Trivia Club's Saturday Night Live Fantasy League: The Complete Rules and Draft Results

September 20, 2013

SNL Fantasy League all started as Trivia Club’s love letter to TV fans, stat nerds, and yes television mathematicians.

I mean COME ON, it's Saturday Night! What started, as the epitome of counter-culture television in the 70’s has, 39 seasons later, become an institution. We all know the story, Johnny Carson no longer to have packaged re-runs of the Tonight Show shown on Saturday nights so NBC suddenly had a late night slot to fill on the weekend. Though it was an island of television that WAS watched, it was still considered low-risk enough that, hey why not, let’s give this wry Canadian kid a chance to make something of it with a group of Second City vets from Toronto and Chicago.

With it becoming such a mainstay in pop culture, and as notable on television (even more so, it could be said) as The Simpsons that brings the kind of changes that not even The Simpsons have had to dealt with. I’m talking about what a sports organization has to deal with. Legendary casts give way to rebuilding years, every five years there seems to be a crises, cast members once derided as the reason ‘everything is horrible’ are given tearful goodbyes (usually off-air, unless you’re Krisen Wiig).

So it was with that in mind that I had a crazy idea. In honor of the 39th season of Saturday Night Live premiering on September 28th with a big chunk of new people in the cast, and not to mention with Fantasy Football season on the horizon, I wanted to try something that spoke to the TV lovers that I know, as well as possibly the stat nerds.

You might add, “Wait an SNL FANTASY LEAGUE, who has time for that?! Not only do I have better things to do with my time, but I worry about the amount of time you've spent on this already!”

Fear not, I've got friends to help.

And yes, I ignored the first question. If you're reading this far, it's too late anyway.

As much as I looked through the internet (five minutes on Google), no one has ever done anything like this. There have been instances, that I’ve noticed, of trying to prognosticates events week to week, but nothing as in-depth as drafting a cast member and rooting for there success. Drafting cast members, as well as hosts (I’ll get to the host part) to create teams with clever names in the grand fantasy league tradition. Then winning points thanks to the production and performance of those selected. As Grantland’s Reality TV Fantasy League put it…

“One thing sports have taught us is that almost anything can be improved by creating a scoring system and holding a draft. Try it.”

So we did. Just this last weekend our owners – Brian, Jack, Leah, Rob, Mark, Matt, Sarah, Saad, Kevin, and myself – were split up into two groups of teams, named after the only two people to run the show (to varying success) in Lorne Michaels absence, The Doumanian Group and The Ebersol Group. Then, for the Cast Draft, each team drafted two of the available ten Repertory Players; Vanessa Bayer, Aidy Bryant, Taran Killam, Kate McKinnon, Bobby Moynihan, Nasim Pedrad, Jay Pharoah, Tim Robinson, Cecily Strong, and Kenan Thompson (all returning faces, minus Seth Myers due to his impending Late Night hosting gig, leave but we’ll get to that as well as the Tim Robinson Rule), after selecting Rep Players each team then drafted two of the five Featured Players, Mike O'Brien, John Milhiser, Noel Wells, Kyle Mooney, and Beck Bennett. These new faces were much more a shot in the dark, and though we would be sharing these cast members with other teams the drafting rule of thumb was you simply couldn’t share the same two Featured Players with another team in your group.

Once we drafted our four cast members, in each of the two groups of five teams, all teams were brought together for an overall Host Draft. Thanks of course to Matt Smith for this wrinkle. The Host Draft (known as the 2013 Jake Johnson Memorial Draft in some circles) is in it’s nature the predictive gambling side of Trivia Club’s SNL Fantasy League.  Each team got SIX picks in draft order. Each team could draft ANYONE, with the key conceit being that they thought the person would Host SNL. As long as long as hosted, then the team would attain points for that Hosts performance. The only caveat being that the pre-announced hosts at the time of the draft, Tina Fey, Miley Cyrus, and Bruce Willis, were off the board. More then the performance of a break-out Featured Player, this could swing a teams season. If all six of their picks Host and none of yours do? Goodnight.

Our scoring system is as equally finely tuned as our drafting system. Points will be awarded to each cast member and host of a team, based on the strength of there performance week-to-week (appearing in a sketch, breaking during said sketch, saying “LIVE FROM NEW YORK!” – kids it’s something we all dream of doing, and now we can live it vicariously!) Scores will be tallied each week by league commissioner Russel Harder, host of Trivia Club (I’ll depend on you to keep me honest, fine viewers), and at the end of the season a winner will be crowned victorious, the KING (or QUEEN) of SNL! A real live Lorne Michaels!

Yes in the coming months, Trivia Club will cover this league with a level of passion and analysis typically reserved for politics or the much earlier seasons of Saturday Night Live. Below, you can find our scoring system and the results of both our Cast and Host drafts. With the full roster of each team in full display! We even have the first points to announce, thanks to this bit of news not to mention a bit of house cleaning to do thanks to one more Featured cast member. That second part is the Tim Robinson Rule I was talking about!

Look for our first full scoreboard on the 29th of September, once I’m done minding the Ps & Qs of SNL! We encourage you to start your own leagues, suggest changes to our system, or just to read and mumble, “This is Trivia Club? Why aren’t I drinking?” Which is a very good question, indeed.

Scoring System
If the commissioner determines that a team member has committed any of the following, that team receives the corresponding number of points. Gray areas abound, so all scoring is at the discretion of the commissioner.

TV/Internet promo w/ host: 5 points
In the cold open: 15 points
Says "It's SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE!" to open the show: 20 points
In the opening monolouge: 10 points (host not included)

Cast member in a sketch: 5 points (2 points if that sketch is after the second song)
Cast member in a sketch as an NPC: 2 points (1 point if that sketch is after the second song)
In a commercial/television/film parody: 10 points (5 points if that parody is after the second song)
In a digital short: 10 points (5 points if that short is after the second song)
On Weekend Update: 10 points
Introduces musical guest: 2 points

Reoccuring character; Including celebrity/politician: 5 points
In sketch along-side former SNL cast member: 5 points
In sketch along-side former (but not that night's) SNL host: 10 points
Lorne Michaels dares to speak to your cast member: 10 points (plus 5 points if your cast member talks down TO Lorne)

Breaks/Laughs during a sketch: minus 2 points
Causes cast-mate to break: 5 points (multiplied per cast member)

Open-mouth kissing: 10 points per participant
Kissing: 5 points per participant
Crying: 5 points
Sings/Dances: 5 points
Nudity: 10-20 points (both boobs/full front will get you 20, 15 for one boob, 10 for a butt shot)
Swearing (productive): 2 points
Swearing (destructive) : minus 5 points

Sneaker-upper (when an impression becomes notorious to the point where the "celebrity" shows up on camera along-side the impersonator, though impersonating the host is not included in this): 20 points
Has a sketch where they directly discuss not doing well, ala Bill Murray or Jay Pharoah: 10 points (Featured Cast only)

First cast member embraced by the Host: 5 points
In costume during the goodnight: 2 points

Cast member leaves mid-season, only to be replaced by new mid-season featured cast member: minus 20 points (if Tim Robinson Rule is in effect)
Is made a rep player mid-season: 25 points (Featured Cast only)

Not on the show for three straight weeks: minus 5 points (minus 5 for each week after, pregnancy leave not included)

Weekend Update ANCHOR BONUS: 50 points (one time per cast member, when they become anchor)

In the cold open: 20 points
Says "It's SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE!" to open the show: 25 points

Host in a sketch: 2 points
In sketch along-side former SNL cast member: 5 points
In sketch along-side former (but not that night's) SNL host: 10 points
In a commercial parody: 10 points
In a digital short: 10 points
On Weekend Update: 10 points
Reoccuring character? Including celebrity/politician: 5 points
Lorne Michaels dares to speak to your host: 5 points (Tracy Morgan BONUS: plus 5 points if your host  talks down TO Lorne)

Breaks/Laughs during a sketch: minus 2 points
Causes castmate to break: 5 points (multiplied by cast members)

Sings/Dances: 5 points
Nudity: 10-20 points (both boobs/full front will get you 20, 15 for one boob, 10 for a butt shot)
Open-mouth kissing: 10 points
Kissing: 5 points
Swears: 5 points
Swearing (destructive) : minus 5 points
Cries (with laughter or EMOTIONS): 10 points

Jake Johnson appearance on your host show: 5 points
Jack Johnson appearance on your host show: minus 5 points

Isn't hugged by anyone when says goodnight: minus 10 points
Doesn't thank the cast when says goodnight: minus 5 points
Embraces Musical Guest first: 2 points
Embraces Cast Member first: 10 points

Your pick for host appears on an episode of SNL that they don't host: 2 points per sketch

POST-SHOW POINTS; if SNL featuring said HOST gets 5.0 rating or higher: 15 points

And what about the MUSICAL GUESTS, you might be asking me? Each week, the team owners will submit the titles of the TWO SONGS that will be performed by the MUSICAL GUEST of the week, no later then 11PM on the day of that GUESTS appearance. Guessing the first song correctly is 5 points, the second song correctly is 10 points.

And now the CAST rosters with thoughts and annotations on the draft order for both groups!


1. Jay Pharoah
10. Brooks Wheelan
1. Noel Wells
10. John Mihiser

2. Kenan Thompson
9. Nasim Pedrad
2. Mike O'Brien
9. Kyle Mooney

3. Taran Killam
8. Aidy Bryant
3. Mike O' Brien
8. Beck Bennet

4. Vanessa Bayer
7. Bobby Moynihan
4. Kyle Mooney
7. Noel Wells

5. Kate McKinnon
6. Cecily Strong (50 POINTS for Weekend Update – preseason)
5. Beck Bennett
6. John Mihiser


1. Kenan Thompson
10. Brooks Wheelan
1. Noel Wells
10. Kyle Mooney

2. Taran Killam
9. Aidy Bryant
2. Mike O'Brien
9. John Mihiser

3. Bobby Moynihan
8. Jay Pharoah
3. Kyle Mooney
8. Beck Bennett

4. Nasim Pedrad
7. Vanessa Bayer
4. Beck Bennett
7. John Mihiser

5. Kate McKinnon
6. Cecily Strong (50 POINTS for Weekend Update – preseason)
5. Mike O' Brien
6. Noel Wells

  • FIRST OFF, congrats to the two teams who drafted Cecily Strong because no more then four hours after the draft finished the news came over the wire that Strong would become co-anchor of Weekend Update. That gives THE TEAM YOU WISH YOU HADN'T STARTED A CONVERSATION WITH AT A PARTY and THE IGNORANT SLUTS the initial lead with 50 POINTS EACH! It has to be repeated, that if Update’s last four hosts were Tina Fey, Amy Pohler, and the future one-two punch in NBC late night talk shows, so you’ve got to be happy that your cast member just stepped into the King/Queen making machine.
  • Also of note in that Times article that I continue to link to is the fact that Tim Robinson, initially drafted in BOTH groups as the 10th Overall Pick was shifted off camera and into the writers room. Post-draft however it was announced that writer Brooks Wheelan would be joining the cast. Which allowed the invention of the TIM ROBINSON RULE (if your REP pick in the draft doesn’t rejoin the cast, you get the next best FEATURED player).
  • Keenan Thompson, being the most senior cast member, seemed to be a notable thing for drafters. Though usage charts tell another story from last year, he’s certainly still a strong choice.
  • The biggest difference in opinion, between Doumanian and Ebersol Groups, is the adverse opinions on Bobby Moynihan and Jay Pharoah respectively.
  • Mike O’Brien, he of the veteran SNL writing tenure and quality internet show, and Noel Wells, she of the (if I’ve got to guess) Zooey Deschanel impression? According to our owners, they look to be the top prospects of the Featured Cast. Grantland doesn’t seem to agree, going with Kyle Mooney as the breakout.
  • Trade deadline for Cast Members will be the start of the fifteenth episode.


  • Once again, all owners were picking together for the Host Predictions as opposed to being in two separate groups. With the draft order being re-shuffled, and not being in snake order like the Cast Draft had been.
  • I am SHOCKED that Jake Johnson was not drafted. SHOCKED.
  • Lady Gaga, as you may have heard, was rumored to be hosting this season before the first three hosts were announced. Whether Miley Cyrus took her proposed spot, or if it’s only a matter of time it’s a smart first pick as far as following rumors.
  • Justin Timberlake went to FOURTH, which surprised me. Though he has been hosting so often he could take a year off to the surprise of no one now that his usual cast (and fellow Mother Lover Andy Samberg especially) has left the show.
  • Stars of the movie Thor were a popular choice for hosts, though they also had other reasons to be on the show providing some potential boost for SNL either way, whether it was another movie (Hemsworth's Rush), an on-going TV show (Kat Dennings' 2 Broke Girls + tumblr making Jack's dream come true), or simply being Natalie Portman (yes, drafted last among these three in particular).
  • Benedict Cumberbath AND Martin Freeman being drafted. You're welcome, Sherlocke fans.
  • Rob brought up a good rule of not drafting anyone in their first season of a television series. Of course, this didn't stop him from making the most derisive pick of the night in Robin Thicke. The general thought was that with Miley hosting she's already taken the heat of the Song of the Summer and ran away with it, thanks to the MTV VMAs!
  • I can announce here as well that the FINAL PREDICTED HOST of the Season 39 SNL Fantasy Draft is one of only four members of the 10-TIMER CLUB… JOHN GOODMAN!
Good luck to all our debuting competitors! If YOU would like to be involved a NOT READY FOR PRIMETIME PLAYER, outside of our official groups, then let us know and we'll be glad to build said side group for our fan-built teams! See you again, the Sunday after Tina Fey and Arcade Fire help premiere the 39th Season of Saturday Night Live!

Russel Harder hosts Trivia Club at Cardinal Rule (5 Roncesvalles Ave) every WEDNESDAY, at Wychwood Pub (517 St. Claire Ave West) every TUESDAY, at Hitch (1216 Queen St East) every 2nd and 4th MONDAY of the month, and The Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen St West) ONCE A MONTH on the 3rd TUESDAY!

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