AFL Fantasy Elite – Draft v Salary Cap Drafting Differences


We are all used to selecting our teams in the Salary Cap style game that is now referred to as AFL Fantasy: Dream Team.  We all know about things like Guns n Rookies and Mid Priced Madness.  However, the way you select your team for the draft game is a whole new ball game.

As you have read so far in our Draft Central articles here on DT Talk the two types of games are very different and they require very different strategies in game play and more particularly in the drafting.  Let’s look at some of the unique points about drafting players rather than selecting players under a salary cap.

Round 1 Drafting

This is one of  your most important selections of the game.  Your first pick will be the one that you shape the rest of your team around.  The one thing you need to do is take the best possible player you can with your first pick.  This player needs to be someone that you would be more than willing to put the C on each and every week.

If you are in a 12 team league, and you have pick 5.  Depending on the drafting style you have, the next best possible pick that you can hope to have is pick 17.  Obviously, there is a massive difference between the 5th best scorer and the 17th best scorer.  Based on this, you need to ensure that the guy that you pick at 5 is someone you can depend upon each and every week to deliver.

Rookies have very little value in this game

In the Salary Cap game we need to pad out our squads with a number of rookies to ensure that we can afford all of our Premiums.  Well in this Draft game the rookies are not required at all!  Unless they are some superstar or you are in a really really deep league with lots of teams and massive rosters there isn’t much chance that you will actually get through all the good established players that would require you to select a rookie.

Every draft pick that you make should be for the best available player that you can get your hands on.  You need to ask yourself “Who is the guy that is going to get me the maximum points out of everyone left”.  The only time that you wouldn’t apply that is when you need to draft for position, or when taking positional scarcity into account – we will be covering this in more detail in later articles.

Diamonds in the Rough!

The guys that usually win these style of leagues are the ones that are good at picking the diamonds in the rough.  Everyone will have a pretty good group of players from their first 3-4 selections.  However after this point what coaches should be looking for is the guy that no one else is thinking about that will have that bust out season.

Let me give you an example.  In discussing this article with our very own Tbetta, he mentioned to me that in the 23rd round of his draft last year (so assuming that it was a 12 team league there were at least 276 players selected already) he selected Ivan Maric.  Now we all know that Maric went on to score at a premium level and be right up there with the best ruckman.  So your opponents may have selected Dean Cox in rd 2  but you have come up with a player that scored just as well but you did it much later in the draft.  So instead of having say 3 premiums like everyone else you have ended up with 4.

So if you can select the next break out contender then you are likely to be putting yourself in the box seat for a victory.  For many years now we have all heard how much of a fantasy stud Patrick Dangerfield will be, well it was getting a bit like the boy who cried wolf, but then in 2012 he really busted through that 70 – 80 pt barrier and showed us exactly what he can do by averaging 101.9.

The other guys that can be a bit like this are those that have fallen off the radar and are coming back from an LTI or were out of favour with their previous coach. While they don’t have any discounts like in Dream Team or SuperCoach, they may be undervalued by other coaches due to their injury or playing history.  Guys that would fall into this category are players like Mark LeCras or Brent Moloney.

When looking for the guys that are likely to breakout consider things like club changes or playing list changes.  Consider things like the benefit to Brian Lake after joining the Hawks, as well as the negative effect this could have on guys like Birchall or Suckling. It works both ways.

Anyway, I think you get my drift here, it is these guys, not the Super Premo’s that are going to win you this league (although the super premo’s certainly do help!). It is the depth of your squad that is important here.

 Positional Scarcity

When you are selecting your team in the traditional salary cap game you have time to work out who you want and tinker.  However, when you are in the thrust and parry of a draft you sometimes have to think on your feet.  In your draft you may see a couple of guys select a ruckman then another one and all of a sudden there are fewer quality guys on the board and it is your turn.  You were going to select another forward but if you don’t get a ruckman now, you may end up missing out on one of the top 8 ruckmen.  So you have to quickly change your strategy and find yourself the next best ruckman.

You just need to make sure you are always keeping an eye on what everyone else is doing whilst still executing your plans.


The thing to remember is that the planning you make for a draft league is very different to what you do when you are planning for your salary cap team.  Remember to have a plan but be prepared to change that plan depending on what happens, you won’t get the guy you want every time because everyone else probably wants the same guy!

Keep an eye on DTTalk for more articles designed to assist you in your Draft League.  Follow me @pkd73 on twitter for more thoughts and help on your team set up as the season draws closer.


  • I often find that with draft leagues people panic and follow the leader desperate to get that 8th best ruck. I like to change and go for the best forward or back available because most people have their ruck now and wont revisit that category for a while. I can wait a couple of rounds and find that number 10 ruck that wont be too bad but my other positions look better. Multi position players are going to be even more important in draft style. I will be targeting them in particular.

    • I agree with you – sometimes, it’s better to go against the grain and hope to find value in that position later in the draft – given the lack of reliable ruckmen, this is especially true for the Rucks. These concepts will be explored in detail soon, don’t worry!

      • Looking forward to later discussions. One of my draft leagues is making the switch to DT scoring this year so it will be interesting to see how it goes. I get to keep Scotland or Robinson based on our rules so leaning towards Scotland based on premium back status and mid option. Fair call?

        • Making the switch from what, may I ask? As for Scotland, getting a premium defender will be gold – but be wary of his age. If it’s a keeper league, maybe the younger Robinson as a forward will be the way to go?

          Plenty to think about!

          • We played a 3 Mid, 3 Fwd, 1 ruck and 1 tackler, with other pool players. You only earn points based on the position. Goals and points for fwds, hitouts and marks ruck, possessions only mid etc. We can keep one of our late draft picks from last year but only for one year. There are lots of good mids so I was not thinking Scotland actually I was going Hurley to give me a reasonable goal kicker. Not in DT scoring though. I will be hunting Goddard in our league if I draw a late draft pick as well as a ruck. We did one mid year draft too with delisting and reverse ladder positions choosing first. I like that better than waivers and trades.

  • Disagree with a lot in this article. You should never just pick who will score higher. You should be picking whoever is better relative to the next best players in their position.
    ie. A 95pt defender + 100pt midfielder is a better combo than an 80pt defender + 110pt midfielder.

    • This is just an example of the different considerations you have with Draft-style fantasy – There’ll be more in-depth look at Draft Strategies in the coming weeks, and what you should consider re. positional scarcity.

    • As Tbetta said this is really just the types of considerations. The point I was trying to get across was that you are not looking for value options like rookies but you are looking for the most points you can get.
      You have clearly played this type of game before and hopefully we can help you in future articles.

      • Actually no, I’ve never played before. Didn’t mean to offend, I look forward to your in-depth articles.

        • No probs mate. No offence taken. Just sounded like you had played before. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and thoughts. I reckon you might like our in depth articles that are coming up soon.

  • Does anyone have a (link to a) spreadsheet or something with all the players listed, even better if it includes their position/s and last year’s stats?

    As I’m only playing around with the top-end of my pre-draft list atm, but I know I’ll want to get it into spreadsheet form before my actual draft is held for better on the run research, and I thought I’d see if anyone else had done one to save me the time/typing.

    If not, maybe a good idea for someone from DT Talk to do ine…! ;)

  • I’ve never played this draft style game before so any information is gold. My work is going to try and run one of these Elite or Ultimate draft style so I might have a go.
    Without playing before, shouldn’t I be trying to fill the more scarce positions with my early picks eg rucks then forward then backs?
    Not sure how this works.
    What happens if you draft players but say not enough to fill your forwards?

    • There’ll be a couple of articles on Draft Strategy coming up – we’re just getting the basics out of the way for people like yourself who have never played Draft-style fantasy before.

      The quick answer is yes – it’s not all about average, and positional needs come into play at almost every pick.

  • Thanks for the insight Tbetta

    First time playing the draft style and have received selections 10 and 11 first up. Playing captains so it feels as if I”m already chasing points. Hopefully Murphy can slide to 10 for my captain pick but unsure what would be best for my next pick at 11. Next best mid or the best back or forward…leaning towards rockliff.

    Any suggestions,


    • You’re thinking is pretty spot on here.

      I had pick 12 and 13 last year (horrible luck), and the first thing I did was nail down a Captain option. I took Scott Thompson, who was the most reliable left at that stage – he ended up averaging 105, 10th most for the season, so I was happy with that. Played almost every game too, which is what you need from that 1st Round pick.

      Backing that up, I went for position. Cox was already gone in the rucks, but Franklin was still on the table so I pounced. When you have back-to-back picks, you need to make sure you address positional even-ness with every double, otherwise you’ll find yourself with a lopsided side.

      Hope this helps! I don’t know who’ll be left at 11, but if Gibbs or Goddard is still there, locking up a defender with that second pick would feel pretty good.

  • Sorry Dunny cheers to you!

  • Hey guys, As Tbetta said, this is really a basic introduction for people that have never played this style of game before. Think of it as walking before you can run. We will certainly be getting much more in depth over the next few weeks.

    Certainly tweet us with some topics you want us to write about.

    • Would love to see an article adressing the bye issue for those playing through them. I see 3 options:
      -Ignore them:Pot luck
      -Balance them:Chance to win all 3(could lose all 3)
      -Load up one bye:Almost certain to win 2 out of 3

      • Great call – we’ll have a think and whip something up for later in the pre-season, after we’ve established Draft Strategies, etc. Cheers!

  • Just had my first taste of draft style – Ultimate Footy Draft (it was autopick) … rucks & key forwards scarce should of had them higher up in my preselect. Looking forward to Live Draft where we get to pick although 90 secs may seem not enough time towards end. This forum has been good for logical arguments for both sides. Thanks Dunny/Tbetta.

  • Thanks for the tip Tbetta

    I’m considering taking Rockliff and Gibbs with my picks 10 and 11, that way jumping on the best back and forward options and then selecting a mid at pick 30, in which I’m hoping will still be around the100 ave. I’m counting on rocky to return to his best and Gibbs to play through the middle.

    What you think, too risky???

  • I’ve thought of a great thing you can do whilst just looking through the players on the dreamteam transfer page.

    Have a look through the different positions at the differences in each player’s last year average. I think the thing you want to look to do is get players just before there is a large gap in average. With positions like ruck and defence there are good examples of this. Take ruck for example, between the 2nd and 3rd ruckman there is a gap in average of 6. Space that out over 22 games and you’re looking at 132 points lost because you got in on a ruck one pick too late. In the midfield though, once the lucky bastards that get pick 1 and 2 and pick up Swan and Ablett, there is only very small gaps in average all the way down to rookie priced players. This means that a team that doesn’t select their main midfielders until round 4-8 can still get a player that can average 100 points and only be losing 4-5 points per week to a player that was selected 3 rounds ago.

    Obviously these numbers I’m throwing out are based on last years results and only speculative, but I believe this is one of the main things you have to look for when determining who you want to draft and when. Gaps in average are a very useful stat to look for when determining your draft picks.

    And the beauty is, you can do it just by looking at the dreamteam transfer listings, all the information is there :)

    • Yes! This is exactly what I’ve been thinking. I’ve predicted an average for each player and then ranked them accordingly. I’ve then separated them into tiers where there is a noticable gap.
      If come your turn to pick there is only 1 player left in a certain tier it would be wise to pick them.

  • Hey guys anyone have a Fantasy Elite league open ?!?!?! really want to join one

  • Dunny,
    am I correct in saying that you do not know your draft order till around 1 hour prior to the draft commencing? I thought I read that somewhere recently.
    If so,it does not leave a lot of time to prepare your strategy.

  • You need to have a plan, for example how might you rank your players. are you going to go mid mid fwd(ruck) for the first 3 rounds, or ruck, mid, fwd etc. In a way the middle and lower rounds are where it is won or lost. What round do you rank certain players and do you think a player is ranked either higher or lower than is suggested? What happens if players your chose in your pre draft rank are already gone, do you change your strategy or just change one player to another?

    Because this is so new, there needs to be “cheat sheets” organised and ranking orders and who and why are ranked where they are. remember because you get to trade not all is lost and you might be able to get the ruck you were looking for and trading with a mid for the other team because you have a number of good mids.

  • Another thing how is your league set up, this changes the way you will also rank your players and what round you will pick them

  • I like this style of game more because you own a guy and no one else can have him. If you do your research you can pick up some great players that others miss. I got Mitch Robinson last year with the last pick of the draft and he turned into a starter every week.

  • I have spent an hour or so scanning reports, my team pages etc for all the smokie players, “breakout” candidates etc
    have about 7 or 8 in each position besides ruck.. I figure every1 in my league (ALL 10 first timers to draft style) will all make smart choices for their first 15 picks or so.. but after that I hope my list will come in handy and prove the difference between picking a zac dawson or a dan nicholson.. obviously you want the running guy, potential breakout etc