Our story so far:
Hello, we are Addy and Doug, two colleagues that thoroughly enjoy both the worlds of sport and gaming, and in particular within those worlds, football and fantasy … you can see where we’re going with this cant you? We would say it is a pleasure to meet you all, but given that is never going to happen, you will have to make do with an interactive tip of the hat.
For the last 6 years we have been using a Fantasy app called FiT powered by the Mirror, we have been pulling in at least 40+ league entrants per competition and have been running the league since around 2012, it’s a fairly solid platform and they offer fantasy leagues for EPL, Champions League, World Cups & the Euros. For those that haven’t used this app you can make transfers in between matches and up until kick off, so say you had someone playing the Saturday early kick off you could transfer him out after the game for someone playing the 3pm games, it allows you 2/3 transfers a week on average.
We are both consistently top 4 Managers in the League that we run, and a combined list of achievements are as follows;
❖ 2014 World Cup Fantasy League Winner
❖ EPL 15/16 League Winner
❖ EPL 16/17 League Winner
❖ Champions League 16/17 Fantasy Winner
❖ 38 Manager of the Weeks
❖ 13 Manager of the Months
A lad we both work with who uses the Official FPL for his FF alerted us to the fact that a new game mode was going to drop this season, the draft mode, and straight away we knew that this would be a great hit amongst our FF crowd. After doing copious amounts of research we found that people were recommending the ideal league size to be 8-10, but we wanted to push the boat out and get as many people involved as possible. Thus we ended up with a league of 16, something we haven’t regretted since. We decided on a £20 entry fee, and a £5 entry to our cup competition which we would run alongside the league, consisting of 4 groups of 4 with the top 2 going through to the Quarter Finals. It was also agreed that there would be a £10 prize for each individual manager of the month, and with a graphic designer in the league we decided to utilise his skills in photo shopping an image of each MOM, this would then be the WhatsApp group image for the duration of the next month, and a rule was created so that the Manager had to update his Social Media accounts with the photo for the duration of the following month also.
As the Draft mode was new to every manager prior to this season in terms of experience and expectations it was a level playing field. We decided to set up a 5 man league with some other friends and ran a draft prior to running our 16 man one to get a look and feel of how it all works. What surprised us is the duration of it, we had 30 seconds per pick and the first few rounds flew by and all in all the draft was concluded in under 10 minutes, which led us to increase the time limit on the 16 man draft to 1 minute per pick. This sounds like a long time but in the very early stages, these picks fly out at a rate of 10-15 seconds, the latter rounds became a bit harder to find value and you found that the minute was almost taken up with every pick and on some occasions it was still not long enough. We both spent around 3+ hours prior to the draft creating our very own draft boards, what we failed to do though is use them effectively on our live draft night as the speed in which the picks were going it was hard to keep track of it all, maybe an assistant manager will be required for next year for this very purpose!
Our Draft took place on the Monday evening prior to the opening weekend of Premier League fixtures. We have always maintained that all managers must be in attendance of draft night if they wish to participate in the league despite it being hosted online on the FPL platform, I believe there is no easy option to upload an offline draft on the FPL platform but this would definitely be something we would like to see added next year. it would save the issue of someone dropping off the Wi-Fi or a phone or tablet battery dying. From the outset, we wanted to do things properly so approached the local football club to rent out their club house for the draft night, the beauty of this (asides that they had a bar open) was that you could start playing mind games with your opposing managers, put them under pressure from day one by scrutinising every pick in the hope that they crumble and select an absolute duffer. This was rewarded when one manager took a plunge on Coutinho in the 1st round, a risky pick at the time considering his situation with Barca chipping away at him, and when the same guy drafted Theo Walcott in the 2nd round the room erupted before the cherry on top of the cake came with him drafting of Daley Blind in the 3rd. It probably comes with no surprise that he is currently propping up the table and still managing to make a mess of his waiver transactions every week despite getting first dibs. The minute the draft drew to a close, the confidence, testosterone and beer took over which resulted in side bets of £50+ being placed on final league position between managers who fancied the look of their teams and more importantly were not one bit impressed by the opposition, in total the amount staked within the league easily exceeds £1k.
A few lessons have been learnt from this first season, most crucially, get starters. It’s all well and good picking up a good player on paper, but if he isn’t getting minutes, then he’s a wasted asset. In such a large league aim to get two starting keepers, or failing that handcuff a first and reserve keeper from the same club, failure to do this would come to sting Addy half way through the season when Joe Hart was dropped and he only had David Ospina on the bench. He went without a keeper for a few weeks before picking up Karl Darlow who promptly himself got dropped, and was keeperless again until Fraser Forster lost his starting place for Southampton and Alex McCarthy was picked up on the waiver. How long he keeps his place is another question. By comparison up until a few weeks ago Doug has had the privilege of being able to pick which keeper; from Elliot or Begovic is best to start dependent on each of their fixtures. Prioritise your strikers early, it doesn’t always fall that way though but that should be at the top of most peoples list due to the scarcity of starters at the position. Perhaps most importantly loyalty gets you nowhere, you need to be ruthless but at the same time tactical, do your research and be ahead of the people who live by the triangles on the FPL page as these are far from accurate. This has come to sting a manager who got rid of Townsend as it stated he was out for over a month when with a little bit more research he would have found out that his injury wasn’t as bad as initially thought. One final piece of advice to add (for now) is that you can rotate a few defenders and play the fixtures which will free you up to go for the point scoring attacking players in your draft.
So how are we faring in our debut season you ask;
Addy – My side has changed dramatically since the start of the season with only 6/15 draft picks still with me, those being Hart, Rudiger, Lovren, Alli, Salah & Rooney, I’m looking to offload Hart and Lovren in January but I’m waiting for the transfer window to heat up a bit and offer a bit more value before I take the plunge. I had a ropey start and was rooted at the bottom of the table for the first 4 weeks, but haven’t looked back since and have propelled myself up the table into 3rd and chasing down the top 2. I had a good run in the Cup before being narrowly defeated in the Quarter Final to the eventual winner. I have a solid core to my squad (and of course Chicken Tikka MoSalah) and have 2 positions (DEF & MID) by which I stream weekly for points and this has proved a good strategy to take, it doesn’t always work out well but it’s a good position to be in. I have achieved Manager of the Month in October and am the front runner to pick up another in January with 1 GW to come. I’d like to thank a few players that have helped shape me into the manager I am today who they have moved onto pastures new but remain a key part of my history, namely Colin Quaner, 2 Metre Peter, Hal Robson-Kanu, the Welsh Xavi, and of course Jonny Walters who I classed as my diamond in the rough, I thought Burnley was the perfect match for him but shows how much I know. Here’s my rather flattering image from my MOM;
Doug – I walked away from the draft fairly confident in my initial squad and this was justified when I found myself top after GW3 and GW4 following blistering starts to the campaign from my 1st and 2nd Rnd picks of Christian Eriksen and Leroy Sané who helped me to pick up the very 1st Manager of the Month award. As the weeks passed I found myself slipping down the table as my failure to secure a starting frontman was now costing me dear and this resulted me not progressing out of my group in the Cup eventually going out on points difference. Discounting Sam Voke’s brace against Chelsea on day 1, my strikers (Iheanacho and Sturridge) have contributed next to nothing to my teams total. You may scoff at that front line, but when you are allocated 15th pick on draft night and use your first two picks bolstering the MF there are nothing but scraps left available in the FWD positions in a 16 man league. Christmas has been and gone and I find myself rooted 10th (of 16), I’m hoping I can pick myself up a goal scorer during the January transfer window, but it wont be easy. Here’s my MOM image from many moons ago, and hopefully I can get back to these dizzy heights in the coming weeks/months.
As founders of the League we are heavily involved in organising our end of season presentation and we have booked a private function room at a sports bar for the last day of the season. The trophies have arrived fully engraved and we are putting the finishing touches to awards that we will give out on the day which include; Biggest 1 Man Team, The Diamond in the Rough Award, Highest Gameweek Score, Voice Note of the Season, Fair Play Award & the one nobody wants The Joke Manager award.
So there you have it, a brief overview of our time in Draft fantasy football so far. There will no doubt be many more highs and lows to ride before the end of the season, and we hope to keep you up to date with each and everyone of them, whilst also dishing out advice to pass onto you draft players out there. There will also be the odd fun article from time to time, if like Doug it pays to take your mind off your underachieving FF side for a moment.
Below are our current squads and successful transaction histories (please remember before laughing that it is incredibly competitive when trying to land players in a 16 man league):