How frustrating is it when you see your favorite fantasy player selected before your first pick? Do you ever wonder how different your fantasy season would have been if you landed the number 1 draft pick? Or how different your dynasty roster would look now? Well, good news! There is an easy way to do away with the plateaus and pitfalls that plague traditional snake drafts. Switch your startup drafts to auctions.
WHAT IS AN “AUCTION”
Auction drafts are precisely what they sound like. Every team is given a set amount to spend on players, let’s say $200. The draft starts with one owner announcing a player they would like to nominate to bid on. The draft itself can be a slow auction or a live auction. Slow auctions can allow up to 24 hours for owners to make bids, while live auctions usually allow 1 minute for other owners to bid. You do not have to bid on that player if you don’t want them. Instead of draft picks, owners go in a predetermined order and nominate players for bidding.
Once the bidding is over, the highest bidder wins said player. The amount the owner bid for that player’s services is deducted from there $200 budget. The remaining balance is what that owner now has left to bid on the rest of the players available. Once you fill your roster, you’re finished drafting. Most auction drafts are “use or lose it.” You don’t get to keep any of the money you don’t spend during the startup draft.
Auctions can be done live with a designated auctioneer or online. Most websites that host fantasy leagues offer an auction-style draft. Preparing for an auction draft is easy as well. Most of the big sites that offer mock drafts offer auction mocks as well. This will give you a sense of player values, the pace of auction drafts, how to bid, and let you play with different types of team building methods.
WHY AUCTION IS BETTER
An auction is a superior way to disperse fantasy players for several reasons. The main reason is that it gives all owners a fair chance to own any player. How many owners entering this season coveted Le’Veon Bell but we’re picking 11th and had no chance to land the stud running back of their choosing? They correctly identified a player that had an excellent season but had no chance at acquiring said player.
Now I know, many of you may be screaming at your computer screens (or more likely cell phone screens). “That’s what trades are for!” While I understand fantasy owners have an opportunity to acquire any player via trade, there is a core value you have to give up for that. Assets from your roster or future picks, the cost is often great for a player like Bell, a cost that will hamper an owner much more than if that owner was able to draft Bell. Auction drafting takes out any luck that may be involved in team building. There’s no skill in randomly being assigned the 1.01 in a draft. There is skill and strategy in determining how much to spend on specific players while allowing yourself to build the strongest overall roster.
The second reason auction is far superior to snake drafts is true team building skills are tested and rewarded far more than in snake drafts. In an auction draft, owners are often employing different strategies.
Stars and Scrubs
One draft style that could never be utilized in a snake draft is one I often refer to as “Stars and Scrubs.” Some owners prefer to spend their auction dollars on a few studs, blowing most of their money on 3 highly touted guys (often guys with first round value). Most owners won’t let these fantasy studs go for cheap. Any owner employing this strategy will have little money remaining to fill in the rest of their rosters. They rely on their three highly regarded players and try to hit on cheap high ceiling players to fill in their rosters. With three players that have ADP’s in the first round on said owners team, this type of team building would be near impossible with a snake draft.
When you draft a few big-time players, you’re relying on them to have big seasons. The main problem with this strategy is that often not all of your three highly touted players are the star performers you draft them as. Be it injuries, ineffectiveness, or regression, the hit rate on these guys just isn’t high enough to build around a few key players and a bunch of also-rans.
Value Based Drafting
“Value-Based” strategy is probably the most commonly used strategy, and it often results in average fantasy teams. Value-based drafting is employed by owners that look for players that to bid on at or below their perceived values. These owners build their team around loading up on value players. This is an appealing way to construct a team because you typically get a bunch of players in a short range of ADP.
This happens because most owners overspend on some of the top players and that leaves little loose money available to bid on some of the second and third tier players. The problem with this draft strategy is it often leaves teams without any true impact players, guys that are capable of carrying you for a week while the rest of your team may underperform. You may end up with three WR3s but no WR1s.
The third strategy and the one I’ve personally had the most success with is tier drafting. Prior to drafting owners rank players in tiers. They then determine how many players they want from each tier. For instance: an owner may have 11 players in their top tier. That owner may decide that he/she wants 1 of those top-tier players. While in their second tier they may have 25 players. Players in that second tier should be cheaper than players in the first tier. Players in the second tier should outnumber players in the first tier. So instead of targeting one player (as in tier 1), that owner may want to target 4 of those tier 2 players. So on and so forth.
The biggest issue owners run into using this strategy is that all too often owners fall in love with a certain player. They overpay to make sure they get that player as opposed to taking a different player in the same tier for less. All in all, I feel this is the best way to draft in an auction with the highest success rate.
Auction drafts also allow you to do something you can’t do in snake drafts. Bluff. When it’s your turn to nominate a player you can nominate a player you don’t want on your roster. Why would you do this? Because it’s a player you know other owners covet and will likely spend a large chunk of their budget on. This will leave you with more available funds to bid on players you do want, and the other owners with less available funds to bid on that same player. A player like David Johnson can be a league winner, but if an owner spends 60% of their budget on him, they will likely need to fill the rest of their roster with lower-priced players.
Bid on players you don’t even want. Not a lot, but if a star player is about to go off the board for $5 throw a bid out there for $6.
Keep track of what players are off the board. Seems simple enough, but inevitably there’s always one or two players everyone seems to forget about, and then everyone laments how little they go off the board for.
If the league users kickers and defenses nominate one of them early. If no one else enters a bid, you can win them for a dollar bid. If other owners do bid on them, then you deplete that owners bankroll. You want to deplete the available funds of other owners, so they have less money to bid on players you want.
Still not sold on Auction as the best method of drafting? Comment on this article and let me know why or contact me on Twitter @DFF_Psychic.