Draft Fantasy Tips for Beginners


Draft style MLS Fantasy games are hard to come by.  Thankfully DraftMLS.com is hosting a game this year.

Know Your League Rules

Roster sizes and player restrictions are the two key factors when planning your draft.  If you have to draft a certain number of players and have limits on how many players from a single team you can have, these need to be addressed and sorted out before you draft.

While not all leagues have a team player cap, it is still advisable to diversify your roster.  Bye weeks and potential disastrous games can wreck a round.  There is also a possibility of diminished returns when using too many players from the same team.

Draftmls.com uses a 15 player roster with 2 GKs, 5 Defs, 5 Mids, and 3 Fwds. There is also a maximum of three players from a single team.

Assessing Talent

The top names are not hard to determine.  There are big names that will go in the first few rounds in every draft.  Knowing who is farther down the depth chart will make or break your draft.  There are a few key elements to look for in players as you build your draft list.

  • Floor versus Ceiling: All players have a point floor and point ceiling.  The floor is the expected minimum points they will get in a match.  This is most easily determined by looking at their Points Per Game or Points Per 90.  The point ceiling is harder to determine, but denotes the highest potential points value.  A higher floor will give long term consistency, but maximizing your ceiling gives the most single game potential.
  • Points Above Replacement: This statistic is very hard to isolate, but is invaluable for drafting.  Knowing how much better a player is compared to the next guy in line.  The drop off from Lodeiro to Piatti isn’t that great, but the drop from Premium to the next level is noticeable.  Keep this in mind when ranking players.
  • Guaranteed Starters: This is probably the most important factor to consider when filling out your roster. Making sure your draft picks will earn points is a no-brainer.
  • Comparable Options: Choosing who to draft depends on who else is similar.  You may have three options for a position but one is on a team with multiple higher value players.
  • Best Available: This simple concept is knowing who the best remaining player is. If you are ever undecided on who to draft, take this player.  This is especially true if the other players you have identified are not nearly the same caliber of the best available.
  • Drafting to Trade: Sometimes the best talent is someone that won’t see the field much for you, but can be a useful trading piece.  If multiple players have ignored midfielders, taking one knowing someone will trade for him might be the strongest move for your team.

Watching Positions

  • Goalkeepers: We’ll start with an obvious one.  Having the best goalkeeper is not that important, but having a quality one is.  Once GKs starting getting selected, they can go quickly.  Getting stuck with two unproven options can be devastating, especially in larger leagues.
  • Defenders: This is always the deepest pool of players in the draft.  The premium defenders aren’t enough better than the rest to make them worth early picks.
  • Midfielders: Here is where you get the bulk of your points.  This position as balanced as defenders, but they can provide the most steady points for any team.  Filling up on midfielders early isn’t always a bad option.
  • Forwards: Forwards by nature are boom or bust players.  You’ll either get a load of points, or very few.  The players that consistently score decent points go fast.  Making sure you get at least one premium forward should be a priority. Depth here is very shallow, so get them while you can, but don’t overestimate the value of non premium options.

Reacting to the Draft

Drafting players is not all about being prepared.  Once you are drafting, you have to react to your opponents’ selections.  If midfielders start going fast, you can’t waste time on defenders.

As mentioned in the goalkeepers’ section, making sure you get a quality player is crucial.  Drafting a lower value player too early loses some overall potential, but sometimes you lose more by taking a good player versus taking a decent player at a needed position.

Points Above Replacement comes into play here.  When you see the player pool thinning out, getting someone who is hands down better than the pool is usually the most beneficial option. You are denying your opponents a valuable option and forcing them to take a player you can find an equivalent to later on.


In short, drafting is about being prepared and having a plan.  The more data a manager has, the more chance he or she has of picking the best players.  Doing your homework and knowing which players you desire will make life easier come draft day.

About Blayne Riffle

Blayne is an IT Technician with a math degree, online journalist, and MLS Discussion Group moderator.

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