I’ve been an Everton fan for over 20 years. That’s twice as long as I’ve known my wife, and like any relationship that has spanned 3 decades we’ve been through a lot together. For better or worse, for richer and poorer, til death do us part.
A few seasons ago I became aware that somewhere along the line I’d picked up a peculiar habit. Whenever I watch my team play, either at Goodison Park itself or on the TV, I only ever refer to the players by their first names or by a nickname. Lukaku was “Rom”, Mirallas is “Kev”, Rooney is “Wayne” and our lineup normally contains “Bainsey”, “Morgs” and “Sig”. Despite never meeting these men in my life I’ve found myself on first name terms with the lot of them. Together we have shared the emotional ups and downs of Everton FC, them with their blood, sweat and tears on the pitch, me with my meat pie and bag of jelly babies in the stand or with a bowl of crisps and bottle of Budweiser on the sofa. We’ve never met but somehow we’ve become friends. And yes, I’m fully aware of how sad that sounds.
Maybe this is why I find the soulless chop and change nature of the traditional “salary cap” style FPL game so cold. Harry Kane got a tough fixture? Drop him for Aguero. You can always pick Kane up again next week.
Players are commodities, monetised possessions that can be cast aside at will and then brought back into the fold just a few days later without even a hint of an apology. After all Harry Kane was never truly committed to you anyway. Along with 2 million other people you merely bought a stake in his performance that week in a business transaction, and if market forces dictate that better value can be found elsewhere he is only ever a few clicks of a mouse away from being unceremoniously dumped by 2 Girls 1 Schlupp FC or whatever semi-hilarious team name you’ve come up with this year.
Draft fantasy football is different.
Every team in your mini league is unique. If Harry Kane is in your team then he is yours and yours alone for the next 10 months. When he doesn’t score in August the only manager moaning about it is you. When September comes and he bags a brace away from home the delight on his face is matched only by your own.
A commitment was made when you invested a first round draft pick in him and chose him above his peers. You didn’t want Aguero, Morata nor Lukaku, you wanted Kane. When he went 3 Gameweeks without a goal you went through that together and now he’s on fire again and banging them in for fun it means that bit more to you because of it.
But he’s not your friend.
Draft fantasy football is the same.
Because of the extra investment in your team it’s easy to get emotionally attached to your players. You might have spent hours preparing for your draft, researching newcomers to the Premier League and trying to get the edge when meticulously setting up your Watchlist all the way down to the 40th defender in Round 15. Through the excitement and stress of Draft Day any players you pick deserve to be given a chance to prove their worth over a few weeks at least, after all the most important aspect of Draft Fantasy Football is the players themselves, right?
Never lose sight of the Golden Rule of fantasy sports. ONLY POINTS WIN PRIZES. Forgetting this is the easiest mistake to make and also the most costly. Remember it doesn’t matter how good a player is, how much you like him as a footballer or as a man, it doesn’t matter if you took him with your first pick in the draft or if you have his poster on your wall. The only thing that matters is maximising your team’s points total from Gameweek 1 through to Gameweek 38.
Don’t let emotion cloud your judgement.
You need to be just as ruthless in the Draft format as you do in the standard game and in Draft Fantasy Football there is a lot less margin for error. If you release a player or trade him away and he then finds form there is a good chance you won’t ever be able to pick him up again. Think long and hard before you grant him a divorce, and make sure you split on amicable terms.
Kane may be the darling of your fantasy team now but if someone offered you a trade of Lukaku and Eriksen for Kane and Juan Mata you should accept it in a heartbeat. In the pursuit of points nobody is indispensable. If another manager in your mini league is desperate for the Spurs striker don’t be afraid to instigate a trade yourself whilst his trade value is peaking, as long as you make sure to end up on the winning side of the transaction overall.
The draft game is a lot more personal than the standard format and you do feel more of a connection with your squad but remember although Kane may be your favourite player, your fantasy team’s star centre forward and your highest points scorer every week, he ISN’T your friend. And don’t start calling him Harry.
What is Draft Fantasy Football?