While I do agree that live drafts are a large part of the fun of fantasy sports, every year Im in a league or two with friends that is an auto draft. I've gotten pretty good at generating draft lists and drafting well balanced teams. I think its fun, but then that's me.
I just finished a 10 team auto draft and the results and draft positions were a little surprising, so I did an analysis on how it works.
A) The auto draft will fill in ALL available starting slots. It will attempt to do so based on your rankings. So even if you have the top 36 as RBs, if you've already filled in all available RB starting slots, the next choice will be the highest ranking player for another position.
B) Flex positions count for determining the next pick.
So if your two RB slots are filled, and the next highest ranked player is another RB, if there is a W/R slot available he will be chosen.
Be careful here. We also have a W/T and one guy drafted a TE, and then got another TE for the flex slot back to back. Split up these positions. They were Heap and Crumpler so he may be able to move one, maybe to me.
I was happy with how things worked out for me. I got RBRBRB WRWRWR, filling both my flex slots before any other position. This is how I actually wanted it, though I'd rather have taken a WR #3.
C) all starting positions will be filled first based on the highest ranked players in your rankings.
D) if you dont have a position ranked, then you will receive a pick for that position based on Yahoo's rankings. So it doesnt help to not have D's or K on your list.
I only had a few K's on the list, all ranked low. My last starting position not filled was K. Since I didnt' have a K left in my ranks, I received the next highest on Yahoo's list. This was Kasay so I was fine with that.
If you use IDPs make sure you rank them. The reason is that this year Yahoo hasn't apparently ranked the IDPs in any kind of rational order. Simoneou is the 2nd ranked DL at #272 and only 38 fantasy points, while Fletcher is #1248 with 156 fantasy points. Thats a difference of 7 points a game! While I wouldnt get too carried away with IDPs since you will be able to better then Simoneau from the FA ranks, those points still add up and you DONT want one assigned to your team by Yahoo rankings!
A) bench slots are filled the same way as the starting slots with one exception.
It will assign one player as a reserve for each starting position based on your rankings, NOT COUNTING FLEX. So my bench slots filled up RB RB WR WR. My next pick was a QB even though there were unpicked RBs and WRs remaining ranked higher on my list.
We use IDPs so that adds to the roster size, and our bench players are less then the available non-flex starters. I assume if the rosters were large enough, I would get a bench K. I did get one bench IDP who will get cut.
Its possible that after all the non-flex bench slots are filled, it would fill the flex slots, but I dont know if that's true.
The auto draft this year is subtly different then in previous years, but I think its a better algorythm.
It doesnt make sense not to rank players at all since you will have one assigned to you, and you may not be happy with the result. Just put the K's all the way at the bottom of the list, D's above them if that's how you want it.
One suggestion is to rank all positions based on where you want their position drafted. For example you could rate all RBs first, then add WRs, then QBs then TEs, etc. , putting K's last. That way you would fill all the starting slots and then the bench slots based on your position orders.
A better suggestion IMO is to rank the top 40-50 based on where you want them, then ranking the remaining players by postions as above. THe reason for that is that I think the #1 WR >> #24 RB so I would want to make that pick if it was available. Once you get further down the list, then rank by positions.
I think this actually makes auto ranking easier. I dont think its easy to say if the #40 RB > #40 WR > #20 TE. If you rank your top player the way you normally would, then by positions, adjusting the lower ranked positions downward, you can have a good draft.
My results are listed below. Standard accounting plus 1/2 PPR. I think it's a pretty good team:
Round Pick Player Position
1. (1) L. Johnson RB
2. (20) S. Jackson RB
3. (21) B. Westbrook RB
4. (40) Ro. Williams WR
5. (41) D. Driver WR
6. (60) D. Mason WR
7. (61) T. Green QB
8. (80) L. Smith TE
9. (81) L. Fletcher DL
10. (100) K. Bulluck DL
11. (101) R. Barber DB
12. (120) L. Milloy DB
13. (121) J. Kasay K
14. (140) F. Gore RB
15. (141) M. Bell RB
16. (160) Ma. Jones WR
17. (161) D. Bennett WR
18. (180) S. McNair QB
19. (181) J. Wiggins TE
20. (200) M. Lewis DB