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Draft vs. Auctions
Written by Casey Gaetano

There are two ways to select a fantasy baseball team—drafts and auctions.  While you could, technically, allow the pre-rankings of fantasy websites to automatically conduct this process, playing fantasy baseball without actually picking your team is equivalent to playing drinking games without beer: Not Fun.  Consequently, you should plan to select your team “live”, though the two methods of doing so differ considerably.  

Drafts operate in a snake-like fashion, such that the team that picks first will then pick last in the second round, first in the third round, and so forth, until each team has a full roster.  In a typical auction, however, each team starts with $260 to fill a 25-man squad.  Teams take turns nominating players, each of whom can be bought at any price, provided no other team is willing to bid higher, and the winning bidder still has enough money to spend $1 per player to complete his (or her!) roster.

In general, drafts place far greater constraints upon teams than do auctions.  Each team usually gets an even balance of top-, middle-, and lower-tier players, and no team could ever draft both Albert Pujols AND Hanley Ramirez.  As such, the astute drafter should always select the most valuable player available (not necessarily the best), especially in the early and middle rounds.  Here’s why: Bobby has the 2nd pick, Hanley Ramirez went first, and Bobby believes that Mark Teixeira (AVG ESPN PICK: 12) will have an incredible year—better than consensus second pick Albert Pujols.  Clearly, Teixeira won’t be around at #19 in a 10-person draft, so should Bobby pick him now?  Absolutely Not.  Much like NBA teams do in their annual draft (1998: Dallas trades #6 Robert “Tractor” Traylor to Milwaukee for #10 Dirk Nowitski + #19 Pat Garrity), Bobby should draft the player with higher value (Pujols) and then trade for his mancrush (Teixeira), as well as another piece.  

Auctions differ greatly from drafts.  While the basic premise is the same (accumulate a 25-man squad, get a good team…), many restraints are lifted.  In theory, a team could select H. Ramirez, Pujols, Sizemore, Wright, Reyes, and Lincecum at $40 each and fill the roster out with $1 players.  Or, noticing that the top players are going for too much, you could wait and scoop up several undervalued second-tier players.  As far as nominations go, my favorite tactic is to nominate highly-regarded prospects (see: Clayton Kershaw). Early in auctions, these players are often overvalued, and superfluous spending by my opponents can only help me.  Just remember: the action in auctions is fast and furious—for 3 straight hours.  Stay patient, don’t splurge on unwanted players, and spend all your money.

In sum, drafts and auctions are all about value.  By grabbing undervalued players, making solid trades, and working waivers, you’ll always have a chance.  Drafts and auctions can be the most exciting part of the fantasy season, but you can still win your league without keeping a single member of your original squad.
Last Updated ( Monday, 16 March 2009 17:56 )