Fantasy Football Insider
Still haven't picked your Fantasy Football team? Take these five pieces of advice
Fantasy Football might be an enjoyable experience, put picking your original team can be a hellish one. Here are five pieces of advice you might want to take on board.
Put your faith in the big guns
How often have you heard yourself or one of your mates explain the omission of one of the league’s heavy hitters from a Fantasy team on the basis that “everybody else has him”. So what?
If, for example, Wayne Rooney is on a hot streak and Manchester United are playing Wigan at Old Trafford (always a banker for the home side), are you going to leave Rooney out of your team and potentially cost yourself around 30 points in the process? Of course you’re not, or at least you shouldn’t.
It might be the bargain buys or the unheralded gems that separate the cream from the rest of the crop, but the best players are the ones that are going to bring in the bacon on a regular basis, hence their expensive and often prohibitive price tags.
At any given time throughout the season, a manager should be able to afford at least two players that cost in excess of £10 million and depending on form, the opposition, double gameweeks etc., you’ll know which of the big guns to rotate in and out at the right time.
You might have to fill your bench with journeymen who will never play to be able to afford them and giving them the captain’s armband might backfire spectacularly on occasion, but it’ll all be worth it in the end.
Forward planning might sound like a crappy phrase spouted out by government ministers from time to time, but it’s worth looking ahead at least five or six weeks into the season when selecting your original squad.
A quick glance through the fixtures will tell you that Chelsea have a pretty handy double gameweek with games against Wigan and Reading in Gameweek 1, but then won’t play at all in Gameweek 3. Champions Manchester City face QPR, Southampton and Stoke in their opening five games, while Manchester United have easy-enough looking games against Fulham, Southampton and Wigan sandwiched in between away trips to Everton and Liverpool.
Forward planning is no guarantee of success, of course, but it might save you losing a hell of a lot of points on transfers and even prevent you from playing the precious wildcard in the opening weeks of the season.
Identify the set-piece takers
At the start of the season, picking the proven performers is the easiest job, but filling out the rest of your team with the players from the lower end of the market is what has the dedicated Fantasy Football-ites tearing their hear out and poring over last season’s Championship stats for hours on end.
A good piece of advice when looking at players from newly promoted teams or other sides you don’t know too well is to look at who takes the set-pieces. Ian Harte, for example, will return to the Premier League for the first time in five seasons, with many Irish fans expecting his lack of pace to be brutally exposed at left back.
Ian Harte might prove an unlikely points machine
That may indeed happen, but Harte is likely to make up for it in Fantasy Football terms with goals from penalties and free kicks and assists from set-pieces in the opposition half. Sebastian Larsson is another man who regularly delivers (seven goals last season), as does Everton’s Leighton Baines (four goals... for a defender) and West Brom’s Chris Brunt (eight assists).
Leave your club loyalty at the door
Chances are some of you reading this have already promised not to pick players from a certain club as a result of your loyalty to another one.
From personal experience, Manchester United and Liverpool players are most affected by such a policy, in this country anyway. A couple of managers I know steadfastly refused to pick Cristiano Ronaldo when he was banging them in for the Red Devils a couple of years back and I hardly need to tell you that they ended up miles behind at the finish.
Picking your team based on club loyalty might be an admirable stance, but one that will get you nowhere in the end. Some smart alecs will argue that not picking Liverpool players was a fairly rewarding policy last season, but that’s not the point and you know it.
We might be willing to make an exception for individual matches (not picking any United players for a game against Liverpool, for example), but Fantasy Football is a cold, analytical business and a long-term strategy based on club loyalty will come back to haunt you in the end.
Don't be slow to ring the changes
This might be a tip for a little further down the road, but one of the key factors to Fantasy Football success is identifying a bandwagon and jumping aboard as quickly as possible.
The most obvious one from last season is Robin van Persie, who you might think was a certainty in every team, but countless managers were slow to get him in because of his exorbitant price, fear of injury and by convincing themselves that the prolific streak had to come to an end sooner or later.
It’s not just strikers either. When a team is being particularly miserly in defence for a run of games, picking a goalkeeper and a defender or two defenders from the same team can prove a rewarding exercise, but again, make sure to remove at least one of them as soon as you realise the rearguard is getting leaky again.
If you still haven't entered JOE's own Fantasy Football League, you can do on fantasy.premierleague.com. The code for entry is 802924-200936, just make sure to enter before 2.45pm on Saturday, August 18. More on that here.