Now that we are in the latter part of August, the next couple of weeks will be dominated by Fantasy Football talk. All you see is rankings, scoring, keeper options, and advice on ways to keep your marriage or relationships when you inform your girlfriend (or boyfriend!) you will be unavailable for the next two weeks.
Half of the fun of Fantasy Football is the competition and the other half is the trash-talk between league mates. Every league has its unique rules to make things more interesting, but let’s face it, if you’re not playing in an auction-style league and are only participating in snake-style drafts, your room to talk trash is severely limited. There’s a lot of luck that goes into winning fantasy sports and too often that luck is often misplaced as knowledge.
To be clear, I myself participate in both and my favorite and longest-running league still does snake drafting (shoutout to the ADFFL!) I still do snake drafting and have fun, but be honest with yourself and admit that pretty much every snake draft can be switched to auto-draft and the teams would all be competitive and very, very close to what rosters would look like if you drafted on your own. It’s checkers vs. chess and there’s really no debate about it.
Whether your league is PPR, ½ PPR, or Standard, can we all agree that Todd Gurley, Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson, and Ezekiel Elliot will be probably going in the top five or six selections in a snake draft? Maybe Antonio Brown slides in there, maybe your idiot NY Giants fan friend (we all have one) picks Saquon Barkley in there, but pretty much if you want one of those Gurley-Bell-Johnson-Elliott workhorse backs, you’ll have to be within the top four or five slots in your snake draft. With an auction draft, you’ll have access to all of those players and could possibly end up with two of those guys. When you are in an auction league, you’re really on your own in roster-building and your roster is truly yours. In a snake draft, you could print out a Top 300 list, cross names of the list and draft the “best player available” and probably make the playoffs.
No one needs to hear how awesome you are at Fantasy Football when you’re in a snake draft unless you’re taking real chances during your draft and nailing the majority of these risky picks that could be considered unconventional. For example, let’s say you have the second pick in your snake draft. Those top four running backs are pretty unanimous in any rankings you will see online. What if you used that second pick on Leonard Fournette, currently RB9 and listed 14th on ESPN’s Top 300 list? There’s certainly a scenario in which Fournette could end up being the top running back in fantasy this season, right? How many leagues are you going to see him drafted first overall? I’m in a 14-man snake draft this season and if I end up with Fournette at pick 14 and he ends up as the top back, it’s not that I was super smart and everyone in front of me is stupid, it’s just how the draft fell.
I have the second pick in a snake draft this weekend and I’m telling you now, I’ll end up with either Gurley, Bell, or Johnson. I can guarantee I will not have one of those guys and Antonio Brown, because he will be gone. In an auction, I can have whoever I want to target. In this particular league, I’m not exactly sure who I’ll get, but based on the ESPN Top 300 PPR, I’ll probably get one of Michael Thomas, AJ Green, Christian McCaffery, Devonta Freeman, or Devante Adams. Again, its up to me to make the best selection, but its gonna be one of those guys. Its not going to be Antonio Brown and its not going to be Demaryius Thomas. If the league was set to auto-draft based on ESPN, I’d have Gurley and Freeman. Not a bad team to start with, but that took no thought at all. In an auction I can spend big on 2 RB’s, 2 WR’s and go cheap on RB’s, whatever I want to build the roster.
There are always surprises in drafts, and in snake drafts, they are usually found in the range of rounds 5-10. For example, in 2017, Alvin Kamara was that player. He finished as RB3 in my ADFFL league, but was drafted in the 10th round. That’s incredible value in the 10th round and probably somewhere close to where he was drafted in your own snake draft. If this guy had the premonition that Kamara was going to be RB3, why wasn’t he drafted in Round 1 or 2 or even Round 4 where he selected his New Orleans backfield mate Mark Ingram? The reason Kamara was selected was as a handcuff to Ingram in case of injury, not because there was any huge insight that he would end up as a top five back. Our guy who had this example never said he was all-knowing and actually said how lucky he was it ended up that way, but if you’re in a league where your guy was talking about how gifted he was, knock some sense into him.
Is it possible that Josh Gordon is a Top 5 fantasy wide receiver in 2018? It’s certainly a possibility just as it’s certain he will most likely be drafted in your snake draft between the fourth and sixth round. If your league mate grabs him in the fifth round and he succeeds in 2018, that wasn’t some amazing knowledgeable pick, it’s right about where he’s supposed to go when your consider not only his talent but also the risk, just like every other player on the Top 300 list. If he ends up as the top WR and whoever selects him picked him in the 2nd round, yes, that is a very good pick. If he got him in the 5th, that’s good value, but it wasn’t some expert pick or anything, he’s currently going on average in the middle of the 5th round. Nothing to brag about there!
The main hesitation I’ve heard in doing an auction instead of a snake draft is, “This is the way we’ve always done it.” That’s a poor excuse! Try it! For one, if you believe you know your stuff, you’ll do fine and it’s always hilarious watching two guys keep upping the cost on a player they both desperately want. Most sites have great software that will keep track of everything if you’d like to utilize the technology. Prepare yourself by doing mock auctions online, because after one or two of them you’ll have the hang of it completely. In the end you’ll have a fantasy roster that’s truly yours when you have access to every single player. You’ll also never have to have a clock because some bozo doesn’t know who to pick. You’ll still be able to give out Full Beer Penalties (chug!) when someone throws out a player who has already been bid on so you’re not losing the joy that brings.
Trying to convince your league to move to auction will be very difficult, especially if no one else has tried it before, but do it once with the promise to revert back the following year and I guarantee you’ll never change again. I felt the exact same way until I joined an auction league and I see the mistake I made by being afraid of change. You’ll have more fun during your auction day, you’ll feel more challenged to own your own team and you’ll thank me later.