28 September 2017

The Beautiful Game

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With another sensational transfer window sealed shut and the Premiership under way, it’s not too late to roll up your imaginary managerial sleeves, put together your very own dream team and watch them battle their way up the legendary league tables of Fantasy Football.

If you’re new to Fantasy Football or have been mystified at some of the conversations your colleagues are having over their lunch, the concept is actually pretty simple. The imaginary squad you pick will earn you points based on their individual performances in real life games, whether they’ve scored, assisted in a goals, kept clean sheets or just played well overall. However, if members of your squad lose real life games, concede goals, get carded or even injured, they’ll lose valuable points for your team instead.

Talking Tactics

This is where the game really begins. It’d be too easy to just fill your team with world class players, sit back and watch the points roll in, right? Well, like all football managers, fantastical or not, you’ve got a budget to stick to and the best, most reliable players are going to cost you the most money. It’s impossible to predict the next rising star or which top flight player might rule themselves out with an injury, that’s the beauty of football, but whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a fresh-faced first timer, we’ve got some helpful advice on selecting a starting squad that’ll do you proud.

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Start by making a shortlist of players for each distinct area of your team - Goalkeepers/Defenders, Midfielders and Forwards - then split your budget between them. This will ensure that your squad is balanced in terms of performance and quality from the get go. Then, it’s time for what’s known as the rock and pebble approach. Pick your ‘rocks’ first, those expensive, must-have players, then surround them with more affordable ‘pebbles’, until your team sheet is complete.

Once you’re done, keep a close eye on injuries and bans throughout the season. If one of your players is out of action even for a week it can cost you serious points. Players on your A-team will inevitably be injured or suspended throughout the season, so factoring substitutes into your budget is essential. If things do go wrong, you’ll hopefully have someone of equal skill and value on hand to fill the gap.

Name Games

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Having said that, perfecting your team isn’t everything. Sometimes an incredible team name will crown you the people’s champion regardless of your ranking. Our favourites are pun-tastic mash ups of players and popular culture, with names like ‘Deeney in a Bottle’, ‘Murder on Zidane’s Floor’ and ‘Absolutely Fabregas’ leaving us in stitches. Take a look at your team sheet, pick a name and have some fun with it. We challenge you to come up with something better than ‘Game of Throw-Ins.’

Kick Off

By far the best way to learn the ins and outs of Fantasy Football is to join a free league and just get managing. The most popular is the Fantasy Premier League, the official Fantasy Football Game of the Premier League, which streams latest news and statistics on site. Alternatively, Sky Sports Fantasy Football's clear and intuitive layout makes it easy to manage your squad on the go. If you fancy upping the stakes however, The Telegraph runs active fantasy leagues across the Premiership, Championship and The Champions League that all require a small joining fee but offer huge cash prizes for the victorious.

Caught fantasy football fever like us? All of these sites let you set up your own private, invite-only league so you can put finally your mates’ endless armchair punditry to the test or claim your rightful crown as the undisputed Office Champ of 2017/18.