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Scott Pianowski

Tip Drill: Blue Horseshoe loves Anacot Steel

Scott Pianowski
Roto Arcade

Fantasy strategy is a never-ending conversation; Tip Drill is merely a conversation starter. Five days a week we offer a bite-size nugget of goodness to you, then we shift to Steve Buscemi mode on the weekend. Enjoy.

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I prefer fantasy auctions to fantasy drafts, and I've had pretty good success with them (no need to document here - I know you don't care, and you shouldn't). Here are some auction tips I've collected over the years; read them, consider them, and offer your own on the way out.

Vary Your Nominations

Most of my early throws will be expensive players I don't need or want, or an overyhyped sleeper I think the room will waste money on. But it's important to mix up your nomination strategy, especially in the first half; sneak in a few guys you actually do want, see if you can slide your pet defense or sleeper receiver through for the minimum, keep them guessing. One fun gambit is throwing out a trendy handcuff before the starter is off the board, makes for some interesting reactions.

Let Someone Else Play Bailiff

Price enforcing is an important part of any auction, but you don't want to take on that chore unless it's absolutely necessary. Once the price on a player gets past the 50-percent point, if I don't want the guy I generally keep my nose out of things so I don't give the room the wrong impression - I don't want to be identified as a potential price enforcer. Sure, I'll jump in if the flow stops too quickly, but it's important not to confuse the room.

Huddle First, Bid Later

The early bidding on stars can be a little silly at times. LaDainian Tomlinson . . . one . . . two . . . three. Okay, everyone can count, wonderful. When a new player comes out in the first half of the auction, my first priority is updating the cheat sheet and re-examining my plan of attack for that bid and position, not joining the conga line (this changes in the endgame, when quicker reactions are needed). Occasionally I'll be the guy who pushes the bid into the neighborhood of the sticker price, just to force the other owners to make quicker decisions (be careful with this - you might jump the action on a player and be the last person in the room to learn the MRI news of the day).

Be Ready to Audible

Everyone comes to the table with a pregame strategy, but keep it flexible - each auction has its own personality to it, and you want to be open-minded and prepared to adjust to the nuances of the evening. Your goal is to figure out the flow of the room and adjust to it quicker than everyone else does. Meanwhile, the donators love to hammer out a strict budget to the penny and won't stray from it; that's why we love playing against them. It's an algebra test, not differential calculus.

Consider the Opponent's Motives

Unlike a draft, it's critical to know the roster construction of every other team during an auction, at all times. You need to attach a meaning with a bid. Is he price enforcing? Will she go to the moon for what looks to be the last viable starting RB? Is he already invested in this backfield committee? In poker the aim is to put your opponent on a hand, and that theme applies here.

Overpaying is Okay - Sometimes

You're not going to love the price on everyone you buy, but when you do open the checkbook and go over sticker, make sure it's for someone you really want or something you really need. I can assure you a few extra bucks on LaDainian Tomlinson will feel better tomorrow than a few extra bucks on LenDale White.

If the early prices in your auction seem insanely high, it's not a bad idea to make sure you get one player in the madness, even if it seems like a mild overpayment. Nothing is worse than saving your money and waiting too long to get it into play. Experienced auction players will be comfortable waiting several rounds before they roster a single player, if the conditions dictate it, but those newer to the auction format might have trouble taking that path.

Endgame Leverage is Critical

Even if you sign up for the stars-and-scrubs strategy, it's important to keep a little extra cash and flexibility for the endgame. Being stuck with $1 bids can slay you in this format - you can't overbid elsewhere, and your own nomination becomes a burden (good players are taken away from you, but any stiff you mention will get quickly added to your roster). Make sure you have some gavel power for the final quarter of the night. Also be ready with that $2 push when the endgame hits - if only a few teams can jump an opening $1 bid, being alert gets rewarded.

That's enough for this drive-through - what's on your clipboard? How can we get the big chips to our side of the table? Discuss.

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