Every year I get asked by people how they can find new ways to spice up their fantasy football leagues.
“Should we expand rosters? What about changing the scoring? Do we add more people to the league? Do we even need defenses and kickers?”
All of those are fine options and would definitely make the league more exciting. If you want even more fun ideas, you should check out my friend Liz Loza’s “Seven ways to spice up your fantasy football league.”
For my money, though, it all starts with the draft. Snake drafts are a great way to get into fantasy football. They’re easy to understand, you can grab a cheat sheet in case you’re in over your head and you’ll have a ton of fun putting together a team … but it could be so much better than that!
Salary cap drafts are my favorite way to draft. Period. End of story. I tried to end the column here, but my editors told me to explain why I love salary cap drafts more than snake drafts. Because I aim to please, here are the biggest reasons you should consider switching your fantasy league from a snake draft to a salary cap draft.
1. Draft day is a party
My favorite part of draft day is being able to spend the day with my closest friends. We talk trash, catch up on Detroit Lions news, eat food, make fun of Cowboy Sam for being a Cowboys fan, drink beverages, play yard games, eat more food, tell Kurt he’s drinking too much Lions Kool-Aid, drink a few more beverages and then we finally draft. Yes, the draft is super fun itself, but when you know your salary cap draft is going to be 3-4 hours long, it makes it easier to set aside the whole day as a draft day party! This is what fantasy is all about — relationships and competition. But make sure you pace yourself: salary cap drafts are a marathon, not a sprint.
2. You can draft any player you want
This is the best part of salary cap drafts. You can truly select ANY player you want. If you want Justin Jefferson in a snake draft, the only way you can be sure you’ll get him is if you have the No. 1 pick.
No such worries in a salary cap draft. You can simply bid more of your $200 draft budget than your leaguemates to secure him (don’t worry, it’s fake money, just like doing FAAB instead of waivers). There might be a bidding war, and you might have to pony up a little extra dough to get him, but you have the ability to draft your favorite players for your fantasy team. Never again will you have to go through an entire season without “getting your guy” because he was sniped two picks before you.
3. The draft is more challenging (which is a good thing)
You’ve been playing fantasy for a couple of years now and you want to test your skills to see how far you’ve come as a fantasy manager. Nothing lets you do that like a salary cap draft. You have to decide which players you want to target.
How much of your budget do you want to spend on that player? I know you want Jefferson, but so do the other managers in your league — so how much are you willing to spend to get your guy? Or is Amon-Ra St. Brown, at $20 cheaper, a better value for your team knowing you can spend that extra draft cash on someone else you covet? This is where your preparation can really set you apart from those who show up without a clear plan.
You will have a monkey wrench thrown in along the way, but you showed up knowing you’ll have to pivot at some point — that’s part of the planning — which should help prevent you from placing a panic bid on a player you don’t actually want.
4. You can significantly impact your leaguemates’ drafts
This is definitely one of my favorite things about salary cap drafts. Let’s say you know someone in your league is a massive Cowboys fan. We’ll call this person “Sam Wrong.” You know how much they love Tony Pollard this year now that Ezekiel Elliott is gone, so when you’re nominating a player to be drafted, why not put someone you DON’T want up for bid in order to make a leaguemate spend more of their draft cash? While bidding on Pollard, you can keep pushing his price up, knowing that Sam Wrong is going to do everything possible to walk away with Pollard. Maybe he goes for $6 more than what he was estimated to go for, and that $6 can go a long way at the end of your draft. It might not seem like it, but trust me — teams will mismanage their budget, and every dollar counts! But don’t fall prey to bidding up a player only to get stuck with him because you pushed the price up too high! There’s a fine line between a proper trolling and leaving a draft with a player you didn’t want.