Drafting your first squad

DH
By Drafthound Team 1st September 2020
5 min read

Part 2 of 3 of our pre-season guide. If you followed our “How the top 1% prepare during the pre-season”, you should now have a pretty good basis for drafting your first squad and deciding on an overall team strategy.





Introduction


Welcome to part 2 of 3 of our pre-season guide. If you followed our “How the top 1% prepare during the pre-season”, you should now have a pretty good basis for drafting your first squad and deciding on an overall team strategy.


Your first team of the season (incl. upcoming planned transfers) should be able to take you safely through the first 4-6 GW’s where everyone is trying to get an overview of how the season might progress. The top 1% managers do this by looking at ‘Budget Distribution’, ‘Team Structure’, ‘Goalkeeper’- and ‘Bench Strategy’.





Budget distribution


Budget distribution is key to assembling a competitive squad. As no one really knows how the season pans out, the key here is flexibility. Top managers will ensure that they can easily transfer in trending players - preferably just before their double digit hauls. To do this, they are likely to “sketch” their team on player prices giving room for premiums in all chains (other than GK).


Example distribution:


GK: 4.5 | 4.5 (total: 9.0)
DEF: 7.0 | 4.5 | 4.5 | 4.5 | 4.0 (total: 24.5)
MID: 12.0 | 12.0 | 9.0 | 5.5 | 5.0 (total: 44.0)
FWD: 10.5 | 6.0 | 6.0 (total: 22.5)

Remember that player prices are the most volatile in the early GW’s and the budget gained or lost in this period can be a decisive factor later on in the season. Remember that all player prices are rounded numbers before GW1 which means that a drop of 0.1m is effectively a drop of 0.5m because you’ll have to drop down in price tier to replace a player if needed.


In order to reduce the potential impact that this could have on your team, top players will note down the price point of all players in their watchlist and locate the player just below them in price meaning within a 0.5m price range - if you then find yourself having to transfer a player out it’s easy to downgrade with a single transfer whereas upgrading will require two transfers (and usually a hit) unless you have funds saved already.


Team structure


If you have followed the above guidelines, you should now have a list of potential players and players within the same price range (0.5m). What you will find is that some players will give you all the options in the world whereas others will do the exact opposite.


Example: Ziyech (8.5) might be on your watchlist but then you see that the most obvious surrounding ‘price-players’ are Mahrez (8.5) and Pepe (8.0) who you may feel are overpriced and might not even meet the listed criteria (do they even start regularly?). Therefore, you decide that you will plan to buy Ziyech later in the season but leave him out of your initial squad. In comparison, Aubameyang price point (12.0) would allow you to bring in 5-6 other similar players in case he needs to be transferred out.

When you have located the price ranges, you then begin to tinker with your team until you find a combination that makes the best use of your budget. As mentioned under “budget distribution”, the goal is to own premiums in each position chain to be able to cover premium bandwagons if they explode into form early on in the season and also to ensure you have the needed flexibility to avoid hits.


Setting your bench


The most important criteria for a bench player is that they actually start for their club in order to cover properly for your starting XI in case of unexpected injuries or simply Pep’s rotation.


Ideally, you should fill out the bench with the minimum possible price for each position (please see "How the top 1% prepare during the pre-season” on “enablers”).There is no logic in allocating budget towards a ‘strong’ bench at this point in the season where rotation is at its lowest so use your funds wisely and spend it on a premium nailed starter. And don’t even think of an early BB.


As a rule of thumb, the 1st sub should give you a safe 2 points. The 2nd sub should do the same but it’s hardly relevant if you’ve planned your team properly. The 3rd sub should only come into play during BGW and their main role is to not fall in value and lose you budget. Then later on in the season, you can beef up the bench to deal with the fixture congestion.


Goalkeeper strategy


The two most common GK strategies are either two rotating GKs based on complimentary fixtures or a premium set-and-forget GK (combined with the lowest possible alternative).


Most top managers will look for low-price valuable rotation goalkeepers (usually 0.5-1.0 cheaper than the premium set-and-forget alternative) to free up budget for other premiums and in this instance promoted GK’s are okay.


Be aware that the change in GK’s value is very slow compared with outfield players.


Choosing your captain


Most top managers will plan to captain a player over several GW’s to let the variance work in their favor - and take into account premium players’ popularity to possibly hedge the risk of falling behind. Also, one of the more successful strategies to use when captaining is looking at bookmaker predictions - e.g. anytime goalscorer (assuming you’re looking for attacking power when hoping for a double-digit captain haul) and possibly combined with clean sheet odds when considering TAA...


Either way, we got you back covered with both “popularity” tags, bookmaker probability and our star-ratings predicting the probability of making the most FPL points for the round based on all historical game stats.





Summary


Plan well, proceed logically and gamble smart. In our next article, we take a look at how you should approach the first couple of GW’s.

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