I love Auctions as a fantasy format. I want you to love them too.
I guess they’re commonly known as Auction Drafts these days, a silly name. An Auction is one thing. A Draft is another thing, a distinctly different thing. But I’m not here to get hung up on the name. I want you to love what I love — because I’m so confident if you give Auctions a chance, they’ll enrich your fantasy experience.
Before I pitch you on how fantastic these Auction Drafts can be, let me dispel some common myths. Here are two commonly accepted arguments against Auctions that don’t really make sense:
Dated Reason 1: Auction Drafts Take Too Much Time
I guess it comes down to what “too much time” means to you. Yes, Auctions are a little longer than common Drafts. But with the internet and commissioner customization, you can Auction in a surprisingly tidy amount of time.
The recently-completed Chuck Muncie Auction (a league I run) ran on Yahoo, had 312 player purchases (it’s a very deep league) and I was done inside of three hours. And heck, isn’t Draft Day the best day of the year? Are you really in a hurry to get back to TPS reports, bottle return, bill paying, and cat litter?
Dated Reason 2: We Have To Draft — That’s What We’ve Always Done
Congratulations if you’re clinging to this one, the most inane defense of anything. Some traditions are lovely things and deserve to endure, but if we don’t ever try to improve anything, life becomes a fairly bland and dated exercise. Should we get rid of the forward pass? Was TV better with 4-5 channels? Would you prefer a horse-and-buggy over your current car?
Now to the good stuff, the reasons why you’re going to LOVE Auction Drafts if you give them a chance.
Auctions Are More Fair — And They Open Up The Player Pool
You know the deflating feeling — you settle in on Draft Day, get a slot you don’t like, and immediately start thinking of all the players you CAN’T select. Get the 11 pick, forget about a Top 4 running back. Land the No. 1 pick, lovely — but you probably won’t own Julio Jones or Melvin Gordon or DeAndre Hopkins. Okay, you can’t own everybody, that’s fine. We accept that.
But in an Auction Draft, any collection of players is theoretically possible. You could own Gurley and Julio, or Zeke and Antonio Brown, or heck, three of these guys. It all comes down to what you’re willing to pay, and how much you’re willing to accept gaps in your roster later on. You could also go for a team of all “good-not-great” players, eschewing star power in lieu of outstanding depth. (I wouldn’t do that in most standard formats, but I’ve seen setups where it makes sense.)
Everyone should have a chance at everyone. In the Auction world, you do.
Auctions Allow More Strategy Divergence
This is an offshoot of the first point, but important enough to give as a solo bullet. In many Drafts, you move like the pawn on a chessboard, limited options. Switch to an Auction and you all of a sudden move like the queen on the chessboard, able to accelerate in any number of ways. Options are good. Choice is good. Dynamic exercises are more challenging.
Every Auction Eventually Scrambles Your Brain — In A Good Way
Mike Tyson famously said everyone has a plan until punched in the mouth. That’s how you’ll metaphorically feel at some point in an Auction, when unexpected things happen. Auctions are often told out of order — good players nominated before stars, handcuffs going before starters, a kicker going before Odell Beckham Jr. Sometimes the Aaron Rodgers owner will mistakenly buy another stud quarterback — simply hoping to advance the price — and get caught with an unneeded second piece at a one-fill position (I’ll give you the Superflex pitch on a different day.)
All it takes is two owners with the same irrational exuberance and a price can go haywire. And sometimes a good player is sold quickly and cheaply, to one person’s delight and everyone else’s befuddlement.
Embrace this. Celebrate this. These are good things. In every Auction I will inevitable say “what just happened?” or “how did I screw up the last 15 minutes?” — and that’s a feature, not a bug. I want that chaos. I want that challenge. I want to play no-limit poker with quick decisions, not boring and static limit poker with an extended time bank.
Auctions Force You To Defend The Entire Room
Let’s say you and I are in one of those “good old Drafts” — and you have the No. 2 pick and I have the No. 11 pick. We’re not going to clash very often. Your early picks will have little to do with my early picks. You might open a tier, I might close it, but we’re not in direct competition for much of what we’re doing.
In the Auction world, you have to be aware of everyone. You need to consider (on as deep a level as you feel comfortable) what other people are doing, what their nomination strategies are, how they’re bidding, how they are giving away their true intentions, what they still need. You also have to, as best you can, mask your own intentions. Your neighborhood can mess you up at a Draft, the people who pick around you. In an Auction, everyone is potentially a problem, someone in your way.
This conversation will naturally pivot to Auction Strategy, and that’s on deck for the coming week. Right now, I just want you to consider the argument. Drafting will always be fun in any format, and heck, you don’t need a ton of complication to make for a fun fantasy experience. A head-to-head DFS game with a buddy is fun. I’ve played in a few small fantasy leagues (with jumbo rosters) that were an absolute blast. A game doesn’t have to have all the bells and whistles to produce a good time.
But if you want the maximum challenge, if you want a fair shot at every player (stars, sleepers, whomever), if you want an unlimited possibility of roster constructions, you have to give these Auction Drafts a try. I want you to love the chaos as much as I do.
Strategy is coming, kids. For now, I want you to consider something new. And if you’re an old hand with Auction Drafts, please share your propaganda in the comments.