Last Thursday, eight of the Talking League crew fired up their engines for a live draft. The festivities got underway a day earlier with Pat doing the draw, resulting in the following draft order:
Riley aka 'Rikey' (RC)
We opted for Corby Mode (Snake Order) in our draft, as well as the following settings:
Finals: Top 4
Bye Rounds: On
Rolling Lockout: On
Restricted Free Agents (RFAs): ON
RFA Time Period: 2 days
Trade Approvals: Free for all
After everyone made their 17 draft picks, we caught up with them in the Writer's Room to review the draft that was.
What was your strategy pre-draft? Did you stick to it and did it work?
RC: My draft strategy prioritised positional scarcity and building a team around a 50 point average per player. With the first pick, Hynes was a clear captaincy option and HLF gun. I wanted to lock in a strong WFB with my second pick through Teddy and Trell being taken off the table early and there being a lack of other 50+ point gun options. My third, fourth and fifth selections focussed on other HOK, MID and HLF options still available that will be 50+ point scorers. With limited 50+ scorers available from her on in, I prioritised filling my remaining MID and EDG positions with players who register high base stats. This means I neglected and filled my remaining WFB and CTR positions with my last selections before picking my bench. I saw there as being a lot of 30-40 point players in these positions that all have similar scoring potential.
JR: For me, draft is about securing quality in the positions where it is scarce. For me you want a gun Hooker, a gun WFB (with decent 2nd and 3rd) and at least one gun HLF. I think I ticked those boxes off early, which is easy to do picking 2nd/7th as you basically get back-to-back picks from round 2 onwards and can afford to neglect the CTRs.
KL: I had 3 main strategies for my draft team & knowing I was up against some draft guns I had to be very selective.
My main stategy was to get a HOK that I felt wouldnt play origin as we know decent hookers are few and far between in NRL Fantasy, hence my decision to go smokey with my first pick & grab Reece Robson which I think left a few stunned.
My 2nd strategy was to pick players from positions that were again, pretty light on guns hence my WFBs/CTRs are gunned to the eyeballs
My 3rd strategy was to obviously get players from positions that scored the best hence my 2nd pickup being Isaiah Yeo & 3rd pick Adam Doueihi. All n all I think my plan worked out well & am happy with the choices I made. I am still waiting for Haumole to become a HLF tho!
PW: I wanted gun halves and gun wfbs. I only secured 1 gun half (though Wighton is okay) but I feel my back three of Turbo Papi Teddy are the best in the league (though also with a large amount of risk). I missed out on a few players that I really wanted. part of the strategy was to get my edges late (rds 12&13) I couldn't resist what was on offer in Bateman Nikora in the middle rounds.
JW: I had listed all the rankings from the textbook, however under time pressure forgot to look at it after Round 2. I did try to prioritize non origin players in order to get wins mid season.
JO: My main strategy was looking to get durable and consistent players. The more rounds where my team is at full strength, the more likely I am to get wins. In a season where byes will play a major part, the less injured and suspended players I have in my side, the better I will score.
TB: I had no real strategy, I have a fair idea who is good and who is not so I just went for the players that were available and I wanted
AB: being at the turn it was about securing two quality players in different spots to diversify evenly, but at times it did get hard to turn down two gun players in the same position when you've got 14 picks until it's your turn again..which led me to having mediocre backs
Who do you think had the best draft?
RC: Jake assembled an incredible team. He prioritised his MID, EDG and HLF selections while selecting outside backs from strong attacking teams.
JR: I reckon Jake had a cracking draft, nailing his early picks. Taking JMK as trade bait in the 15th round was the savviest pick of the night.
KL: I am loving Jakeys team, his MIDs are stacked & his team is well balanced. It's hard to determine who had the best draft as everyone has really well balanced squads.
PW: Rikey killed it
JW: I always back myself and am happy with my team, if I dont win then i think Robbo looks strong.
JO: I think it’s a tie between Riley and Robbo, both have a well rounded squad including the outside backs. Flip a coin.
TB: Definitely myself, look at my team!
AB: although there were some funny draft picks and mammal sounds… Kyles team surprisingly turned out pretty well balanced, let's see how his ballsy first pick turned out though
Who are you most excited to secure for your team?
RC: After a strong outing in round 2 of the preseason challenge, I am stoked to see what Carrigan can produce in 2023.
JR: I managed to grab a few ceiling players that I wouldn’t consider for Classic. Of those, I was pretty chuffed to nab Reece Walsh in the 10th round.
KL: To be able to have a gun back 5 of Edwards, To'o, Suaali'I, Staggs & Val will really help me ensure plenty of points are scored on the CTRs/WFBs this eliviating the poor scores generally put out by these positions.
PW: I think big Tino is in for a cracker year
JW: I was happy to get Joey Manu also Aitken if he gets dual will be massive. I definitely have best centre line ups with Bird in the mix as well.
JO: Tapine for me. He’s durable and won’t play origin, plus expecting him to average 60 this year with some extra minutes at lock.
TB: Payne Haas was a good pick up and I have a few smokeys that will do me well over early rounds like Rapana etc
AB: most exciting player for me is probably hopgood, not only is he a parra player he just looks incredible in the trial and all stars game!
Which player/s did you think you got at a bargain?
RC: Christian Welch in round 11 was an absolute steal. He returns for the Storm in 2023 who have a depleted forward pack, with the projection he will have an increase role and output as a result.
JR: Tolutau Koula was my last pick, and I’m thrilled to have him as DPP cover. He might be important if I want to go all the way, with Walshy missing a potential semi and Latrell the Grand Final.
KL: Tom Gilbert as my 14th pick, being a dual also is handy for my MID/EDG setup.
PW: Turbo Papi Bateman and Nikora 5678 bargains
JW: Joe O was left on the table for a long time and although his role might be a little less, he should rack up the points.
JO: I think Ben Hunt as my round 15 pick as backup HLF cover is an absolute steal. Especially if he can recapture a 50 point average.
TB: Ponga I got quite late and also Nanai, the tears of Paddy are sweet.
AB: Nick Meaney seems like a good late pick especially with the uncertainty of Lil papis return I mean… a shattered patella… ouch take the season off mate ;)
Funniest moment in the live draft?
RC: When I was about to make back to back picks in rounds 2 and 3, everyone got up for me saying I was going to use my two minutes. Shoota then said “Riley, just go auto pick and put your headphone down and walk off”.
JR: The immaculate timing of Kyle’s laugh as Andy asked for a Dolphin impersonation made my night. Get that on the soundboard TK!
KL: Patty clowning it looking for Jack Wighton but his filter was set to EDG! Them timing out.
PW: though not funny for me, I think everyone got a kick out of me timing out
JW: Kyle the dolphin, I was still trying to think of the sound when he did both a laugh and dolphin sound.
JO: Andy talking over me the entire night as he couldn’t hear me.
TB: The dolphin laugh, word has it the rehashing “Flipper” and Kyle has some voice over work coming up
AB: the moment when I realised Jake was being a mute and for some reason I just couldn't hear him haha and then finding out he picked Dylan Brown two picks before me…
Who was best on ground?
RC: Shoota was clearly best on ground. Constant banter and digs at the boys that made for great laughter and listening. He seemed more focused on taking the mickey out of the Talking League boys than drafting his team.
JR: Shoota absolutely peppered everyone as they stepped up to the platform, and kept the fizz levels high. Thoroughly enjoyed him being the “UNO” player that kept asking “whose turn is it” when he was up to pick.
KL: Shooter gave it to everyone & I loved it!! I'm not gonna lie, I didn't even realise I had made that bloody Dolphin sound with my laugh until I listened back later 🤣🤣
PW: Shooter was hilarious
JW: Pat did a great job organising and getting it done. Even if he couldn't get all his picks on time.
JO: Patty for setting up the draft. He did a great job running show, however unfortunately didn’t correlate to a good Draft team.
TB: Hard to pick for myself, I think everyone was hilariously funny and listening back I was crying with laughter.
AB: Shooter just cracks me up every time I'm on a POD with him so it's hard not to choose him, but I think Kyle takes it for me with a few of his calls and the Dolphin laugh got me something chronic haha.
Since draft night, the RFA pool has been busy with a flurry of activity. This will continue all the way until the first rolling lockout in round 1, when the action starts. We'll keep you posted on the fortunes of the Talking League draft throughout the season, but for more Draft content be sure to refer to your copy of the Talking League Textbook. If you haven't got a copy already, be sure to grab yours today!