Neal Thurman

FPL Draft

print article archives RSS

FPL - NFL Fantasy Mash-up

Friday, September 7, 2018

Welcome to the international break.  For writers like me who have been going pretty much non-stop since the end of the World Cup with pieces on the newly promoted sides, pre-season player rankings, mock drafts, and a ton of other content to prepare you for your FPL draft leagues and then sped directly into the first four match weeks of the season, the break couldn't come at a better time.  Throw in the fact that this weekend is the opening of the NFL season and it gives me a chance to relax at least a little bit before we get back to the action next weekend.  


So, what did I do to "relax" and unwind from all of that Fantasy Premier League work I just listed? Why, I agreed to participate in a combined Premier League/NFL fantasy league where players from both leagues/sports are available in a single, unified draft.  We are't quite done with the draft as I start writing this column but we are far enough in for me to recognize that it has been a fascinating experience on a number of levels.  And you thought I was just using the break in the action and a tenuous NFL connection to post a picture of the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles (OK, maybe a little bit).


On to the mindbending draft.  A few things were different from my recent experiences in NFL and FPL drafting.  The obvious difference is that we were selcting players from both the NFL and PL player pools in the same draft.  After a number of PL drafts and auctions over the summer and a similar number of Fantasy NFL drafts over the past few weeks, I had a pretty good handle on how to value NFL players against other NFL players based on projected performance and positional scarcity.  The same goes for Premier League players.  What was very much difficult to resolve in my head, especially considering that I heard about this and agreed to it and then participated in the draft within about 48 hours meaning next to no time for preparation, was how to value players across leagues.  Is getting a top tier running back from the NFL in the first or second round more or less important than getting a premium forward from the Premier League?  Not easy to figure out. 


Given that no one is publishing cross-sport fantasy analysis that I'm aware of and we don't have any results in from the league yet other than the few players who played when the, say it with me, Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons last nigth, I can't say how I did.  I feel good about my picks but who among us doesn't after in the immediate wake of their draft?  


If you're wondering, my approach was pretty similar to what it always is.  Try to figure out positional scarcity and what positions across both leagues repersent the biggest bang for the draft position.  The challenge in the process was that Fantrax has designated a LOT of productive players that the site lists as midfielders as forwards (we're using Fantrax because it is the only place we could do both leagues in one place).  Guys like Sadio Mane, Richarlison, Son, Pedro, and Adama Traore are all listed as forwards which significantly skews positional value on top of the shifts of Arnautovic and Zaha that happened in both and Fantrax formats over the summer. 


The other thing that made matters surprisingly difficult was the fact that there were only six of us drafting.  I would have thought that the presence of fewer managers would make life easier.  What I hadn't considered until we got started was that all of my conceptions of player and positional value in both PL and NFL were based on somewhere between 8 and 12 team leagues.  If scarcity only becomes an important issue at a position once you get past a certain number of starters but the starting line-ups for six teams don't exhaust that number then the scarcity really isn't that important.  


As an example, the common wisdom in NFL drafting is that running back is THE premium position because of the paucity of running backs who are both talented and get the majority of their team's playing time.  In a 12-team or 10-team league, this is certainly true.  I haven't done an 8-team NFL fantasy league recently but I suspect that it is at least mostly true.  When drafting with only five other managers, it turns out this isn't nearly as true.  Without spending my first round pick on a runing back, I ended up with Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley, Jordan Howard, and (Arsenal supporter) Jay Ajayi as my running backs.  I got Ajahi in the 23rd round.  There are apparently more than enough quality running backs to cover a six-team league.  


Where I probably went wrong is picking Harry Kane with the 5th pick in the first round.  No slight on Kane or even a concern that he's still nursing an injury.  Rather, I failed to understand that with the reclassification of so many wide attackers as forwards, elite-level midfielders were the scarce commodity on the Premier League side.  Eden Hazard had already been taken but I passed on Christen Eriksen twice in favor of Kane and Kamara.  With guys like Zaha, Mane, and Richarlison not considered midfielders and so much uncertainty over who will get minutes at Manchester City, the right play early would have been Eriksen.


The other thing that struck me that is the direct result of what we've seen over the first four weeks of the Premier League season is that the group of elite attacking outside backs is a real trend that has to be paid attention to.  In my summer PL drafts it wasn't until the 4th round at the earliest that anyone drafted a defender with only a couple going before Round 6 in 8-team drafts.  After watching guys like Benjamin Mendy, Andrew Robertson, and Marcos Alonso to produce attacking stats like attacking midfielders and bringing along some clean sheets too those players were prioritized.  Mendy went with the last pick in the 3rd round.  Before you mention that it is only one round earlier.  Remember that this is only a six-team draft and we were also drafting NFL players in this mix.  Overall, Mendy, Alonso, and Robertson (who went consecutively) were the 7th, 8th, and 9th Premier League players taken overall in the draft.  Quite a move up for defender as a position group after just a month of action. 


If you're wondering why I bothered passing all of this along, I found it useful as an exercise in doing something unusual - drafting players across leagues but with fewer teams in the league - as a method for examining how I do something familiar - creating my own player values in 10-12 team NFL drafts and 8-team PL drafts. It is always good to get out an experiment and this was no exception.  


One final thought, the other insight I reached which really just confirmed something that I've baked into most of my NFL drafting and all of my PL drafting is that later round picks should be based on potential upside in all but the largest leagues.  With only six teams in the league there is always going to be room to pick up a solid guy who will give you a good performance.  If a player doesn't, in your valuation, have the potential to really pop compared to their draft position then you're really wasting a draft pick.  You can always go back to the waiver wire and pick up the safe option if the swing for the fences fails to produce the hoped-for result.  Will Fuller, my 30th pick, may continue to have injury issues or may never live up to the brief flashes that he showed with Deshaun Watson while both were healthy last season.  If that's the case then no big deal.  The potential that they really can recapture that magic makes him a great late round pick.  Similarly, Ryan Sessegnon's star has clearly fallen off a cliff with the arrival of Vietto in his starting spot.  What we do know is that Sessegnon has vast potential and if he hits, he will be worth much more than a 29th round pick.  Ditto with guys like Josh Gordon and Patrick Mahomes, the ceiling is really high.  If it doesn't work out, I'm not in a position where I'm counting on any of them as starters.


If you're wondering, through Round 30 (of 32) here are my picks: 

  1. Harry Kane, F, TOT
  2. Alvin Kamara, RB, NO
  3. Saquon Barkley, RB, NYG
  4. Andrew Robertson, D, LIV
  5. Sadio Mane, F, LIV
  6. Devante Adams, WR, GB
  7. Jordan Howard, RB, CHI
  8. Zach Ertz, TE, PHI
  9. Cesar Azpilicueta, D, CHE
  10. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, PIT
  11. Richarlison, F, EVE
  12. Jose Holebas, D, WAT
  13. Deshaun Watson, QB, HOU
  14. Pascal Gross, M, BHA
  15. Andre Schurrle, M, FUL
  16. Ricardo Pereira, D, LEI
  17. Ryan Fraser, M, BOU
  18. Ruben Neves, M, WOL
  19. Jacksonville Jaguars, DEF, JAX
  20. Josh Gordon, WR, CLE
  21. Chris Hogan, WR, NE
  22. Patrick Mahomes, QB, KC
  23. Jay Ajayi, RB, PHI
  24. Ederson, GK, MCI
  25. Troy Deeney, F, WAT
  26. Jonny, D, WOL
  27. Philadelphia Eagles, DEF, PHI
  28. Jimmy Graham, TE, GB
  29. Ryan Sessegnon, M, FUL
  30. Will Fuller V, WR, HOU

Neal Thurman manages the Rotoworld's Premier League coverage and contributes to Never Manage Alone which he co-founded. He is also a diehard Arsenal supporter. You can find him on Twitter @NealJThurman.
Email :Neal Thurman

Highest Searched Players over the last 7 days

Video Center

    Player News: Week 17

    Player News: Week 17
    Matchups: Gordon, Jeffery

    Matchups: Gordon, Jeffery
    DFS Analysis: Williams/Coleman

    DFS Analysis: Williams/Coleman
    Dose: Cam

    Dose: Cam's Season Ends
    DFS Analysis: GB

    DFS Analysis: GB's Williams
    Dose: Cam Shut Down

    Dose: Cam Shut Down
    Dose: Lindsay Makes Pro Bowl

    Dose: Lindsay Makes Pro Bowl
    Dose: Gordon Eyes Wk 16 Return

    Dose: Gordon Eyes Wk 16 Return