Fantasy Soccer 101: How to Play FPL Draft
Fantasy Soccer 101: How to Play FPL Draft

This article is part of our Fantasy Soccer 101 series.

It's best to know the basics of Fantasy Premier League before diving into Draft because otherwise, you'll be kind of lost when putting your team together.

How does it work?

Draft is the fantasy NFL version of FPL. Instead of building a roster around a budget, you're competing against a set number of people and no one can have the same players. Leagues can be anywhere from two to 16 teams, with eight being the ideal number. Two teams would lead to really good rosters and 16 teams would lead to players you've never heard of on your roster. You can start a league of friends or join a public one and make new friends.

Once you get the league and draft date set, the order is randomized. It goes in snake order for 15 rounds, so if you have the first pick in the first round, you'll have to wait for the last pick in the second. Or if you have the last pick in the first round, you'll have the first pick in the second round (back-to-back). Some will argue that having a certain pick is better than others since you'll get first dibs at the best players, but if you know the right players to pick, draft order doesn't decide everything, though that may change with bigger leagues.

What's different?

  • No captains
  • Unlimited transfers
  • Waivers/Trades

Rosters are composed the same way as traditional FPL: each team consists of 15 players, with the only difference being no captains. Otherwise, scoring and roster construction are the same. The major difference is how you run the team. Instead of the one transfer per week limit, you can make as many transfers as you want, as long as it's 24 hours before the gameweek deadline, you can transfer in any free agent. If a player was recently added to the league or dropped by another manager, he will enter waivers, which is a little different. Before each gameweek, waivers are run with the last-place team having the best shot of acquiring a player. For example, if you drop Mohamed Salah before Gameweek 10, he will go through waivers ahead of Gameweek 11. The team in last place at that time will have first dibs at Salah, but there's always the chance they don't see him or don't want him, so the next manager gets him, as long as they put in a waiver. It sounds complicated, but it's easy to get the hang of.

Trades are also possible in FPL Draft, though only if the league administrator allows them. If so, leagues can either allow all trades made or go through an approval process. That involves either the administrator allowing the trade or having a manager vote within the league. Manager approval is probably the best route in eight-plus team leagues because it allows everyone to have a say. If all trades were allowed, that's when problems begin. The only major rule for trading is that you have to trade position for position. If you need a full write up, FPL went over trades when they introduced them last season.

Draft strategy

Now that you know how FPL Draft works, you should be ready to take down your friends. Just remember, knowing the rules is nice, but strategy is the most important thing.

Draft strategy is vastly different than the traditional game: you don't have to work within a budget so you can either focus on one position or build a more balanced roster. It depends on what you want to do and who everyone else is drafting. However, you shouldn't go too off the rails in the first round. There are roughly eight players who you can trust in the first round and it doesn't matter what strategy you're using. If you have one of the first few picks, you're going with last year's top options like Salah and Sadio Mane or one of the Manchester City attackers. If you have a pick later in the first round, your best bet is to go with a top forward like Harry Kane or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The first bit of strategy comes in the second round. You can either get a monopoly on two top forwards or go with a more balanced lineup and pick someone like Christian Eriksen over Jamie Vardy. Those players are equal in terms of overall scoring, but in terms of your lineup, it's about what you want to do.

Midfielder is the deepest position and forward is the slimmest. If you wait to get a forward, you'll likely struggle to get consistent points from the position. Last season, eight forwards finished with more than 140 fantasy points, while 16 midfielders surpassed that mark. If you miss on that upper echelon, you might as well wait longer for your forwards because their production levels off after the top eight.

It's the same idea at defender because if you miss out on the Liverpool and Man City guys, it may be best to wait, with scoring so reliant upon clean sheets. Those two clubs will likely finish near the top of the clean-sheet charts again, whereas every other club is more of a mystery. Chelsea had the third-most clean sheets last campaign, but with a new manager, a repeat may not happen. Goalkeeper is similar to defender since it's based on clean sheets, but the question is when to draft one. Someone will undoubtedly stretch for Alisson Becker, and that may not be a bad idea given that he and Ederson are the only reliable options. If you wait at goalkeeper, there's a chance you'll be at a 50-point disadvantage from the start. Alisson had 56 more fantasy points than all but seven other goalkeepers. However, in eight-team leagues, there's little reason to take someone other than Alisson or Ederson early. Unlike the other positions, midfielder has a gradual regression in terms of scoring outside of the top few; if you miss out on the upper echelon of midfielders, there are still plenty of other options to consider.

So what does any of that mean? If you can't get one of the top midfielders (Salah, Raheem Sterling, Mane), I'd go after the top forwards and then Liverpool defenders. If you still don't have a midfielder after the fourth round, that's fine because there should be plenty of viable options available like James Maddison and Wilfried Zaha or further down, Miguel Almiron and Andros Townsend.  

This is my strategy, so if you want to do something else, go for it. That's what FPL Draft allows you to do, and if you don't like your team after the draft, trade everyone away.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adam Zdroik
Adam writes on sports ranging from NFL and MLB to soccer and college basketball. Outside of writing, he has worked with a professional soccer team, Sporting Kansas City, and in the stats department at ESPN. He is a former Streak for the Cash winner and Michigan State graduate. 2018 and 2017 Finalist for FSWA Soccer Writer of the Year.
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