My Fantasy Football league’s draft has started for this year. This is our league’s 16th season playing together and it’s always fun. Except the draft. That’s not as much fun and takes awhile.

There are ten teams in the league and back when we started we all worked together at the same company. At least the six of us who have been with the league since the very beginning did. We used to stay after work late and do a live draft on a given day. That was pretty easy. Everybody was already in one place and that’s 90% of the battle.

Now we are all spread out and the ten of us are never in one place at one time. Anybody who has ever done a live draft knows how difficult it is working out everyone’s schedule. At least one of the ten can’t make it at any given time.

So for a few years we did an auto-draft. That is when some computer program picks your team for you. You can rank the players any way you want. If you want a certain player a whole lot then move him to the top of your list. When the computer program picks teams it takes the top player from your list (or whoever is first) then the top available player from the second person’s list and so on and so on.

This was a fairly easy way to do things but not without it’s problems. First off you have to know how the computer picks. On site we used broke things down by position i.e. it would make one list AFC running backs and another of NFC running backs. There were ten lists in all broken down by position and conference. This was okay because you were going to get your top pick in one of the categories. I liked this system. Unless I got my top choice in the kicker category.

But we moved to another site and that used a big master list. All the positions were jumbled together. This made it a little harder to order things and you definitely had to spend some time with the clumsy interface moving guys around or you were going to have a bad draft.

That leads us to the main problem I had with the auto-draft. At least two guys out of ten every year didn’t have the time to put into making their auto-draft choices. They never got the chance to move many players around and got stuck with the default list and the default list usually sucks. It was especially bad the year that there was one big default list. Two guys out of ten were going to be unhappy with their teams from the get go and that doesn’t make for a competitive league.

So for the past four or five years we’ve been doing an e-mail draft. It’s a bit of a pain in the ass because it takes about two weeks to complete. There are seventeen rounds and we get at least a round a day done but people are busy. The first person makes his pick and e-mails it out to the league and then the second person follows and then the third and so on. Lots can go wrong with e-mail and things take a while.

To keep things moving I make up a schedule with a time of night that everyone has to make their pick by (a pick every fifteen minutes) otherwise I will be forced to pick for them. Thankfully this rarely happens because I don’t want to pick for anyone. Someone can leave me a short list of players they want for their next pick and I’ll grab the top one for them. That’s usually easiest but I also call people who are out when it’s their turn.

As much of a pain in the ass that this “slow motion” draft is to me (because I have to run it) it makes for a Fantasy Football league that’s more fun than an auto-draft league. I think everyone is better at picking their own players and it makes them more involved. Competition is the key to having fun with Fantasy Football.

I’ve seen too many leagues spoiled by “Dead Teams”. That’s when a person loses interest in his team by the end of the year and doesn’t even bother with it. They don’t make changes in their line up anymore and whoever plays them at the end of the year has an easy win. This is unfair to the rest of the league and is annoying. I’m glad our league has all guys who play to the end even if they aren’t going to make the playoffs. I think a live draft, even in slow motion, helps everyone stay involved with their team.

Though I sure will be happier when this damn draft is over.