Show Navigation
Show Menu

What is an Auction Draft (Salary Cap) in Fantasy Football & How Does It Work

By Jared Smola | Updated on Fri, 14 Jul 2023 . 6:19 PM EDT

The only draft in which you can get any player … but not every player

What is a fantasy football auction?

“Auction” (sometimes called “salary cap”) is a unique league format for fantasy football. 

Here’s how it works:

Rather than taking turns selecting players via a “snake draft,” everyone in your league acquires players by bidding on them. 

Place the highest bid, and you get the player, just like any auction.

Simple enough. 

Auction drafts are fun online but even more fun in person!

Here’s why fantasy diehards love auction leagues

The great thing about the auction draft format is that it gives every team a shot at any available player.

Of course, that means you’ll need to hone your auction draft strategy beforehand,

In the meantime, let’s start with the basics of what you need to know … 

Your starting bank

You’ll only have a finite amount to build your team … spend wisely!

Every team in the league starts the auction with the same (usually imaginary) amount of money to spend on players.

A typical starting bank for each team is $200.

Whether it’s referred to as your bank, bankroll, budget, salary cap – or anything else – this imaginary amount of money is all you’ll have to build your initial roster.

And you’ll build that roster all via an auction draft. 

The specific amount that your league designates will help set the player values for your draft.


You can sync the Draft War Room to your auction league before you draft. The DWR then suggests how much you should bid on each player as your auction draft unfolds. The bid suggestions are based on 17 value indicators that change in real-time during the draft.

Nominating/posting a player

Chill … Every draftable player eventually gets nominated

You and your league mates will take turns nominating – or posting – a player for bid.

Once nominated, the player is open to any and all teams for bidding. And, again, the highest bid will win that player.

Some strategy plays into posting players, but try not to overthink this aspect as progress through your draft.

Bidding on a player

The adrenaline rush of bidding on a player is why so many love auction drafts

Just as with auctions in general, bidding in an auction draft in fantasy football is usually wide open to each team owner as soon as a player gets nominated.

Bidding often rises a dollar at a time. 

But you’ll find plenty of cases in which it’s worth bidding in increments larger than a single dollar. If for no other reason than to quicken the auction process.

You’ll need enough money to fill every spot on your roster, and teams will acquire players at different rates throughout the draft.

As your available spending budget dwindles, you will see player bidding exceed what you have available. 

Don’t worry about being outbid

Frankly, if that doesn’t happen to you at some point during your auction draft, then you’ve probably been too hesitant in your player bidding.


Find more Draft Sharks auction league philosophies here »

Once you have filled your roster, you’re done drafting – no matter where the rest of the teams in your league stand.

After the draft, your league will likely play out the season in typical fashion: waivers, trades, etc.

Why use a fantasy football auction for your league?

Some fantasy football purists say it’s the most strategic way to build your team

The best thing about auction drafting is that it gives every team access to every player.

That frees you to build your team however you’d like rather than being constrained by your draft position.

Of course, that also means a lot more strategy is involved … which is why some fantasy football players become addicted to auction draft fantasy football.

In fact, we know some high-stakes fantasy players who will only play in auction draft leagues.

Hardcore, for sure.

Friendly tip, don’t drink too much at the start of an auction draft. Bids might tend to get away from you….

Final Thought

Ready to dive headfirst into your first auction draft fantasy football league? Take a few more minutes to get the heads up on how even a first-time manager can crush his league. Spoiler – it involves a live-sync auction draft board that gives you player values in real-time. And based on your auction league’s specific rules. Check out the 2-minute video here.

Other rankings are stale  before the 2nd round.

Draft using the best dynamic tool in the industry. Our fantasy player valuations (3D Values) change during your draft in response to...

  1. Exact league settings - direct sync
  2. Opponent and Team Needs
  3. Positional scarcity & available players
  4. Ceiling, injury risk, ADP, and more!

You need a dynamic cheat sheet that easily live-syncs with your draft board and adapts throughout your draft using 17 crucial indicators.

Get your Draft War Room Today
Get Instant Access to the Draft War Room & Much More Why Wouldn't You Invest $6 To Win Your League?
Compare Plans »

Turn your phone into a draft weapon with our FREE APP

Download on the App Store Get It on Google Play