When Tom Brady went down with a knee injury earlier this week I caught my breath. Not so much that he may or may not have been injured. I don’t have a favorite NFL team or player, so there’s no skin in the game. But the fantasy football implications, well, that’s a different story. He almost changed the dynamic of our entire league!
Every year around this time the NFL sneaks up on me. Silly since I write sports columns, but nonetheless true. I hardly pay attention to preseason games and don’t put too much stock into preseason predictions. However, every year around late August things become real. There’s a major injury, which snaps me out of a baseball-induced malaise. Mike Vick’s broken leg, Peyton’s neck surgeries, and Larry Fitzgerald’s strained MCL just to name a few. Each year the injury bell tolls and reminds me that the fantasy gods are unkind.
Now that I’m out of hibernation, and now that the best fantasy sport is upon us, I’m here to drop some serious knowledge. Not player rankings, because frankly I suck at fantasy football. But knowledge on how you conduct a draft.
If you are in a league with the same people year-in, year-out and you do not do an auction draft, then you’re an amateur. I don’t care how many titles you have, how much research you do, or how much money you have won. Snake drafts are for telecommuting leagues. Once-off leagues, as I like to call them. If you’re bored, like to manage a half dozen teams, and will go with any strange that comes by your door, then yeah, do a snake draft. But, if you have the same group of people every year, change to auction.
Furthermore, if you’re in a consistent league and don’t do keepers, then you’re also an amateur. A team without keepers is merely a rental. You’re research has been in vain and, most likely, too much for one season. True mastery of fantasy sports lies within the keeper league.
If my terse words haven’t sold you, below is a list of 10 reasons why an auction-keeper league is the way to go.
1. More Strategy
Any guy can pull first pick in a snake draft. Just as any fantasy all star can pull a crummy slot. Snake drafts leave too much to chance. Auctions are free-for-alls. Managers must pay attention to their rosters while budgeting money. It’s deeper, but much more fun.
2. Less Luck
This goes hand-in-hand with reason #1. Auctions take away any complaining. Every player is, for lack of a better word, in play. Love a guy, pay up. You can’t complain that you didn’t get somebody, just make it rain.
With snake drafts the majority of a league starts out at a disadvantage. Auctions give everyone a fair shake. Inequity sets in after people overpay for players and cash allowances run thin. That’s on managers though, not the roll of a dice or automated draft bot.
4. Punishes Stupidity
If somebody takes Chris Johnson with their 1st pick in a snake draft, they’ll be laughed out of the building. But they’ll still have back-to-back picks in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Good players will be around. If that guy blows $65 of a $200 budget in an auction, then his team is invariably screwed.
5. Rewards Guts
A guy in my league paid $61 for Tom Brady a few years ago. However, he planned on keeping Brady for league average for the next few years. After his initial investment the guy was paying $20 for an MVP quarterback. He gambled and won.
6. Build Like a Real GM
Keeper leagues force you to take a long-term approach. My team two years ago was terrible. However, I had some solid pieces. A rookie holdover in Julio Jones, a first-year rookie in Trent Richardson, and a keeper of Aaron Rodgers had my team looking primed for the future.
7. Prevents Shady Deals
Since everyone has an eye on the future you’re league huckster—every league has one—won’t try to pull too many questionable trades. No backroom trades of Adrian Peterson for Sebastian Janokowski and 25% of league winnings. It cuts out the BS
8. Seasons Tied to Each Other
If you lose your first eight games, fear not. There’s always next season. Mine the waiver wire; look for young talent. Forget this season, but keep an eye on the next. WE CAN BUILD ON THIS!
9. Better Trash Talking
Talking trash to the dude who picked 10th in a 12 man league is one thing. Yeah it’s fun, but it’s superficial. Talking junk to the guy who, at his own discretion, bought four quarterbacks in an auction is another. Reaching for a guy two rounds early is one thing; overpaying $30 for a guy is another. Auction money becomes like real money, which makes things personal.
10. More Interesting Draft
Snake drafts are boring. They just are. When it’s not my pick, I tune out after about the 3rd round. Auctions keep you invested. If you’re bored, bid somebody up. Wait until a player is “going once, going twice, aaaaannndd …” before tossing in a price. Get people liquored up so they act like cowboys with their money. You can even go the opposite way by drafting early, then taking an hour off to eat and drink, then coming back in on the back end. Auctions are much more communal. They’re definitely livelier. Best of all, there’s always bound to be one disagreement on who got the final bid. It creates a rift that carries over all season, and possibly into the next.
If you haven’t tried one and are curious, just jump right in. It’s weird at first, but once you get into a rhythm you’ll find the auction draft strangely satisfying. Plus, unlike in a snake draft, everyone comes away pleased with their team. It’s the only way to play fantasy football. Unless you’re a poseur, that is.