Here at The Draft Society we’ve always said that what makes the draft game different is the community that is has fostered. It’s all love, baby. The support we get from each and every one of you every day of every week is beyond anything we could ever have imagined when we founded back in March of 2021. And whilst we’ll never be able to thank you all enough for this, we hope that we can give a little something back in the best way we know how: the Community Special.
Each week @the_innergeek will write up a personalised article for the league of one lucky winner. It’s your call on the topic. Whether it’s a Trade-Maker Special, a Gameweek Preview, or The Crystal Ball Breakdown, the Inner Geek has you covered. A word of warning, though: no punches will be pulled when the Inner Geek gets to work! This week’s winner is Sesh Gremlin Championship – a gif of the master of comedy, Mr Rowan Atkinson, was always going to go down well at The Draft Society HQ! Anyway, the Crystal Ball analysis was chosen, so Sesh Gremlin, are you and your rivals ready to see into the future?
The Crystal Ball
We may be just 9 gameweeks down, and for you mere mortals, the end is nowhere near in sight. But for me, blessed as I am with my crystal ball, the end has been in sight since draft day. In fact, it is not so much “in sight” as it is “annoyingly obscuring my view of the rest of the world”. Time to remedy that. It goes without saying, but the following article WILL contain spoilers.
Before we begin, we need to take a look at the rosters. After all, how can you agree with my predictions if you don't know what they're based on?
The Rosters and Some Context
For those of you who continually miss the Sky Sports or ESPN coverage of this league, then here's a quick recap of the rosters, current league standings, and rules. Normally I present the rosters so that they are colour coded for position, however, given the difficulty in doing this for a league that uses numerous dual-position players, I thought I would try something a little different. Here are the rosters based on fantasy value. Dark green = elite assets, medium green = top, top assets, light green = solid assets, grey = serviceable assets, yellow = "on their day" assets, and orange = SWAYD's (as in, Seriously What Are You Doing having these on your roster?).
This league works to a 35-game season, with playoffs following. Notably it incorporates a quite expanded points system that has default Fantrax scoring as a basis, but adds numerous other categories on top (e.g., ‘Errors led to shot/goal’, ‘Fouls suffered/committed’, ‘Big chances created/missed’, ‘Ball recoveries’, and ‘Accurate passes’, amongst others). It also uses dual positions for numerous players (e.g. Jack Grealish, Trincao, Nicolas Pepe, Jadon Sancho, etc. are both midfielders and forwards), which allows for more flexibility in roster makeup.
The Current Situation...
How It All Ends…
Enough with all the formalities - let's start seeing into the crystal ball! Here we go then, in reverse order (though if you can't stand to wait any longer, the final league standings are at the foot of the article!).
12th – Cheeky Sanchos
If league position were based on quality of team name then Cheeky Sanchos would be right up there. Unfortunately, it’s mainly based on team quality (with a bit of luck thrown in there too) – and this is why the club will find themselves taking home the wooden spoon this season. Bruno Fernandes, of course, is premium. And I love the super-exciting Leon Bailey (though the recurring injuries are a concern). And Emile Smith Rowe is a beautiful player who could be a star in a better side. But other than that, there’s a lot “chasing players”. By that I mean, players who you’re having to predict when their one 20-point performance from ten games is going to come (see: Jorginho, Maupay, King, Zaha…). These guys are arguably worse than the free agent material because you persevere with them through their countless poor returns just to chase that occasional high. Save yourself the hassle and trade them out.
11th – Supreme Team
This is going to hurt for the team currently sat 3rd in the table and with the 2nd highest total points. Despite the great start to the season, this is a roster whose firepower is confined to two Leicester assets: Youri Tielemans and Jamie Vardy, the latter of whom is 34 years old and currently struggling with a slight injury according to his manager. Supreme will be cursing the turmoil at Manchester United – it’s meant that very little fantasy goodness is coming out of the Wan-Bissaka-Maguire duo they have going on. Having faith in the Chelsea defence will also cost them as Tuchel’s side is far less solid at the back than the six clean sheets suggest. They did, however, find a nice gem in Maxwel Cornet, and the Ivorian is going to have a few more electric days like in gameweek 9 before the season is done. 11th spot, but in fairness, just two wins from a playoff place.
10th – BiNelsa
BiNelsa have two of my favourite players in Phil Foden and Raphinha – absolute stars on the field as well as in Fantrax. Unfortunately for BiNelsa, there’s very little else to help the side achieve anything higher than a 10th place finish. That’s perhaps a little harsh on the likes of Ings, Trossard, Pinnock, and Gallagher, but there’s reasons for concern with each. Ings’ reliance on goals and assists doesn’t bode well in a Villa team not living up to their pre-season excitement, whilst Trossard is also underperforming despite finally having a settled spot in the Brighton starting 11. Pinnock looks like a legitimate fantasy monster, but the recent injury is obviously not ideal, and Gallagher, whilst receiving a lot of Twitter praise, actually hasn’t done much outside of the gameweek 3 and 4 hauls. Still, at least it’s not last place.
9th – The Unbearables
Coming in at 9 is The Unbearables who – like those around them – have minimal depth to their roster. Sadio Mane and Ivan Toney are premium assets. Jarrod Bowen, Ilkay Gundogan, and Ben Chilwell will also contribute handily. And Matthew Cash, Chris Wood, and pre-injury Abdoulaye Doucoure will have their moments. But the rest? That’s free agent material unfortunately. An astute trade or two might have found this club sneaking into the playoffs but the Crystal Ball hasn’t seen that happening. The downside to such a roster is, of course, the 9th place finish, but on the plus side, it’s super fun trying to find 8 new players from the waiver wire each gameweek. Just in future, don’t go down the McCarthy-Kilman-Tierney route…
8th – Haribo Scharmix
Mohamed Salah may be on course to absolutely destroy the single-season scoring record in Fantrax, but even that won’t be enough to take Haribo Scharmix into the playoffs. If you thought the teams below Haribo had a lack of roster depth, it is nothing on this club. You can count the serviceable fantasy assets on one hand: Salah, Allan Saint-Maximin, Joao Cancelo, and Callum Wilson. Thankfully, the first three of these are absolute ballers, which explains the 8th place finish rather than the 12th place finish. Like the club directly above them in the league, this roster looked far better at the start of the season but has suffered from numerous cases of underperformance-itis. Timothy Castagne, Ben Mee, Wilfred Ndidi, Joe Willock…all of these should have been doing something for their fantasy managers. Unfortunately for Haribo, they have not.
7th – Tower Power
Agonisingly missing out on the playoffs is Tower Power, whose lack of forward options will end up costing them dearly. The issues in midfield also didn’t help. Many a manager has been burned by placing their faith in Jack Harrison or Harvey Barnes this season, so to have both rostered really hurts. Tomas Soucek and James Tarkowski have disappointed somewhat too. This roster would have looked solid at the start of the season, but a lot of seemingly good calls have not come to fruition. Michael Olise hasn’t been the sleeper many thought he would be (and now faces competition from a returning-earlier-than-expected Eze), Ibrahima Konate can’t nail down a starting spot at Liverpool quite yet, and even Reece James hasn’t had the minutes most thought he’d get. When the Chelsea right-back and Ismaila Sarr are your two best players, you’re always going to be up against it – a 7th place finish under the circumstances is actually pretty good.
6th – Baby Got Dack
Squeaking into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth is Baby Got Dack, and they have the solid consistency of James Ward-Prowse and the return to form of Harry Kane to thank for that. Kane may have started the season super slow, but he hasn’t become a bad player overnight. The Crystal Ball has seen him shoot back up the rankings and by April time his numbers will be up alongside the likes of Antonio, Vardy, and teammate Son. This roster has a fair few workable assets – the type that can keep your side relevant if you start and sit them at the right times (which Dack will do enough of the time). The likes of Matt Ritchie, Rodrigo, Adam Armstrong, Ricardo Pereira, Aymeric Laporte, and Alexandre Lacazette all have big scores in them – it’s just unfortunate for Dack that it’s often quite infrequent.
5th – On Yer Ledson
Now we’re getting into the good teams. There is a huge jump in quality between 6th spot and 5th, and On Yer Ledson could easily have found themselves a couple of places higher with a bit more luck going their way. Forming the core of this side are five very solid players in Andrew Robertson, Pascal Gross, Dwight McNeil, Mason Mount, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin – if Gross and Mount can avoid rotation then when DCL gets fit, this will be a daunting opponent for the rest of the league. Defence is the biggest worry for this side. Yes, Shane Duffy has been on fire so far, but the Crystal Ball can tell you now that he has already peaked. Likewise Kovacic, though the midfield will cope when he fades. The forward line – outside of DCL – is a bunch of players living off former glories, with their managers hoping they can rekindle those fires. They may do from time to time, but it won’t be enough to push On Yer Ledson any higher than 5th.
4th – Chanada FC
Fantrax scoring has turned defensive midfielders into valuable assets and made aerially dominant centre-backs sought after commodities. Still, there’s no denying that the attacking players tend to gather more of the points, and Chanada has acknowledged this in impressive fashion. In defence, three of the four options are marauding right backs, whilst in midfield, only two of the four have probably ever heard the word “tackle” – and based on last Sunday, one of them is still unable to execute them properly. And then we get to the forwards. Seven options in total (thank God for the dual positions used in this league), allowing Chanada to pick their position each week when fielding three of them. It’s a strong roster, but one without a superstar. And that’s why it finishes 4th and not any higher.
3rd – Long Legs FC
Taking home the imaginary bronze medal is Long Legs FC, which may come as a surprise given that they clearly think it was necessary to hold on to Ederson when he missed Manchester City’s last game. Few, if any, goalkeepers have the sort of value that justifies wasting a bench spot for them and perhaps it’s decisions like these that have prevented Long Legs fighting for the title. As of this writing they sit 2nd, just one win behind the leaders, so a 3rd place finish may be disappointing for the manager. Realistically, though, they were a long way from the two above them. It’s a very good roster for sure; Cristiano Ronaldo will end as a top 10 fantasy player, Ollie Watkins as a top 10 forward, and Andros Townsend isn’t going to go away any time soon. But it just needs a little more, particularly in defence. Of the five there at the moment, only Cesar Azpilicueta has hit or exceeded preseason expectations. A very good team, but very good teams don’t win championships.
2nd – Sporting Scouse
There are five elite players in the game. Owning two of them is just insane. It must have taken some incredible trading by Sporting Scouse for them to end up with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kevin De Bruyne on their roster. It isn’t enough to win them a league title, but it does get them a runners-up medal, and a bye into the semi-finals of the playoffs. The roster built by Scouse is one without any glaring holes – there are are solid fantasy assets everywhere you look. TAA is joined by Virgil van Dijk, which means whenever Liverpool gets a clean sheet (and they are doing so in 66% of their matches so far this season) it gives opponents a mountain to climb. Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez is a great half-handcuff, and Marcus Rashford and Adama Traore are two more exciting options to have. If Ferran Torres hadn’t got injured, then maybe…actually, no. Love this squad, but the next one up is just something else.
1st – Johnny Lawrence
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2021-22 Sesh Gremlin Champion is…Johnny Lawrence!! The Crystal Ball has spoken, and whilst it may not be the title race the league wanted, it’s certainly the title winner that the league deserved. This roster is as close to flawless as you will get in fantasy management. There may not be the elite superstar, but there’s big names left, right, and centre. Emiliano Buendia, Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho, Heung-Min Son, Diogo Jota, Romelu Lukaku, Bukayo Saka, Nicolas Pepe, Trincao…the list is frightening (at least for the rest of the league). Even the defence holds its own and, in fact, is probably the second best defence in the league after Sporting Scouse’s. The club sit top of the pile at the moment, just one win ahead of their rivals, but that’s as close as it’s going to get. The title will be sewn up by March, which means preparations for the playoffs can begin whilst the rest of the league is still fighting amongst themselves…
The first round of the playoffs sees the 6th seed Baby Got Dack take on the 3rd seed Long Legs FC, and then 5th seed On Yer Ledson face 4th seed Chanada FC. Unfortunately for the neutrals there are no surprises, with the top teams progressing in each. On Yer Ledson did give Chanada a run for their money, but with West Ham facing Norwich, Chanada’s Antonio and Benrahma were able to run wild.
Into the semi-finals and the league champions Johnny Lawrence cruised into the final on the back of big performances from Son (against Burnley), Buendia (against Crystal Palace), and Trincao (against Norwich). The second semi-final was much more closely fought, and it was Long Legs who eventually came out victorious, thanks to an Ollie Watkins brace.
I really REALLY want to say that Long Legs did it, but I’ve been given the gift of the Crystal Ball and I must use it wisely. Johnny Lawrence do the double. It was always going to be an uphill struggle with Villa away at the Etihad (and thus, zero points for Watkins), but when news breaks during the week that Cristiano Ronaldo has been in secret talks with Pep to try and arrange a move to Manchester City in the summer, United manager Antonio Conte drops the superstar, and in turn, ends Long Legs’ hopes. Johnny Lawrence win in style with Heung-Min Son putting 50 points up after scoring four goals against Norwich.
The Final Whistle
So there we have it. The Crystal Ball has revealed its secrets. Sesh Gremlin, you and your league may as well do the old Championship Manager trick now and ‘Go on Holiday’ – the results have already been decided, the positions finalised, and the silverware handed out (and wooden spoon too…Cheeky Sanchos…). It also means that you can now bring forward the end of season night out. You’re welcome.
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