Auction drafts are the best, most exciting, most strategic, and most dynamic method for building rosters in Fantasy Football. If you haven’t tried one yet, you need to. When participating in an auction, there is a much higher likelihood of landing “value” players on your team, assuming you’re patient enough to let the draft play out. With experience, you will learn how to recognize how your league mates are budgeting their funds and be prepared to identify where you will be able to draft players who are higher ranked than what their auction value is.

For this article, I’ve looked over Average Auction Values (AAV) from two major draft platforms, ESPN and Yahoo! and compared their Site Rankings, and finally compared to The Fantasy Footballers Ultimate Draft Kit Rankings. AAV data is based on actual drafts and where a players auction value falls is often different from their ranking on the site. Using the AAV data, we can develop AAV-RAverage Auction Value Ranking. The goal is to identify players who are ranked in the same tiers, but their auction price differs by a few dollars. In AAV-R, you will see that “hyped” players will shoot up the rankings, while “boring” players tend to fall, presenting draft day value for owners willing to forgo the hype and seek out this value. By targeting the lowest cost player in each tier, you will end up building a team that is stronger across the board than your opponents.

Below is a starting line-up constructed by targeting players whose AAV-R is well below their typical rankings.


Matt Ryan – $5 (UDK Rank = 6; AAV-R = 8)

In most auction roster builds, my preferred draft strategy is to take advantage of the depth of the QB position in 2019 and draft a player ranked in the teens for just $1. If you’re the type of player who wants to land a top-ranked QB for your team, Matt Ryan is your guy in 2019. Ranked as high as QB4 on ESPN and QB6 on the UDK, Matt Ryan can be drafted for a mere $5, which puts him in as the 8th most expensive QB in most drafts.


David Johnson – $43 (UDK Rank = 5; AAV-R = 8)
Kerryon Johnson – $15 (UDK Rank = 12; AAV-R = 20)

Deals can be found right at the top of the draft if you’re patient. While Saquan Barkley is like to be very expensive, you can land a top 5 RB for the 8th highest price in David Johnson. Coming off a forgettable season, where he was still an RB1 in fantasy scoring at the end of the year, David Johnson’s 2018 drives down his price when the heat is on. With a new coaching staff and QB in town, it’s likely that the Cardinals will be one of the fastest-paced offenses in the NFL. Fast pace = more plays. More plays = more touches. With David Johnson, you’re landing a top-end talent with #1 RB upside at a discounted price.

Kerryon Johnson is another player whose ranking consistently outpaces his AAV-R. Every site ranks him in the low teen’s, yet he consistently falls in at RB20 in pricing. With the release of Theo Riddick on Saturday, Johnson should see a bump in projected targets and possibly push his overall points projection up a bit higher. As the Ballers’ RB12, an RB20 price point is a nice value.

Wide Receivers:

Stefon Diggs – $20 (UDK Rank = 15; AAV-R = 18)
Tyler Lockett – $8 (UDK Rank = 20; AAV-R = 24)
Tyler Boyd – $5 (UDK Rank = 19; AAV-R = 30)

It’s possible to build a solid WR corp without breaking the bank and while still acquiring top-end talent. Stefon Diggs caught over 100 passes for more than 1,000 yards, and Tyler Lockett was a nice find for owners in 2018 with his ten TDs. Now that Doug Baldwin is out of the picture, Lockett is projected to see an increase in targets that should offset his ridiculous 2018 efficiency that landed him as the WR15. Lastly, Tyler Boyd had a nice mini-breakout and got paid by the Bengals in the off-season. This trio represents volume (Diggs), efficiency, and big plays (Lockett) and top-12 upside at a discounted price (Boyd).

Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Tight End:

Vance McDonald – $2 (UDK Rank = 6; AAV-R = 10)

Vance McDonald is expected to receive at least some of the 160+ vacated targets opened up when Antonio Brown headed out west.  There is little reason to expect the newly acquired Donte Moncrief to command a significant target share, leaving the veteran TE McDonald to see a nice bump in targets. Coming in as the 10th highest paid TE, the Ballers’ 6th ranked TE represented a great value at just $2.

Starting Line-up Recap:

$98 Spent – $102 Remaining

QB: $5 – Matt Ryan
RB1: $43 – David Johnson
RB2: $15 – Kerryon Johnson
WR1: $20 – Stefon Diggs
WR2: $8 – Tyler Lockett
WR3: $5 – Tyler Boyd
TE: $2 – Vance McDonald

At this point, you could have easily acquired a much higher cost player at RB2 or WR1. With $102 remaining after this core of players, it’s easy to see how you can build a dominant team without breaking the bank. This roster has a top-5 QB, Top-5 RB, Top-15 and two Top-20 WRs, and finally a top-6 TE. The $102 remaining is enough to build out a strong bench and still acquire a top-end Flex option of your league uses one.

Comments from the community:

  1. Thanks for putting together this article. With so many experts in the industry hyping up how great auctions are, there really isn’t much out there that talks about auctions and how to prepare for your season. Even on podcasts all that is talked about are snake drafts where I think auctions are becoming more and more popular and hopefully soon become the norm (just like ppr).

  2. Agreed! I love auction drafts - I put a vast majority of my prep into my auction league since there are so many more variables. Snake drafts are relatively boring at this point (I still do them and enjoy them, don’t get me wrong). And it would be nice to get more coverage as a whole on auctions. Ndbrue is right - most discussion revolves around snakes despite auctions gaining in popularity. More auction content please!

  3. wally says:

    Auction drafts definitely need more attention! I’ve been in love with the auction system since i did my first one 3 years ago. They are longer than your typical snake draft but they way i see it, just more fun you get to have especially considering you can get involved in any player that comes up.

  4. Thank you all very much for the compliments!
    We’ve put out some really high quality auction content over the past few seasons, and much of the content is evergreen (if you ignore the player names and focus on the concepts).
    Highly recommend my articles on Budget Building and “The art of the nomination”
    Myself and fellow writer Eric Ludwig are the “auction” guys for the site. Check out the auction archive and let me know what additional content you’d like to see or see refreshed. We’re always looking to give the people what they want!

Leave a Comment

Others talking about this: