Updated: Aug 17, 2021
Fantasy EPL managers usually have short memories - a must given the relentless number of GWs, which provide a new shot at redemption each week - but not when it comes to some players. Hell hath no fury like a scorned manager. Whether due to past disappointment or simply not rating a particular player, here at The Draft Society, we hold grudges. We each have our own personal Do Not Draft List. Below, we pull the curtain back and detail why these players will never see our draft day rosters! Please Note: This is more of a "Do Not Draft... Until Much Later Than Their Average Draft Position", but that's a much less catchy name!
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Fantasy EPL Do Not Draft List
Every manager has a player (or several), for whatever reason, who they refuse to draft. Here is a list of ours!
Gabriel Jesus | Manchester City | ADP 73 | Ryan Barnes
How long you got? The guy will never be a nailed on starter in this Manchester City team. It was bad enough when he was just competing with Kun Aguero for minutes. Last season, City played many games without a striker at all. In the 2020/2021 EPL campaign, Jesus only started 22 matches. Given that level of rotation, you would have to burn another roster spot on cover (e.g., Kun Aguero, Ferran Torres, or another Man City asset). To add to that, when he did play, the Brazilian couldn't muster more than 7 ghost points per 90 minutes. His average Points per Start (PPS) of 10.2 is nothing to shake a stick at. The fact that he is a forward on the best attacking team in the league is always going to make him an attractive prospect. This will lead many to draft him early. But you can find a 10 PPS forward elsewhere, without the baggage. The lack of starts and ghost point productivity, combined with the extra roster spot you'd have to expend to effectively roster him, make Gabriel Jesus an endless headache for fantasy managers. For me, he does not justify an early round draft pick.
Dwight McNeil | Burnley | ADP 62 | Draft Genie
Anyone who follows me will know how much I am against rostering McNeil in Fantrax. McNeil finished last season at 8.9 PPS with only 2 goals and 5 assists. He is Burnley's go to guy for the attack, which isn't saying much. I believe Burnley are prime relegation candidates this season, and I wouldn't be surprised to see McNeil finish with 0 goals. Last season McNeil was going in Round 4 of drafts, this year he probably will go in Rounds 5-6. Personally, I would just avoid him all together. There are a lot better fantasy assets to draft in those rounds with way more upside than that of a Burnley winger.
Among midfielders, McNeil had the third most dispossessions with 62, which contributed to a lot of his poor scores. Burnley relied heavily on the form of Chris Wood to avoid relegation, and unless the New Zealander shows up again, they won't be in the EPL much longer. In mock drafts, I have seen the likes of Trossard, Ndidi, and Thiago all go after McNeil, which is a huge mistake. The Burnley man is usually way too overhyped in the Twitter world for no reason at all, and will probably frustrate you more than anything this season. McNeil should be "someone else's problem" come draft day, and you can thank me later when that manager is regretting their pick!
Harry Kane | Tottenham | ADP 3 | Tottiandor
Yes, I went there. He might be one of the most consistently excellent players and fantasy assets in the business, but do not let last year's numbers fool you. He has always been very much reliant on his goals and (until last season) very few assists to get you the points you want from your first rounder. He has clearly outgrown his club and while unhappy may be too strong a word, his mind may be wandering to pastures new. A new manager, a new system, no real strengthening of the squad does not inspire confidence. All of this coupled with his ridiculously high ADP, it is safe to say I will not be rostering Sir Harold of Kane this season in any of my leagues.
Wilfried Zaha | Crystal Palace | ADP 63 | FF Chaps
I drafted Zaha in Round 4 of the Community League last year, and immediately regretted it. I did manage to trade him out for Raphinha shortly before the Leeds winger exploded, but, boy, Zaha was a terrible pick in Round 4. Last season he scored 11 goals, which was pretty good, and ranked 18th overall for successful dribbles. But that's pretty much all he has. Goals and dribbles. Not enough there to warrant a high draft pick. No assists, no key passes, no shots on target, no successful crosses, no aerials. He only mustered 5.3 Ghost Points Per 90 as per our Useful Draft Metrics page. Awful.
Ahead of the 21/22 season, I have Zaha ranked 79th overall as things stand. If he's still free in Round 6 or 7 and I'm struggling for a forward, then, sure, I'd take him. Last season, the Crystal Palace man was the 65th highest scoring player, so he's fine for a mid-round draft pick. Do not take him during the first five rounds under any circumstances though!
Jamie Vardy | Leicester City | ADP 21 | Joe Williams
Trust me, this is painful to write. It feels like more of a eulogy than a "do-not-draft" justification. Luckily, the dart-chucking, Red Bull-chugging, counter-attacking Vardy is still with us in both body and spirit. However, he won't be on any of my rosters this year. Let me tell you why.
Many of you will think that you know where I'm headed with this. "Right, J. Will, I'm with you! Daka has come in now and Vardy will see less time on the pitch, maybe even lose his spot entirely!." The funny thing is that I don't think that's what will happen at all. I'm firmly in the camp who think that Vardy retains his spot almost entirely, being rested for short spells here and there. And the youngster Daka will be eased in to action with appearances off the bench and in cup/Europa matches.
Instead, my beef with Jamie Vardy this season harkens back to his actual on-field performances last season. Any manager who rostered this ageless wonder will remember fondly the first half of the 20/21 season, when he averaged almost 15 points per match (in Fantrax Default Scoring). But most of those same managers are still suffering from mild post-traumatic symptoms as Vardy's PPS fell 3.5 points in the second half of the season. And worse, those points would usually come in hauls, meaning 20+ points one week followed by two to three gameweeks of sub 5 pointers. All this to say that, for me, Vardy is too boom or bust for a second round pick with as much talent as there is on the draft board at that time. If he falls to you later (late 3rd/early 4th), well then by all means crack open a cool Red Bull, spike up your hair, and smash that "draft" button.
Thiago | Liverpool | ADP 60 | Drafterthoughts
Both ADP and TDS Consensus Rank (83) are far too bullish for the injury prone, Italian born, Spaniard with Brazilian parents. According to Transfermarkt, Thiago has missed 172 games due to injury or illness across his career. That amounts to nearly a thousand days absent. Since 2014/15, he has only played 53% of available league minutes, per FBRef. If we give him a generous 27 projected starts (~70% availability), he'll still need to average over 10 PPS to get him close to matching his ADP of 60 (Pablo Fornals was ranked 60th last season with 279 points).
Thiago averaged 8.5 PPS last season. Does he have the ability to score at an elite level? Absolutely. He was both sumptuous playmaker and tenacious ball-winner for Bayern Munich in 2015/16, making an incredible 4.9 interceptions per 90 whilst also averaging over 100 passes per 90. Converting his stats from that season to Fantrax Default Scoring, he averaged 18.5 points per 90 (PP90). Incredible, right? But the Liverpool midfield three has always been a bit of a black hole when it comes to Fantrax points. Look at this table of combined PP90s (all data from Opta, going back to the 2015/16 season, domestic leagues only):
That's a consistent pattern of decline in terms of Fantrax output. This is not to say that these players were not good signings, it's just that Klopp sets up his midfield to play very functionally, with the full-backs bombing to provide creativity.
Best case scenario: 30 starts, 10 PPS: 300 points (40th to 50th overall)
Neutral: 23 starts, 8.5 PPS: 195.5 points (roughly 130th overall)
Worst case scenario: 15 starts, 7 PPS: 105 points (roughly 250th overall)
Pick him up if he falls beyond the 10th round, otherwise let someone else waste a spot on their bench.
Marcus Rashford | Manchester United | ADP 19 | Murph
The entire football world has seemingly known that Marcus Rashford needs shoulder surgery for months now. At this point, we are only a few weeks away before kickoff, and the surgery has not been complete. This is quite literally the worst possible situation for a fantasy manager. The delaying of the inevitable means Rashford could miss even more weeks/months than he would have had he opted to miss the Euros or had surgery immediately after.
In mocks, I'm seeing him go off the board in the 2nd or 3rd round, but you're effectively paying full price for a player that may only be available for 66% of the 38 gameweeks - assuming he starts every game once he returns from surgery. His career numbers aren't so impressive that I want to stash him near his current ADP until he returns. Instead, you should spend the draft capital on someone who can play immediately, improve their value, and then look to buy low on the managers struggling to start good forwards because their FWD1 is Rashy.
Timo Werner | Chelsea | ADP 27 | FF Chaps
With everyone else being seemingly high on Werner, I've just got to go back in for a second Do Not Draft player! The German forward has a current ADP of 27, and five of my fellow Draft Society writers have him ranked in the 30s. I've got him ranked 89th. Here's why:
Everyone does love to laugh at Werner missing from 5 yards out. Everyone loves to ridicule him for being a Chelsea flop. But his first season at Stamford Bridge wasn't actually that bad. 6 goals and 12 assists makes for pretty good reading, and a PPS of 10.7 is pretty good in Fantrax. The first thing that I find alarming is a fairly low Ghost Points Per 90 of 6.7. Werner doesn't pick up those all important ghost points. But the most frightening thing about using an early draft pick on Werner is the fact that Chelsea are publicly looking for a new striker. Why would they be looking to spend upwards of £100m on Haaland or Lukaku if they were happy with Werner? They wouldn't. Do not touch him until the mid-rounds. It could be a wasted 3rd or 4th Round draft pick if you take him there.
Any Player Nursing A Long Term Injury | Ryan Barnes
Never again. It is always tempting to draft an amazing player who is available late in the draft due to suffering from a long term ACL injury. What's the big deal? I'll draft Ricardo Pereira in the 10th round, stash him for a few months, and he'll go back to his DEF 1 ways for half the season. A steal! But it is rarely that easy. Burning up a valuable roster spot for months on end kills your flexibility and prevents you from providing cover and unearthing waiver wire gems. And even after you've patiently waited for the player to return, he is usually not the same player. Using the above example, Riccy P last year had just a few weeks where he looked his best; otherwise, he was benched or mediocre. He was not worth the roster spot, time, and investment. In this draft, you may be tempted to take the likes of Justin James, a solid fantasy asset who is currently recovering from a nasty ACL injury. I would counsel against it.
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