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Note: This series is designed to take salary cap drafters of any ability and refine their skills to those of a seasoned veteran. The articles will go from simple concepts to the most advanced salary cap draft theories. Each article is designed to build on the previous articles in the series. For best results, read each article before proceeding to the concepts in the next article.
If you haven't yet, it's a good idea to go back and read the first four parts of this series before you dive into bidding strategies.
After Part 4 told you how to craft your nomination strategy, you can now work on what to do once the player is out there. There isn't as much nuance in your bidding strategies as there is when picking a player to nominate, but there are still some things you can do to try and maximize your value when bidding.
As a general rule, the best way to avoid a big mistake from a poor bid in a salary cap draft is to not get fancy. While you are getting comfortable with the other drafters, their tendencies, and the unique process of a salary cap draft, you should follow the simple rule of bidding one dollar more than the previous bid. Your goal is to take as much guesswork off your plate as you can, and trying to craft the perfect bid every time you're in the middle of a bidding war is sure to lead to mistakes until you are a veteran salary cap drafter.
The salary cap draft landscape is full of examples of drafters getting caught up in the flow of bidding on an elite player and losing money with a poor bid. When the name Justin Jefferson is called out for $20, there will invariably be bids that proceed in $5 or $10 increments. It's easy to see the bids climb quickly at that pace – "25..30..35..40..45…55" – and at some point, the bidding will slow down. What you don't want is to be the one who yells, "$55!" and the room goes silent. Perhaps on Jefferson, that number will be $55+ this year, and you'll be fine with it, but you'll never know if you could've got him cheaper. If you jump $5 and everyone stops bidding, then you've stopped them in their tracks for one of two reasons: You got a deal because you blew everyone away with your bid, or you wasted money. Sometimes it's hard to tell which is which. Don't waste your money by guessing.
Here are some other things to think about when it comes to bidding in your salary cap drafts.
Have a Reason
Too many salary cap drafters get into the habit of throwing out bids on players they like without thinking about how it furthers their goals in the draft. It is imperative to always have a reason for bidding. Of course, you want to bid on a player you like, but if that's your only reason, that's not sound salary cap draft strategy. You should ask yourself the following questions before you bid:
- Do I need this player, or do I want this player?
- Do I have the salary cap to pay for the player while sticking to my strategy?
- How many roster spots do I have left, and how will landing this player affect my future in the draft?
- Is the player cheap enough that you can't pass up a bid?
- Is the player expensive, but you need the player bad enough that you have to bid?
Two factors exist that have a push-and-pull relationship with each other. On one side is the price of the player and on the other is your current team need. Sometimes this produces some odd results when you go through these questions, but they are important. For example, if you already have your top three wide receivers for your team and Mike Evans comes up for bid, you are somewhat limited in what you can do. If the Evans bidding stops at $9, you have to weigh whether or not that is cheap enough to bid or whether you have to pass on the deal. The unfortunate side effect of going through this sequence of questions is that you will have to pass on some deals along the way. You simply can't buy every player who goes cheaper than they should. There are plenty of managers who can't pass up a deal, and they'll get stuck with a lot of decent players for solid prices, but it hems them in at the end of the draft. This often leads to a roster that is unexciting and that fills up before it should.
So all you have to do to avoid that trap is to juxtapose your need against the price of the player. If Evans is about to go for $3, or $21, the decision is much easier. You can't afford to pass on him for the former price, and you can't afford to bid on him for the latter. But when it's somewhere in the middle, you have to look at price versus need while not forgetting that part of that equation is how many roster spots you have left. It can be a complicated formula that you have to assess in the middle of a bidding war, but you can train yourself to quickly run through those concepts by deliberately paying attention to these principles as you draft. It takes time and repetition, but anyone can learn.
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