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Early EPL Draft Veteran Fantrax Mock Draft Analysis: 20th June 2023

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

For the first Fantrax mock draft of the 23/24 EPL Draft season, we got a handful of veterans from the Draft Community together to give it a go. This article will analyze briefly the results of that mock draft. Mock drafts, to any uninitiated, are a fantastic way to gauge changes in player valuation from last season, as well as to begin to tweak your draft strategy. This will be the first of many mock drafts hosted by TDS. Future mocks will be open to any who are members of The Inner Circle or have purchased our 23/24 Draft Kit. Check out our Pricing Plans to get in on the action!

Check out our 23/24 Draft Kit for all the pre-season information you could ever need. We've got a Live Draft Aide, Draft Rankings, Team Previews, Cheat Sheets, Strategy Articles, Draft 101. Dominate your draft!


Early EPL Draft Veteran Fantrax Mock Draft Analysis

I also recorded a podcast episode of The Key Pass Collective during which I analyzed this draft LIVE while also taking part in it. It was a ton of fun and can be found here if you'd like to listen!


Round 1

Kicked off with a "surprise" pick of Kane at #1 overall, the draft got off to a cracking start. But really, you'll see Kane, Haaland, and Bruno go #1 overall in various drafts this summer. All of them are worthy picks and all elite fantasy options. Hence, my love for the #3 pick this year... if you can get it. As you can see, Round 1 does feature a noticeable drop off in talent at the end. And, I don't necessarily see the early Round 2 assets being that much better than those at the end of R2. So again, early Round 1 picks (at this point in the summer) are looking solid.


Round 1 Call-Outs

Best Value:

Trippier - Any time you can get last year's 3rd highest overall points scorer at #8, you celebrate.


Safest Pick:

Bruno - He's been Mr. Consistent over the last couple of seasons, missing almost no time. An elite fantasy asset with almost no risk.


Riskiest Pick:

Son - There's a lot about Ange's style of play to get excited about from an attacking lens. But after Son's mediocrity last year, R1 may be just a bit too rich.


Too Early:

Grealish - Looks to be nailed in the XI, but it's still City and it's still Pep. High risk, high reward and all that, but do you really want your R1 pick to carry any rotation risk?


Round 2

Round 2 brought us our first real "run" of this draft, which simply describes multiple picks in a row which feature players taken from the same position. In this case, midfielders were flying off the board. And, as a result, you'll see some drafters getting a bit spooked and reaching on midfielders later. You could even make the argument that my pick of Gibbs-White was a reaction of that nature. Had I not been able to secure Mitro in Round 3. We also saw another defender off the board in Porro, which we'll discuss briefly below. Otherwise, these picks were all fairly safe and expected at this point in the draft.


Round 2 Call-Outs

Best Value:

Rashford - In our 23/24 Way Too Early Rankings, not a single analyst had Rashford ranked lower than 12. His consensus rank was 8th overall. It's tough to get really good value this early, but this is about as close as you'll find in that category.


Safest Pick:

Jesus - Sure, he's the first pick of the round. But barring injury, it's hard to imagine Gabby doing anything other than delivering first round results. Last year, in an injury-riddled year, he ranked 10th overall in points per start.


Riskiest Pick:

Foden - As mentioned, none of these picks are that risky. And even my favorite whipping boy, Phil Foden, looks like he's in line to have a considerable uptick in minutes. But after spending last year on the outside looking in, he's going to have fantasy managers' hearts in their mouths until lineups are announced.


Too Early:

Gibbs-White / Porro - I've already mentioned why I think my MGW choice might have been premature. But I needed a trustworthy, high-level MID and the MID run freaked me out. Porro, though, also gets a call out here simply because with the question marks surrounding Postecoglou's tactics, I might have preferred Shaw here.


Round 3

Still largely dominated by MIDs and FWDs, Round 3 will be the last round that has cut-and-dry, nailed on fantasy stars. As early as R4, things get uncomfortable for fantasy managers. This is basically your last chance to get one of those top-tier MIDs. Similarly for FWDs, you'll notice that after this, the landscape for front-men gets dire fast. So, in R3, strengthen where you're weakest. Or, get value where you can find it. For me, the 7th highest-scoring FWD in Mitrovic ticked the latter box.


Round 3 Call-Outs

Best Value:

James - "But he's so injury prone!" I'm aware. But he's also great value at #35 overall. If (and it's a colossal "if") Reece James plays even 75% of league matches next year, this is a potential league-winning pick.


Safest Pick:

Paqueta / Mbeumo - Both of these players provided incredibly underrated fantasy value last year. They are the very definition of set-and-forget players. They're both safe and represent value at these respective draft picks.


Riskiest Pick:

Darwin - I am going to go on record this preseason multiple times (see my "5 Players Whose Situations Have Actually Worsened" article) stating that Darwin is one of the absolute mot dangerous picks this season. I see him as a super sub who will start, and dominate, in Europa League matches. After losing his spot completely at the end of last season, this pick scares me.


Too Early:

Mac Allister - As a member of the Liverpool faithful, I am elated at the Alexis Mac Allister signing. I worry about him as a fantasy asset, though. 16th among midfielders last year with a PPS of 11.2, he would need to mimic that to represent value here as the 19th MID off the board. He's losing penalty kicks and the Liverpool midfield is notoriously a place where fantasy points go to die. But please, prove me wrong, Alexis!


Round 4

It's worth mentioning that D.D. Fofana was a proxy for Nkunku in this draft, as the latter wasn't in the game yet. That should answer a lot of questions off the bat. As I mentioned, Round 4 is where the unknown begins to creep in more and more with each pick. Whether it's new additions in Nkunku and Pedro, rotation risks like Saint-Maximin, Jota, and Benrahma, or guys like Robbo and Mount struggling for form, this round has some landmines. This makes picks like Shaw and Estupinian really attractive.


Round 4 Call-Outs

Best Value:

Mount - There's no guarantee that Mason Mount moves to Manchester United, but it looks like a matter of time. And Mount in an ETH offense with consistent minutes is a mouthwatering prospect. Everyone has suffered a dip in form lately at Chelsea, but Mase hasn't just forgotten how to play football. I'm keeping the faith.


Safest Pick:

Shaw - You'll see a trend in that many of the safest picks are the higher scoring DEFs. They usually won't win you a league on their own, but guys like Luke Shaw are worth their weight in gold because of their consistency.


Riskiest Pick:

Saint-Maximin - At this point, Saint-Maximin appears to have completely lost his spot in the XI. Even if that's not the case going forward, his injury issues tend to negate any benefits to rostering him. He missed 13 games last season to injury, which left him struggling for form... leading to more missed games. This has been a trend. He has missed 50 matches since 2018, and all but 6 of them have been for soft-tissue injuries.


Too Early:

Ramsey - Jacob Ramsey had some impressive matches last season. He started 82% of matches for the Villains and finished with a PPS (points per start) of 9.4, which is solid. I don't mind him as a role-player for your fantasy team, but the number of times he'll go missing in certain gameweeks (scoring minimally) scares me off of him in the 4th round.


Round 5

What an interesting round the 5th turned out to be. The entire round, barring maybe only two players, consists of decent fantasy assets with secure spots in the starting XI who will be a nice backbone to managers' fantasy teams. The exceptions to that include Mahrez, Alvarez, and Kai. But, the obvious upside those players possess makes those picks understandable. R5 is a perfect time to stock up on whichever position you're lacking with high-floor options.


Round 5 Call-Outs

Best Value:

Schar - 3rd most fantasy points among defenders last year (22nd overall) in the 5th? That screams value to me.


Safest Pick:

Tarkowski - Safe isn't always sexy, as is the case here. But Tarkowski is a shoo-in for a top 10 defender year in and year out. He's not going to win you your league, but he's most certainly not going to bust. I'm told his picture will feature next to the word "safe" in the upcoming 3rd edition of The Oxford English Dictionary.


Riskiest Pick:

Havertz - The newly minted Gunner, Kai Havertz, has supposedly been praised by Arteta for his "versatility." Sounds to me like he doesn't have a true role in the team. Given this and his struggles for form at Chelsea, this pick carries some definite risk.


Too Early:

Van Dijk - There was a time in the not-so-distant-past that VVD was a second round pick. Those days are well and truly gone. We still have him as a Tier 3 DEF in our Tiered Rankings, so not all is lost. He still averaged 7.9 PPS last season. There are just several DEFs I'd want over him... namely the first pick of Round 6: Ethan Pinnock.


Round 6

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Round 6 is the first round where preparation and draft nous really combine to give some managers and advantage over others. The obvious names are out the window. And, importantly, so are the ones whose names are atop the list when you sort by overall 22/23 fantasy points or by 22/23 average points per game. This is the round where you will absolutely kick yourself if you haven't done your research and realized that players like Pereira, Tavernier, Zaha, and Sancho are all still available, but are hidden in plain sight because of injuries or lack of minutes in the season past. These types of players represent immense value if your league mates forget about them. Pounce.


Round 6 Call-Outs

Best Value:

Mee - Once Pinnock goes off the board, the high-upside DEFs are dwindling, which makes Mee, who scored more total fantasy points last season than both Tarkowski and Pinnock an easy pick here.


Safest Pick:

Pinnock - He's one of the most consistent scorers in the game. There's not much else to say other than the fact that your leaguemates might sleep on him if they're not familiar with his numbers. Don't be the one to make that same mistake.


Riskiest Pick:

Sancho - Last year was a really rough year for the young midfielder. We've all seen highlights of Sancho at Dortmund. In 19/20, he tallied 17 goals and 16 assists. His time at United has been far less fruitful and, at the moment, he's still fighting consistent starts.


Too Early:

Luiz - This is a case of total fantasy points obscuring a player's true value. On the face of it, you see a player who scored more fantasy points in 22/23 than Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez, and Pervis Estupinian. But that's the thing about "total points"... they have a way of accumulating, and sometimes slowly. Luiz will pleasantly surprise you some weeks, but for many others he will disappear. Plus, the AVL midfield is in for a bit of a shakeup with the arrival of Youri Tielemans.


Round 7

In Round 7, we see our first promoted player taken in Josh Brownhill. In this case, we're lucky enough to have seen Brownhill in previous years and know what he can do. But usually when promoted players start to be taken, it communicates that the obvious, established fantasy assets are largely gone. And we see that here in R7. We have a mixture of low-ceiling players like Rice and Rodri, rotation question marks like Trossard and Dalot, and boom or bust players like Solanke and Outtara. Promoted players being taken is a sign that managers are looking elsewhere for upside because the existing pot is empty. This will also act as a signal to other managers to start taking more promoted players. Unless you know that a promoted player has a high chance of being fantasy relevant, try not to get caught up in this. As TLC once wisely advised, "please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to."


Round 7 Call-Outs

Best Value:

Casemiro - A criminally underrated fantasy asset. Look at his numbers. Spend some quality time with them. 9.5 points per start with just a 27% reliance on goals, assists, and clean sheets for his points output.


Safest Pick:

Rodri - My team was safe to a fault in this draft. So this is less me tooting my own horn than it is a warning to draft safe players, but not to the extent that your team lacks upside and scoring potential.


Riskiest Pick:

DCL - No doubt the riskiest pick, but possibly the one with the most potential for fantasy returns. His injury concerns are well known, but the bulk have actually not been muscular. His lengthiest injury spell was because of a fractured toe. A healthy Calvert-Lewin scores fantasy points, pure and simple. Can he rebound in 23/24?


Too Early:

Johnson - I completely understand that the FWD position is thin, especially at this point in the draft. However, Brennan Johnson's upside is so completely lacking that most weeks, you'll opt for another MID or even a DEF over him. You'll likely end up dropping him, and when you do... you'll be able to pick him back up in a good matchup. Go for someone with a higher ceiling here.


Round 8

As mentioned, other managers got the signal that it was promoted player time. These ones make sense, though. Both Morris and (even more so) Ndiaye stand to be decent assets this season. My pick of Manuel is a pure punt, to be fair. And the rest of the round saw relatively safe options go, as well as some more upside punts like Neto, Buonanotte, and Madueke. Also, it's hard to say what Toney's true draft price should be this season. One could say that the 8th round is reasonable, but just remember that you're committing one of your bench spots to him for half of the season.


Round 8 Call-Outs

Best Value:

Madueke - There's risk involved in this pick, but I really think that Madueke has the talent to gain a spot in the Chelsea XI and keep it. Should he do that, he has already shown that he has a knack for scoring fantasy points.


Safest Pick:

Doucoure - In what might be news to some, Abdoulaye Doucoure was scoring fantasy points for fun near the end of the season. He has demonstrated that he's far more than just a CDM in this Dyche system, which makes him not only safe, but also great value in the 8th.


Riskiest Pick:

Manuel - A definite upside punt, as mentioned. I was also recording a live draft analysis podcast at the time (find the link above) and was quite distracted. While I do like Manuel's prospects should he nail down a starting spot, it's probably more risk than you need to take on in the 8th round.


Too Early:

None - Aside from my pick, which I've already mentioned, I honestly think that every player taken in this round represents value at this spot in the draft. Every name that I encounter in this round has either a lower PPS, rotation concerns, or other question marks which have caused their value to deflate slightly. And the 8th round feel right for most of them.


Round 9

There were a surprising number of serviceable MIDs left in round 9! This should be encouraging to fantasy managers, and means that you can build midfield depth late in the draft. None of these should be your MID 1, 2, or even 3, but for a 4th or 5th midfield option, guys like Tella, Caicedo, Wilson, and Kovacic are fantastic value here. This is also a great time to build defensive depth. As a side note, I hope to god you have all of your starting FWDs by Round 9, because it's a desert out there from this point on.


Round 9 Call-Outs

Best Value:

Tella - At time of writing, Nathan Tella is not a BUR player yet. But should he return to Kompany's side, he's sure to continue to be a major component in their attack after scoring 17 goals and assisting 5 last season.


Safest Pick:

Tete - An underrated fantasy asset, provided you play on Fantrax or another platform that awards points for stats other than goals, assists, and clean sheets. He's consistent and involved in all phases of play.


Riskiest Pick:

Garnacho - We have no indication that Garnacho will crack Ten Hag's starting XI. This is a pure upside punt, and the upside is absolutely there. Plenty of risk here with plenty to gain.


Too Early:

Billing - He scores like a waiver wire streamer most weeks, with the odd goal here and there. Personally, I'm not drafting him.


Round 10

Mediocrity in the midfield defined Round 10. The value, were you to try to find it, was located in defense, as two top 20 defenders in Burn and Gabriel went off the board. I also appreciated the tactic of taking someone like Gallagher who may be in line for a transfer. If he lands in the Premier League, we already know from his days at Palace that he can ball out for fantasy teams.


Round 10 Call-Outs

Best Value:

Burn - Last year's defender #10 in total fantasy points. This is fantastic value.


Safest Pick:

Gabriel - A stalwart in the Arsenal defense, he's definitely safe. His fantasy value is very dependent on Arsenal keeping a clean sheet, though. The good news is that they're more likely to do that given Saliba's return.


Riskiest Pick:

Hall - Far from guaranteed minutes. He impressed at the end of last season, racking up fantasy points seemingly for doing nothing at all. But will this ghost point glutton see any time on the pitch with the return of Chilwell?


Too Early:

Solomon - He had a few bright flashes during spells last season. Those spells almost always involved his scoring a rare goal. He's certainly worth a punt if you fancy him to crack the XI, but it's hard for me to believe that you won't be able to get him later in the draft.


Rounds 11-16

Best Values:

Antonio (11-8)

Saliba (12-3)

Robinson (12-8)

Traore (13-11)

Fofana (14-7)

Thiago (14-10)

Zaroury (16-8)

Vieira (16-9)


Players I'm Not Interested In: These guys are basically just weekly streamers. You can find comparable players on the waiver wire. Spend your draft capital on players who offer more of a reward.

Wissa (11-11)

Garner (11-12)

Jones (13-4)

Danilo (13-9)

Christie (14-5)

Murphy (14-8)

Varane (14-12)

Ings (15-5)

Tierney (15-9)

 
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