Fantasy Football: QB Auction Strategy in 2018

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Editor’s Note: Check out all of our auction content including how to nominate, building a budget, and recent auction trends.

How you plan for an auction draft is completely different than snake drafts. Values can fluctuate wildly based on where players are nominated and how your leaguemates bid, unlike snake drafts where Average Draft Positions (ADPs) largely dictate where players are drafted. This will be the beginning of a series that breaks down each position and how @mpw270 and myself tackle them when preparing for auction drafts. First up is the QB position.

Redraft Leagues

*All values are for 12-team leagues, $200 budget, standard starting roster

There are easily 24 draftable QBs, which means you can wait until every other team has two QBs and still get production at the QB position for Week-1 in leagues that start one QB. Waiting on QB also works because of the number of QBs that manage top-12 performances throughout the year. 2017 was the third consecutive year where 40+ QBs had a top-12 week. With only 12 teams drafting, we can combine a cheap draft-day QB with quality starts from QBs sitting on the waiver wire. This strategy is called Late Round QB (LRQB) and was popularized by JJ Zachariason.

This strategy has become so common that drafting a QB is like playing chicken in snake drafts especially if you’re drafting with a lot of experts. You hear Andy, Jason, and Mike talk about it all the time; ‘Wait on your QBs. Wait on your QBs.’ We just need to apply snake-draft principles to auctions.

How closely do QB ADPs translate to auctions? Not well as it turns out. Maybe it’s the money association, but auction trends show that QB auction values for the top QBs are actually higher than their corresponding ADPs on FFC. Let’s take a look by converting average auction values of PPR leagues with standard rosters to an Auction Value Rank ( A value rank of 1 being the most expensive player that corresponds to and ADP of 1.01 all the way down to the $1/2 guys) and then comparing those ranks to ADPs.  Because several players can cost the same amount in auction drafts, you’ll notice that some Auction Value Ranks(AVRs) and ADPs contain ranges.

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Auction Averages Auction Value Rank FFC ADP
QB1 $27 31 36
QB2 $19 43 50
QB3 $14 59 57
QB4 $13 61 64
QB5 $12 63 70
QB6 $8 82-85 78
QB7-8 $7 86-94 82-94
QB9-16 $4-6 114-123 96-130

What should stick out to you is how the AVRs for the top five QBs are equal to or higher than ADPs. That is a huge market inefficiency, which is why we are going to borrow from the LRQB strategy and adapt it to form a Low-Value Tier QB (LVTQB) strategy. The LVTQB strategy will give you an edge in two ways. It will allow you to seek value at the QB position the same way you get value with the LRQB strategy. The difference is, you will use your nominations to punish your leaguemates as they overspend on QBs in the early stages of the draft.

We see that drafters are already overpaying for QBs, so make sure they keep overpaying. One of the things I commented on in my Early Auction Trends article was how close Deshaun Watson‘s auction values were to Aaron Rodgers. There’s no way I’m going to draft Rodgers at his current cost so you can only imagine my feelings about Watson’s going rate. Here’s how you use your nominations to dominate the early stages of your draft.

You don’t throw Watson out there right away. The market gets set by whichever player gets nominated first in their position group. Since Rodgers is the highest ranked QB he is normally the first QB nominated and normally the most expensive. Wait until someone else nominates Rodgers and then nominate Watson.

If you nominate Rodgers first, you will have to wait for 11 other players to be nominated and drafted before you can nominate again, which is a lot of money spent and effectively shifts the market. You also don’t want to nominate Watson first since the correct market price may be set. Nominate Watson right after someone else nominates Rodgers and I’m willing to bet Watson goes for just $3-8 less than Rodgers, which is still way above what his market should be. After Watson, nominate Tom Brady and I bet he goes for a few dollars less than Watson, but stop nominating top-tier QBs after that.

You might be quick to nominate Russell Wilson and Drew Brees, but I’ve noticed that one of Wilson, Brees, and/or Cam Newton have come out at a screaming value in each auction I’ve done. They’re the first few QBs I’ll take if I can get them for $8 or less. Instead of nominating one of those guys, start nominating the shiny new QBs ranked below QB12 in the UDK like Jared Goff, Jimmy Garropolo, and/or Mitch Trubisky. Every time one of those QBs goes for more than $5, you’re winning because other teams are overpaying and you’re reducing the number of teams that remain in the market for QBs. For more info, check the article Who to Nominate in 2018.

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The second way to take advantage of the situation is by seeking value with Low-Value Tier QBs. I mentioned seeing if Wilson, Brees, Newton fall to around $8. An $11 difference between one of those QBs and Watson doesn’t sound huge, but $11 represents nearly a full round of value in snake draft ADP. If you wait on QB even further, you should be able to get someone like Ben Roethlisberger, Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, or Philip Rivers for $1-4. That $15 you save on QB can be a huge upgrade at a player position.

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In redraft leagues, nominate top-tier and trendy QBs early. Wait to see if an elite QB becomes a value and if they don’t, then spend $1-4 on a solid QB. That works in single QB leagues, but take everything I just said and chuck it for Two-QB or Superflex Leagues.

Two-QB or Superflex Leagues

*All values are for 12-team leagues, $200 budget, superflex starting roster

One of the fundamental aspects of fantasy drafts is scarcity. This is also fundamentally why LRQB or LVTQB strategies work in regular leagues where you can only start one QB, but things change when you’re in 2QB or superflex leagues. For more info on this subject, check out the recently released article 5 Tips for Superflex Leagues.

The relative abundance of QBs is greatly diminished when you’re starting two QBs each week. Instead of comparing the top QBs against replacement level QBs like Matt Ryan, Jared Goff, and/or Marcus Mariota, you’re comparing the top QBs against Sam Bradford, Mitch Trubisky, and/or Tyrod Taylor. Even the QBs ranked around QB30 are likely to be drafted so the waiver wire market for QBs is nearly non-existent. If you wait too long on QBs, you’re going to put your team at a significant disadvantage.

The bad news is, there’s not a whole lot of quality data on Two-QB or Superflex auction values. The good news is the lack of data seems to have made the premium QBs a value. I took a look at Two-QB ADP on FFC and figured out about where QBs should be priced and compared them to the values of an actual draft.

FFC ADP Derived Auction Value Actual Draft Value
QB1 8 $41 $34
QB2 15 $37 $30
QB3 17 $35 $24
QB4 22 $29 $22
QB5 26 $26 $20
QB6 27 $26 $18
QB7 30 $23 $18
QB8-9 36-37 $20 $18
QB10-13 41-48 $18-19 $16-17
QB14 50 $18 $15
QB15-16 56-60 $15 $14-15
QB17-18 61-65 $15 $11-12
QB19-21 68-82 $10-14 $9
QB22-27 86-119 $6-9 $6-9

I know that there’s a whole lot going on with that chart, but you can see that QB8-27 went for about as much as you would expect based on Two-QB ADP. What’s interesting to me is QB1-6. Each one of them was drafted $6-11 cheaper than what you would expect based on ADP. That $6-$11 shift represents an entire round of value. Aaron Rodgers ADP is 1.07 on FFC, but $34 has an AVR of 18th or a 2.06. In this particular draft, Deshaun Watson actually went for more than Rodgers, but we can safely assume those values would flip-flop in most drafts. That’s a nice discount. Russell Wilson’s ADP is 2.04. His $24 auction value corresponds to an AVR of 29 or 3.05.

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I’ll gladly take the auction discount on one of those top QBs and pair them with one of those QBs that fell in the $14-18 range (which included Cam Newton and Drew Brees). Can you imagine the advantage you have when 25% of your starters are QBs and you’re trotting out some sort of combination of Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, or Cam Newton and you didn’t even need to break the bank to get them?

Each draft is a little bit different, but if you see similar prices, jump on at least one premium QB. Get one of your favorite mid-tier QBs (why pay $16 for Patrick Mahomes when I can pay $18 for Newton or Brees?), or pick up a sleeper QB like Alex Smith.

Remember: nominate everything but QBs!