11 Fantasy Baseball Auction Tips


Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Auction drafts aren’t for children. Trust me, I have a 3 year old and she left $14 on the table the last auction mock she did.

Auctions are for grown men (and the ladies) who are willing take drafting to a higher level.

But in an auction league you can’t just show up expecting it to go the way you’d hoped. Much like Marvel comics seem to have no shortage of variable timelines, so too do fantasy baseball auctions have too many variables. All the many moving parts prevent you from having a rigid, non-flexible strategy.

It’s a wild west unpredictability. You wouldn’t bring a checkerboard to a chess match, would you? Wait, I guess you would bring the board…it’s the pieces you wouldn’t…ah, nevermind.

The point is that auctions are hard, but man ‘ole man are auctions fun.

Here are 11 fantasy baseball auction tips that will help you draft well this year:

Go Broke

When you are spending your auction dollars, it’s important to remember that you aren’t playing with real money. Spend it!

Go into the auction with a budget and a plan, but if you think you can get a guy for just a buck or two over the current price, take that plunge. There is no rainy day that you’re saving your auction money for.

If you’ve left money on the table at the end of the draft, you blew it. If you have $34 out of your $260 budget left you could’ve spent that $34 on Bryce Harper or Carlos Gonzalez . Leave the draft with a $0 balance and a sore throat from trash talking the other owners who left money on the table.

Caffeine is your friend

An auction takes considerably longer than a snake draft. Late in the draft other managers are getting tired, losing their edge.

Not you.

You are sharp as a tack and hanging ’til the bitter end! Because the end of an auction draft is where bargains can be found. So draft caffeinated! (Just don’t draft drunk. That could lead to drafting a Yankee.)

You Got Yours! 

If you’ve just shelled out big bucks for a stud like Robinson Cano, then toss out a nomination for another superstar in the same position like Jason Kipnis or Matt Carpenter.

If you’ve gotten your Cliff Lee, then nominate Clayton KershawYu Darvish, or Stephen Strasburg. You got your superstar, now make them get theirs. This will run your competition out of money in a position you no longer need and put you back on an equal financial footing.

Play a Homer

I don’t mean bid higher on home run guys, I mean home town favorite homer. If you are in a league with a couple guys who are die-hard Chicago Cubs or Toronto Blue Jays fans then use that to your advantage. If you already have Ian Desmond as your shortstop and it is your turn to nominate a player then nominate Jose Reyes or Starlin Castro. The Cubs fans will sell their grandma’s gold earrings to draft him, meaning you are running them out of money.

Know who your league mates’ favorites are and if you don’t want them then drive up the price for them.

Each Auction is a Unique Snowflake (Just Like You)

You undoubtedly picked this up in the intro, so this is just a tip to further help you manage your expectations. Just because last year’s auction featured high prices on closers doesn’t mean you can expect this year’s to be the same. Did last year see stars like Mike Trout and Joey Votto go for reasonable values? Don’t count on it for this year.

Auctions are a place where you need to keep a flexible strategy. If you come in expecting the auction to look exactly like last year, then you’ll panic (Here’s How to Panic Well!) when you realize that it has a whole new flavor this time around.

It’s a war zone out there. Keep it loose, keep it tight.

Draft the Guys You Want

Make yourself a budget and try – if possible – to stick to it. But if you are missing out on the guys you want by $2-3 each time then you need to start going for it. Don’t walk away regretting that you could’ve had Andrew McCutchen for an extra buck. I promise you that dollar guy at the end of the draft isn’t worth Cutch.

Magazines Under-Value Stars

First, don’t be that guy that comes to a draft with a magazine! In fact, whatever source of advice you use on your draft you must tailor it to your league. (It’s just a guide, so blaze your own trail!)

One area you need to walk your own path is when it comes to superstars.

I’d be shocked if the first 20 players go for the values listed in a magazine. As the first few players are nominated, owners juices are flowing and they are staring at a full piggy bank. It only makes sense that those names will go for higher prices.

As you prepare your budget you’ll need to fudge the numbers and put a little more toward superstars. Remember, stay flexible.

Know Your Enemy

Unless you are Rain Man you won’t be able to keep track of everyone else’s team. But you need to have a general idea of how much money is left on the board.

Most auction software makes it simple to take a quick glance and see which teams are burning through their money. If a team is low and funds and they are the only team bidding against you, then that’s information that you can use to your advantage. If you don’t really want the player then drop it on them. You’ve now completely run them out of money and they’ll be quiet for much of the rest of the draft.

Likewise, if another owner is at the end of the bidding on nearly every player but hasn’t rostered any of them, then they are likely just trying to drive up the prices for everyone else. Make him eat a bid on a player that you know he doesn’t want and he’ll quiet down for a few picks.

Keep Your Eyes Up Here, Guys!

Ignore the tip above if you must! If it is too distracting to do a quick evaluation of the other owner’s teams, then it’s fine to just keep your eyes on your own team.

The single greatest thing about an auction is that every player is available to you. If you get caught putzing around looking at the other team’s rosters you might miss a bid. Don’t let your eyes stray too far from home.

Ultimately it’s your team you are drafting, so get into the zone if you need to and be prepared to pull the trigger on a guy you want. You only get to draft once a year so make it a good one!

Dominate the Autodraft!

Online drafting has made things a breeze, but it’s also introducing absentee owners. These auto drafters can really swing an auction so it’s wise to understand how to use it to your advantage. Here is How To Defeat the Autodraft.

Bonus Tip: Heckle Creatively 

Make sure you politely remind another owner when he pays too much for an average player. Never miss an opportunity to mention an injury. Heck, make up a stat that sounds bad and could potentially spell doom! “Ha! Paul Goldschmidt only had a 11.08% zLOLZ and only mustered a +3 saving throw on dexterity in 2013!”

He’ll have no idea that is utter nonsense, but the other owner is now a) intimidated by your superior statistical mind and b) is now bidding scared. It’s a win/win for you, which makes it a lose/lose for him.

When he tells you to “quit trying to get into his head”, gently remind him that you “are already in his head.”

But you get the point: the above tip could be renamed ‘Have Fun.