While many Ultimate Footy coaches have already joined a public league and held their draft, there will be just as many, if not more, who have held off until after the completion of the NAB Challenge to give themselves an extended opportunity to study the form line of prospective players.
However, no matter how much research you have put into finding the right players for your team throughout the pre-season competition, you still have to navigate your way through an automated draft. Which unless the same diligence is applied, will just end up being a lottery, and all that valuable research wasted.
An automated draft can be a tricky beast, as, unlike a live draft where coaches can see which players are available at any given selection and a decision made accordingly, in an auto draft Ultimate Footy coaches must pre-set the value of players without any knowledge of how and even if their opponents are doing the same.
And that’s an important aspect to consider in an auto-draft. Not all coaches, and sometimes many, do not pre-set their rankings, so the opportunity is there to build a side the envy of any coach who has participated in a live draft – no matter how experienced they may be.
The downside of this of course is that some, if not many of these coaches who do not pre-set their rankings will abandon their teams in despondency as they have no chance of being a legitimate threat. ‘Ghost teams’ are the bane of public leagues, but on the bright side it does make it that much easier to win that elusive Ultimate Footy premiership.
Another positive of there often being many non-participating coaches in auto-drafts is that the draft becomes more predictable. Subsequently, where your selections lie become less significant than they perhaps would be in a live draft.
Let me explain. As there will be so many auto-picks from absent coaches based on Ultimate Footy’s rankings – which are calculated on projected scores, those teams whose coaches have not pre-set their rankings will be getting predominantly midfielders with their first six to nine selections.
That leaves more opportunity for those coaches who have pre-set their draft selections to land the best forwards and defenders, without missing out on quality mids.
So let’s start pre-setting our draft. Begin by going through the draft order and dropping any players facing stints on the sideline to the bottom. As you do this familiarise yourself with where the players that have impressed you during the pre-season are ranked – particularly those found lower down in the draft.
From the top 60 ranked players, set your top 35 selections in order of preference, making sure you rank your first few preferred but realistically gettable second round picks directly after whatever your first round selection maybe. If you are pick five, and Matt Priddis (23), is your targeted second round selection, promote him to six. Also, demote the players you have no interest in, or definitely do not want in your squad, five to ten spots down the order to ensure they go to another team.
Take your time with this, as hopefully your first four or even five players, and the nucleus of your team, will come from here. Keep in mind, this first handful of selections will come from the top 60 ranked players as judged by Ultimate Footy, so set your 35 accordingly.
This is where your own personal strategy of how you build your team will come into play. However be aware the most important goal in your draft is to end up with a well-balanced side, and the depth of premier dual position players is perhaps not as great this season as those in the past.
There is also the added complication of two ruckmen ranked in the top 10 for the first time in recent memory. Do you give up a premium midfielder for Stefan Martin or Todd Goldstein if you are in the position to draft either one of them?
Whatever your own personal strategy in selecting your players, the next task to nailing your draft is to promote your top 20 selections from the players ranked 60 – 100, to positions 40 through to 60. Then bring your next group of 20 players from the 100 – 170 range up to 80 through to 100.
If everything has gone to plan so far, 12 to 16 places should have been filled in your team at this stage of the draft; however your work is far from done. You may have heard coaches and some in the media talk about how important the ‘bottom six players’ are to a team’s Premiership fortunes – and as it is in the AFL so it is with Ultimate Footy.
Select 30 or even more players from 170 onwards and promote them to 150 through to 180. In a 12 team, public league the last draft selection will be 324, but that doesn’t mean your search for players should end there. A number of players ranked lower than 324 performed strongly in the NAB Challenge, so don’t disregard them out of hand and presume you can pick them up later as a free agent – it is often not the case.
You now have your team, and unless you have entered a league where all, or the majority of coaches are as diligent as yourself – and as long as you have identified the right players, you should be well on your way to a successful season in the public league you have entered.