The Case for Auctions


Last Updated: Jul 04, 2009 1:26 AM


The draft is and may always be the most popular way to distribute players in fantasy football. It's a shame, though, because using an auction is a much better method. There are a lot of old-timers out there who steadfastly refuse to try an auction for reasons ranging from “we've always used a draft, so there's no reason to change” to “auctions sound too complicated and will just take forever.” Both are merely excuses, and bad ones at that. As a long-time auction apologist, I feel it is my duty to annually spread the good word about auctions. So here then are my five reasons why your league should use an auction rather than a draft this year:
 
1. Auctions are fairer
There is absolutely no question that an auction is a more equitable means of distributing players than a draft. Even if your draft uses a serpentine method in which the order reverses every round (1-12, 12-1) an auction is fairer. It's simple: in an auction every team is on equal footing. Every team gets the same auction budget and has to buy the same number of players. Unlike a draft in which the order (oftentimes a random order totally based on luck) determines who will be getting the best players at the top, an auction allows everyone a shot at the best players as long as they are willing to pay the price. Said another way, there is only one No.1 pick in a draft, but everyone is capable of getting the best player in an auction. The last I checked fairness is something for which we should strive when making the rules that govern fantasy football leagues.
 
2. Auctions are more fun
Let me see if this sounds familiar: it's draft day and you make your pick, then 20 minutes later you make your next pick. Between selections you hear someone ask at least once, “who the bleep is up?!” while some numskull frantically flips through magazines that were written five months earlier trying to decide between four different tight ends. Yes, draft day is a lot of fun, but it can also get very tedious, even boring, at times. That is never the case in an auction because the answer to “who's up?” is always “everyone.” You can bid on every stinkin' player if you want, provided you still have ample money left in your auction coffers. The action never drags in an auction, unlike a draft where owners often have enough time to take a short nap between picks.
 
3. More strategy is a good thing
If using your brain is an issue, then maybe you ought to quit your whining and stick with drafts. However, for those of you who actually believe you might know a little something more than the next guy about this great obsession we call fantasy football, then the opportunity to employ more strategy (i.e. think) should be a welcome endeavor. Yes, an auction involves more strategy than a draft. It involves pre-auction strategy like devising a list of projected auction values and figuring out how you want to budget your money. It also involves in-auction strategy such as bidding patterns, getting tells on other owners, and making plan changes on the fly. In other words it gives everyone a chance to flex their brain muscles rather than sit on them for four hours while periodically spitting out a name.
 
4. Auctions reward those who prepare
If we really want to continue rewarding the lazy, then the terrorists have won. Don't you hate it when “that guy” stumbles into a good team on draft day? You know the guy—he's the one who pays no attention to football all offseason, shows up to a draft with nothing but a case of beer, Xeroxes a copy of your C3 cheat sheet from FFChamps, lucks into a top-three pick, and then just goes down the line on his (your) cheat sheet picking the next best player?  Meanwhile, you've studied, planned, and stayed on top of the news, only to get the ninth pick and leave the draft frustrated and depressed. An auction does not allow for someone to be unprepared. Those who are unprepared for an auction will be eaten up in an auction format and left unprepared when the season starts. Those who prepare, even a little, will actually benefit from their hard work and knowledge via better bidding.    
 
5. Auctions are easier than you think
Auctions are a bit more challenging than a draft, but seriously you don't even have to be smarter than a fifth grader to figure them out. If you can read, speak, count to 100, and have mastered the art of subtraction (addition's tricky friend) you are qualified to participate in a fantasy football auction. It's really not that tough, people. And, no, it doesn't take 10 hours. If you have a half-way decent auctioneer it shouldn't take any longer than a draft does… and it will be so much more action-packed and fun it will feel like it actually takes less time. 
 
I don't know of a league that has tried an auction that has gone back to doing a draft. 
 
Is your league contemplating the switch?
 
You hereby have my permission—in fact, I implore you—to copy and paste this article into an email or just copy the link and send it to the nonbelievers in your league. If I can convert even one more league to use an auction rather than a draft I will feel as though I have made this world just a little better place for future generations.


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