You are 3 picks away from you turn, and the player that you want is the 2nd best player listed. You look at the teams in front of you, only to see the auto-pick icon on for both the teams. Dejected, you select another starting pitcher, which makes 6 in a row for you.
You may have felt the perils of having auto-pickers in snake drafts. No chance that the best available guy gets left on the table for you. But it does make it easy to predict who will be selected in front of you so that you can plan accordingly. Your snake draft doesn’t have to be ruined by the auto-pickers.
But what happens when you have a team or 2 auto-picking in an auction draft? Some people might say the more the merrier for the guys live drafting. However, in the case of our often mentioned Tunacorn League that was not the case. We had 5 – count them, 5 – guys not able to make the draft or were at least be substantially late. This included our defending champ. This certainly made things interesting later in the draft.
The Tunacorn auction typically has guys flying off the board at crazy high prices early. This high-spending period is starting to last a little longer each year as more people buy into the idea that you can buy guys pretty cheap later. But this year was different because of the amount of guys auto-picking.
Unless an auto-picker has set his values on guys specifically the computer will drop out of bidding after it exceeds a few dollars more than the value assigned by your league service provider. This left 5 teams with a lot of money and lots of open slots at the end of the draft when most guys had nothing more than a few bucks.
Guys like Colby Rasmus that had been pegged as end of the draft dollar guys were still going for $12-15 because the auto-pick monsters were playing with a full bank roll. At one point Clave did mention that this might happen to the group of guys who were drafting in a room together, but it really did not prepare us. We were still off guard when guys like Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez were going for pre-draft value. Not that they aren’t worth it, it is just not how the end of an auction draft typically goes.
Going into the the draft we all knew one guy wouldn’t be there, and one guy would be pretty late if made it at all. But had we known that 5 guys were gonna miss the bulk or all of the auction we may have been able to plan a little better. My brother (who is my co-manager in Tunacorn) and I had to go to plan B after the big gun we were targeting – Justin Upton– went off the board early. Little did we know that plan B would quickly turn into plan “get whoever we can get”. Luckily Upton went for $6 more than we had budgeted and the guy we got, Ian Kinsler, went for just $5 more than we had budgeted.
After watching a few more of our first and second tier targets go for more than we were comfortable we had to make the call to go big on our big sleeper, Erick Aybar. We paid $9 more than we had originally budgeted BUT we knew we had money to burn as we were down to dollar guys at all the outfield positions we had lost out on. Just goes to show you that even the best laid plans aren’t air tight and you have to be ready and willing to improvise.
So here are 4 things to consider if you get caught with some auto-drafters in a fantasy baseball auction draft:
1. Trick the auto-picker. Nominate someone you have no intention of bidding on, isn’t highly thought of, but it still listed for several bucks. Once we noticed what was going on, Clave nominated Derek Jeter, knowing demand wasn’t high among those actively bidding. Sure enough, the computer bought Jeter for an auto-bidding team for his mid-teen listed price, depleting that team’s bankroll, and no one else really wanted Jeter anyway.
Do this a few times and you can slowly bleed the auto-drafters, especially if you are coordinated with the other active bidders.
2. Wait. If you have done your research and you have an extensive list of bargain players you can simply wait out an auto-picker. The computer will fill up their rosters soon enough, even leaving money on the board. Sure, some of the guys you targeted on the cheap will be lost to you, but if you have a long enough list of $1 players you can still get yours.
3. Hit them with trade offers quickly. Sometimes real life gets in the way of fantasy baseball. Sad, but true. The auto-picker isn’t any happier with his team than you were pleased that you were bidding against the computer. If a guy you were targeting ended up on their team, then offer them a trade quickly. If you are really clever you’ll get a couple dollar guys that you think they might be interested in and use them as trade bait.
4. Don’t hit the panic button. Drafting against the auto-pick isn’t ideal, but keep your head and you’ll do OK.