Snake Versus Auction Leagues
By Dave Hunter
Diving into the realm of fantasy football for the first time can be a bit overwhelming. Even a a seasoned veteran venturing out into a different draft format can be a tad crazy at times. Whether you’re a snake guy or an auction guy, strategy obviously comes into play regardless of the draft platform you choose. The idea is always the same, however. Draft the best team possible to dominate your league.
It sounds easy enough, right?
It should be easy, but that’s never the case. There are many factors that must be considered when preparing for your draft. It’s not just about general draft strategy. You also have to consider the specifics such as the type of league scoring, positional depth, the color of the player’s uniform (just making sure you’re still with me), what round to draft certain players, how much to pay for a player in an auction setting. The list goes on and on.
Whatever platform you choose, the positive end result should be a thrilling, nerve-racking adventure, assuming you prepare as you should. Draft preparation can be a bit cumbersome at times, but winners take the time to lay things out properly. In other words, winners prepare and losers don’t.
Everyone loves a snake-style draft, experienced and non-experienced fantasy owners alike. The key is to remember the basics while keeping yourself prepared for change and adjustment during the draft. These are some of my “live-by” rules in a standard snake draft for 2014:
- Know your league rules and settings, which include roster size with total players drafted and players started on a weekly basis, scoring and anything else that might be important to know during the draft. It’s pretty simple. If you don’t know what type of team you’re drafting for what type of roster and rules then you may as well already throw in the towel. Do QBs get four or six points per TD pass? Is it a PPR league? How is a team defense/special teams unit scored? These are the things we must know.
- Never draft a kicker before the last round of the draft. Kickers are a dime a dozen and every season there are about 10-15 kickers that all score right around the same amount of points. There is no reason to reach for a kicker.
- Come away with at least one Top 10 RB over the first two rounds of the draft. It’s not as difficult as it seems since there will be plenty of owners that will take a QB or WR, and maybe even TE (Jimmy Graham), over the first two rounds.
- Stay flexible. Don’t get flustered if a player you want is snagged right before your pick. Don’t be afraid to stray from your original plan and adjust on the fly. Preparing and having a plan is important, but you don’t want to get so caught up in your original plan that you pass on tremendous value at another position than you originally intended to draft.
- Avoid positional runs. Just because Shaggy, Fred and Velma all take WR right before your pick in the fourth round it doesn’t mean that you have to as well. Relax and stay focused. Look at your team needs and fill them accordingly. You are the Scooby-Doo of your league and you always get your man.
- Keep your draft cheat sheet to one page. Better yet, take advantage of the sophisticated draft software that’s out there for you. However, if you’re not willing to spend the money on draft software don’t muddle things up by having a phone book of a magazine to run through. Transfer information to one easy-to-read cheat sheet.
Building Your Snake Draft Team
Normally I’m a guy that’s looking to take two RBs over the first two rounds of a snake draft. But this season I’m much more open to the idea of walking away with one Top Ten RB and one superstar WR considering the shaky RB class. In fact, if I don’t get a shot at Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte or Marshawn Lynch (a Top Five pick), I’d consider going with Calvin Johnson if I’m picking six or seven. Then in the second round I’d be happy landing a RB like Le’Veon Bell or Zac Stacy. If I’m picking towards the end of the round, going with two RBs wouldn’t be a bad idea.
I’m not jumping on the TE bandwagon this season like I did last year, so I’m avoiding the Jimmy Graham pitfall as I don’t see Graham being dominant enough to ignore a deep TE draft class this season. Waiting at QB is smart overall with how deep the position is in a single-start QB league, although never pass on excellent draft value. Meaning: if Drew Brees drops to the third round for some insane reason, you draft him. Wait on team defense, and definitely draft kicker last. Build up your bench wisely.
If you’re just not into the old fashioned snake draft or you’re looking for a new challenge and really want to get the most out of your team, try an auction. There’s nothing more exciting than sitting in a room full of your friends and leaguemates as you bid back and forth on a player. Well, I guess there are more exciting things I can think of, but you get the point.
The adrenaline rush of competing against another owner for a player or finding that diamond-in-the-rough rookie that no one has heard of for a buck? Super-dee-duper! It’s an adventure you will never forget and one that you will crave forever more.
The benefits of an auction style draft outweigh a snake draft. Here’s what I’m talking about:
- Much more fun. That adrenaline rush I was talking about earlier? Trust me – it’s not a lie.
- Every league owner gets a chance at the No. 1 player. If you feel the need to spend $100 on Adrian Peterson, by all means, go right ahead. Don’t do that really, but your cap dollars are yours to do with as you please.
- Adjustable strategy. It’s much easier to change and adjust strategy plans on the fly in an auction setting.
- Flexibility to build your team the way you want without missing out on players. If you want two kickers, you can have two kickers. If you want three Top Ten wide receivers you can have them. Gone are the days of missing out on a player because another owner picked him ahead of your turn. This is where you decide to go with your “Stars and Scrubs” plan or run with a more balanced approach with your draft dollars.
Now that you have an idea of the comparable benefits in an auction setting, let’s talk about your salary cap. At the beginning of the draft each team is given a draft budget, and for our sake here it’s $200. The idea is that you want to budget and plan out your $200 without leaving any gaping holes in your roster (starting lineup and bench). And by that I mean: you don’t want a third-string RB as your RB2.
As a guideline, this is how I normally want to allot my draft dollars:
QB-(10% - $20)
WR-(25% - $50)
TE-(4% - $8)
D-(.5% - $1)
K-(.5% - $1)
Again, this is just a guideline. This season I’m considering bumping up my WR budget and lowering it a bit at RB. I’m sure you get the idea, right? I have found over the years that you must spend a big chunk of your draft dollars on RBs to be successful. I’m not just talking about starters either, considering the injury risks that RB gives each season. You must – I really can’t stress this enough – have a solid bench at RB if you want to be successful.
With that in mind, here are some of my “live-by” rules in an auction setting:
- Spend early and often. Don’t be one of these owners that end up leaving draft dollars on the table because he was too conservative and didn’t want to run out of cap space. Jump in there and get your big-named players early.
- Don’t overbid and be careful of price enforcing. We’ve established the adrenaline rush you get in an auction setting, but getting caught up in a bidding war with another owner and landing a player that you didn’t really want? That can lead to an awful crash after the initial rush.
- Nominate over-hyped rookies and players early. Get others to overpay for players, while there is still plenty of available cash on the board. So when it’s your turn to nominate a player, make sure you get owners to take dollars off the board by going nutty for a Johnny Manziel-type.
- Be prepared with a detailed cheat sheet. Meaning: every player should have a range of what you’re willing to spend.
- Keep the gambling to a minimum. So you think you’re going to be sneaky and get someone to pay for a player that no one in their right mind wants? Keep in mind that when you nominate a player and no one else bids on him that he is yours.
- Be aware of what other owners are doing. You must keep track of their rosters. You need to know how much each team has available to bid on players as the draft progresses. This information is extremely important as you get towards the end of your draft, when only a few bucks remain and everyone is trying to find their draft gem. This is where a handy-dandy draft program comes in to play.
- Be confident. Even if you flubbed up and drafted Johnny Begood at QB after finding out he broke his arm in camp, don’t let everyone know you flubbed up. Let them think you know something they don’t. If other owners see you as injured prey, then you’re their next meal for sure.
Well, that should do it. Whether you’re jumping in to an auction setting for the first time or sticking with a good old snake draft, remember to be patient, don’t panic when you don’t get the player you want and most importantly… have fun!