How to become a fantasy football champion


Fantasy football is a modern-day phenomenon, with over 3.5 million having a go at the official Premier League version last season.

Here are seven tips to help you maximise your chances of success.

1. Join a variety of leagues

This is less a tip for success, more a tip for staying the course. Fantasy football is famed for drop-outs, and a cursory glance at a handful of injury and suspension-laden teams two months in will demonstrate this. To fight fantasy fatigue, join a mixture of leagues; you'll automatically be entered into an overall, national and club supporters' league, but consider setting one up among friends, joining a company league, or even entering a sweepstake.

Fantasy Premier League also offers the choice of creating a head-to-head league, where you face off against one of your private league opponents each week for three points. Mix it up!

2. Get creative in defence

Budgeting restrictions mean you have to get creative in the transfer market. You'll want a goalkeeper from a top-six club to guarantee 10-15 clean sheets, and a cheap back-up option who will be kept busy, with saves also contributing points.

In similar fashion, invest in two or three top-level defenders and then add a few cheap options, but prioritise defenders who possess a goal threat. Centre-backs who get forward for set pieces, or full-backs who whip crosses in are worthy of your consideration.

3. Follow the goals!

Some elements of fantasy football require nuance, and others benefit from an hour or so of studious research, but when it comes to the currency of goals, keep it simple. In the midfield and striker positions, goals are everything, so a defence-minded player like Kante, although magnificent, is useless to you. If you're looking for the next big thing before someone else finds him, analyse the "chances created" stats to see who's going under the radar, and to really boost your totals, find out which assist/goal combinations are the best and buy pairs of players. Mesut Ozil to Olivier Giroud and Riyad Mahrez to Jamie Vardy are fine examples; it could be Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Zlatan Ibrahimovic this year.

4. Time your transfers to perfection

The weekly transfer will keep your team in good health should you deploy it with consideration. It is easy to get ahead of yourself and bring someone new in as soon as a game-week finishes, but consider the five long days you'll be waiting, hoping no one else gets injured before Saturday.

Hold on to your transfer until Saturday morning if you can, and then make the necessary changes - just don't sleep in! Alternatively, you are allowed to hoard up to two transfers, so if you don't feel like you need it, save it for the next week.

5. Respect the "Wildcard"

Everton's Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game
(Nigel French/PA)

The "Wildcard" allows you to make as many transfers as you like in a single week. You only get two of these aces across the nine-month season, so use them wisely! There will come a point during the season where your team is a little outdated, so this is a perfect opportunity to freshen up the squad.

For great results, wait until the transfer windows have closed and the dust has settled before selecting your squad's new hero. It is easy to become giddy with power when in possession of a "Wildcard", but show a little patience and you will be repaid handsomely.

6. Know your chips

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero celebrates after scoring his fourth goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Newcastle
(Jon Super/AP)

The boffins at Fantasy Premier League central unleashed "chips" last season, game-play options which can be played just once, supposedly improving the tactical element of the game. All Out Attack allows a manager to play just two defenders, but it is the other two "chips" that will be of interest. Bench Boost, when played, means all 15 players in your squad will contribute points to your total that week. Use it during a double game-week to set a mammoth score, or play it if your entire squad looks to have favourable fixtures.

The final chip is the Triple Captain, and must be handled with care. Many managers will bestow this upon a player who has a double game-week to earn maximum points. Just remember you only get to use it once.

7. Capitalise on double game-weeks

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates his side's victory with Jordan Henderson during the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool
(Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

You don't want to miss out here. When the fixture list becomes suitably congested, teams will often have more than one game in a given game-week. Keep your eyes on any changes on the FPL website, and as soon as a double game-week is evident, get planning. Start transferring the relevant players into your squad as early as possible, and retain those who you already have. Should you captain a player on a double game-week, that player becomes a quadruple threat.