Monday, 17 July 2017

What's an #FPLDraft?

This year - for the first time ever - the OFPL has decided to offer draft format fantasy Premier League. Other sites - notably Togga - have been offering draft FPL for quite some time. Regardless of where you want to play, there are a few basic differences that you need to know. We know some of you have played FPL draft for years, so we'll provide a short bit about the differences in the games and a few players who you should value more highly in draft formats. For those of you who are going to play FPLDraft this season - head to a buy my 38-page Draft Guide. In it you'll find mock drafts, cheat sheets, key stats, and articles from many of your favourite FPLers including Ben Dinnery.

The Basics...
In draft you are only competing in a minileague. Each manager takes turns selecting players round robin. Most formats use 'snake format' which means the first manager to make a selection in the odd rounds (1, 3, 5...) is the last manager to make a selection in the even rounds. Once each manager has selected a full roster - OFPL looks like 15 while Togga uses 16 - the rest of the players who aren't selected will be available to add to your roster throughout the season. This means you need to keep track of not only your own selections, but a running tally of which players are selected at which position. You don't want to be left needing a forward when the best one remaining is Jordan Ayew.

You might not think it, but formation matters much more in draft that in salary cap. Why? Because the number of players who are actually productive in OFPL scoring makes it difficult to maintain tactical flexibility. Let's say you want to start three up front. Well, you can't just spend big and use 40M to land Kane, Aguero and Lacazette. In a draft league you'll be lucky to own ONE of them. So if you're starting three up top it will more like be Kane, Gabiaddini and Slimani!! Remember, if you play in a 10-team draft league each team must start a minimum of three defenders - so 30 defenders will start each week. That means players like Cedric, Jose Fonte or Joel Matip aren't afterthoughts. Those are players who will be starting for you or someone in your league every single week. If you decide to start four defenders regularly, you'll need to secure at least one top flight defender in the first five rounds.

Managing The Draft
If this is your first year playing FPL draft, you'll need to know that managing the draft is important. Managing a draft can be tricky and this is why the comprehensive FPLdraft guide is so important to your success.  Before draft day you'll want as much information on how to plan your draft strategy, how to find value players later in the draft and create (or buy) several cheat sheets for your use during the draft proper. [For example the linked Guide includes a sheet of every player to earn 10+ BPS last season.] 

Two rules to remember: always have a plan b and never take a goalkeeper early. Plan B is important because the draft will happen quickly. If you are waiting for you turn so you can select Jason Puncheon and he gets drafted one pick ahead of you you'll be in a scramble and might panic and draft...N'Golo Kante! Whew. Crises averted - he's the reigning Player of the Year. Except in OFPL he doesn't score any points. No goals. No assists. [Note: if you're playing in a format like Togga where Opta stats are used DEF MID have more value as interceptions, tackles won and aerial duels are all worth FPL points]. 

Don't Draft a GK EARLY
Why does this get its own section? Because it is that important. Last season Tom Heaton was the No. 1 GK. He scored 149 total points. Across 38 games that is less than 4 pts per match. The 10th GK was Ben Foster. He scored 113 points. Across 38 games that is 2.9 pts per match. One point per gameweek. Meanwhile, you say to yourself 'but Heaton outscored Troy Deeney last season, I should pick him ahead of Deeney'. It's true he outscored Deeney. But you only need 1 GK. If you pass on Troy Deeney to select Heaton - your next chance to draft a forward may mean you end up with 10-12 spots behind the Hornets' rotund hitman. Last season that would be Abel Hernandez and his 72 points. So, before you think of draft a GK think of it this way "would I rather have Heaton and Hernandez or Deeney and Foster"? We assume you know what the right answer that is.

Managing the Season
Unlike OFPL salary cap game where you can simply buy and sell players, in draft you'll need to compete with the other managers to scoop up value off of the waiver wire. We'll leave that concept to a longer post, but the short version is that you will be able to add/drop players off of your roster, it will just be a more competitive process and the players available will be of much lesser quality. For example, in a 10 team league with 15 roster spots, there will be 150 players already owned. So players like Salomon Rondon, Charlie Austin, even Benick Afobe will all be owned by you or a competing manager. That means if you want to make your side better you'll be left making moves like dropping Granit Xhaka to add Didier Ndong (he finished last year 87th among midfielders with 67 total points). Making those moves is as important to your draft success as finding a good poundshop defender is in salary-cap.

The FPL official game will not allow trades of players between managers. Every other FPL draft format allows this. It is a necessary part of the game. With a limited pool of players you need to be able to trade your 3rd best midfielder - someone like Matt Phillips - to a rival to get back a second striker - maybe Sandro Ramirez. Without the ability to trade, the OFPL is risking leagues where one manager has a very good draft and wins their mini-league from the jump. To make sure that you're that manager you should research a bit beforehand (or find a format which allows trading).

Advice in draft leagues is very different from salary cap, because every team in draft is different. It's easy to say 'Harry Kane is playing Huddersfield this week, pay the penalty to transfer him in.' It is much more difficult to manage a roster and starting XI when you need to know how many shots Etienne Capoue is taking in away games against top half defenses. Find good FPL draft accounts and ask them questions! We've been doing this for ages and would love to help you dominate your new league.

Above all - FPL draft is a game which is more competitive, personal and enjoyable than salary-cap. You'll feel a connection to your players unlike any other game because they will be your players, and your players alone. We hope this was helpful. If you're looking for additional assistance with your FPL Draft preparation find the author @FantasyGaffer and find his regular writing on FPLDraft at Togga! And if you are playing Draft - buy a Draft Guide