After four years of snake drafts, my league has voted to begin using an auction format for 2006. I was one of the most vocal managers in support of this change and many of the other guys agreed grudgingly to the change.
With that in mind, I want to make sure that things are done right. Without any experience using this format, I'm afraid that we won't be adequately prepared for the auction system, which could lead to some confusion and may cause some of the managers to confirm their suspicions that the snake draft is really the way to go.
I've been unsuccessful in finding many tips on how to run an auction so as always, I come to the Cafe for help. For example, how do you make sure that everyone's dwindling salary cap is monitored without slowing down the process? Do you use funny money or just expect everyone to keep track of their own finances? Is it a good idea to keep a big draft board running to record the picks? Any tips would be highly appreciated.
Also, two minor issues have already emerged.
1) One manager wants to do the bidding in a circle. If you drop out of the bidding for one round, then you don't get to bid on that player again. I think this is silly and that bidding should just keep going with managers shouting out their bids until no one wants to bid any more. Am I wrong?
2) A second manager is firmly against the idea that all team rosters must be filled on draft day. He wants to spend his money on a few players and then fill out the rest of his roster with free agents. I told him this isn't how it works and he couldn't believe he'd be expected to fill out his roster on draft day. Is he crazy like I think he is?
1. Have the commish use an XL spreadsheet to track each team's available salary cap. The key is making sure each owner has at least $1 left for each open roster spot. That way no one exceeds their salary cap.
2. Try the "poker style" of once you pass you are out for that player. It makes things much more interesting and it also makes things a lot easier to track as commish. Online open is ok, but in person poker style is the way to go.
3. Owners should be required to have a full roster at the end of the auction. If an owner wants to blow most of his salary cap on a few guys he still can, he just needs to save $1 for each open roster spot and take whoever he can late in the auction.
For what it's worth I doubt you will go back to snake once you've done an auction.
My league just finished our first ever auction, and it was a rousing success. Since we knew a dude not in the league that didn't mind playing auctioneer, we went with the standard "chaos" auction over the poker style, which I've heard is actually better for newbies because it's more structured.
Before the draft, I made up 10 packets of $200 of monopoly money and gave one to each player. This helped a ton because each player had an idea of how much they had left. Since I'm a huge math nerd, I also kept track separately for my own benefit. No problems here, either. Also, if you don't have enough monopoly money, I've heard poker chips are a good way to go.
As far as people leaving blank roster spots, I would say not a good idea. It makes the end of the auction too confusing. What we actually did though, was allow a bid of $0. What this did was reduce the confusion of how much you actually have left to spend on a player. Say you bought 5 of your 16 guys and have $122 left to spend. Instead of having to crunch numbers (example: (122-(16-5+1))=the amount you're allowed to spend on the next player) for your own team, as well as the guy you're bidding on. This is a pain in the butt. By allowing $0 bids at the end, you know that at any given point in the auction, the money in your hand is what you can spend on a player. I just think it gives one less headache, especially for newer players.
I strongly recommend that you have every team pitch in $5 extra bucks and pay a friend to be the auctioneer. It will free up your time to act as commssioner (if you need to make a decision)and it creates a sense of order that will be much appreciated by all. Also, no one can accuse you of hastening your counts or jumping in the bidding late. BTW, great call on monopoly money...never heard of that before. I love the Cafe.
As to your questions:
"Chaos" is the way an auction is meant to be conducted. A big part of the auction strategy (and risk) is bidding on players you don't necessarily want and getting to do it when you want to bid on them...bidding in a circle vitiates this option.
Every team must fill out their entire roster on auction day. Tell the knob who wants to go $70, $70, $60 on LT, LJ and Moss/TO/Fitz/other WR to go play checkers. There are too many problems to fully discuss with this approach, but here are a few:
Defeats the purpose of the auction
At least partially rewards stupidity or being unprepared
Makes the auction less fun (most important imho)
Hello, China? I have something you may want. But it's gonna cost you. That's right. All the tea.
1. It should be free-for-all auction. (No order of bidding.)
2. Have someone else, if possible run the draft. The commissioner of the auction league I'm in has done it the past couple of years because he hasnt found anybody and it has hurt his team.
3. There should be one person in charge of documenting the picks. (Not keeping track of how much "money" one has left, just acting as secratery.)
4. There should be some penalty, financial, draft pick order, lose a pick, etc. for overrbidding for a player. This way the whole league is diligent in watching/waiting for someone to accidently over bid.
5. Yes, the owner is crazy if he/she thinks that you only have to bid on as many players as you want without going over the total number of allowed players. I guess this owner wants to throw his entire cap and LJ and then go home.