I’ve written a lot over the past week about players to possibly choose but not actually showed you any potential teams. We’ll go through a few examples where the focus is on a particular area before going for something with a little more balance.
Spending it on defenders:
The team has a focus on a strong defence where all five plus the keeper play each week. In this example I’ve used Liverpool and Man Utd. Hit on both teams getting clean sheets and you have a base of 36 points before any attacking players have even played. It’s a little risky as one goal conceded screws up your week competely. Also you’ll lack money for the superstar attacking players but you can still afford people like Robinho and Van Persie as well as some good top half players. If you consider that each week there’s a high chance either United or Liverpool or both will be keeping clean sheets it’s certainly an interesting tactic.
Blowing it on midfield:
This option is to spend all your money on the best midfielders possible and then hope that you pick the right cheap players who prove to be the bargains of the season. In my opinion Gerrard, Lampard and Arshavin are all guaranteed locks for 200+ points barring injury. You still have enough money for a relatively solid defence which takes in the cheaper starting options. Up front it’s lacking a bit though Bendtner and Beattie will both get around 120 points I’d say. You could always swap one of the big three in midfield for someone slightly cheaper and buy a better striker. It’s worth investing in midfield though just as goals are worth five points and you have several guys in the league who are capable of double figures.
The riskiest option of all I would say is to put your money in strikers, just as very few are consistent scorers one season to the next. Even the top guys we’ve chosen here are risky as strikers will often do nothing in a game if they don’t score. They are not the bonus point hoggers that midfieders are. Someone like Torres who usually scores when he plays is a risk just due to his fitness record whilst at Liverpool.
However, assuming you are unconcerned by seasons past and only with what the this coming season holds then this could all be a worthwhile gamble. Having him, Rooney (who should be United’s top point scorer this year) and last year’s top striker Anelka gives you a formidable front line. As the best strikers are cheaper than the best midfielders, you can still afford a decent team with the rest of the money you have. People like Modric and Young are at the hub of their team’s creative play so are good value to get around 150-160 points if not more. The defence is not terrible and again you can play around with the exact players to upgrade other ones.
We’ll look at a mixed team later in the post.
General Strategy – Captains
My biggest error last season was not having a range of reliable captain choices. By this I mean I only had Ronaldo in my team but not Gerrard or Lampard meaning I would usually have to pick him as captain. Now of course towards the end of the season there’d be too many gameweeks where Ronaldo did not much at all so I would get ten points from my captain while people with Gerrard would be getting twenty. I was however stuck in picking him (or Arshavin to be fair) as it was too late to change things around.
Moral of the story is: the big players will always come through so get them in your team as early as possible. A big change this season is the backup captain who will come in if your first choice doesn’t play. I would strongly suggest leaving the setting on value rather than form 90% of the time. Any random cheap player can have a few good weeks but then suddenly stop scoring well. You don’t want to have him coming in as captain the week that happens.
These are perhaps the biggest opportunity for making up lost ground, and come more into play in the second half of the season when a lot more games get rescheduled. That said I am fairly certain that the six teams who miss gameweek two will be playing those fixtures at some point before Christmas.
Anyway by double gameweek I mean a team who plays twice in one week, thus giving you the chance to pick a captain who plays twice. If someone like a Gerrard or Lampard has two easy home games you could be looking at the region of 50 points from just one player. Chuck in a defender or two from the same team and you’ll have a three figure score for the week.
You should try and be aware of when these games get played but at the same time you shouldn’t make too much effort to get players playing twice. Of course if it’s a strong team then you should try and have as many players of theirs as possible. If it’s someone like Hull playing twice then you should probably just take the hit rather than be stuck with the players for the weeks that follow.
I was previously of the view that wildcards should be kept hold of until at least the January transfer window but I think I’ve changed my mind. While saving it till then can definitely provide a bump in performance, if you’ve picked a bad squad to begin with it’s best to change things as soon as possible before the gap to your rivals gets too big. Bear in mind that the more successful a player the higher his value will go up, so there’s no point waiting as it will only make it harder to get all the star performers into one side.
One of the biggest changes this year is the rollover free transfer. Every week you get one free transfer and then any more will cost you four points each. This season though, if you don’t use the free transfer it rolls over to the next week, allowing you to change two players for free. It only rolls over once so you’d never get more than two in any given week but it’s definitely something to try and ensure you have when double gameweeks are looming. Being able to change three players for the cost of just four points could allow you to significantly revamp your team whilst not having to use the wildcard.
Balance & Substitutes
Fantasy football may let you pick a squad of 15 but it’s ultimately all about the first choice XI. All you want from your subs is that they are guaranteed starters for their clubs, so if they were to be used you’d be getting the minimum two points. As I mentioned in the positional previews, four weeks out of five your subs won’t come into play at all as your first team will all be playing. It’s only when Rio hurts his back in the warm-up or Rooney is serving a one match ban for five bookings that you will call upon those options. With this in mind you should spend as little as possible on the four subs – £4m for GK & DF, £4.5m for MF and £5-5.5m for the striker (no good £4.5m options).
This does depend on what formation you plan to play of course, but whatever position your subs end up taking, just make sure they’re cheap. There are loads of players from the promoted teams and the strugglers from last season who would fit into this bracket. They will play 30 games minimum (60 points) as well as contribute enough to get 30-40 points from saves/clean sheets/assists/goals or bonus. The money you save will upgrade the first choice XI enough to more than compensate for this.
Looking at the team above you have three studs in Arshavin, Gerrard and Fat Frank. One top quality striker in Berbatov who despite his critics was fifth best striker last year. The defence has three top four representatives. They’re not the obvious picks but Song will play nearly every game, O’Shea is a placeholder for whoever ends up right back at Utd while Insua has a fair chance of playing some games early on.
Of the other starters Beattie will do well again as Stoke are geared to his strengths, Ferdinand/Sunderland will concede less than many other teams this year while what little creativity Birmingham have will go through Seb Larsson. As mentioned before, the subs are cheap and will play and can always be changed.
It’s Only A Game
As the Football Guy mentioned in one of his previews the other day, it’s a only a game. Utimately this is meant to be a bit of fun between mates and a way of making games like Bolton vs Hull mean a little more interesting! Feel free to ignore some or all of what I’ve written, and I welcome anything you agree/disagree with in the comments.