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The Perfect AFL Fantasy Draft

Drafting this weekend? You MUST read this.

It’s the most popular weekend of the year for Fantasy Draft coaches with many scheduling their single season draft the weekend before Round 1! There is lots of pressure to make sure you nail your selections at the start of the year. The difference between two players taken with adjacent draft picks can be enormous.

So, what would a ‘perfect’ AFL Fantasy draft look like? A draft where each and every coach picks the best possible player; a draft where no first round draft picks turn into season ruining injuries; a draft where the best breakouts get drafted – not picked up off the waiver wire.

It all sounds a bit unrealistic doesn’t it? Of course it is. No one can predict the season ahead with any sort of accuracy. However, if we reverse engineer a perfect draft from 2022, what lessons are in store for us? About our draft picks, strategy, and how to fill each position equally?

Last season, this article was my debut into the world of AFL Fantasy stats and beyond! If you want to check it out, here it is (and by the way, Rory Laird went pick 1!).

Let’s get into it!

1. How do we find the ‘perfect’ draft picks?

Let’s imagine that your league all drafts a team and then leaves it to sit for the rest of the year. We leave the perfection to the drafting. Maximising total points across each position will be the key.

Us draft coaches aren’t actually that great at picking total points due to injuries, poor performance or even bad drafting. Here’s how coaches stacked up in 2022, comparing average draft position (ADP) to total points:

Not too bad at all! We can see the dropoff of total points as the ADP climbs, so us coaches must have some idea. The big outliers are those players who had injury affected seasons, like Brodie Grundy, Aaron Hall, and Christian Salem. The big breakouts are in the top-right – Jack Sinclair, Will Brodie, Noah Anderson.

2. How do we decide each pick?

The problem with total points is that not every position is made equal in AFL Fantasy. Hence, there must be some strategy involved in when you take certain positions. When ranked by total points, midfielders take up 28 of the top 40 players. When drafting, we need to fill a full team!

So in order to maximise total points from our draft picks, we select the best from each position. Assuming a 10 team league, with a 3 DEF, 4 MID, 1 RUC, 3 FWD structure, we need the top 30, 40, 10, and 30 in the positions respectively.

To calculate how good a player is by their position we use the 120 best players across the positions and compare how well a player did compared to average!

This is more useful. We can see Dunkley was actually the best pick last year, as he was ranked highly for total points, but more importantly had FWD status! Docherty isn’t far behind as the clear #1 DEF in 2022.

At the end of last season, I asked you guys who you would take at pick 1 in hindsight. It was clearly Laird for you guys, but perhaps it should’ve been Dunkley!

3. What can we learn from this?

It’s important to make sure you think about the depth of certain positions in your draft. It will depend a lot based on your league size and team structure, but some players are way too good for their position. Here is the full list from last year, ranked by how good they were compared to their position:

As mentioned before, midfielders took up 28 of the top 40 positions by total points. Here that number is just 18, due to a lot more midfield depth. If assign these draft picks via snake order, the teams are all very close on total points. Which is what we call a perfect draft!

Good luck with your drafting this weekend!

Started playing Dream Team as soon as I was old enough to use a computer! Collingwood fan and coach of JPop's Jackpots. Now into my third year of a statistics major so follow me on Twitter as I dive into more AFL Fantasy stats!

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Daniel Enright
Daniel Enright
6 months ago

Have a competitive draft league if anyone is interested. Starts at 6pm AEST this Monday (12 hours after this post)


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