What's the best way to do a fantasy football draft or auction? Here's some advice from someone who's in 30+ fantasy drafts/auctions per year.
First, it's always the most convinient to just hold your draft/auction with the service that hosts your league such as ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, FoxSports, NFL.com, Sports Illustrated, etc. [Don't want to leave out any of our partners here].
Or some commissioner services, such as MyFantasyLeague which powers RotoWire's Fantasy Football Commissioner, have their own draft rooms.
The upside here is clear. You draft in the same environment where you run your league and the commish doesn't have to go through the pain of re-entering rosters.
But sometimes that doesn't work out for your league. Maybe there are too many technically illiterate folks in your league. Maybe you'd rather do the draft in person or over the phone to get live smack talk. Or maybe you have a league with some quirky rules that don't fit the major providers.
In that case, MockDraftCentral and Fantasyauctioneer are great outlets. You may not be able to export the results to your commissioner service of choice, but the upside is that they run your draft/auction very fast (auto picks and a que really speed things up) and allow for a lot of flexibility. The downside is the technically challenged guy in your league is going to need some hand holding.
If you want to do a draft via conference call, then try freeconferencecall.com. There's no charge for the conference call itself, everyone has to pay their own long distance, however. If you're doing a weeknight or weekend draft, that's usually not a problem for those with cell phones since most plans have free minutes at night and on weekends. Another way to conference call is through skype. It works great with two caveats: 1) you need everyone in your league to download the software (tough for the tech challenged) and 2) you really need everyone to have headsets or the feedback from external speakers is a killer. But when everyone is set up, the conference call works great and includes a chat room and it's totally free.
And then there's the old standby of online chatrooms. AOL and Yahoo instant message services are the most used. Both are quick and efficient, but there are often delays in posts, which becomes a problem if you are doing an auction. And sometimes someone in your league can't figure out how to download the software or their online connection blocks or doesn't work well with the service.
And lastly if you go the non-online software route to run your draft, using Google Docs is a huge help. You can invite everyone in your league to check out a spreadsheet at the same time that can be updated online in real time. It's a must for an auction league if you have keepers and crazy in-draft trades (it really helped out for our 18-team mixed league, 40-man roster staff baseball league). There's also a chat room within the spreadsheet as well. I bet it's possible to do a full draft via Google Docs.
Hope that helps. Do you have any tips to help the readers here in order to make the most thankless job on the planet (being commissioner) better?
Posted by Peter Schoenke at 8/6/2008 9:47:00 AM