HOW TO MAXIMIZE VALUE AND UPSIDE IN YOUR FANTASY FOOTBALL AUCTION FANTASY FOOTBALL
BLUEPRINT SMARTER | FASTERÂ | STRONGER www.fantasyfootballblueprint.com
Contents INTRODUCTION Blueprint Philosophy
AUCTION PREP Cheat Sheets Budget Templates Roster Strategies
NOMINATING General Strategy Defenses and Kickers Early Rounds Middle Rounds Late Rounds Auto Draft
BIDDING Tracking Prices Making Adjustments Opening Bids Masking Bids Padding Bids Quarterbacks
$$ MANAGEMENT Steals and Value Big Stack Bidding Get an Extra Player
BONUS: IN-SEASON In-Season Daily Fantasy
BLUEPRINT PHILOSOPHY You're busy. We get it.
Our journey started with building a better cheat sheet for our own leagues. We didn’t have time to read emails every day, join multiple sites, or do mock drafts. And we didn’t want to fuss with magazines and piles of paper during our draft, we just wanted a single cheat sheet that had all the data we needed. It didn’t exist, so we built one. And we built it to enable custom auction values with the ability to see average auction values currently being paid, visible player tiers, and expected player bargains and busts.
WHAT TO EXPECT Auction Prep We'll tell you what to look for in an auction cheat sheet and introduce a tool to help you plan your budget.
Nominating EveryÂ game theory tip you need to maximize your value while crushing your opponents' budgets. Bidding Everything you need to build a winning roster and avoid common auction pitfalls. $$ Management This is the most important part of the auction draft; we'll show you how to stay ahead of the money. BONUS: In-Season Basic tenets of team management during the season. Daily Fantasy If you like auction drafts, you'll really like daily fantasy. We'llÂ give you an introduction to daily fantasy football providing an overview and discussion of the main contest types.
There are two things you need for an auction draft: 1) A list of players ranked by the max (or very close to max) that you should pay for a player. 2) A template showing different ways you can spend your money during the auction. Cheat Sheet
All auction cheat sheets will provide a list of expected player prices, good ones will also include the current average auction dollars being spent and tiers of player value, and the best ones will have an easy way to show players you value more or less than others.
Our patented, matrix cheat sheet (pictured above) gives you everything you need - player values, average auction values, value indicator, and visible player tiers.
A template tool can be digital or paper-based. It is essentially a breakdown of cost per position for several different auction scenarios. What happens if you spend $70 on your first RB? What happens if you spend $30 on your QB? What money will you have left for other positions? Having multiple scenarios ready will allow you to pick one to follow and make it easy to adjust your strategy if you veer from your plan (which you should do depending on how the draft starts). A digital template allows you to enter actual dollars spent so you can see how your remaining budget is affected and make necessary adjustments. 1) Maybe you splurged and got Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce... you can see you've got little money left for RBs and WRs and can bid accordingly. 2) Maybe you got Christian McCaffrey for $70 so you know you should be saving money on QB and other bench players.
There are two main roster strategies: "studs and duds" (or stars and scrubs, if you prefer) and "balanced". In the studs and duds approach, you're planning to spend money on one or two top-tier RBs or WRs, value players in the middle, and then $1 and $2 players on your bench.Â In the balanced approach, you're staying very close to your cheat sheet only getting players that are a good price. You probably won't get any of the top players, but you'll have a deeper roster full of values. And you'll have more money at the end of the draft to get as many of the sleepers as you want. We prefer the studs and duds approach or even a bit of a hybrid where we try to save at least $2 or $3 for every bench player. Why this strategy? Because balanced is too safe... it's hard to win without any top players. After all, if this was a snake draft, would you feel confident about your roster if you didn't get your first player until the third or fourth round? No thanks. It's also important to go with the flow of the auction. If everyone is paying up for top players, then everyone will be low on money at the end so you won't really be at a disadvantage by going studs and duds.
G N IT A N I M O N
Having a nomination strategy is an underrated aspect of auction drafts. If you just randomly select a player or select the top player on the draft room list, you're wasting an opportunity to create value. Your goal in an auction is to get as much player value as you can for as little money as you can - most bang for your buck. It follows then, that you want other players to fill their rosters with expensive players that you don't want. And you want them to spend their money faster than you and fill their rosters faster than you. Remember these concepts as we talk through several nominating tips. NOMINATING FIRST
If you're nominating first, nominate a high-end player that you want. People are usually a little shy
on the first player nominated, so you can sometimes get that player for a bigger value than you can if they were nominated later. Not always - sometimes people bid very high right from the start. If they do, no problem, they would've bid that high later too. At least now you know what you can expect the market for other players to look like. If you're not nominating first, be prepared to pounce on that player if they're looking like a steal.
In the early rounds - with the exception of nominating first - you don't want to nominate players you actually want. Instead you want to be
nominating first tier RBs and WRs that you expect (from average auction dollar information on your cheat sheet) to go for higher than you're willing to spend. People tend to spend the most on these positions and you want them to spend quickly so there will be more value for you later and less competition for that position. If you wait until there are only 2 or 3 top RBs and WRs left and most teams have already spent $60 to $70 on their top player, you'll be much less likely to get into a bidding war on the players you actually want.Â You also want to nominate second- and third-tier RBs and WRs. These are players that look good when you're not comparing them to the full list, so people will often spend more than they should on these players and, importantly, will fill up roster spots early so when you get to the mid-rounds you'll be able to load up on the value RBs and WRs that you want. The only players you should nominate that you actually want in the early rounds are DEFs and Ks. We'll look at the different schools of thought on this next, and give you our recommendation.
DEFENSES AND KICKERS
Most people, experts included, will tell you never spend more than $1 on your DEF and K. That's wrong. Your goal is to build the best starting lineup you can. There is no reason to only spend $1 on DEF and K for the sake of saving a dollar for the end of the draft, especially just to pick a player that will probably be cut the first time you go to the waiver wire. You'll also be surprised by the quality of players you can get for $1 or $2 at the end of the auction. Yes, you want to save money for the end, but there are other ways you can do it. The other reason experts cite is that DEF and K is too unpredictable, but that's not true either. Even if it were true, you play to win the game! If there is a consensus top DEF go get them! Sure, they may not always pan out, but, guess what, that also happens with RBs, WRs, QBs, and TEs. You're Blueprint people, you can spend a few bucks on defense and kicker because you're going to be saving money in other places. We'll talk more about how to nominate and when, but first let's dive into kicker consistency.
A fantasy point is a fantasy point is a fantasy point whether it comes from a RB or a WR or a K. If you're a Blueprint subscriber, you know we don’t care how many points a player scores, we only care how many more points he scores than the average player. Put another way, if your RB scores 2 points more than your opponent’s RB and your K scores 2 points more than your opponent’s K then your RB and K are equally valuable (that week). One point matters - ever lost a week by less than one week? We sure have. Wouldn't it be nice if you could count on a couple more 50-yard field goals from your kicker? The traditional advice regarding DEF and K is based around the idea that, while top defenses and kickers are valuable, it’s difficult to predict who the top ones will be. But is that really true? We can be reasonably confident that Christian McCaffrey will finish near the top of the RB list and Michael Thomas will finish near the top of WR list, but how confident can we be that Justin Tucker or Harrison Butker or Will Lutz will finish near the top of the kicker rankings?
Let’s look at Stephen Gostkowski’s results from 2009 to 2015 and see where his final rank among kickers was.
So what does this tell us? That person who paid $2 for Stephen Gostkowski might not be a clown after all. Outside of finishing 13th in 2010, Gostkowski finished as the 1st or 2nd best kicker 6 out of 7 years! But what about 2016? Well, he fell to 9th. But 6 out of 8 is still pretty good! After four years as the top K, I’d say we can forgive a lowly 9th place finish. After all, some RBs and WRs fall off after a good year as well. After Gostkowski, the next few K spots showed some consistency as well, but not nearly as much, then it declined pretty rapidly. It's okay to pay for a top kicker! What do we know about Gostkowski? He's accurate and he was tied to a prolific offense. Any of those in today's NFL... hello Kansas City, Baltimore, and New Orleans. Your kicker can win and lose weeks for you, spend the money!
The $1 crowd will tell you to nominate the top DEF or K for a dollar and then keep going down the list nominating until you get one for a buck. The hope is that you'll end up with the 4th or 5th best DEF or K for a dollar. Not bad, but we want the best. If you want to employ this strategy, we recommend nominating for $2. Not many people will jump to $3 on a K (but some will, so know ahead of time if you you're willing to jump to $4). If you don't get the first one there is a pretty good chance you'll get the second one you nominate and you won't have wasted several nominations. But we know every nomination is valuable, so we actually recommend letting other people nominate DEF and K for $1 and, since we're already prepared to spend $2, we'll bid on those nominations. While they're trying to save a buck, we'll be busy loading their rosters up with inflated RBs and WRs. Some people may nominate DEF and K for $2 or even $3, just like above, know which ones you're willing to go to $3 and $4 on. Or just wait until you win one for $2. That's a lot of content for DEF and K. That should tell you how serious we are about squeezing out every ounce of value we can.
EARLY ROUND EXCEPTIONS
We know to nominate players we don't actually want, with the exception of DEF and K, if we choose that strategy. But there is another exception. If you know there is a clear top tier (easy to see on our matrix cheat sheet) and you know you want one of those players, don't wait until there is only one player in the tier left. Everyone will be trying to get that last player, and their price will likely end up higher than some players who are in the top of the same tier. If you see this situation developing, don't mess around, nominate the player you want and hope you can still get a bargain as people know there is still one other top-tier player they can get. DRAFTINGÂ WITH HOMERS
If you know someone in your league loves a certain team and will definitely try to get a few of their players, then nominate those players. Same idea as before, you want that player to spend more than they should and earlier than they should.
Keep a close watch on other team needs. If you have a player you want, keep nominating other players at that position so the other teams fill up their rosters and there will be less bidding competition for the player you want. We mentioned this already, but it's especially important in the middle rounds. And it's especially important to do this to teams that have a large budget remaining. Remember, your goal is to get them to spend their money! PLAYING WITH AUTO DRAFTERS
The middle rounds is where you can start picking on auto draft teams. The auto draft, unless customized before hand, will bid all the way up to the draft room value of a player. If you see an auto draft team that needs a player, nominate a player you don't want and try to fill the auto draft roster up. There's nothing worse than seeing the player you want come up for bid only to see the auto draft outbid or drive the price up and ruin your bargain. **If you have to auto draft, go to your league page and customize your rankings. It's well worth the time.
ALWAYS BE... PLANNING
There is a lot of downtime between the time when you’re nominating players and the time you're actually bidding on a player you want. Use this time to be planning your next moves... who you want to strategically nominate next, who you want to target to bid on, who you want to add to your player queue, what teams need what positions still, etc. LATE ROUNDS
In the late rounds you really have to pay attention to other teams' rosters and budgets. Don't nominate your sleeper WR if a team that has more money that you still needs to WRs. If you're out of money and have a max bid of $1 or $2 you can't mess around much. If your max bid is $2 you can still wait and try to steal someone else's $1 nomination, but if you have $1 max bid left the only players you can get are the ones you nominate. And even then you have to hope no one bids $2. The late rounds can be painfully slow if you're out of money. Round after round you'll nominate someone only to be outbid. Many people leave the draft during these late rounds, giving you even more advantage if you stay focused (and if you have money).
G NI D DI B
Before we can talk about bidding, we have to talk about tracking prices. You should have your cheat sheet printed out so you can record the price every player goes for. It will help you keep track of the market, giving you an idea whether you'll have to overspend for other players. Tracking prices will also let you quickly see where the market tiers drop off. When you see $50, $50, $45, $30, $25 you know you've hit a new value tier and can continue to refine your player target list. If you're using a budget template you may also decide to reallocate money at this point - if you had projected $40 on a position and that position is now going for $25 that's $15 that you can use on another position. BONUS: After the draft, it's great fun to look back at your cheat sheet and see your $40 players sandwiched between $50 players. That value is putting money back into your pocket; money you can use to take that top DEF and K. And when you add all your players up you shouldn't be surprised to see that you've got $250 worth of players for your $200 auction budget.
Be prepared to adjust to the flow of the draft. Let early prices drive your strategy; if star players are going for less than you expected, that’s where the value is and you should go with a studs and duds approach. If they’re going for much higher, then there will be a ton of value later in the draft so you can go more balanced. Even though we prefer the studs and duds approach, we’re willing to shift to more of a balanced, but topheavy approach; maybe we get one top 10 player and two top 20 players, then round out with value, we still don’t want to get too far away from the top players so this is where it’s important to use your cheat sheet to see your player value tiers. And, remember, don’t try to be so value-focused or so balanced that you lose out on good players and end up with extra money to spend. OVERSPENDING
If you overspend on a couple players and get into a bind, it's okay. Just know what other position you're willing to sacrifice. You may have to settle for $1 DEF and K, you may have to take the 12th best QB for a couple bucks and the 12th best TE for a buck. The important thing is to stay calm and adjust your plan.
Except for a specific exception, open all bids at $1. Sure, you know Christian McCaffrey is going to go for $70 or $80, but don't get cute. You don't have time to enter other numbers, just hit submit on $1. In the middle and late rounds you can actually cost yourself money if you open a bid too high (or hit a wrong number) and don't realize no one else has the budget to bid that high. **Speaking of budgets, tend to view team budgets by max bid, rather than total money, especially your own! It's pretty painful when you think you have $5 left but forget you have four roster spots to fill. $1 EXCEPTION (AND DOLLAR INCREMENT RULE)
At the end of the draft, if you find yourself with $2+ and only one roster spot left make sure you open the bid with all your budget. You don't want to open at $1 and have someone steal your sleeper just because you weren't paying attention. The rule also applies during the bidding process. If you're near your max bid, time your bids to hit your max exactly. Example, you have max bid of $7 and you bid $6, then someone bids $7 and you're out. You need to bid at $5 so when someone else bids you can then come back with your max of $7.
MASKING YOUR BIDS
Don't only bid on players you want! At least during the early rounds, make sure you’re also bidding on some players you don't want so people don’t know you’re in love with a certain pick. You can always drop out of the bidding as the price rises. If people only see you bid on players you want, they WILL bid you up. PADDING THE BID
Keep people honest in the early rounds. Don't be afraid to bid players up close to their value, but not past a point that you're not willing to be "stuck" with that player. Be careful near the end of the draft though when people are short of money, if you nominate someone for a dollar thinking someone else will bid on them, they might not. It hurts to fill your roster with a $1 player you don’t want, then see someone else take the $1 sleeper you really wanted. Don't bid up QBs unless you really want them! It's the easiest position to get stuck with. If you have one already, just ignore them – you spent your money already, you don’t care if someone else gets their guy for $1. If you bid $2 and get them, you’re just stuck with a second QB that you can’t trade and you’re missing out on a sleeper you wanted.
BIDDING ON QUARTERBACKS
As a general rule, try to go cheap at QB. Top guys will go $20 to $30 or more, then you'll be amazed at the guys that go for $1. It makes sense though, in a 12team league, everyone can get a top-12 QB, so you don't need to pay up for one. If you've saved a lot of money elsewhere or you went too balanced and just have a big budget, sure, go for a top QB. But QB is the best place to save money in your studs and duds strategy. A few years ago, I had an auction draft that went like this... My first three picks went Tyreek Hill for $15 (turned out to be a good value based on what other WRs near him went for). Jay Ajayi for $43, top 5, other top ones going for $50 and $60+. And Christian McCaffrey for $37, basically at his value, but based on the price of other RBs, a good value in the draft. So I had an RB 1, RB 2, WR 2 (with upside) for $95, so when Aaron Rodgers came up, I bid and got him for $20. Again, our preference is to wait on QB, but if you do so well on value picks to start, and if you love a QB, you can pay up.
T NE ME G A N A M $$
TOO GOOD TO PASS UP?
You will be tempted late in the draft to take a player just because “he’s too cheap”. Unless you really want that player, stick to your plan. You don’t want to tie up a roster spot and spend money only to miss out on the late round fliers you wanted. Do you really need that fifth veteran WR that will never make your starting lineup? Probably not, save your money to ensure you can load up on the players you want at the end of the draft. BIG STACK BIDDING
It's important to stay ahead of the money and not leave yourself with a $1 max bid for your last few players. Why? When everyone who went too heavy on the top players or couldn't resist the mid-round "steals" gets to the end, they'll be sitting on $1 max bid. And you, a Blueprint person that managed your budget, will have at least $2. You'll be the one stealing other people's sleepers! It's pretty satisfying hearing someone whine that you stole their player! And you'd be surprised who you can get at the end of the draft for $1 or $2, so do everything you can to keep some money for the end.
BONUS: GET AN EXTRA PLAYER
This is an underrated and fairly unknown tactic. Some leagues require you to get a player at each position, but some don't (Yahoo doesn't, NFL doesn't, ESPN does). If you missed out on the top DEFs and Ks just don't draft one. Instead, you can draft another high-upside sleeper or someone who is locked into a pre-season position battle. If you're drafting more than a week before the season starts you get extra time to see how your players develop. Maybe you would have gotten the 11th best K on draft night and now you pick up the 13th best K off free agency. No big deal. You can also draft an injured player if your league allows for an IR spot. Good value, good upside. STAY FOCUSED BUT HAVE FUN
Auctions are long and tough and you have to stay focused. It takes work to implement all the strategies we talked about. Let others lose track of their budget, drink too much, etc. Stay focused, but have fun. They really are a great time! We'll leave you with one of our favorite chat trolls, "That's a lot to pay for a guy who just got suspended!"
BONUS: POST DRAFT FREE AGENCYÂ Did your draft not go exactly like you wanted? Did you click on the wrong player and miss your sleeper? Immediately after the draft, check the waiver wire. Some leagues will allow undrafted players to stay free agents, meaning you can immediately start rebuilding your roster.
DRAFT GRADEÂ Ignore your draft grade! These auto-generated draft grades seem to be getting better in recent years, but there is a common refrain that if your draft grade is a C then you're actually going to win your league! Instead of paying attention to the draft grade that might penalize you for not having backups and is judging you based on draft room rankings, you should refer back to your cheat sheet and add up the value of your players. See how much higher than your auction budget you were able to get. That's how you know maximized value.
WEEKLY STARTERS This one is pretty easy. Don't overthink it, trust your weekly rankings and projections. If people are close though, start your guy. As with drafting, you have to be happy with your team. Maybe you're the lone Chargers fan out there, you know better than we do.
WAIVERS If you have a rolling waiver priority list make sure you pay attention to it - don't waste a waiver pickup on a player you can get during free agency. While other people are picking up average players, you'll be moving up the priority list so when that can't-miss player hits the waiver-wire you'll be at the top of the list. Stay a week ahead of waivers and pick up your byeweek fill-ins early. You'll get better selection and won't have to waste a waiver.
TRADES The same people that let you get all the value picks during the draft are the same one's you're trading with. Remember, they probably don't understand the true value of the players. Take advantage of this! You can create a win-win trade because the other person may be incorrectly over-valuing your player.
NAKED TOM BRADY In Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) there is a concept called ‘stacking’. It originated in baseball, when DFS players would get as many real players from the same team as possible. The thought is that when a team does well, it’s likely because several of its individual players did well. Makes sense. In large DFS tournaments you need to find as much upside as possible, so you look for correlations like these. The concept then carried over to DFS football. While you typically don’t stack an entire team, it makes sense that if a QB has a good game, it’s likely that one or two of his receivers will have a really good game as well. After all, someone must be on the receiving end of QB points. But there is another, sometimes ignored, scenario… what about when a QB has so many weapons you can’t possibly determine who is going to benefit the most? If the QB has a really strong game, but spreads the ball around, like Tom Brady, his receivers may end up with a bunch of good, but not great games. When we use a QB without using any of his WRs, we call this taking the QB “naked”. There are other correlations and anti-correlations and contrarian correlations and on and on, but this isn’t a DFS book. So how can we use this concept in our season-long fantasy leagues? Should we use this concept at all?
When you pair a QB with his WR (or multiple WRs) there a few main scenarios: They all have great games and you crush your opponent. They all have mediocre or normal games and you do just as well as you would have if you had started different players. They all have terrible games and you get crushed by your opponent. Because you have multiple players whose points are dependent on one another, you’re susceptible to more variance. You typically either win big, together, or lose big, together. So when does this strategy work best? Or, put another way, when do you need the most variance? Let’s pretend it’s the end of the season, you have a must-win game, and you’re projected to lose to your opponent by ten points. This would be a great time to start a QB and WR from the same team. It’s not always feasible in season-long fantasy leagues, but you get the idea. Similarly, if you’re projected to win by ten points, you may not want to expose your lineup to negative variance and risk having both your players perform poorly. It may be safer for you to not pair your QB and WR. You can also use this concept to block (or minimize) your opponent's good game. If your opponent has a QB you can start his WR, hoping that WR gets the majority of the catches. For every 25 yards the QB gets 1 point, but the WR gets 2.5 points.
PLAYOFFS? Why are we talking about the playoffs before the draft? Are you kidding me?? Don't worry about things like strength of playoff schedule during your draft and who may or may not be playing in Week 16. But, as the season goes along, particularly if there is a good chance that you'll be a top seed, start shifting your focus toward the playoffs. This is the time to look at matchups during the playoff weeks and do things like pick up a second defense. If you have a value player who has a bad playoff schedule see if you can trade him to someone who needs him now for someone who can help you more during the playoffs. Look at waiver priorities in the playoffs - if you don't need anyone, take who your opponent might need.
OVERVIEW Have you entered the world of daily fantasy leagues yet? Start playing today and get the excitement of championship Sunday every day! Every day you can enter daily fantasy leagues against new people. Theyâ€™re easy to join, easy to play, safe and secure, and a TON of fun! You can enter for as little as $1 and can play for thousands of dollars in prizes! There are even some FREE contests! How It Works Just like finding as many above average players as possible in a regular league, the goal in daily fantasy leagues is to find as much value as possible for as small a price as possible. You get a fixed budget and you can select any players you want, as long as their total cost is less than the budget. You can pick any type of team you want in daily fantasy leagues â€“ you can get all stud RBs and choose cheaper WRs or pair a QB with all his WRs. You can even start your favorite player every week! There are two main contest types: Cash and Tournaments.
CASH Head-to-head. This contest is just like it sounds. You make a lineup and play against one other person who has made a lineup. Best lineup wins!Â This is the safest type of contest you can play in. You need to win about 55% of these contests to break even. Generally, you look for safe, consistent players for these lineups.Â 50/50 and Double-Up leagues require similar lineups as Head-to-Heads but there are more people playing. There may be 10, 50, 100 or more people playing. If your lineup finishes in the top 50% or 60% you win money.
TOURNAMENTS If Head-to-Head contests are like grinding in poker, Tournaments are like the lottery! There is a great deal of strategy and game theory involved, but it still requires a lot of things to work in your favor. They are incredibly fun to play, but be careful not to spend more than you can afford to lose as they're very difficult to win. Tournament lineups require high upside players who may not be very consistent but have potential to be the highest scoring players at their respective positions in any given week.
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PATENTED, MATRIX CHEAT SHEET SEASON-LONG CONTENT ADVANCED DAILY FANTASY ANALYSIS