by Ray Kuhn
I am biased. Give me a choice on draft type, and I’m taking auction every time.
When doing a draft against 9 or 11 other owners, there is no such thing as having a perfect draft. All it takes is one thing to completely change the direction of your team. But I feel that an auction gives you more control. This is not meant to be an argument as to what type of draft you should do, as auctions are not as common, but instead the hope is that it provides you some tips. Perhaps by the end of this article, you will be more prepared or be apt to trying an auction.
There is no such as having a plan when it comes to auction. Yes, I know that goes against everything you know about fantasy basketball and everything that we stand for. The statement may be harsh, but it is true.
Of course you are going to have a plan, you say. Your rankings are done, players are tiered, statistical targets noted, sleepers highlighted, and dollar values computed. You are asking for trouble if you do otherwise.
But then the LeBron James gets nominated, and goes for $9 more than the dollar value you had for him. Now what?
For starters, every other dollar value on your sheet is now inaccurate. The market has spoken. But it is not as easy as just adding $9 to the other top players. The entire dollar pool is now impacted, and everyone will react.
While it is necessary to have dollar values projected for each player, you also have to remember that each auction is different. But perhaps more importantly, because someone overpaid for James, there will be other players undervalued by the same amount because ultimately the total available dollar pool will not change. The success of your auction will be dependent upon finding those players.
So now how do you handle this situation?
Unless you have software to calculate this automatically, it is not exactly feasible to adjust dollar values after every player is purchased. However, what you should do is track the purchase price for each player and compare that your values. This will help you to identify some possible values.
The problem that you can run into though, is that you hold on too firmly to your dollar values, and you miss out all the top options, or all of the rebounders, and then are left with a hole.
Perhaps the most important thing to do, is to have a plan. Identify groups of players that you want. Do this by position and statistical category to make sure you build a well-rounded squad. And by having groups of players, at varying dollar values, it helps to make sure that you aren’t in the position of overpaying for any one individual player or category. When you feel that the auction is passing you by, remember that for all of the overpriced players, there will be the same amount of bargains. But don’t be too stubborn where you miss out Russell Westbrook because you wouldn’t go $1 over your budgeted amount.
When you come up with your budget, realize that it cannot be static. Build some wiggle room and discretion into it. And this is still better than a draft.
If you don’t like any of the mid-tier players this year, then you can go with a stars and scrubs approach. What if you there aren’t any stars you like? Then draft a team of mid-tier players. If you were in a draft, this would not be efficient. With an auction, as long as you hit your statistical targets to finish in the money, it doesn’t matter how you get there.
Not to speak in absolutes and to expand on my previous point, within reason, you can get everyone you want. I mean yes, you can draft LeBron James, Kevin Love, and James Harden if you wish, but your team will likely suffer for it. But if you think that is the best path to fantasy success, then you can do it. However, I wouldn’t advise it.
Where this really comes into play, is regarding sleepers and mid-tier players. Instead of worrying about when you should draft a Markieff Morris, Klay Thompson, or Elfrid Payton, just wait for their names to come up in the auction. If you really want all three of them, they can be yours. Granted you might have to pay a dollar or two more than what you think they are “worth”, but it is better than having them drafted the pick before you.
There are many ways to be successful in a fantasy basketball auction, but the one guaranteed way to fail, is to not have a plan.