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Why Auction Drafts?

Fantasy auctions have started to become more popular in the last few years, and as a real-life auctioneer, I am obviously a big fan. While a majority of leagues still use the typical snake-style drafts, I think leagues that have gone auction realize the benefits of the format (Once you go auction – you won’t go back). So, if you are trying to decide if you want to start a new league and use an auction draft, or go out on a limb and change to an auction draft, here is why you should.

Auctions are Awesome!!!

  • Auctions mean action. Auctions, by their very nature, are exciting and fast-paced. Things that are being sold are put up for bids and everyone has a chance to bid on every item. You don’t have to make one draft pick and then sit on your hands for the next 20 minutes while other managers stretch the time limits of every single pick before you get to select again. You have the opportunity to bid on every player that comes up. You can also follow prices to determine values for players you want to purchase.

  • Auctions are fair. As said above, every fantasy team manager can bid on every player. There is no random draw that relegates you to a spot late in the draft where you have no opportunity to get each year’s consensus top players. While you can still build a good team using a regular draft, you have the opportunity to build a great team by buying players at an auction. Unless you are in a dynasty league where the first team gets the first pick in the next year’s draft, then you should switch to an auction draft. A redraft league is no more like the NFL then an auction draft would be.

  • Auctions are not fair. Auctions can also be unfair. While every manager can bid on every player at an auction, not everyone will be prepared enough to know how much to bid on players at the auction. While everyone can follow cheat sheets and end up with a decent team in a snake draft, not everyone will be able to have enough foresight, self-control and savvy to come home a true auction winner. If you think you spend more time and care more about your league then some of your fellow league managers, then you should always want to do an auction draft. Those who properly prepare for an auction will come away winners. In one league I have been in for the past 15 years, we did not go to an auction draft for several years. This was because we were worried about some managers doing so poorly, that it would upset competitive balance in the league. The truth was, when we switched, the best managers still did well using the auction format. So, if you want to support a league model that props up poor managers and gives everyone an equal chance of winning the league, keep doing a snake draft. If, on the other hand, you want to do any of the following:

  • Reward hard work and dedication to the league
  • Allow those willing to spend extra time to succeed
  • Approve of active managers who may take advantage of poor ones

Then you should embrace auction drafts. Doing so will allow the best players to win your league and whatever may be associated with doing so.

  • Auctions create opportunity. Having an auction draft gives you, as a manager, the opportunity to construct your team any way you see fit. You can start fast or slow, or build your team instantly, or over the entire extent of the auction. The key is to be prepared for the opportunities as they arise. There are always going to be a few places in an auction where a player slips through the cracks and you need to be ready to purchase them when they do. One or two buys at an auction draft can change your team from good to great.

  • Auctions are great competition. There are two ways you get to compete in an auction. The first is head-to-head against the managers who like the same players you do. There is a certain kind of satisfaction when you win the bid against your hated league rival. The second competition is much more important: winning at building your entire team. While your rival may have paid more than you for one certain player, that extra few dollars they burned may give you the edge in building your entire roster.

  • Auctions are fun. I think we would all agree that draft night is one of the highlights of the year. Even perennially horrible managers in your league are filled with optimism that this year’s team is going to bring them a championship. We all enjoy making fun of players who make picks we think are horrible, or try to draft stud players four rounds after they have already been taken. Auctions just double this fun, as instead of one player making a bad pick, we can make fun of every manager who bids on some injury-prone, on-the-downhill player who we think is a total waste of their auction budget. Another way auctions can be more entertaining is to use an auctioneer and have a live auction. While there is great software for doing online drafts and auctions, I think half the fun is having everyone in the same room. You can still use technology, but I would still highly recommend everyone being together for your draft. I would always recommend having a non-league member run your auction, or even your regular draft for that matter. As an manager, you need to have your full attention on drafting or bidding. A good auctioneer will keep the auction moving, convince some managers to overpay, and be able to join when everyone makes fun of the player who just paid too much for a player on the PUP list. If you want to take your auction draft to the next level, contact us to have a professional auctioneer do your draft event.

  • Auctions Provide Clarity. Auctions allow you to see the individual worth of each player, one at a time. In a typical snake draft, you have to try to predict how other participants will value players. You are forced to guess if you need to take a player in round three, or try to risk them coming back to you in round four. This gets even worse the farther in a snake draft you go, as the informed fantasy player may be more aware of rising sleepers, while managers using dated cheat sheets won’t even have them on their lists. It becomes difficult to properly estimate which round you have to take a player you would like to have on your team. You do not know if, or how many, other managers want the same player you do. With auctions, the actual value of each player is knows at the time of sale. You get to see everyone who is interested in each player and have the opportunity to “like them a little more” by paying an extra dollar for them. Knowing the actual value of a player gives the smart fantasy manager greater flexibility in creating their team. It allows you to work within your budget to purchase the players you want to have on your team. The snake draft too often leaves you in the dark, as values stay unknown until an actual pick is made, and you can miss out on players you really wanted on your team.

  • Auctions are Dynamic. No two auction drafts will be the same. If you have participated in several leagues or done enough mock drafts, you get a good idea of what round most players are going to go. Most good sites will tell you to pay attention to ADP, or Average Draft Position, and you can calculate within a round or so. In an auction, however, due to the limited number of roster spots available, uneducated managers, and those who may get carried away during the bidding, the auction budget cheat-sheets may not even be close.

(This is a great reason to have your draft at a sports bar. My main league used Buffalo Wild Wings for 5 or 6 years, although sometimes it gets a little noisy for a live auction. In a snake draft, even an fantasy manager under the influence is going to get their tops picks right and still be able to pick decent players. In an auction draft, even a slightly intoxicated competitor can get totally carried away in the bidding process, allowing you better opportunities elsewhere. That is why I advocate waiting to indulge until after the auction draft is completed, and then you can celebrate your winning team to your heart’s content.)

Anyway, you never know how an auction draft will go. If the same competitors had two auction drafts back-to-back, the results would end up totally different. A certain position may sell higher than typical, which means other positions have to sell cheaper. You have to be ready and willing to change strategies on the fly at an auction, which can either be nerve-racking if you are unprepared, or exhilarating if you are ready.