Have you hit a rut with Fantasy Premier League? Already tired of your average performance while your mate has tripled captained a Harry Kane hat-trick? You ain’t seen nothing yet – welcome to your new hell…
Why You NEED to play Draft Fantasy Premier League
As we finish Gameweek 28 and head into the final ten games of the season, most Fantasy Premier League players are in similar boats. The mini-league has gone to Johnny ‘I don’t even watch football’ from work, you’ve used your wildcard and almost everyone is sporting a template team with Chelsea’s defence and Alexis Sanchez or Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
A number of Fantasy Premier League players (known as ‘casuals’ among the die-hard community who inexplicably know that Tom Carroll is worth £4.3m or that John Stones is somehow owned by 16% of players) have usually given up by now after forgetting to set their lineup or drunkenly transferring in Nathan Redmond thinking he was going to be anything other than a useless turd who will only score during the gameweek you benched him.
What you need is something that will keep you invested for the whole year and have fun with your mates on the way, while also making their life a misery. Welcome to draft Fantasy Premier League – your new hell…
How draft Fantasy Premier League works
Nearly four years ago to the day, my friend and I had an epiphany. We were tired of playing Fantasy Premier League against old friends from college who didn’t have any interest in football – or the random acquaintance we didn’t even know who had joined our league and turned out to be the FPL equivalent of Rain Man – and seeing the same old teams with Gareth Bale, Robin Van Persie and Clint Dempsey (Clint Dempsey once scored 200 points in a season! I shit you not).
After binge-watching The League while we should have been finishing our university work and looking for jobs like functioning members of society, we decided we needed to shake up Fantasy Premier League and get our mates in on the act.
For those who have never seen The League and are wondering just what the hell I’m talking about, draft FPL is simple – instead of being able to select any player like in the normal Fantasy Premier League game, only one person is allowed to own each player. You can then choose whether to play for total points or have a head-to-head league.
But how do you decide who gets which players and ensure everybody doesn’t jump for Alexis Sanchez or Sergio Aguero I hear you ask? Well, read on…
The simplest and fairest way to do this is to have a draft day. As anybody who has ever seen NFL probably knows, this is when each person picks, in order, a player for their team from the Fantasy Premier League roster.
Deciding the order can be done in a number of ways: picked out of a hat, through who finishes where in an intellectual or physical challenge or chosen at random by the surly Wetherspoon’s waitress wondering why you’ve torn up a beer mat and scrawled your names on it. This year we did by writing the numbers on the bottom of cups in beer pong. It took bloody ages.
Draft day itself is one of the highlights of the draft Fantasy Premier League year, and the summer if you’re as sad as I am. We’ve done it prior to a barbecue, at friends’ birthdays and once at a house party while a group of girls were waiting to go to a club. League priorities meant they were sent on their way while we decided which West Bromwich Albion to choose.
Every decision counts in draft FPL
Unlike in Fantasy Premier League where you can pick anyone, you have a finite number of options in draft FPL. Players get snapped up in the thick and fast and before you know it, you’ll be scraping around the promoted sides looking for any striker who might play 60 minutes or a defender who once scored five goals in the Belgian league.
Often the bold are rewarded – when a bandwagon player starts to hit form like Riyad Mahrez and Dele Alli did last season, you have to act fast to snap them up before someone else does. Wait until the deadline and you risk someone else grabbing a player about to hit form.
Similarly a new dimension is added when it comes to hanging onto players. Is your star player out of form or injured? Let them go and they may well bag all the points for someone else, or worse, come back to bite you…
Another thing you’ll experience with draft Fantasy Premier League that you wouldn’t see otherwise is the option to trade players. There’s nothing better than getting one over on your mate as that player who had hit a purple patch for you suddenly gets dropped, and nothing worse than letting a player go who goes on to hit double-figures against you a few weeks later.
One of my crowning glories in draft FPL is when I convinced a friend to take Enner Valencia for Harry Kane when he had just broken into the Spurs side. Kane went on to bag 21 goals that season, while the Ecuadorian got injured after losing a battle with a tea cup.
You’ll become a Fantasy Premier League expert
With less choice you’ll be forced to get creative with your picks. Finding that next player who will unexpectedly hit it big becomes all the more important and can potentially win you a gameweek on its own.
A by-product of this is that you will start to do your own research. A lot of it. I’ve spent more than one evening scouring the weekend fixtures and finding out who’s had the most shots in the box when looking for a new midfielder and which defence is looking shaky when choosing a captain.
As a result, you’ll become a much better Fantasy League player – the season after I started playing, my other team made for fun finished 13,000th after finishing outside the top 250k the season before, while one of our group was once in the top 1k for half a season.
It’s a great way to get into Fantasy Premier League
For those who don’t follow football religiously, getting into Fantasy Premier League can be a bit daunting. Most would only go as far as joining a work league, playing for two weeks before forgetting to set their lineup and giving up for the season.
In our current ten-man league, we have at least four members who didn’t take a blind bit of interest in football or Fantasy Premier League and thought Per Mertesacker was a name for waxing your testicles. The saps.
Now they are fully-fledged FPL gurus who could give you Bournemouth’s starting lineup from the weekend without breaking a sweat. In draft Fantasy Premier League, everyone generally starts on a level-playing field. Even if they don’t finish on one…
Make forfeits for your draft Fantasy Premier League loser
As anybody who has seen The League knows, the person who finishes last suffers the indignity of being labelled the ‘Sacko’ and given a series of degrading forfeits over the season.
Being the creative, punny and witty human beings we are, my group decided to dub the bottom player in our league, the ‘Sakho’ after Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho (currently at Crystal Palace).
Currently we’ve been rather lenient with our punishments, although we never did see the reaction of the last Sakho’s new wife when we left a message at their wedding…
You’ll never look at Fantasy Premier League the same way
Each member of our group agrees that changing to a draft Fantasy Premier League format has been one of the best – and most stressful – decisions we ever made. There are highs, there are lows, there are disgustingly crude photoshopped pictures of other participants in crude sexual positions. There are even times when Jonathan Walters will only play 58 minutes meaning you lose your place in the final after a 63-63 draw (I will never forgive you Mark Hughes).
And you’ll love every minute of it.