Draft preparation can be a stressful exercise, and judging by the frequency with which it is asked, this question exemplifies a key stress:
Staff strategiesTo provide some diversity in auction strategies, I asked ESPN's fantasy staff to share some of their most treasured secrets. Here is a sampling:
I like to bid in $2-3 increments when I know I'm up against someone as serious as I am about that player (i.e. I don't expect them to let me have him easily). I think of it as proactive bid-stealing. If my opponent owns the bid at $17, why go $18 to have my opponent go $19 and put it back to me at $20? By skipping the bid directly to $19, you reverse the tables. It certainly helps to counter the slow escalation that is the "Oh, what's one dollar more?" attitude, while taking advantage of the psychological barriers that exist at the $10, $20 and $30 marks.
Be as unpredictable as possible. I will nominate players I want, ones I don't want, throw a defense out early, jump a bid by $15, not bid until a player gets to $30 then increase the bid by $10, buy my busts if the price is right, etc. My goal is to keep everyone else off balance. Call it "schizophrenic drafting," if you will.
I tend to be fairly conservative when the high-dollar players are flowing early, but sometimes it actually pays to be the first person in on a position before the market gets set. For instance, once everyone knows that a premium wide receiver is being drafted for around $30, that's the number they tend to bid toward. If you throw out a top wide receiver you want early, occasionally you can catch your fellow drafters being gun-shy, and save a few bucks.
As boring as it sounds, I spend early and often. I want at least one superstar running back and wide receiver on my roster, so I usually find half of my budget gone after the first go-round of bids. There's nothing worse than leaving a whole bunch of money on the table. I also like to wait on quarterbacks due to the depth at the position. Landing a $5 Matt Ryan
on my roster over a $50 Aaron Rodgers is key if I want my dollars going to running back and wide receiver.
I like to spend money early and often in football auctions (rarely in baseball, though), and I don't mind going a few bucks over budget to get what I want, even at the expense of bench depth. Yes, it often results in "stars and scrubs" teams, but I hate failing to go the extra dollar for a top-tier running back like LeSean McCoy
and then being forced to spend nearly as much for, say, Ahmad Bradshaw
. I suppose it sets the market, but really, I worry about the budget only after I acquire three or four stalwarts.
While seemingly simple, my approach to auctions is to be aggressive in going after the team I want. Balancing being budget-conscious and paying for the talent you prefer is vital, but being too patient and frugal could leave you with too much money and lesser talents left to purchase.
Don't fall prey to the foolish plan of a "balanced" roster without any star players. Even as volatile as fantasy scoring is from year to year, star players win fantasy games, period. You wouldn't give up your first-round pick in a draft in exchange for, say, two additional fourth-round picks, would ya? So why would you try to be "sensible" and avoid spending big on a top running back, quarterback or receiver? That strategy could work in baseball, but not football.