Draft Essentials: How To Draft

The sixth installment of our ‘Draft Essentials’ features takes a closer look into How To Draft in Draft Fantasy Football.  We aim to give you tips on which types of Premier League players you need to prioritise in the early rounds of your Draft, and which players you should be drafting in the later rounds.

📝 Draft Strategy 📝

So here we have it.  The new season is approaching, and its time to undertake that all important draft prep!!!  This is the most important time of the season – get your preparation right, and you should be onto a winner for the upcoming season!  Our upcoming Draft Rankings and Season Previews will help you out with the initial preparation… more to come on that soon!

Going into the Draft with a strategy for which rounds you would like to pick up certain players, or positions, is absolutely essential.  Drafting is an extremely stressful occasion, and going into the Draft with a strategy will help you out immensely.  Your strategy will come down to personal preference, but hopefully the information below will help you consider when is best to draft certain types of players!

Also, hopefully by now you’ve arranged the date for your Draft, and are participating in an Offline Draft.  We Fantasy Football Chaps have been exclusively drafting ‘offline’ since we started playing Draft Fantasy Football some 5 years ago.  Check out our article looking into Drafting Offline in great detail here.

💥 Standard Scoring (Draft Fantasy / FPL Draft) 💥

We’ve broken down this article into two sections, in order to cater for the different strategies needed for Standard Scoring, and Togga Scoring drafts.  The following section is focusing on Standard Scoring, where the Official FPL player positions are followed, and players such as Salah, Sterling, and Mane are classified as midfielders.  This means there are a small number of top quality forwards to chose from!


⚽️ Forwards ⚽️

Anyone who’s played Draft Fantasy using Standard Scoring as per FPL Draft or Draft Fantasy knows how that a good forward is like gold dust.  Heck, even a forward that plays every week is hard to come by!  The simple fact is this; if you’re in an eight man draft league, each manager will own 3 forwards, and therefore 24 forwards will be taken overall.  A lot of Premier League teams only play with one forward… this means that there simply aren’t enough guaranteed starters to go around all managers.  Basically, drafting good forwards is bloody important!!

Because of this, you need to prioritse drafting forwards in the opening rounds.  Ideally, you will be able to draft a top quality forward in the first round – Kane, Aguero, or Aubameyang.  This would be followed by a very good forward in the second or third round – Lacazette, Vardy or Zaha.  We would highly recommend trying to draft two forwards in the opening three rounds of the draft.  You don’t want to be stuck with a strikeforce of Andre Gray, Christian Benteke, and Shane Long!!

So ideally you would have bagged a couple of forwards in the opening three, possibly four, rounds of your draft.  You should then look to draft your third forward in the seventh/eighth/ninth round.  Pick up a guaranteed starter from a mid table side – Chris Wood, Troy Deeney or Solomon Rondon for example.  If all of the decent forwards are gone by this point, it may be worth leaving this spot until near the end, picking up someone basic, and look to upgrade them as the season progresses.

🎯 Midfielders 🎯

Now, here’s where things get proper tasty.  There are an insane amount of attacking midfielders to go around, as in Standard Scoring platforms a lot of the attacking players are actually classified as midfielders – Salah and Sterling for example.  Ideally you would draft a forward in the first round, followed by a very good midfielder in the second round – Mane, Eriksen, or Son for example.  Make a judgement call on your third round pick, if a midfielder that you fancy is still available then snap them up.  If not, stick to the plan and draft a good forward in the third.

If you can’t get hold of an elite striker in the first round, picking up De Bruyne, Mane, or Sterling as a first round draft pick will still do you well.  In this situation, it would then be imperative you draft a forward in the second round.  Again, make a judgement call on your third round pick – either a midfielder or a forward depending on who is available.

From the fourth to eighth round you would want to pick up another two or three midfielders, making the most of the mid-range players such as Siggurdsson, Maddison, Fraser, or Richarlison for example.  Look to get three or four midfielders on board by the seventh or eighth round.  Snap up your fifth midfielder towards the end of the draft – either take a gamble on a big name player who’s yet to be drafted, who pick up a lower range player who’s guaranteed to start and could easily be upgraded after the season has started.


🛡 Defenders 🛡

Last season we recommended leaving it fairly late to draft defenders… that didn’t pan out too well, with Robertson, Van Dijk, Alexander-Arnold, and Laporte having incredible seasons!  Robertson was the 5th highest overall scorer in Standard Scoring, and outscored every single forward!!

So, lets re-phrase things a little.  Generally, we would recommend drafting defenders until rounds 7 or 8 and beyond; apart from the elite defenders!  The reasoning is as follows…  Each Premier League team will play with four or five defenders, and therefore there are a hell of a lot of defenders to go around.  Looking at the top six teams, there will be at least 24 defenders fielded for each of these sides every week.  Add in the best defenders from the mid-table sides – Digne, Pereira, Maguire, Doherty, Wan-Bissaka, Ake, etc, and you will soon have a list of 40 good defenders that would be drafted in a classic eight man league.

A tactic certainly fancied by The FF Chaps, however, would be to draft the best defender in the league in the third/fourth round.  Picking up Robertson or Alexander-Arnold at this point should be beneficial, as they will gain clean sheets, bonus points, and attacking returns – rivaling the points totals of some of the best attacking midfielders/forwards.  In this scenario, you would have a banker elite defender, and therefore could happily leave your other defender picks to the end.  Drafting Robertson, followed later by Shaw, Maguire, Ake, and Boly, for example, sounds pretty good to us, and this would enable you to still draft some good forwards/midfielders higher up the draft order.

One other thing to note is that you could easily drop one of the lower ranked defenders for a surprise starter from a top six team, after the season has begun.  For example, during the 17/18 season Christensen came into the Chelsea side after an injury to David Luiz.  A savvy Draft Fantasy Football manager would have snapped him up, and gained a guaranteed starter in a top six sides’ defence.  Therefore, drafting defenders further down the draft order can be a good tactic, as these players can be chopped and changed as the season goes on.

Picking up a rotation pair from two mid to lower table sides also works well, and enables you to draft these players low down the order.  Streaming defenders, a tactic employed by a lot of managers, also means that your defender draft picks are less important.  You can tap into the extremely high number of defender free agents on a week-to-week basis, picking up a new defender who has an easy fixture for that particular gameweek.


🤚 Goalkeepers ✋

Now goalkeepers are a tricky one.  You could draft an elite level keeper such as Ederson or Allison in the fifth or sixth round. You could pick up a good goalkeeper such as Pickford or Schmeichel in the eighth or ninth round. Or you could leave it late to draft both of your keepers, picking up a rotation pair from two mid to lower table sides. There are justifications for all three of these options, so this one is really down to personal preference.

Drafting Allison or Ederson quite early on will guarantee you a route into one of the best  defences in the league, with no worries of rotation.  Therefore, taking a break from drafting attacking players in the fifth or sixth round could be justified.  If there are no forwards or midfielders that you really fancy at this point in the draft, don’t be scared to take a keeper early doors!

At the other end of the spectrum, you could wait until the tenth round or later before you bother to pick up a goalkeeper.  If you’re in a classic eight man Draft Fantasy Football League, there will be four first choice keepers who will go undrafted.  Therefore, you could pick up your two goalkeepers in the last two rounds if you really wanted to!  Last season Etheridge and Dubravka would have been drafted late on, and scored very high points totals.  And Leno would have been available on a free after replacing the aging Cech in goal for Arsenal.  Leaving it late to draft your goalkeepers could certainly pay off… it just depends if you want to take the risk and hope a less fancied keeper does well!


⚡️ Togga Scoring ⚡️

The following section is focusing on Togga Scoring, where positions closer to real-life are actually followed.  Players such as Salah, Sterling, and Mane are classified as forwards in the more intelligent Togga Scoring formats… in what world are these players midfielders (as per Official FPL) we do not know!  This means there are a lot of top quality forwards to go around on Togga Scoring, and a limited number of top class midfielders.  This needs to be factored into your strategy.


⚽️ Forwards ⚽️

Starting with the forwards, as we’ve pointed out above, Togga Scoring formats classifies attacking midfielders and wingers as forwards, which does make sense based on these players’ average positions during most matches!  This means that there are a huge amount of forwards to chose from.  19 forwards averaged over 10 points per game on Togga Scoring last season!

Despite the fact that there is a bigger pool of forwards, as well as a bigger spread of points in Togga Scoring leagues, we still think that you should be targeting an elite forward in the 1st round of your draft.  The likes of Salah, Kane, Aguero, Sterling, Mane, and Aubemeyang should be the top targets, despite the fact players such as Siggy, Fraser, Van Dijk and Digne all scored inside the top 10 players last season.  Grab yourself an elite forward if you can – its so much more fun when your best player gains points for goals, rather than key passes/crosses!!

We think its personal preference when you pick up the rest of your forwards; there are a lot of them to go around, but if you have the chance to pick up two good or great forwards in the opening few rounds, then you should take that opportunity!


🎯 Midfielders 🎯

As we mentioned in the introduction to the Togga Scoring section, there are a limited number of top quality midfielders in this format, as the forwards are actually classified as forwards!  From the pool of midfielders, you’re looking at players that gain a fair amount of attacking returns, but those who will also gain good points for key passes or successful crosses.  A passing midfielder who scores goals is the ideal Togga Scoring midfielder!

We would recommend picking up a top quality, goal scoring forward in the first round, and then looking towards picking up a midfield beast in the second round.  Players such as De Bruyne, Eriksen, and Pogba could be considered as first round picks, and are essential Togga scoring signings if you have the chance in round two!  Players such as Siggy, Felipe Anderson, Maddison, and Milivojevic should be on your watch list for the second or third round of the draft; all four of these Chaps scored in the top 12 overall points scorers last season!

You should snap up a very good or good midfielder in the opening three rounds for sure.  Due to the limited number of top quality midfield options in Togga Scoring, you need to bring in a midfielder early doors, or run the risk of having a poor midfield selection further along the draft.  The rest of your midfield comes down to personal preference of when to pick them up, or judging when to pick up certain players based on how the other managers have been drafting!  There is a huge spread of points between the positions in Togga Scoring, and defenders can easily outscore some of the best midfielders!


🛡 Defenders 🛡

Now when to start drafting defenders… that’s a big question for all formats of Draft FPL!  Last season there were huge defender hauls across all scoring systems, with the likes of Robertson, Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Digne, Doherty, and Pereira taking leagues by storm!!

We would recommend picking up one of the elite defenders in the third round if you’re able to.  Alexander-Arnold or Digne are going to be worth it, based on their average scores of 13/14 points per game last season.  They could even be drafted in the second round in larger leagues, or when you’re facing the prospect of drafting a forward or midfielder that you’re not 100% convinced by!  Don’t be afraid to go early on a defender in Togga Scoring, especially a wing back who will be fixture-proof due to key passes or successful crosses!

The key point here is that defenders offer a lot more value across the board than in Standard Scoring.  Due to the fact that its not just attacking returns and clean sheets that impact the scoring system, defenders can easily rack up points for aerials, interceptions or clearances.  Try and spread the defender picks across your draft, mixing between all of the positions as you undertake your draft.  It is going to be worth leaving one or two of your defender picks until later on in the draft though, as there will be surprise players that you’ll want to pick up throughout the season.  Paterson and Bednarek spring to mind from last season; both these Chaps went through periods of scoring huge scores, and they are unlikely to have been drafted!


🤚 Goalkeepers ✋

Drafting your goalkeeper in a Togga Scoring league is a pretty simple task; goalkeepers score notoriously poorly on this scoring system.  For example, Alisson was the 15th overall top scorer on Standard Draft Scoring last season… he was 55th overall on Togga Scoring!  This shows how poorly goalkeepers score on Togga.

Leave drafting your goalkeeper until late on in the draft!  Potentially take Alisson or Ederson in round 12 or 13, but for anyone else you’re best off just leaving your goalkeeper pick until the final round.  Most Togga Scoring leagues will only require one goalkeeper to be in your squad, so there will always been starting goalkeepers in the free agent pool!  Streaming goalkeepers is very common in Togga Scoring leagues, as they will have very little impact on your squad in the grand scheme of things.


📚 Conclusion 📚

A lot of drafting comes down to personal preference.  However, it is imperative that you go into the draft with a strategy for which positions you want to fill at which points of the draft.  If you decide you want to take the best defender in the league in round 4, go for it.  If you decide you need to draft two forwards in the first two rounds go for it.

You also need to be adaptable though.  The draft will not go to plan.  Look at your specific situation as the draft is unfolding.  You need to weigh up if you think your fellow managers will draft a certain player that you want to draft.  For example, if you think you can go another round before drafting Deulofeu or Jota, then take Alderweireld or Rudiger as a banker defender, and snap up a mid-range midfielder the next round.  Always keep an eye on which positions your fellow managers are yet to draft.  If you get to the 8th round with only two forwards in your squad, and all other managers already have three forwards on board, you know you can wait until the 15th round to pick your final striker.

Decide on a drafting strategy that suits your preferences prior to the draft, and have a good idea of the players you want to bring in at certain times.  Make sure you’re adaptable throughout the draft though – the pressure is almost certainly going to get to you!


📢 More Draft Essentials 📢

Want to read more on how to manage a Draft Fantasy Football League, check out our other ‘Draft Essentials’ features:

Draft Essentials Part One: Head-To-Head League Format

Draft Essentials Part Two: Offline Draft

Draft Essentials Part Three: Punishing The Loser

Draft Essentials Part Four: End of Season Awards

Draft Essentials Part Five: Taking Your League Offline


📝 Draft Platform 📝

Here at The Fantasy Football Chaps, we’re proud to be pioneer’s for having a Draft Fantasy Football League that runs COMPLETELY OFFLINE!  Check out our article looking into how to make this a reality, and have full control over customising your Draft League!

If this sounds like too much effort, we would highly recommend using an online platform from either the guys at Draft Fantasy or Fantrax.   Draft Fantasy uses a scoring system similar to the standard Official FPL game, where as Fantrax mainly uses the more intelligent scoring system made famous by Togga.  Both offer potential for end of season playoffs, as well as many other options for customisation!


🔥 Hot or Cold Player Rankings ❄️

Our Hot or Cold Player Rankings are here to outline the current prospects of key Draft Fantasy Football Players.  Our ‘Hot‘ or ‘Cold‘ status will help take away your emotional attachment to certain Premier League players, and bring in the players that you need to help you dominate your Draft League.  Use these hints and tips to increase your chances of success!


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