Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

18 Jul 2010

Auction strategy

Apparently players auction values change as the draft goes on but I dont understand how? I suppose if a player went well above his "true" price everyone elses value would go down because the pool of available money is lessened? But would the other players sharing the same position experiance a price increase because the number of available players at that position is now less than before?

Posted by: Maximum on 18 Jul 2010

3 replies , Last at 25 Aug 2010, 8:58pm by parttimemovieguy

Re: Auction strategy
by cisforcookie (not verified) :: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 11:09am

The reason why player prices change throughout an auction is a combination of signaling, scarcity, demand shifts, and auction tactics.

People get caught up in bidding frenzies because they think certain players or positions are being bid hard. If you don't bid you'll miss out. It's natural and common for psychology to play a decent role. I find that bidding frenzies occur most often when high-end players go early. We once had LT go for 46 dollars in a 100 dollar league.

At the same time, you'll frequently see tactics such as driving up the price on another owner because you know he covets a given player more than everyone else. This behavior varies depending on how much cash people have free and how vulnerable they are positionally to being accidentally "stuck" with a player they were only trying to raise the price on but have limited use for. I once ended up paying WAY too much for larry johnson in the year when he totally fell apart because I wanted to drive up the price on another guy. It was early in the auction, and I had cash to burn, so I wasn't as worried as I should hav ebeen about possibly being stuck with LJ.

There is a big scarcity issue that starts to occur around the middle of any auction when the elite players are usually gone and people are picking from among the good but not great players. People will often overpay heavily in this point because they like or dislike certain remaining players and don't want to be "stuck" taking a player they view as a likely bust. This is especially common with RBs and, in deeper leagues, QBs because of how quickly the talent level falls off at those positions. I don't think i've ever seen a real run on receivers in a league where people knew what they were doing.

Probably the biggest reason of all though is the extent to which demand for non-elite players drops severely after the first say third of an auction. Once rosters start filling up, people start to sit back and wait on players because they don't feel the need to get in on action for positions they might not need. Once people have a few stars, they go looking for bargains almost immediately, and a lot of mid-range guys, especially potential high performers with question marks, will go for not much money. One year we had a guy miss the auction for some reason, and as a group we basically bid for him. So this meant that the guy's team was fairly quiet near the beginning, but after that we basically used his team to bid up good but not great players who were going for less than we thought they should have. Result: he had the best team in the league that year.

My general experience is that the price of elite players rises slowly over the first 1/3rd of an auction, with occasional bouts of insanity. Any elite player still around after the first 1/3rd can be certain to go for a lot. By comparison, non-elite players tend to see their prices fall rapidly over the first 1/3rd of the auction, then swell towards the last 1/3rd or so when people are picking from among scraps.

Re: Auction strategy
by galactic_dev :: Sun, 08/22/2010 - 11:57pm

Thanks for the insight. We're doing our first auction draft (standard $200), and I've been trying to get a plan going.

I've identified my favorite anticipated bargains in every position, and then seen how much I have left over to bid on overpriced elite players. Anyone have better advice?

Re: Auction strategy
by parttimemovieguy :: Wed, 08/25/2010 - 8:58pm

Assuming this is everyone's first auction draft (and you're the only FO reader), my advice is to be the calmest dude in town. Everyone else will react knee-jerk style like the previous poster mentioned because this is there first time and it's a whole different animal when numbers are flying around. Go for the bargain players that KUBIAK likes that mainstream doesn't like. In our first year, by the time everyone had 10 players on their rosters, I still only had one. I was easily able to outbid unvalued/unknown players in the second half. That strategy (and luck) gave me my single championship.

Make sure you have solid backup plans for your desired players. For example, if you love Mendenhall, have Steven Jackson as your backup plan if someone else is also drinking the KUBIAK koolaid.

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