BY NOW you should have a strategy in mind that you will be taking to your first keeper league draft.

Whilst you want the draft to be a fun and enjoyable experience, there can be a lot of pressure when it comes to picking up players and your mind will start to race as the draft unfolds.

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Keeping some of the following considerations in mind when drafting will help you make better decisions when it comes to the big night, allowing you to pick a strong keeper league team.

Captain option

If you’re playing in a league that has captains on, it’s important to get this one right. Your first pick in the draft should be someone you feel comfortable putting the 'C' on every week for the next few years. If you want to look longer term, Clayton Oliver is the standout option as he’s only 23, rarely misses a game and puts up fantastic scores every week. However, I wouldn’t recommend trying to look more than three years into the future as a lot can change between now and then.

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Players like Brodie Grundy, Lachie Neale, and Jake Lloyd might be entering their late-20s, but they should continue their scoring for the next few years, so feel confident picking them if you want them. However, you might want to avoid going after older superstars like Max Gawn, Steele Sidebottom or Patrick Dangerfield as they will finish their careers sooner than the players listed earlier and may decrease their fantasy output between now and then. Depending on your position in the draft, keep in mind that you may not have a choice.

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Rucks

There are two clear standout rucks worth drafting early in keeper leagues – Brodie Grundy and Reilly O’Brien. You could throw Max Gawn into the mix, but he does turn 30 at the end of the year. However, he should continue his fantasy form for the next few years regardless.

After these three there is a major drop in class so if you don’t get one of them, I would advise waiting a while before picking up your ruck. As most leagues contain around 10 teams and play only play one ruck on field per side, you should be able to find one of top ten rucks in the later stages of the draft.

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If you time it correctly, you could get a young ruck like Sam Draper or Tom De Koning who have loads of potential going forward. However, be sure of 'handcuffing' them if you do take one of these developing rucks. The term 'handcuffing' means picking other rucks who play for the same club as your first ruck who will likely step in if they are dropped, injured or suspended. An example would be picking up Andrew Phillips late if you draft Draper earlier on.

Prioritise forwards and backs

Some may disagree with this, but it's important to ensure you draft some decent forwards and backs early in the draft.

Players in these positions seem to fall away a lot quicker than your midfielders do and you could get caught out if you don't capitalise on them early. It might be tempting to load up on 100+ averaging midfielders with your first few picks, but you’ll probably find yourself scraping the bottom of the barrel finding forwards and backs later in the draft.

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Think about spending a couple of your early picks trying to secure players like Jack Crisp, Rory Laird or Josh Dunkley to ensure you have a gun player in these positions for a few years to come. Some younger guns you’ll also want to consider are Callum Mills, Brayden Maynard, and Jordan Ridley.

You will also find that there will be better midfield scorers later in the draft when compared to backs and forwards. So if you do capitalize on backs and forwards early, you can still pick up midfielders that average in the 90-100 range later.

Position changes

They’re a fact of life and they happen every year whether you like it or not. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be thinking about potential future position changes when drafting your team.

Whilst a player might look like good value in your draft, they might be worth a lot less in the following years if they lose forward or defender status.

A player like Jye Caldwell looks like a great option this year with forward status, but he also looks likely to play in Essendon’s midfield going forward. If he spends the entire year in the middle, he’ll obviously lose his forward status. If you don’t think he can become an elite fantasy midfielder, it might be better to hold off picking him or trying to get him later in the draft.

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