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The FPL Draft Game – Tactical Guide

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Some have been crying out for this type of game, some couldn’t care less about it. One thing for sure it’s certainly going to polarise the fantasy premier league community but with the format around it’s only right we take a look.

Initially we have to congratulate the powers that be at fantasy premier league who have taken the draft format and provided a solid platform for it to be successful. Implementing a watchlist, having a backstop of draft rank combined with an impressive user interface and clearly defined rules at least makes it a possible additional enjoyment to the standard format we all know and adore. So with that in mind let’s talk tactics about getting the best from the tools provided.

The Watchlist

It might take an hour or two to get your watchlist in place but it will be your best friend when going into the heat of the draft. Knowing that you have some sort of value assigned to a player is going to provide clarity when the clock is ticking. But how on earth can you make a casting judgement to your order? What determines whether Harry Kane should be ranked 1st, 2nd or 3rd apart from your gut? More to the point when you get down into the midst of your watchlist what tools can be used to determine ranking players say from 80th to 89th? How about using Value Over Replacement Player to provide the consistency in player consideration?

Value Over Replacement Player

Value Over Replacement Player or “VORP” for short is when the manager determines the highest possible points from the best player that isn’t due to be selected in the draft. In theory this player’s points would then represent the baseline total that every manager in the draft can expect from that position with any player drafted having the ability to score more than that baseline. These replacement players will in theory be available in free agency so anyone drafted should be scoring more than what can be picked freely in any particular gameweek. At this point it’s important to note the number of managers in your draft as that effects the replacement player. Take for example a draft with five managers, the replacement player baseline for a forward will be the 16th highest points scorer from last season. If there were eight managers in the draft the replacement forward player drops to the 25th and as you can imagine that will have a significant affect on the points tally of the replacement player. See below the replacement player points totals for each position for drafts from 5 managers to 12.

# of ManagersGKsDEFsMIDsFWDs

Knowing these numbers we can start to provide a consistent baseline for every player available to managers. To illustrate better we’ll jump straight into three examples using last season’s points scored basing the figures on a 8 manager draft;

David De Gea

Last season points score: 136
Replacement player score: 89
VORP Score: 47

Wilfried Zaha

Last season points score: 149
Replacement player score: 105
VORP Score: 44

Harry Kane

Last season points score: 224
Replacement player score: 76
VORP Score: 157

As you can see from the VORP returns above, the method quickly gives a manager a priority system when entering the draft that then can be entered into your watchlist. Who knew there would be a 110 points swing between arguably the best forward and goalkeeper available? In this theory snapping up Harry Kane as soon as possible has just been endorsed but snapping up David De Gea in the early rounds, not so. Instead the best shot stopper in the Premier League will fall around Wilfried Zaha in your watchlist placing him in the middle rounds at best. However if your draft had 12 managers the landscape is somewhat different with De Gea’s VORP rating jumping to 102 while Wilfried Zaha’s rating only rises to 63? Why? Well with more managers there’s more demand for players and with only a finite number of goalkeepers available the value on De Gea’s head in a larger draft increases dramatically. The same can be said for forwards with a 12 manager draft requiring to select 36. Is there even 36 forwards who play regularly in the Premier League? No, increasing the value of each and every forward. This increase in value will push forwards towards the top of the your watchlist, other positions down and therefore providing a priority order in which to draft.

Other notes to take from the replacement player scores is that there isn’t a massive drop off in points returns within the defender and midfield markets based on the number of managers. Indeed after the big hitters have gone most defenders and midfielders can be grouped together by less than 30 to 40 points and within that they are all going to score at different times in the season. This is where the Waiver system comes into play. Waiver a defender each and every week to the best available fixture within the free agency market is one way to work within the VORP scores and because of this when you work your VORP ratings out, you will find that the majority of defenders and midfielders will be low down the rankings. The example here is you draft Patrick Van Annholt in the later rounds who only has a VORP rating of 4 but has Huddersfield at home in the opening gameweek. Come gameweek two you waiver the Palace man and try to replace him with a Leicester City defender who host Brighton. An important thing to note here is when using the waiver system, submit two for the same exiting player to protect yourself from a manager taking your first choice. In this example submit waivers to remove van Annholt to replace him with Christian Fuchs (first choice) and Danny Simpson (second choice). If you get Fuchs then great, if you end up with Simpson it’s no great lost. In the end of the day in the majority of weekends, most defenders from the same club will score roughly the same number of points because of the scoring system i.e everyone gets points for a clean sheet.

Ok, so the logic is there to implement VORP within a watchlist but what use is it basing player’s potential this season on the points they scored last? Not a lot so managers will have to enter in projections for players. These projections allow a manager to have his input into the system. His scouting for a better word. It allows you to remove players from your watchlist for example Alexis Sanchez might be too much of a risk for a high draft placing. Reducing his projection will drop the Arsenal man drown your watchlist. Equally, if there’s a player you truly believe will turn in an improved season then your projection will be representational in your rankings.

Trust me, it does sound like a lot of work and a spreadsheet is required but for those few extra hours you will have a watchlist that you can honestly say has every player in the right order according to your thinking with your thinking consistently applied to every player.

Having this trustworthy watchlist will be your ultimate weapon and allow you to adapt more fluidly depending what the draft is throwing up. For example you are in the second round of a 8 manager draft and your watchlist has a midfielder as the next best available player. However, you’ve noticed that there is also another five midfielders within the next 10 players within your rankings but there’s only 1 forward within the same 10 players. However, there is a group of forwards a further 20 places down your watchlist. Rather than selecting the best player available according to your watchlist (the midfielder), you select the forward because the next best available forward after that player is significantly worse. You also know you can go back and select a midfielder in the next round because of the grouping of midfielders in your rankings. Supply and demand stipulated you had to honour the dwindling forwards’ market even though the midfielder had a slightly higher VORP rating.

Below you will find a link to our VORP projects for drafts ranging from 5 managers to 12. These have been calculated based on our rough projections and are there as a guide for any managers wishing to adopt this tactic.

VORP Rankings

Community Drafts

Community member DavidLuizIsAHero has so kindly taken up the mantle in trying to run some community draft games. Check out this hot topic for more information about the available placings and time slots.

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Statistics are only as good as the man who manipulated them so the question is do you trust Tommy?