Fantasy Hockey: Auction Draft Strategies

An auction draft is different than a typical fantasy draft, so it's crucial to get an understanding of how it works before selecting players using this format.

About the Auction Draft

A typical fantasy hockey draft would see league members take turns selecting players one-by-one to build their roster. In an auction draft format, it works a bit differently. Auction drafts allow you to buy -- in virtual dollars -- any player you want, provided you have the money. You don't have to wait for your turn if you wish to draft a player you have your eyes on. Each person is given a predetermined budget and players are nominated for bidding in a certain order. Somebody then sets an opening bid for a player and league members can increase the bid until no other person is willing to increase it. Once a bid has been made and nobody is willing to increase it, a countdown will typically occur "Going once…twice… and sold!" with the process restarting afterwards with a new nomination. This will continue until everyone has filled their roster and nobody has exceeded their budget while doing so.

Preparing for the Auction Draft

Preparation is very important when entering the auction draft. You should create a cheat sheet that lists all the players you think will be sold during the auction draft. You'll also want to research average auction values and note which players will likely be set at what price. If you can create a budget and designate how much you are looking to pay for players at each position, you'll remain organized and unlikely to overpay in the heat of the moment. Do some mock drafts to determine how high players are being ranked and what the bidding prices are being set at. The more research you put in, the easier it is to create a budget and allot dollar values for each spot on your roster. Things can change quickly during an auction draft, but being prepared with a budget and a list of players you wish to select can go a long way in determining success.

Nominating Players for Bidding

It might seem like common sense to nominate a player for bidding who you wish to select for your roster. This isn't a very smart strategy, however, as the players you want on your team may not be nominated until late in the auction when most members of the league are short on money. If you have your eye on a player who isn't a Connor McDavid or Sidney Crosby type, there's no reason to nominate him early on as people will realize you want him and will force you to bid much more than you should. Patience is key, as players become cheaper the later they are nominated. If you know the other league members well, you can use it to your advantage by nominating players you know they want and force them to overspend. Keep track of who everyone has selected and which positions they need and nominate accordingly. Forcing league members to bid on positions they know they need to occupy can help leave you with funds for the players you want later down the road.

The Bidding Process

When making a bid on a player, there's a lot to take into consideration. There will likely be a point where you have to make a call on whether or not a particular player is really worth it. This is where preparation and adjusting on the fly really comes in handy. Pay attention to the trends of the auction draft and how much certain players are going for. If you feel it's in your budget to overspend on a player you really wish to add to your roster, make the call. Driving up the price on players you don't want on your team is a good strategy to put other people in tough spots. It can be an emotional roller coaster, so don't get too concerned if you get outbid early on, as the numbers will eventually balance out in your favor. It's easy to get angry when things don't go your way, so be careful not to overpay for players out of frustration. Mock drafts and researching past auction drafts can be really beneficial for determining the value of players and how much you should allot for the guys you want.

Drafting a Cornerstone

One strategy that's popular among fantasy goers is spending a significant portion of your budget on an elite player to build your team around. If there are one or two players who you feel you absolutely must have, it could be worth it to overspend. This strategy works because it guarantees you an elite fantasy producer while leaving you room for bargains that will emerge later in the auction. There always seems to be big names left at the end of auction drafts, so being patient after selecting one of the best players is a good practice. This strategy is effective because it prevents you from overpaying for sleeper picks later on. If you drop your money on a couple big-name players, not only will you get guaranteed production, but you will be forced to be more conservative and won't have extra money left over to overpay players who simply aren't worth it.

The Balanced Approach

While drafting an anchor for your team is a smart strategy, it's never a bad idea to build a well-balanced team and not overpay for one or two very good players. If you want to be sufficient in all positions and have a well-rounded squad, being conservative and passing on players you want can end up paying off. Every year there are injuries to elite players, so maybe it's not the right call to blow 30 percent of your budget on someone like Connor McDavid. If he goes out for an extended period of time, a league member who drafted well for all positions would be thriving while you feel the consequences. This isn't a hard strategy to follow out, as you want to stick to a pre-made budget plan and adjust on the fly as the draft progresses. If you stay rational and don't go out of your way to land certain players, you'll always have the money to select a decent player at a good price.

Brady Trettenero
Brady is a passionate hockey fan and sports writer with over five years experience specializing in digital media, plus a degree in Broadcast Journalism. He's been writing for RotoWire since 2013.
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