Warning: Benchwarmer is not a game that you join in late
March or early April, spend two or three hours in a live
online draft, and then check back from time to time
throughout the season. The drafting process is more involved. We hope that the total time
you spend is going to be roughly equivalent to the actual
drafting time for a 1-shot live draft, but it's going to be
spread out more on the calendar.
Our estimates of time spent preparing do not include
player research or learning about the game. We expect
that you're going to be doing that with any fantasy game
you're about to sign up for and play. You do probably
need a bit more time with the rules for BWB than you do for
your standard Roto or H2H league. The other point of
complication with Benchwarmer is the salary cap, so you do
need a bit of extra planning time in all your draft phases
to find the right mix of expensive and value-priced players.
The estimates are also made for new players to Benchwarmer.
Veteran players start with the advantages of knowing their
way around the players, the salary cap, and the web
Time estimates are minimum estimates - owners who are
more involved (dare we say "obsessive"?) can spend much more
time on this.
Phase One Draft
The time you need for a Phase One Draft is going to
depend upon the type of draft you choose. The vast
majority of our leagues are set up to use the standard BWB
list format. On request from established owners, we've
set up a live draft process that we'll use in a limited
number of leagues (out of the 17 existing leagues, only
one so far has used the live format).
- The basic concept of the list draft is that you
assemble a list of your ideal team. There are 26
mandatory roster slots that you'll need to fill and
you must do so while keeping under a defined salary
cap. Each player has a salary based on past
- BWB includes extra slots - a "taxi squad" and a
"minor league" roster. It's optional to use
these - so your list will have 26-40 players.
(BWB is a keeper league, so this is a chance to grab
- You have the option of ranking your players in
desired order of importance - this may play a role in
determining who gets some players. You can rank
all 40 - or your top 10 - or none - it's up to you.
- You put together your list using our web
interface. Onscreen error messages will guide
you toward putting together a final list - letting you
know if you're over the salary cap, or missing a
position, or have made a ranking mistake, etc.
We'll also send out automated email messages close to
the draft deadline to let you know if something's out
- Again, not counting player research time,
expect maybe 30-90 minutes to make your list.
It's always possible to come back and make changes
before the deadline, so you may find you spend more
time than that. It's also possible to put a lot
more time and effort into the whole process - this
time estimate is more of a minimal effort for a casual
- You can begin to create your list the moment you
join BWB - and even before you join a league. The last person(s) to join the league
will be the one with the tightest time crunch.
That last team will have 2-7 days to finish the list
(the deadlines are more tight later in March...typical
winter drafts will allow you a full week).
- This draft works at the outset like your more
typical online or live draft. Each team will
pick in turn - in a randomly generated order - and the
order will be reversed in odd and even rounds.
- Since this is such a small part of our drafting
process, the interface for this is still crude and
there aren't current plans in upgrading this. We
use a chat room to communicate and pick players and
you must be able to view multiple browser tabs/windows
to effectively draft. Our focus is more on
picking the players in a real-time manner, rather than
the technical interface we use to do it.
- There are 16 teams in a league. Roster sizes
are a minimum of 26 players. To draft a full
roster would take a whole day - so we only pick the
first 10 players in a live draft.
- Expect a live draft to take about 3 hours -
this is an option that WILL require a lot more time
than you normally spend in putting together a team
for an online fantasy baseball game.
- It's strongly recommended that you put together a
basic draft list ahead of time - not to fill your
entire roster under the salary cap, but more your
typical draft priority list. This would be used
in case you are unable to make the live draft for any
reason. But it's optional. It's the same
recommendation you'll find for any online live draft.
Phase Two Draft
Look at the rules and take a look at examples of
league drafts, and you'll see that after Phase One is done
you won't have all the players you wanted. In fact,
you'll probably have somewhere between 6-20 players.
The total number will depend on how many players you picked
uniquely to your league (no other team picked them) and how
the resolution of any contested players worked out. A
legal roster in BWB is a minimum of 26 players and you need
to be able to fill all the mandatory roster slots. So,
we enter a section of the draft called Phase Two.
Some quick history - A lot of the rules for Benchwarmer
Baseball were derived from a game in the 80s and 90s called
Robot Baseball. The draft process is similar to what
they did. When their Phase One was finished, you
submitted a huge list of players that you wanted to pick up
to fill out your roster. It was all play-by-mail in
those days, so you mailed off your list and waited for the
results. We've taken advantage of the internet and
split up the process. One of the problems with
submitting a list of 15-20 players is that often what you
get in Round One or Two may drastically affect how you'd
draft the rest of the list. Plus, as you get further
down the list, it becomes much more likely that other teams
have selected the same players you wanted. So,
ideally, we split up our submissions to 8 players at a time.
This lets you target certain positions - then see the
results - see how much cash you have left - see the
newly-updated list of free agents - and pick again.
Without going into great depth here on the complete
process, you're actually submitting 8 rounds of
picks, not 8 players. Each round allows you to list a
single player and an optional alternate selection in case
your first choice in that round is gone (it allows the
process to complete more quickly).
So how long will this take? Again, not counting
player research time, we estimate that you'll spend 15-45
minutes filling out the form. Just like with the
startup draft, there will be onscreen error messages if
there's anything incomplete or incorrect with your list.
Because you're trying to fill out specific positions here,
your drafting is likely to be more targeted. The first
one you do may take you longer since you have more open
positions and you're also filling in backup roles. The
other complicating factor is still the salary cap...since
you're not just picking the best players left on the board,
but also making sure you have the cash to spend.
But - and here's a major difference between us and the
draft-and-wait-until-April type of fantasy game - this does
require that you pay attention and continue to build your
team through the rest of the spring. How long you have
between submissions will depend on how late your league
started to draft. If your draft began in late March,
we obviously need to accelerate the process. In some
cases in late March, we may have you pick 12 or more players
each time and try to be done more quickly.
|If your league had a Phase One
||Expect Phase Two submissions about
|February to early March
|Early to mid March
After The Draft and Regular Season
When the draft is complete, your time considerations
decrease down to about once a week. You can get much
more involved than that - some people log on several times a
day - but essentially, the league moves into a once-per-week
submission of transactions. The results of the
transactions are posted within a day or two, so you'll have
5 days to see the results and submit a new request.
You may get trade requests throughout the week that you'll
need to reply to (or ignore).
By early April, you'll need to set your lineups for the
first week of regular season play. You can be working
on your lineup throughout the spring, but it doesn't need to
be finalized until Week One of the season.
After the season starts, the same schedule of
once-per-week transaction/lineup deadlines will continue.
Unlike many online games that allow daily lineup changes,
you won't need to change your lineups that often to stay
competitive. You can certainly choose to set your
lineup for the first week and then just coast the rest of
the season. But in most cases you'll have injuries or
maybe want to try to grab players added to the game (guys
coming up from the minors).
We post game results 2 or 3 times a week - typically in
2-game or 3-game blocks. You can examine the results
and the box scores as closely as you want.
After the Season
You can keep your same lineup for the playoffs - no need
to change it. Every team makes some sort of
post-season tournament (playing for a little extra fake
And Benchwarmer is a year-round game. By late fall
or early winter your fantasy football team is probably out
of contention anyway, right? The salaries for the next
baseball season are finalized in
November. After that, teams have two periods to
trade with other teams in the league. Then, they must
submit a list of up to 28 players to keep by mid-December.
Finally, by the end of December or early January, teams
submit a list of players in a Redistribution Draft to
restock their rosters. There is no other draft in the
spring - teams go back to the weekly transaction process
until the season begins.