Your four-week break scouting the World Cup. The hours and days spent ‘wasting time’ on Football Manager. The lessons learned from year upon year of watching the Premier League. It’s time to put all of that to use as the Lion of Vienna Fantasy Football League returns for 2018/19.
The Premier League kicks off on Friday night, so make sure you join up ahead of the big curtain raise between Manchester United and Leicester City. We’re using the old trusty Fantasy Premier League site (no need to needlessly pay, like on other sites) and the code to join is 367861-79197.
If you were in the league last year, it should auto-enrol you again and I’m sure you’re Fantasy experts, but for anyone who’s new to the game or the concept, here’s a few pointers from someone who is by no means an expert.
Don’t be scared of spending big
No matter what anyone says, it’s always going to be beneficial to go for the big boys. Mo Salah (priced at £13.0m) and Harry Kane (£12.5m) are not only almost guaranteed high points scorers but guaranteed to start every week for their club. But then again, everyone is going to sign them - proven by an impressive 52.5% of managers having selected Salah as it stands - so you could mix it up and save some cash if you’re feeling brave.
Think tactical early on
The World Cup hangover means a lot of players who went a long way in the tournament only returned to first-team training at the start of this week. So, it could be beneficial to side with players that have had a nice summer off for the first two or three weeks of the season. Also take a bit of time to identify teams that have ‘easy’ starts to the season. For example, Arsenal open up with games against Manchester City and Chelsea, then don’t face another ‘top six’ side until the first week of November - a whole eight gameweeks.
Defenders can be key differentiators
Yeah it’s all good going after the top strikers, but budget, high scoring defenders can make the difference. Look out for cheaper defenders that collect bonus points and have an eye for a goal, or collect a host of clean sheets, and snap them up fast. A good recent example is Burnley, as is Patrick van Aanholt at Crystal Palace who’s scored plenty of goals and assists in recent seasons. But an interesting shout this time around could be Wolves defenders.
Shop for bargains
There’s plenty of quality out there at a budget price, which can allow you to draft in the big name players. For example, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is priced at just £7.0 million - a whole 1.5 less than Mesut Ozil - even having impressed at the latter end of last season following his move to Arsenal. Keep a keen eye out for whoever the surprise package may be too, there’s always a surprise player or team that offers an FPL goldmine, such as Etienne Capoue, Pascal Gross, Ayoze Perez and Abdoulaye Doucoure in recent seasons.
Look out for expert advice
Don’t listen to what I think, there’s loads of people out there who are seasoned Fantasy experts. For example, The Scout section on the FPL website is useful, and check out the FML FPL podcast, which I’ve recently discovered. These Americans actually know what they’re talking about, they’re fairly entertaining (and, disclaimer, pretty sweary) and they offer up ongoing thoughts on who to sign / sell. Just depends on how nerdy you want to be about it.
So get involved and test your Fantasy mettle against your fellow Bolton fans. A reminder, the code to join is 367861-79197.