Draft Essentials: Offline Draft

The second installment of our ‘Draft Essentials’ features, advising on how to set up your Draft Fantasy Football League, concentrates on taking your Draft Offline.

We Fantasy Football Chaps have been exclusively drafting ‘offline’ since we started playing Draft Fantasy Football some 5 years ago.  We would strongly recommend an Offline Draft, and here are the many reasons why…



So you’ve got yourself a Draft Fantasy Football League.  A classic eight man league.  A new season is coming, spirits are high, and banter is aplenty on the group WhatsApp feed.  It’s time to start preparing for the new season’s Draft.  The resident Sepp Blatter (league commissioner) is in charge of the Draft once again, deciding which website to use this season, and setting the night that the Draft is going to take place…

One rogue manager plucks up the courage to challenge Sepp’s reign of terror…

“Hey Sepp, how about we have an offline draft this year…?  We could all meet up, partake in an objective activity to decide the draft order, and then get drunk and draft into the early hours of the morning like absolute legends…” 

Sepp has a bemused look on his face, as he takes on board this lavish suggestion from a fellow manager… could he possibly give up some of his self-appointed power?  Let the boys have some real-life fun, and open up the draft to possible mishaps by not using ‘technology’?  To the surprise of everyone, Sepp finally responds with a resounding – “That sounds like a fucking fantastic idea.”

You’re not wrong Sepp, you’re not wrong.  Welcome to the world of offline drafting.


Online Draft… No!

In the 5 seasons the Fantasy Football Chaps have been gracing Draft Fantasy Football, it has become readily apparent that the vast majority of Draft Fantasy Football Leagues are solely participated on via electronic platforms (i.e. Togga or Draft Fantasy).  The Draft occurs on a website, with each manager sat on their own (probably in their bedrooms), with endless reams of paper containing their so called ‘Draft Prep’.

The banter will be almost non-existent.  Managers will laugh to themselves if someone picks a crap player, or swear to themselves when someone picks a hidden gem they were saving for the final round.  BUT WE ASK YOU; WHERE’S THE FUN IN THAT?!  How about you actually meet up in person for this momentous once a year occasion?

You’ll be able to celebrate alongside your fellow managers when someone drafts Jamies Vardy in the first round, or laugh when someone accidentally drafts a sixth midfielder (due to the manual nature of the Draft)!  Witnessing the pain on someones face when they realise they’ve just drafted Glenn Murray when Josh King was still free can be a magic moment.  We’ve been using an OFFLINE Draft for many years.  It takes planning, dedication, bargaining power (with your wife/girlfriend), and the creation of a draft board; but this is why it’s such a good experience…


The Location

From our experience, the Draft is the highlight of the Draft Fantasy Football season… and maybe even the highlight of your year outright.

Make a weekend of it.  Use it as an excuse to get away from the wife/girlfriend/kids for a weekend – “Sorry love, I’m off to Dave’s for the weekend at the start of August; its Draft Weekend”.  She’ll understand.

Get all the boys together, get the beers in, buy a shit load of meat, and have yourself a ruddy good time.  We’d suggest getting everyone round to the league commissioners place for the first offline draft, leaving most of the organising to him.  Once everyone fully understands how an Offline Draft works, and what is expected of them, make the reigning champion host the event (tell him it’s ‘his honour’ to host The Draft) for every new season afterwards.  You could even rent a cottage in the Cotswolds for the weekend, if you want to be really fancy.


The Format

Most Draft Fantasy Football Leagues, where the draft is completed on a website, automatically assigns managers into a random order that they will draft in.  This isn’t fun.  This certainly isn’t imaginative.  And it doesn’t maximise the potential for whipping up draft anxiety and banter between managers.

We’d suggest an ‘objective activity’ for you and your fellow managers to partake in to determine the order by which you draft (more on the activity in a moment).  The draft format is usually a ‘snake draft’ (i.e. the draft order snakes from one end of the draft board to the other).  This means that the manager who drafts 1st picks Harry Kane, and then gets the 16th pick of Mesut Ozil.  The manager who drafts 8th takes Kevin De Bruyne, then gets Christian Eriksen as 9th pick. The idea being that the snake draft will be fair; Kane is better than De Bruyne and Eriksen, but Ozil is worse than all three.  The manager who drafted 1st theoretically gets a team as good as the manager who drafted 8th.  BUT WHO WANTS THINGS TO BE FAIR?!

Scrap the idea of a snake draft, and let the manager who picks 1st also pick 9th.  The Fantasy Football Chaps apply the draft order that follows this approach; the order goes in line from the 1st manager to 8th manager, and then starts again at the first manager.  This hugely ups the stakes of the Draft, and means drafting high up the order is essential for your prospects for the new season.

N.B. If you want to keep things a bit fairer, and stick with the snake draft format, it’s still worthwhile partaking in an ‘objective activity’ to determine the draft order.  Different managers will have different preferences as to where they pick in a snake draft.  One manager might prefer to draft 4th or 5th so that they are picking players in the middle of the draft order.  Whereas another manager might prefer to draft 1st so that they’ll be guaranteed to draft a top class striker in the first round.  The ‘objective activity’ will therefore still be important when using the snake draft format; the winner of the activity will have first dibs on where they draft in the order.  The manager who came second in the activity will then get to pick their placement in the draft order, and so on.


The ‘Objective Activity’

So you’ve done away with the idea of a ‘snake draft’, and you’ve established that drafting 1st is extremely fucking important. It is now time to choose an objective and non-skill based activity to decide on the draft order.

Participating in an activity on the day of the Draft to decide the Draft order is bloody good fun.  As long as the activity essentially allows for any manager to claim the 1st spot in the draft order, you’re onto a winner.  If the activity is non-skilled based and has random elements, then all managers will know they have a chance of claiming that all important 1st spot in the draft order.

You could participate in a ‘watch along’ for a sporting event, and pick a name out of the hat for each manager to be assigned to.  An example of this would be that you could all watch:

  • A football game.  Tally up the amount of headers or tackles each player makes during the game
  • A cricket match.  Use the runs scored by each cricketer during the game
  • An F1 race.  Use the finishing positions by each driver during the race

Involving yourselves in the activity itself is an interesting idea.  An example of this could be that you:

  • Go go-karting.  Each manager is unknowingly racing for another manager.  At the end of the race, managers draw a name out of the hat and reveals who they have raced for; of course they could have been racing for themselves, which keeps the managers honest with their driving.
  • Go ten pin bowling.  Put the bumpers up and get everyone to bowl with their weaker hand.  Maybe even spin them round a few times before bowling each ball!  The managers will be bowling for themselves, but the outcome will be extremely random

It doesn’t really matter what the activity is, as long as its objective, and provides a laugh or two.  If you’re the host of the event we advise that you tailor the activity to something you like and everyone else hates; just to wind the rest up a bit.

A Fantasy Football Chaps real life draft activity example was to make each manager pick a wrestlers name out of the hat and watch a WWF Royal Rumble from the 90s.  The draft order was determined by the order by which the chosen wrestlers were eliminated from the match; first eliminated drafts last etc.  It forced the boys to cheer on the likes of Rowdy Roddy Piper, Ravishing Rick Rude, and Razor Ramon for an hour while they flung themselves around the ring.  Imagine if Ric Flair earned you the 1st round draft pick – you would be the biggest fan of The Nature Boy for the rest of your life!


The Draft Rules and Board

Remember we said you would need a bit of planning, dedication, and the creation of a draft board… well a little bit of organisation needs to happen prior to the draft (sorry)!  The draft format has been determined by the activity, but you also need to set some basic rules.

The time limit each manager gets to pick a player needs to be decided (we’d recommend 60 seconds per pick).  In addition you will need to establish the rules for if someone fucks up their pick (we’d recommend a hat filled with shit players to be chosen from on their behalf).

The Draft board also needs to be thought about prior to the event.  A homemade board is usually best; either a board where the managers write up their picks by hand, or player names pre-printed onto colour coordinated slips which are placed onto the board.  Why not go all technical, create an excel draft board and use a projector screen to show the board on a huge wall!

You could also include additional admin decisions to the Draft weekend.  Deciding team names as a group, and assigning an awful team name to one of your opponents by virtue of a managers vote can be good fun.


The Draft 

Now that your draft order has been decided, and hopefully everyone will be slightly alcohol influenced, its time to Draft!  Get the beers on ice in the middle of the room, collect the manager drafting 8th from the bathroom, and get cracking.

Undertake the Draft exactly like you would be if you were doing it online, although the intensity will be seriously ramped up due to the fact that your fellow managers are in the same room, judging your every move.  There will be laughs, there will be cheers, there will be swearing.  It’s all part of the fun though.  The intense situation will probably cause you to draft someone you’re really not a fan of – be careful of that!

One of the best things about doing things manually, and not using technology, is that people will fuck up.  Managers will draft too many defenders, or draft a player who’s actually already taken.  Seven guys jumping up and down in the middle of the room at 2am when they realise the remaining manager has just tried to draft Nacho Monreal (who’s already been drafted) in the 13th round… these are moments that just can’t happen during an online draft.  Moments that we Fantasy Football Chaps smile about now whilst writing this article.

Once the Draft has been concluded, manually upload your drafted teams onto your nominated online platform.  If you’re using a website that doesn’t let you manually select each squad, you’ll have to schedule a draft and get each manager to set their Autopick list, with the 15 players they have drafted.  Draft Fantasy Football and Fantrax offer compatibility with Offline Drafts.

Alternatively, you could choose to manage your Draft Fantasy Football league offline too; using a massively complicated spreadsheet with more macros than you can imagine.  For this you will need to create a player roster, and have an excel wizard who desperately wants a piece of the league commissioners pie.  Check out our article on managing your Draft Fantasy Football League Offline, if you’re intrigued by this thought.



And there we have it.  An Offline Draft.

It takes a bit of effort, and a bit of imagination, but believe us – its well worth it!  The situation will provide a lot of banter, and gives you a weekend away with your mates drinking beer and chatting shit about football.  We seriously can’t recommend an Offline Draft enough.

Once you’ve done one, and realise how much fun they can be, you’ll never go back to drafting online!


📢 More Draft Essentials 📢

Want to read more on how to manage a Draft Fantasy Football League, check out our other ‘Draft Essentials’ features:

Draft Essentials Part One: Head-To-Head League Format

Draft Essentials Part Three: Punishing The Loser

Draft Essentials Part Four: End of Season Awards

Draft Essentials Part Five: Taking Your League Offline

Draft Essentials Part Six: How To Draft


📝 Draft Platform 📝

Here at The Fantasy Football Chaps, we’re proud to be pioneer’s for having a Draft Fantasy Football League that runs COMPLETELY OFFLINE!  Check out our article looking into how to make this a reality, and have full control over customising your Draft League!

If this sounds like too much effort, we would highly recommend using an online platform from either the guys at Draft Fantasy or Fantrax.   Draft Fantasy uses a scoring system similar to the standard Official FPL game, where as Fantrax mainly uses the more intelligent scoring system made famous by Togga.  Both offer potential for end of season playoffs, as well as many other options for customisation!


🔥 Hot or Cold Player Rankings ❄️

Our Hot or Cold Player Rankings are here to outline the current prospects of key Draft Fantasy Football Players.  Our ‘Hot‘ or ‘Cold‘ status will help take away your emotional attachment to certain Premier League players, and bring in the players that you need to help you dominate your Draft League.  Use these hints and tips to increase your chances of success!


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