I know we usually spend most of our time covering the Yahoo game and that much of that advice is also very relevant to players who are playing the "official" Premier League fantasy game. We want to make sure we are providing a full-service experience for our readers so here is a quick look at Players Picks for the official game. Why the difference? Because scoring, pricing, transfers, and rules for how many players from a single team are different between games.
We don't have the bandwidth to do full-on columns about both leagues but in addition to linking to friend of the blog Never Captain Nicky Butt who covers the PL.com game in detail, I'll be sharing my strategies as I play the game this season. I hope you enjoy it.
Approach - starting the season, I'm trying to mix maximizing Week 1 points with building longer term value due to the stingy transfer rules compared to what I'm used to in the Yahoo game. Obviously the limits on players per team limit my ability to go "all in" on Chelsea as well.
I'm in on Ashley Cole, Branislav Ivanovic, Eden Hazard, Jobi McAnuff, and Ian Harte. I'll likely ditch one if not both CHE defenders for other choices in future weeks but neither are bad long term choices as they won't be subject to much rotation after Week 1. I chose Hazard because he's listed as a midfielder in this game and has some potential upside. McAnuff and Harte are both extremely inexpensive and would be worthy bench choices even if they didn't have two matches this week. Since they have two, they get to start.
To my mind, Sergio Aguero is the best value among "Premium" forwards. This is even more so now that RvP and Rooney will be splitting the points at Manchester United. There is also value to be had in Lukas Podolski now that he's more likely to be starting every week in the absence of van Persie - he's also likely the man for PKs which will help. I'm also very excited about what's going on at QPR and that has led me to Djibril Cisse who is a great bargain at 6.5 both in week one at home against transitioning Swansea and overall after putting up 36 fantasy points and 6 goals in 8 matches last season (two of which ended early in Red Cards). I'm likely starting all three.
Also considered: Danny Graham and Peter Crouch - both strong value plays worth considering over the course of the season.
I'm sticking with the QPR-Swansea match here with my two starting slots beyond Hazard and McAnuff. I've chosen Adel Taarabt who I think has great upside based on both his second half and the improvements at QPR. I'm also in on Michu who looks like a great prospect at Swansea taking over the Gylfi Sigurdsson role that was so productive last season - Michu's time in Spain was equally productive so high hopes here for an inexpensive player. I also have Joe Allen who was surprisingly productive in this format last season. I'm not starting him but I like his current price and wanted to get him in before he went to Liverpool and his price started going up.
Also considered: Jon Walters, Santi Cazorla - Walters is a great value as a cheap midfielder who generally plays as a second striker. One of the best values in terms of cost/point last season.
I've already told you who I'm starting in Cole, Ivanovic, and Harte who are all two-gamers. On the bench, I'll have Joleon Lescott and Fabricio Coloccini who are both strong values that I intend to keep over the course of the season unless they get injured or replaced as starters (or, in the case of NUFC, the team's performance declines markedly).
Also Considered: Newcastle's defense is rather cheap across the board and I considered most of them.
I'm starting Pepe Reina this weekend and have Brad Friedel on the bench. My sense is that once the season gets going this will be a solid one-two punch for a reasonable price that will allow me to have a strong match-up most weeks. Once Joe Hart gets back for certain, I'll likely find a way to get him into the squad.
I'm taking a risk on the Eden Hazard debutante-goal scoring thing working for me. A risk for sure, but that's what I'm doing.