As fantasy sports nears the 30 million player threshold the games themselves continue to evolve. Similar to the computer industry in the 1990’s, which saw revolutions in operating systems move from command line (DOS, CPM) to Graphical User Interfaces like Windows, the internet has fueled an explosion not only of players but of variations of the games themselves.
Yet somehow the oldest, simplest form of drafting seems to maintain its grasp on the game. Snake drafts, which rely inherently on the luck of the draw, still dominate the fantasy landscape.
Much of that is due to that same simplicity.
Fantasy football especially is subjugated by this Stone Age methodology because of its sheer simplicity.
Casual fans can play the game and be fooled by the illusion that they are somehow in control of their destiny.
Somewhere Lady Luck and Murphy’s Law are cuddling amorously and toasting their good fortune.
The auction draft format is slowly gaining ground in fantasy football. I expect this trickle to turn into a flood as serious players, who along with the industry continue to grow in numbers, embrace the more challenging and infinitely more satisfying auction mindset.
It’s not hard to understand why.
I was first introduced to auction drafting in 2004 when, as a writer for Fantasy Sharks, I was invited to represent the site for an auction draft hosted on Fantasy Auctioneer. I was immediately taken by the concept.
I was in control. I no longer had to pray that my lotto number would be selected to grab the top two or three difference makers. Instead, I was able to go toe to toe with 11 other fantasy managers for the players I coveted.
Auction drafts are the true free market economy in fantasy sports. 12 owners meet, with the same salary cap and the same number of roster spots to fill. Each of us has the freedom to decide who we want on our respective teams and how much we are willing to pay for that privilege.
Auction drafting is much more than just another way to draft. The nuances, from Studs and Scrubs to the balanced approach, are only a piece of the puzzle. Strategies like The Hammer, which often plays more to a balanced approach rather than the Studs and Scrubs, allow you to control the end of the draft when the best values are often realized.
The standard for auction drafting calls for a $200 salary cap and 17 rosters spots to fill. Typically they are one QB, two RB, two WR, a flex player (WR/RB) one TE, one defense/special team combination (DST) one K and eight bench players of any configuration.
Variations include more or less teams, a $100 salary cap, which I personally find to be too restrictive as it makes the draft end game less manageable, and the inclusion of individual defensive players (IDP) instead of the simpler DST, which is rapidly gaining popularity.