They say variety is the spice of life and when it comes to fantasy, variety is at our fingertips with a multitude of formats, draft types and scoring settings across more and more platforms. This off season I’ve discovered one type of league that looks incredibly fun, extremely tactical and one that should generate great conversation within the league, a Vampire league.
It’s a 12-team PPR league where when the draft is randomised, the player in the 12th spot becomes the ‘Vampire’. That player is then excluded from the draft (or their draft is pre-filled by the commissioner with retired/non-attached or obscure players) and they are only allowed to fill their roster after the main draft has been completed with whoever is left as free agents. The best host I’ve found so far for these drafts is Sleeper, though I’m sure other platforms offer similar configurations.
The Draft and Roster Setup
The other 11 players then conduct a regular snake draft and the roster setup consists of 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 D/ST and 1 Kicker. There are only 5 bench spots so tactical drafting is essential as you need cover for bye weeks for all your starters, though I’ve seen some players take the gamble on not selecting a backup kicker and/or defense. I did this myself in one league where I took a 4th running back rather than a backup kicker. Oh, did I mention that once your team is drafted, that’s your roster for the full season? Similar to best-ball but with the limited bench, there is no free agency, waiver wire or trading for the non-Vampires, and they may only drop players if they go on IR, though this is not a hard and fast rule and iron-fisted commissioners may opt to disable this option. Unlike best-ball, you do have to set your roster each week, though it’s a much lighter touch than more standard leagues as the starting roster and bench are so limited.
Post-Draft and the Vampire
I’ve mentioned the Vampire fills their roster from whichever free agents are left. Another wrinkle the Vampire has on their side is the ability to set their own schedule, so some analysis of each opponent’s roster may turn up a week where someone has both their starting running backs on a bye, or where they have drafted no backup kicker. The only rule around schedule setting is that the Vampire can’t play the same team twice between weeks 3-13 where byes are a factor.
Once the season begins, the Vampire is at an obvious disadvantage due to their initial roster construction, but this is where the league gets really interesting. If the Vampire wins any weekly match up, they are allowed to take any starting player from their vanquished opponent, swapping with one of their starters from that week (players must be the same position) and so over time, the Vampire’s roster can become stronger, meaning the Vampire can become a bigger factor as the season progresses. Add to the that the Vampire is the only player who can add from waivers, they can add those undrafted players who become fantasy studs as the season progresses (hello Philip Lindsay and Tyler Lockett from 2018).
Early Draft Results
I’ve done 4 of these drafts so far and have shown my results and who the Vampire has selected for their initial rosters below. Unfortunately I’ve not been selected as the Vampire as yet but will probably keeping joining these leagues until I get to be one.
My drafts were all pretty consistent and I focused on running backs and receivers early. In fact in all the drafts I didn’t take a defense or Kicker until round 11 and there’s just the one league where I took a flier on Miles Sanders in round 14 rather than a backup kicker, though on reflection, a backup receiver might have been better with Tyreek Hill’s status still up in the air.
Reviewing the Vampire’s rosters, the theme is definitely a weakness at running back and tight end, with no real star talent available across any of the drafts. Maybe Shady McCoy has something left in the tank in Buffalo and Latavius Murray is in a good situation to vulture goal line work in New Orleans, but pickings were slim and they will be hoping for a low ADP rookie to hit early to scoop up for their rosters. There were some decent options at receiver, with Corey Davis and Dede Westbrook at least being the number one receivers on their teams, with high upside players Will Fuller and DeSean Jackson capable of big games. Quarterback was probably the strongest position, with Josh Allen, who I have sneaking into the top 10 fantasy quarterbacks, surprisingly available in one league. Derek Carr has new weapons and Mitchell Trubisky is another year more experienced in Matt Nagy’s offense. Whatever happens, it’ll be a fun season being the Vampire as they scrape a lineup together in the hope of getting a few wins.