If Bob Bradley showed us anything, Americans can at least make one of the worst teams in the league play like their true selves. I’m American, and the aforementioned failure weighs heavy on my heart. I’m no xenophobe, but if I were a Brit, I’d be very wary of any American trying to take my team to EPL glory.
Luckily, that’s not why I’m here. From seven time zones away, I’m an avid observer of the older, truer, more sensical “football”. And while I’m skeptical on the MLS and the USA’s place in modern football, America one-ups the world is one distinct sporting category: Fantasy Sports. Baseball, the most statistically-driven sport in the world, became the first fantasy sport over thirty-five years ago and ever-since American sports have driven fantasy into a billion-dollar industry. And as an American, I’ve been inundated with fantasy baseball, football, basketball, hockey, golf and even MMA since I was a mere child.
My point is, if there was ever room for Americans in the Premier League, draft Fantasy Football is the perfect niche. And I’ll tell you, not just because I write for them, Togga’s finally figured it out.
Salary Cap Leagues checked off some of fantasy’s most important tenets: identifying value, quantifying play on the field (barely), leaning into the dream of controlling a team of world-class footballers. But ultimately, the experience left me begging for more.
I realized what it was missing: drama. It’s one thing to see Manolo Gabbiadini arriving from Napoli and decide that he’ll be a better value than Andy Carroll. It’s another matter when you might only have a 1 in 10 chance of getting the player who can change your season. Identifying a budding star isn’t enough. Just like reality, there are usually one or two or three or four other teams vying for their talents.
My biggest complaint with Salary Leagues was the inflexible scoring systems. “Soccer” is one of the least quantifiable sports on earth. The simple counting of Goals and Assists doesn’t give most players on the pitch the credit they earn. But with companies like Opta making strides to record more of the game into digestible stats, the community is coming around.
Togga has utilized Opta’s industrious nature by using their statistics. Events like Key Passes, Aerials Won, Successful Take-Ons, and Tackles Won now count for fantasy points. This is strides better than hoping your player earned a measly bonus point despite no assists or goals.
The head-to-head format, can be frustrating but the weekly battles reflect the fickle nature of football. Sometimes you’ll click on all cylinders and hand the league leaders a loss. Other times, you’ll put up a great performance and be downed by a surprise hat trick from Andre Gray.
But the best difference, by far, is the draft. There are obviously tiers, everyone understands that Alexis Sanchez is one of the best players in the league. But who’s to say that Zlatan won’t be more valuable, or Kevin De Bruyne. You aren’t limited by their price; the only limiting factor is how much the people in front of you like them. If you want Lukaku and Kane, take them both. You don’t have to worry about wasting your salary cap - just beating the other managers in your league to the punch.
Take the valuation point even further. All of the players are valued based on your own perception. This is the greatest test of knowledge; it’s why we all play. If you think that Sergio Aguero’s best days are behind him, you can pass on him and let someone else waste a pick. You can gamble on M’Baye Niang or Benik Afobe, wait for them to come good instead of wasting a spot in your starting lineup.
Advanced scoring, head-to-head matchups, roster flexibility, more talent to utilize and interplay with the teams in the league are all ways that draft leagues improve on the traditional salary model of fantasy football. Draft Fantasy Football might not be the greatest invention in the world, but it’s not dropping teams into the relegation zone. That probably makes it the best American innovation in the Premier League yet.
With 13 weeks left in the Premier League season - the two week break is the perfect time to try a draft league! Togga's app is 100% free to download on Android and Apple and users can do everything from pick a draft time, to invite their friends to host the draft right from their mobile device. Luke Dykes