My goal is to further the discussion, touch upon some subtler angles in the auction game. Here are a few nuances I've collected over the years.
• If your auction is filled with owners new to the format, the early spending will likely be aggressive. If your auction is comprised of experienced players, the early spending might be tempered. There are no hard rules to these types of things, but I'm more likely to be patient against a neophyte room, and more likely to be shopping early in a room of veterans.
And sometimes the first couple of players will be dirt cheap simply because most of the room is still getting used to the flow and feel of the auction. There might be a "wait, what just happened?" vibe before everyone settles in.
• Usually your endgame strategy will come down to one or two paths: either you're okay with a few $1 players (the minimum price) or you're not.
Generally, I want to avoid participating in the "draft" portion of the auction, the time where no one has any overbid leverage. I want a say in who my final few players are, I want control at that period. There are times I'd go away from this - maybe someone late in the proceedings is worth emptying all my leverage cash for - but normally I try to restrain myself enough so that I'm not handcuffed in the endgame.
I'm not the type of owner who will pre-slot an entire roster before the auction starts, but I will play around with that in the endgame. Say I have $7 left for three players; I'll try to decide how I want to break that up, given my needs and the remaining pool. Is it worth it to go $5 on one player, with two other singletons? Would 4-2-1 make more sense? Perhaps 3-2-2? Write a few shapes down, try to see how they fit what's remaining.
• Often times in the endgame, it's a race to a number - and many times, that number is $2. Say I have $4 left for two spots and I'm pretty sure I'll want two $2 players (rather than 3-1); in that instance, I'll try to be ready for a quick $2 if any interesting player comes on the screen at a buck. Nothing's more frustrating then getting outbid merely through timing, not on price. Alertness is critical at the end of the night.
• If you only have one owner to be concerned about in the endgame, keep his maximum bid in mind. Sometimes you'll save a buck by getting to his maximum bid before he does, rather than needing the plus-one after he hits the number. And if you share the same max bid, you might want to jump there first - assuming the player is important enough.
• I hate saying this, but I'm going to be realistic - I don't think most mock auctions (or drafts) are particularly useful. Too many owners try oddball tactics, or leave the room in the middle of the game. From a pricing standpoint, you're probably not learning too much.
But I do think mocks are very important from a feel and playability standpoint - especially in an auction. You really should schedule a test run just to make sure you're comfortable with the look and feel of the room, the pace of things. Just forget the pricing flow of the evening, it probably won't be helpful going forward.
• Your player queue is essential in any structure, draft or auction. In an offline auction, you might be generously allowed an infinite amount of time to haystack your way into the late player you need, but in an online auction, you're always on the clock. Make sure you're doing plenty of queue maintenance during the night, unearthing those deeper names that matter. Use your time wisely when you're not involved in a bid.
• Usually I like to make my nominations fairly quickly, and often I'll advance them to a big number (rather than the standard $1 opener). I want to force my opponents to think as quickly as possible, and heck, no one likes an auction that drags along.
There are some exceptions to this rule, of course. If my throw is a player I really don't want, I'll often use the $1 open just to make sure I don't get caught at a number I regret later. And keep in mind how injury-heavy the NFL is - nothing's worse than a $10 opener, ensuing crickets, and the eventual realization that you missed significant injury news from earlier in the day.
Another good reason to open for a buck is if you need to buy some time. Bathroom break? Pizza guy at the door? Dog needs to come in? Open an unwanted star at a low price, then scurry off, take care of your business.
• Try to mix up your nomination style; don't make it easy for the room to know where you stand on a player.
Obviously a lot of your early nominations could be players you're not targeting - you want the other owners to spend money and lose leverage. And if you already have a position well addressed, it makes sense to nominate from that area of strength - the Jimmy Graham owner can probably nominate Julius Thomas or Rob Gronkowski, then step to the side.
That said, some of your early nominations should be on players you wouldn't mind rostering. And don't be afraid to throw a middling name into the mix, a change-up during a run of stars. Keep the room guessing, keep them off balance.
Perhaps you'll try a popular handcuff before the starter comes up; the room might not have a feel for the pricing. Maybe you can get the defense or kicker you want with an early $1 throw; I've seen it happen many times. (I'm also on board if you want to skip the kicker and defense entirely, something many applets will allow you to do. Obviously, those are the easiest position to stream in most leagues. It's reasonable to load up on lottery tickets now, putting defense and kicker on the back burner.)
• When in doubt, I ask myself one of three questions: What would Bud Fox do? What would Gordon Gekko do? What would Ace Rothstein do?
Blue Horseshoe loves Anacot Steel. Your tips and notes are welcome in the comments.