Fantasy Football is back in full swing and managers will be scratching their heads over what goalkeepers to choose from, if there are any cheap defenders that they haven’t uncovered yet and whether or not to blow a quarter of their transfer budget on Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard. Well, we’re big fans of the game here at BackPageFootball so here’s a little fantasy guide to give you the edge in your leagues this season.
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To get the earliest edge on your Fantasy line-up, have a look at the first five or six games of each club. You don’t want to be counting on a goalkeeper who plays Manchester Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal in their first few games. Fantasy Football is mostly luck, you don’t know if one player will perform, but you can ensure your players have favourable starts against teams that they’ll possible score points against. There are some helpful tickers online that outline which sides have the better string of games, and these really have to be taken into consideration. This season the most favourable of starts fall to Chelsea (West Brom, Wigan, Stoke, West Ham, Blackpool), Arsenal (after Liverpool it’s Blackpool, Blackburn, Bolton, Sunderland) and perhaps Aston Villa (West Ham, Newcastle, Everton, Stoke, Bolton). Birmingham have a good first three games of Sunderland, Blackburn and Bolton. So your earliest judgement is to go for two or three Chelsea players, an Aston Villa defender, an Arsenal attacker and maybe a Birmingham defender.
You can go two ways in this position; pick one top goalkeeper that will pick up clean sheet points, some save points and a bonus point here and there, along with a cheap bargain option who will never get a game in your team – or pick two decent in-between goalies that you can rotate depending on opposition. If you’re a fan of method one, then you’ll probably consider Pepe Reina, Edwin van der Sar, or Petr Cech when he returns from injury. Alternatives to those are Joe Hart (6.0), Shay Given (6.0), Brad Friedel (6.0) or Heurelho Gomes (5.5). If you’ve bought an expensive number one, then you’re probably looking for a 4.0 second choice, where I’d consider Scott Carson, or if Mark Schwarzer leaves, Fulham’s David Stockdale. At 4.5 options are a little more fruitful; Jussi Jaaskelainen is always a popular choice, Ben Foster is also in this category as is Steve Harper, Marton Fulop, Chris Kirkland and Asmir Begovic. Hilario is a sneaky option at 5.0 until Cech returns.
If you’re like me, then you prefer method two – two good goalkeepers that you are happy to rotate each week. My first choice would be Ben Foster, who has a great chance to do what Joe Hart did last season at Birmingham, followed by either Asmir Begovic or Thomas Sorensen of Stoke, but it’s unclear which will start. Mark Schwarzer is a good option at 5.0, even more so if he joins Arsenal. Will fit again Carlo Cudicini make a claim for the number one spot at Spurs? If so, pick him up as quick as you can at 4.5.
Best picks: Pepe Reina (6.5), Ben Foster (4.5), Mark Schwarzer (5.0), Jussi Jaaskelainen (4.5)
You need to pick five defenders, and again there are a number of ways to go about it – one expensive player who will guarentee points, followed by three good but cheaper options with a fifth bottom of the barrel choice. Top of your list should be Ashley Cole, Glen Johnson or Patrice Evra for their attacking instincts at full back complimented with regular clean sheets, who along with Thomas Vermaelen are the most expensive at 7.5. If you’ve picked one from those four, then I’d avoid all options until the 6.0 mark, where you might pick up a bargain in Bacary Sagna, or his new teammate Laurent Koscielny if he starts at Arsenal. At 5.5 there are some very good options; Michael Dawson if he repeats last season’s form, while you can’t find a better top four bargain in John O’ Shea if he starts regularly at United. Another great option is Gary Cahill, or Everton’s Phil Jagielka.
At 5.0 there are a lot of players, the pick of the bunch would be Ryan Shawcross, Roger Johnson and Ryan Nelson. At 4.5, there are some very nice picks – Stephen Carr plays weekly in a good point-getting defence, Maynor Figueroa is a great option (and a must-have if he joins Liverpool), Gael Givet might be an uncommon points getter while Johann Djourou may be a starter for Arsenal and therefore a snip at 4.5. Also there is Sunderland’s new attacking full back Ahmed Al-Muhammadi, who could be a steal along with West Brom’s Chilean livewire Gonzalo Jara. Or you might like Abdoulaye Faye or the highly attacking Jose Enrique for something different.
Best picks: Ashley Cole (7.5), Johan Djourou (4.5), Michael Dawson (5.5), Maynor Figueroa (4.5), Ryan Shawcross (5.0)
If you’ve gone for one of the big hitters – Frank Lampard, Cesc Fabregas or Steven Gerrard – then it’s quite hard to fill the midfield with other players your happy with. There are very little options at low prices, so my best advice would be to invest in three pretty good midfielders (including one of the aforementioned) and play three in midfield. I think this is a better option in the long run as it rules out having average midfielders who score two points every week, while getting the best out of the cheaper options in defence and up front.
The best (and next most expensive option at 9.5) is Florent Malouda, who scored really well last season and should emulate that this year. At 9.0 I’d consider Joe Cole who will start weekly at Liverpool, and David Silva at City if you’re hoping for first season heroics. James Milner is also 9.0 but will he start regularly at City, and most importantly score as big as he did at Villa? Between 8.5 and 7.5 I’d have a look at Mikel Arteta, Aaron Lennon and Nani. After that, 7.0 doesn’t have great options. Personally I found it hard to pick and justify a 7.0 with Steven Pienaar and Clint Dempsey amongst the best options.
There are some nice options below that, at 6.5 you could pick up a bargain with Gareth Bale and Adam Johnson (if he starts regularly at City), and especially Stephen Ireland if he moves away from Eastlands. 6.0 isn’t nice, Martin Petrov of Bolton probably the most favourable. 5.5 is where the holding midfielders start cropping up, but I like Chung-Yong Lee and Thomas Hitzlesperger in this category. Yaya Toure is a good option, he’s not particularly a defensive midfielder as the game predicts, he could be up scoring a few goals and getting assists. In the bargain buckets, it’s near on impossible to find decent options but I’d consider Joey Barton (4.5), Wayne Routledge (4.5), Youssuf Mulumbu (4.5) and Tamir Cohen (5.0). The rest are non-starters, and thus, non points-getters.
Best picks: Frank Lampard (13.0), Gareth Bale (6.5), Aaron Lennon (8.0), Martin Petrov (6.0)
Wayne Rooney (12.0) or Didier Drogba (12.5) is a necessity in your team, but if you believe neither will emulate last season’s form then you might consider fit again Fernando Torres (11.5) and Robin van Persie (10.0), Jermain Defoe (9.0), Darren Bent (8.5) or Marouane Chamakh (8.0) who has been looking terrific in pre-season. Options below that aren’t very favourable, I’d avoid everyone until the likes of Hugo Rodallega and Bobby Zamora at 6.5. Nikola Zigic might be a steal at 6.0. At 5.5, Irish boys Kevin Doyle and Robbie Keane will be popular – especially if Keane leaves the Lane for football elsewhere. I’d avoid the cheap-as-chips options, few get a game let alone score goals. Consider Andy Carroll (5.0) or David N’gog (5.5) especially if he is loaned out from Liverpool if you’re going lower. My top three would consist of an expensive scorer, someone around the 8.0-9.0 mark and then a 6.0-5.5, and go with a three man attack.
Best picks: Didier Drogba (12.5), Robin van Persie (10.0), Marouane Chamakh (8.0), Darren Bent (8.5), Robbie Keane (5.5)
NEW RULES: After introducing a vice-captain feature last season, they have now added a second wildcard - which can only be used between Gameweek 23 and Gameweek 27 in a “January transfer Window” style. It’ll be a helpful little feature for those who are struggling with injuries and player options, but for managers who are doing well a second wildcard might become a luxury.
Another new rule is own goals are now -2 points to your player. After that, the game has changed little.
Hope you enjoyed this little guide, and best of luck this season in your Fantasy Leagues. Remember to join our one – 1660-40109 – and feel free to post your thoughts below.