I was on The Drive the other day with my buds Kyle Elfrink and Ray Flowers, talking about auction leagues. Of course, the time with them always shoots by, and I am never sure if we cover one-fourth of the topics out there. It sure feels like if I have ten things I want to remember to say, maybe we hit a couple of them.
Well, I knew we were going to discuss auctions before I went on the air Thursday, so I made a list of basic guidelines I try to follow. And, since I only really hit on a few of the bullets, here are said guidelines, in no particular order.Be patient. One of the reasons that players nominated first generate higher salaries is that folks have the money to burn. So, the prudent way to make your initial player investment more effective is to wait at least a couple of rounds before jumping in. That is because there are values to be found once your league mates have spent 25% of their proceeds. As an example, I did not purchase a player in NL LABR last year until the fourth round (Sergio Romo for $19). I didn't get any stars, but I finished fourth with the best pitching, and well, had I adjusted $2 and purchased Paul Goldschmidt instead of Ike Davis, I would have won. Plain and simple.
Once those prices have indeed fallen a bit flat, act fast. For, aside from the sleepers late in the game, that is where you will find your bargains. As in right after Romo, I nabbed Gio Gonzalez ($19) and Jordan Zimmermann ($17), bargains both. Unfortunately, after Goldie and Freddie Freeman both went for around $25, I copped Davis, who was certainly comparable at the time, for $23. So, even the price was right. Not the player, however.
Don't target a single player as the guy you have to get, as in if you focus too much on one guy, the team balance will fall off. It is ok during an auction to have a couple of dollars of variance. That means if you think Clayton Kershaw is worth $31, you can go to $33, but draw a line and don't cross it. Rather, let your opponents commit. You can find the points elsewhere. And, that guy who got Clayton now has 34 fewer dollars in his budget, meaning you got board control over him.
Stay flexible. I always have a basic plan, but that plan is largely rooted upon the first round of players and amount of money spent. And, you can spend a lot of money and get major production--like Kershaw for $34--or get similar numbers and fill two slots with Zimmermann and Gonzalez for virtually the same amount of money. Of course, pairing Kershaw with a $2 Nathan Eovaldi could well give the same, or even better overall results, but the point is there are many ways to use your money. So, make sure you have a basic path, but a secondary and tertiary path you can adjust to on the fly. Having contingencies is the only way to survive.
Never let a bargain pass by. If, as noted above, you pegged Kershaw for $31, and the bidding slows down around $28, and you can get him at less than projected, do it.
Don't get caught short. If you do hold out for those first few rounds, suddenly you have $260 or so, and everyone else has between $175 and $200, meaning you can easily get who you want and probably still have the dollar edge. But, it is easy when the prices do come your way to overspend, and suddenly that edge is lost. So, try to hold out $30-$40 for your last six-to-eight players. Having the buying power over the other players is everything, for that angle allows you to choose a team, rather than to simply wind up with one.