November 14th, 2019

Premier League Fantasy Football

By Jonny Houghton

The Premier League Fantasy Football has been back in our lives for 12 weeks now and it’s had it’s highs and lows, at least in my case anyway.

Didn’t we just have an international break? Fortunately this is the last one until like March or something. Liverpool go into the international break 8 points clear of their nearest rivals, Leicester are playing football reminiscent of their title winning season and Watford have managed to win a game of football, the Premier League is truly wonderful. 

It’s something you’re either all in on, or couldn’t really give a toss about. I’m very much in the former camp, for the first few weeks anyway going through my team over and over again with very few players remaining a constant (Trent Alexander-Arnold, obviously) and making sure I’ve taken into account who had partied hard during the summer (here’s looking at you Roberto Firmino in 2016) or who’s had a long summer of transfer speculation (the now departed Romelu Lukaku)

The highs and lows of playing Fantasy Football

I’d bet that almost every single Premier League Fantasy Football league is identical to the one I’m in. For the first few weeks at least, the crack is flowing and there’s a real competitive edge to things, it’s glorious, then a clear winner emerges, usually not me.

Occasionally during the season, I’ll venture outside the relative safety of my private league with some mates and people I know to take a look at the overall rankings on the Official Premier League game. They’re routinely putting up the types of scores God would if 1-he/she could be bothered with fantasy footy and 2-if the rules would allow an omniscient being to play the game. Doesn’t seem fair!

What do these people do during the week that isn’t fantasy football? I must admit, I am slightly envious of them at times but could I be bothered to put in the effort and research halfway through the season that I do in the weeks leading up to it? Probably not.

Who to have in your team

Already so far there’s been a few standout performers in the Premier League Fantasy Football, the likes of Teemu Pukki, Raheem Sterling, John Lundstram, Sadio Mané will feature in the vast majority of your side and these attacking players have paid the most dividends so far with just 7 of the top 30 scoring players being defenders/goalkeepers. It’s almost a shame you can’t play a 2-7-1 formation isn’t it?

Pukki is an interesting one actually, the Finnish striker at one point was the 2nd most owned player in the game with 41.1% of teams having him in, returning 59 points so far. Having gone 6 games without a goal, that figure has dropped dramatically to just 23.9%. His high price of 6.8 will likely put players off bringing him in especially after his last 5, seemingly favourable fixtures, on paper (Bournemouth, Man United, Brighton, Watford and Everton) returning just 10 points, it would appear that the Pukk-party is well and truly over.

I’ve already played my Wildcard chip for this half of the season and it’s paid off so far, losing just once in the 4 weeks since but it’s very much the nuclear option, aimed at damage limitation and to fix an under-performing team. Approach it with caution and remember there’s always the Free Hit chip to use if you think your team just needs a change for one week only. Bear in mind, there’s also a second wildcard to use during the January transfer window, so it’s very much a case of use it or lose it with your current one.

Jamie Vardy still having a party?

If you haven’t played it yet, the obvious choice for your new look team is Jamie Vardy, he simply can’t stop scoring goals at the moment. A whopping 92 points so far this season means he’s the games highest scoring player and with 46 points coming in his last four games, you’d be mad not to consider him in your forward line! His next 5 fixtures are pretty favourable too given his form, Brighton, Everton, Watford, Aston Villa and Norwich should see that total reach even bigger heights. It’s quite simple, if you haven’t got Jamie Vardy in your team get him!

More than half of fantasy teams in the game now feature Tammy Abraham and it’s not hard to see why. The Chelsea striker lies second in the scoring charts with 10 for the season so far and has gained 27 points in his last 4 fixtures. With other striking options like Olivier Giroud seemingly less favoured by Frank Lampard (as long as he’s fit) Abraham will be first choice for Chelsea and at a cost of just 8.0 for such a prolific goal scorer. He seems like a good option along with the aforementioned Vardy.

The under-rated and under-appreciated?

Further back on the pitch, Sheffield United’s John Lundstram has proven popular with managers, 41.5% of teams have selected the Englishman and he’s the highest scoring defender in the game. The Blades have over-performed so far this season sitting in 5th place, thanks to Lundstram’s 3 clean sheets and a goal while managing a decent point at Chelsea and a victory over struggling Everton.

Despite all these, the defender remains a good price of 4.9 and provides a high quality option for your back line. Given that Lundstram has been wrongly categorised in the game, you’re getting extra points for a midfielder who’s classed as a defender in a side with the best second best defensive record in the league, he should be the first choice defender on your team alongside Ricardo Pereira.

The Leicester full back is a bit of a differential with just 14.8% ownership in the game and return of 61 points gives a good premium option at the back, his high price of 6.3 could be off putting though. I’d go with Caglar Soyuncu instead though as his lower price of 4.9 and return of 30 points in 4 game weeks presents better value to me.

Speaking of Leicester, James Maddison’s last three games have returned 26 points with 2 goals, an assist and 3 clean sheets in that time. As mentioned Leicester’s upcoming fixtures are extremely favourable.

Avoid like the plague!

Way down at the bottom of the table, it took until week 8 for Jose Holebas to register a single point this season after 617 minutes played. The alleged defender managed a point in each of his first two games that were wiped out after an 8-0 undressing at the hands of Manchester City.

He did however play his part in the two clean sheets, the Hornets have managed this season bringing his total for the season to 13, yes you read that right 13 points after 12 games. He’s got more points in fantasy football this season than his team does in the actual league! Definitely one to avoid.

Wherever you sit on the overall rankings or your works mini league, remember it could always be worse and there’s a long way to go to the end of the season. Maybe use this international break to play your wildcard if you’re really suffering, there’s a wealth of websites, podcasts and articles like this out there to help you out.

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