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Scott Pianowski

Tip Drill: Auctions, nominations, bids and you

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On Monday we discussed some Fantasy Auction bidding strategies for the endgame, just one element to the wonderfully-nuanced make-believe game we play. Today we'll look at bidding themes and ideas to consider for the rest of the exercise.

One of your primary goals early in the auction is to get your opponents to spend money. To that end, a lot of your early nominations will be high-profile players you don't want or players that you expect the room might overpay for. Another good nomination strategy is to go to a position that you've already filled; if you bought Hanley Ramirez(notes) a moment ago, get Troy Tulowitzki(notes) out there and step aside.

This doesn't mean you don't want to be aggressive in landing players early on, of course. In my travels I've noticed that generally the more experienced a league is, the more advantageous it is to do shopping early. Flip side, if you're in an auction league with a bunch of neophytes, generally the early bidding is the craziest and most frenzied (imagine a college kid with his first credit card). There's no hard rule on this, but those are the patterns I've observed.

When a star player is nominated by someone else, don't waste your time with the early stepladder bidding. Let someone else say "5, 6, 7" for Albert Pujols(notes) – eventually the price will get to the realistic stopping point. Your first obligation after a name player is mentioned is to update your player list (if you're in an offline auction), address how that player fits your roster needs, consider the rest of that position pool, and ponder how the room might view the current commodity. Sure, it sounds like a lot, and you might not need to do it on every player, but auctions are dynamic, multi-layered, challenging. There's a lot to take in.

Normally my early nominations will come in at the minimum amount, for a few reasons. Often it's a player I don't want, for one thing, and often I'll use my bid turn as a chance to buy a few seconds doing something else (a quick bathroom break, a run to the fridge, a spreadsheet adjustment, etc). Not every auction allows for mid-game breaks, so you have to steal moments when you can.

Here are some other bidding and nomination themes to consider:

- Sometimes it's a good idea to aggressively jump the bid to a much higher price. This forces your opponents to make a quick decision on how they feel about the player, and often times it will catch the room by surprise and everyone sits by idly, unsure what they really want to do. In short, it puts pressure on the other owners.

- If the bids keep increasing by one-dollar increments, sometimes a modified jump of 2-3 bucks can halt the proceedings.

- Occasionally I'll come out with a "Priceline" bid on a player – opening with a number I'm prepared to pay, but probably not go past. It's critical that you're up on a player's current injury history when you do this – "Chase Utley $30" would be a poor idea in tonight's auction.

- Pay especially keen attention to the prices that the best players at each position go for. This is, more or less, an invisible boundary being established (though it doesn't always play out like that).

- A lot of owners refuse to enter late bidding until they reach the "going twice" portion of the sell. I suppose this is done to convey a sense of reluctance on the bid, but when you see the same owners doing it constantly, it's pretty easy to see through.

- Try to vary your nomination style so the room isn't sure where you're coming from. Some owners will constantly nominate players they don't want, while others will gravitate towards players they intend to chase. Don't be predictable. And every now and then, nominate a player that's completely removed from the recent flow of players, just to change the pace of things a bit.

- Be very careful with respect to the "one last good player" at any position pool. The room generally will notice this player sticking out like a sore thumb and the price will often get crazy; that's inflation at work. It's possible to be too patient at times in an auction, which is why you must be constantly evaluating and re-evaluating the changing player pool. One reason you'll often see thrifty prices in the early and medium parts of an auction is that no one is petrified of a drying-up commodity yet.

I've had my say, now over to you. What are some of your bidding and auction strategies in the war room?

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