Value Based Drafting for Auction Leagues

Fantasy Football Auction Values Strategy

Using a value based drafting approach is fairly straight forward for snake drafts, but how does VBD apply to fantasy football auction values? How much should fantasy owners spend in an auction league? Many websites now list fantasy football auction values, but these projections are shots in the dark at best. This article will explain the true value of players that will help you win a championship this season.Fantasy Football Auction Values

This post is for the hard core fantasy player. If the process seems a little confusing at first, stick with me. It will be well worth it. If you’re looking for a value based drafting strategy for snake-style formats, please read this article first.


  • Combine the strategy of value based drafting and customize it for an auction draft to come up with a player’s true fantasy football auction value.
  • Focus on maximizing seasonal points based on 6 key starters (QB, RB, WR, and TE)
  • To win the league – not place 2nd, 3rd or 4th.


  • Auction-style league. 12 teams. $200 salary cap. $1 minimum bid.
  • 17 Player Rosters 3 QB, 4 RB, 4 WR, 2 TE, 2 PK, 2 Def/ST
  • 8 Starters 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 PK, 1 Def/ST


The overwhelming majority of a championship team’s points are generated by just 6 starters (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE). When analyzing the past three champions in my auction league, I discovered that 95% of the team’s season total points were comprised of 6 key players. This exercise takes into consideration leagues that require a starting TE, which I prefer. The numbers can be adjusted depending on the number of starting positions, whether or not a TE is required and whether a flex starter is allowed. The bottom line is that the top starters win leagues, not rosters full of bench depth.

Furthermore, not much separates PK and Defenses; therefore, they should be $1 auction players. Bench players should be acquired for $1 also. In order to win the league, owners have to maximize points at the key positions. Building a lineup with lots of depth will never maximize enough points to win the league. Furthermore, decent free agents can fill the bench spots during bye weeks and occasionally, these players may be viable long-term starters, in the case of Nick Foles, Zac Stacy, Josh Gordon, Keenan Allen and Julius Thomas, just to name a few from last season.

The Formula:

1. Get the average points scored for the top 12 QBs, top 24 RBs, top 24 WRs, and top 12 TEs for the past 3 seasons. ( I.e. these are the required starters).Fantasy Football Auction Values





Scoring system:

  • Passing=1 point/yard
  • Rushing=2 points/yard
  • Receiving=3 points/yard
  • TE receiving=4 points/yard
  • TDs=60 points + 1 point/yard for length

2.  Calculate the baseline, which is the average of remaining starters.Fantasy Football Auction Values

Baseline – The value above replacement is based on the average of all remaining starters within the position, not the 13th ranked player at the position as many sites do.




Fantasy Football Auction Values3. Calculate the x-factor (replacement value above the baseline, calculated as a ratio) and adjust it for injury. Running backs are more likely to get injured than any other position. Quarterbacks are the last likely to miss a game, due to injury. The x-Factor accounts for this.




Fantasy Football Auction Values4. Plug-in the consensus player rankings of each position, courtesy

You can plug in your own rankings, but we’ve used the consensus expert rankings of the top 73 analysts from FantasyPros, a well-trusted source.




Fantasy Football Auction Values5. Consolidate all of the player rankings, average points, baselines and x-factors into one list. Sort by the x-factor from largest to smallest.







Fantasy Football Auction Values6. Sum up all of the x-factors (10.679)




Fantasy Football Auction values

7. Calculate the total pool of money ($2,160) that should be spent on starters. 95% of points are from 6 starters; therefore, 95% of your cap should be spent assembling the best starting lineup. On a $200 cap we subtract all bench players, kickers and defenses, which are assumed at $1 each for a total of $189 per team. 95% of $189 = $180. $180 multiplied by 12 teams gives us a total pool of $2,160)

Fantasy Football Auction Values8. Calculate the % of starter points for each player (x-factor ratio divided by the sum of all x-factors 10.679)



Fantasy Football Auction Values9. Finally, calculate the player true fantasy football auction value (% of starter Pts times total pool of 2,160). The high dollar values at the top may seem extremely high, but fantasy owners won’t pay $119 for Jamaal Charles  -even though the top RB is worth that amount.


Fantasy Auction Values

We ran all of the possible combinations through our simulator 22,858,560 times to find out which 6 player combination maximized the season points while remaining under the $180 cap.

Here’s the best starting lineup:Auction Values

  • #1 ranked QB Peyton Manning $65
  • #21 ranked RB Toby Gerhart $6
  • #24 ranked RB Chris Johnson  $1
  •  #3 ranked WR A.J. Green $55
  • #4 ranked WR Dez Bryant $51
  •  #7 ranked TE Greg Olsen $1

This is the optimal starting lineup if all team owners choose players based on their true auction value. There’s a good possibility that many of these players will go for less money in your auction than their true value. You might even be able to build a better team by finding players at a significant discount to their listed true fantasy auction value. I was somewhat shocked when I first saw these results, but it makes sense. The #1 QB generally outscores all of his peers by a mile.  Plus, the QB is the most predictable position from year to year. It’s a passing league; take a pair of the top 5 wide-outs. Running backs are always much more expensive, especially at the top. Sure it would be great to have Charles and McCoy, but it you’ll likely pay through the nose.

Considering that RBs are more likely to get injured and 50% of the top 10 tend to turnover each year, spending less on RB starters is much wiser. If one of them gets hurt or underperforms, you can plug in a replacement without losing as much. If we considered correlating factors for each position, such as injuries and reliability from year to year, we’d find that it’s safer to spend heavy on QB and WR and less on RBs. You can be assured that Manning, Bryant and Green will all finish among the top players at their position. There’s no guarantee with RBs. It’s about 50-50.

Value Based DraftingKeep in mind that smart fantasy owners look for good value whenever possible. Is Matt Forte a better player to have than Chris Johnson? Well, it all depends on how much the players cost. My point is that the optimal starting lineup is not set in stone. If you can get Charles, McCoy or Forte for ½ of the true value, then pull the trigger. By hauling in players that are worth much more than you pay for them in the auction will allow you to build a team that is even better than the roster listed above.

In summary, this is a high risk, high reward strategy. But if you are tired of just making the fantasy football playoffs and never winning the hardware, you have to target the top players. That means spreading 95% of your available money over just the top 6 players in order to maximize points. Sure, injuries could derail this strategy, but the same could be said for a conservative approach that drafts lots of mid-tier players and plenty of mid-tier backups; however, we’ve done our best to adjust for injury risk. In a conservative approach, the best case scenario is a team that wins enough games to qualify for the fantasy playoffs, but never has the juice to win it all.  A draft filled with lots of backup depth will never garner enough points to compete with the best lineups week in and week out. What makes our formula unique is the fact that we calculate the x-factor based on a better baseline and we consider risk for injury, which no one else does. Lastly, the risk in focusing on just 6 players is offset by the fact that money isn’t thrown at the RB position, which is the riskiest position to predict (compared to QB and WR) and more susceptible to injury.