General strategies for selecting your team
1. If there are “must have” players that you just have to have on your fantasy team, then always start by adding them regardless of the cost. They are going to be the core around which you will build your team. Then distribute the leftover sum toward players you consider to be undervalued (cost cheaper than their actual worth).
2. Another strategy is to divide how much money you want to spend per position. Let’s say you’re playing in a league with 15 players (2G, 5D, 5M, 3F) and 11 starters, and you have 100 million in salary cap space. You don’t want to spend more than 5 million per defender slot, which means your budget for defenders will be 25 mil. You don’t want to spend more than 5 mil. per slot for goalkeepers, so that makes the goalie budget 10 mil. That leaves you with is 65 million for five midfielders and three forwards. Then, you can either spend 2/3 on four expensive players and 1/3 on the other four, or you can evenly spread it out on average/above average value players.
3. A third strategy would be “play without stars,” meaning you spend all your finances on medium-value players. This is a very risky strategy in which you need to “hit the jackpot” with at least a few players to stay competitive, since most of the times the stars are at the top of scoring charts.
4. This fourth strategy is more delicate and time consuming. It involves selecting each player based on what you want to obtain from a slot. You assign a criteria for each position and then pick a player based on that. For example:
Defender No .1 – clean sheets. Which team allowed the least number of goals last season? – Chelsea. Add David Luiz.
Defender No. 2 – clean sheets. Which team is going to allow the least number of goals this season? – Man. Utd. Add Antonio Valencia.
And so on, and so on. Don’t forget, you always need to take into consideration players’ values in order to remain under the cap.
There are other strategies as well. These are some of the basic ones that can help you get going. No matter which strategy you choose, try to use what I’ve written below as additional guidance.
It’s fairly simple with goalies. I’d say there are two basic strategies.
1. You either choose one of the expensive safer options like Thibault Courtois or Hugo Lloris and combine him with a fantasy backup who costs less (usually from a newly promoted team), and then start your “go-to guy” all the time regardless of the opponent;
2. You choose two equal value goalkeepers like Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland, and start them based on who you think has the better matchup.
Personally, I prefer the first strategy. It tends to be more effective in the long term. The second one involves quite a bit of good fortune in making the right decisions.
There are two basic rules when it comes to choosing defenders.
1. Choose defenders from good defensive teams that tend to concede less often such as: Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham, Everton, and even Stoke or Burnley. Clean sheets is the most valuable category in fantasy soccer.
Of course, the best outcome is if you can incorporate both, although that tends to take a toll on your salary cap, since those who fulfill both conditions are ordinarily the most expensive ones.
This is the trickiest position, but the same rules still apply, only in opposite order.
1. Choose a midfielder who can score and/or assist
2. Choose a midfielder from a good defensive team
Midfielders who play as offensive wingers on teams that don’t concede often is the your best bet. However, you might not be able to afford Alexis Sanchez, Eden Hazard, Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling on your roster. That’s why you need to pick and choose, and not be afraid to change. Despite the fact that the salary cap format does not allow many moves, you are likely to spend most of them on midfielders, as you should. During the initial selection, you can grab a couple of stars (if you don’t plan to spend too much on forwards) and then watch closely for players who excel during the first couple of weeks. I try to find these players before the season starts, but trust me, even for somebody who has been following soccer his entire life like me, it’s impossible to know what a manager thinks. Even if you believe a player should be playing, you’re just a viewer and can’t telepathically transfer your thoughts to the manager to convince him to start that player. What we can do as fantasy sportsmen is make the best of reality and put it into good use. What I mean by this is that you shouldn’t pay attention to what you disagree with and what you want but can’t change. Just because you like a certain player and think he will be excellent, it doesn’t mean he will play. See who does play, and if he can help your fantasy team, add him to your squad.
Getting back on track, players such as Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson, Southampton’s Dusko Tadic and Nathan Redmond (who I mentioned as a sleeper in my previous article), Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha, Stoke’s Marko Arnautovic, WBA’s Matt Phillips, and others, won’t cost you as much and can reward you with more or less the same as the pricier midfielders. My recommended tactic, especially for those just entering the world of fantasy soccer, would be: one defensive midfielder for clean sheets, two attacking midfielders for goal scoring and two for assists (try to get them from good defensive teams).
Here there are two tiers. The forwards from the top teams: Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku (now playing for Manchester United), Diego Costa (or whoever Chelsea’s striker will be) and Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal’s new No. 9) who will cost you a lot, and the rest. Since the main stats that usually count for forwards are goals and assists, the only advice I can give you is (again) aim for the ones who are in charge of spot kicks (penalties included). Other than that, the strategy depends on personal preference. Generally speaking, I’d say it’s good to have one top-tier forward, while the other two should be from teams with an attacking style of play. Vardy, Firmino, Benteke, Deeney, to name a few. Strikers are not likely to generate consistency, thus I wouldn’t recommend you spending too much money on them. Like I said before, clean sheets are fantasy soccer’s gold mine. The best you can hope for with forwards is that they play 90 minutes every game, so at least the scoring potential is there. It’s the most substituted position, and the one with the shortest leash.
I hope you find this article helpful. Look for some more advice next week.
G/GK = Goalkeeper
D/DF = Defender
M/MF = Midfielder
F/FW = Forward