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Snake Drafts

Snake Drafts (aka: Serpentine Drafts)
by Staff

What is a Snake Draft?

Snake drafts, also known as serpentine drafts, are how most fantasy leagues fill their rosters (auction drafts being the other format.) They're called "snakes" because they resemble the same shape as the reptile which gives an appearance of going back and forth.

Determining Draft Order

When a bunch of guys get together to make a fantasy football league (or any sport for that matter), they must determine a draft order. Who gets to go first? Who goes last? There are many fair ways to figure this out. Let's take a look at a few of the more popular options on establishing a snaking draft order:

1. The most exciting way of figuring out who gets to draft where is by having a contest. Pick an upcoming game (it can be any sport - about a week out so that people have time to turn in their guesses) and ask the members of your league to guess how many total points will be scored in the game. The league member closest to the actual total points scored in the game will get the coveted 1st pick in the draft. The next closest guess gets to pick second and so on. The person who was the furthest off would obviously pick last.

Ties can happen in this format, so you'll need to establish a tie breaker. Example: You use the Celtics/Lakers game total to determine your draft order. Joe guesses 188. Tom guesses 190. The final score of the game is Celtics 97, Lakers 92, giving you a total score of 189. Both fellas missed it by one point. Which guy gets to pick before the other? The best tiebreaker to use is who submitted their pick the earliest. This serves two purposes... The first being that you have a time stamp on the email as proof. The second is it motivates guys to get their picks in ASAP and eliminates the problem of the Commissioner having to hunt down those lazy guys who either forget or don't turn in their picks on time (every league has one or two of these guys). You will need to note this in your league rules to avoid confusion. You don't want issues arising that could potential create conflict and have a league owner upset and looking to drop out over this issue.


2. Draw numbers out of a hat. If you've got 12 teams in your league, cut up 12 pieces of paper, equal in size and have guys draw out of the hat to determine their draft order.

3. Use a deck of cards. You'll need to remove all but one suit which will give you Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King. The lucky guy who drew the A would go first, 2 would be second and so on. King would pick last. This obviously only works for leagues with 13 teams or less.

4. By last year's final standings. The team that finished last gets to pick first, second to last picks second and so on. While this is a very popular method amongst fantasy leagues, this is kind of bogus in the fact that it rewards the last place team when they really don't deserve it!

5. Allow teams to choose where they pick based on last year's standings. The last place team gets first choice. Second to last gets second choice and so on. The league winner gets what's left.

6. Random number generator (These can be found online by doing a search in Google).

7. Auction Draft. This is too lengthy to explain here so we've created an article unto itself.

How Snake Drafts Work

Let's say that you have a 12 team league. Once you've established your league's draft order you're ready to rock'n roll. The first round will consist of picks 1-12. The second round will snake (reverse) starting with team 12, then 11, 10, 9 and so on back to the guy who had the first pick. Round 3 reverses again starting with team 1 picking first and so on. It keeps "snaking" until all rosters have been filled. (This essentially means that the guy who picks first has the 1st, 24th and 25th picks).

Note: As noted above, you'll also hear snake drafts referred to as serpentine drafts.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop us an email at and we'll get back to you with an answer. Good luck with your league!

Related: Fantasy Football Head to Head Snake Draft Strategy

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