 studs to carry you week to week, you need a full team to be competitive. You are more likely to lose if you spend 75% of your budget on 3 first round picks as the rest of your line up will have a bunch of duds to pick up the pieces. Major league baseball is a team sport, fantasy is no different.
  3. Don’t Overpay for Anyone: Set your limits and stay the course. Baseball is deep, and there is tons of value across the board at every position.  You are much better off paying the average value of everyone, then falling into the trap of getting into a bidding war for one specific player when another of similar value is just 3 or 4 picks away.
  4. Pay for 1 first round hitter and 1 Ace: Just like the first round of draft, you should set your sites on acquiring one top 10 hitter. Your budget allows for this and regardless of position you can build around him. You should also aim to get a top 7-8 pitcher who will be plugged in from day 1 and won’t be removed other than injury. It’s ok to mix and match your staff afterwards, but you need to have one guy that you can rely on week in and week out. This will be harder to find as everyone else will be chomping at the bit to grab one of these guys, but find 2 or 3 guys to target, wait to see what their prices fall to and snatch them up.
  5. Take a chance on a star on the DL: Chances are you will get more value from the ace or stud hitter that is out till May than you will on the upside flier in the last round. When you are picking from the scraps at the end, take the guy with the proven track record than the little known minor leaguer that you hope will explode.
  6. Save some money for the end: Not a ton, but enough that you can outbid other owners for guys that you want. When everyone has a dollar left to pay for the rest of the draft board, try and have 2 bucks per player. This way you always get the guy that you want, while they scream at the computer. Don’t forget the old adage, championships aren’t won in the beginning of drafts, but at the end.

Good luck in your drafts everybody.