The Ottoneu Auction Draft

(This is part one of the “Ottoneu 101” series)

Spring is almost here, which means pitchers and catchers (and fantasy drafts) are just around the corner.  Today I’ll walk you through an Ottoneu player auction (thanks to the guys in League 100) so you can be fully prepared before your own league draft gets underway in the coming weeks.

Ottoneu Auction Draft Room

The annual auction draft is one of the highlights of the fantasy season.  In addition to being a really fun night (or two), the auction is the catalyst for everything else that plays out during a given fantasy season.  With your keepers finalized (1/31) and your player values beginning to take shape, the auction represents your best opportunity to handcraft a competitive roster the way you want it.  And, unlike a snake-draft, the beauty of an auction-style draft (standard in Ottoneu) is that you can own any player you want…as long as you have both the budget and the willingness to pay just $1 more than everyone else.

Below you’ll find a video of the first few minutes of an Ottoneu auction so you can “see” exactly what to expect for your own draft.  Some draft room highlights:

Chat (top right):

The Chat box is your standard communication tool throughout the draft, designed to help you talk some additional smack when your token Red Sox fan overbids on Rusney Castillo.

Teams (bottom right):

The Teams menu will show you who’s in (green) and out (red) of the draft room, giving commissioners the visual indication they need to “start” the auction (manually) when the room is ready.  The draft order will show you the nomination (snake) order, so keep that in mind when it’s your turn to nominate a player because the auction can move quickly.

The Free Cap and Roster Spots columns are critical to monitor as you pace yourself through the auction and add players to your roster (if you switch back and forth between the draft room and your roster page, you’ll see that players you win at auction are added to your roster in real time).  Your auction will effectively end when you reach either of the two limits: zero dollars left to spend, or zero roster spots left to fill.  Remember, you aren’t required to exhaust either, so you can leave the auction with less than 40 roster spots filled or more than $0 dollars remaining to spend.  As a very general rule, most teams will leave themselves with $10 – $20 left to spend on free agents exiting the roster, but every team is different.  Cap space flexibility is important because you’ll also be picking up free agents using a 48-hour blind “auction” process during the season as well as working through potential cap penalties on players you cut.

On the very bottom right you’ll have the option to voluntarily end your own auction, which will skip your team in the nomination order.  If you’ve finalized your draft but still want to watch the rest of your league finish it off, be sure to click this option to speed up the remaining nominations. Confirm with your commish, but in most leagues it is expected that you nominate a player during every one of your turns during the auction. As a reminder, you should hear a “chime” when it’s your turn to nominate (and when one of your Watchlist players is nominated).

Draft History (bottom, middle):

The Draft History will show you a running list of all drafted players throughout the auction.  You’ll also see the most recently drafted player at the top of your screen, just to the left of the chat box (Last Auction).

Search (bottom left) & Find Players (left):

The Search and Find Players boxes work together, and look similar to the player search menus found in Ottoneu league pages.  Searching for players here will populate the Find Players box and give you a wide range of free agent players by position or by name that fit your criteria.  Be sure to check the “include minor leagues” box if you’re looking for prospects to auction.  You can nominate players directly from the Find Players box.

Watchlist (middle):

Maybe one of the more useful features of the draft room, you can use the Watchlist to queue free agent players you want to nominate or just keep an eye on during the auction.  This is especially helpful because the rapid speed of the auction can make it difficult to search for available players late in the draft, so you’ll want to take advantage of having them pre-loaded in your sights before you run out of time.  Only free agents will be visible in the Watchlist, so if you have a player listed that is won at auction, they will automatically drop off your Watchlist in real time.  You can setup your Watchlist well before (days) your auction begins, which is a best practice.

Current Status (top left):

In addition to showing you the status of the auction (“Live”, “Paused”), this menu is your key indicator of both the time remaining and current bid price of the player being auctioned.  Initial player nominations begin with 30 seconds on the clock, but with each subsequent bid, the countdown clock will reset to 15 seconds. The clock will be highlighted yellow when five seconds remain, your final indicator that a player is about to be won by the current high bidder (team).

You can bid on any player by either entering a whole digit price (Ex: $10) into the bid box, or via the “+$1” option, which simply adds $1 to the current high bid on the player being auctioned.  You’ll want to use the +1 button somewhat cautiously, as it’s very possible someone could throw out a $10 bid on a just-nominated $1 player and your quick +1 trigger could take him to $11, a price you’re not comfortable with.

If you are preparing for your first Ottoneu auction this spring, you are in for a treat, as there’s really nothing like it. Preparation is key, so take full advantage of all the tools and tips available here on RotoGraphs to get your draft strategy in place before your auction begins. Most first year Ottoneu auctions take about 6-8 hours to complete (half that for 2nd+ year leagues), so many new leagues will split the auction into two evenings.

If you have questions about the auction process, let us know. If you’re looking for auction strategy, check out our podcast here.



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Trey is a 20 year fantasy veteran and a five time Ottoneu champion, including the 2015 winner of the Ottoneu Champions League. He currently administers the Ottoneu community, a network of ~1,000 fantasy baseball and football fans. More resources here: http://community.ottoneu.com

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so useful