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Drafting for Early Fixtures 23/24

For three years now, I have been looking at early fixtures and how to get the most out of them to maximize your team player value and win out of the gates. This strategy, however, takes looking at fixtures to the extreme. One part trade advice, one part draft advice, and a generous helping of our Fixture Difficulty Tracker. For more incredible analysis and draft help check out our 23/24 Draft Kit and our Pricing Plans.

Michael Gary Scott: "The early worm gets the worm!"

Check out our 23/24 Draft Kit for all the pre-season information you would ever need. Draft Rankings, Team Previews, Strategy, Draft 101. We've got it all!!!

Fixture Difficulty Tracker

Hands down, this is one of the greatest tools on our site, made by our stats analyst @Drafterthoughts. The tracker includes not just positional fixture difficulty ratings, but customizable periods as well, so you can set 2 toggles: one for positions and the second one for number of fixtures. Say you are looking for a forward with favourable matchups in the first 3 games. Boom! Set the toggles and you have your list of teams to look at. It is as great as it is easy to use. Please take your time and play around with it, then come back and read the rest of the article.

The tracker is for our subscribers, if you are looking to gain access to this incredible tool - look to purchase our Ultimate Pass here.

Early Fixtures are Key

Ok, so this is a no-brainer and pretty obvious to everyone who plays some form of fantasy football: when valuing a player for a certain period of time, you have to look at the fixtures they are facing in that period. In this article, I am proposing a tactic that takes this to the extreme. Overvaluing early fixtures on draft day, early waiver wire claims, free agent claims, and trade moves is a risky tactic, but one that can result in success in leagues that have trade-happy managers. It goes without saying that you, as a manager, have to have a knack for trading, as this strategy relies on getting early value on your picks and ruthlessly trading them out on a high.

For this article, I will be looking at the first 5 fixtures, as after those, player valuations will start to set in, and making trades will be much easier, especially for players that had great starts to the season. If the player has excelled in the first few games, look to trade them out as early as after Gameweek 3.

Building Your Roster to Trade Them Away

General Rules

  • Draft players who have easy early fixtures (I will be looking at fixtures up until the first international break)

  • Do not draft players with difficult early fixtures - especially in the late rounds.

  • Draft players whose positions on the team are fairly nailed on. You cannot afford to wait for a long time for their value to materialize.

  • Do not draft or get players you will have trouble letting go of for personal reasons

You can check out which players we recommended last season here.


Christopher Nkunku (LIV, whu, LUT, NOT) - Nkunku is one of the most talented players on the Chelsea roster, so the new coach, Poch, will be looking to build a team around him. At the time of writing, the Frenchman has an ADP of 25 which might still increase a bit. After the opening day, Chelsea's fixtures open up.

Trade target: Watkins/Diaz/Isak+another player of value.

Evan Ferguson (LUT, wol, WHU, NEW) - Three home fixtures, one against a newly promoted side, and two against last season's relegation candidates. What is not to like? You have probably read ad nauseam that Brighton assets should be treated with caution because they will be burdened by Europe. Well, by the time EL games start, you will have traded up. It is still up in the air who at Brighton will be starting, and in what positions, so you will need to be savvy, looking out for pre-season games and results and/or hedging your bets, but whoever starts in attack for Brighton will have a field day.

Trade target: Whichever Liverpool central forward has not gotten going out of Nunez and Gakpo.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin (FUL, avl, WOL, shu) - Hear me out. If he stays healthy in pre-season, he will still be hovering around an ADP of 90. You do not need him to be healthy for months on end, just until the first international break comes around. The teams they face in the first four could theoretically improve, but their defences have historically looked bad enough to hold on hope.

Trade target: Mitrovic if he stays/Willian.


Mykhailo Mudryk (LIV, whu, LUT, NOT) - Mudryk has the best ADP (66) among Chelsea midfielders. He fits the bought for big money, needs to play category. He can be drafted pretty cheaply, and therefore any better-performing player could be a good trade-in target for him.

Trade target: Kulusevski, Joelinton

Jarrod Bowen (bou, CHE, bha, lut) - There isn't a lot to be excited about when it comes to West Ham during this off-season. No new signings, rumblings of discontent, etc. Bowen has been playing well in pre-season and has retained an ADP of 31, which is pretty low, considering his heroics two seasons ago. The second-best early schedule should guarantee Bowen great production even when the team itself might be struggling. On a high, remembering the good old days, he could be traded for Maddison, who has a decent but tricky early schedule.

Trade target: Maddison

Mathias Jensen (TOT, ful, CRY, BOU) - The second-best midfielder schedule before the first international break belongs to Brentford, who are regarded by many as primed to struggle without Toney. You can buy a piece of this attacking unit by getting Jensen late (ADP: 114). He might not be flashy, but he shares sets with Mbeumo and does a ton of attacking in open play too (set-piece reliance only 19%). That late in the draft, you are not getting set-piece takers capable of 20-point games. You could make a good trade trying to ride on a Jensen high during the international break by trying to offload him for someone like Almiron (3rd worst schedule) or Brownhill (2nd worst schedule).

Tarde target: Almirón/Brownhill


Igor (LUT, wol, WHU, NEW) - The new Brighton man will fly under the radar as a late addition/FAB pickup and a not-so-exciting prospect. However, he will have every chance to impress in a schedule featuring three home games and relatively easy opposition. Once on a hot streak, try and trade him for an underperforming Newcastle defender who has by that time faced City, Liverpool and Brighton and is prepping for "2-a-weeks" with Champions League football fast approaching.

Trade target: Schar

Ben White (NOT, cry, FUL, MUN) - Another "buy-in cheaply on a high-performing team" type situation here. People have been questioning White's spot in the Arsenal defence since Timber's arrival which has pushed the Englishman down to an ADP close to 100. While he may share minutes with Timber in the long run, I believe he will start the season in the first eleven with this dream schedule. You can try to shift him after what might be four double-digit scores to get in the lesser fancied of the 2 United RBs.

Trade target: AWB

John Stones (bur, NEW, shu, FUL) - Stones finished the season on fire and in a box midfield role. We do however recommend exercising some caution in investing a lot in Man City defenders as they are notoriously bad in Fantrax Default Scoring. That said, this schedule and his new role could make Stones the exception (albeit short-term) to this rule. If he is performing as he did at the end of last season, you might not be shooed away if you inquired about Pinnock or even the new Liverpool club captain, van Dijk, during the international break.

Trade Target: VVD/Pinnock

Check out our Fixture Difficulty tracker for more information.

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