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7 steps to a successful Fantasy Football team

Fed up with constantly finishing bottom of your league? Read our guide on all things FF-related.

Picking a Chelsea defender such as John Terry is probably wise.
Picking a Chelsea defender such as John Terry is probably wise.
Image: Chris Ison

Updated at 9.48

Join TheScore.ie’s Premier League Fantasy Football League using this code: 1137213-271081

IT’S THAT TIME of year again. Whereas once upon a time, the details of a Stoke-West Ham game meant nothing to most people, fans now obsessively watch such matches all because of an increasingly popular phenomenon — Fantasy Football.

Given that the season will soon start, we at TheScore.ie have generously agreed to share our tips for the coming season. So sit back and take heed of our guide detailing everything you need to know (aside from obvious facts like ‘don’t pick Peter Crouch’) about Fantasy Football…

1. Pick cheap substitutes

It might seem like a high-risk strategy, but you should be confident that all your first XI are good enough to start and perform respectably. Worry about a player getting injured or suffering a loss of form when it happens and you can make the appropriate transfer(s), rather than playing it too safe and picking an overly expensive bench. There is no use having a goalkeeper worth £7.0m if you never play him. That is not to say you shouldn’t choose your bench wisely though — try to ensure all your subs, though cheap, are at least starting for their clubs.

2. Take each game on its merits

Ashley Williams has a very good chance of keeping a clean sheet if Swansea are playing Hull at home. However, if you forget to take him off your team when they’re playing Chelsea away, you’re screwed essentially.

3. Form is temporary, class is permanent

Have some faith in Rickie Lambert. Admittedly, he hasn’t scored in his last five matches and it’s starting to become clear why he’s spent most of his career as a journeyman footballer, but don’t worry, those last five matches were all against top quality opposition. He now has a run of games coming up against the likes of Stoke and Leicester, in which the goals will inevitably flow.

4. Make at least one maverick selection

Unfortunately, your team can’t be filled with players as talented and expensive as Robin van Persie, so you’ll have to be smart with some of your picks. These selections are what separate the men from the boys in Fantasy Football terms. Any old eejit is smart enough to pick Yaya Toure, who you just know, is bound to score his usual plethora of incredible goals from midfield. My somewhat maverick choice, incidentally, is Bojan. You may not know the 23-year-old ex-Barca star who Stoke have recently signed particularly well, however he is considered to be a player of enormous potential and is likely to play in most of his side’s matches given their paucity of flair players in attack, while he has shone in pre-season, so all the signs are there that he is ready to light up the Premier League.

(Robin van Persie — don’t forget he’s injured at the moment — Andrew Matthews/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

5. Make sure to check your team and make the appropriate changes every week

As Bill Shankly might well have said once: “Fantasy Football isn’t a matter of life or death, it’s much more important than that.” Therefore, providing they’re in a league that’s halfway decent, anyone who doesn’t regularly check and update their team (i.e. every week) has no hope of succeeding. If you go through with the hassle of picking a team in the first place, you might as well stick with it. It may seem like obvious advice, but there’s always at least one player in any given league who succumbs to such laziness. Make sure you’re not that player!

6. Try to avoid using your wild-card too early

Firstly, be thorough in your selection before the season starts. That way, you won’t end up regretting picking Robin van Persie only to realise that he’s injured at the start of the season. Secondly, no matter how poorly your team is performing, you should be extremely wary of using your wild-card prematurely. If you do so, you could later be faced with the unenviable situation of having half your team out injured, with only one possible transfer to make.

7. Lies, damned lies and statistics?

Despite what Mark Twain says, statistics are occasionally important, especially when picking a Fantasy Football team. Pay attention to players’ previous form. When picking your defence, keep in mind that Chelsea and Arsenal had the two best defences in the Premier League last year, so it doesn’t take Nostradamus to determine that it might be wise to pick a fair few of their players at the back. On the other hand, of the teams from last year still in the league, Aston Villa had the worst defensive record, so picking their defenders is honestly just silly.

That’s what we think, now let us know your answers to the question of how to create a successful Fantasy Football team:

Join TheScore.ie’s Premier League Fantasy Football League using this code1137213-271081

A version of this article originally appeared on 8 August, 2011.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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