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Tips and strategy for winning your 2023, 12-team, Auction fantasy football league

We run through some strategy tips, sleepers, and general advice for your auction fantasy football league in 2023.

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Auction fantasy football leagues offer a different strategic approach compared to traditional leagues. Here, every player is up for grabs. Dreaming of having Justin Jefferson and Christian McCaffrey together? It’s achievable in an auction setup, unlike in standard leagues. But be prepared to pay a premium, and be sure to identify enough supporting value picks to round out your squad.

Below, we’ll run through some tips and general strategies to help you build a winning auction fantasy football team in 2023.


In most salary-cap leagues, participants engage in a live draft with a $200 budget. Players are nominated one by one, and the highest bidder drafts them. Every draft is going to be different, and it depends on the fictitious spending habits of your fellow drafters. This leaves plenty of room for strategy, and we’ll break down a few pointers in this article.

Early-round strategy

Break down each position by tiers. Assign each tier with a value based on your league’s salary cap, then look for deals within that. Don’t overspend early in the draft, as this will leave you in a race to the bottom later on.

Plan to use about 80% of your cap on your starting lineup. Pre-strategize with this allocation in mind. Keep enough cap space, say $2, for potential starters or backup players in later rounds. This gives you an edge to outbid competitors who’ve exhausted their budget and can only bid $1, waiting for a player to come their way.

When to draft a QB?

Once again, you will look to strike that balance of not overpaying but not sacrificing upside at the same time. People tend to overspend on superstars like Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen, so have a value in mind and stick to it.

Trevor Lawrence, Geno Smith, and Anthony Richardson are cheaper options to potentially work into your budget.

When to draft a TE?

If you want Travis Kelce, you’ll likely pay top dollar — probably the same price as top overall picks like Justin Jefferson and Christian McCaffrey. However, Mark Andrews will likely be half of that price, and the auction values really drop from there.

I’m eyeing more affordable choices like Dalton Schultz or David Njoku, who have estimated auction values near $5. Their price might drop further if there’s a spending spree before they’re nominated.

Sleeper picks

Players in the lower-mid-range often emerge as sleepers. Many fantasy players splurge on superstars and later find themselves restricted to $1 or $2 choices. Their inability to grab a potential $10-$15 value is what leads to sleeper picks for the others.

Rashaad Penny could be one of those guys, as his current value is listed in the $8-$10 range. He’ll need to compete with D’Andre Swift and others in the Philadelphia Eagles backfield, but Penny has been an efficient runner throughout his career, and there’s upside if he’s healthy.

Rookie WR Quentin Johnston of the Los Angeles Chargers is a player many might target for just $1. If you can allocate $2 for him, it’s a smart move. Johnston boasts great talent, and with a competent quarterback at the helm, he’s poised for success. Given the health concerns of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams last season, Johnston might be called upon more if they face injuries this year.

QB Anthony Richardson of the Indianapolis Colts and TE Dalton Kincaid of the Buffalo Bills are two other rookie sleepers who could go for $2 or less.

Players to fade

It might be wise to avoid players priced over $50. While there’s a case for McCaffrey, Jefferson, and Kelce in PPR leagues, it could constrain your later choices. Consider this: do you prefer McCaffrey alone or the duo of Alexander Mattison and Kenneth Walker? Given the susceptibility to injury at the running back position, opting for depth is often the smarter choice.


Planning for an auction fantasy football league differs from a traditional snake draft. Yet, this unpredictability adds excitement and presents more chances for those who understand the true player value. Create a flexible cheat sheet (with tiers and pricing) for the draft and adapt as the process unfolds.