So, it came up on twitter that tips on how to draft would be appreciated and perhaps of interest to people. I’ve been doing drafts for a long time, cause I am old and started young, so I’m sharing what I know in the hopes it is helpful!
Warning: I am doing this fast and so it may ramble even more than my average post, if such a thing is possible.
First the idea is to get the best overall team, which does not always mean the highest scoring player left on your turn. It often does, but the single most important thing in a draft is rarity. The next most important and very related thing is the gap between the next player you can take at each position, and the the players left below them. Less so for positions you have already filled, although even that can matter because if matter to other players
If there are 18 teams drafting and each team needs a ruck, obviously a total of 18 rucks is needed. But say there are only 4 good rucks, 3 decent rucks, and it just gets worse from there. That means 11 players are going to be stuck with not decent rucks. (Rucks are the most rare position in both my made up player pool, and the real life player pool.)
Here are some made up ruck averages for a made up set of 18 rucks
Notice how big a difference there is between top and bottom? If you get one of the best rucks, you are starting out with a big edge.
Now lets looks at some made up defenders. We need 54, so I am going to group them for ease of reading.
1 x 110
3 x 105
4 x 100
8 x 95
8 x 90
8 x 85
8 x 80
10 x 75
4 x 70
The person who gets the 18th worst defender is 20 points behind the person who gets the best one. The person who gets the 10th best defender is 15 points behind the guy who got the top one. For the rucks the 18th ruck is 70 points off, and the 10th is 55 points worse off. If I had the choice between taking the 110 defender and the 100 ruck, I would go for the ruck.
If you pick too late to get one of the top rucks in this example, then the gap between who you get if you took a ruck next and the spots below is less. That’s when it is time to look at the gaps in the other positions. You want to take the player who will give you the most points when combined with the players you will get in the later rounds. If there are three forward left who are a good ways above the rest of the forwards poo, then take one of those. If you do not yet have a captain then definitely take one of those.
Oh, since your captain is worth double points, don’t forget to factor than in when calculating gaps. A ruck captain is super valuable, which is why Grundy and Gawn should be very top pick in every draft. Danger is also way valuable for being better than any other forward and a captain option.
Back to who to take, another part of maximizing the gaps is, when there are a bunch of players left with the same value in the same position, to take one of those players as late as possible. If, for example, someone drafts the first 70 point ruck in Round 8 and you draft the other 70 point ruck in round 10, you are ahead. If there are only 60 point rucks left you might as well wait until your last pick to take the last one. BUT if you try that, some bloke will end up taking him as a backup, in which case you could end up with a ruck even lower than 60. If at the end of the daft there are a pile of cheap players available as backups or 3rd starters at some positions, take players from the other positions, so you do not get left out. You want to wait as long as you can, but some managers really like backups. Also, some managers will take a guy they cannot start at the beginning of the season, and actually need more than the minimum at each position. If someone takes Mumford, who do they play until he is available? Now there is a need for 19 rucks, and if you plan on getting # 18, well, you might not.
In theory if we knew the averages of all the players, we could calculate a perfect draft order. Of course we do not and there are also wrinkles like injury and suspension to take into account.
I mentioned Mumford. At some point he is better than a worse ruck who plays every match. Andrew Gaff will go lower than he would if available R1, but how much lower? Buddy, who knows when he gets back, but still, valuable. Often you can grab an injured gun and use a backup for a while. When do you take breakout players? Jack Steele might go close to what someone thinks he will score, but he may also go after that. Such things are where the drafting gets interesting.and not mechanical When you get to backups, you can grab much longer shots if they have some job security. While not my most important pick, the picks I felt best at in my own draft were Tom Liberatore at pick 76 and Dan Houston at pick 220, because for when I got them, they had good value.
It is also possible to take say more players than you need all who are meh at the same position, and then play them based on the matchups each week. Cna be a way to deal with getting locked out of a position. Or just to handle the last spot in a position.
There is also some psychology in drafting. There are these things called “Runs” where people all start taking the best player left in a position in a row. Expect to see that with rucks. It can happen to any position if there is a drop off ahead. If there are 6 good defenders left, and there are 8 people drafting before you, it can happen that all 6 will go before it is your go. That is very annoying, and also hard because you have to adjust with little time.
If you know who every other drafter barracks for, that can help. People often default to a player from their team when stuck.
So, draft prep.
If you can prep it helps a lot. List who you like so if an auto pick happens you are not screwed. Do not end up with Tom Mitchel as your first pick.
Know who all the rucks are. Know who the top number of players needed in a position x the number of managers in your draft are for the other positions. For sure know who you would take for the first 5 round. Seriously, five rounds. Know when you are willing to give up on getting a good ruck and settle for a not good one, and then know when you will want to pump back in to get a decent one instead of a bad one.
If you have a pick near either end of the draft, pay very close attention to the teams who are closer to the end then you, so you know who it is safe to leave and who it is not when you have two players you want about the same. If for example, you are #3, and #1 and #2 took Gawn and Grundy, on round 2 if you want a ruck and another player, you can safely take the other player since #1 and #2 are not going to take a second ruck with their second pick. Well, unless they are the kind of hoser who would do that and then try to trade him. That is a very risky plan though, and more likely to backfire than just taking the best available players.
And, you can take players with the intent to trade, if you are that sort of hoser and you are sure you can get away with it. I feel it is a bad risk, but that’s just me.
Finally, remember the words of Douglas Adams. “Don’t Panic.” Stay calm, think, and don’t freak out when your plans are totally ruined by the three guys picking ahead of you, which is going to happen.
Okay, I hope that was helpful. I extra encourage people to add advice in the comments!
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