Draft Strategy

Who not to take with your first round pick

Your first selection in a fantasy draft is more important than any other. It’s the guy that you hope will be consistent all year for your fantasy team and give you the edge over your opponents.

You can’t win your fantasy league in the first round, but you can definitely lose it. Not picking the right player here can put your team on the back foot right from the get go.

You’re unlikely to have more preparation for any other pick than you will your first round draft pick, it’s the pick you have the most time to think about in the lead up to your draft. Considering the popularity of players in the first round of your 2015 fantasy draft, don’t be surprised if you see the player you want get taken one pick before you want them.

In this situation it’s important not to panic, I’ve seen many a fantasy drafter get so worked up over missing out that they’ll select the next best player from the same position as the player they wanted, even though the player they originally wanted might’ve been in a tier of their own in that position.

This is why it’s so important that you have a realistic list of 3 to 4 players that you’re happy to select in the first round. Most importantly it has to be realistic that these players will fall to you. If you’re sitting there at 10th pick you can safely cross Tom Rockliff, Gary Ablett and Scott Pendlebury off your list.

In terms of players not to take in the first round it’s a difficult question but one that needs to be answered. Consistency is key here, make sure you get a player that will be there for you the whole year. Players with injury history or bad suspension records are usually the first ones to avoid. Speculative guys who you are expecting to come on and break out to first round value are also ones to avoid in the first round, worry about those guys after the first round.

Here’s a definitive list of players not to select in the first round of your 2015 fantasy draft.

Dane Swan

There’s not many players I prefer to watch than Swanny. As a pies fan it’s simply electrifying when Swanny takes control of a game and takes it away from our opponents (remember Anzac Day 2014). He’s been doing the same thing in fantasy football for years. Good enough reason to select him with your first round pick right? Wrong!

Some people may disagree, but I’m definitely leaving Swanny alone inside the first round. With your first round pick you need someone that’s going to deliver close to 22 games at 100 or over. I just think with the injury niggles he had last season if there’s any sign of a niggle the pies will wrap him in cotton wool.

I also think he’ll be spending considerably more time up forward following the inclusion of Levi Greenwood and the development of the likes of Taylor Adams, Ben Kennedy, Nathan Freeman, Tim Broomhead and Josh Thomas all fighting for midfield spots.

Toby Greene

Many are rating the young Giants midfielder worthy of a first round selection. They can definitely make an argument considering the massive numbers he put up at the end of last season.

I for one won’t be selecting him in the first round, simply because he’s proven he can turn a fantastic season one year into a stinker the following year, not that I think he’ll do that this year but he’s one of those players that I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes 120+ and I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes sub 85. He has such a massive ceiling, but his floor is also very low. He’s the quintessential risk/reward pick for 2015.

There’s a lot of questions for me about his role in the Giants midfield. With the addition of Ryan Griffen adding to the staples of Adam Treloar, Callan Ward and Dylan Shiel along with the continued development of Lachie Whitfield, Josh Kelly and Stephen Coniglio I’m just not sure Greene gets enough time in that midfield, he’s not exactly damaging with the footy which might mean he’s the first one Leon Cameron omits from that midfield. Fantasy points don’t always = coaches choice. Just ask Liam Anthony.

Jarrad McVeigh

Yes backs are scarce this year, however I still think grabbing a high scoring midfielder or forward and getting a back in the next few rounds will hold you in better stead.

The omission of Nick Malceski has McVeigh lined up for more time off half back than through the midfield according to Sydney coach John Longmire. Spending less time in the midfield might see a slight drop off from his fantasy average of 97 from last season.

Lance Franklin

I’m all for taking Buddy in the second or third round, he has huge upside. From round 10 onwards last season when Kurt Tippett came into the side he averaged over 110 fantasy points, which is enormous for a forward.

However he does produce the odd stinker which can cost your team, and he is known to have inconsistent spells of form at times. This just isn’t worth the risk as a first round selection. Grab a solid player in the first then grab Buddy the second time around or even in the third round!

Brett Deledio

This is perhaps the most controversial call of them all, but is one I’ve made from an educated guess.

Although Deledio has been given forward eligibility in Ultimate Footy leagues, and is being taken in many a fantasy draft first round so far he’s not a guy I’ll be selecting in the first round.

In an ask the coach Q&A session Damien Hardwick told afl.com.au that he expects Deledio to play the majority of his footy up forward. Translating to a reduction in midfield time for Deledio, which will lead to a reduction in his output from previous seasons.

How the first round should go

My 1st round rankings:
1. Tom Rockliff
2. Gary Abblett
3. Scott Pendlebury
4. Dustin Martin
5. Michael Barlow
6. Dayne Beams
7. Brendan Goddard
8. Joel Selwood
9. Dyson Heppell
10. Steele Sidebottom



  1. Jim

    February 26, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    hey guys,

    I can’t help but be a little cautious over the essendon situation. What are your thoughts? Should bombers be treated with caution in the draft as the majority of the squad could potentially miss games (early at least)? I haven’t seen many comments on this potential issue, but would like to hear if anyone else will (or has been) hesitating on drafting essendon players into their squad.

    • Alex Mulholland

      Alex Mulholland

      February 27, 2015 at 12:28 pm

      Hey him. Don’t treat them with caution. I’d be drafting them confidently, and at the same time scaring opponents before the draft about their prospects of getting a lengthy ban, this way you’ll get sliders from the Bombers at good value

      • Alex Mulholland

        Alex Mulholland

        February 27, 2015 at 12:28 pm

        Jim sorry

        • Jim

          February 27, 2015 at 10:43 pm

          Thanks Alex, might have to convince myself first!

  2. Rough

    February 25, 2015 at 11:26 am


    Where does Luke Parker rate in your estimations? Considering the combination of age (therefore potential to step up again), proven ability to score big and proven ability to score consistently, I have him sitting only just outside of the top 10. In a keeper league situation, he could be a fantastic investment versus a JPK or Barlow who average a few points more but are 4 and 5 years older respectively.

    • Matthew James

      Matthew James

      February 25, 2015 at 12:45 pm

      I’ve seen him ranked as highly as a first round pick, but for me he’s a second round proposition. You’re right, he has upside, but could still regress too, like Murphy after his 2011 season or Cotchin after his 2012 season.

      I’d still take Barlow or JPK ahead in a keeper – it’s not like either are particularly old, and they have done it for longer. But Parker probably moves closer to the top 10 in that situation.

  3. Phil

    February 24, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Given the lack of decent 1-man ruck set ups – where would you have someone like S Jacobs being drafted????

    There is only really him, mumford, goldstein as potential 90+ ruck’s and I think the drop from those 3 to the rest (ryder/lobbe and leuenberger/martin job sharing, maric/naitanui with potential but always injury risks, kreuzer and bellchambers coming back from big lay offs) is a huge one as far as reliability/piece of mind goes.

    • Alex Mulholland

      Alex Mulholland

      February 24, 2015 at 6:43 pm

      Hey Phil. If there’s 2 ruck slots in your league then a ruckman is worth consideration in the first round. But I’m of the view that you can get a ruckman much later on, and stock up your other positions early,

  4. Phil

    February 24, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    Good article but 100% depends on the make up of the league. I play in a 14 team league with starting sides of 3/4/1/3 and using positional scarcity (say for example, using the average of the top 3 backs compared to top 4 mids, 4-6 backs to 5-8 mids etc. and finding a “one size fits all” number to even out positions) suggests McVeigh is comfortably a top 10 pick – actually pick 4 if you trust UF predictions.

    I guess it just depends on your strategy overall. But 100% would have McVeigh going in r1

    • KMD

      February 24, 2015 at 3:09 pm

      Too true Phil, but I would say that FP articles are based on the default 10 team league settings.

    • Henry

      February 24, 2015 at 6:38 pm

      You are right Phil about the numbers of players in particular positions and the numbers of teams in a league affecting the ranking of players. Another crucial variance in the default settings is the points scored for the various categories or skills of the games. Players’ default rankings can alter significantly if the scoring differs greatly from the default settings. I find the FP articles a great help but I find, in my non-standard leagues (they are all that) it is best to pay close attention to the Proj ’15 & Avg ’14 columns.

      • Alex Mulholland

        Alex Mulholland

        February 24, 2015 at 6:51 pm

        Hey lads. Yes our rankings are affected by the league size and format . So in a standard 10 team league 50 backs and 70 mids are taken, in your 14 team league Phil 42 backs and 56 backs are taken. Which is a whole different conundrum all together. In this situation I’d be taking McVeigh in the first round, maybe Hibberd as well considering your first round will be 14 picks long.

        Our articles are usually based on 10 team standard leagues but we are always happy to help people out with leagues of all sizes and formats in the comments of our articles. Cheers lads

        • Phil

          February 25, 2015 at 4:05 pm

          Thanks mate, appreciate that! I am in a keeper league (3 players) and are tossing up between Mcveigh, hibberd, jacobs and beams – I have a feeling ASADA may assign my fate for me though with eliminating one of those!

        • Boony

          February 25, 2015 at 11:27 pm

          Technically Alex the UF default team size is 6,5,6,1.

          Any chance you guys can stick to this as a default position (or lobby UF to change the “default” if you think 5,7,5,1 is becoming std)?

          • Josh Elliott

            Josh Elliott

            February 26, 2015 at 12:07 am

            5-7-1-5 is the standard for Ultimate Footy. If you go to join a Public league you will be playing 5-7-1-5, and if you go to create a custom league, 5-7-1-5 is the default set up.

  5. Adam

    February 24, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    I have Toby Greene in a keepers league and I’m pretty pumped about what he could deliver in 2015. We keep 13 players each year (allowing the bulk of your on-field squad to remain the same).

    My issue is I have Callan Ward and Shane Mumford as well, so I’m a little worried about running 3 GWS players on the park (particularly 2 MIDs).

    So my question is, who do you see having the better year out of the Greene and Ward? I feel like Griff and maybe Treloar will cop the tags this year and it may be worth holding onto both these ball magnets. My other alternative is to trade one of these two with another coach.

    • bigkev

      February 24, 2015 at 6:05 pm

      If it were me, I’d be trading Greene and keeping Ward.

    • Alex Mulholland

      Alex Mulholland

      February 24, 2015 at 7:09 pm

      Hey Adam. I wouldn’t worry too much, I’d be holding onto both players. They’re both guns. You’re right in that Griffin and Treloar will be the first ones in line for more attention.

    • Josh Elliott

      Josh Elliott

      February 25, 2015 at 12:19 am

      I have this same sort of thing with only wanting a few players from each AFL team, my current keeper squad is over-loaded with Gold Coast players and I get antsy just looking at it. It shouldn’t cause too much of a problem though and those players are all stars – I’d happily keep the trio.

      • Adam

        February 25, 2015 at 2:18 pm

        Thanks Josh,

        You make a good point. I do expect Ward to continue averaging 100, and I’d hate to trade away Greene in the event he explodes into a uncontested ball magnet.

  6. Joe

    February 24, 2015 at 11:18 am


    Where do you see T.Mitchell going in a keeper draft? I read an article earlier identifying him as a future pig, so do you see him going within the top 20 picks of a keeper?

    • Alex Mulholland

      Alex Mulholland

      February 24, 2015 at 6:54 pm

      I wouldn’t have him going in the first 20 picks of a keeper. Around the 6th or 7th round seems right. The first 20 picks should be guys that have put together at least full season of consistency. Guy like Devon Smith should be going well before Tom Mitchell in a keeper league.

  7. Jim

    February 24, 2015 at 10:19 am

    I am assuming this is for a points league?
    Franklin in a category league is a top 10 pick IMO.

  8. rainman

    February 24, 2015 at 9:20 am

    Nice write up. Pretty much agree. Would only look at Dusty as non stand alone mid in top 10.
    Am surprised that JPK is such a slider. Take out his injured 16 last year and averages 109. Extremely consistent and durable and in my mind will deliver the same as a Barlow but generally string more games together. Hanners will continue to get most attention and I reckon Parker gets a little more scrutiny this year.
    The other nite is around Lids, yes he will play more forward, but then is when his scores went bang last year. Personally think he is better value than BJ.

    • Alex Mulholland

      Alex Mulholland

      February 24, 2015 at 7:05 pm

      Thanks Rainman. Was hard to leave JPK out, very consistent. Dusty should play more time in the midfield this year, which is why I like him very high in the first round.

      • rainman

        February 24, 2015 at 7:51 pm

        Just re read my comment and probably wasn’t clear. I agree with Dusty. He should be the only non midfielder in the top 10. Out of interest, where do you see Robbie Gray typically going?

        • Feaster

          February 25, 2015 at 12:40 am

          im also curious on Robbie Gray? Also beware of going Dusty too early IMO – he has history of drifting in & out of matches and although he’ll improve hes a 20-25 possessions type of player, not a 25-30 ball magnet, even playing more in the middle

          • Alex Mulholland

            Alex Mulholland

            February 27, 2015 at 12:39 pm

            Gray I think is a third rounder. One that I’ll be avoiding. I think you can grab a better mid in the third, I’d also much rather Hibberd if he’s there as well.

            With Dusty I see him improving by a few possessions a game running through the middle. Could be enough to take him from high 90’s to 110. I think he’s the clear cut number 1 fwd option

  9. Josh Elliott

    Josh Elliott

    February 24, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Good read Alex, I agree with just about all except Jarrad McVeigh. My view is that with such limited numbers of backs this year, it’s better to grab him in the first and a mid in the second, with a fairly even pool of mids at the top this year. Once the top 6 mids are gone, he and Dusty are my go-to guys, there’s about 5-6 mids I would rate at about the same level after the top 6 and one will be left for me in the second round.

    My top 10:
    1. Rocky
    2. Ablett
    3. Barlow
    4. Pendles
    5. Selwood
    6. Beams
    7. Dusty
    8. McVeigh
    9. Sidebottom
    10. JPK

    Flexible on the last two but the top 8 is pretty set in my mind.

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