Using ‘Auction Tiers’ for Last Minute Prep
Photo via Chris Darwin/Flickr

Last week we looked at supply and demand and learned how to use basic economics to approach auction drafts. Our discussion had a couple of major takeaways, one of which was that it is often best to consider positional tiers when determining the prices that we would be willing to pay for players. This is due to the laws of supply and demand and the non-linear nature of auctions.

As we learned, it can be dangerous to head into an auction with a static set of values or a plan that is entirely derived from them. We can’t dictate prices set by the market so we need to work around them. For this reason, having an understanding of the tiers that will develop in an auction is vital. Remember, the pricing of one tier can play a major role in pricing of those that will be subsequently formed. If you’ve decided to join a last minute auction and haven’t had much time to prep let’s take a look at how you can quickly do so using tiers as a guide.


Using average selling price data from recent $200 ESPN auctions, I pulled together the following graphs that provide us with a nice visual of the distinct tiers that auction participants have created.1 For running backs and wide receivers, I excluded players with average selling prices less than five dollars. All quarterbacks and tight ends with average values of a dollar or more have been included. As you will see, and likely expect, there are major drop offs in prices between the upper echelon QBs and TEs and the rest of their peers, whereas RBs and WRs see a more gradual decline. I’ve included a table at the bottom of the post listing these players, values, tier designations and our RotoViz staff composite projections.











If we take the data underlying the above graphs, separate each position into tiers and then average, we get the following approximations.


We can now use these tiers to create a baseline team. Afterward, we can consider the impact that potential shifts in demand will have on pricing and build a variety of alternate approaches. What I like to do is chart out as many configurations of my desired approach as possible. This allows me to remain flexible during an auction. If the top tier WRs are going for way more than anticipated, I’ll have a plan in place outlining ways in which I can react. Similarly, if the auction starts and mid tier RBs are going for good chunks of change, I can peek at my lists and adapt accordingly.

Clearly, this isn’t a revolutionary process but I think that it makes our preparation much more meaningful and streamlined when compared to simply building lineups based on the values assigned to players on a cheat sheet.2

This goes back to the idea that every auction is unique and does not necessarily follow an established pattern in the same manner that a snake draft would. Further, if you’re playing in a league with unique settings the market may value certain players or positions in ways that would be hard to account for pre-draft. As such, a player’s auction value may deviate greatly between auctions, whereas ADP is generally less volatile. If we draw up a list of targets and plan on building our team based around these players, we might find ourselves scrambling to get back on track when one or two of the players we expected to be the core of our team gets bid up into the stratosphere. Walking through an exhaustive list would surely take too long for a post of this nature. But let’s take a quick look at how we might start planning for an auction in which we’re going Zero RB.


Below, I have mapped out my base zero-RB lineup. Let’s pretend that I will be looking to draft this lineup in a 12-team league that starts 1QB, 2RB, 2WR, 1TE, 1 FLEX, D, K and allows for six bench players. After building my base lineup, I worked out variations that I could fall back on if the auction forced selling prices away from averages. The positions highlighted in gray are those upon which I plan to spending minimal dollars. I begin the process by allocating dollars to these positions in order to arrive at a ‘true budget’ which will then be allocated to the remaining positions.


Of course, I could be way off in regard to the downstream impacts of the situations outlined above. But nonetheless, I now have a better idea of the different ways that I can execute my desired strategy under varying conditions. The shifts in pricing above, are guesses based upon supply and demand.

Feel free to expand the below table, copy and paste it into your favorite spreadsheet app and get an idea of the tiers that auction drafters have created. As you can see, there are a number of players such as Doug Martin that the RotoViz staff is not as high on as ESPN auctioners. Likewise, we’re comparatively bullish on Jamaal Charles. It Might not be a bad idea to quickly review this listing and use it in identifying the tiers you’d like to incorporate in your plan.

POSPlayerAvg $TierRV Proj
QBCam Newton, Car311371
QBAaron Rodgers, GB231348
QBRussell Wilson, Sea172352
QBAndrew Luck, Ind132357
QBDrew Brees, NO112347
QBBen Roethlisberger, Pit112328
QBTom Brady, NE113309
QBCarson Palmer, Ari83307
QBEli Manning, NYG63335
QBBlake Bortles, Jax63342
QBPhilip Rivers, SD53309
QBTeddy Bridgewater, Min34271
QBJameis Winston, TB34316
QBMatt Ryan, Atl34302
QBRyan Tannehill, Mia34307
QBDerek Carr, Oak34314
QBBrock Osweiler, Hou34279
QBKirk Cousins, Wsh24303
QBAndy Dalton, Cin24317
QBTony Romo, Dal24296
QBMatthew Stafford, Det24314
QBRyan Fitzpatrick, NYJ24309
QBMarcus Mariota, Ten24306
QBTyrod Taylor, Buf24314
RBAdrian Peterson, Min561215
RBTodd Gurley, LA551246
RBEzekiel Elliott, Dal531244
RBDavid Johnson, Ari501258
RBLe'Veon Bell, Pit491244
RBDevonta Freeman, Atl461250
RBLamar Miller, Hou412255
RBDoug Martin, TB382187
RBJamaal Charles, KC372258
RBMark Ingram, NO362225
RBEddie Lacy, GB332214
RBThomas Rawls, Sea322154
RBLeSean McCoy, Buf322223
RBCarlos Hyde, SF223194
RBJonathan Stewart, Car223174
RBMatt Forte, NYJ213226
RBC.J. Anderson, Den213211
RBLatavius Murray, Oak144179
RBJeremy Hill, Cin144175
RBDion Lewis*, NE134116
RBDeMarco Murray, Ten124184
RBJeremy Langford, Chi94199
RBRyan Mathews, Phi94188
RBMatt Jones, Wsh74167
RBArian Foster, Mia74179
RBMelvin Gordon, SD55178
RBFrank Gore, Ind55171
RBDeAngelo Williams, Pit55106
RBDanny Woodhead, SD45174
RBDuke Johnson Jr., Cle45194
RBJay Ajayi, Mia45111
RBT.J. Yeldon, Jax45148
RBJustin Forsett, Bal35155
RBRashad Jennings, NYG35165
RBGiovani Bernard, Cin35194
RBAmeer Abdullah, Det35172
RBDerrick Henry, Ten35101
RBChris Ivory, Jax25132
RBLeGarrette Blount, NE26151
RBKenneth Dixon, Bal2694
RBJerick McKinnon, Min16111
RBCharcandrick West, KC1666
RBTheo Riddick, Det16140
RBIsaiah Crowell, Cle16125
RBTevin Coleman, Atl16113
RBDeAndre Washington, Oak16116
RBBilal Powell, NYJ16117
RBCharles Sims, TB16166
RBJames Starks, GB16107
RBDarren Sproles, Phi16115
RBDevontae Booker, Den1661
RBC.J. Prosise, Sea16120
RBKarlos Williams, Buf1659
RBShane Vereen, NYG16149
RBJordan Howard, Chi1694
RBTerrance West, Bal164
WRAntonio Brown, Pit621361
WROdell Beckham Jr., NYG581347
WRJulio Jones, Atl571338
WRDeAndre Hopkins, Hou511290
WRDez Bryant, Dal472286
WRA.J. Green, Cin452295
WRAllen Robinson, Jax402272
WRJordy Nelson, GB382277
WRBrandon Marshall, NYJ362276
WRAlshon Jeffery, Chi333259
WRSammy Watkins, Buf323251
WRMike Evans, TB313272
WRBrandin Cooks, NO284262
WRAmari Cooper, Oak274266
WRKeenan Allen, SD254283
WRDemaryius Thomas, Den234268
WRT.Y. Hilton, Ind224259
WRKelvin Benjamin, Car195193
WRJulian Edelman, NE195228
WRJarvis Landry, Mia165240
WRDoug Baldwin, Sea165218
WRJeremy Maclin, KC145243
WRRandall Cobb, GB145247
WREric Decker, NYJ125227
WRGolden Tate, Det115247
WREmmanuel Sanders, Den86200
WRDonte Moncrief, Ind86218
WRLarry Fitzgerald, Ari86217
WRMichael Floyd, Ari76216
WRDeVante Parker, Mia66202
WRDeSean Jackson, Wsh57212
WRJohn Brown, Ari57199
WRJordan Matthews, Phi57232
WRAllen Hurns, Jax47185
WRJosh Gordon, Cle47114
WRMichael Crabtree, Oak47200
WRKevin White, Chi37165
WRMarvin Jones, Det37206
WRTyler Lockett, Sea37177
WRSterling Shepard, NYG37163
WRStefon Diggs, Min27203
WRCorey Coleman, Cle27196
WRLaquon Treadwell, Min28134
WRWillie Snead, NO28186
WRMichael Thomas, NO28117
WRTorrey Smith, SF28219
WRWill Fuller, Hou28132
WRDevin Funchess, Car18140
WRTavon Austin, LA18163
WRSteve Smith Sr., Bal18108
WRMarkus Wheaton, Pit18139
WRVincent Jackson, TB18167
WRTravis Benjamin, SD18149
WRMohamed Sanu, Atl18161
WRDorial Green-Beckham, Phi1851
WRSammie Coates, Pit18104
WRKamar Aiken, Bal18192
WRTyler Boyd, Cin18137
WRPierre Garcon, Wsh18124
WRJosh Doctson*, Wsh1848
WRNelson Agholor, Phi18117
WRBreshad Perriman, Bal1867
WRPhillip Dorsett, Ind18125
WRAnquan Boldin, Det1894
WRTerrance Williams, Dal18143
WRBruce Ellington, SF18143
WRMike Wallace, Bal18113
WRChris Hogan, NE18128
WRKendall Wright, Ten18128
TERob Gronkowski, NE471240
TEJordan Reed, Wsh262217
TEGreg Olsen, Car173206
TEDelanie Walker, Ten84192
TETravis Kelce, KC64204
TECoby Fleener, NO54198
TETyler Eifert*, Cin54163
TEGary Barnidge, Cle35174
TEJimmy Graham, Sea35118
TELadarius Green*, Pit25103
TEZach Ertz, Phi25160
TEJason Witten, Dal25163
TEAntonio Gates, SD25180
TEJulius Thomas, Jax25151
TEMartellus Bennett, NE25119
TEDwayne Allen, Ind25162
TEAustin Seferian-Jenkins, TB15123
TEZach Miller, Chi15133
TEEric Ebron, Det15150
  1. Unfortunately, scoring and roster settings of the available data were not specified.  (back)
  2. It’s probably worth noting that I’m a big believer in drafting with tiers as opposed to targeting individual players. Granted, this may be more so in snake drafts but I do think that targeting a small list of players can lead us to making sub optimal decisions.  (back)

Dave Caban

Senior Fantasy Analyst, app developer, hosts the RotoViz Radio Flagship, auction draft enthusiast.
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