The new season is almost upon us, ending months of summer boredom. A new season also brings around the beginning of a new Fantasy Football season, another additional bonus. Thousands and thousands of people take part every year via the Sky Sports website or via the official Barclays Premier League, though in fairness, the vast majority of those forget about their team before we even see Christmas. For the stalwarts of Fantasy Football out there, we’ve produced our guide to the game (based on the Barclays version), so set up your league, take on your friends, take our advice and claim the glory for yourself. (Disclaimer – We will not be held responsible for any bruised egos if the tips don’t pay off).
The standard team name is 20 characters. Not that it means anything or counts for extra points, but a decent team name is a good way of getting a psychological edge on your opponents. Don’t just put your name (boring) or your club’s name (even more boring). We’ve also heard the traditional ‘funny’ ones over and over again, (yes that means you ‘Inter YourMum’ or Norfolk N’Chance.’ Something original, something witty and something that makes your side sound like the champions you are. And don’t use the internet to cheat…
The Barclays site allows you to design your own strip, which is quite handy for those of you fashionable people out there. The traditional method is to go as jazzy as possible, making your kit look like Joseph’s Technicoloured Dreamcoat. This is purely up to you, stripes, hoops, plain, take your damn pick. You’ve been buying replica shirts all your life so here’s your chance to make one of your own. Just one piece of advice. Look up the Arsenal away shirt for 2012/13. Don’t copy that.
I guess this is probably the crucial bit. Players to tend to win you matches, so make sure you pick wisely. Through Barclays, you get £100 million (Man City fans sit down, you can’t have more) and have to pick your starting XI plus four subs. Participants are only allowed to pick three players maximum from each club, so make sure you pick wisely. Nominate a captain, whose score will be doubled each week, so it’s often a good decision to have the best player as the skipper in order to rack up the numbers. Transfers can be made up until the first gameweek, but swapping your team around will cost you points thereafter, unless you use a wildcard (you get two a season). Scoring is simple, players pick up points for appearances, assists, goals, clean sheets (1 point for midfielders, 4 for defenders and goalkeepers) and shot saves (not you Luis Suarez). Points are deducted for yellow cards (that rules out Lee Cattermole), red cards (see ya later Joey Barton) or own goals (don’t pick Richard Dunne either then). Pick those individuals with this in mind.
Our Player Tips
We’ve examined the list of available players and come up with a few hints and advice on who to avoid and who to snap up. Obviously, this advice comes with limitations, we’d sweep up otherwise, but you might want to take it into consideration:
Players to sign
A goalkeeper’s only as good as his defence in front of him, so it’s a waste just picking a quality keeper if it means he’s not going to keep clean sheets in the first place. With this in mind, it’s often best to splash out on one of the top goalkeepers, whose club won’t concede too many during the season. Manchester United’s defence is usually squeaky clean and David De Gea impressed with his shotstopping at the end of last year after sorting out his early blunders, so he’d be a good shout. Joe Hart is the obvious choice, while if you’re looking for a wildcard at less money, Jussi Jaaskelainen of West Ham is a Premier League veteran with a good pair of hands.
David De Gea, Manchester United £6.0 (million)
Joe Hart, Manchester City, £7.0
Jussi Jaaskelainen, £4.5
Defenders get as many points for clean sheets so again, it’s a good idea to select some from a side that don’t tend to concede as many goals. It’s impossible to pick a back four from all the big teams, you’ll simply run out of budget, so creativity is needed to select your defenders. A side like Swansea then, who play a lot of attacking football, aren’t the best bet to pick defenders from as they’ll always concede plenty, while going for players from newly promoted sides is always a gamble. Goalscoring defenders are often useful as they’ll pick up more points, so the likes of Leighton Baines, free kick specialist, or John Terry, good aerial presence from set pieces, are decent shouts. Assists are also useful, so the likes of Kyle Walker or Glen Johnson bombing on from the wings can earn you a few points in a tight week. Look at defenders who are likely to play regularly as well, such as Younes Kaboul at Spurs, who seems to be their only front line centre back this season. Pick two expensive defenders, one at a medium price and then two of the cheap variety as one will be a substitute anyway.
John Terry, Chelsea £7.0
Vincent Kompant £7.5
Leighton Baines £7.0
Younes Kaboul, Tottenham £5.5
Fabricio Coloccini, Newcastle £5.0
Laurent Koscielny, Arsenal £5.5
Carlos Cuellar, Sunderland £4.5
James Tomkins, West Ham, £4.5
Craig Dawson, West Brom £4.0
Quite often you’ll find the majority of your points will come from midfielders, who score goals, make assists and play the majority of matches. Therefore picking a man who will find the back of the net throughout the season is crucial as goals get the most points. They often prove to be the most expensive, but make sure you invest two lots of top dollar in players who get you maximum points every week. Have a look for players in lower clubs who are likely to pick up goals every now and then, for example Junior Hoilett at QPR who enjoyed a prolific season last year. Avoid defensive midfielders like Gareth Barry, Nigel de Jong or Scott Parker because as good as they are, they don’t tend to score many or make many and often get booked in their duty protecting the back four. Stay well clear of well-known hotheads like Lee Cattermole or Joey Barton and don’t be afraid to pick someone at a bargain price. Look how well James McLean played last season for Sunderland.
Frank Lampard, Chelsea £9.0
David Silva, Manchester City £10.0
Steven Gerrard, Liverpool £9.5
Junior Hoilett, QPR £6.5
Steven Pienaar, Everton £6.5
Kevin Nolan, West Ham £6.0
Steven Davis, Southampton £5.0
James McCarthy, Wigan £5.0
Craig Gardner, Sunderland £5.0
Your main man is always a striker, so it’s often a good idea to make them the captain as well to double the points. Obviously they get points for goals, but don’t forget how many goals the likes of Wayne Rooney or Sergio Aguero provide for others. For maximum points, try and buy two of the top strikers if you can budget elsewhere as this will earn you far more points throughout the season than taking a punt on someone further down the list. Avoid players with poor scoring records (normally the target men) or from teams like Stoke who don’t tend to score many goals. You’ll need a backup striker too, so try and find one on the list who’ll play regularly and therefore might have a chance of grabbing a few throughout the season.
Wayne Rooney, Manchester United £12.0
Sergio Aguero, Manchester City £11.5
Luis Suarez, Liverpool £9.5
Nikica Jelavic, Everton £8.5
Demba Ba, Newcastle £7.5
Djibril Cisse, QPR £6.5
Pavel Pogrebnyak, Reading £5.0
Modibo Maiga, West Ham £5.5
Andrew Johnson, QPR £5.0
So there you go. A definitive guide to Fantasy Football. Enjoy and remember to keep making your transfers throughout the season. Nobody stays fit all year. Oh and if anyone wins any decent money thanks to me, do the honourable thing and send a cut my way!!