Contributed by: Grady English
Regardless of the type of league you choose to create, run, or participate in there are two main methods for acquiring players come “draft” time. While the word “draft” is not necessarily the appropriate one, most people refer to the draft as a time when people are loading/re-loading their rosters for the upcoming season.
In this course, I will introduce the two predominant types of acquiring players for a fantasy team. These are the concept of the “redraft” league and the “auction” league. One thing that is very important to note is that the word “redraft” is used interchangeably to introduce two separate, but related concepts.
The concept of the redraft:
In FB304 Re-Draft vs Keeper Leagues, my colleague, Dan Duff, introduced the ideal of Re-draft versus Keeper leagues. To recap, a “redraft,” as outlined in that course, is a league where each team starts fresh and picks entirely new players each and every year. The advantages and disadvantages of these two systems was discussed in that course, so I will not go into that here. But, let’s just say it is a fact that there are still a majority of casual fantasy football players who still play in “redraft” leagues.
OK. Now that we established the definition of what a “redraft” league is, I am going to totally change it and give you something to think about. “Redraft,” in the context of this course is just simply a method of acquiring players regardless of the other rules of your league. The reason that the terminology gets confused is that in the infancy of our revered hobby there was only one type of league (A redraft league with a standard draft), the terminology just stuck.
A “redraft” league is a league where 1) an order is assigned by some method and 2) owners pick by that order. Leagues can use this concept regardless of whether they are a redraft, keeper, or dynasty league.
Advantages of a redraft league:
1) Ease of use – The redraft league is the easiest concept to understand. Rank your players and take the best one, based on need, when your turn comes up.
2) Easier to recruit owners – Because it is an easier concept to understand, it is also easier to recruit owners into your league.
3) Time to complete – the standard redraft league takes the least amount of time to complete. Theoretically, owners have their prioritized list of players going into the draft so they should be able to just pick and choose when it is their turn.
4) Conducive to being social – because a redraft is quicker and less complicated, it often will lend itself to a gathering for an in person draft. This is a social event as much as it is a fantasy football event. Any excuse to go drinking right? While many online leagues still use the redraft method, the social aspect, to me is the number one reason to have a redraft.
5) Picking players is formulaic – for those people who are little more analytical or math oriented you can get a redraft down to a formula if you are willing to put the preparation into it. We all hear the terms VBD, AVT, ADP, etc, etc, etc. This is a way to break down your draft to a set of formulas. Under this method, you could actually teach a computer to do your draft for you. Programs, spreadsheets, and cheat sheets are all readily available that exploit this concept and those who use them generally end up being more prepared.
6) It is a stepping stone to more intricate leagues – even though the concept is the most simple, it teaches you how to play the game. Ultimately, the most die hard people will want more.
Disadvantages of a redraft league:
1) Picking players is formulaic – even though this is a big advantage, it is also a disadvantage. Breaking fantasy football into formulas is not fun to me. Even if I break it down to a set of formulas on my own, I am most likely playing against people who use data or programs published by someone else. If I wanted to play against the makers of the theory, I would be in a league with them.
2) Lesser competition – if you are like me, you want to play against the best. The best simply don’t play in redraft leagues anymore. Redrafts are great for friends or co-workers but if you want the competition, go join a dynasty/auction league
So, I bet you are asking yourself: “Grady, what’s next?” Well, I am glad you asked.
The concept of the auction
The natural progression from a redraft league is an auction league. I will reiterate that an auction is just a method for acquiring players and that it can be adapted for any type of league that you wish. An auction is exactly what you think it is: players are acquired by “paying” for them with funds from a predefined pool. This predefined pool is set by the rules of your league and can also be adapted for any type of fantasy football league (redraft or reauction, keeper, or dynasty).
There are two main types of auctions: 1) the “standard” auction, and 2) the blind bid auction. A standard auction is a league where you see other teams bids and owners keep bidding until the other owners back off. The blind bid auction is an auction where you submit your bid but you have no idea what other owners bid. Each of these types of auctions will inject a new element into your fantasy league.
Advantages of an auction league:
1) Every team has a shot at every player – every owner can bid on every player provided they have the funds to do so. This gives the owner the ultimate power in deciding who is on their fantasy squad.
2) More challenging – an auction, by all accounts, is much more challenging than a redraft league. In an auction, you are playing against other fantasy owners for the rights to a player not just picking them off the board. So, not only are you trying to figure out the “value” of a player, you are trying to figure out your opponent as well.
3) No two auctions are the same – it is what it says. No two auctions are the same and the same player will never go for the same price in different auctions or even different rounds of the same draft. The final price of a player is a function of available funds, round/order nominated, current roster, and gamesmanship. I certainly haven’t figured out that formula (or else I would have a theory) but my colleague, Dave Circelli, goes into this idea more in depth in FB301 Basic Auction Principles.
4) Incorporation into more complex leagues – the auction, by the nature of its flexibility, allows for its use in more complex league. It lends itself particularly well to a salary cap/contract league (FB504: Adapting Salary Caps & Contracts)
5) Luck – because each owner has equal opportunity to each player, the luck factor created by who picked the better number out of the hat or who had the better dice roll is eliminated. Sure, the “luck” of injuries, suspensions, etc is not reduced (I would argue that not all injuries are a result of bad luck but bad drafting) but no one can say to you “you got before I had a chance…”
Disadvantages of an auction league:
1) Auctions take longer – auctions, in my experience, are at least twice as long in duration as a redraft.
2) Harder to recruit owners – because of the complexities and additional time required to prepare for an auction, it is often harder to recruit owners into your league. This means that you will often have to go outside of your circle of friends or coworkers to form a league. This will automatically reduce the social aspects of the game.
Is any one type of league better than the other? No. Each league chooses the method of acquiring players that is right for them. If you are playing in a casual league with friends and your goal is to watch TV on Sunday and have something to talk trash about, choose a redraft. If you are in a league with a bunch of experienced die-hards and your goal is play the best game you can, choose an auction. If you are new to our hobby, choose a redraft. If you have been playing in redrafts for a while and are getting bored, try an auction.
It will be really obvious to you which method is right for you and your league. I prefer auctions because they are more challenging but I also play in a couple of redraft leagues for various reasons. At the heart of it all, it is still just fantasy football and it will be fun either way.