With the season approaching rapidly, there will likely be a lot of drafts unfolding over the course of this week. With the Premier League's new draft offering only weeks into existence, it's useful to get as much information as possible about how people are drafting as you look to prepare your own draft strategy. Average Draft Position, is a great way to measure how popular players are in the draft process. Here's a look at the most popular players over the first few weeks that this format was available. We'll be back as soon as we can be with more in-depth information on average draft position and, once the season has started, how many squads and starting line-ups each player was in.
Average Draft Position
De Bruyne: 8.7975
The surprises that stand out for me is how little people seem to be factoring potential transfers into their thinking in multiple respects. Certainly the Coutinho-to-Barcelona drumbeat has intensified in the wake of Neymar's move to PSG but there has been at least some risk of him leaving Liverpool for a team outside the Premier League all summer. The fact that people are, on average, risking the 13th overall pick in their drafts on him implies to me that they aren't adequately accounting for the fact that they could well get zero return on a first or second round pick depending on the number of teams in their league. That Diego Costa is on the list at all speaks to the same danger and even an intensified danger since his departure from Chelsea and the Premier League seems all but sealed.
Riyad Mahrez is somewhat up in the air between staying at Leicester City and being transferred out which could mean either another Premier League side (Arsenal?) or another league (Roma?). His draft position seems higher than would be warranted based on the uncertainty.
Perhaps less obvious in ignoring transfer speculation as a useful tool in fantasy drafting is Marcos Alonso's position as, on average, the 24th player taken in drafts on the Premier League site. There is no danger that Alonso will leave Stamford Bridge but they do seem bent on bringing in another player of similar quality to play the position. This doesn't mean that Alonso will necessarily be a reserve this season but he's certainly at risk to be rotated this season where he wasn't last season. Even if he's the preferred player at his position there's every chance that he'll be rotated for some of the Premier League matches, those against lower level opposiiton, where he'd be most likely to get a clean sheet.
Finally, Jermain Defoe already has his move from relegated Sunderland to Bournemouth. What is less clear is exactly how often he'll play. At the Stadium of Light he was the only forward with any track record of scoring goals and was as close to the definition of "first name on the teamsheet" as exists this side of Messi and Ronaldo. Moving to south coast, Defoe has company in the form of Joshua King, coming off a breakout season no less, Callum Wilson, and Benik Afobe. Certainly none have Defoe's track record but given Defoe's age and the quality that Eddie Howe's other three forwards have shown at times it's hard to see Defoe being the guaranteed starter you'd want with the 31st pick in your draft.
Like most, I don't love the tabloid nature of transfer rumors, especially the ones that are clearly baseless or dangled by agents looking to benefit their clients but one of the things that draft fantasy managers need to get good at is separating the reasonable rumors from the purely speculative and applying those reasonable rumors to the draft value of the players that would be impacted. It isn't an exact science but it is the difference between wasting an early pick or making a valuable later pick.
[UPDATE] Good friend Andrew Laird noted that some of the reason for the elevated ADP numbers for some of last season's excellent performers who might not be nearly as prolific this season, especially Diego Costa, may be triggered by the Auto-draft feature combined with the default rankings in that feature. Costa, who is still technically a Chelsea player, is ranked highly based on his productivity last season. The lesson, you won't be happy if you leave the default settings in place for Auto-draft. Make sure you put your stamp on the Auto-draft settings to ensure that you aren't one of the people who picks Costa with the 17th overall pick or even earlier.