Seven years of drafting, a “Draft We Must” league title, a “International Genie League” title and (most importantl) a Draft Community League Champions Cup title…it’s not often you get to brag about your Fantasy Football achievements so I’m grabbing this opportunity with both hands!
Why the (not so) humble brag? Well, my Togga/Fantrax experience has inadvertantly landed me with my biggest and toughest task of all…qualification to the Draft Community Gold League and (in partnership with the Fantasy Football Community) I am tasked with writing about my experience. This is unarguably the toughest league and Twitter so I could genuinely finish dead last…hopefully not eh?
I start by talking you through my draft experience and, true to expectation, this was easily the toughest draft I have ever been part of…
Round 1, pick 1 – Mo Salah (F)
“You’ve got to take risks to win a league like this…” is the line I fed to the majority of my new league mates when trying to trade for draft picks ahead of the draft. It’s a statement I fully stand by and will be abiding by throughout this season!
Scottie Scheffler’s hopeless final round at the Open led to me drafting from 10th this season, a position I absolutely hated and didn’t want to accept. Taking Gabriel Jesus or Bruno Fernandes as my marquee player just wasn’t going to cut it. Eventually, I agreed a deal with @fplHazardous which involved my 1st, 2nd and 9th picks being traded away for 1st pick overall, Haz’s 5th and 9th rounders.
Mo Salah was an easy choice for me as a Liverpool fan, plus I think he finishes 1st overall this season. Essentially I ended up trading away Bruno Fernandes, James Ward Prowse and Taiwo Awoniyi away for Salah, Harrison and Andreas Pereira. Worth it? Time will tell…
Round 3, pick 2 – Martin Odegaard (M)
This trade led to the forfeiting of my 2nd round pick which wasn’t a thrilling prospect. I then set about trying to buy a 2nd round pick elsewhere which proved to be incredibly tough!
In the end, @YesTheQB and I settled on a deal where I gained his 3rd and 9th picks for my 4th and 5th. Another big risk on paper but my own ranks led me to believe there’s a big drop off at round five so I didn’t mind giving that up.
I was so close to getting Dejan Kulusevski here which would’ve been great but I’d calculated for Martin Odegaard and was pleased that he came to me. The new captain of Arsenal is involved in most good things they do and it’s noticeable how often he’s getting into the box in preseason.
I’ll be looking to trade in a another decent midfielder but 7 goals and 10 assists for Odegaard will do me just fine.
Round 3, pick 10 – Philippe Coutinho (M)
After drafting Salah at the top, I was always intending to go FMM in my drafting strategy. Philippe Coutinho’s form dipped at the end of last season but I’m predicting good things from the little Brazilian this time round.
The best remaining mids were Leandro Trossard, Harvey Barnes and Bruno Guimaraes, all of which I rank far lower than Coutinho.
Round 5, pick 1 – Jack Harrison (M)
My fourth round pick was a fifth round pick which was essentially a fourth round pick. If that makes sense…
Two years ago, my research led me to drafting Jack Harrison in round eight, which many scoffed at at the time but turned out to be an absolute bargain. Last season was the polar opposite for him but I’m backing him to return in a big way this time around.
Raphinha’s departure leaves a huge creative void at Leeds, not least one in the form of a left footed set piece taker which Harrison will certainly take over. He’s looked sharp from what I’ve seen in pre-season and Jesse Marsch rates him really highly.
I have high hopes that I’ve got really good value for Harrison here.
Round 6, pick 3 – Ivan Perisic (M)
I’m a huge fan of Ivan Perisic and think he has all the attributes needed to be a top Fantrax asset…as long as he plays.
Perisic will probably share some time with Ryan Sessegnon at left wing back but the Croatian international and Conte favourite will be great when he plays. Thirteen goal contributions from wing back at Inter last season is very encouraging but he will fill up the stat sheet through key passes and shots on target. Round six is more than fair for him in my book!
Round 7, pick 10 – Patrick Bamford (F)
I’m not 100% happy with Patrick Bamford as my second forward following a disastrous 2021/22 but couldn’t turn him down at the end of round seven.
I know that by taking him here, I won’t feel obliged to hang on to him through any potential long term injury but feel like great value is to be had if he gets anywhere near his form of two years ago.
Leeds have a few nice fixtures to open with so some trade high value could be there. If he starts on hot form though I’m certainly looking at him as a potential season keeper.
Round 8, pick 3 – Leon Bailey (F)
Might as well go back to back on the injury prone forward front eh! This is potentially slightly early for Leon Bailey based on just a few pre season run outs BUT will be the biggest bargain of the draft IF he stays fit throughout and gets anywhere near his huge potential. Chelsea chased Bailey for several years for a reason, remember?
These are huge ifs and nuts but when I looked at the defenders left at this stage of the draft, I’d much rather take a chance on a player with huge upside. “You’ve got to take risks to win this league!”
Round 8, pick 12 – Andreas Pereira (M)
I don’t mind Andreas Pereira at the end of round eight as a fifth midfielder. He looks set to be a regular starter for Fulham while taking almost every set piece. He’s also just bleached his hair which is a good sign.
Fairly risk free with some good upside. If he turns out to be useless, it’s an easy, stress free drop with four other midfielders on board already.
Round 9, pick 2 – Adama Traore (F)
“You’ve got to take risks to win this league!”… I stand by it.
Adama Traore’s future is uncertain right now but if it’s in the Premier League I want a piece of it. Round nine is expensive if he continues to be a backup at Wolves but an absolute bargain if any other possibilities arise, including him becoming a semi-regular starter at the Molineux.
The strategy here was to keep going for the high upsiders unless a useful defender was here. I went for Traore, a decision I would regret in just a few picks time…
Round 10, pick 3 – Tyrell Malacia (D)
…when my good friend Ben Garside took Rasmus Kristensen right from under my nose! Having seen the new Leeds man go in round 13 of most drafts, I thought he’d stick around until round 10 at least. I was wrong.
Instead, I probably panicked and went for Tyrell Malacia. The new United man may be useful and will almost certainly be better than Luke Shaw but I’m still not completely thrilled with him here.
Round 11, pick 10 – Dan Burn (D)
I am, however, pleased with Dan Burn who I think is good value at 11. A few of my league mates tried some mind games in suggesting he loses his place at Newcastle with the arrival of Sven Botman but BDB is here to stay. He’s not a long term pick for me but I’m happy to run him out for now.
Round 12, pick 3 – Kevin Mbabu (D)
Here’s my high upside defender. DraftLad has him at over 11 ghost points per game last season in the Bundesliga and I want a bit of that, even if Fulham look like they’ll ship a fair few at the back.
Kevin Mbabu will be a player I stream in the favourable games (so not vs Liverpool on the first day) and the way he stormed down the wing two minutes into his debut in pre-season to set up Mitrovic re-affirms my decision to take him here.
Round 13, pick 10 – Cesar Azpilicueta (D)
With relations between Chelsea and Barcelona colder than a Tuesday night at the Britannia, it appears there’s every chance that Cesar Azpilicueta’s proposed switch to the Catalan giants falls through and a new short-term contract at Chelsea is agreed. If this transpires, getting Azpi in round 13 should prove to be an absolute bargain.
If not, there’s no risk at this stage in the draft and he’s an easy drop. It’s looking like he may even start Chelsea’s opener against Everton which would, in turn, lead me to start him in my opening matchup too!
Round 14, pick 3 – Ross Barkley (M)
Surely this is the year Ross Barkley leaves Chelsea in search of regular first team football…
At this stage of the draft, I’m always looking for those potentially on the move within the Premier League in the hope I could pick up an absolute bargain. Callum Hudson-Odoi and Nicolas Pepe were also on my list but I feel that Barkley is most likely to move on and if he does he can be a big part of a team’s attack from the attacking midfield spot. Fingers crossed…
Round 15, pick 10 – Jonny Evans (D)
Not much to say here…Jonny Evans plays late in Gameweek 1 and has a matchup that could be favourable. Next…
Round 16, pick 3 – Edouard Mendy (G)
Actually, it doesn’t get any more exciting! I often go without a Goalkeeper but feel that even streaming the GK spot in the toughest league in Fantrax could be a risk. I don’t want to be relying on a player like Robert Sanchez at the end of the weekend so I went with Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy. And that concludes the draft!
Overall, I came out of the draft fairly pleased. The defence is obviously looking decididly weak but I’m confident in my abilities to stream at this position week-by-week. Crucially, I also have my full 100 FAAB to play with which is rare for me, even at this stage in proceedings!
I’m confident that Mo Salah will be his normal prolific self and, contrary to how it may look, he has plenty of useful back up in Odegaard, Coutinho and Harrison. Bamford and Bailey could be great value while Traore is a potential league winner if he gets a move somewhere he starts regularly.
My first matchup is a tough on (they all are!) against a wily old competitor in @andrew6569 but I’m confident that a good stream or two will help me to get the job done…