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Change from Draft to Fantasy Football Auction

Do you have the guts to try
something new?

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by Matthew Brown, Guest Writer

Original Release: May 18, 2004

Since the dawn of time, the serpentine draft has had a unique influence on the fantasy football experience.  What pick did you get?  Who got the first pick?  These questions told you that draft day was near... the greatest day of the year in fantasy football.  My league fully embraced the serpentine draft as we utilized it during our initial nine years of existence.  In year ten, we made a highly controversial decision.  In the spirit of trying to make our league better, we eliminated the serpentine draft in favor of a new system.  At the time, some were skeptical... but they aren't anymore. 

If you are currently using the serpentine draft, you are not using the most efficient player selection system available.  You may not know it, but your system is deficient.  You need to make a change.  It's time to go to an auction.  We used it for nine years, so I know the serpentine draft works, it's just that the auction works better.  Let me tell you why.

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The primary reason is because it allows you to instill a higher degree of fairness within your league.  There is a fundamental flaw with the serpentine draft in that all team owners are not on equal ground at the start of the player selection process.  Simply put, every player is not made available to every owner.  This fact is irrefutable.  The player that is drafted first is not available to 90% of the league.  This inequity is compounded depending on how far down an owner's draft position is, as there are multiple players that are never available to him.  This issue is easily remedied by going to an auction format.

The auction also offers the additional element of salary cap management.  This feature is a nice benefit in that it makes the process more strategic, challenging, and fun for the hard core fantasy football owner.  Rather than simply drafting the highest valued player available, an owner needs to determine when he should strike and when he should stand back and let the others fight it out for a certain player.  It is the World Series of Poker, fantasy football style.  You look your opponent in the eye and back and forth you go in your bidding war, wondering if your opponent is just trying to make you pay more, or if he absolutely has to have the player.

Opponents of the auction will argue that it takes too long.  This is a myth.  The auction took us about the same amount of time as the regular serpentine draft.  Opponents of the auction will argue that you have to pay more attention, rather than relaxing between picks.  This... is actually true.  If you are concerned about having to pay attention, you probably shouldn't auction; in fact, you probably shouldn't play fantasy football at all because you are obviously   incompetent.

The truth of the matter is that most leagues aren't moving to auction because they don't think there is a problem with their current system.  I used to feel that way.  As I stated earlier, the serpentine draft does work.  A typewriter works too, but I chose to type this article up on the computer anyway.  It just seemed like a more efficient way to do it.  This isn't about good old Mr. Serpentine not working; it's about the auction working better.

Should you try it, you will find the auction to be more equitable, challenging, and entertaining than its serpentine brethren.  I wrote this article because I now realize that our league should have made the transition years ago, but we didn't think it was any big deal.  We were content in our ways; we didn't know what we were missing.  Now that I know what I know, I have chosen to enlighten the masses.  It is now up to you, young grasshopper, to learn from my wisdom. 

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