I may be biased here, but the best way to draft a fantasy baseball team is via an auction. Ultimately there is a salary cap, we will dig into the particulars, but you have the ability to acquire whichever players you want. Of course, there are going to be caveats, but this is the format that provides the most control on draft day. Prior to sitting down at the draft table, or screen, stick with us as we provide some steps on your way towards completing the perfect auction draft.
The Perfect Auction Draft
Know Your League Rules
I know it might sound simple, obvious even, but it’s important to understand the rules above everything else. You can’t make an auction plan without understanding the following items:
- How many teams are in the league?
- What is the roster size and composition?
- How many players are you acquiring via the auction?
- What are the statistical categories?
Set Statistical Targets
What is your objective? Obviously, we want to get as many good players and as much statistical production as possible. The problem though, is that everyone else has the same thought process, and you can’t simply fly blind.
Taking a trip back to last year’s standings, or leagues with similar settings, is always helpful. This allows you to truly understand and formulate a plan of attack for the auction. There will be more on this later, but as you formulate your auction plan, it’s necessary to know the destination.
As you develop your player targets, and compile their associated projections, it’s important to understand how they fit into the overall picture. You don’t want to put an emphasis on too much, or too little, of a specific category. It’s not going to be a successful season if you leave the auction with an unbalanced team.
Is It a Keeper or Redraft League?
If you are playing in a redraft league, then we can essentially proceed as normal. At this point, you can play things straight up, as only the current season matters. However, in a keeper league, there are multiple wrinkles and nuances to consider.
When selecting your keepers in an auction league, it’s all about value. This is a situation where you need to handle multiple steps at once. Projections and auction values are truly important here. The objective, is to find players who will surpass the price at which they must be kept.
Additionally, while the objective is always going to be to win the current year, it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on the future if possible. When targeting players, the thought process is going to be to target players that could outperform their cost which makes them attractive keepers for the following season. In most cases, these are going to be your current year sleepers.
These players will generally be young, returning from injury, or bouncing back from a poor season. There is a balancing act necessary though, as you don’t want to attack this group too heavily at the risk of your current season.
Determine Player Targets & Review Your Tiers
At this point, you have gone through the standard preparation for the fantasy baseball season and drafts. You have your projections, statistical targets, and tiers all ready to go. Now, who do you like?
We know how to utilize positional tiers, so you should have a list of players across the league you are looking to target. This will likely go across all tiers, and therefore dollar values. When combining this with your projections, which ultimately informed the tiers, dollar values, and statistical targets, this is the beginning of a draft plan.
This only applies to keeper leagues, but it is a necessary step following the deadline after keepers are selected. The first step here is to determine your auction values and use that as a guidepost in selecting your keepers. It is likely the case that the majority of, if not all, of the keepers are below market value. When that takes place, we have an overabundance of available dollars in the auction.
We then need to reevaluate auction values for all available players. In these situations, there are more auction dollars than players available so the price for every existing player is bound to increase. Statistical categories are worth more, and positional scarcity will come into play and drive some prices up. While we don’t want to overpay, there are situations in which the market dictates it.
Review Average Auction Value (AAV)
At this point, you have essentially operated within a vacuum. While each individual league is an entirely different organism, it helps to have a guidepost for planning purposes. It’s important to know what the market thinks about players, but the decision should always be yours. Having knowledge of the market helps to establish your targets. The objective is always going to be to find value by finding players that you like more than the market,
Find a Comfort Level with Your Dollar Values
Auction values should not be finite. Based on the situation, you should be prepared to pivot by a few dollars while following the ebbs of flow of the auction. If you truly like a player, or you really have a need for a specific position or category, don’t let one or two dollars hold you back. At the end of the day, it should be used as a guidepost. The most important thing though, is to enter an auction feeling comfortable with how you have each player valued.
Build Mock Teams
At this point, it is getting close to go time. Your projections are set, rankings completed, and tiers in place. We have dollar values in place and statistical targets in place, but how does that apply to building a winning team?
This is the time in which gameplay takes center stage. Instead of doing a mock draft, it is time to experiment with various team builds based on projected auction prices. There are multiple approaches to building a budget and setting up a team, this allows you insight into that.
Finalize Your Plan
At this point, you have taken in all available knowledge and run through various strategy scenarios. Again, we know that the best-laid plans never come to fruition, but we can certainly try and you have to start from somewhere.
After all of the preparation plans that we just detailed, be prepared to toss them out the window once the first player is won at auction. You need to have done research and a path to follow at the onset, but don’t be paralyzed by it either. Trust your research and preparation while taking what the auction gives you. No matter what, no two auctions will ever be the same.
For more of the great fantasy baseball rankings and analysis you’ve come to expect from FantraxHQ, check out our full 2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit! We’re here for you all the way up until Opening Day and then on into your championship run.