It’s 2012. Draft Like It.

I remember when the original iPod came out. I remember wondering how anyone could possibly want an iPod when portable CD players and giant notebooks of music were so easy? Why would I change when the current process worked so well?

“Yeah, it’s crazy. They think the car thing is going to stick.”

The same was probably true for electricity, indoor plumbing and powered flight. People were so accepting of the way things were that they turned away obvious improvements in the name of comfort. There were backward-thinking people parading around with puffed-up chests saying “Why would you board a flying machine when you can ride a horse with no risk of death?” They talked about the early adopters as though they were insane for converting to this potential improvement. The old way was just so familiar to them and that was logical.

The same is true for fantasy football. Once upon a time, there was a pretty good way to draft fantasy football players. Owners picked numbers at random out of a hat or a cup that dictated draft order and every round the order reversed so that the positions were all theoretically equal. It came to be called the “snake” draft because one end has two razor-sharp fangs with poison coming out of them. It was a great idea at the time.

Years later, someone thought of the “auction” draft as an alternative and snake-drafters everywhere denounced it as ludicrous. In an auction draft, all the owners get a set number of pretend dollars (usually 200) and bid on the players until there is one owner willing to pay the price for each player and the highest bidder earns the rights to that player. It’s revolutionary. It rewarded owners who actually did research and valued the right players more than the field did.

The cool thing about auction drafts is that every owner has an opportunity to acquire every player, regardless of what number they pull from the hat. Are you convinced that Arian Foster is going to break the record for scoring this year, but you pick sixth in your snake draft? Sorry, there’s no situation that allows you to get him.

Enter the auction draft, where everyone can draft anyone. A natural evolution in the fantasy team-picking process.

But it isn’t that easy. Snake drafters everywhere united against the auction draft. “It takes too long,” they’d say. Or “It’s too confusing.” If you’re not willing to put in an extra draft hour for a four-month long commitment to fantasy football, you probably shouldn’t be playing in the first place. And if the idea of an auction draft confuses you, try grade school again.

If you read this blog at all, you can probably guess that I support any way to add extra math to sports. But that’s not all that’s great about auction drafts. You can build your team any way you want. Want the two best running backs and a bunch of scrubs to fill it out? Spend your money that way. Want a balanced team where every player is about the same talent? Spend your money that way. Want to lock down the touchdown double-dip with the Matt Stafford to Calvin Johnson connection? You get the idea. You’re no longer a slave to picking from a handful of players depending on what draft position you draw.

Do you want to know a crazy thing? Everyone I know who has done an auction draft prefers that format to the traditional snake draft. Every. Single. Person.

So much of a snake draft is determined by what position you’re drafting. The idea that the same owner can draft entirely different teams at each position is ludicrous. Why do the research if your intuition isn’t even the primary factor in determining which players end up on your team?

Here’s what I suggest: If you haven’t dabbled with the auction draft, try a mock. If you don’t love it, I’ll give you your money back. I’ll probably insult you because the auction is superior to the snake, and if you don’t get that, you are the problem.

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