Fantasy Becomes Reality with this Fantasy Football/Soccer Selection Guide

Pick your team using these tips (Image from Premiership)With the start of the new season, comes the birth of fantasy football leagues across the globe. Players have a choice between hundreds of different competitions from brands like Yahoo, ESPN and The Telegraph, each offering unique prizes and games, but all with the objective of uniting football fans in one common dream – to be the best virtual manager of all!  Diehard fans will sign up for various competitions but for the rest, the choice is a minefield of options. Once you have chosen a league, whether that be because of ease of use or due to friends or colleagues setting up a league and inviting you, the next task is to pick your team. With a variety of players to choose from, it can be a daunting task but Back of The Net is here to help, with some useful tips on what to look out for when picking your fantasy team.

Bad Boy - Luis Suarez (Image from Getty)

Time is money, but not in fantasy

If you want to get the most out of your team, do some research. The phrase knowledge is power was written about fantasy games (no seriously it was) as the more you know, the better chance you have of being successful. However that doesn’t mean that you need to turn into a football statto overnight, but learning a few vital pieces of information may just help you to pick a better team. In the league you have chosen, look at the following – which teams have done well in the past few years? Picking a player from Chelsea over one from Sunderland may be a good shout. Which players have played well and which ones are always injured? You only have limited resources so the last thing you want is to be left with a player who spends more time on the treatment table than on the pitch. And finally look at the rules of the game you are playing in, how are the points scored, do you get points for a player just playing and are the points for a defender scoring significantly better than that of a striker. After all finding a striker that can score 20 goals per season at 2 points a goal versus a defender who can score 5 goals a season at 10 points might not be the best use of your time.

Research last seasons performance may help you pick a team this season  (Image from Soccerstats)

Research last seasons performance may help you pick a team this season
(Image from Soccerstats)

Pick a formation and stick with it.

Unless you are Sir Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourinho, there is no point thinking you are going to tinker with the formation you choose each week, It just won’t happen. The conviction will be there for the first few weeks as you try to get the most points per weekend but as the season progresses and games start to be played mid-week, tactical changes are as much use as a chocolate sofa. Pick a formation before you pick your players and stick with it. Again look at the points that the game gives out and base your formation on that. If you get more points for strikers than midfielders you may want to play with three or four up front. But if defenders rule the roost, park the proverbial bus and load up on defenders with five across the back. Once you are locked in, move on to picking your dream team.

Pick a formation and stick with it  (Image from BBC)

Pick a formation and stick with it
(Image from BBC)

Unknown often means Underrated

You have done your research, figured out that Liverpool’s Stevie Gerrard and Manchester United’s Robin Van Persie are constant points hoarders and have picked them for your team. That’s a good start. Now picking the rest of your team is a little harder so my advice is simple, pick who you know. Once you have picked all the players you know, either from the team you support or after recognising them from the TV or for pictures in the tabloid press, fill your remaining spaces with some unknowns. These are generally players who have just transferred in from other leagues, with no real reputation and no points from previous seasons to gauge how good they really are. Don’t expect miracles though as most will need time to settle in the league so the first few months they are unlikely to set the heather alight. But some players eventually might surprise you and be a star pick over the course of the season and at bargain prices, they could turn out to be a steal. Players like Cardiff’s new Danish striker Andreas Cornelius or Norwich striker Gary Hooper could provide a lot of goals for their new teams whilst expect assist points from Tottenham’s new Brazil midfielder Paulinho this season.

Andreas Cornelius could turn out to be a bargain  (Image from PA)

Andreas Cornelius could turn out to be a bargain
(Image from PA)

It’s all about the long game

So you have picked your team, subjected your colleagues or friends to some friendly banter and off you go. But competing in a fantasy league is all about the long game as most players give up by October as the novelty wears off. This is when the true players come into play as the pool thins so take advantage of this and play the long game. Stick with it, even if it’s just by taking a quick look at your team once a week to change out injured players or players who have left the league. It’s especially important during January as the transfer window opens and players make a hasty exit. Having a starting player in your first eleven who has no left the building isn’t going to win any more points so swapping them out, regardless of who you put in their place, is better than nothing.

You are the manager (Image from FM)

You are the manager (Image from FM)

Whoever you choose for your team or how you play, overall have fun with it. Fantasy sports leagues often act as a bridge between those who are hardened fans and those who aren’t. Fantasy leagues can be won by anyone as it’s impossible to predict exactly how the season will turn out or who will be the star players. Enjoy!

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