PRIMARILY, AFL Fantasy Classic was the league that bonded our friendship group in the Fantasy footy-sphere.

In the last few years the Fantasy Draft league has been become the league that has created the most banter and a day that we look forward to each year; Draft Day.

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This year, we have added a Keeper League to our stable of teams.

As a new feature for AFL Fantasy, we wanted to have a crack but it has also been something we have talked about for a long time. Finally, we have our chance!

After setting up a new WhatsApp group (a new concept for a couple of our older mates, but they’re well and truly entrenched in it with overuse of these new things called gifs), we negotiated our settings and started drafting as soon as we could.

Here’s a look at the journey of the Bacon Cup Keeper League.

Key league settings

Season settings – Eight coaches playing each other twice before a Top 4 finals series. We’ll take a break through the bye rounds and have the rolling lockout on.

Lineup settings – Squads of 30 consisting of 5 DEF, 7 MID, 1 RUC, 5 FWD with 12 interchange players. Captains are on as well as DPP additions. We’re testing the new Emergency TOG threshold setting with 25% to counter for those injuries early in games.

STARTING A KEEPER LEAGUE? Important settings to consider

Other settings – The draft itself is a slow draft with 24 hours allowed per pick. Starting with around four weeks until the start of the season, we have plenty of time to get it done in between work and wrangling kids. We’ve also decided that we will keep 14 of the 30 players we draft for next season, some big decisions on that will be made prior to the 2022 season.

Coaches' strategy and squads so far

The first 10 rounds have been completed and teams are being shaped with most squads having players selected in each line.

The Manzacs (coached by Brett) – Pick 1
Runs more spreadsheets for Fantasy footy than he does at work and suggested straight up that our entry fee is put into crypto-currency. Brett is the unofficial commissioner of the league having the biggest influence on rules and with the No.1 pick and being on the turn, has a big say in the way the draft plays out. More than half of Brett’s squad is 23 or under and judging by some of his smug comments in the group chat, he’s happy with where he’s at..

DEF: Jordan Ridley (32), Alex Witherden (33)
MID: Josh Kelly (16), Tim Taranto (17), Brad Crouch (48), Bailey Smith (64), Adam Cerra (65)
RUC: Brodie Grundy (1)
FWD: Toby Greene (49), Jack Higgins (80)
INT: Nil.

BEATBOX14 (coached by Matt) – Pick 2
We first met Matt at uni when he was a mature-age student at the ripe old age of 21. As 18-year-olds, we thought he was super old with all of his experience. While he’s been a long-time player of Fantasy Classic, Matt has struggled in the Bacon Cup draft league and doesn’t always learn from the mistakes he’s made. However, he’s building a well-balanced group including a walk-up captain in Clayton Oliver for quite a few years.

DEF: Zac Williams (50), Jack Lukosious (63)
MID: Clayton Oliver (2), Lachie Hunter (31), Caleb Serong (34), Andrew McGrath (47), Jarryd Lyons (79)
RUC: Rowan Marshall (18)
FWD: Josh Dunkley (15), Tom Phillips (66)
INT: Nil.

destROY (coached by Roy) – Pick 3
Social media is buzzing with how Roy is drafting, and rightly so. It’s a youth policy at destROY and will have close to an optimal midfield with No. 1 picks in Sam Walsh and Matt Rowell leading the pack for the next decade. The Blues should have listened to the many emails he sent the club 20 years ago about their list management. Roy is creating a dynasty.

DEF: Jake Lloyd (3), Sam Docherty (62), Luke McDonald (67), Hunter Clark (78)
MID: Sam Walsh (16), Matt Rowell (19), Patrick Cripps (30), Hugh McCluggage (51)
RUC: Nil.
FWD: Connor Rozee (35), Zak Butters (46)
INT: Nil.

Warne Dawgs (coached by Warnie) – Pick 4
I’m stuck in a bit of no-mans-land with a pick in the middle of the draft. Often I draft conservatively. That is, follow the trends, never one to start a run. I don’t like to be burned. There are a few regrets early on, including thinking I’d get one of Walsh or Rowell in the third round and possibly drafting Tim English too early in order to put an end to Roy stockpiling all of the young talent. Hopefully the punting forwards strategy pays off.

DEF: Dan Houston (45), Jayden Short (52), Liam Duggan (61), Jordan Dawson (68)
MID: Zach Merrett (4), Jack Steele (13), Andrew Gaff (20), James Worpel (29)
RUC: Tim English (36)
FWD: Jack Martin (77)
INT: Nil.

Merv Gray Autos (coached by Chook) – Pick 5
As the founder of the infamous Dream Team Talk blog, Chook has been a big player in Fantasy and enjoys drafting. Selecting a couple of veterans early on dictated his strategy and Chook is going all-in on winning this year. A sneak peek into his 11th round pick… the 31-year-old Fantasy Pig Tom Rockliff.

DEF: Rory Laird (12), Callum Mills (37), Callum Mills (37), Christian Salem (76)
MID: Christian Petracca (21), Andrew Brayshaw (44)
RUC: Max Gawn (5)
FWD: Dustin Martin (28), Kyle Langford (53), Zac Bailey (60), Ben Ainsworth (69)
INT: Nil.

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Calvinator (coached by Calvin) – Pick 6
Going into this draft, I’m not sure Calvin grasped the concept of a keeper league. That is, thinking about the future. He got excited by the big names that were at the top of the list with little regard for their age. In saying that, it’s a strong list and should challenge for an early flag… but knowing what players will be available in the latter rounds, hopefully Calvin does some research.

DEF: Lachie Whitfield (6), Nick Haynes (54), Luke Ryan (59)
MID: Matt Crouch (11), Marcus Bontempelli (22), Adam Treloar (27), Stephen Coniglio (43)
RUC: Nil.
FWD: Steele Sidebottom (38), Michael Walters (70), Gryan Miers (75)
INT: Nil.

The Soup Nazis (coached by Stu) – Pick 7
Previous winner of the single-season Bacon Cup Draft league, Stu is a professional Fantasy player but is coming off his shortest pre-season (the draft was brought forward a few days because everyone was keen to get it started). The highlight so far was Stu’s picks from rounds three to six where he grabbed four Pies, hoping for some kick-to-kick as part of the highest scoring Fantasy team of the last few years.

DEF: Jack Crisp (23), Brayden Maynard (39), Hayden Young (58)
MID: Tom Mitchell (7), Jack Macrae (10), Taylor Adams (26), Noah Anderson (55), Tim Kelly (74)
RUC: Nil.
FWD: Jordan De Goey (42), Shai Bolton (71)
INT: Nil.

Girth Control (coached by Adrian) – Pick 8
In between brewing beer, Adrian started building his squad by jumping across the four positions by starting with some established stars and investing in youth. This looks to be one of the most balanced sides on paper, helped by being able to take his picks on the turn, which only once saw players from the same position taken back-to-back.

DEF: Tom Stewart (24), Caleb Daniel (41), Jack Scrimshaw (72)
MID: Lachie Neale (8), Jy Simpkin (56), Josh Daicos (57)
RUC: Reilly O’Brien (9)
FWD: Patrick Dangerfield (25), Isaac Heeney (40), Nick Blakey (73)
INT: Nil.

Round 1

Pick

Player

Club

Position

Age

Coach

1

Brodie Grundy

Coll

RUC

26

Brett

2

Clayton Oliver

Melb

MID

23

Matt

3

Jake Lloyd

Syd

DEF

27

Roy

4

Zach Merrett

Ess

MID

25

Warnie

5

Max Gawn

Melb

RUC

29

Chook

6

Lachie Whitfield

GWS

DEF

26

Calvin

7

Tom Mitchell

Haw

MID

27

Stu

8

Lachie Neale

BL

MID

27

Adrian

Round 2

Pick

Player

Club

Position

Age

Coach

9

Reilly O'Brien

Adel

RUC

25

Adrian

10

Jack Macrae

WB

MID

26

Stu

11

Matt Crouch

Adel

MID

25

Calvin

12

Rory Laird

Adel

DEF/MID

27

Chook

13

Jack Steele

St K

MID

25

Warnie

14

Sam Walsh

Carl

MID

20

Roy

15

Josh Dunkley

WB

MID/FWD

24

Matt

16

Josh Kelly

GWS

MID

26

Brett

Round 3

Pick

Player

Club

Position

Age

Coach

17

Tim Taranto

GWS

MID

23

Brett

18

Rowan Marshall

St K

RUC/FWD

25

Matt

19

Matt Rowell

GCS

MID

20

Roy

20

Andrew Gaff

WCE

MID

28

Warnie

21

Christian Petracca

Melb

MID

25

Chook

22

Marcus Bontempelli

WB

MID

25

Calvin

23

Jack Crisp

Coll

DEF

27

Stu

24

Tom Stewart

Geel

DEF

27

Adrian

Round 4

Pick

Player

Club

Position

Age

Coach

25

Patrick Dangerfield

Geel

MID/FWD

30

Adrian

26

Taylor Adams

Coll

MID

27

Stu

27

Adam Treloar

WB

MID

28

Calvin

28

Dustin Martin

Rich

MID/FWD

29

Chook

29

James Worpel

Haw

MID

22

Warnie

30

Patrick Cripps

Carl

MID

26

Roy

31

Lachie Hunter

WB

MID

26

Matt

32

Jordan Ridley

Ess

DEF

22

Brett

Round 5

Pick

Player

Club

Position

Age

Coach

33

Alex Witherden

WCE

DEF

22

Brett

34

Caleb Serong

Frem

MID

19

Matt

35

Connor Rozee

PA

FWD

21

Roy

36

Tim English

WB

RUC

23

Warnie

37

Callum Mills

Syd

DEF

23

Chook

38

Steele Sidebottom

Coll

MID/FWD

30

Calvin

39

Brayden Maynard

Coll

DEF

24

Stu

40

Isaac Heeney

Syd

FWD

24

Adrian

Round 6

Pick

Player

Club

Position

Age

Coach

41

Caleb Daniel

WB

DEF

24

Adrian

42

Jordan De Goey

Coll

FWD

25

Stu

43

Stephen Coniglio

GWS

MID

27

Calvin

44

Andrew Brayshaw

Frem

MID

21

Chook

45

Dan Houston

PA

DEF

23

Warnie

46

Zak Butters

PA

FWD

20

Roy

47

Andrew McGrath

Ess

MID

22

Matt

48

Brad Crouch

St K

MID

27

Brett

Round 7

Pick

Player

Club

Position

Age

Coach

49

Toby Greene

GWS

FWD

27

Brett

50

Zac Williams

Carl

DEF

26

Matt

51

Hugh McCluggage

BL

MID

23

Roy

52

Jayden Short

Rich

DEF

25

Warnie

53

Kyle Langford

Ess

MID/FWD

24

Chook

54

Nick Haynes

GWS

MID

28

Calvin

55

Noah Anderson

GCS

MID

20

Stu

56

Jy Simpkin

NM

MID

23

Adrian

Round 8

Pick

Player

Club

Position

Age

Coach

57

Josh Daicos

Coll

MID

22

Adrian

58

Hayden Young

Frem

DEF

19

Stu

59

Luke Ryan

Frem

DEF

24

Calvin

60

Zac Bailey

BL

MID/FWD

21

Chook

61

Liam Duggan

WCE

DEF

24

Warnie

62

Sam Docherty

Carl

DEF

27

Roy

63

Jack Lukosius

GCS

DEF

20

Matt

64

Bailey Smith

WB

MID

20

Brett

Round 9

Pick

Player

Club

Position

Age

Coach

65

Adam Cerra

Frem

MID

21

Brett

66

Tom Phillips

Haw

MID/FWD

24

Matt

67

Luke McDonald

NM

DEF

26

Roy

68

Jordan Dawson

Syd

DEF

23

Warnie

69

Ben Ainsworth

GCS

FWD

22

Chook

70

Michael Walters

Frem

MID/FWD

29

Calvin

71

Shai Bolton

Rich

MID/FWD

22

Stu

72

Jack Scrimshaw

Haw

DEF

22

Adrian

Round 10

Pick

Player

Club

Position

Age

Coach

73

Nick Blakey

Syd

MID/FWD

21

Adrian

74

Tim Kelly

WCE

MID

26

Stu

75

Gryan Miers

Geel

FWD

21

Calvin

76

Christian Salem

Melb

DEF

25

Chook

77

Jack Martin

Carl

MID/FWD

26

Warnie

78

Hunter Clark

St K

DEF

21

Roy

79

Jarryd Lyons

BL

MID

28

Matt

80

Jack Higgins

St K

FWD

21

Brett

 

Stay tuned for the remaining 20 rounds and a wrap up of each of the coaches’ squads.

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