Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Keeper / Auction Fantasy Football Rules

This last weekend, we started the fourth year of my fantasy football league.

While most leagues use a draft to select all the players on their team each year, we made some drastic changes away from the norm this year. Most notably, we are now a keeper league, and we select players via an auction.

What is a keeper league? In a redraft or standard league, each season you start over - every "owner" dumps any players they had last year, and you populate your team through a draft. In a keeper league, you get to carry over - or keep - a certain number of players year to year. The goal is to keep people invested in their team, and keep even crappy teams involved in the league all year through. Since you can keep players year to year, you are always looking for a late season pickup that will be a potential keeper for next year.

In our league we can keep up to 4 players each season, with some restrictions:
1: Players can only be kept for 2 additional years. For a total on roster of three consecutive years. This count would be reset if a player is dropped mid-season, then picked back up later.
2: Players salary goes up each year. We have a $100 salary cap and a kept player's salary goes up 10% each year.
3: Teams can't keep more than 1 running back, 2 quarterbacks or 3 wide receivers (including tightens).
4: At season's start a kept player's salary must 75% of the "trusted source's" dollar value. The trusted source is a fantasy guide magazine to be named later. If the salary is low, it will be adjusted to the 75% level.

We think these rules will enhance the experience for all players in our league, regardless of how their teams are doing late in the season.

We have also changed from drafting our players, to holding an auction. As I said we had this last weekend.

In our league, we now have a 100 fantasy dollar salary cap. So instead of drafting available players, we now have an auction, where owners bid on playes with their available salary cap dollars.

So at the start of our auction, we randomly picked an owner, and asked him which player we should bid on. Then the floor was opened up, and all owners could offer bids on the player, if they wanted to raise the bid. The top bidder won the player, and he was added to their roster, and their available salary is reduced by the amount of their winning bid. Then the next owner suggested a player, etc.

Combining the cap, keeper, and auction rules made for an amazing auction. It was much more enjoyable than a standard draft largely because each owner was involved in each player auction. Even if an owner had no interest in the player, they would pay close attention to see what the player would go for, and how it would effect the other owner's cap position. In addition there were numerous strategic moves made. For example, one owner would only suggest players for bid that he had no interest in, in hopes of getting others to overbid for them. Similarly, some owners would try to run up the bids on certain players, sometimes getting stuck with a player they really didn't want.

We had many trades occur during the auction, which has never happened to us during a draft. I had a few moments where I had bid on a player, only to instantly realize that I didn't really want him that bad. Luckily for me each time I was bailed out by another owner upping the bid. (whew!)

There were many instances where you would see a player going for way too little, but due to your previous pickups/cap position, you were powerless to up the bid. Conversely, you would see owners weak in one position way overbidding in a desperate attempt to get that last decent player. High drama all the way through.

In the end almost every team looks like they have a shot at winning, and I certainly have never been able to say that after any previous draft.

If you run a standard league, I would strongly suggest taking a look at doing something similar for yours. The auction took a long time, and the management of the salaries/caps is going to be more work. But if my auction was any indication, this will be the best fantasy football season yet.

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