Fantasy football beckons yet again as the Premier League kicks off on Friday. The fantasy step into managerial boots and channel our inner ‘Mourinho’ or ‘Guardiola’ is too tempting for any football fan. With exciting new arrivals competing with seasoned picks, the dilemma to nail down the final 11 is always a tenuous exercise. Here are a few basic tips for your draft Gameweek 1 teams before the madness officially begins on Friday.
1. Stick to your preferred formation
Fantasy football is all about instinct. Managers may make their job seem tougher to grasp than dark matter, but football is about instinct. Your formation could be 3-5-2, 4-4-2 or the more traditional 3-4-3, stick with what you feel is the best solution. Do not change your shape based purely on the dicey advice of an ill-informed friend.
Go with your gut.
2. Avoid late transfer window arrivals
Players coming in from foreign leagues take some time to get used to the Premier League. Graeme Souness has told us this for years, but we don’t seem to learn. While some players can set the world alight on their first appearance like Zlatan, not all players are gods (pun intended). Avoid players like Morata and Mendy as they might take a few weeks to get going.
3. Be wary of players with European qualifiers
Fairly elementary. Clubs will play their strongest teams in the European qualifiers. Even Europa League seems a proper league now after Manchester United fans made it the most elite European tournament of all time last season. This means avoid Everton and Liverpool players who’ll most probably look to seal safe passage to higher European tournaments.
4. Avoid players who were on international duty
With the Confederations Cup in the summer, some players were on international duty until the end of June. So players like Sanchez and Bernardo Silva might not be ready for the start of the season. Avoid for the first few weeks.
5. Be sceptical of players with uncertain futures
Avoid all potential Neymar replacements, i.e. players such as Coutinho. With a fat pile of cash, Barcelona might go crazy and sign a player for a ridiculous amount. For other potential departures, keep a keen eye and avoid unsettled players such as Van Djik and Diego Costa.
6. Choose players with proven Premier League pedigree
Some players are bargains every season. Those gritty West Brom defenders, the surprisingly rewarding Sigurdsson in an unflattering Swansea lineup and the fantasy legend Jermain Defoe. The day your star striker fails, Defoe will be there to save the day.
7. Avoid players who are uncertain starters
The last thing you need is your fantasy assets not starting a game in real life. Choose players who will be guaranteed to start in the initial gameweeks. Be wary of players such as Phil Jagielka, Sofiane Boufal, Antonio Rudiger, Matteo Darmian – all uncertain starters for their respective teams early on.
8. Don’t depend on early clean sheets
The start of the season is the only time all supporters are optimistic about their team’s chances, no matter how bleak the possibility of success. Teams try to play score goals and win well to gain momentum. Banking on defenders to earn cookie points for clean sheets is therefore not ideal.
And to conclude, enjoy. Your team might fail, but your fantasy football destiny is in your hands.