Auction Draft or Snake Draft – Which Is Better?

Auction vs. Snake Draft

Fantasy draft day is the most important day of the fantasy football season. One of the biggest decisions your league commissioner will make is which draft format to use…auction or snake?

Most of the major fantasy sites (Yahoo, ESPN, etc) now support online auction drafts. That makes it easier than ever for fantasy leagues to try auction drafts.

Below we’ll cover the advantages of each draft format and help you figure out what the best draft format for your fantasy football league is.

Note: Snake draft is also called a serpentine or standard draft.

What’s A Snake Draft?

Teams are assigned a draft order from the 1st pick to the nth pick (where n is the number of teams, we’ll assume a 14 team league). Each team picks a player when it’s their turn. At the end of the 1st round, the draft order reverses (snakes around) for round 2 with team 14 picking 1st, team 13 picking 2nd and so on.

The draft order continues to snake around this way until all rounds are completed. The teams at either end of the round get to pick twice in a row but could wait a long time before the action gets back to them.

Advantages of a Snake Draft Format

  • Traditional Draft Method – The snake draft has been around since the dawn of fantasy sports. It’s probably how your father and grandfather drafted their fantasy teams. The snake draft also loosely mimics the format of the annual NFL draft, if that’s important to you.
  • Simple and Well Understood – Scratch off names as players are taken. When it’s your turn, you pick the best available player (for a specific position or overall best). Simple, right? OK, it’s a little tougher than that but there is…
  • Lots of Draft Strategy Advice Available – Because it’s been around so long, there are tons of articles, blog posts and even books offering strategy advice for a serpentine draft.
  • No Messy Math – In a snake draft there’s no budget to manage. You won’t have to figure out a player’s monetary value or figure out what your maximum bid is. It’s simple.

What’s An Auction Draft?

Each team gets some amount of fantasy dollars (usually $200 or $250) at the start of the draft. Coaches take turns to nominate and start the bidding on a player of their choice. The coach with the highest bid wins (drafts) that player.

Teams can bid as much or as little as they want on a player with their available budget but must draft a full roster.

Advantages of an Auction Draft Format

  • More Fair – Every Team Has A Shot At Every Player – This is the top reason for doing an auction draft. Unlike a snake draft, in an auction you can bid on every player that’s nominated (assuming you have budget left). Compare that to a snake draft where only the lucky coach who drew the 1st pick has a shot at the #1 stud RB.
  • More Action = More Fun – Auction drafts are fast paced. You have to pay attention to every player nominated and make a decision if you’ll bid or not. Then see how much the player went for and calculate how that affects values of similar players you want. There’s also the frenzy and thrill of bidding.
  • More Strategy: Managing Your Budget – Auction drafts add a new dimension to your draft strategy – the fantasy budget. You’ll need to decide how to spend your draft budget effectively. Bid too low and you’ll end up with an all garbage team. Bid too high and you won’t have much money to spend on other positions.
  • More Strategy: Choosing Your Nominations – You can be a nice guy and nominate the next best player on your cheat sheet…or you can be more strategic. Maybe nominate a player you’re not interested in but others are and force them to use up their money early. Or nominate a good player early to get an idea of what the market price is for players of that caliber. There are many ways to include nominations in your auction draft strategy.

Tips On Choosing A Draft Format…

  1. Take each format for a test drive by doing a mock draft on your fantasy football site. Most of the major sites offer mock drafts. It will help you get a feel for the draft flow and give you a chance to evaluate the site features before using it for your league.
  2. Ask other managers in your league about their experience with each draft type.
  3. Don’t overthink it.  If a new format doesn’t work out well for your league this season, you can switch back next season.

A note to commissioners: if your league switches draft formats, make sure everyone is notified and provided with an overview of the new format well in advance of the draft. Recommend that they do a mock draft to test drive it before the real thing.  It well help the change go smoothly.

How did your league decide which type of draft to use? Tell us which draft format you think is better and why in the comments below.

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