It’s been a brilliant blur of international football, with not much of a break between the 2017-18 domestic league campaigns, the World Cup summer, and now the 2018-19 season. If you’ve never played the official Premier League fantasy game, let’s start off with all of the information you need to know. If you’re a veteran, you can either go over the refresher, or skip to the end if you really know your stuff. After all, it’s pretty much the same as last season! (Other than player prices and some players’ positions, of course.)
If you have already created a team, simply click on this link to join our league and enter the code below:
LEAGUE NAME: Never Manage Alone “BTB”
LEAGUE CODE: 84492-17509
Feel free to check out the official rules directly from the source at the official Premier League fantasy site (“Help,” then “Rules”). Otherwise, if you don’t want to go through all that rigmarole, I’ve done my best to summarize.
- Each fantasy team has 15 players (2 goalkeepers, 5 defenders, 5 midfielders, and 3 forwards). This includes a starting XI, plus a bench of four players.
- You must fit your team within an overall budget of £100 million.
- You may only select three players maximum from any single Premier League team.
- You select your starting XI from your roster before the start of each game week.
- If any player(s) in your starting line-up do not play at all, your bench player(s) will automatically substitute in, doing so according to the priority you select.
- There is a variety of formations you may select, all having a minimum of one keeper, three defenders, and one forward.
- You pick a captain each week whose points are doubled; you also select a vice captain who becomes captain if your original captain does not play.
- Each week, you get one free transfer. If you do not make a transfer when you have one, it will carry over to the next week, but it will not keep doing so; you may never have more than two free transfers at any given time.
- Once the season starts, player prices rise and fall according to success/popularity. If a player’s price rises, you do not get full price at the sale, but you do get additional credit for up to half of the difference between the price you bought him at and the price he is at when you sell him. It is the same if a player’s price falls.
There are four chips you may use during the season. Only one may be played in any given week. Each may only be used once in the season, except for the wildcard which is used twice (once in the first half of the season, once in the second half).
- BENCH BOOST: Your bench score is included in your tally.
- FREE HIT: You can make unlimited changes to your team for a single game week, but afterward your team reverts to what it was previously.
- TRIPLE CAPTAIN: You get triple rather than double points for your captain.
- WILDCARD: You get to make unlimited transfers for free.
The scoring is heavily weighted to reward goals, assists, and clean sheets (the latter primarily for defenders and keepers, less so midfielders). Bonus points are also awarded to the best three players in each game.
TYPES OF LEAGUES
You may join various leagues with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, blog communities, frenemies, etc.
In terms of basic leagues, there are two types:
- CLASSIC: Simply try to score the most points for the entire season.
- HEAD-TO-HEAD: You try to score more points than the manager you are assigned to go up again on a week-to-week basis, either winning, losing or drawing; at the end of the season, whomever has the best record wins.
In those two basic leagues, every manager has access to all of the players in the Premier League. Every team, none of the teams, or anything in between, could have Mohamed Salah, for instance.
(FYI, the Never Manage Alone “Beat the Bloggers” league is a basic league in the Classic style.)
Alternately, you can also choose to play in a Draft League. You and the other managers in the league would have an online draft (or if possible, you could get together and do so in person) at a specified date and time before the season. After the draft order is randomly assigned, each manager picks a player in their slot, and once that player is selected, nobody else can select him. Draft leagues do not have any pricing, so a player’s value does not come into effect when drafting, or adding/dropping players during the season.
About a year ago, I wrote a primer on the then-new draft league option, so feel free to read it if you may be interested in that avenue.
Now that we’ve covered the rules, I’ll go into some strategy for the basic leagues.
ASSEMBLING YOUR TEAM
Everybody wants to have all of the top superstars on their team. Sorry, but you can’t afford Mo Salah, Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane, Eden Hazard, Raheem Sterling, Marcos Alonso and David De Gea. However, you certainly can afford some of them. How many? Well, that’s up to you. But you’ll want to spread the wealth, focusing on your starting XI but not neglecting your bench. After all, you only get one free transfer a week, and you generally don’t want to take a -4 hit (or more) except in truly trying times. As well, the starters in your fantasy team won’t always start (or play) every game in real life.
Generally speaking, your goal is to get value where you can find it. Get players whose values you think will rise, and avoid those whose prices instead seem likelier to drop. Easier said than done, of course!
There is one possible exception to the rule, though. The only player you may actually be willing to overpay for is your best player. Why? Because many times during the season, that player will be your captain, who gets double points.
There is also some strategy involved in terms of looking at the schedule. You’ll want to select several players who look to be good values based on how easy their opponents look in the first month or two, while of course mixing in some other players who look like good values for the whole season. Again, you do get some transfers, but one per week only adds up to a limited amount in terms of being able to refresh your team.
WHICH PLAYERS/POSITIONS/TEAMS ARE THE MOST AND LEAST COSTLY?
Players from the “Big Six” teams (Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal) tend to be the most pricey. Their stars will generally give you the most points, but you’re going to have to pay up.
Value can be found anywhere and everywhere, but one especially fun place to look is from the newly promoted teams. If you can get those needles in the haystack, you’ll really be loving life!
FORWARD AND MIDFIELD
Premium forwards and midfielders are going to cost you dearly. At striker, Spurs’ Harry Kane is in a class by himself at £12.5, but he’s one of five forwards at £10.0 or above (Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sergio Aguero, and Romelu Lukaku are each at £11.0, while Gabriel Jesus is £10.5). The price range at striker goes from £4.5 to £12.5. There are plenty of ways to construct your team at the position, but a popular option may be having one expensive, one mid-tier and one cheap striker.
Following his unbelievable breakout season last year, Liverpool midfielder Mohamed Salah is the most expensive player in the game at £13.0, but similarly there is a quintet of middies at £10.0 or above. (Raheem Sterling is £11.0, Eden Hazard and Alexis Sanchez are each £10.5, and Kevin De Bruyne is £10.0.) The range at midfield is from £4.5 to £13.0. Your five players at the midfield position will likely span all over that range.
In seasons past, it was easier to grab quality middies at an affordable price, but with no apparent price difference now from striker to midfield, it seems that gravy train may have run dry. That said, it still looks like you can find more value in the center of the pitch, as eight midfielders scored 175+ points compared to only three forwards.
DEFENDER AND KEEPER
There huge break in price comes when you go down to the defensive side of the pitch. Marcos Alonso, Cesar Azpilicueta, Nicolas Otamendi, Kyle Walker and Antonio Valencia each head the list at £6.5 for the defender position, while the cheapest can be had for £4.0. Somewhat similarly, goalkeepers go from a high of £6.0 (Manchester United’s David De Gea) to a low of £4.0.
For defenders, you’ll want to look for those who can deliver clean sheets while sprinkling in some goals and/or assists. Keepers are largely about clean sheets, and those obviously tend to come from the better teams, but you can also find joy from cheap keepers from lower-tier teams where the keeper is forced — and talented enough — to make loads of saves, as save points can add up.
DID ANYBODY CHANGE POSITION FROM LAST SEASON?
Notably, everybody surely breathed easy seeing that players such as Salah and Sterling did not change position from midfield to forward, as Salah’s Liverpool teammate Roberto Firmino had done last summer. With only three forwards but five midfielders in everybody’s team, it’s always nice not to have the former spot get too overcrowded with attractive options.
Unfortunately, of course, that scenario has not been entirely avoided, with West Ham’s Marko Arnautovic and Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha serving as standouts who went from midfield to forward.
From a fantasy perspective, it’s always nice to have a midfielder who plays more like a forward, while it’s also good to have defenders who stylistically resemble midfielders, so don’t be afraid to stock your teams with such anomalies.
WHICH PARTICULAR PLAYERS SHOULD I CONSIDER?
We have player picks ahead of the 2018/19 season by position, so be sure to keep an eye out for a look at our positional favorites to consider among keepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards when they publish. We will also have plenty of other coverage between now and the start of the season. Of course, you’ll also want to get your personal favorite stars or any others you have a hunch about into your squads.
GETTING INTO THE GAME
WHEN SHOULD I GET STARTED TINKERING WITH MY TEAM?
Go ahead and start now! You can change your team as much as you want before the first game starts, and the prices are locked until then, so there’s no reason to wait. Of course, you’ll want to keep checking back in periodically as transfers come in and out, and injury and selection news along with it.
HOW TO JOIN THE NEVER MANAGE ALONE LEAGUE
You will want to join the Never Manage Alone “Beat the Bloggers” league and test your mettle against our crack staff as well as our wonderful community members. To join the league, first you need to pick a team name and fill out your team with all 15 players.
Once you have created your team, simply click on this link to join our league and enter the code below:
LEAGUE NAME: Never Manage Alone “BTB”
LEAGUE CODE: 84492-17509
Never Manage Alone will have plenty of Player Picks articles as well as loads of other Premier League coverage in the coming days and weeks between now and the start of the season to help you with your team selection process. (And of course, it will not stop there, we’ll keep going for all of 2018/19 and beyond!) So keep checking back with us often as you tinker with your squads.
Have you played before, or is this your first time? What do you think of the player prices? Do you already have an idea of what your team will look like, or are things completely up in the air? Do you have any further questions? Let us know in the comments below!