Fantasy Football: Creating your own player values ​​for auctions or salary cap drafts

One of the main appeals of the draft auction/salary cap format is the heightened level of strategy that comes with it. Most auction enthusiasts don’t use “stock” rankings or values. If you don’t use your own ranks and values, you fall behind your league teammates. As highlighted in my previous article, your league settings will have a major impact on final player salaries, and you need to take this into account for your league.

Creating your own player values ​​may seem like a daunting task, but with a little spreadsheet magic and a base of information, creating your own ratings for your league will be a major advantage in your draft. In another article this year, I highlighted how site rankings and their salaries are a decent baseline for player values, even if they’re not precisely set up for your league. So how can you use these values ​​as a reference to create your own custom salaries for your league?

Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out all of our auction/salary cap content at theFantasy

The baseline

First, you need to find a reliable data source for your salaries. I am obviously in favor of those found right here in Fantasy Footballers Ultimate Draft Kit. Additionally, I also like to gather information about host site rankings, as many of your league mates will simply use the site’s default rankings for their rankings and nominations. Recognizing the gaps between rankings is one of the best ways to find “deals” in your draft.

Once we have the basis of the ratings and salaries, the first step is to try to identify a projected number of players you expect to be drafted at each of the base skill positions: QB, RB, WR and TE . This, like many things in Fantasy Football, is an educated guessing game. Using a little common sense, it’s not a good idea to project all 32 QBs being drafted into a 1QB league. Conversely, only projecting 20 drafted QBs in a Superflex league is also not realistic. The easy part of all of this is that there are a finite number of players drafted globally using a finite amount of draft funds. Using simple assumptions can get you very close to typical project results. For example, most owners will draft 1-2 QB, 4-6 RB, 4-6 WR, and 1-2 TE.

If this isn’t your first year in the league, it’s a great idea to scour historical drafts for patterns. How many players are drafted at each position and how much total spend is made at that position. If your league is historically RB-Heavy, you may begin to recognize patterns over multiple years. Maybe your league is WR crazy and no one is spending on QBs. All the right information to discern from your league history.

Also, while the players change every year, many of your teammates will be creatures of habit. Manager X will always draft backup QBs and TEs while Manager Y is always a Zero-RB drafter. Simple trends open up a world of possibilities for your draft preparations. In my personal league, I’ve used historic salaries and draft patterns to get scary to project salaries. While I don’t set all salaries, so many players will fall within $1-$3 of my projections that it makes my budgeting process very precise, allowing me to craft the roster I want each season.

Each player is a percentage of the total spend

One thing I’ve found over the years is that most player salaries are a reasonably consistent ratio of salary to total spend in that position. Using this, we can take any player salary list and convert it to our own position spend projections. Your goal isn’t to set each player’s salary projection, but to get close enough to separate yourself from your teammates. One of the keys to winning a bidding/salary cap league is getting as much value as possible out of each draft pick. Many fantasy players will mistakenly understand this to mean you have to get a “deal” on every player you acquire, but that’s not true. What you need is to have more players outperforming their draft salary than your opponents. It’s not just about hitting $1 players late in the round that outscore their draft spot, it can be as simple as drafting the RB with the 5th highest salary, but it performs like the 2nd best RB all season. Even then, you got great value from this choice. Finding these values ​​often becomes a much easier task by having a working salary projection system.

As an example, I’m going to use the QB position and go over the top 20 ranked players. Player names are not important at this time, just the process, as it would be applied to each position.

Rank Salary
QB1 $38
QB2 $31
QB3 $28
QB4 $25
QB5 $23
QB6 $23
QB7 $21
QB8 $19
QB9 $17
QB10 $15
QB11 $13
QB12 $12
QB13 $11
QB14 $10
QB15 $3
QB16 $1
QB17 $1
QB18 $1
QB19 $1
QB20 $1

As you can see, this ranking is very aggressive on QB spending. In a normal league with 12 teams and 1 QB, there is a near zero chance that the 14th ranked QB will get a $10 salary. In fact, my experience is that QBs 8-12 will be closer to $1-$5 than $10. With a total spend on the top 20 QBs of $294, this list is too aggressive for my liking and needs to be toned down. Additionally, it is a very linear trend, only dropping $1-$3 between players. In my experience, a 12-team, 1-QB league spend will be closer to a total of $200-$225, with high spend at the top with rapidly declining spend at the bottom of the list.

Apply some spreadsheet basics

The first thing I want to do is figure out the percentage of each player’s salary on my base roster out of the total spend. In this case, QB1 is $38 out of $294. While I can do this calculation on a calculator (38/294 = 12.9%), doing this for +/- 200 total players will get very old, very quickly. Assuming you are working with a spreadsheet (Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, iOS/macOS Pages), there is an easy to use formula that will determine each player’s percentage for you.

1 TOTAL = $294
2 Rank $
3 QB1 $38 =B3/$B$1
4 QB2 $31 =B4/$B$1
5 QB3 $28 =B5/$B$1
6 QB4 $25 =B6/$B$1
seven QB5 $23 =B7/$B$1

* Using the $ before a column and/or row in a cell reference will cause it to “stay” there while you copy/paste your formula. Simply write it down once in the first cell, then apply it to the rest, dividing each cell by the total to get the percentage of the player’s total spend.

Using this formula, this is what our original graph looks like:

TOTAL = $294
Rank $ Percentage of total expenditure
QB1 $38 12.9%
QB2 $31 10.5%
QB3 $28 9.5%
QB4 $25 8.5%
QB5 $23 7.8%
QB6 $23 7.8%
QB7 $21 7.1%
QB8 $19 6.5%
QB9 $17 5.8%
QB10 $15 5.1%
QB11 $13 4.4%
QB12 $12 4.1%
QB13 $11 3.7%
QB14 $10 3.4%
QB15 $3 1.0%
QB16 $1 0.3%
QB17 $1 0.3%
QB18 $1 0.3%
QB19 $1 0.3%
QB20 $1 0.3%

Now that we have a percentage for each player, we can now apply it to our own projected total spend for that position. For my example, I’ll reduce the total spend to $200 at the QB position. What I’m going to do is put my new total expenses at the top of the next open column. In each player’s cell under that total, the formula will be a simple multiplication of the cell with the percentage x the cell with the total. (Remember to use those “$” when referring to the total cell, so your formula will always refer to that total.

TOTAL = $294 $200
Rank $ Percentage of total expenditure $
QB1 $38 12.9% $26
QB2 $31 10.5% $21
QB3 $28 9.5% $19
QB4 $25 8.5% $17
QB5 $23 7.8% $16
QB6 $23 7.8% $16
QB7 $21 7.1% $14
QB8 $19 6.5% $13
QB9 $17 5.8% $12
QB10 $15 5.1% $10
QB11 $13 4.4% $9
QB12 $12 4.1% $8
QB13 $11 3.7% $7
QB14 $10 3.4% $7
QB15 $3 1.0% $2
QB16 $1 0.3% $1
QB17 $1 0.3% $1
QB18 $1 0.3% $1
QB19 $1 0.3% $1
QB20 $1 0.3% $1

This board is starting to look a little better, but for my personal preferences, I’m still not satisfied. Top QBs have gone down a bit too far, while QBs 8-14 are still too high. Because we changed the baseline, there is now less manual work to do. The next step is to identify where I want to project the salaries of these mid-level QBs. For this fiscal year, I will lower QB salaries 8-14, while projecting that only 18 QBs will be drafted. These reductions will give me auction funds to reallocate to top players. I will go through and manually add a new column with my own salary projections, always making sure it matches my total position expenses.

TOTAL = $294 $200 $200
Rank $ Percentage of total expenditure New $ My value
QB1 $38 12.9% $26 $31
QB2 $31 10.5% $21 $28
QB3 $28 9.5% $19 $26
QB4 $25 8.5% $17 $25
QB5 $23 7.8% $16 $22
QB6 $23 7.8% $16 $15
QB7 $21 7.1% $14 $12
QB8 $19 6.5% $13 $10
QB9 $17 5.8% $12 $9
QB10 $15 5.1% $10 $7
QB11 $13 4.4% $9 $5
QB12 $12 4.1% $8 $3
QB13 $11 3.7% $7 $2
QB14 $10 3.4% $7 $1
QB15 $3 1.0% $2 $1
QB16 $1 0.3% $1 $1
QB17 $1 0.3% $1 $1
QB18 $1 0.3% $1 $1
QB19 $1 0.3% $1 $0
QB20 $1 0.3% $1 $0


Using a process like this, you will be able to create custom player salary projections tailored to your league. Bonus points if you have league history to work with, which will make your salary projections, and subsequently your budgeting process, all the more accurate.

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