Auction draft different but more stimulating
The setting was that of any fantasy football draft. (At least I hope it was or my friends and I are pathetic losers.).
There were tables and chairs splayed across a room. Potato chips and beer graced the table tops. A muted television played a college football game. Countless sheets of paper, complete with player rankings and NFL team schedules, were guarded from spies with hostility.
This was our war room.
Sixteen 20-something guys were preparing to pick football players who would influence our emotions for the next four months. With terror and enthusiasm in our eyes, we were like NFL general managers on draft day. (Yeah, we are pathetic losers.)
But if it wasn’t for one glaring difference in how our draft was conducted, we were.
“Peyton Manning, opening bid is $1,” said commissioner Collin Couch. In less than a minute, the NFL’s record holder for touchdowns in a season went for $70 to Big Ed’s Beat Down, a price that amounted to more one-third of his team’s $200 salary cap.
With only $130 to spend on his next 13 players, the owner of Big Ed’s Beat Down was like a wounded soldier. He limped toward the nearest shelter, looking to hide, and his future confused him. He was unsure who to bid for next or how much to bid. Every other owner was equally confused.
Welcome to an auction-style draft, an increasingly popular way of drafting for fantasy football leagues but one that develops much differently than a typical draft. If not for the service of http://www.fantasydraftboards.net, our draft and the tense atmosphere would have been worse.
When the 16 of us heard about the auction draft, most of us were skeptical. We had always used the conventional method, where owners picked their draft position out of hat, and down the line we went.
You know the drill. Every owner had the same player rankings. When a player was selected, owners would cross that player’s name off their list, exposing the next best player. Everyone basically knew the next pick because the cheat sheets told them who to pick. It was boring and predictable.
Ah, but an auction draft is chaotic and frightening. It’s so new that owners can’t prepare properly. There is little information on the Internet or in magazines. And even though there is information on draft strategy, an owner must understand that the numbers likely won’t apply to his/her draft.
Player values fluctuate from the Internet cheat sheets because humans are emotional creatures. They don’t like being beaten and they don’t like being outbid by some punk who won’t shut up.
That’s why one owner in our league paid $35 for Kerry Collins and another owner (me) got Jake Plummer for $12. That’s why one owner paid $65 (third highest for a running back) for Edgerrin James and another owner (me) got both Mike Anderson and Fred Taylor for less than that.
In an auction draft, there is no real value. It’s perceived value.
My initial strategy was either draft two superstars for $120 and fill the rest of my roster with weaklings, or hope everyone else overvalues their picks and stands pat until other solid players became available.
Since 26 players went for $40 or more, which was twice the amount my Internet cheat sheet told me, I went for the second option. I was unwilling to pay $50 for Brian Westbrook when running backs such as Steven Jackson ($48), Anderson and Taylor would be available at a time when owners were short on cash.
The second option also left me more money to bid on second-tier players that would fill my entire lineup. Waiting allowed me a starting lineup – excluding kickers and defenses – of QB Plummer, RB Anderson, RB Taylor, WR Darrell Jackson, WR Donald Driver and TE Tony Gonzalez. My top reserves are running backs (and possible trade bait) Thomas Jones, Larry Johnson and Ricky Williams, with my next two wide receivers being Jimmy Smith and David Givens. I don’t have any superstars but will get production from every position.
Meanwhile, Big Ed’s Beat Down’s starting lineup is QB Manning, RB Westbrook, RB Rueben Droughns, WR Hines Ward, WR Justin McCareins and TE Jason Witten. Two different strategies. Two different teams.
As for which team will have a better season, well, I’ll let you know after four months. As for which style of draft I like better, I’ll let you know in about four months.
– Jeremy Evans is a Tahoe Daily Tribune sportswriter. He can be reached via email at email@example.com. He’d like to hear your experiences with auction and conventional fantasy football drafts.