Home > Dynasty 101 > Startup Drafts Vs. Auctions

By Nick Falana

Couple weeks back, I covered How To Pick Your Fantasy Football Draft Order — but this assumes that you’re using a draft! I don’t even like drafts! To me, an auction is far and away the best way to divvy up players in a fantasy league.

And I understand it’s not practical for everyone. In this article I’ll cover every way fantasy aficionados have come up with to select players in the fairest way possible — snake, third round reversal, banzai, auction, and drauction.

First, let’s cover some territory. This is a dynasty site and when you’re talking dynasty, there’s two types of drafts — startup and rookie. For the purposes of this article, I’m only going to address startup drafts.

When starting a dynasty league, the initial selection of players is incredibly important. It’s not like redraft where you get to start over every year. If you don’t get the right players, it’s a long process of rebuilding.

It seems like someone always gets screwed in a snake draft — which is why fantasy players invented the third round reversal. This is where the third round is the same order as the second round and all the rest of the rounds continue as they were. So, if you drafted last in the first round, you draft first in the next three rounds before returning to last again in the fifth round.

Banzai is yet another take on third round reversal. The snake goes one way in the first two rounds then the opposite way the whole rest of the draft. So, if you drafted last in the first round, you draft first in the next two rounds only before returning to last again in the fourth round. The aim of both draft types is to take away much of the advantage gained by teams drafting early in the first round.

Another variation on these two types is the first league I was ever in. There, owners were required to pick a starting lineup’s worth of players in the first seven picks and then the snake reversed for bench players, kickers, and defense.

These can all be great fun fixes aimed at making drafts more fair. Even the snake is an improvement on a standard draft. But why try to fix a broken system?

When using an auction format, everyone gets the exact same shot at every single player. Everyone gets XXX number of dollars to spend as they see fit. The most typical auction budget amounts are 100, 200, and 1000. The higher the number, the greater the detail of value. For example, a $35 player in a 100 budget league may be worth $350 in 1000 budget league but he also may be worth $345 or $355 as typically only whole dollar amounts are used.

For less experienced players it can be scarier because there’s no safety net of automatically getting to pick at certain times. You have to be aggressive and you have to have a plan. But the upside is that owners get to build their team the way they like.

If you want to fill your team with everyone who would have been taken in the third round, you can do that. If you want to spend your cash on 3 first round talents (like I usually do), you can do that, too. If you want to skew young, that can be your strategy without having to worry that you’re passing on value that’s available to you at your spot in the draft order.

There’s minimal “drafting for value” because each player finds his market value for that league. No one is going to pick “your guy” out from under your nose again. Maybe you’ll get outbid but at least you had a chance and made a choice. The most competitive, balanced leagues I’ve ever played in have always been auction leagues.

The one criticism about auctions is that they can drag at the end. If you’re aggressive early you may have little cash left and have to wait for the rest of the league to spend theirs. Toward the end, auctions become much like drafts as owners only have a dollar or two left of their budget to spend on each pick.

Owners are often left in the difficult position of nominating guys they don’t want simply because other owners have more cash left and can outbid them easily. Which is why people came up with the drauction.

You fill out the first ten, fifteen, twenty-five spots on your roster through an auction, making sure everyone has a shot at the top players. Then, by the time the auction is reaching the boring stages, your startup auction turns back into a draft and can continue much more quickly.

Online sites like ESPN and MFL have adapted auctions into their league management software in recent years. Drauctions, however, currently still remain the domain of live, in-person drafts.

I hope I’ve given you an overview of the pluses and minuses of each type of selection process your league can use at startup. If you have a question, feel free to post in the comments. And keep a look out in the future for when I address rookie/free agent drafts in dynasty leagues.

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