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10 tips to follow in your 2021 fantasy football auction draft

Cardinals' Kyler Murray (1) scrambles away from Bills' Justin Zimmer (61) during the first half at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. on Nov. 15, 2020. Buffalo Bills Vs Arizona Cardinals

Whereas snake fantasy football draft formats lend themselves to your top targets getting sniped mere picks before you're on the clock, auction drafts provide an added level of nuance.

There is simply more control and ability to make decisions, which increases the potential edges, especially in home leagues. Auctions involve fantasy drafters using a set budget to bid on players rather than going in order. These formats come in all shapes and sizes, so let’s start with the basics before hitting on 10 fantasy football commandments for 2021.

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Auctions are particularly enticing because of their flexibility, as they are customizable to every extent. Instead of filling out rosters in a set order, a participant is assigned a salary cap (budget) and must fill out a fantasy roster by allocating dollars to desired players. A player is first nominated to be bid on, and then drafters choose how much they want to spend to acquire that player.

Within this structure, despite differences in league settings, we can develop a heuristic list of commandments that should set us up for sustained success throughout the rest of the fantasy season. 

1. Do understand how game theory plays an added role in auction settings

This can be boiled down to “understand your leaguemates and some of the directions they are trying to go.” Do certain people bid on almost every player? Do others bid only when they actually want a player? Having a framework for evaluating what others are trying to do can help guide decision-making as an auction draft progresses.

The longer the league has been in existence, the easier it is to utilize things that others may not have noticed. This can be as simple as understanding that certain leagues have hometown biases for players. Nominating players early who others spend frivolously on can lead to favorable opportunities later in the draft.

If historical auction data is available from this specific league, go back and compare how individual league participants allocated their budgets. See if certain positions are over- or undervalued based on expected value versus what they actually went for. 

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