First time drafter Gordon Sheach understandably made some rookie mistakes this season but he’s had so much fun he’s coming back for more in 2018/19. Here he has written some advice for FPL Draft Boss to help others avoid the pitfalls of his debut campaign
How to avoid a Draft Disaster
‘A smart person learns from their mistakes, a genius learns from the mistakes of others’
With that in mind, prepare to qualify for Mensa because I have had an unmitigated disaster of a debut season in FPL draft and have plenty of mistakes to share.
Despite my miserable season, I’ve never enjoyed a season of fantasy more. The draft game with head to head scoring throws up endless amounts of angst, seethe and (occasional) glory. Your successes are uniquely your own and the same goes for your failures.
(While I’m using the Official Fantasy Premier League site, I feel these lessons are universal)
In the same way as league winning teams are built in pre-season, the foundations of draft success are built well before the draft. Your season can be made or crippled before it even starts.
Lesson #1 – Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail (unless your plan is awful)
I agonised long and hard over my draft strategy. I tried to ‘out-smart’ the draft. My plan involved taking a ‘Moneyball’ approach by drafting players that would be unfancied by others and once they ‘came good’ my team would be ready to dominate every opponent.
It is safe to say this plan was flawed in many, many ways. I learned very quickly that you can’t afford to give the rest of the league a massive head start.
Bonus Tip: If you’ve come up with a brilliant strategy and within a couple of weeks it becomes clear it isn’t working, don’t be afraid to adapt. I waited until the end of the first round of fixtures to decide I needed to change my approach. By that point I had 1 win, 8 losses, was 9 points adrift and a full 18 points off the top. My title bid was over before it had started.
(That’s me at the bottom of the chart below as the rest of the league disappears over the horizon).
For the rest of my draft lessons, I’ll explain using players I drafted.
Remarkably, you need players to play for you to win matches. This earth-shattering piece of advice brings me to:
Lesson #2 – Don’t draft players in the middle of transfer sagas (Virgil van Dijk, Gylfi Sigurdsson). When you’re using head to head scoring, you need players getting you points every single week. It’s unlikely you can afford to carry several players in your squad for weeks who aren’t playing. Van Dijk was injured and Sigurdsson didn’t play until the window had shut.
Lesson #3 – Don’t draft players who are new to the league (Jairo Riedewald, Danilo). Remember when Frank de Boer was Crystal Palace manager? Me neither, but it happened. Drafting players new to the league is a gamble: they might not walk straight into the team (Danilo) or they might not settle (Riedewald).
Lesson #4 – Don’t draft players who have failed to impress in the EPL before (Dwight Gayle). But he scored 23 goals last season (in the Championship)? In his three seasons in the EPL before that he scored 15 goals total. Bad move.
Lesson #5 – Don’t lean too heavily on one team (Pickford, Keane, Sigurdsson). In the summer of 2017 I (along with many others) were convinced that Everton were about to take a huge step forward. Safe to say, it didn’t materialise and doubling up on their defence (one clean sheet in first 13 league games) wasn’t the best idea.
Leaning on a team can work of course. One of the guys who has been challenging for our title has done so on the back of the clean sheets of Courtois, Cahill and Azpilicueta. When it pays off he generally wins, although recently with Chelsea’s defence turning to swiss cheese he has started to falter letting title rivals catch up. High risk – high reward.
What if the worst happens and you find yourself towards the bottom of your league? Two words: waiver priority.
There are always players who come out of nowhere to have sensational seasons. I doubt Richarlison or Pope were drafted in many leagues this season for example. Keep a close eye on the waiver lists every week (including the free agent tips on FPLDraftBoss) and you should start to see your team pick up points.
Compare the team I drafted with the team five months of waiver priority have given me:
Not bad right? Despite this, it has still been a season long struggle to avoid finishing dead last. I might finally be about to climb off the bottom in the coming days/weeks, to my great relief. See my season long pursuit of 9th place below:
Despite all this, I’m already looking ahead to my strategy for next season’s draft! One year old and hopefully wiser!
Click to Follow @GSheach on Twitter!
To let the FPL community vote on your team decisions Follow @DraftAnswers