Yesterday, I wrote about a new fantasy sports contest called Omnifantasy, which is maybe my single favorite fantasy game. That post was a 30,000-foot view that explains the concept, while this one is going to be a little more specific in explaining how it works, and more importantly, how you can play.
Some quick backstory. From 2015 until last year, I ran an Omnifantasy league with some college buddies out of Google Sheets. We’ve always had a blast with it, and our league has grown basically every year to a point where there are now 16 people in it and not really room for it to expand further. I started a second league a couple of years ago, but I had to update each spreadsheet independently. You can see the issue here.
Over the past couple years, the awesome Kevin Zatloukal has built a site to scale this game. You can create your own league, do a draft, and then sit back and watch your standings as we update the results. Because this has been a two-man job, the site might not be as fancy as some you’re used to, but honestly, it’s pretty damn cool. It will do everything you need it to while being mostly painless for you. I’m going to walk you through how the game works and what the site can and can’t do.
Let’s jump straight into how to create a league. First, to play you need a Twitter account. It was an easy way to handle the login process, and if you don’t have one, you can create an anonymous one.
To create a league, you go to omnifantasy.com, and as long as you’re logged into Twitter, you’ll see a “Create New League” link. Click that, and the below page pops up. Filling out this page is all you need to do as your league’s “commissioner.”
Pick a name for your league, then enter the Twitter handles for the other people who will be in your league. You don’t need to add the “@” — I’ve added mine above to show how it should look. The important note here is we don’t have a way to make edits or add or remove people once the draft has started, so get confirmations on leaguemates and be careful to get their Twitter handles correct when entering them. If you make a typo when adding a name, you’ll need to refresh the page and start over.
One very cool feature of Omnifantasy is there are no weekly matchups or anything that puts limitations on the size of your league. I mentioned my original league is up to 16 people each year, but I’ve also tried leagues as small as four or five drafters. If you have a random number of people who want to play, any number can work.
I’ll call these “events” from here on out because there are multiple leagues in some sports. My suggestion is to err on the side of including more events rather than fewer. If it’s your first time, I’d select all of them.
One of the main rules of Omnifantasy is every drafter must make at least one pick in each event. Your first instinct might be to throw out any events you don’t care about so you don’t have to draft them, but you can pretty easily punt an event and still be competitive. If you don’t include enough, the draft gets thinner, there’s less on your calendar, and there are fewer points to go around to declare the winner.
The main reason we made this customizable is there are sports you can’t do if your league is too big. For example, the WNBA only has 12 teams, so if your league is larger than 12, not everyone will be able to select a WNBA team. So you can’t do WNBA if your league is 13+ people.
I also think it’s fine to remove one or two sports — if your group really doesn’t like that there are three soccer events, for example, you can pretty easily dump MLS. But I would definitely try to use at least 10 events.
Your draft has to be more rounds than the number of events you’re using. If you have 12 events, your draft has to be at least 12 rounds, so every drafter can make at least one pick from each event.
Beyond that, you can add additional rounds for “Flex” picks. Every league I’ve ever run has had a total of five extra rounds for flex picks, so if you use all 13 events, the draft would be 18 rounds. Your Create New League page should look similar to this before you click submit.
Once you’ve done this and pushed the “Create League” button at the bottom, your work as a commissioner is basically done. We don’t have commissioner tools for changing picks or adding or removing drafters, so if you run into trouble, you’ll have to DM me and I can see what I can do. The draft order randomizes when you click the Create League button, and that also can’t be changed. The one thing you can do as a commissioner is make an autopick if someone abandons their draft — you’ll see a button to click on the draft page for that option.
How Omnifantasy works
Now that you know how to create a league, you should probably understand how it works. On the main omnifantasy.com page, there’s a link to the rules, but I’ll go over some FAQ type stuff here.
Here’s another great thing about Omnifantasy — the amount of available points in each event is the same, so there’s no way for one individual pick to be worth more than any other. For every event, the champion is awarded 80 points, the runner-up gets 50, the semifinalists get 30, and the quarterfinalists get 20. For every event, exactly eight picks will score Omnifantasy points. There is no way for any pick to be worth more than 80.
Now, how the top eight are calculated has to be slightly different for some sports. For most — all the ones that use a traditional bracket structure — it’s very easy to determine who the quarterfinalists, semifinalists, runners-up, and champions were. For a few, we use a slightly different system. Golf and tennis are the biggest outliers — for those, we aggregate results from major championships (the specifics are explained on the site under the “scoring” tab). And then there are events like college football which only has a four-team playoff, so it’s easy to determine the semifinalists and finalists, but we use the final AP poll to award points for the “quarterfinalists.”
All of these event-specific scoring quirks can get a little complicated, but they are all explained on the site. I don’t want to get too far into the weeds here, but the main thing to know is at the end of the year, every event will have awarded 80 points to a champion, 50 to a runner-up, 30 to two more teams for finishing as semifinalists (or the equivalent of semifinalists), and 20 to four more teams as quarterfinalists (or the equivalent).
The last thing on scoring that’s important is that if an undrafted team scores points, no one in your league gets those points. If the Jets go undrafted and win the Super Bowl, the 80 for the NFL champion goes to the Jets, which means those points don’t go to any drafter in your league.
Flex picks allow you to double up on any event you want, and you can make these picks whenever. If you want to start with two picks from the same event in the first two rounds, go ahead. Once you’ve used up your flex picks, the draft system will force you to pick from the events you haven’t yet so that you finish with at least one pick from each event.
Because no pick can score more than 80 from any individual event, generally speaking no drafter will score more than 80 from any event. So to win this thing, you definitely have to get points from a few different sports. However, if you flex an event and both of your picks in that event do well, there are scenarios where you could score more than 80 from that event. If you picked both the Chiefs and Bucs last year, for example, you would have earned 130 points for NFL — 80 from the Bucs, 50 from the Chiefs.
More about the draft
During the draft, there’s no built-in timer, and no notification system. Ideally, you’ll know your leaguemates, or at least be able to create a communication method outside the site, like Twitter DMs or Slack or Discord or whatever. Then, after you make a pick, you can ping the next person up to let them know they are on the clock.
I mentioned above that the system will prevent you from making an invalid flex pick if you need to fill other draft requirements. One other thing the system will prevent is taking a flex if it would prevent someone else from later drafting a team from that event.
Here’s an example of that. There are 12 teams in WNBA. Let’s say you have 10 drafters — in that case, there will only be room for two WNBA teams to be flexed. Once two WNBA teams are flexed, no one else can flex a WNBA team because there wouldn’t be enough left for every drafter to pick at least one. So if two drafters start WNBA-WNBA with their first two picks, the only people who will be able to pick a WNBA team for the rest of the draft will be people who haven’t yet filled the requirement of drafting at least one WNBA team.
In short, if you’re confused at any point why you can’t pick from a specific event, it’s almost certainly because it would in some way create an invalid draft for you or someone else.
Some final notes about the site
Let’s look at some of the pages on the site and what they are saying. Once you’re in your league, the draft board will look like this.
When it’s your turn to draft, you’ll see dropdowns just below the word “Draft” at the top of the page. The link that is there currently that says “Draft Breakdown” is a link to a table that shows how many of each sport each drafter has taken, if you want to gameplan where your leaguemates might be looking next.
The navigation bar on the top right includes a schedule of the events, your league’s standings, and then pages for each event under the “Sport” dropdown so you can view each event’s results independently. The “Big Board” is your team-by-team breakdown of the draft, and as the results come in, teams will be highlighted based on how many points they scored. Here’s my team from my main league last year and the other teams that picked just before me.
Green means the pick won their championship (80 points), blue means runner-up (50 points), yellow is for semifinalists (30) and orange is quarterfinalists (20). In a post tomorrow, I’ll take a closer look at this draft and a few others while going into some draft strategies I’ve considered, but the reality is we’re all just throwing darts.
On the individual sport pages, you’ll also see “Expected Points” listed. These are generated from sims run on futures odds. Here’s the NFL page from a league that already drafted this year, and in the far-right column you can see where those teams were picked in a 16-team league.
Those expected points will only update periodically — as of this writing, they were last updated February 13th — so I encourage you to look at updated odds when drafting. But as far as a quick check on the next best available teams, or something resembling ADP, the expected points can be useful.
Alright, that’s all I have for now. If you have any other questions, drop them in the comments and I’ll try to make sure to get to them all.