The Wormburner: Mock Draft This

July 26, 2019 — by Rob Kirby2


A mock draft is the way to go, 100 percent. I should here admit that I have never partaken of draft mockery and have no immediate plans to do so. No plans to rectify fantasy footballing deficits, no plans to better myself.

It would seem pointless then to talk about a hypothetical mock draft–and hypocritical?–having always rejected it for theoretically taking too much time or exacting too steep a cost in the transaction of one’s soul. So, how about we reel that one back all quick-like and I just propose a list. Withdraw from the super-official full-on rehearsal wedding and propose a gentler advance planning in a more minimum-effort sort of way. Unless that sounds too pushy.

Welcome back to the Wormburner, where the topic of the day is all things drafting, minus most things drafting. A couple thoughts on prep for the draft. One on mental visualization, at least.

Past seasons (for me) have generally been spent trying to repair the mistakes made in the summer draft, especially the you-only-get-one-shot early picks. Everyone will always blame every/any mistake on a glitch in the system, or vindictive auto-draft function bent on random persecution, or freak episode of celebrity dognapping that tanks everything, but if we are being honest with ourselves, it is nearly always operator error. People freeze up and make the wrong 50-50 decision, or don’t catch late-breaking big-ticket transfer news, or forget to turn off autodraft after intentionally selecting it in the “on” position. And some do just objectively draft poorly. 

Two of my first four draft picks usually go horribly sideways, which by nearly any metric represents a terrible success rate. The sting is a lasting one. Players available in the first four rounds generally never resurface in the player pool, barring injury or Luis Suárez biting ban. There are possibilities to nab emerging players along the way, and in the January transfer window, but it generally takes a timely waiver pick and a bit of luck.

Don’t blow the early picks. I keep doing it, year after year, and it’s painful looking at the evidence of draft day meltdown for 38 consecutive game weeks.

While no one here will discourage theatrical drawings from hats or dividings of square pieces of paper, it’s easier to just write down/type/voice dictate/copy and paste the top points scorers from last season. Add in any gut feelings for hot prospects among the promoted teams or from big splashes in the transfer market, as applicable. There always remains the option of dreaming up nine imaginary friends with attendant banter in a WhatsApp group, but one then risks the legitimate accusation of the whole venture having gotten well sidetracked.

Take the top 50 points scorers from last season. Eliminate, add and reorder names as desired. So much the better if you think one player overperformed in 2018/2019, or another underperformed and should be elevated in the queue,. Maybe another flies under the radar on overall points, a mid-season transfer who registers only half the expected points total of a full season. Scout the promoted teams enough to know who’s starting striker, main creative midfielder and penalty taker. As to the mental mock draft, basically just imagine how the player list will evaporate from round to round. In a mock draft-esque calculation of the player exodus between a 4th pick and 17th, then 24th and so on (in a snake draft of a ten-team league), you can get a better idea of what’s realistic for the first few clutch rounds—the marquee players you won’t have a shot at again. It helps gauge who is realistic as a third striker, or as third, fourth and fifth midfielders. Four rounds in, with the 40 most obvious players gone, the player pool takes on a much humbler look.

Read up on Joelinton and Haller/Hammer–new names that come with serious price tags and starting striker roles–but they’ll presumably be gone in the second or third round, sight unseen. Cast a wider net to support strikers and attacking midfielders at less-fancied establishments, ideally with a couple left-field picks in mind for the leaner rounds. Don’t just choose recognizable names of defensive midfielders at big clubs when the pickings get slim. You’ll just end up dropping them. Go for an attacker at one of the lowlier clubs. Or anyone remotely associated with dead balls. Consistent starts are crucial, but only with attacking bite do players truly satisfy–defensive midfielders don’t cut it, Choose someone who can pick up a goal or assist every so often, even if there are a few question marks involved. A bench is three deep.

Though the transfer window will be closed by the beginning of the season, it most likely won’t be by most people’s draft days, which commonly take place the weekend before opening weekend. A couple high-risk assets may not be worth it due to flight risk, but maybe that’s one of those high-risk/high-reward situations people are always blathering on about.

Just as a quick aside before sign-off, a “mock draft” could be the accepted noun form of an intense insult session on another’s draft, not one’s own, ideally in a broadcast arena. Which sounds like quite a bit of fun.

So until the Great Mock Draft to follow The Draft to come, choose long-term guaranteed attacking starters for the first picks, gamble on a couple riskier players with high ceilings in the scrappy rounds, buy low/sell high, don’t waste an early pick on a keeper, and remember to “take risks,” “play it safe” and other wise contradictions in the annals of the elderliest of time-honored traditions.

The Wormburner is a column that plays the draft format on Real Fantasy Football ( An FPL addiction never totally leaves the bloodstream, but late-season team conformity in the standard game can get a little played out.

Feel like reading a past Wormburner, aka “the other one”? Have at it.

Follow on Twitter with @The_Wormburner and @robertpkirby