Auction Strategy: Nomination Targets for 2019 (Fantasy Football)

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The nomination process is one of the most overlooked, underappreciated aspects of auction drafts. The majority of fantasy owners are focused on their player rankings and budget plans, allowing the nomination process to fall by the wayside until draft day.

The nomination process is one of the most important aspects of “winning” an auction draft. With a strategic nomination plan, you will draw more auction funds out of your league mates, force them into acquiring players you’re not targeting, and control the roster construction process. At the highest level, nominating players who are being over-hyped in the pre-season will force other owners to over-pay. The more money the other owners spend, the better the value each of your auction dollars will carry.

Editor’s Note: Researching for an auction draft? Find out how to build an auction budget, find 2019’s auction values, and organize it all into auction tiers.  Lots of fantasy football advice to be had.  

How to Nominate

What is most overlooked is the nomination order. Over many years of auction experience, I’ve come to find that the nomination order, in relation to the default site ranks, has a dramatic impact on player prices. Essentially, players that are nominated before their site ranking will typically be won with a final price above the players ranking salary. My findings show that this occurs on 75% of the players that are nominated 2 or more spots ahead of their ranking. For example, if the 10thranked RB is nominated as the 7thRB off the board, the final winning bid will end up with that player having a salary of RB8 or higher. Why is that? At a subconscious level, every owner is correlating auction nominations to snake draft ADP. If someone “reaches” for a nomination, the other owners will see the corresponding AAV posted for the other top available players, creating a ceiling price point above their stock AAV. On top of that, players nominated ahead of their ranking are being put to auction when owners have more money to spend.

On the flip side, players that are nominated two or more spots behind their site ranking will finish with a winning bid below their salary ranking 65% of the time.  The 12thranked WR nominated 16thhas a reasonable probability of being paid like the 14th or lower WR.

Another major aspect of the nomination process is not filling out your roster but filling the rosters of your opponents. One of my favorite tactics in a 1QB league is to nominate QBs early and often. Every nominated player must be acquired by someone. By putting QBs up for nomination, owners will be forced to make a decision: Bid and fill their QB slot or allow a top player to be acquired for a huge discount. Not only does this early nomination of a QB fill my opponent’s roster spots, it does two other things: takes their mind away from the core positions of RB and WR, it also takes them out of the running for a QB at a later stage of the auction. When they’ve spent early auction funds on a top 5-10 ranked QB, it’s unlikely they will be spending addition funds on a back-up QB, allowing you to roster the QB of your choice at a reduced rate.

One of the nomination strategies that is often stated is to nominate the top-ranked kicker or DST, to either acquire them for $1, or cause another owner to spend additional funds. While this is the most likely outcome, how much did it benefit your team to have the top kicker or have an opponent spend a few extra dollars at those positions? These early nominations are far better used on getting big funds drawn out of your opponents with skill position nominations.

So who are some of the key players to nominate in 2019 auctions?

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It’s easy to throw out Patrick Mahomes and watch the dollars fly. However, someone else in the league is likely to do that for us. If you’re following a budget similar to the one I laid out in my 2019 Budget Builder article, you’re not planning to spend big money on a top QB. One of the most hyped QBs heading in 2019 drafts has to be Baker Mayfield. On many sites, his AAV (Average Auction Value) places him as one of the top-5 highest-paid QBs, when his ranking is typically outside the top five. The hype is real. There is a real possibility that he may live up to all the hype and have a great season. But an early nomination when many owners have money to burn, you can easily create a bidding war for the sophomore QB. There are plenty of examples of Mayfield being the 2ndor 3rd highest paid QB in auction leagues. Nominate him and watch the bidding wheel spin!


While the top backs will command the most money, throwing out the two hold-out candidates, Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon can result in an owner paying the full or near-full price. I like throwing out players with volatile situations while most owners have plenty of spending money and have that feeling of it burning a hole in their pocket.

Damien Williams has had a ton of off-season hype but is a player I’m generally avoiding at his AAV. There are likely a few owners in your league that will be chasing the Chiefs offense, so get him out there in the early nominations. It won’t be a surprise to see him end up being one of the top-10 highest-paid RBs in your draft.

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Drafting players who are going to miss the early part of the season is typically bad for your roster construction plans. But someone may be interested in Kareem Hunt on their roster, so get him out there for them to acquire!

One strategy that is often bandied about is to nominate a top RB’s handcuff. Unless the owner is known to use the handcuff strategy, you may be putting yourself in a position to get stuck with that player, unless they have stand-alone value. I will recommend only nominate handcuffs if you know that player will be drafted for more than min-bid, such as Darrell Henderson.

Wide Receivers

Over the years, I’ve noticed that one of the top-ranked WRs always seems to be overlooked and falls way down the nomination order. Often, owners will keep holding out with the expectation that they are going to get a great deal, only to find out that the one other owner with money has been waiting for this and is willing to go all-in on a bidding war.  When you see this player fall far enough, don’t wait, nominate them.

There is a lot of hype around second-year WRs Chris Godwin, D.J. Moore, Calvin Ridley, and Mike Williams. Depending on your roster construction and remaining draft plan, nominating one or two of these players early will draw out significant funds. Keep an eye out for the owners who haven’t rostered a top WR or spent bid at RB, as they will be looking for these WRs. If you’re not in a position to acquire them, then get them on the board as soon as possible.

Nominating veterans who have a WR1 season on their resume earlier than their ranking can often lead to owners overpaying for the name. This year, players like A.J. Green, Alshon Jeffery, Allen Robinson, Larry Fitzgerald, Emmanuel Sanders, and DeSean Jackson all qualify for this strategy.

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Tight Ends

The top three TE’s will bring on some high bidding. As soon as those top three TEs are nominated, immediately nominate the next batch of young upside TEs. The owners who missed out on the Top TEs will still have money and a taste to draft a TE. Evan Engram, O.J. Howard, and Hunter Henry could all go for a higher price than expected if nominated right after the top three.

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