With days remaining until the start of the 2019/20 Premier League season, Fantasy Football lovers (like myself) will be gearing themselves up ahead of the new campaign as we speak, delving through stats and past performances and researching who to buy and how best to accommodate their star assets whilst budgeting within their allocated means of either £50m or £100m.
This is a time where precision and thoughtfulness in planning your teams can pay off as you look to get one over your mates in the mini leagues or even aim for those lucrative jackpot wins. Below I’ve reviewed some of the top players to look out for and included a few tips to help you along the way.
Where To Play?
The Sun Dream Team was always top on my list with a £100k prize pot it is free to play and quite simple to follow (although the website is awful). Another decent payer is Sky who’s fantasy football top prize is £50,000 and although the official Premier League Fantasy doesn’t offer cash prizes, it has plenty of other offers and is probably the slickest of all to play with you picking a squad of 15 rather than a simple XI.
Where To Start?
If we stick to the three aforementioned both Sky & the EPL game allows you to pick from several formations that must have a minimum three defenders and maximum three strikers with no more than five in midfield. The Sun is more straightforward offering you the choice of 3-4-3, 4-3-3 & 4-4-2. I often take a look at the top eleven scorers of the previous season in each format to work out what could potentially be the best formation the following year, but 3-4-3 is often a favourite to use simply because it has more attacking presence and generally goals score the most points.
Do you go all in? Do you go middle range or do you simply go for the cheapest option? Three decisions you must make when picking a fantasy football goalkeeper. Usually the best scoring goalkeeper (for example Alisson last season) will score more than 50 points less than the top scoring outfield player so weighing up the price in comparison is essential. Alisson & Ederson are rightly top of the list but you may get more value for money in saving a few pounds by chasing the likes of Rui Patricio, Kasper Schmeichel, Lukasz Fabianski or Ben Foster all likely to play every game and finish above mid table for their parent clubs. If it’s cheap you want then gambling on one of the promoted goalkeepers can often pay dividends (last season Neil Etheridge of Cardiff scored well despite them going down). Tim Krul at Norwich is a good example whilst Dean Henderson at Sheffield United should also play most games and is very low priced.
Virgil van Dijk has been touted as a potential Balon d’Or winner this year and his fantasy football scores last season certainly justify why. Nothing beats a goalscoring defender that keeps clean sheets and Liverpool also have the likes of Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold that are highly priced but like van Dijk equally considered as stable holds for high predicted levels of point scoring. Remember assists can also pay the way so the Liverpool full backs (or any that consistently provide chances) are well worth looking at. Another goalscoring defender that keeps clean sheets is Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte who is one of the highest priced defenders for obvious reasons. Other Manchester City defenders can be hit and miss due to Pep Guardiola often rotating his squad but Oleksandr Zinchenko could be one that is fairly priced and likely to play in the Premier League more often than not. Filtering down the price list it is worth keeping to the same strategy of goalscoring defenders. Willy Boly at Wolves got 4 goals last season as they finished 7th whilst Harry Maguire netted 3 times and with a move to Manchester United on the cards might offer good value for money although if he does go his potential replacement at Leicester Lewis Dunk could also offer a good purchase? Under Brendan Rogers Leicester are predicted to do well and Jonny Evans likewise offers a goalscoring threat whilst Ricardo Pereira is considered as one of the best full backs outside the top six. For stocking fillers at the cheaper end Watford’s new signing from West Brom Craig Dawson has a good goalscoring record in the Premier League whilst promoted Aston Villa have James Chester who netted five times last season. Sheffield United’s Jack O’Connell is a set piece threat from corners whilst Max Aarons of Norwich is a highly rated young full back who likes to get forward.
I still remember the days of Frank Lampard & Steven Gerrard when a double figure goalscoring midfielder was a must for your fantasy team but these days finding one that will score frequently enough is tough. That said, the official Premier League fantasy football for some reason have Mo Salah, Raheem Sterling and Sadio Mane as midfielders so at least one of the aforementioned is essential to any line-up as goals often means points. Elsewhere Manchester United’s Paul Pogba (love him or hate him) is a relatively stable point scoring midfielder as is Gylfi Sigurdsson at Everton. Felipe Anderson offers good value in the reasonably priced range as does Luka Milivojevic who takes penalties for Crystal Palace. Down the bottom end of the price bracket there are a lot of youngsters that offer great potential with Dwight McNeil of Burnley sensational last season, as was David Brooks at Bournemouth and Sean Longstaff at Newcastle. If you like a gamble Mason Mount at Chelsea could feature heavily whilst Phil Foden of Manchester City is another that could make strides in playing time this season. Of the new signings Dani Ceballos of Arsenal could light up the league whilst promoted midfielders John McGinn of Aston Villa and Emiliano Buendia of Norwich could be ones to watch.
The toughest choice of all is which 20 goal striker to take as your main stay and captain (where double points applies) with the likes of Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero, Pierre Emerick Aubamayang and Jamie Vardy likely to be hottest picks. Where Salah & Sterling feature as strikers you have another tough choice to make. It is often best picking at least one top centre forward perhaps two, with an outsider for who you think will do well i.e. slightly cheaper in value strikers like Callum Wilson at Bournemouth or Raul Jiminez at Wolves. Getting the balance right between tried and tested and hopeful newbie however is tough, of those new to the Premier League this season Wesley at Aston Villa, Sebastian Haller of West Ham, Joelinton of Newcastle or Che Adams of Southampton could be players that either flop miserably by failing to hit a cows backside with a banjo or become overnight sensations in hitting the onion bag as often as those twice their price? The gamble is down to he/she who dares is the one often coming out smelling of roses.
So you have your team, remember to base this around the scoring system in use for each fantasy football provider (for example the Sun will also include cup games within their points scoring) with the official Premier League fantasy team you have the choice to include substitutes. I wouldn’t over spend here as remember you still have transfers to use but try and pick players that are playing as these can be adequate deputy’s when your main stay has a week off for one reason or another. Remember to look at the fixtures ahead before you pick your players as you may find some clubs have more winnable games which will benefit the players you are thinking about picking. With captains try and give the armband to your top goalscorer and remember to swap the armband and make your transfers around the fixture programme as much as possible. Stay focussed on injuries and team news and do not miss a match as one week off can severely halt your progress.
To get it right can be demanding and it can take several hours a week in research, but the rewards can be worth it should at the end of the campaign you’re £100k richer or at least, better than your mates in picking your team.