The fantasy football world has come a long way since the days when redraft was pretty much the only format. Every year, it seems new and innovative ways to play this game are emerging. One such format is the vampire league. But what is a vampire fantasy football league? Here is everything you need to know.
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What Is a Vampire Fantasy Football League?
For the purposes of this explanation, let’s assume a 12-team league. Once you’ve got your 12 teams, you need to figure out which one of them is the vampire. You do this via random draw.
The vampire team does not participate in the draft. For the other 11 teams, the draft looks normal, sans the part where there isn’t a 12th team. For the vampire, that team must sit idly and watch as the other 11 managers all draft their rosters.
Once the draft ends, that’s where things get interesting. The vampire team has free rein on the waiver wire. It belongs to the vampire and the vampire alone.
Obviously, the vampire will start out the season at a severe disadvantage. The vampire team will be made up entirely of undrafted players. It’s probably going to take some crushing losses early on. But as we know, there are guys who pop up on the waiver wire every season, and the vampire team has exclusive access to all of them.
The vampire team also has the luxury of choosing its own schedule. There are certain restrictions you can place on this. For example, you can require the vampire to play every team once before it plays anyone a second time. You can limit the vampire team from playing any opponent more than twice, in general. That prevents the vampire team from repeatedly scheduling itself against the weakest drafted team to secure easy victories.
Another advantage the vampire team has is after a victory, it can force a 1-for-1 trade with the team it defeated. Your league can choose to allow the vampire team to take any player it wants from the opposing team’s roster.
You can choose to limit the choices to starters (or bench players, but that would probably be too unfair to the vampire team). You can also require the vampire team to trade away a player in its starting roster so as to not completely decimate the team it defeated.
How To Set Up a Vampire League
The vampire nature of the league is the only real change from any other fantasy football league. Otherwise, you have your usual starting rosters, which can be whatever you decide. Your scoring system is also entirely up to you.
You can use any fantasy football platform to host your league. Just know that the vampire team will likely have to participate in the draft and “draft” players that no other team is going to draft.
Typically, there are retired players or guys buried on depth charts with no semblance of fantasy relevance that the vampire team can draft, allowing the rest of the draft to proceed as normal. Then, after the draft, the vampire team can pick up useful players from the undrafted players.
From that point forward, the platform should handle most of the work. However, the commissioner will need to manually adjust the schedule each week based on who the vampire team chooses to play. Additionally, the commissioner must keep track of the vampire team’s opponents to ensure compliance with the league rules.
Draft Strategy as a Regular Team
For 11 players, the draft strategy component is going to be relatively straightforward. Draft the best players that you think will score the most points. The only caveat is that since you can’t make any moves on the waiver wire, you will need to have depth at every position.
This means you can’t draft only one quarterback or just one tight end, as that would guarantee you taking a zero at those positions during that team’s bye week.
You also need to make sure you are covered in the event of injuries. There will inevitably be a team or two that gets completely hit by injuries and is unable to field a full lineup at some point. Thems be the breaks. The best you can do is ensure you have adequate depth.
If your league has kickers and defenses, it might be worth it to only take one of each. While it means you will take zeros at those positions one week out of the year, it will allow you to stack more depth at WR and RB.
Remember, while the vampire team does exist, you will still be playing against the other 10 teams in most weeks. You still need to win those matchups just like you would in a normal fantasy football league.
Strategy as the Vampire Team
I removed the “draft” from the heading of this section because, well, there is no draft for the vampire team.
But let’s be honest. You want to be the vampire team. Otherwise, it’s like any other league, right? This is where all the fun lies!
Immediately after the draft, start building your team. There’s no urgency, as the entire waiver wire is essentially your bench, but you’re definitely excited to get your players.
This part is the easy part. Just pick up all of the best players available, with heavy weight given toward the guys you plan to start in Week 1 based on matchups. As things shift in the NFL landscape between the time of your draft and Week 1, make changes as necessary. Your goal is to win Week 1. It’s probably not going to happen, but you damn sure are going to try.
After you’ve got your team, it’s time to start analyzing the other teams to determine who you want to play first. This isn’t as simple as picking the worst team, though.
See who might have messed up with bye weeks. Look for teams with higher injury risks or that are more fragile. You may want to save those teams for later in the season when they might be missing some of their players.
As the vampire team, odds are you are going to lose the first couple of weeks. That means you won’t be able to steal a player from any of the teams you play, and you’ll have to improve your team exclusively through the waiver wire.
As a result, it may be beneficial to schedule yourself against the strongest post-draft teams early in the season. You are already more likely to defeat the weaker teams. After a couple of weeks, surely some teams will be dealing with busts and injuries. You want to do your best to leave those available on the schedule for you to pounce.
Once you’re able to secure a victory, you’re going to significantly improve your team by taking your opponent’s best player.
As your team gets better, you can start to be more aggressive with your schedule. Instead of picking on the weak teams, you can go after the stronger teams, hoping to secure a victory and take their best player, thus weakening them.
Ultimately, a vampire league is a very niche type of league that can be really fun if you have the right group of managers. If you’re looking to spice up your fantasy football season this year, maybe try giving a vampire league a shot.