Monday, December 20, 2010

Fantasy Premier League Draft

I'm sure many readers play other fantasy sports such as NFL, baseball or basketball and are therefore more accustomed to the draft or even auction method of selecting a team rather than the format of picking a team based on price. I have been wanting to try a draft/auction for the EPL, as while I like the game, I generally prefer to build a squad for the season and tweak it with trades as we go. My main issue is the fact that in normal seasons we all end up with 5 or 6 of the same players so your league is won or lost depending on whether your Sunderland defender nicked an assist or not, rather than the fact you knew Andy Caroll would score 20 this season.

I am therefore looking for a solution to create a draft/auction game. Does anyone know how this could be achieved without all being in the same room? I like auctions given that it gives everyone a chance to get anyone they want but I think this would be impossible without working out a time to all be online for a prolonged period of time. A draft could be done by email, though this could end up taking a while and it would be impossible to enforce a time limit for each pick.

Has anyone had any good experiences with drafts, other than using some preset software such as that used by ESPN or

Any suggestions would be welcomed and the best solution will get an invite to the inaugural league which I hope to run for the second half of this season as a test.


Mike Crider said...

It's funny you mention this Chris. I've followed EPL for years but last season was my first go at PFL (which i won my league by the way with the help of your blog!). I found the format much more to my liking than an NFL fantasy league (which I've been doing for 15 years now). It involves a lot less luck, in my opinion, to win your EPL fantasy league than it does NFL. There is a lot more analysis of talent when everyone is available for your team opposed to being lucky to draft a sleeper or have a high draft position to get a "sure thing". For me, maybe it's just a refreshing change of pace to play EPL style. It sounds like you may be looking for the same thing by mirroring the NFL style fantasy league with drafts/auctions.

Here are some possible obstacles to think about when planning an auction or draft league:

1) Determining a random draft order, fairly. On webpages like or this is done by the preset software.

2) Time limit for picks... if you held the draft in a chat room, the time stamps on the posts could be used to establish time left for next pick (maybe 5 minutes between picks).

3) Would you use the EPL fantasy web page? You may run into trouble if a team drafted a really good team and the value was over 100 million (is there a way to disable this for a custom league?)

My suggestion: Have the commissioner/moderator set up 10 different teams on EPL webpage (or however many teams are in the league). Only the commissioner knows the password for the teams so people can't make changes to their roster without going thru the commissioner (which solves the problem of transfers of "ineligible" players).

The draft could be done in a chat room where everyone is online at a designated time in the chat room. After the draft order is determined, the clock starts at a certain time and team 1 has 5 minutes to make their pick (for example). Then the time stamp of their pick starts the 5 minute clock for team 2. If you go with 11 starters and 4 bench then it would have 15 rounds like that. At the end of the draft, the commissioner would log onto each of the team pages and transfer in the players that were drafted.

Transactions could be done each week via comments on a weekly update to your blog. First team to ask for a transfer for an available player gets that transaction. Then the commissioner logs in and makes the changes. In an NFL fantasy league, there isn't a limit on the # of transfers per week and teams could work out trades between themselves.

I know this post is kind of jumbled, but i'm mostly thinking out loud.

Personally I think a draft would be MUCH easier than an auction.

Mike Crider said...
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Mike Crider said...
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Andrew said...

I've only done drafts using the ESPN software. It might be tricky to get everyone online at the same time for an EPL draft since your readership is rather international.

For my NBA draft this year, we all set our draft list order and it just picked the best available player that was left on the list.

For example:
Team 1:
1. Cesc
2. Drogba
3. Rooney
4. Lampard

Team 2:
1. Cesc
2. Rooney
3. Drogba
4. Lampard

Team 3:
1. Rooney
2. Drogba
3. Lampard
4. Cesc

Team 4:
1. Drogba
2. Cesc
3. Rooney
4. Lampard

So in round 1, team 1 would get Cesc, team 2 would get Rooney, team 3 would get Drogba, team 4 would get Lampard. We did a rotisserie draft, so in the second round team 4 picked first, team 3 picked second, etc.

The format worked really well. My league has too many teams in it, so the later picks weren't worth a damn, so watch out for that.

nshapir1 said...

I've played fantasy sports for years and definitely prefer the draft format. While I enjoy the EPL fantasy game, it becomes too much of a copycat game.

The idea of using a chat room is decent, although I agree with Andrew in that it might be tough to get together a group that spans the globe at the same time. Picking off preset rankings defeats the purpose and fun of the whole draft in my opinion. Playing the flow of the draft and trying to start runs on certain positions is where strategy really comes in.

Depending on the geographic locations of the league participants, you may not be able to avoid an e-mail draft. I've done them before and they aren't that bad. A couple suggestions:

1) Have a time limit, even if it's as much as 1 hour. If a pick isn't made in time, "auto-pick" for the person. Rankings could go off by price (not the best ranking system, but could be worse).

2) If someone who was already selected is picked, that person loses that pick and instead selects at the end of the current round.

3) Consider making the league a minimal keeper league (2-3 players can be kept for the next season).

4) Make sure benches aren't too deep.

Chris Glover said...

Thanks Mike. I think I would have to manage the teams myself as otherwise a drafted team might violate the 100m or 3 players per team rules on I track stats for most players anyway so this shouldn't be a problem.

I too did a draft like Andrew mentioned before NFL draft sites were so prevalent and that worked pretty well so perhaps that could be the way to go. My only reservation there is that my top 10 players would likely feature very few defenders but yet if I'd already picked 3 forwards I would of course take Ashley Cole over, say, Kevin Davies. I'm not sure how to combat that with a rank system.

I agree that the current system can be fair but my main problem is that if you identify a star, such as Steve Ireland a few years back, all you gain is the right to enjoy his points a week or two before other players. After that you're only on a par with everyone else who jumps on the bandwagon. Unless you can keep identifying such players throughout the year (which starts to depend on luck and injuries) it's really hard to win just with skill.

I would be proposing drafting a large squad so you can cover yourself with injuries as well as stashing some prospects who might develop later in the season. Ideally I would run the league as a keeper league to really develop this youth angle.

Thanks for the suggestions

Chris Glover said...

nshapir - why do you say go with a small squad? I was thinking to make it fairly large, say, 18 players. The plus here is that the league won't be won as a random guy emerges from the field (as we have seen in NFL with Mike Vick, Jamaal Charles, Peyton Hillis, who have all been basically undrafted and successful over the past couple of years). The downside of course is that if you draft badly it is harder to recover but with the influx of talent every half year during the transfer windows this should be okay to overcome.

nshapir1 said...

I say smaller squad just to avoid stockpiling and "streaming," although it all depends on the size of the league. If you look at the current state of the game, you have:

-17 forwards with 50+ points
-38 midfielders with 50+ points
-21 defenders with 50+ points

Assuming a 12-team league (which may be a poor assumption on my part), you're going to have teams with 1 legitimate forward. Allowing a deep bench results in a very thin free agent pool, making it potentially impossible to recover from an injury to a stud. By having a shorter bench, you force players to make decisions on whether they want to pick up the flavor of the week or defensive spot start from a lesser team because of clean sheet potential, and drop a consistent contributor to do so.

All that being said, you could always have deeper benches and not allow weekly pickups. I've been in leagues that had no weekly adds, but a mid-season free agent draft. While not my preference, it is an option.

yceberg324 said...

Hello Chris,

I apologize about posting this on a nine month old article, but it seems to be the most recent relevant post. Also it seems that you do not have an email or contact link besides your twitter account. To continue my preamble, I am a recent one week follower of your blog as I am new to playing fantasy premier league football.

I am in a private league on the site, but being as I am used to playing the Big Four sports in the States with a draft, I am searching for a site with a draft (auction or ordered) to host my league mates and myself. The Sim Prem league you are in has potential but does not seem available for a dozen or players to create a private league. I came across the following;

I am wondering have you heard something about this site which is celebrating it's 20th year, positive or negative? I would appreciate it if you could provide any feedback possible.


Rafi said...

This a great website please visit mine aswell its a epl fantasy talk website. It has epl fantasy tips and good transfers to make and you can compare players. Its called

Dan Pernik said...

Saw this post wanted to let you know about the system I created for the fantasy league I play with friends of mine. I basically combined the official Fantasy Premier League site with a Google Spreadsheet that keeps track of rosters and arbitrates any disputes that arise. There are definitely ways you can do the draft system with the FPL site on your own, but it can involve a fair amount of manual work and pissed off people if multiple people want the same available player.

Have a look at for a sample of the spreadsheet and the rules we created. Hope you like it. Either way, I can't recommend the draft format enough, it's so worth the effort!

Dan Pernik said...
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Philly said...

Fyi, Fantrax has a substantial draft-style Premier League league manager product - check out It was a little sophisticated to set up at the start, but you can do pretty much anything you want with it.

Anonymous said...

FF Gamers,

This website should provide the answer to those who want a draft FF experience: