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The Draft League - a New Option for Fantasy BPL

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Official BPL Fantasy has added a second option, a draft league, this season. Does it sound like something that you should try?

Poll

Are you going to play in a new BPL draft league?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    Of course, I’m a Premier League fantasy addict
    (54 votes)
  • 9%
    Nah, I’ve got too much on my plate already
    (7 votes)
  • 17%
    I’m not sure, still on the fence
    (13 votes)
74 votes total Vote Now

We are all familiar with the original BPL fantasy wherein each individual assembles a team of players which cost various prices, fitting them all into a limited budget. Now BPL has branched out with a second version where each team in a league drafts players. Should you give it a go?

https://draft.premierleague.com

Which Rules Did the BPL Draft League Adopt?

  • Private leagues of two to 16 teams, or play with strangers in leagues of up to eight teams
  • No player prices, therefore no budget limit
  • The draft order of the first round is determined randomly
  • Thereafter, the draft is done in snake style
  • After the draft and during the season, players may be added and dropped via waiver wire claims (once a week)
  • No trades
  • Scoring is the same as the original game, except there is no captain or vice-captain

What’s a Draft League and What is Snake Style?

I’ve never played Premier League fantasy football/soccer with a draft league. But I have played both fantasy Major League baseball and fantasy NFL American football draft leagues, and I’m not going to lie, the draft is a blast!

In the baseball league, a group of about 8 or 10 school buddies/friends (and friends of friends) gathered in a basement with loads of pizza as we drafted players in auction style. In a process that took hours over an afternoon/evening, everybody had the same limited budget. A player was announced at random and everybody who wanted to would bid on said player until the highest bidder won that player. Rinse and repeat until everybody’s squad was filled with the requisite number of players (and positions). As you surely have guessed, there was plenty of smack talk and rabble-rousing to go around when somebody spent 20% of their budget on the hero from their favorite team who by less rose-colored glasses was basically a scrub.

In the Yahoo NFL football league, a group of 8, 10 or 12 co-workers, friends, friends of friends and family did an online draft, getting on their computers individually at the same day and time. If somebody couldn’t make it, their team was auto-drafted based on computer rankings and/or their own list. Unlike the auction style I’ve played in baseball, football has been done in snake style draft. In snake style, the first round picks are set randomly and subsequent rounds are done in reverse order (1st pick in 1st round gets last pick in 2nd round, then 1st pick in 3rd round, etc.), so that the teams are fairly balanced (emphasis on fairly.) There is a time limit (ours was 1 12 minutes) to make a pick for your team; if you do not make your pick in the allotted time, the computer makes it for you (again, based on computer rankings and/or your own list).

As far as spending an hour or two at the computer screen, coffee (or beer) in hand, you can’t ask for a better time! It’s a huge rush, hoping that you can snag someone you value as a 3rd round talent in the 5th round...unless of course that player is nabbed by the team drafting right before you. There’s also plenty of light-hearted smack talk ridiculing questionable player picks...only done online rather than in person.

What are Some Pluses and Minuses of the No Budget Snake Draft?

The formats naturally have their advantages and disadvantages. The in-person draft with player prices and a budget is not only a lot more fun, but also significantly fairer. When you have an auction draft with a set budget, every team has a chance at every player and it’s truly a matter of skill to get the best players at the best prices (in the baseball draft as described). [This comparison also works to the original BPL format, where everybody chooses from the same pool of players at the same price, also making things completely fair.]

The computer system where you pick by order is easier, particularly for people spread out geographically, so it makes sense that BPL went with this option. Fantasy drafts tend to be top heavy, so it’s a huge advantage if you have one of the first few picks and therefore a serious disadvantage if you don’t. After all, the difference in points scored the prior season (and projected points for the drafting season) tends to be much greater between the #1 and #10 pick than it is between the #11 and #20 pick. Thus, you feel better about having #1 and #20 than #10 and #11. Also, it’s an advantage having the first pick in the first, third, fifth, seventh, etc. round compared to the first pick in the second, fourth, sixth, eighth etc. round. With a snake draft, sometimes it’s more about being lucky — getting an early pick — than being good.

That said, teams always end up significantly different at the end of the season than during the draft, so no matter where you pick, you’ve got a chance to show off your skill by grabbing diamonds in the rough at the draft and by making good moves during the season. If you’re a good player, not having a top pick can easily be overcome. As always, there’s a lot of luck involved. There are always a few of the top picks who underperform or get injured, and in Premier League, you might even see some transfer elsewhere. Ouch!

How Do Teams Make Post-Draft Moves the Rest of the Season?

After the draft, for the rest of the season, what happens in a draft league is that when somebody on your team gets injured or isn’t performing particularly well, you can drop that player and pick up another player who is a free agent (that is, nobody else has that player). Who gets a player wanted by multiple teams is determined by waiver rules, which may vary by league/portal. It can be the team with the worst record (or least points) who gets priority; otherwise it can be the team that least recently made a claim that gets priority.

My NFL league involves trades and hey, trading players with other managers is loads of fun. Who doesn’t love wheeling and dealing? Well, anybody worried about collusion doesn’t. If you play in a league where you don’t know everybody (or anybody), you can’t be sure that a lopsided trade is done involving some sort of a side deal. Also, trying to trade players online can be an awful lot of work...and pestering. So it makes a certain amount of sense that BPL chose not to have trades.

How Many Teams is Ideal?

If you make your own league, you can have anywhere from two to 16 teams. If you play against strangers, eight is the maximum. There is a sweet spot as far as the number of teams goes. If you have a small number of teams, then everybody gets to load up with a huge number of superstars. Sure, that’s fun, but it’s also kind of ridiculous. When everybody feels like a kid in a candy store with nobody keeping watch at the counter, it’s a bit hollow. On the other hand, when you have a large number of teams, each team may only have one true star and it ends up feeling like a battle between squads of mostly mediocre players, which is not terribly appealing.

When I play NFL fantasy, we pick 16 players (including bench). The NFL is a league of 32 actual teams. In fantasy, 10 or 12 teams is the sweet spot. Eight teams is too few, with everybody really loading up on good players so it feels like it’s a league full of all-star teams. 14 or more is too many, wherein people are battling it out for crumbs too soon in the draft.

In Premier League fantasy, with 20 actual teams, they’ve probably hit on the sweet spot at eight fantasy teams in a league. If you go higher than eight teams or significantly lower, chances are that you’re going to feel like the teams are too thin or too loaded, respectively.

Does it Matter if There’s an Odd or Even Number of Teams?

There is also the consideration of an odd vs. even. If you are playing in a head-to-head league where you win, lose or draw each week against a single opponent at a time, an even number of teams is desirable. Otherwise, there is an odd team out (literally) on bye that rotates every week, so your team does not get to play every week and that’s no fun. In a standard league where it’s all about how many points you build up on the season, it does not matter whether you have an odd or even number of teams.

Sounds Mighty Interesting, but Should I Try it?

I play official BPL fantasy, Fantrax Premier League fantasy and Yahoo NFL fantasy. On top of that, I usually play Euros and World Cup when those come around. Sure I’m a fantasy addict, but even so, I feel like my plate is pretty full. I already have the best of both worlds: Assembling a team on a budget via official BPL and Fantrax Premier League fantasy, along with drafting a team and getting waiver wire fun in NFL fantasy.

Finally, I have a difficult enough time rooting for different Premier League players that are in my BPL squad but not my Fantrax team or vice versa. I’m not really sure that I want two different teams of players within the same portal, along with three different teams of players across the two portals. While I truly do appreciate the extra option, I’m going to sit this one out. Maybe in the future, though, we’ll see, you never know.

That said, the new BPL option looks like it will fairly resemble my NFL fantasy experience, which is a lot of fun! So if you’re thinking about trying it, don’t be shy, give it a go. After all, how often do you get a chance to make fun of a buddy for picking a goalkeeper in the second round?

How excited are you about the new draft league! Those of you who do get a league together with the new draft option, be sure to keep us posted and tell us all how it goes!