Premier League: Draft Q&A

Today fantasy managers receive some answers to their burning questions as it relates to the newly announced FPL Draft. As the name says, fantasy managers will now draft their squad of 15 players, using a snake style draft, seen used in fantasy (American) football. League size, draft date and draft order will be set by the league admin. The big difference between FPL Draft and the traditional game is “Each Premier League player can only be in one league squad” as described in the FPL Draft – What you need to know.

This style of fantasy play is what I have experienced the last 37 years, as a league admin for NFL fantasy football. Unlike the traditional game, much more preparation is key to solid draft. With that said, as I highlighted yesterday, the player pool is much smaller than that of it’s American counterpart. Depending on the number of teams in your league, you could ride your top few draft picks all season long.

The recommended league size per the FPL is eight teams, which totals 120 players out of approximately 500 players (number based on a 25 man squad) in the EPL:

GK: 16 players
DEF: 40 players
MID: 40 players
FOR: 24 players

This league size provides a sizable free agency pool in which to acquire players from. “There are no direct transfers between managers.” Dan Bright, ordinary guy and Palace fan says

“This one line here will see fail. Absolutely crucial to making a league work. Shame really.

I disagree. Here’s why. First the opportunity is there for cheating. If you own multiple teams in your league, transferring your better players between teams will give you an unfair advantage. Even with 8 teams, premium players are few and far between. As mentioned last season there were only 6 players in excess of 200 points. Chances are no one will be willing to trade their top talent away.

Second, in my experience, again coming from fantasy NFL football, with the advent of a waiver wire and free agency pool, very few managers propose trades. With the squad size limited to 15 players, an 2-for-1 type trades will require one manager to drop a player in order to see a trade approved. I don’t think this one feature will see draft fail. But it’s surely something to monitor once the season is under way.

Unlike the traditional game, players do not carry a value and there is no budget to remain under. All players selections are based on draft. The question asked,” Do I gain an advantage by picking first?” Scout says, “No, not at all. You might get your top priority player in the first round but, when you come to pick again – last in round 2 – you may find that your other main targets have been selected.

Experiencing tells me otherwise. Your draft cheat sheet can be broken down into tiers based on points from last season. Your top tier of forward would be:

Kane
Lukaku
Costa
Aguero

Moving down to the midfield position, the top tier would be:

Sanchez
Alli
Hazard
Eriksen

Using the players listed over that’s the top 8 players from last season. While the talent level will still be borderline “premium” based on scoring players outside of this top eight will be a lower tier. So even in an 8-team league having the overall #1 draft pick is very important. It will get you a top EPL player to build your squad around.

Draft day is typically the best day of the season, just like the launch of FPL, which commences the week of July 10th this year. Over the years our fantasy drafts usually consisted of all 10 managers getting together in one spot and drafting. More recently that hasn’t been the case, so an ‘auto draft’ sequence is initiated by the manager and players are selected from a pre-determined list they set. FPL Draft will use a watch list feature, which will represent “top targets for each position.” Any period in which you are absent from the draft players from your draft list will be selected.

Transfers and free agency is where you will win your mini-league this year. This is usually the case, since adding a waiver wire/free agency pool in our fantasy NFL league, manager use this feature weekly, where as trades are much less common than they used to be.

A “wavier request” is submitted to add a player from the available player pool. Multiple managers can put a request in for a specific player, but only manager will be awarded that player. The manager with the lowest standing will claim the player. There is only one waiver period per week.

Free agency will open after waiver wire request have been processed and “24 hours prior to the Gameweek deadline.” This is where a bulk of the transfer activity will take place. Managers filing claims to bring in the latest bandwagon player or transfer out an injured player. This is where you team is built, as there will be good talent waiting to impact your team.

Looking over the Q&A from The Scout, there are many similarities to that of fantasy NFL football, which I am experienced in. It will be very challenging to put together a winning squad and not all strategies used in the traditional game will necessarily apply in the draft game.

As mentioned before the most important part of this game is the draft. While free agency plays an role in the game and eventually outcome, how players are ranked, either by position or overall for the upcoming draft will be key to your success. We have just the final point totals of last year to work off. New players have transferred in to the EPL, such as Alexandre Lacazette. Does he immediately become a top tier forward, the likes of Aguero? Diego Costa could be on his way out from Chelsea as well. Lots of research to do before draft day.

Premier League: FPL Draft Initial Thoughts

Dubbed as an, “exciting new format” Fantasy Premier League Draft will run simultaneously with the traditional game for this upcoming EPL season. Without fanfare or ma ny details, lots of questions beg to be answered about this new format. Having spent the past 37 years playing fantasy (NFL) football, I am somewhat torn in with this news. The 2017/18 EPL season will represent just my 5th year participating in fantasy football, as I learn, grow and experience the beautiful game as a fantasy manager.

Details didn’t provide the full scope of the draft game, but I feel some assumptions can be made based on the announcement. Managers can expect to participate in a live snake style draft, in which managers unique players for their 15-man squad. League size appears to be flexible from 2 to 16 team mini-league. All this in a new game, while remaining with in the £100m budget. Let us not forget this will also introduce some form of free agency/waiver wire to the game in order to transfer players.

The most difficult part of this style of game will be the draft. No more deciding who to partner with Kane and Lukaku, as they will be owned by different managers. Even the best prepared manager must be willing to compromise and plan out their draft strategy in order to be successful. The draft game will really be dependent on the size of the league you are involved in. In my fantasy NFL football experience, the more teams involved, the more difficult it becomes to field a strong starting team.

With 32 NFL teams, there is an offensive player pool of approximately 640 players. In the fantasy draft game, with just 20 teams, the player pool shrinks to approximately 500 players. In the NFL game, it’s not uncommon to draft backup players at certain positions, something that isn’t often done in the traditional game. We do occasionally see it with goalkeepers, such as Ben Foster and Boaz Myhill.

Based off last season’s statistics, only 6 players eclipsed the 200 point mark. Of that number, just two were forwards; Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku. If you happen to be in a 10-team league, your potential top forward at the #10 spot would be Alvaro Negredo, Fernando Llorente or Troy Deeney. Doesn’t instill much confidence, does it? This is where you draft strategy comes into play and the decisions you make will shape your squad.

With the #1 overall pick, do you draft Sanchez or Kane? If you draft Kane with this pick, you will get the top forward in the game and be able to partner him with another lower priced forward in a possible 3-5-2. Draft Sanchez and you start building a solid midfield, but won’t see a forward for another 19 picks, which means many of the top 10 midfielders will be gone.

With a 10-team league, that’s 50 midfielders and 30 forwards selected. Quality players will be at a premium, You will be relying on your top draft picks to carry your squad over 38 weeks. It could be that a 4-4-2 becomes the formation of choice, based solely on the lack of quality forwards. There is considerably more depth at midfielder and defense. Regardless of strategy don’t expect the sort of weekly point totals you see in the traditional game.

Even the best laid plans can go astray, as luck will always play a roll in our fantasy game. We will wait and see to make further evaluations on the FPL draft game as it rolls out the week of July 10th.