The Faculty’s guide… to winning Fantasy Premier League 2017/2018
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- Make sure your players definitely start for their team. This is the most important criteria for anybody who makes it into your squad. Regardless of pre-season form, or how good a player they individually are, if they don’t start, they’re worth nothing to you. Take extra care when selecting players who are either suspended or are carrying knocks.
- Pick a well-rounded squad. Picking too many expensive superstars will force you to buy some average players to stay within £100m budget, in turn lessening the impact of your bench. It’s more effective to spread your money around.
- Be patient with your chips. You’ll start with a triple captain, bench boost, and a ‘free hit’ (wildcard), which can be gamechangers throughout the season. Save the triple captain and bench boost for a ‘double’ gameweek. It’s generally more beneficial to hold on to these for a rainy day. The season is longer than you think.
- Free Hits/Wildcards. The Wildcard chip can be used twice a season, once in the first half of the season (before 30 Dec) and once in the second half of the season. It might be a good idea to use your first wildcard early, as it becomes clearer which players are in and out of favour.
- Avoid players making their Premier League debuts. This isn’t a consistent rule that can be applied to every new Premier League player, but new league players, especially those acquired from abroad, can be slow in adapting to the pace and intensity of the league. It’s safer, at first, to invest in players who’ve proven themselves on this stage before. That means, yes, look to Romelu Lukaku, Harry Kane, and Sergio Aguero over Alexandre Lacazette and Alvaro Morata.
- Play the transfer market. Based on their performance, high scoring players’ value will increase as the season progresses. Come December, some fantasy teams will have squads whose value will be as much as £107m. Look for ‘breakout’ players- those who are valued cheaply now who take the league by storm. Dele Alli was a prime example of this last year.
- Check upcoming fixtures. Fantasy have been kind enough to quantify and colour code the difficulty of players’ upcoming games. Leicester, for instance, start with Arsenal (a), Manchester United (a), Chelsea (h), and Liverpool (h) in their opening six games and you may want to steer away from their defenders for the time being. Manchester United start with West Ham (h), Swansea (a), Leicester (h), Stoke (a), and Everton (h) in their opening five games. Picking players at the right time can make a huge difference.
- Seek out set-piece takers. Penalty and free kick takers can earn you heaps of additional points at unexpected times, particularly if that player isn’t a striker. James Milner, newly classified as a ‘defender’ for this season, makes an enticing prospect at £6.5m considering his prolificacy from the penalty spot.
Start with a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2. Defenders are statistically the best value for money, but are also the most inconsistent players available; one goal conceded and their clean sheet bonus is gone, so minimize their impact on your starting team.
Starting with three strikers is probably most conducive to success, but there’s plenty of goalscoring talent in midfield to pick from as well, so feel free to find balance between starting three or two players up front.
While Petr Cech (£5.5m) and David De Gea (£5.5m) will be crying out for selection, it’s a sounder strategy to select two £4.5m goalkeepers who you can rotate. Odds on, one of them will have a home fixture against a bottom half team each week, and you’d be surprised how often one of them will keep a clean sheet. Tom Heaton was a £4.5m goalkeeper last season and finished as the highest scorer, a sign of how weaker teams can be surprisingly strong at the back.
Goalkeepers don’t tend to yield too many points consistently and it’s better to save money here. Make sure they definitely start, and check their fixtures. Gauge which lower-team managers prioritise defence and go from there. Ben Foster, guarded by a Tony Pulis defence, looks a good bet.
Suggestions: Ben Foster, Heurelho Gomes, Lukasz Fabianski
It’s a popular strategy to select fullbacks who have a greater influence on the attacking side of the game as your ‘defenders’. This isn’t necessarily a foolproof strategy, as towering centre halves who can be a threat from set pieces can score an unexpected amount of goals as well.
Defenders are all about clean sheets, which will be reflected by a team’s overall defensive strategy, so identify managers who like to keep their teams tight. Tottenham and Manchester United both kept 17 clean sheets and Mourinho’s renowned for his defensive tendencies, so select one player who will definitely start from United.
Spend fairly conservative at the back- you can invest in more profitable players further forward. Select a super cheap £4m backup defender here as well, as it’s unlikely your third choice substitute will be called upon.
Suggestions: James Milner, Matteo Darmian, Charlie Daniels, Toby Alderweireld, Ben Mee, Gareth McAuley
Make sure you avoid holding midfielders (Kante, Dier) at all costs; only select midfielders who constantly venture forwards. The game categories quite a few no.10s and ‘forwards’ as midfielders, so exploit this positional opportunity where you can; Anthony Martial and Theo Walcott, providing they start, are prime examples of this. Don’t pick players purely on goals either, as assists can rack up points steadily too. Mesut Ozil and Cesc Fabregas (providing they start) have been especially prominent on this front and both seem to start seasons well and then fade slightly. Christian Erikson always chips in from dead ball situations, while Wilfried Zaha had a break out season of sorts last year and could thrive under Frank de Boer.
Suggestions: Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Nathan Redmond, Riyad Mahrez, Christian Eriksen, Robert Snodgrass, Leroy Sane
If you’re selecting three strikers, go for two golden-boot chasers (a Kane, Lukaku or Aguero) and one wildcard- this will allow you to invest nicely in your midfield, too. Penalty takers make for an added bonus. Generally, go for proven players up front; Harry Kane is sure to start and will be fronting a ruthless Tottenham attack (although,Kane has started the last two seasons slowly), while Morata and Lacazette may need a month or two to get into the swing of things. Southampton have a wonderful opening run of games and Manolo Gabbiadini looked excellent when he was fit last season. Chicharito has good league experience and looks good value at £7m, while Kelechi Iheanacho (also £7m) could be on the verge of his breakout season and act as a fruitful cash cow.
Suggestions: Aguero, Lukaku, Chicharito, Iheanacho, Joshua King, Christian Benteke