WHEN conducting your initial keeper league draft, it pays to have a strategy in mind. Your chosen strategy dictates the types of players you will target and the appropriate time in your draft to take them. There are three main strategies that you can choose from which I’ll highlight below.

Immediate success

If you are using the immediate success strategy you will draft as if you were playing in a single season draft league with the objective being to put the best possible scoring fantasy team for the year together. This may sound crazy for a keeper league, but people often forget that someone has to win in the first year.

STARTING A KEEPER LEAGUE? Important settings to consider

There are people in keeper leagues out there who drafted for the future and still haven’t won a flag after 10 years. So why not get the monkey off the back early and take home the first premiership? Using the immediate success strategy will also mean that older players who are still good scorers will slide, offering some great value later in drafts.

Tip: Look to capitalise on value when using this strategy. Max Gawn might be available later in the first round due to the fact he turns 30 this year. Also, take players like Pendlebury, Goldstein and Houli later than they would usually go in a normal draft league; they will likely slide as some coaches will avoid these types all together. This strategy is all about maximising scoring potential in the first year, and older players like this will help you bring home your league’s first flag. Try not to think much further than that.

Balanced team

The balanced team approach means drafting players that are in the established stages of their careers but have lots of good footy ahead of them. In this strategy you will generally look to pick players between the ages of 23 and 27 who are currently showing good fantasy form. This means that early on in drafts you’ll be going for players like Clayton Oliver, Zach Merrett and Tim Taranto over older players such as Max Gawn, Taylor Adams and Steele Sidebottom.

GET THE FANTASY APP Download from the Apple Store or Google Play now

The balanced team approach is the most popular strategy, and it can set you up to be competitive for years to come. But keep in mind that players drafting for immediate success will have the edge over you for the first two or three seasons.

Tip: This will be the most popular strategy, so keep in mind that you probably won’t be able to get all the players you’re targeting into your team. Once you have built a core of at least two decent backs, forwards, midfielders and a ruck, start filling out your team with some older players to be competitive in the first few seasons, and then some young guns for long term success.

Subscribe to The Keeper League Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play or Spotify.

Young guns

This strategy is used by some, but it’s fraught with danger and I’ll explain why. Whilst the young players at the top of the tree are clear (Matt Rowell and Sam Walsh for example), you will be relying on a crystal ball to tell which players will be the fantasy guns in future.

DRAFT RANKINGS Check out Warnie's lists

Let’s also assume there’s another coach in your league employing this strategy which makes the chance of you getting both the standouts (Rowell and Walsh) into your team very unlikely. You may be able to take players like Bailey Smith or Caleb Serong in the next few rounds, but you’ll find the standout fantasy scorers under the age of 23 will fall away quite quickly. That’s not to say that this strategy can’t be successful, but you will be waiting a long time for your team to be competitive.

Tip: If Rowell or Walsh go before your pick in the first round, consider pivoting and going with one of the other strategies above. If you do land one of those two, try to get the players that have shown potential in their first few season like James Worpel, Andrew Brayshaw and Bailey Smith. Also try to target players that were good underage fantasy scorers and have potential to breakout this season. Examples are Noah Anderson, Will Day, Lachlan Ash, Dylan Stephens and Hayden Young. Keep in mind there’s a chance some of these players may slide, so try not to go too early on them and pick some more consistent scorers in the meantime. 

Head to keeperleaguepod.com.au for more keeper league related AFL Fantasy resources.