Going Once. Going Twice…

Have you ever been to an auction? The auctioneer speaks with a rapid fire cadence that is unmatched anywhere else in conversation, and yet we can understand him. That’s because we’ve been conditioned to hear the important parts of what he said. These important parts include the cost of the item, the person (or number) bidding for the item, and those famous words, “Going once. Going twice… SOLD.”

In fantasy terms an auction is another way of drafting. It’s not as compelling as its counterpart — the ever-popular snake draft — but more and more leagues are switching to this format. I was curious a few years back so I did a mock auction draft, but too many of the team owners weren’t even there so it went poorly. I promptly forgot about it and went back to the comfort of my snake drafts.

But the interest returned last season when I talked to a few buddies of mine who were in an auction draft league. They were adamant that there was nothing like it, but that everyone had to be present to make it work, that if half the teams weren’t there it wasn’t equitable and no one would want to play the season. Auto-draft doesn’t quite work as well there as it does in a snake draft.

Here’s the premise:

  • Every team owner gets a certain dollar amount to spend during the draft
  • The first team gets to pick a player — any player — to auction
  • Teams go back and forth upping the price until no one wants to go any higher
  • The player goes to the team that bids the most
  • The next owner in line picks another player, and it goes from there

The key to an auction draft is making sure you use your money wisely, because when it’s gone then it’s gone. I’ve been to a few mock auction drafts this preseason and I’ve noticed a few things prevalent to most.

  1. There are usually at least three team owners who go crazy early. They bid high on the first three or four guys who are up for auction, and then they have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to fill out their team.
  2. There are usually at least two team owners who wait way too long, trying to save their money to the bitter end. They don’t even generally begin bidding until halfway through the draft when all the big names are already off the board.
  3. The rest of the teams are steady bidders.

After going to a few mock auction drafts I decided it was time for the real thing, to actually draft a team through the auction and see how different it was from the typical teams I’ve gotten through snake drafts this preseason. Once the draft was done it was astounding to me how much I actually liked it, and how much I liked the team that emerged from it for me.

An auction draft is great because it allows you to build a team with a few key players that would never be available to you on the same roster when snake drafting. That’s just the nature of the beast. If you wanted Rob Gronkowski and Todd Gurley there is no way you could do that in a snake draft. If you wanted to pair up Antonio Brown and Dez Bryant as your WRs you would be hard pressed to do so in a snake draft. Therein lies the glory of the auction.

Now, you might be in a longtime league where your draft is a snake draft. You might totally love that format (like I do), but trust me, if you just go out and mock draft a couple times using the auction format you’ll see what I’ve outlined here. If you can be patient and let some of those big names get away you might be able to get some steals later on in the draft when everyone else is poor.

Here’s the team I assembled via the $200 auction draft:

  • QB – Russell Wilson ($17)
  • RB1 – Todd Gurley ($67)
  • RB2 – Ryan Mathews ($13)
  • WR1 – Dez Bryant ($52)
  • WR2 – Jeremy Maclin ($15)
  • TE – Gary Barnidge ($5)
  • FLEX – Michael Crabtree ($4)
  • D/ST – Cardinals ($1)
  • K – Blair Walsh ($2)

I also had Jay Ajayi, Isaiah Crowell, Bilal Powell, Allen Hurns, and John Brown, all for $6 or less. That’s because I let Antonio Brown pass ($68), I let Rob Gronkowski pass ($56), and I let a bevy of other big names pass. Believe me, it was hard, but I got my first choice of running back in Gurley, and my first pick of wide receiver in Bryant. Sure, they took up more than half of the money I had to spend, but I believe they will be worth it in the long run.

Getting Russell Wilson for only $17 bucks was a steal as QBs like Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton went off the board at $23 and $35 respectively. I was also able to get Tyler Eifert at $4 just in case Barnidge disappoints in his follow-up season. All in all it was a solid draft, and I’m excited about how my team will do this season. I’m surprised it took me so long to get into the auction draft, but I think I’m hooked.

You might be too if you give it a chance.

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