The 12 Things Guaranteed to Happen on EPL Draft Day
It’s the best day on the football calendar. The day you’ve been waiting forever since you got knocked out of the playoffs thanks to a 25-point haul from Erik Pieters (just me?). The preparation has been precise. You’ve listened to every episode of The Kickaround Pod, read every Team Preview from the FF Chaps, and bookmarked all the insights from The Genie. This is going to be your year. Yes, it’s draft day!
Unfortunately, 11 other people in your league are doing and saying the exact same thing. What you need now is an edge. Everyone knows that Diogo Jota should be avoided early, or that Brandon Williams could have a breakout year. Where will the extra 1% come from that will nudge you ahead of your competition on D-Day and set you up for a season of glory? I’ll tell you. It’s from knowing exactly what to expect on the big day. Let the others get taken by surprise. If you know what can and will happen, you will stay in the zone. There’ll be no panicking and drafting Mbwana Samatta for you. Here are the 12 things guaranteed to happen on Draft Day.
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The 12 Things Guaranteed to Happen on Draft Day
Read below for the ultimate guide to things that are guaranteed to happen on Draft Day!
#1. Someone will turn up late
“The draft is set to start at 1pm”. How hard is that to understand?? It took you three weeks and six Doodle polls to sort this, but you finally found a day and time that everyone could do. And yet at 13:05 Matt still isn’t here. A callous commissioner may choose to start anyway (a valid decision), but in your league friendships are valued (for now at least), and so you give him the benefit of the doubt and wait. To be fair, he did text the group 10 minutes ago saying that he was just waiting on his girlfriend to drive him to the pub and should be there any second*, so it shouldn’t be too much of an inconvenience. Still, it’s a matter of principle. You would never be late (granted, getting there at midday as soon as the pub opens may have been a little eager, but a few drinks have never hurt anyone’s draft…). This is going to happen. You can probably predict who it will be too. Don’t get annoyed. Relax. Maybe make a wager of it (“20 FAAB says he’ll walk in at 13:20”). Embrace and enjoy – there is plenty of time.
*You guys are doing your draft at the pub, right?
#2. You’ll have immediate regrets
Often with the draft it won’t be known who’s done a good or bad job until months down the line (that won’t stop some from imparting their expert feedback though, as we will come to later). But there will probably be at least one pick where – as soon as you click “confirm” – you immediately regret your decision. It’s a mysterious phenomenon. The “why” moment that you can’t put your finger on, like when Liverpool signed Steven Caulker on loan. It wasn’t even a panic pick, it just…happened. It’s an out-of-body experience that you can’t quite explain. Again though, do not worry. Even the greats make mistakes in the pressure chamber of the draft room. The key is to make as few as possible and preferably in the less important, later rounds.
#3. The person before you will steal your player
It’s the 3rd round and you have the 34th pick. Currently, it’s on the 29th. You’ve gone FWD-FWD in the first two rounds (you had to really; Rashford and Kane were too enticing to pass on), so you need a MID now. Pogba is somehow still there, as is Saint-Max and the City duo of Bilva and Foden. Any of those will do nicely, and with only 5 people picking before you, you start debating which one you hope you’re left with. Ben takes Pogba. That’s him gone. It’s okay though – it was expected; he’s a United fan after all. Then Richard goes for…Chilwell?? Absolute shocking decision there (you make a mental note to mock this in a minute). Louis now chooses Foden. Damn; wasn’t expecting that. 32nd pick…Saint-Max’s name goes up on the draft board…this is getting tight now. Surely it’s not going to happen. Time seems to speed up – why is everyone picking so quickly?!? It’s on Matt…and yep, you guessed it. He’s taken Bilva. Not only does he have the cheek to turn up late to the draft, but now he’s stealing the one midfielder left that you actually wanted to take! Eurghhhh…what to do? JWP is an option, or Pepe. Neither are exciting. Anything else? Zaha? McNeil? Moutinho? They’re alright, but you’d definitely be reaching if you took any of them in the 3rd round. You start to question whether midfield is a necessity, which only confuses the matter as you now start browsing the defenders (Doherty perhaps?) and forwards (Richarlison could form a lethal front three…). The dreaded clock starts to countdown. You panic and, as if on auto-pilot, select the first big-name you see.
“You have picked Dele Alli”. Damn, this one hurts.
#4. You will steal a player from the person ahead of you
The unintentional steal is nice. It not only gives a stamp of approval to your selection, but it can also irritate one of your challengers, hopefully rattling them enough to force a mistake (see above). The deliberate steal, however, is a thing of beauty. When done right, it’s as pleasing on the eye as a Wenger-era Arsenal side. To pull it off you need to know the person ahead of you. Matt, for instance, is a big Fulham fan, and he actually messaged the group with a friendly rant earlier when someone took Mitrovic in the 5th round. He also needs a midfielder, and during the restart last season he kept raving about this new guy…who was it? Kebano? Yeah, that was it. It’s the 14th round now and Kebano is still there. It’s an unnecessary pick in all honesty, but you’re happy with your squad as it is, and this will get Matt back for stealing that midfielder off you in the 3rd round. If, by a miracle, this guy with an ADP of 276 does well then great (you may even be able to trade him to Matt for someone of greater value!), and if not, at least you’ve mildly annoyed a friend. It’s win-win.
#5. Someone will complain that they didn’t mean to pick X/Y/Z
There’s always one isn’t there. For the sake of this blurb, let’s call him…I don’t know…Louis. Louis is the person who drafts Tammy Abraham in the 2nd round, then after seeing 26 messages of derision and laughter in the group, tries to claim that it wasn’t them that did it – the app must have frozen or something. Kyle Walker in the 4th round? Yeah, that glitch is really messing things up for you isn’t it? Funny how it’s only happening on Louis’ picks and nobody else’s though. And funny how the complaint only comes after the group chat goes off like a Jimmy Carr stand-up show. Fortunately, the Commissioner can see through the fake protest from Louis and deals with it appropriately: ignore and continue.
Side note: if you are not sure who the Louis in your league is, then it’s probably you. Try signing up for a mock draft (contact these guys on Twitter to find one) and get some practice clicking on those tricky buttons before the big day.
#6. Your pick will get ridiculed
The severity of the ridicule can vary depending on your group. If your league is full of nice friends, your 3rd round selection of Jordan Henderson may get some gentle ribbing – the equivalent of the Craven Cottage faithful jeering a misplaced kick. But if your league is like mine, entering the group chat after picking Steven Bergwijn in the 4th round will be the equivalent of entering La Bombonera after the referee has given a penalty to River Plate. Thick skin is needed. The concerning part though – and this is what takes it different to number 2 on this list – is that you don’t understand why. There was no immediate regret; no delayed regret; no regret at all. Yet everyone else thinks your pick is the worst one since Ben drafted Eriksen in the 2nd round last season. There are three explanations here: 1) it’s an elaborate mind-game that everyone is in on, designed to rattle you because you are clearly the pre-season favorite, 2) None of them know what they’re talking about; the post-restart PP90 of Redmond and XG of Southampton warrant his 4th round selection, or 3) You. F***ed. Up.
#7. Amateur hour will begin
Also called “The Goalkeeper Run”. Look, nobody needs to draft a goalkeeper. It’s a scientific fact. The “best” goalkeepers in real life do not score the most points, the goalkeepers that score the most points changes each year, and the highest-scoring goalkeepers are almost impossible to predict. And yet, there’s always that one person, let’s call him Simon, who can’t resist selecting de Gea in the 8th round (it was the 5th round a few years back, so at least he’s learned a little). But then a strange domino effect occurs and Dave drafts Ederson. And Tom takes Alisson. And Abdi picks Pope. What on earth is going on?? It’s great news for you of course – Stuart Armstrong should definitely fall to you now. But it’s also a little embarrassing. The Twitter community can’t see a screenshot of this draft anymore. They’ll accuse you – and rightly so perhaps – of being in a farmer’s league. Admittedly the PSG of that league, but still.
#8. Auto-Draft will screw someone over
In a perfect world, nobody must use the Auto-Draft function on draft day. But, as 2020 may have shown us, we are not living in a perfect world. Draft season also happens to be wedding season, and holiday season, and cricket season, and a whole bunch of things that have led to Rich missing every single Draft Day since the beginning of time. The Auto-Draft function is actually a really smart little tool – you can set up an endless list (“queue”) of players and you have the option of filling active slots first or not. It’s better than nothing. In fact, it’s better than Rich doing it himself if we’re honest. But it’s not ideal, and it’s certainly not as good as what you would do yourself. When someone uses auto-draft, they almost always get screwed over at some point. A squad of 3 defenders, 3 midfielders, and 8 forwards. Yep, that’ll do it. Drafting a goalkeeper in the 11th round. Yep, that’ll do it. Drafting all three of Webster, Burn, and Lamptey. Yep, that’ll do it too. It’s a tricky one to navigate, and it can certainly be done in a way that won’t end your title chances before the season has even begun, but it’s better to avoid at all costs if possible.
#9. Something unexpected will distract you
Draft day can be a long process, which on the one hand, is great because as mentioned at the top of this article, it’s the best day on the fantasy football calendar. The downside to this is that the longer it takes, the more chance there is for there to be an unexpected distraction. Some of these – like your partner asking for an opinion on something or your child requiring help with school work – can be easily ignored. Others – like running out of beer or the arrival of that pizza you ordered two hours ago – require urgent action. The key here is to embrace quick and end quick. Don’t dilly dally. Like Emile Heskey running through on goal, hesitancy is your enemy. Be clinical and deal with it now.
Side note: whilst there will always be something unexpected that arises to distract you, try to plan ahead and forecast possible obstacles. Grab an 8-pack of beer instead of a 6-pack (even if it means the later ones end up slightly warmer, you won’t notice it at that point anyway). Make sure you only order takeaway from places that take card (cash will slow you down). And maybe set the morning aside to help the little one with the homework (or better yet, hire a tutor for a few hours – they will do a better job anyway). Don’t let distractions destroy your draft.
#10. There will the scent of collusion
The first half a dozen rounds on draft day tend to be every man for themselves, but once you get into the Lo Celso rounds, the draft waters have a habit of getting murky. It might be mischievousness from the joker of the group that ignites it; or the seeking of vengeance from the guy who still holds a grudge after trading Emiliano Buendia for Moise Kean last season; or simply a bit of boredom from the Taco of the group. Either way, you need to stay Alert (legitimately, not in the UK-government-failing-to-control-COVID kind of way). It might not be noticeable at first; after all, you have a lot on your plate – it’s hard to act as detective and execute a great draft. But if nobody is attentive to this sort of thing, the perpetrators will get away with it. Keep an eye on the one who drafts Greenwood in the 4th round, despite already having 3 forwards…doesn’t the United fan in 6 picks time need a forward? It could be a case of stealing (see number 4 on this list), but he’s usually such a nice guy and you don’t normally steal until the less important rounds. If they make a trade once the draft is over, your suspicions really should heighten. A quiet word with the Commissioner may be in order.
#11. An immediate post-draft catastrophe will occur
In an ideal world, you’d do the draft a few hours before the Premier League kicks off, allowing for maximum research preparation and minimum post-draft upheaval. Unfortunately, Mike lives in Australia, Tom’s holidaying in America (fair play to him though, he’s got up at 6 am to do this), and Aaron works Saturday mornings. So the league ultimately voted for Draft Day to take place the Saturday before, which is great from a social perspective, but bad from a tactical perspective. Last season you somehow managed to nab Leroy Sane in the third round. Eight minutes into the Community Shield and he was done for the season. Two years ago you got mind-gamed into picking Tiemoue Bakayoko in the 8th round. A week later he was strutting his stuff on loan in the San Siro. And three seasons ago your selection of Kieran Tripper looked to be a gem. Then Spurs signed Aurier on deadline day and the eventual game-time of your second-rounder was cut in half. Sometimes the post-draft catastrophe is just bad luck (drafting Grealish before he gets injured on England duty on September 5 after waiting for an inexplicably long-time to make his international debut). Sometimes the post-draft catastrophe is kinda your own fault (drafting Lacazette before he signs for the Old Lady). At least if it’s the former you can play the sympathy card in the group chat.
#12. A post-draft review will take place
The group chat may have been going off like one of Balotelli’s homemade fireworks display during the draft, but that was all ridicule, mind-games, and Matt saying how much longer it’ll be until he gets there. Now it’s time for someone to step up with some careful reflection, balanced analysis, and thoughtful insights. Or in other words: why 11 teams suck and one team is certain to win it all. Even though you know it’s a load of bias bulls**t, you still look forward to it and read every word. The criticism of Abdi’s team seems fair. And the mocking of Louis’. But saying you reached a bit when taking Antonio in the third?? And that you made a mistake grabbing Soucek over Moura in the 6th?? This guy knows nothing!! Still, it was an entertaining read, and it’s kept the group talking well into the early hours of Sunday morning. Might be time to call it a night now though. Don’t want to make any silly trade decisions after what was definitely a successful Draft Day.
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