If like me, you are eagerly anticipating the start of the new premiership season, this article is for you, especially those people who are keen fantasy footballers that love the opportunity to pit their wits against their friends and for some a chance to win some money.
After finishing 56th out of over a million people in my first year on Fantasy Premier League and making over £2,000 on fantasy football since, I will be casting my eye over the new season in terms of must-haves and potential bargains. My suggestions are specific to Fantasy Premier League; however, there will be overlaps with other codes of fantasy football.
I will start at the back and work my way to the forwards and help you make the most of your £100 million budget.
This is the position to save your money. Since the beginning of Fantasy Premier League there has been no real advantage in having an expensive goalkeeper, for example Reina or Cech at £6.5m when you can get a similar amount of points from fairly inexpensive keepers. Last year’s bargains were Joe Hart and Sorensen who were both available at £4m who came within 24 and 19 points of the top point scoring goalkeeper Reina respectively. However, this year Hart is back at City and costs £6m while Sorensen still at Stoke is up to £5m.
This year I would recommend signing two goalkeepers at £4.5m each then choose the player that has the easiest fixture each week. Weighing up the run of opening fixtures for both teams he two I would recommend to start with would be Foster at Birmingham, and Kirkland of Wigan. However, at £4.5m you have plenty of choice, with Hahnemann, Robinson and Jaaskelainen all worthy mentions and Carson the only keeper at £4m worth considering.
Yet again you are not looking purely for clean sheets, from your defenders you should also be targeting assists, goals and bonus points. Of the expensive defenders the reliable performers of Evra, Vermaelen, and Cole, all available at £7.5m, are the ones to be looking at. Evra and Cole get plenty of assists from their left-back positions as well as both having promising opening fixtures for picking up plenty of clean sheets. Vermaelen has a good set of fixtures at the start of the season, both from the clean sheet and goal-scoring point of view, as he is due 7 or 8 goals again next season powering forward from centre-back both in open play and from set pieces.
There are also plenty of bargains to be had, my main suggestions from studying the opening set of fixtures are the Birmingham defenders that you can pick up at a very reasonable price of £5m for Ridgewell or Johnson or £4.5m for Carr or Dann. Birmingham will be due plenty of clean sheets again this season with a solid home record. Johnson and Dann would be my picks as they are good for bonus points and are due a couple of goals apiece from set pieces this season. Other honourable mentions go to Craddock, £5m, Wigan’s world cup star Antolin Alcaraz, £4.5m, and Bolton’s signing from Real Madrid, left-back Marcos Alonso also £4.5m.
[pull]My main tip to any Fantasy Footballer this season is Mauro Boselli at Wigan, available at 6£m. He is an amazing coup for Wigan with a fantastic goal-scoring record in South America, which helped Estudiantes to win the Copa Libertadores in 2009.[/pull]
Must haves this season are Lampard at £13m and Fabregas at £12m, not only for the huge amount of points they achieve year in year out, but also to give you some captain choices. It’s not just about having Frank Lampard when he scores 4 goals in a game as he did against Sunderland last year, it’s about having him as captain and doubling your points. Same goes for Fabregas, who scored 2 and set 2 up on the opening day of last season at Everton.
Although you probably cannot expect the same again this season away at Liverpool, Arsenal’s run of fixtures after that is fantastic with the second game of the season at home to Blackpool marking the start of a fairly easy run. Malouda and Valencia are two others that need consideration after solid season’s last time out. I think Arshavin at £9.5m is going to have a great year this season, and he is well and truly in my plans. I think as a support-striker classified as a midfielder he is going to get his fair share of goals as well as plenty of assists in what I think will be a much better year for Arsenal.
Now it is time to consider the bargains, Adam Johnson at £6.5m at Man City is a fantastic option as his opening opponent Bale also £6.5m, with both due to build on their great seasons last year. Tuncay at £5.5m, a midfielder due to play up front for Stoke, just behind Ricardo Fuller is well worth giving a decent look-in to any fantasy football team. N’zogbia of Wigan and Lee Chung Yong of Bolton are my final
Drogba, £12.5m and Rooney, £12m are obvious choices and almost must-haves this season; both were in the running for Premiership top scorer last season and finished 1st and 2nd respectively and the same can be expected yet again. Darren Bent at £8.5m is an absolute bargain as he is due another 20+ goal season. However, absolutely anyone could have recommended these players to you, so I will now point out a few potential surprise packages for this season.
First of all is Marouane Chamakh, £8m, at Arsenal, worth considering from the second game onwards. A fantastic goal scorer and the first out and out striker arsenal have had since Henry and Adebayor and could possibly be the missing piece for Arsenal. He has a similar goal scoring record in France as Adebayor did before he came to England, and scored 5 goals in 9 games in the Champions league for Bordeaux last season, demonstrating that he is a player for the big occasions. Kevin Doyle, £5.5m and Rodallega, £6.5m are worth considering if you are struggling for cash and are looking for a cheap striker that will definitely score goals. However, Mame Biram Diouf of Manchester United at £5.5m has moved on a season-long loan to Blackburn Rovers and I am sure he will soon enough become the main man up front, so is worth a look in for anyone willing to take a gamble.
However, my main tip to any Fantasy Footballer this season is Mauro Boselli at Wigan, available at £6m. He is an amazing coup for Wigan with a fantastic goal-scoring record in South America, which helped Estudiantes to win the Copa Libertadores in 2009. He is due to be Wigan’s main striker this season with Rodallega shifting out to the wing, and I strongly expect him to follow in the footsteps of Rodallega, and Amir Zaki before him to score a large amount of goals, at a Wigan side due to improve again courtesy of many shrewd signings by Roberto Martinez including Paraguay’s Alcaraz, Holland’s Ronnie Stam, and Boselli himself.