Auction Draft 101: What it is and Why it's Great
While the "traditional" serpentine or snake draft format is what we primarily focus on in our coverage of Draft Fantasy EPL here at The Draft Society, there are a number of other formats that are worth exploring to see which is best suited to your drafting style. The auction draft format offers many of the same perks for fantasy managers as a snake draft with considerably more risk involved, as there are no guarantees that you'll end up with a player on your roster until the very last pick of the draft (you read that right...not even first pick!). Let's take a deeper look into how this format works and what you can expect if you decide to jump into an auction league.
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How Does a Fantasy EPL Auction Draft Work?
The more Fantasy EPL Drafts I’ve taken part in over the years, the more I’ve come to realize one of the aspects I enjoy most about them is the time between picks. I love the mind-racing, pulse-quickening feeling as I try to work out my next move and hope my top choice makes it back to me. You may think that makes me a glutton for punishment, but the challenge of working through all the permutations of a draft pick on the fly is addictive to me. I get that same rush when taking part in an auction draft, though for somewhat different reasons.
While the season-long competition in an auction draft league is very similar (if not the same) to what you’d experience in a league using the traditional snake draft format, the draft day experience is drastically different. In this format, each player begins the draft with the same budget (typically somewhere in the $200 - $300 range) and must determine how much of it to spend on players to make up their full rosters. There is still a “draft order”, so to speak, but rather than being guaranteed your choice of player when it’s your turn, you merely have the opportunity to nominate a player to the auction block, where any team can take part in bidding to add that player to their roster.
When it’s your turn to nominate a player, you’ll be on the clock to make your selection. Depending on your league’s settings, you could have as little as 15 seconds (though 30-45 is less cruel) to do so before the system automatically nominates a player. You can also choose where to set the starting price for the player you nominate—anywhere between $1 and your maximum budget. Generally speaking, starting with $1 is ideal.
Once the bidding begins on a player, each manager has the option to bid in $1 increments or input a custom bid amount (typically to move things closer to the expected valuation for a player; for example, nobody wants to deal with $1 incremental increases if Mo Salah or Kevin De Bruyne get nominated for $1, so a manager may decide to bump the bid up to $50 and resume the bidding war from there).
There is a timer in place for bids as well (10-15 seconds is recommended), so if there are no bids before the timer runs out, the nominated player will go to the highest bidder. If another bid comes in, though, the countdown will be reset. The draft ends once everyone has filled their roster.
A Note on Strategy
Since there are no guaranteed picks, everyone in an auction draft is thrown into that high adrenaline decision-making state right from the start and, especially in the early stages when the most attractive picks tend to be nominated, it’s extremely fast-paced. I like to think of it as drafting without a safety net, which means you can’t afford to be careless.
I’ll share some more in-depth thoughts on my own approach for what to do and what not to do in an auction draft in our 22/23 Draft Kit, but at the most basic level, it’s essential to come into the draft with a clear plan for how you’re going to spend your budget. Think about whether you want to go all-in on one or two premium assets and fill the rest of your squad with $1 Hail Marys, or if you’d prefer a more balanced, pragmatic approach where you spread your money evenly across a swath of solid, if unspectacular, fantasy footballers.
One final consideration to keep in mind is that your league may decide that whatever budget remains after the end of the draft will be reallocated to your Free Agent Budget (FAB), which can be used to pick up players off waivers throughout the season, so keeping some of your powder dry could be a profitable strategy.
Each strategy has its merits and its pitfalls, but as long as you identify your plan and stick to it, you’ll be in good shape heading into the season. Auction drafts aren’t for the faint of heart. They require a clear strategy and laser-like focus, but for anyone (particularly experienced drafters) looking for a fast-paced, new challenge to take on, I’d highly recommend checking out this format.
Setting Up An Auction Draft League in Fantrax
If you’re interested in setting up an auction draft league yourself, Fantrax is a great platform to do so. Click on the “Create League” button in the Commissioner section of this page to get started, then follow the steps below to finalize your league setup to follow a similar setup to our standard snake draft leagues:
Step 1 - Use a Fantrax Default Setup
Step 2 - H2H Points
Step 3 - League Type: Re-Draft; Draft Type: Live Online Auction
Another great thing about Fantrax is that you can choose to customize your league in other ways, if you’d like. This article does a great job outlining some of the other options available to you and what the setup options mean for anyone looking to be a commissioner.
We've also got a Draft 101 episode of the Key Pass Collective that walks through some example scenarios of both snake and auction drafts that may help you decide which format(s) you participate in this season. Happy drafting!
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