This Friday sees the return of Premier League football. One thing more important than this is the management of your Fantasy Football team. It’ll make you look out for results that would otherwise have no bearing on your life. It’s the condensed version of Football Manager you can carry around with you every day.
For the purpose of this guide, we’re only looking at the official Premier League version. The site has an extensive rules section and even a weekly Scout that gives tips.
One rule that is missing from their page – and it’s the most important – is how you should never select a player from a rival club. If you support Manchester City, you can never play Lukaku, even if he scores a hattrick every single week.
In a private head-to-head league end of season final (more on leagues later), an Arsenal fan beat yours truly by giving Harry Kane the captain’s armband. A victory forever tainted. Said Arsenal fan shares a surname that sounds like the lead character from Highlander. The catchphrase from that movie was: “There can only be one.”
When it comes to rival players in fantasy football: There can never be one.
If you think it’s okay to select from a rival team you probably have a nice collection of half-and-half scarfs, have a second and third team (possible fourth), and passionately support Barcelona and Real Madrid in El Clásico.
About picking those players, the £50m budget doesn’t go far (most expensive player is currently £12.5m) but it’s important to have 15 active players. Many of us have a sacrificial lamb – the £4m addition we know will never play but the budget’s overstretched – however, it’s a false economy.
Values go up and down. Letting a player rot breaks the bank.
The healthiest squads are picking up points across the board, every week. Their values increase over time, giving greater flexibility with wildcards.
A squad that’s competitive is great, just be mindful of tinkering. The stats never lie. Last season’s can also be found on the site. Sticking to your guns will benefit most of you in the long run. If you could predict individual form, bookies would be going bankrupt. That said, react when it’s clear someone unexpected is having a strong season.
Etienne Capoue is a £4.5m bargain and bagged 131 points last season. In a similar vein, Carl Jenkinson scored 94 points in 2014/15, this was off the back of two seasons, scoring 50 and 51 respectively, but his form did drop off.
Another problem with tracking form, is trying to second guess real life rotation as you juggle your own.
Take Raheem Sterling, for example. He scored an impressive 149 last year and has looked positive in preseason but it’s inevitable he will be rested. So, you need to have a strong player on the bench that is guaranteed to start that week.
Sterling comes in at a hefty £8m, for a million less you can get Wilfried Zaha. He might not have the headline grabbing games Sterling enjoys but he’ll trickle feed a not too dissimilar return over 38 Gameweeks.
As for wildcards, play them as a last resort. A kneejerk, week two, wildcard will not benefit you any better than persevering.
Fantasy Premier League only has meaning if there’s a competitive edge. You’ll soon find yourself in several Classic leagues. These are great, and joining a few public ones allows you to have a peek at other teams to steal ideas (or scout, to give it it’s professional name), but the method of cumulative scoring means even after a few weeks, some participants may have an unassailable lead.
This is where head-to-head leagues help out. Instead of just adding up your Gameweek points, it pits you against someone in the league. If you score higher, you get three points, just like real life. A league table forms where the weekly highest scorer could find themselves out of the top four.
These leagues can even break down into cups after Gameweek 35.
Hopefully these little pointers will help out but they do come from a guy who finished 23rd in last season’s private head-to-head league…