I have spoken with a number of fantasy owners intrigued by the concept of holding their first-ever auction draft, but with legitimate concerns about trying out the format.
Perhaps not all league members are seasoned competitors or are quick with player values. Some may fear that the additional pressure of having to come up with dollar amounts while being on the clock will force them to make bad decisions or even miss out on desired players.
If any of that sounds familiar, I have a potential solution for you. Hold a hybrid auction-snake draft.
What is this, you ask? Run the draft in snake order, both in nominating players as well as in all bidding. This way, every owner is given the explicit opportunity to either pass or bid on each nominated player in the auction.
Of course, some supporting ground rules would be needed. First of all, once an owner passes on a player, he should not be allowed to re-enter the bidding on that player on any subsequent trips around the table.
Next, some time constraints are needed as the sequential bidding can prolong a draft considerably. One method is to set a 30-second time limit for bidding. Since owners always know when their turn will be once a player is nominated, they should have time to prepare by making their decision on whether or not to bid and at what price before the table comes around to them.
Another time-saver is to force reasonable opening bids. Require an owner to sit out of the bidding for a player if the next bidder increases his opening bid by $10 or more. This avoids a $1 start on Albert Pujols and having to suffer through 40 more $1 raises until he gets anywhere near his actual value. Once owners get their heads around this rule, it is rarely if ever needed.
One of the best formats in which to try this approach would be in a keeper league, since fewer players are bid on. To do that the first year, however, an agreed-to system to assign fair dollar values to keepers would need to be established up front. This could prove to be a challenge.
In one of my long-standing local keeper leagues, this hybrid approach was not adopted as an interim to moving to a regular auction draft. Instead, it was liked so well that it was written into the constitution. The format offers comfort to the majority of that league’s owners through having more time to think and react while still enabling them to enjoy the benefits of bidding.
This hybrid auction-snake is not right for everyone. The more serious owner especially will grow increasingly weary of the extended bidding process for each player. Yet not everyone comes from the same base of experience or has the same interest level.
If you are thinking about getting into auctions and wonder if this could be a way for you to put a first toe into the water, but all means, consider giving it a try.
Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 13-year history. He is a 2009 NFBC league winner and finished in the top 25 nationally in both the NFBC and NFFC that season. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com.