Fantasy Football Auction League Inflation
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Fantasy Football Auction League Inflation

I, along with tens of thousands of other Fantasy Football players, choose to play in a customized league. My league is comprised of 15 other high school buddies; and this year, for the first time, our league is doing an auction draft. I choose to play in a customized league because I like the additional feeling of control that voting on league-specific rules can give you. We control our waivers, trade regulations, roster size and composition--everything a manager could want. We also have a trophy for the first place finisher, a trophy for the last place finisher (it's pretty disgusting), and each week the person who lost by the most points has to post a humiliating video to our Facebook group (If I went into more detail I would face punishment from the league, it's in our constitution). One of the reasons I'm so excited for our first-ever auction draft is that I will be able to win so easily my buddies might have to start calling me Mr. Sheen. #winning

I regularly participate in an additional 3-4 leagues per year outside of our main league, and have had much experience with auction drafts. The leagues I join aren't standard; they are often so convoluted with ridiculous rules it's often not until after the draft that everyone understands what's actually going on. These leagues have taught me one incredibly important thing, however: Suggested auction values are relative to the rules of a specific league. I'm sure you've heard this before, almost every fantasy analyst has said as much. I've noticed most people don't really comprehend the full meaning of this, though. I'm hoping to give owners in larger than standard size leagues a little insight into what I believe is the most important,y(et least talked about) issue.

INFLATION
Every auction cheat sheet is based on a 12 team standard auction draft. Many owners in leagues with more than 12 teams falsely believe that if they have the same standard rules regarding (1pt/25rpass yards, 4pts/pass TD, 1pt/10rush(rec) yards, 6pts/rush (rec) TD) and no additional rule changes, suggested auction values stay the same. These same owners are the ones that end up getting last place every year. The larger the league a manager is in, the more each player should cost, even without an increase to the budget.

For example, suppose managers in a 16 team league($200 budget, 15 man roster size) all use a 12 team cheat sheet to draft, and stick to it to the number. No players are bought for more or less than their suggested value. There is $2400 ($200*12) with which to buy 180 players (15*12) in a 12 team league, and the cheat sheet incorporates this by having the values of the top 180 players add up to $2400. In a 16 team league, there is an additional $800 with which to buy 60 more players. If each owner used that auction cheat sheet and stuck to it, the first 180 players would sell for $2400, and the cheat sheet would have every player listed after 180 valued at $1. The next 60 players would all sell for $1, leaving a surplus of $740 that is distributed among owner's unspent budgets (The $800 extra – the $60 spent on additional players). As every single fantasy analyst would tell you, there should not be money left-over after a draft. So, what does this all mean?

First, it means in larger leagues, every single player's value should be inflated. An easy (and incredibly accurate) method that can be applied to leagues of all sizes is to simply increase the value of each player by the same amount of money that was added. For our 16 team example, an additional $800 was added to the pool of $2400, which represents a 33% increase to the pot. Likewise, the value of each player should increase by 33%. If a player is valued at $45 in a 12 team league, the same player should be valued at $60 dollars in a 16 team league ($45*1.33). We end up with a bunch of messy decimals for many player values, but you get a great estimate of what the player should actually be bought for. I also tend to not worry about increasing my estimate for players valued at $1-$2. The increase in their value is offset by the fact that there are additional players that must be drafted to fill the increase in total roster positions, even though these additional roster positions are all players that are bought for $1.

Second, if you put this practice to use, you could end up with a HUGE advantage. Consider a large league that doesn't adjust for price. The first 30 or so players are all bought around what the 12 team cheat sheet says they should go for. Owners realize that the good players are starting to fly off the board, but they still have a bunch of money left in their budget. To compensate, values of players that are drafted later increase far beyond what they should be. If you are an owner who has participated in large league auction drafts, I'm sure you've witnessed this phenomenon. I remember last year I was in an 18 team league in which Cedric Benson was drafted for $2 less than LeSean McCoy because Cedric was nominated so late, and owners had so much money left over. If you calculate in the inflated values of the players due to extra owners and notice players are being sold for less than their inflated value, jump at the chance and grab these players! You'll laugh you're way to a championship when you get Greg Jennings for the same price as Malcom Floyd.

This method gets you pretty darn close to true player values and can be applied to ALL league variations. Have a 20 team league? That's 8 more teams with $200 budgets which would represent a 66% increase in player price. Have a $300 budget? 12 teams with $100 more each to spend would increase a 50% increase in player price. Owners in custom leagues; do a little work by calculating true player values and you will see a huge increase in roster talent. Happy drafting!

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    14 Comments

    Very interesting article with some well thought out points; I will have to keep this in mind when my league does OUR VERY FIRST auction draft as well!!

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    toukyW 06/26/12 12:16 PM

    Speaking as an experienced auction drafter, I was quite intrigued by some of your figures and logic. Very thoughtful analysis and overall a worthy read. Look forward to reading more posts from you and hearing more insight on your opinions throughout the season. Best of luck with your own draft and hope to see you around FFToolbox more!

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    rawdwillissotal 06/26/12 12:30 PM

    Very interesting post, kinda disappointed you're giving a way a secret that I'm sure some pikers in my league wouldn't have figured out!

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    $SHYkeeeee 06/26/12 12:37 PM

    Wow a very insightful article, I had no idea about the inflation of players values. Thanks a bunch for the help. That rawdwillissotal guy doesn't come of as the brightest fellow.

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    St.Tee Stunna 06/26/12 01:03 PM

    I am in a larger league as well, and quite honestly didn't think about this. I am a little embarassed, frankly, because I generally consider myself a decently sharp fellow. But now I know, and knowing is half the battle! Really appreciate this insightful post and would appreciate more in the future if you have additional tips of this quality!

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    AndoManifest 06/26/12 01:52 PM

    A tip that seems obvious while reading about it, yet I'm sure goes overlooked by many "experienced" FF'ers. Well laid out and clear to follow, good read.

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    inthe_bigs 06/26/12 03:31 PM

    As one of the more intelligent members of my Fantasy Football league and having figured out exactly how to project player values in my larger sized league without even pen and paper while at work, i'm slightly disappointed that this information has become public, as it destroys my early round draft strategy. I was already busy dropping false valuation hints to people who had yet to figure out the actual valuation strategy. Now, instead of winning solely off of my superior mathematical ability, I will actually have to put forth a large amount of preparation in determining my pre-draft player rankings. Thanks Mitch Polelle!

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    Diah 'Nother Day 06/26/12 04:07 PM

    Pretty siq. Makes me wanna change my league to an auction draft style so I can bf the s out of my friends. Well kinda . . .

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    bone(er)sofaskeleton 06/26/12 05:48 PM

    Interesting thought, I will account for that in my algorithms

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    a_rabbit_named_len 06/26/12 08:33 PM

    Great article, loved the in-depth explanations and analyses. Keep up the work Mr. Sheen! Lol #winning more like #piking

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    CrookedWein 06/26/12 11:31 PM

    This article has completely changed my draft strategy, and has given me a leg up over all the other players in my league who weren't fortunate enough to stumble upon this article. The author presented some great points with even better explanations and analyses. This will greatly help me as I prepare for my league's auction draft.

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    delaun'sgardeningtoo 07/01/12 10:01 PM

    How would you adjust values for a 2 Staring QB 12 team league?

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    pastateke 07/17/12 09:56 PM

    Keep in mind the limitations of this article. Your $200 budget is fixed but would also need to increase to take into account this inflation. For example, imagine a 50 or 100 team league. A lot of adjusted player values would exceed your fixed $200 budget. So simple math may help but it can't be applied to ranking sheets so easily. Medians, deviations, slopes, and the like, would also need to be applied and even then it wouldn't be perfect.

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    philipo 08/16/12 03:00 PM

    Ironically, I run a league that's in our 12th year, and even though our league only contains 10 owners, the prices on players consistently exceeds those given online by 10, 20, sometimes even 30%. In years past, I've ignore my impulse to overbid, but unfortunately, my fiscal restraint has not led to championships, even though you'd think I'd be getting bargains in the middle and late parts of the draft. Alas, maybe I'm just terrible at fantasy football. ;)

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    tapakip 08/31/12 02:45 PM

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