*wrote on my iPhone please forgive mistakes*
I walked into the house carrying a case of beer and 4 pizzas. Half of the guys where already there, but that was fine I still needed to set up anyway. This was the first time I had ever been in a live auction draft, let alone run one. The room fills up and I start to panic. I had done so much research on players; I totally forgot to set up the draft board. I'm stuck frantically making up an excel doc to record names and values. Everyone is getting a little antsy asking me questions about the rules as it was the beginning to our dynasty league. 30 min after the planned start time I'm finally ready. We all settle in and start nominating one at a time. First name comes up, "Stafford for $10" yells Ben (he's my cousin's new husband; he'll come up later). Crap. I've been keying on Stafford all offseason and now I'm gonna have to pay big time because everyone is loaded. It's quiet for about 10 seconds then it hits me: I have to run the Auction and bid. How in the hell am I gonna keep up. "Stafford for 10 Bens got Stafford at 10 10 10....Stafford for 11 I'm at 11 11 11...!" This goes back and forth between Ben and me for a while. Everyone else watches until I bid $26. It's quiet for awhile and I'm just blabbing on then it hits me "going once...going twice...SOLD!". I got my guy. Was this a good price? Based on the values I had read it was a little high but how can I tell for sure? The answer to that is simple. You can't. The next 3 players off the board are Harvin Murray and McCoy who go for $24,$33, and...$65!? Thats 32.5% of the budget and he still needed to pick up 15 more guys! Auctions take on a mind of their own and no one can predict the value of a player for your league. I ended up having a distinct advantage in the draft as I was so caught up in running the auction I missed out on guys I thought I needed. But my inadvertent patience paid off: I was able to pick up AJ Green and Dez Bryant for a total of...$74. Unreal. For those of you who don't have a calculator near by, that's $37 a piece. But there were deals like this everywhere but I couldn't figure out why. After we had finished I looked at the materials a lot of these guys were using to draft. Players values by the "experts" would differ by $5-$15. That made no sense. If we were all drinking from the same Kool Aid maybe players would have gone for reasonable values. The fact is we aren't.
We all do the same thing we research expert rankings/values, read news, and make a plan A & B. Sometimes that's good it all works but most of the time it's not gonna go the way you thought. However, after years of drafting, I've found there are 3 things that can give you the best chance at success.
1. Tiering: Ranking players gives the false impression that some players are above others in every league, when in reality all we know is that the potential of those players is higher. Remember that we compete on a week-to-week basis and getting top tier players to compete with your opposition top tier is absolutely necessary. There is no recipe for a draft. You read things like RB/RB or RB/WR are the way to go for the first two rounds. Not gonna work. Would you pass up on Aaron Rodgers or Jimmy Graham because the first 9 picks were RBs and you need to get an RB? Absolutely not. They are top Tier talents and you want them bad. So tier your players by position and get the top talents when you can even if it breaks the mold. Don't panic, you'll have a chance to fill those others spots with good value later if you stick tiered talents.
2. Patience: There is a fine line between knowing when to pull the trigger and when to sit back and wait. This applies to both auction and redraft leagues. If you find yourself in a situation where the bid is just blowing up or a run on QBs happens in round two, relax you know that there are plenty of guys that can be grabbed later because you tiered your players instead of ranked them 1-200. Don't reach just to fill spots because others are. This is especially true in auction. Bidding happens fast and furious and you can get caught up in the frenzy. If you can maintain control by saving yourself from buying early on mediocre picks you'll have all the cash and all the power when your in the mid rounds. Now you can get your guys.
3. Don't play Favorites: I played in 8 leagues last year and in 6 of them I picked Kyle Rudolph. I was such a believer I passed over Reggie Bush and other TEs that would clearly be better but I wanted him so badly because I had him else where. My worst fears were realized when he went down mid year. Crap. I lost 3 of the next 6 weeks in my main league. By a difference of 5 points or less and bush had three 150+ total yard games during that stretch. Bush was a much higher tier player but I was so so so so devoted to Rudolph and it cost me the playoffs. I think you guys get the point. Don't fall in love with any one player because love makes us do stupid things.
I get it. We all want to win and sometimes we think that there is one player out there that is going to push us over the top. But this is a weird sport. The ball never bounces the same way twice and I can guarantee that at some point you will regret one of your picks this year. Minimize risk and find top tier value, that's all we can do and hope that the ball bounces in our favor. Good luck with your draft.