Auction League Analysis

13 min read

Earlier this week, Jay, Tony, and I took part in Kyle McKeown’s 12 Team 8 Cat Auction Industry Redraft League. There were a bunch of awesome Fantasy Basketball guys in the mix, so I knew things could get interesting. Let’s take some time to discuss auctions and then breakdown the draft.

Auction Primer

For those of you that have not participated in an auction draft before, know that it is a completely different beast from snake drafts. Each team starts with a set amount of auction money and instead of taking turns picking, they take turns nominating players for auction. There is a level of strategy in nominating, bidding, and flexibility in team building that definitely adds a unique angle when starting a league. If there is a player you want, that hopefully fits your strategy, you can go out and get him…you just have to pay more than anyone else can or will. Part of the added fun of auctions is that anyone can draft any player, which means no waiting for your turn. You’re potentially in the action for every nomination.

Punting strategies can be formed and actually built correctly in auction drafts as you have significantly more control over who you draft. Besides reviewing estimated prices on different sites, it’s difficult to fully prepare for auctions, as each one is its own unique living beast. It’s best to just jump in your first time and see how it goes.

As mentioned above, auctions really vary quite a lot. Add in the differences due to league settings, league size, and level of knowledge from your league mates, and you have to be able to adjust and be flexible. Different valuations and strategies can lead to value steals or bidding wars, as opposed to getting “sniped”. With that, there are still some common themes and trends you may witness in a variety of auction drafts.

  • The draft is front-loaded with nominations of elite players. You’re normally going to see guys like Anthony Davis and James Harden get nominated early on.
  • Player values can actually fluctuate throughout the draft as the money starts disappearing. You can start getting some nice deals midway through the draft.
  • Mistakes will be made and regrets will be had and much easier than in snake drafts. 
  • While it may feel like a marathon, the default auction can move deceptively quickly. 

Auction Tips

  • Tip #1: Nominate players you’re not interested in to help draw money out from your opponents. This will help you later on for the players you actually want.
  • Tip #2: Be sure to price enforce, especially early on. You don’t want opponents to get ridiculous values. Hopefully, this is a collective league effort, but note that you may sometimes need to be the lone voice of enforcement. Be cautious so you don’t end up with an unwanted player and always keep the amount under your perceived value.
  • Tip #3: Budget throughout. You should be constantly doing the math in regards to how much money you have remaining along with how many spots you need to fill.
  • Tip #4: Keep an eye on the other teams’ funds. Knowing how much of an advantage or disadvantage you’re in at any moment can help you make smarter decisions for your team. If a team has only $7 left to fill 5 spots, they’re not going to be in the mix for any non-back-end players.
  • Tip #5: Try to have a few dollars remaining per spot for your last few players. This will give you an edge to round out your team the way you want.
  • Tip #6: Don’t get overly swept up in the excitement of the auction. Feeling that rush when you bid is nice until you blow ¼ of your budget on a player that doesn’t make sense on your roster.

Breaking Down This League

Overall, this was definitely a weird draft (this was the consensus feeling amongst the league), probably due to some similar “advanced” strategies, along with knowledgeable GMs. 

Due to some of the shared strategies and lack of consistent price enforcement, there were values all over the place. We witnessed some early steals as GMs adjusted to the quick action of the auction and many looked to be sitting back and waiting. As a result of these lower prices on the super-elite, the next few tiers of players that would fill out the rest of the 1st and 2nd rounds were inversely elevated in price. Things seem to have evened out as expected towards the end of the draft, with a few nice $1 value picks.

A few personal general notes and observations:

  • After a summer with a bunch of 30 team drafts, it took some serious adjusting to shift back into the mindset of a standard 12 team league.
  • This was also my first redraft draft this season, so I had to repeatedly remind myself that it was ok to roster the old men.
  • 8 Category – no turnovers, which elevates the value of guards. Players like Harden, Westbrook, Giannis, Booker, and Embiid in particular benefit strongly.
  • I approached the auction with my usual strategy of waiting past the initial star players, hoping to scoop up the typically mid-round players at a tasty discount. Unfortunately, this was a popular approach.
  • Note the concentration of players in our auction going for $20 or under past pick 60 in the chart below. This represented a ton of value for the patient GM. 
  • All of the teams look pretty good, which is no surprise, considering who is involved.

Nice Values aka REASONABLE

These were the mid-level to elite guys that I thought provided nice value for what they cost in the auction.

  • Anthony Davis ($63) – benefited from being the first player nominated
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo ($66) – REASONABLE
  • James Harden ($72) – most expensive player but could more than justify the price, especially with removing his only real negative (turnovers)
  • Mike Conley ($22) – great price for someone with a shot at top 25.
  • Devin Booker ($40) – also benefits from the 8 cat format, could take the next step this season
  • Kyrie Irving ($35) – Should put up elite numbers and be in the mix for top 10 value
  • Thomas Bryant ($16) – kind of slipped past the league and could post top 60 value on a weak Wizards squad
  • Joel Embiid ($50) – is the center that benefits the most in an 8 cat league, he just needs to stay healthy for a shot at top 6 production
  • Zach LaVine ($20) – will battle Markkanen for the main scorer in Chicago, could be top 30 in 8 Cat
  • Danillo Gallinari ($12) – will be forced into high usage, and should easily outplay this price

Questionable Bids

There weren’t many bids that couldn’t be justified, but if I have to nitpick, here are a few, due to price, that I wasn’t a big fan of.

  • Luka Doncic ($46) – seems like there was some hype inflation, should still excel in this league, but the unknowns and efficiency concerns may make this a regretful pick
  • Draymond Green ($27) – should increase usage, but may not match the price
  • Bam Adebayo ($25) – this was my regret, I got a little caught up in the action, should post top 60, but I was paying for his ceiling
  • Khris Middleton ($25) – the last expensive pick, lack of upside makes this pick not the best value
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($23) – should have a big role in OKC, but will have a tough time matching this price, like Luka, the hype raised the price
  • Klay Thompson ($3) – in a redraft league, there’s little point to drafting Klay, let alone use $3 on him

Favorite Fliers

These were the cheap guys selected at the end of the auction that I thought offered either nice value or was a solid roll of the dice.

  • Jerami Grant ($1) – a total steal who should easily post top 100 value
  • Javale McGee ($2) – will have a big role in LA, and is a great source of blocks
  • Joe Ingles ($2) – does a little bit of everything and should find himself in the top 100
  • Markelle Fultz ($2) – the upside is worth the shot
  • Danny Green ($1) – boring but should provide 3’s and steals
  • Rui Hachimura ($1) – I’m not a believer, but the opportunity is definitely there
  • OG Anunoby ($1) – last season was an off-year for a number of reasons, Toronto will need him to take the next step
  • Brandon Ingram ($1) – if you need points, he should be able to provide
  • Evan Fournier ($1) – his scoring with some 3’s and assists are nice to grab late

Check out each team, tweet at us, let us know what you think, and roll your eyes at the custom haiku for each.

Alex Rikleen

Rotowire | @Rikleen

Five Centers, but why?
Your punt assist build is strong.
Bryant and Rui

PickPlayerCost
9Andre Drummond(Det – PF,C)$46
25Jimmy Butler(Mia – SG,SF)$42
90Khris Middleton(Mil – SG,SF)$25
11Mike Conley(Uta – PG)$22
36Brook Lopez(Mil – C)$20
39Thomas Bryant(Was – C)$16
65Malcolm Brogdon(Ind – PG,SG)$12
84Hassan Whiteside(Por – C)$7
89Larry Nance Jr.(Cle – PF,C)$5
108Rudy Gay(SA – SF,PF)$1
119Derrick Rose(Det – PG)$1
129JJ Redick(NO – SG)$1
137Rui Hachimura(Was – PF)$1

Andre Snelling

ESPN | @ProfessorDrz

Excellent Big 4
Hopefully, Ball is a beast
Smart was a smart pick

PickPlayerCost
17Nikola Jokic(Den – PF,C)$63
35Bradley Beal(Was – SG)$48
34Paul George(LAC – SF,PF)$38
31Pascal Siakam(Tor – PF)$27
73Lonzo Ball(NO – PG)$8
114Marcus Smart(Bos – PG,SG)$3
134Brandon Clarke(Mem – PF)$3
140RJ Barrett(NY – SF)$3
97DeAndre Jordan(Bkn – C)$1
120Dwight Howard(LAL – PF,C)$1
130Kyle Kuzma(LAL – SF,PF)$1
138Jarrett Culver(Min – SF)$1
144Dennis Schroder(OKC – PG)$1

Erik Ong

Hoop-Ball | @FantasyHoopla

4 Bigs at the top
Could be KAT’s greatest season
Yo Bogdanovic

PickPlayerCost
2Karl-Anthony Towns(Min – C)$71
38Nikola Vucevic(Orl – PF,C)$38
46Myles Turner(Ind – PF,C)$37
43Deandre Ayton(Pho – C)$33
92Delon Wright(Dal – PG,SG)$8
48Dwight Powell(Dal – PF,C)$3
112Spencer Dinwiddie(Bkn – PG)$2
143Bojan Bogdanovic(Uta – SG,SF)$2
122Taurean Prince(Bkn – SF)$1
131Darius Garland(Cle – PG)$1
139Terrence Ross(Orl – SG,SF)$1
145Jerami Grant(Den – SF,PF)$1
150Landry Shamet(LAC – PG)$1

J.J. Calle

Action Network | @jjcallejr

Wow Steph and Emiid
Gallo should exceed this price
No dollar players

PickPlayerCost
12Stephen Curry(GS – PG,SG)$62
29Joel Embiid(Phi – PF,C)$50
44Otto Porter Jr.(Chi – SF,PF)$17
16LaMarcus Aldridge(SA – PF,C)$16
83Danilo Gallinari(OKC – SF,PF)$12
75Jayson Tatum(Bos – SF,PF)$10
77Marc Gasol(Tor – C)$7
121Derrick White(SA – PG,SG)$6
123Tomas Satoransky(Chi – PG,SG)$6
116Gary Harris(Den – SG,SF)$5
91De’Andre Hunter(Atl – SF)$3
106Jeremy Lamb(Ind – SG,SF)$3
118Mikal Bridges(Pho – SG,SF)$3

Jay Taaffe

Fantasy Unicorns | @fantasyNBAlayup

Giannis for cheap
Don’t need no stinkin’ free throws
Ingles was sneaky

PickPlayerCost
4Giannis Antetokounmpo(Mil – SF,PF)$66
22LeBron James(LAL – SF,PF)$48
47Jrue Holiday(NO – PG,SG)$38
58Clint Capela(Hou – PF,C)$20
52Derrick Favors(NO – PF,C)$16
101JaVale McGee(LAL – C)$2
111Patrick Beverley(LAC – PG,SG)$2
117Joe Ingles(Uta – SG,SF)$2
127Davis Bertans(Was – PF,C)$2
133Danny Green(LAL – SG,SF)$1
141Joe Harris(Bkn – SG,SF)$1
147Cam Reddish(Atl – PG)$1
152OG Anunoby(Tor – SF,PF)$1

Jordan Schultz

Hashtag Basketball | @dynoNBA

Gobert and Tre odd couple
He’ll have space to work waivers
This squad runs real deep

PickPlayerCost
6Kawhi Leonard(LAC – SG,SF)$48
19Trae Young(Atl – PG)$36
24Rudy Gobert(Uta – C)$33
54CJ McCollum(Por – PG,SG)$16
68Kelly Oubre Jr.(Pho – SF)$13
71Miles Bridges(Cha – SF)$11
76Josh Richardson(Phi – SG,SF)$11
82Marvin Bagley III(Sac – PF)$11
78Ja Morant(Mem – PG)$10
93Jaylen Brown(Bos – SG,SF)$2
102Dewayne Dedmon(Sac – C)$2
126Nicolas Batum(Cha – SG,SF)$2
128Justise Winslow(Mia – PF)$2

Kevin So

Fantasy Unicorns | @kevinso

Value at the end
Mid Price Bigs were fun to draft
Who needs those assists?

PickPlayerCost
18Devin Booker(Pho – PG,SG)$40
5John Collins(Atl – PF,C)$33
15Bam Adebayo(Mia – PF,C)$25
27Jaren Jackson Jr.(Mem – PF,C)$24
50Buddy Hield(Sac – SG)$19
56Jamal Murray(Den – PG,SG)$19
88Caris LeVert(Bkn – SG,SF)$9
67Kevin Huerter(Atl – SG)$7
86Aaron Gordon(Orl – SF,PF)$7
95Fred VanVleet(Tor – PG)$6
110Zach Collins(Por – PF,C)$4
107T.J. Warren(Ind – SF,PF)$3
99Kent Bazemore(Por – SG,SF)$2

Marc Roberts

Hashtag Basketball | @MarcFRoberts

Marc spent big early
Let’s forget free-throw percent
Could Wiggo Step Up?

PickPlayerCost
37Ben Simmons(Phi – PG)$41
21Russell Westbrook(Hou – PG)$39
10Zion Williamson(NO – PF)$31
33Donovan Mitchell(Uta – PG,SG)$30
30De’Aaron Fox(Sac – PG)$28
28Robert Covington(Min – SF,PF)$20
45Andrew Wiggins(Min – SG,SF)$5
69Kelly Olynyk(Mia – PF,C)$1
81P.J. Tucker(Hou – SF,PF)$1
105Paul Millsap(Den – PF,C)$1
136Kevon Looney(GS – PF,C)$1
149Thaddeus Young(Chi – SF,PF)$1
154Nerlens Noel(OKC – PF,C)$1

Mike Apotria

Hoop-Ball | @MikeApotria

1st pick was a steal
Scoring won’t be a problem
Why did you draft Klay?

PickPlayerCost
1Anthony Davis(LAL – PF,C)$63
32Kyrie Irving(Bkn – PG,SG)$35
42D’Angelo Russell(GS – PG,SG)$30
51Kevin Love(Cle – PF,C)$21
41Lauri Markkanen(Chi – PF)$19
66Jonas Valanciunas(Mem – C)$14
80Dejounte Murray(SA – PG)$5
125Goran Dragic(Mia – PG,SG)$4
96Klay Thompson(GS – SG,SF)$3
132Serge Ibaka(Tor – PF,C)$3
146Dennis Smith Jr.(NY – PG,SG)$1
151Isaiah Thomas(Was – PG)$1
155Evan Fournier(Orl – SG,SF)$1

Kyle McKeown

Basketball Monster | @RotoKyleNBA

Kyle was patient
He gobbled up the mid rounds
Rozier a rare miss

PickPlayerCost
14Chris Paul(OKC – PG)$27
23Kristaps Porzingis(Dal – PF,C)$27
49Draymond Green(GS – PF,C)$27
26Terry Rozier(Cha – PG,SG)$23
60Blake Griffin(Det – PF,C)$20
61Zach LaVine(Chi – PG,SG)$20
63Wendell Carter Jr.(Chi – C)$15
72Gordon Hayward(Bos – SG,SF)$11
59Jonathan Isaac(Orl – SF,PF)$10
70Victor Oladipo(Ind – PG,SG)$10
87Domantas Sabonis(Ind – PF,C)$5
57Dario Saric(Pho – PF,C)$3
135Brandon Ingram(NO – SG,SF)$1

Tony Papadopoulos

Fantasy Unicorns | @whos_your_papa

Technical Troubles
Harden in 8 cat unfair
He might need a wing

PickPlayerCost
13James Harden(Hou – PG,SG)$72
20Kemba Walker(Bos – PG)$38
3Mitchell Robinson(NY – C)$24
53Shai Gilgeous-Alexander(OKC – PG,SG)$23
55Al Horford(Phi – PF,C)$17
64Julius Randle(NY – PF,C)$17
109Markelle Fultz(Orl – PG,SG)$2
103Al-Farouq Aminu(Orl – SF,PF)$1
115Cody Zeller(Cha – PF,C)$1
142Collin Sexton(Cle – PG)$1
148Willie Cauley-Stein(GS – PF,C)$1
153Bogdan Bogdanovic(Sac – SG,SF)$1
156Reggie Jackson(Det – PG,SG)$1

Tyler Watts

Hashtag Basketball | @tylerpwatts

Tyler knows point guards
Dame and Luka foundation
This team looks legit

PickPlayerCost
8Damian Lillard(Por – PG)$55
7Luka Doncic(Dal – PG)$44
62Tobias Harris(Phi – SF,PF)$21
40DeMar DeRozan(SA – SG,SF)$18
104Eric Bledsoe(Mil – PG,SG)$13
98Kyle Lowry(Tor – PG)$11
85Ricky Rubio(Pho – PG)$8
113Jeff Teague(Min – PG)$8
79Steven Adams(OKC – C)$6
94Montrezl Harrell(LAC – PF,C)$5
74Lou Williams(LAC – PG,SG)$4
100Enes Kanter(Bos – C)$4
124Jarrett Allen(Bkn – PF,C)$3