Does the Ottoneu Auction Matter (Part I)

We are now one week from the Ottoneu Keeper Deadline, the last day on which Ottoneu owners can shed unwanted contracts without penalty – after the deadline, leagues will auction to re-fill rosters and then any cuts will cost 50% salary penalty.  The question I have is this:  does the Ottoneu auction matter?  In a nutshell, I think that successful ottoneu rosters are built by acquiring valuable (fantasy) assets, which constitutes a combination of production and salary – and the auction is in most cases the worst place to do this (the glaring exception being players whom you do not expect to produce much in the subject auction year).  This will probably wind up being the first in a number of posts trying to see what the past auctions have taught us – following this, I will try to break down in a bit more detail what our various teams did during the auction.

To flesh out the question a bit, I went back and looked at our league’s 2012 auction (held 21 March 2012) – this was the league’s second year in existence, so the 2012 auction was the first where we weren’t starting from scratch.  There were 189 players purchased at auction – given that each team is entitled to 40 roster spots, we can guess that approximately 250-300 players were kept.  The least active team in the auction purchased 8 players, the most active signed 25.   Of those 189 players, I went back through and saw how many players were cut subsequent to the draft (i.e., they may be on rosters today, but they were cut and re-auctioned, or claimed via the waiver process).  The table below shows each team, its number of auctioned players, and the number that were kept and cut:

Bought Cut? Kept Kept Since Auction 2012
WAR Horse 25 22 3 12.00%
Durham Tobacconists 14 11 3 21.43%
The Crying of No. 49 9 7 2 22.22%
The Syndicate 11 8 3 27.27%
We Got Wood 8 5 3 37.50%
Shoeless Joes 16 10 6 37.50%
Knights 18 11 7 38.89%
Lucky Strikes 17 10 7 41.18%
Frosted Mini Weeks 18 10 8 44.44%
MoPain MoGain 13 7 6 46.15%
Enrico Palazzo 24 8 16 66.67%
Chicago Chiefs 16 5 11 68.75%
189 114 75 39.68%

So, over the course of the 10 months since the auction, approximately 2/3rds of the players signed at auction have been cut.  Of course, those cuts may have been during the season, after the season (since our league’s owners have already begun cutting players in anticipation of the keeper deadline), and may reflect owners that fell out of contention for a variety of reasons and began rebuilding, or owners that focused on age rather than youth.

I was also curious about whether there we any trends regarding the price of players auctioned – i.e., more likely that expensive players would be kept (on the theory that you are buying known quantities) or cut (because freeing up salary cap space is easier when you’re cutting pricey players.  Perhaps the cheaper players would be more cuttable because they represented long shot lottery tickets.  By salary band, the auction prices and cut numbers are as follows:

By Band Auctioned Kept % Kept
40+ 5 2 40.00%
$35-$39 6 3 50.00%
$30-$34 1 1 100.00%
$25-$29 1 1 100.00%
$20-$24 8 5 62.50%
$15-$19 14 7 50.00%
$10-$14 11 4 36.36%
$5-$9 43 16 37.21%
$1-$4 100 36 36.00%
$1 44 9 20.45%

Three out of the 5 guys that went for north of $40 – Carlos Gonzalez at $53, Albert Pujols at $51, Ryan Braun at $50, Evan Longoria at $50 and Carlos Gonzalez – wound up being cut, but about 36% of the under $10 guys got cut as well.   If there was a “value” band, 7 of the 10 guys signed between $20 and $34 were never cut, perhaps indicating a sweet spot, though without more data I’d hesitate to generalize quite yet.  I may update this post in a week when the final cuts are in, but certainly there is more work to do with respect to evaluating optimal auction strategy.

Next Post:  What Different Teams did in the auction


About Bill Porter

Bill is an aspiring sportswriter (attorney by day) born in Washington DC, raised in New York, and currently living in San Francisco with his wife Kirsten and two spazzy labs, Fletch and Bear. Follow me on Twitter at @wfporter1972
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2 Responses to Does the Ottoneu Auction Matter (Part I)

  1. Trey says:

    Bill, to clarify: 114 of 189 were cut from rosters? Seems like a lot. Is it possible the 114 includes players that were traded? We’ve traded a ton of players in our league over the last year so it would also be interested to see where those traded players fall within those bands (and how many we’re also cut). Good stuff.

    • Bill Porter says:

      It means 114 have been cut (released) since the auction. Some were claimed via waiver upon being cut, some were auctioned later after being cut. The 114 is just sort of an indication that “at some point since the auction, at least one owner decided he wasn’t worth the salary.”

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