What is an auction draft? Rules, how it works, and more

Auction drafts are a lot of fun and a great alternative to classic snake drafts. For those new to the format, how do auction drafts work?

For as long as it’s existed, fantasy football leagues have utilized snake drafts. But that’s not the only way to draft a team. Auction drafts are a fantastic alternative and, in my humble opinion, a more exciting way to draft a fantasy team. For the fantasy managers considering making the jump to auction for the first time, here is a basic primer on how auction drafts work.

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Fantasy football auction drafts

If you’re an experienced auction drafter, what you’re about to read may seem obvious. This article is directed at fantasy managers who know nothing other than snake drafts and are looking to build their knowledge on auction drafts from the ground up.

Stay tuned for future articles on various auction draft strategies and some of the more complex intricacies of auction drafting.

What is an auction draft?

If you’ve used the FAAB waiver system, you already have an idea of how bidding on players works. Auction drafting is similar.

In an auction draft, instead of selecting a player when it’s your turn, each fantasy manager nominates a player in the typical snake-like manner. Once nominated, every manager in the league will have the chance to draft that player.

Managers make offers on the player, with each successive offer at least $1 greater than the previous one. The timer resets to 10 seconds after each bid. Eventually, the timer will hit zero, and the player goes to the team with the highest offer.

What are the key things you need to know about an auction draft?

In an auction draft, there’s a lot going on and a lot to keep track of. If you just jump into one having no prior knowledge of what is happening or how it works, you may feel overwhelmed. Let’s go over the most important things you need to know.

Nominating a player

Each team nominates one player at a time in a predetermined order, much like a snake draft. Teams choose at what price to open the offer period. If you don’t set a value, the default is $1.

Managers can nominate any player they want at any time. In snake drafts, the best players go early, and it’s a progressive decline in quality as the draft goes on. In auction drafts, those late-round dart throws could be some of the first players nominated, and first- or second-round-caliber players may not see their names pop up until much later in the draft.


Offers or bids are the dollar amount a team is willing to spend to draft a player. The draft functions like a real auction. After a player is nominated, teams make offers on that player until they each individually decide the player is too expensive (or they’re priced out). Then, the player is awarded to the team that made the highest offer.


This is the most challenging aspect of an auction draft. Managers must properly manage their budget to maximize value and ensure they’re able to get the players they want.

Each team starts with a set dollar amount — the default and most common total is $200. How you choose to allocate your funds is entirely up to you. The only requirement is most leagues require you to draft a full roster. Other than that, managers have complete freedom to spend money as they see fit.

As you win players, your remaining budget will decrease. One of the most appealing aspects of an auction draft is the ability to draft any player. However, if you do not manage your budget correctly, you may find yourself in a position where you want to draft a player but cannot afford to do so. Be very mindful of how you spend your money.

Price enforcing

This is a little bit more advanced, but it’s worth being aware of right away. The concept of price enforcing is intentionally bidding up a player you don’t necessarily want in order to make another manager spend more to draft that player.

Price enforcing is a risky strategy, but one that can benefit you later in the draft if done correctly. If you see another manager constantly bidding on players once it gets down to just two or three teams, they may be price enforcing.

What else do you need to know about auction drafts?

You have to constantly be paying attention. You can’t just make your pick and check out until you’re almost on the clock again.

After a player is drafted, a new one will be nominated within 10-30 seconds. Since it could be anyone, there’s a chance you want that player. You have to be on your game at all times. You never know when that player you’ve been eyeing up will be on the clock.

The time commitment never bothered me. After all, it’s a couple of hours out of your life in August or early September for what should be four months of enjoyment. However, not everyone has the same time constraints as I do.

It’s worth knowing that an auction draft will take around 2.5-3 hours. Don’t jump into one unless you have the time to dedicate to seeing it through.

Jason Katz is a Fantasy Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @jasonkatz13 and find more of his work here.


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