AFL FANTASY Draft is the fastest growing format of the game and there is a good reason for that – it's ridiculously fun!
A draft takes place at a time agreed upon by your league and you alternate picks until everyone finishes with a unique team. Hopefully yours is good enough to take you to premiership glory – with the help of a few sneaky trades and hidden gems off the waiver wire, of course.
Here's how to draft a competitive team in five basic steps…
Going into your draft with no preparation is like flying for a hanger and forgetting to put your hands up. You feel on top of the world to begin with, but when the heat is on and you autopick an injured player, the result is the same... a massive falcon, much to the delight of your mates.
Now don't get me wrong, your preparation doesn't have to take over your life, but doing a few simple things will help you have a successful draft. Start by downloading The Traders' Draft Kit and printing it off as a hard copy resource, pre-set your draft rankings to ensure you don't miss the players you think are set for a big year and 'favourite' some players that you think may slide down the draft order, just to ensure you have easy access to these names under the pressure of the ticking timer.
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Keep your ear to the ground
Follow all the news from The Traders, reports on AFL.com.au, listen to coach and player interviews... heck, even some players' relationship status can correlate with Fantasy output. Basically, hunt down any info that will indicate a player's likey rise or fall compared to what they produced last year.
Hopefully by doing this, it will place you in a position to draft players in their rightful place. Listening and looking for key phrases like role change, more midfield time, sole ruck, uninterrupted pre-season and 'set for a breakout' is also worth your time.
Play it cool
Although you may have identified a player who you think is set to break out, be sure to keep a level head and place them in the appropriate tier based on your projected average. This simple step will ensure you don't blow an early pick on a player that would still be available in the next round. By all means, beat your mates to player X's selection, but only when the time is right.
Your early picks should be played with a straight bat and a focus on proven output, consolidated role, elite scoring in their position and durability. You don't win drafts in the first couple of rounds, but you can lose them.
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Going in with a plan is a good idea, but a good drafter has their finger on the pulse enough to read the draft and act accordingly. A prime example of a scenario that causes panic is when a 'ruck run' occurs. Even if you wanted to lock in a big man early, if the premiums are off the table you need to look for opportunity to attack elsewhere because realistically you can throw a blanket over most of the ruckmen outside the top five, and serviceable replacements will be available for selection much later. Crisis creates opportunity, remember this when your plans take a detour.
Don't snooze after the draft is complete
Hopefully you have nailed a ripping initial squad, but even if that's not the case, the season is long with lots of up and downs for everyone. Stay active at the trade table, make offers, listen to offers, make counter-offers, all while keeping a close eye on the waiver wire, especially early on when it becomes apparent that there are a number of hidden stars left sitting there without a good home. Pounce on them as they can win you the flag. A prime example of a waiver wire hero in our league last year was Hawk Ricky Henderson.
Whether you have played Draft before or you are a first-timer, be the person to set up a league and get your friends involved. If you have trouble filling it up, there are always people in the Fantasy community on Twitter and Facebook looking to join leagues so you shouldn't have any trouble. Enjoy!