A Fantasy Football Auction is the No-Limit game of Poker

If you’re reading this, chances are you play fantasy football or poker, or if you’re really intelligent and good looking, both. Supposedly there is a debate on whether a fantasy football auction or a draft is the better method. From my perspective that debate is about as close as the Oxygen debate; do we need it or not. I think it’s that obvious. In case your league hasn’t switched from a Draft to an Auction yet or you’re league is arguing whether or not you should make the switch, give this article a read and report back to them. If they don’t know the difference between Limit and No-Limit poker than you probably need to take a hard look at what kind of person they really are and the merits of hanging out with them.

Your choices in friends aside, the good news is that, whether your game of choice is Limit or No-Limit or your Fantasy Football leagues Drafts or has an Auction; either way you’re having a good time. The only difference is the level of fun. I have a hard time listening to an argument that says a Draft is more fun than an Auction or Limit is more exciting than No-Limit. With Limit poker you are stuck with fixed betting amounts same as with the traditional Draft, you are stuck in your position and can’t get too creative. Whereas with No-Limit poker you have structured blinds, but after that anything goes, similar to a Fantasy Auction; there’s a structured order to putting players up for bid, but after that you can do whatever the heck you want. Both Auctions and No-Limit poker are far riskier ventures then their more conservative counterparts, but they are also far more rewarding, entertaining and engaging.

Alright, so by now you get the card analogy, I don’t want to keep beating you over the head with it. Let’s just move on and discuss the Auction vs. the Draft. To be fair I’ve come up with five pros and cons for both styles.


The Draft
1. Simple: An easy format that anyone can follow and pick up a magazine and do just fine. You have a consistent position for picking players and you can research trends to know which players you might get and decide between who might be available.

2. Casual: There is usually plenty of time between picks to get food and beverage. You have to pay attention, but if your mind wanders elsewhere, you can easily catch up.

3. Heckling: There is always one guy who takes way too long and the heckling not only provides entertainment, but grows in intensity and creativity as the draft goes on.

4. Trading: Since you will be finding ways to bide your time while you wait for your next pick you can talk about potential trades for a player or picks.

5. Low Risk: You can’t screw up your draft by overspending on a guy who gets hurt. If you’re #1 pick goes down you still will have had ample opportunity to pick up good players the rest of the way.


1. Boring: After the first 4-5 rounds they tend to drag on and people can lose interest.

2. Fixed: There are going to be certain players that you will have no chance in getting. Drafts don’t allow for much creativity. You could never have AP and MJD on the same team in a draft unless you traded.

3. Lag Time: Depending on your position in the draft, your lag time between picks can be very long. There’s nothing like rounds 10-14 when you’re waiting 10 minutes for someone to decide between Laveranues Coles and Derrick Mason.

4. Luck: Drafts have the potential to reward bad players with a good team just because they got a good position to pick at.

5. Parity: Unless some people really blow it, it is hard to run away with a team that looks a lot better than everyone else’s.


The Auction
1. Opportunities: You have a shot at every single player on the board. If you want the best player you can have him. You can create a mix of players that couldn’t be achieved through a draft.

2. Strategy: You can bid up players you don’t want to inflate their value. You can exploit owners who have a need at a certain position by making them pay more. There is definite strategy in who you throw out for bid when it’s your turn…..meaning, you can get players you don’t like off the board and make people use their money on them.

3. Engagement: You have to pay attention at all times until your money runs out, which makes you far more engaged.

4. Skill: Depending on how well people have prepped for the auction, there is a much better chance of volatility and that someone who has done there homework can come away with a better team than others by knowing values of players and what kind of team they can put together.

5. Dynamic: You have to follow the trends in the auction market to know if people are over or under spending on players and constantly re-think your strategy.


1. Logistics: If you’re doing it manually (pen and paper or spreadsheet) you need to have everyone live for it to really be successful. If you’re doing it electronically with a website, everyone has to be set up with a computer station, which can be difficult from a technology perspective if everyone is live.

2. Impulsive: Your impulsiveness could be your own worst enemy and gives you the potential for a terrible team. Hey look, Brian Westbrook is going for $10 under book value, what a steal! You jump on it and sure you got a bunch of deals along the way, but then you come out of the auction and realize your starting backs are Westbrook and M. Lynch. So you figure you must have made it up by getting top tier WR’s……nope its Berrian and TO….that’s when you know you’re in trouble. The kid in a candy store syndrome is actually more likely to happen right away too, when you get two expensive players you weren’t planning on and have nothing to spend the rest of the way.

3. Impact: Injuries to high value players hurt even more since you have to pay a lot for them and have less to spend on the rest of your starters and backups.

4. Speed: It might be too fast pace sometimes; doesn’t allow for a lot of downtime for trading, banter, heckling, snacking. It’s a much less relaxed atmosphere.

5. Preparation: You have to prepare more than you ever would for a draft and you could never prepare enough, because the minute it starts, it is going to go in a different direction than you prepared for.

OK, I’ve tried to give a balanced look at the Pros and Cons of both the Draft and the Auction. You probably have your own opinions on the matter and maybe feel strongly one way or another. Despite the fact that I laid out five pros and cons for each style, I truly feel that auction is the way to go. For me, the Auction pros are far greater than the Draft pros and the Auction cons are not as bad as the Draft cons. Actually outside of the “Logistics” con, I like that the rest of the cons are in play; it makes things more exciting. From my experience, I have never heard of anyone who switched to an auction; who A) didn’t immediately love it and B) said there’s no going back. Once you’ve tasted the auction, going back to a draft just sounds slow, pointless and flat out brutal.

Ok maybe not that bad, there is nothing wrong with Drafting (or playing limit poker), just realize that a far more exciting option is sitting right there for you by going to an Auction (playing No-Limit). Isn’t the whole point of Fantasy Football and gambling to be entertained? Why would you ever want to put a cap on your ability to be entertained?