I live in a fantasyland where I’m the manager of a top flight Italian football team. It boasts some of the best players in the world – Totti, Cavani, Hamsik and De Sanctis, along with the best young talent money can buy in the likes of El Sharaawy, Lamela and Florenzi.
When they score points, I score points. So many for a goal, so many for an assist, so many for a clean sheet, and so many for being on a winning team. Points off for yellow and red cards, conceding too many goals or missing a penalty. The amount of points varies depending on the position (attacker, midfielder, defender or keeper) and whether you are playing an ‘attacking’, ‘normal’ or ‘defensive’ disposition. Captains score double points and can be selected each round.
Before you start, you get 120 million euros to assemble your squad of two goalies, four strikers, six midfielders and six defenders. Players are assigned values at the start of the game and the values change throughout depending on how well they do. Each round you choose your team of 11 scoring players from your squad based around the formations 4-2-2, 4-5-1, 4-3-3, 3-4-3, 3-5-2 or 5-3-2. You get to make one transfer in and out of your team per round. You also get two wildcard rounds per season when you can make unlimited transfers during the weeks of your choosing.
Similar rules also apply to the numerous other fantasy games based on all the major football leagues in the world.
But those are just the rules. In addition there are eight, unbreakable, cast-iron LAWS. I pride myself on breaking them all.
- The first is that you must avoid sentimentality at all costs. Mawkishness has no place in this game if you are playing to win. On the other hand, of course you must always use your full quota of players from the team you support. Never use any players from your arch enemy. Always build your team around your favourite player no matter how ill-suited to fantasy football he is.
- Never tinker! Resist the urge to use all your wildcards early. Tempting as it might be, it’s a long season. Make strong, well thought out moves based on statistics. When the statistics don’t support what you want to do, do it anyway.
- Always tinker! Examine the draw carefully. Look for weaknesses. Which of your defensive players have weak opponents? Which of your goal scorers have difficult away games on their hands? Which real life teams have good defensive records? Who is stronger than most at home? Or weak away? Who lifts for the big occasions? Who chokes against the minnows? Be at peace with the knowledge that at least one of the players you leave out will inexplicably score double figures every round.
- Don’t bother with players whose real life teams play in Europe. They will be constantly rotated and you never know one week from the next which games they will be rested for. It drives you mad. Unless you enjoy living dangerously – when they do play they win most of their games and thus represent guaranteed money in the bank.
- Selecting the defensive disposition and chasing clean sheets is not glamorous but it’s worthwhile and a safe bet. On the other hand, it makes you look pansy-ass weak. Never do it.
- Never use your whole budget. Leave yourself some wiggle room to replace injured players or upgrade where you have to. The most expensive players aren’t the best players. They are expensive for sentimental reasons only. There are no prizes for the most valuable team. Except fantasy football ranks the most valuable teams and you want to win at whatever you can, don’t you?
- By entering a league, you sign a blood oath to not lose interest after a couple of rounds. There is nothing worse than people who aren’t updating their team each week. Beating them becomes like shooting fish in a barrel – too easy. When you fall more than 70 points behind the top of your league though, give up. You are wasting your time in fantasy football and should instead be taking charge of Lazio in real life.
- It’s possible to get out your real life credit card to buy virtual privileges such as more transfers – this is cheating. Expunge immediately from your league anyone who does it. Unless you are playing a game based on the English Premier League, in which case it wouldn’t be realistic unless some people tried to buy the title.
Follow these laws and you can’t go wrong. Trust me, I’m currently in the top 1.4% of Fantasy Serie A players in the world! Apart from all the other times I’ve tried to play it, when I was pants and gave up after three rounds having already used up all my unlimited transfers only to find I was still getting fewer points than Rafa Benitez at the San Siro…
[This post was partly inspired by this one by Scott Yorke at Imperator Fish]
Categories: Roma/Italian Calcio
A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma.