Ever fancied yourself in the role of a football manager? Even if you haven’t, but you’re a football fan with a specific team of two you follow, we’ll wager you often challenge the manager’s team selection. We all do. It comes as part of the territory.
Well, if you’d like to turn your thoughts into action and see how it plays out, that’s exactly what Fantasy Football is all about – sort of!
What is Fantasy Football?
Fantasy football is a game where you pick real footballers as part of your “team” and then get points awarded for various actions completed by the players in the real-life games.
As the name suggests, Fantasy Football is just fantasy, but it’s something that many participants take very seriously. It’s not like real football in as much as there is no match play. It’s all about tactics.
Once you register with one of the platforms, you’ll be cast in the role of a Fantasy Football manager, and you’ll be able to choose your team and pit yourself and your team against other FPL managers and their teams. You’ll also have the ability to buy and sell players.
There are various Fantasy Football leagues here in the UK and in Europe too. They include:
- Fantasy Premier League
- Sky Sports Fantasy Football
- The Telegraph Fantasy Football
- EFL Euro Fantasy League
- Fantasy Football UEFA Champions League
Each league has slightly different rules. The focus of this article is the Fantasy Premier League, as, with a membership of over 9 million, it is by far the largest fantasy football game in the world.
Registering for the Fantasy Premier League
It is free to register and play in the Fantasy Premier League. Once registered, your first job will be to choose a squad using real-life players. Your team of 11 or squad of 15 or more (your choice) will represent you throughout the season. The seasonal fixtures mirror those of the real English Premier League (EPL).
Your chosen players, when selected, will earn points which are awarded automatically according to their real-life performances in the EPL. As you and your team work your way through the season, the points your players are awarded will be totalled (positively or negatively), and they will be measured against the points score of other sides in your mini-league or in the Fantasy Games world at large. There are various prizes for which you can compete.
You can only create and manage one team in the FPL. However, you can enter your team into as many leagues as you wish.
How to Build Your Squad of Players
Having registered as a Fantasy Premier League football manager, you will be given an initial budget of £100 million. You can use this to assemble your initial squad of up to 15 players.
Your squad should comprise three forwards, five midfielders, five defenders, and two goalkeepers. You are limited to a maximum of three players from any particular Premier League side.
Before each Gameweek, you have to select your starting eleven from your 15-strong squad. This must be done each Gameweek before the Gameweek deadline. That deadline is 90 minutes before the kick-off.
Managers must choose a starting eleven from their 15-man squad before each Gameweek deadline. Once you’ve chosen your starting eleven, you must then nominate the team captain and vice-captain.
As regards the players you can choose, you’ll find a complete listing on the FPL Player list, split into categories (goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, and attackers). For your convenience, this list is printable.
Remember that Fantasy Football success is all about how many points you amass, and when your captain plays, his score is doubled. If the captain you selected doesn’t play a Gameweek, but your vice-captain does, it is the vice-captain’s score that gets doubled. If neither play, the double score facility is lost.
As far as our team formation is concerned, you can line them up as you wish providing you include one goalkeeper, a minimum of three defenders, at least two midfielders and one forward.
Players for Set Pieces
If you want to keep up to date with which players you can use for taking set pieces (penalties, free-kicks, and corners) that can earn you extra points, click on “The Scout” tab, then “Set Pieces” or if using the app, you’ll find the “Set Piece Takers” button on the app’s main menu.
Choosing Players Based on ICT (Influence, Creativity and Threat)
Selecting players of influence, creativity and who pose a threat to the opposition can boost your score. You can view players who have these skills via the ICT Index. Go to player profiles and click the “i” icon against the player name. You can access ICT within the dropdown box as a filter on the “Transfers” page in the tables under the “Statistics” tab.
ICT stats appear in four different scores and are created from 40 matches.
How Points are Scored
Your team can earn points for goals, assists, saves, and keeping clean sheets. In addition to this, your players can also earn extra bonus points if they are regarded as being one of the top performers in the Bonus Point Systems (BPS) for each game in which they play.
The points earned by your team during any Gameweek are scored by your starting 11. In the event that one of your starting players does not play for their Premier club side, the score value of the first player on your subs bench will be used instead. The same goes pro rata for any other starting players that don’t appear for their Premier club sides in a Gameweek.
It’s, therefore important to bear this in mind when ranking your substitutes in terms of preference. By doing so, you will ensure that your first-choice reserve players are first in line. Also, as already mentioned, if you’re chosen captain doesn’t play during that Gameweek, then your vice-captain’s score is doubled in his stead.
Each player is scored on the minutes he plays, any goals or assists he makes, and in the case of the goalkeeper, any clean sheets that are kept. By the same token, a player will have points deducted from his score with regard to any negative aspects of his game. This includes things like receiving yellow cards, red cards, penalty misses, and goals let in.
Some actions result in the same points being awarded regardless of which position the player plays in, while others will be different according to said position.
A clean sheet will only be awarded and scored if the player is on the match for at least 60 minutes, excluding time added on for stoppages.
If a player is red-carded, they will continue to be penalised for any goals that team lets in.
An assist is given to the player that makes the final pass, directly leading to a goal being scored. An assist is also awarded if the shot is blocked by an opponent, saved by the keeper, hits the woodwork, or if the goal gets scored from a rebound.
Bonus points, as worked out by the BPS, are awarded to the three players considered to have been the best performers in the team.
If your team doesn’t play in a particular Gameweek, the team score will be zero.
If your team plays twice in the same Gameweek, the players will learn two sets of points scores. This also includes the captains, who will receive two sets of doubled points.
Once you enter your squad into the game, you can join or create leagues to enable you to compete with your friends and acquaintances anywhere in the world as long as everyone has Internet access.
Private leagues are those whereby you get to compete against your chosen friends. Once you’ve created the league, all you need to do is then send out the unique code allocated to the league to facilitate your friends joining.
It’s possible to compete in as many as 25 invitational leagues. Also, note that there is no limit on the number of teams any particular league can contain.
You will also get the chance to join five public leagues, each containing 20 randomly assigned teams.
Leagues are operated according to one of two systems:
The Classic League System
With this system, all teams in the league get ranked according to the total points score they accumulate in a game.
The Head-to-Head System
In this system, each team plays another team every Gameweek. The result of each match is determined by each team’s score, less any transfer points that might have been spent in preparation for the upcoming match.
All managers and their teams will be entered into the FPL Cup.
The Fixture Difficulty Rating
Fixture Difficulty Rating (FDR) is a complex algorithm developed by a team of FPL experts. It comprises variable data plus your team’s home and away performances across the last six matches, which is used to calculate an FDR. It’s a useful tool that can help you with your team selection and transfer strategy week by week.
To check out your FDR, go to the “Fixtures” tab and click on “FDR.” Alternatively, via the app, you can access it via the main menu.
You get one free transfer per Gameweek once the first FPL season deadline has passed. This means that you can bring in one new player for one of the 15 in your squad, providing the price of doing so falls within your budget. You can make additional transfers, but if you do so, you will lose four points.
If you don’t use your free Gameweek transfer allowance in one week, you can carry it forward, so the following week, you will be able to make two transfers. You cannot accumulate more than two free transfers.
Player prices vary throughout the FPL season according to the demand for the player in the transfer market. Any players heavily bought by managers will result in an increase in their price, while those transferred out many times will become cheaper.
If you make a profit when selling a player, you need to bear in mind you will have to pay a 50% sell-on fee which will be rounded down to the closest £0.01 million.
When you become an FPL manager, you will automatically be entitled to five chips (the Wildcard chip – see below – can be used twice). When used, they can boost your team’s performance in the Gameweek within which you use them. They are:
The Bench Boost Chip
This chip enables you to boost Gameweek points courtesy of substitutes who have not played.
The Free Hit Chip
This chip allows you to make as many free transfers as you wish during one Gameweek. It can only be used once during an FPL season. It lasts for one week only, after which the team reverts to as it was before you used the chip.
The Triple Captain Chip
Instead of your captain’s points being doubled, utilising this chip trebles them.
The Wildcard Chip
This is the most powerful chip of all. It permits you to make as many transfers in one Gameweek as you wish, totally free of charge. You can use this chip twice in an FPL season, once in each half.
You can only use one chip in any Gameweek.
Fantasy Premier League Draft
When you visit the FPL website and hover your mouse pointer over “Fantasy” at the top of the page, you’ll see there are two options – Fantasy and Fantasy Draft. The latter is a recent addition that offers an exciting new slant on playing FPL.
Like Fantasy, Fantasy Draft is also free to play, and if you want to, you can run it alongside your Fantasy Premier League season. It uses the same scoring system. The two games have a lot in common, but not everything.
While you still get to pick a 15-man squad, each player can only be chosen by one manager in the same league. There are no player prices and no budgets. Instead, you use a draft system to assemble your squad. Each manager takes his or her turn to choose players across 15 rounds.
The pick order is random in the beginning, but then “snakes” from round to round, and each time, the pick order is reversed.
If you’d like more information on the Fantasy Draft option, check out the FAQ section on the FPL website.