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Do You Have To Spend It All?

This was the email I received today from a friend. He and I have played in home leagues together for quite some time now, and I've always found him a challenge to draft against because he is tough to read. He also ends up taking a lot my reserve targets in that part of the draft each year!

He had a question for me about spending in a keeper auction:

Everything I read says it is important to spend your entire budget at the draft. What I don't understand is why.

I don't dispute the notion it's just that I have a hard time reconciling bargains or under value pickups with over spending just so you can use all your money. More than once I've left money on the table and been the subject of ridicule so that I feel I've lost before the first game has been played. However I should point out that recently I won a league without spending my entire budget.

Does the dynamics of keeper league's affect this at all. When is over spending for the sole purpose of spending your budget okay? For example If I have have a Cabrera valued at $50 and the bidding goes to $60, should I keep bidding because I have the budget it for it or should I look for something elsewhere? I am not as adept as a lot of players in fantasy but growing up around New York City poolrooms thought me that you have to pay to learn so I don't mind paying and losing. As long as I am learning.

This is one concept I can't get my mind around and would really appreciate any help you might be willing to offer. I enjoy the game and would just like to be more competitive, make less mistakes etc.

There are some excellent questions here. Let's look at each one separately.

Why do I have to spend all of my money? In a reset league, the simple answer is that you cannot take that money home with you. Bargains at the draft are always great, but if your team is completely full of bargains and you still have some money left over at the end of a reset league, you either have an issue with the dollar values you are utilizing, or the rest of your league mates do. If you end a draft with a few bucks left over, it is one thing. If you get to your final three slots with $30-$60 left over, which I witness happen twice in Tout Wars this weekend, you have an imperfect storm of poor execution and issues with your dollar values.

Does the dynamics of a keeper league affect this at all? Absolutely, it does. Keeper leagues present inflation, which makes all standard published dollar values the starting point for research rather than the final answer. You have to get your keeper lists, and then see how much value out of the talent pool is being protected in order to know how much to inflate the dollar values of the players available. In a keeper league, you buy what fits your plan. If your plan is a two to three year plan, buy accordingly. Last season in a league he and I play together in, I had a rather poor keeper list and I quickly figured out once the guys I really wanted were going several dollars over my projections, I punted the season at the draft.

For example, I wanted Matt Kemp at $45. He went $51. The first five guys I wanted each went at least $6 more than I had projected. I decided to let people spend their money and then bought mid-tier guys for the sole purpose of trading for better keepers. I ended up trading for Billy Hamilton, Gregory Polanco, Archie Bradley, and Eddie Butler in this league while also landing Anthony Rendon, Andrelton Simmons, and a somewhat cheap Hanley Ramirez. It put my keeper list for 2014 in much better shape and rather than chasing multiple numbers, I was able to chase a more narrowed skill set in my most recent auction.

When is over spending for the sole purpose of spending your budget okay?
This is never OK in a keeper league. You are buying a player for multiple years, so there is no reason to throw a lot of money on your final players simply because you have it. If you walk away from a keeper league auction with money on the table and you have hit your categorical targets that you wanted to hit, job well done. If you fell short, and left money on the table, you can play the couldawouldashoulda game and figure out who  you may have landed had you gone the extra dollar or three. In a reset league, this depends on the rules. Early in an auction, if you have Cabrera at $50 on your sheet and are also the high money man by $10 or more dollars, you do not need to give up the high ground simply because you have the advantage. You can, and let people drive you up or stick them with the player, or you can wait and buy two $30 players later when others will be powerless to stop you.

You are not fooling anyone if you throw down your final $15 on a second catcher or a middle reliever because you had the money. The critics are still going to find issues with your roster. In Tout Wars, we have rules that allow you to reclaim a player's auction salary in FAAB dollars. Yesterday, a Tout Wars owner dropped $61 on Brandon Beachy to salvage his draft and will get to reclaim that as FAAB giving him 60|PERCENT| more FAAB dollars to play with throughout the season. He can trade that money, or he can spend that money to help improve the holes in his team. Outside of those two reasons, if you are the high money owner on the board two-thirds of the way through a reset auction, ignore your dollar values and buy the players that you most need to get as close to your categorical benchmarks as possible.

In the end, auctions all come down to being confident in your dollar values and not letting others muscle you around. Keeper auctions are three year plans and dollars saved in year one are dollars earned when you get to that third year and have to decide whether or not to extend that player. If you threw $15 down on Glen Perkins three years ago because you liked him as a middle reliever and did not want to be ridiculed for leaving money on the table, you would likely be letting him walk after this season rather than extending his contract.

It is your team, it is your auction dollars, and it is your real dollars you are paying to play in the league. Be diligent with the fake money and the real money will come sooner rather than later.