Auction Strategies from Jake

Updated: August 8th 2022

Welcome to my off-season series, but today we are going to take a step away from the focus on IDP and take a more macro approach to one of the core tenants of Reality Sports Online’s fantasy platform. This is the Free Agency period (auction draft w/ contracts). For those who have completed one (or multiple) you understand how exciting and satisfying of an experience it is. However, I want to help you not just have a blast (which you will!) but go over some thought exercises to help you find the highest level of success for you and your teams.

When finding success, it breaks down to pre-draft preparation and draft mental preparedness. Before you even step into the Free Agency room, there is a handful of things we should break down:

  • Know your league and its settings, I can’t stress this one enough and I know I have said it multiple times prior to this as well (yes, it is that important)
    • Starters, bench, extensions, the franchise tag
  • Know where you want to go with your roster but also know (or estimate) where your league mates want to go with their roster
  • Build your free agency pool of players into tiers, and throw ADP out the window! (Not entirely, it has some value, but it shouldn’t be your guiding light)
  • Understand NFL players’ contract situations and age cliffs for positions

Alright, once we have covered all these things about how to prepare for the draft, we can jump into what we want or need to do while we are in the middle of the draft:

  • Pay attention to your tiers and who is left in them
  • Watch what positions your league-mates are bidding heavily on
  • Know your limits for players and positions and be aggressive pursuing them
  • There is most certainly a mental aspect to this, be ready

Time to dig into these thoughts a little bit more!

KNOW YOUR LEAGUE SETTINGS
This is straightforward, but make sure you consider scoring for each individual position. Once you understand the scoring potential of that position, it will allow you to know its replaceability. This is most apparent and easily understood when you look at a Super-Flex style league versus a 1-QB league. The ability to replace the position is much more difficult now because everyone is trying to roster 2-3 QBs minimum. This idea is the same across all your positions and roster.

Make sure you know what your contract offerings look like! I have missed out on using a 4-year contract before… it sucks! Same for extensions and franchise tags, knowing you have these in your back pocket means you can possibly keep that critical piece of your roster or that unsuspecting breakout. As much as you don’t like to count on the unknown, you will most likely have a piece on your roster that outperforms expectations, and knowing you have the means to control is key to building the rest of your roster.

KNOW YOUR ROSTER, AND YOUR LEAGUE MATES’

You need to understand the expectations of your roster going into the draft. I am sure it is safe to assume you made the best moves leading into the draft, but now is the time to make your big moves. And to make sure you make the best possible moves; know who will be available for your free agency. You do get a finalized few of the available free agents 72 hours prior to the start of your RSO auction draft. But you can start taking a look at that ahead of time to prepare better. Developing this list of available players will help you in your preparation for these players. Whether that is listening for these players on your favorite podcasts or following your top analysts on Twitter. Additionally, you want to try and highlight the positions that your fellow GM’s might target. It is obviously only a best estimate but having a grasp of where you think your opponents will go gives you a gauge on how aggressive you might need to be.

BUILD YOUR TIERS

Now that you know your roster and that of your league mates, let’s build that player pool into tiers. My recommendation is that you have your tiers broken down into what you deem equal levels of performance. So in my main league this off-season, Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, and Christian McCaffery are all available during the free agent auction. For me, these are the top tier, the players who can put together week-changing performances and I would be happy to put them out there as my RB1 week-in and week-out. From there, moved into the next tier of running backs and for me, those were the ones I have a current comfort with them be a starter every week, but they become more consistent floor plays and my roster would need to produce points at other positions. And I worked through this process for all positions of need to build out my tiers.

NFL PLAYER CONTRACTS AND AGE CLIFFS

This one is more subjective but is an exercise I still have found helpful. Knowing an NFL player’s contract situation helps you understand how long you may want to commit to their situation or if you want to roll the dice on a change of scenery. Let’s take a look at two WR’s from Kansas City and assume they are available in your league for free agency. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Juju Smith-Schuster. MVS just signed a 3 year contract in an offense that has stability at QB and head coach. Looking at his specific contract, there seems to be an easy out in year 3 and possibly year 2. He is currently 28 years old and that 1-2 year window takes him right into his age cliff for a mediocre performer such as himself. But perhaps the 1-2 year window in this offense is worth it? (Everything’s always worth it, at the right cost) Juju on the other hand, has a 1-year contract but is going into his age-26 season. He is entering his prime for his WR career and has proven successful before this year. However, where he is beyond this season is a large variable. Again, there is no specific analytical data here to point one way or another, but just a good thought exercise to run through on your player pool as well.

IN-DRAFT STRATEGIES

I mentioned several things in the intro and they all circle around mental awareness and preparedness, and if you took the steps above already, you are more than likely ready to go for the most part. But just as a quick rundown, here they are:

  • If you created your tiers, understand when you are near or at your last person in that tier, especially if you haven’t gotten anyone from it and your roster makeup calls for someone in that tier.
  • Watch your league mates bidding patterns, they will tell more and more about their strategies if you pay attention to it. Are they nominating positions they need or are they nominating throw-aways? If they are putting up players they have no interest in, they may be trying to draw out other teams spent money so they can find value later.
  • Know your financial limits for your tiers and be aggressive in pushing for them. Once these contracts are signed, the only way you are getting these players is through trades and you have limited control there. During free agency in the auction draft, you have much more control.
  • And if you read all of this, you should hopefully have sharpened your mental acuity to succeed in your next and all upcoming RSO free agency auction drafts!

Thanks for the read and best of luck to you in your Reality Sports Online leagues this year! And as always, if you want to reach out for any discussions or comments, you can find me on Twitter @JakeKohlhagen.

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