It's not hard to stumble onto fantasy baseball advice on the web these days, for free or for a cost. And to be blunt, there's a lot of loose advice out there. It's easy to get tricked by the old correlation-causation thing; just because someone used XYZ Strategy last year and won a league does not mean XYZ Strategy is a sound idea. Heck, just about any strategy can work if you pick (or stumble onto) the right players.
That all established, I do have a set of strategic principles that have served me well over the years, and I'll be sharing them a few times a week as we get ready for draft and auction season. Maybe they'll help you, maybe they won't. Maybe they'll appeal to you, maybe they won't. Maybe you'll let us know why your XYZ Strategy is better than my ABC Strategy. Consider this an open ticket to discuss the theory of the game.
When it comes to fantasy drafts versus fantasy auctions, I don't think there's any room for debate. Auctions are more detailed, more interesting, more fair, and considerably more challenging. We're comparing chess to checkers.
Auction strategy has many tiers to it, and today we'll look at one simple but critical concept. Whenever possible, save some money for the endgame. Specifically, do not paint yourself into a corner where your maximum bid is $1 (or the league minimum).
A lot of rotoheads shrug off the $1 burden for the endgame. "It's just a draft at the end, anyway, no one has any leverage," they say.
True, most actions do eventually get to that point. But before the last of the overbid money is sucked up, consider the hand you're dealing with if you're out of extra cash while some of your opponents still have a slush fund:
- You can't overbid anyone else for a player. You really don't matter except when it's your turn to name a player.
- If you name a player who's valuable, your bid is instantly trampled.
- If you call out a stiff, you're probably stuck with him.
- Now sit around and do nothing for another 8-10 minutes (while players you want go to your opponents).
The endgame is the only time where your nomination choice comes without any uncertainty. In the early part of the auction, no one really knows if you want the player you toss out there. At the end of the day, it's clear you want that name, especially once you're out of overbid funds. Don't handcuff yourself at this critical juncture. Have some leverage, keep some flexibility.
If you are pliable for the endgame, you'll accomplish two important goals. First and foremost, you'll have control for the end of the auction and you'll get a healthy share of the players you actually want. Second, you'll be done with the proceedings quicker than most, and don't blow off that point. As much fun as fantasy drafts and auctions can be, no one ever wished them any longer. Getting back to real life is a welcome thing. I don't know about you, but my draft/auction hangover (read: headache) is a harsh reality around hour three or four.
And while I have no data to back this up, I've always felt that the strongest rosters out of an auction are normally the teams that finish earliest. We can compare notes on this in the comments.
Bud Fox/Gordon Gekko image courtesy Associated Press