Hello everyone, welcome back to my Fantasy Baseball Auction strategy series! If you haven’t already, I would recommend reading Part I here, and Part II here. Part II especially is the meat and potatoes when it comes to auction strategy, and should help anyone shorten that learning curve when it comes to the nuances of fantasy baseball auctions.
Here in Part III, we’re going to do a case study on the NFBC, my favorite platform to play fantasy baseball. They provide auction league options at a few different price points; we’ll explore the NFBC AAV pages and how they make planning for these auction leagues very easy. We’ll also touch on strategy when it comes to filling out your bench in these auction leagues; unlike other auction leagues, the bench is built entirely from a reserve, snake draft. We’ll take a look at which type of players are getting pushed up and pushed down (compared to snake draft ADP) this season.
Auction League Options with the NFBC
The NFBC has a variety of different leagues and contests to play in – for the sake of this article, we’re going to focus on auction league contests that have weekly FAAB (Free Agent Acquisition Budget) waiver wire pickups. There are also overall prizes available, as all teams from all eligible leagues are thrown into one big Roto standings table, and the highest placing teams win additional money. We will not be including the $125 and $500 Auction Draft Champions leagues. Draft Champions leagues are a draft and hold type of league, where there are no FAAB in-season pickups; what you draft is what you work with for the entire season. These rosters are much deeper (50 players) than the FAAB leagues we’re going to look at below, so the strategy with them is much different.
All auction league options with rules and prizes can be found here. These auction leagues are 15-team leagues. The Online Auction Championship consists of teams competing from all three tiers of buy-ins. The Auction Championship is a mixture of live and online leagues that are competing for their own overall prizes. Below is a table comparing the FAAB Auction League options:
These Auction championship contests offer an overall prize pool, as well as paying out the top 3 in each league. As you can see, increasing the buy-in level increases the amount of money that gets paid out for league prizes, so consider playing at slightly higher stakes if it’s within your bankroll to do so. While some may scoff at “rake” tied to NFBC contests, it’s important to remember that the NFBC is handling credit card fees, state licensing fees, full-time personnel, stats, software, and other added fees that other fantasy companies also deal with. The NFBC has a strong history, being transparent and reliable with their customers and paying out managers a few days after the baseball season ends. This year, they’ve introduced an updated FAAB system that allows you to copy FAAB lists to other leagues, saving managers lots of time. They are the best in the business and I have no problem spending up a few extra bucks for that type of security and peace of mind. I don’t think there’s a better place out there to play fantasy baseball.
Game-Planning for NFBC Auction Leagues
In Part I of this series, we talked about putting together auction dollar values to prepare our Game Plan for auction leagues. The NFBC has its own set of AAV (Average Auction Values) that you can toggle to if you change the “All Drafts (Non-Auction)” drop-down menu to “Average Auction Values”. You also can change the AAV data for a certain period by changing the From and To dates; it’s usually a good idea to narrow this scope a bit to the most recent auction drafts to account for Spring Training injuries and other news. Beside each player is their AAV, along with their min and max prices amongst the sample of auction drafts. It’s important to note if anyone player’s AAV is influenced by an absurdly high Max or low Min.
The NFBC makes developing our Game Plan a breeze with this data; we know the top 15 most expensive players from these leagues, as well as players 16-30, and so forth. I especially like the “ADP Board” button, which defines these 15 player tiers more clearly. Instead of projecting auction values for each player, we can see actual data from past drafts that have the same league settings as the auction league we are preparing for. Simply, there is no other data to better prepare ourselves with. If you went ahead and have your own projected values using the NFBC league settings, this would be the time to compare those values with AAV and begin to figure out those targets.
The NFBC AAV will also appear alongside the player in the NFBC auction draft software, so managers are likely to hover around this price when it comes to bidding on them. If you are willing to spend a few bucks more than the AAV for a particular player, you’re very likely to be that last bid standing at “Sold!” and rostering that player. A player’s AAV and their Max price are key pieces of info to consider if the player makes the cut on your Game Plan or not.
Player Valuation Comparison to Snake Drafts
NFBC Auction leagues are 15-team leagues that start 14 hitters and 9 pitchers, accompanied by 7 bench slots for a total of 30 roster spots; All of the auction money will be spent on the starting rosters only – 30 catchers, 135 pitchers, and so forth. We’re going to try to figure out what’s best to prioritize in these reserve rounds for the bench slots to help set us up for success. Let’s see how many players from each position are being drafted in the first 345 picks in NFBC Snake drafts and compare to the 23 starters from each of the 15 teams (345 players total) to be purchased in the auction.
I was really curious to see how many catchers had to be pushed up into the starter ADP range (top 23 rounds), but surprisingly the difference between snakes and auctions is smaller than I would have guessed. Approximately four more catchers are bumped up in auctions, at the cost of mostly infielders. Every auction is different, and it depends on how teams are filling up their UTIL slot; keep an eye on this towards the end of the auction to see which positions may have extra available players for the reserve rounds.
Next, I wanted to take a look at specific players who are going earlier in the auction, compared to their snake draft ADP. We don’t want to assume that if a player has an ADP outside of the top 345 players that they will be available to us in the reserve rounds. At the time of writing, there have only been 15 auctions that have taken place; most of them taking place before the lockout ended. I’m going to include any $1 players that have been purchased at least 8 times, and $2+ players that have been purchased in some Auctions. All of these players currently have an ADP that is much later than 345.
The names themselves are less important here; as we get closer and closer to the season, there will be more free-agent signings, trades, injuries, and spring training performances that will drastically impact the value of some players. It’s best to keep in mind the “types” of players being pushed up here, as the names may change by the time your auction kicks off.
These players can be lumped into a few different categories. We can expect that managers who purchased Loáisiga, Bender, Estévez (less so now that Alex Colome is in town), Steckenrider, and Green were speculating for some sources of Saves. Loáisiga and Green usually pitch multiple innings and can vulture some Wins as well. Towards the end of the auction, if you are noticing that some of your starting pitchers are not going to be starting in the first half-week in the NFBC (Friday-Sunday), it would be smart to roster an extra relief pitcher or two. Any extra strikeouts and chances at Wins are better than taking zeroes.
Tucker Barnhart, Jorge Alfaro, and Luis Torrens get the catcher bump that I alluded to earlier. Managers are looking for these guys to fill their second catcher spot for usually $1. I imagine Darin Ruf and Josh Harrison are as popular as they are due to the multi-position eligibility that they provide. Ruf was legit last season and worth plugging in whenever he was planning on starting; it’s kind of surprising how popular he is, despite having almost the latest ADP out of anyone in this group. Harrison provides three positions, which increases the likelihood of a manager having a vacant spot on their roster that Harrison can fill. Lorenzo Cain is also a tad more popular with the auction than the snake crowd; managers are looking at Cain as one of the last sources of full-time at-bats with likely double-digit stolen base potential.
Finally, let’s look at players getting pushed down in auction leagues compared to their snake counterparts. Of the 15 auctions, these players found themselves being taken in reserve rounds more often than you would think given their ADP is comfortably within the top-345.
These players are generally “blah” from a fantasy perspective, as not many excel in any one fantasy category. However, there are a few players in this group that I see myself targeting; I would love to have Brandon Marsh as a bench OF bat in a 15-team league. Marsh has the pedigree to make the leap in his second full major league season within an increasingly potent Angels lineup. Miguel Rojas is a solid all-around contributor batting atop of the Marlins order; Rojas could end the year with double-digit home runs and stolen bases. Michael Fulmer may be the favorite to lead the improved Tigers in Saves this season, even with Gregory Soto potentially starting with the role. Fulmer was solid as the closer towards the end of last season, recording an 0.64 ERA with 6 saves in 14 September and October innings.
In summary, don’t expect some of your late closer speculative adds to fall into the reserve rounds; these players, as well as catchers, are the most common players to be purchased in auctions when they aren’t typically worth that high of a pick in snake drafts. In contrast, more “boring” hitters and pitchers normally will fall into the reserve rounds; while these players aren’t a strength in one particular category, having hitters with full-time at-bats and pitchers who are starting every fifth day are nice pieces to have when unexpected injuries occur. Of course, these are also likely the players that will be dropped when it comes to making waiver wire claims to improve your team.
The NFBC is the gold standard when it comes to fantasy baseball platforms and they give you the tools to succeed. Make sure to check out their ever-changing ADP as you prepare your drafts; this ADP can be customized by the contest and date range. For auctions, their AAV (and accompanying board) is invaluable to use while preparing for NFBC auction leagues. The NFBC offers auction leagues at a few different price points, with overall prizes tied to them. Unlike other platforms, the NFBC starting rosters are constructed exclusively from auction dollars, leaving the bench picks to a reserve snake draft. Certain types of players get pushed up (catchers, speculative closers, multi-position guys) in this format, and others (“boring”) that may slide into the reserve rounds. Keep this in mind as your construct your Game Plan for NFBC-specific auction leagues.
This concludes my auction strategy series for the 2022 fantasy baseball season here on Pitcher List. I hope you’ve found these articles helpful when it comes to auctions and preparing for your auction leagues. Auctions deserve more love and you will find many fantasy baseball players prefer them to snakes with the roster construction freedom and flexibility that they provide. I hope this series assisted in de-mystifying auctions a bit and help them seem less intimidating. I hope to see you in the NFBC Auction streets these next few weeks!
Photos by Alexander Schimmeck/Unsplash and Tingey/Unsplash | Adapted by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram)