Ultimate Fantasy Football League Commissioner Guide: Part 3 – The Draft

Welcome back to Part 3 – The Draft.  If you aren’t all caught up then check out the first two parts of our series below.

PART 1 – The League

PART 2 – League Settings

In this edition, we take a look at the different draft types.  The draft can be the most exciting part of the pre-season activities.  By now you may be wondering who has the number one pick in the draft. Traditionally the draft order is decided about a half an hour before the draft and is picked at random.  As much as I enjoy the gold standards of fantasy football this is one of those things that should almost always be tinkered with. I am a fan of making things as fun as possible and creating games or challenges for the draft order is ideal.  Things such as bowling, horse racing bets, sack races (you can thank The League for this one), and much more can be used as a device to arrange the draft order. For those looking for a low maintenance option feel free to use previous season standings (if you had a previous season) or just drawing names out of a hat.  In my experience, the methods that use previous standings or weighted lottery (NBA style) are best reserved for keeper or dynasty leagues.

The Snake Draft

This is the most common draft type.  Snake drafts work with Round 1 going in order (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) and then reversing the order for Round 2 (10, 9, 8, 7, etc.).  There are positives and negatives to every position in the order. Middle picks have to wait around the same number of picks every round which means you will most likely get a quality player at every turn.  The strategy gets a little more complicated when you start picking in the first or last three picks of every round because of that is known as “the turn”. Since snake drafts reverse the order at the beginning of each round, people with picks at the end of the rotation end up with two picks very close to each other.  For example, if you draft 9th in a 10 team league, that means in Round 1 you get the 9th pick and in Round 2 you get the 2nd pick. This can be very beneficial in grabbing pairs of the same position to create runs on a certain group. What is a run you may be asking? A run is a span of picks where owners select players from the same position group (5 owners pick WRs back to back draining the talent at that position).  Being able to start these runs and recognize when they may happen is an expert level skill that separates the great drafters from the poor ones.


The Auction Draft

The other big player in the draft formats is the auction draft.  Auction drafts have a traditional draft order (1-10 or however many teams there are) but instead of outright selecting a player you place a player on the auction block.  Once a player is on the auction block owners have the ability to place bids on that player using their auction pool (a dollar amount you have to build your team). Highest bidder wins that player.  Pretty simple in concept but difficult to master. High ranking players that usually go in the first 10 picks can range in value based on your auction pool but they usually command a large portion of your available cash.  The biggest question is how to manage your available cash. The goal here is to field a competitive team. So you can try to drive up the price of the high-value targets and buy low when others have overspent. The best way to build your team is to find that balance.  You will want to grab a superstar player for sure but not overspending on two or three players will leave you with plenty of cash to build your team with those tier 3 or 4 guys that will win you games week in and week out. When you are low on cash you can get players for a dollar.  Sometimes you will get lucky and get a starting TE for a dollar. Just as a word of advice, never spend more than a dollar on your kicker or defense. People always do it and it boggles my mind. It isn’t worth it.

The last of the draft types I will mention is the traditional draft.  These drafts are done just like they are in the NFL. 1 to 10 and the order resets back to 1 for the next round.  There isn’t too much to say about this type. It isn’t used very often and you might only find them in really deep dynasty/keeper leagues for rookie drafts.  So you probably won’t run into this format as much. The most used is and probably will be the snake draft for many years to come.

Thanks for sitting through this explanation of draft types.  As we march forward to fantasy season I can’t wait to share with you some rankings and strategies.  For Part 4 I would like to dive into the extracurriculars of fantasy football. League fees (if you choose to play for money), smack talk, trophies and all the stuff that makes fantasy fun.  Until next time…

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