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Fantrax Fantasy EPL: What You Need to Know

A review of Fantrax for those who haven’t played it before (or just can’t remember)

Fantrax logo screens Fantrax.com (tm)

Fantrax EPL is for those of us who enjoy diversifying the ways we can watch our fantasy points roll in during the weekend. Based on the traditional rules of the much loved and much missed Yahoo Fantasy Premier League, our Fantrax leagues (NMA-11 and NMA-17) offer managers a game with unlimited transfers and many more ways to score points than in the official FPL system.


NMA-11 League

NMA-11 limits you to exactly 11 players, no subs. However, you may choose from a range of allowed formations.

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NMA-17 League

NMA-17 allows you to expand your roster to as many as 17 players. Each week, your best 3 forwards, best 4 middies, best 3 defenders and best keeper that week will add to your cumulative season earnings.


Scoring:

Both of our Fantrax EPL leagues are set up to use exactly the same points system. There are about two dozen stats that earn points, not all of them positive, including successful crosses, tackles won, penalties won, fouls suffered, earning a corner etc. If you like some meat on your fantasy game bones (and if you think that stars in defensive midfield deserve at least some recognition for interceptions etc), then our Fantrax scoring is for you.

Watching live games takes on new meaning as you cheer a corner won by Harry Kane or shout at your TV as Raheem Sterling misses the blooming target from just six yards, spoiling between 3 and 10 fantasy points. When your Saturday pick-up Paul Pogba makes a tackle that takes man and ball, your first worry is, will it count as a tackle won? (1pt whooo hooo!). You’ll also discover the roller coaster that is one of your players scoring a goal (goal + shot on target = 10 points, brilliant!) and then seeing him whip off his jersey to celebrate it (automatic yellow card, -2 points, what an idiot!).

The complete points chart (and all league settings) can be seen at Fantrax under OTHER -> League Rules Summary for each league you join. The explanations of scoring categories is in “Scoring Glossary” at OTHER -> All Options...


Other Features in Common:

Both Fantrax EPL leagues allow unlimited transfers, and there are no restrictions on the number of players you can buy from any one club, so the format is simple to play. Sounds like the tactics would be simple too, but they’re not.

Players’ market prices move after each game-week (usually one weekend), and sometimes they jump significantly. You will often be faced with this dilemma:

A) Hold a form player at an introductory price but facing a tough opponent.

B) Paying full price for a player with the softest opponent in the coming week.

If you sell the form player, you may never be able to afford to buy him back. Hold discounts too long (through loss of form or change in role), and you may watch more flexible managers overtake you with a more fluid strategy.

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In Fantrax, players can have dual roles (e.g. “D, M”). These can be bought into either role and later moved if need be. It’s also possible for an out-of-position player to acquire his new as-fielded role during the course of the season (but roles are never taken away), so stay alert. That “he should be listed as a defender” could in fact be recognized as a defender after a few weeks.

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Bonus: We’ve set NMA’s Fantrax transfer deadline time to just 15 minutes before the first kickoff in each game-week. That means we always get to see at least one pair of confirmed lineups in time to make hasty changes during that deadline hour. And if a mid-winter snow postpones the first match(es), we get to replace any or all of our idled players while FPL fantasy managers pull out their hair! As a bonus, the first kickoff should then fall to the next match on the schedule, so we should still get some confirmed lineups!

For such late-breaking news/chat, join us in the comments below NMA’s latest blog article each week (usually a Pre-deadline Chat expressly for the purpose, but our weekly Fantrax Player Picks article can serve). There we share the latest news and our reactions to those pre-deadline confirmed lineups.

On the final Sunday of the season, all ten matches kickoff at the same time, so we’ll see all twenty lineups in our final chat!


Differences:

In the standard NMA-11 league, you’re limited to 11 players on your roster, but you can vary your formation. You may have 3-5 defenders, 3-5 midfielders and 1-3 forwards (plus you must buy exactly 1 keeper). In a fantasy format that rewards all manner of player-actions, you may find value-for-money at both ends of the pitch, so don’t assume you must pack the front.

In the expanded-roster NMA-17 league, the formation is more rigid. Your best keeper, best 3 defenders, best 4 midfielders and best 3 strikers each week will add to your cumulative score for the season.

If you have the budget for it, you can buy an extra keeper, another striker, two more defenders and/or two more midfielders as cover, or as injured reserve (holding onto discounts), or for whatever tactical reason you discover. If you’ve felt burned by real-world managers who rotate their players and rest “sure” starters with no warning (e.g. “Pep Roulette”), then NMA-17 will help you sleep at night.

Other than roster size and flexibility, both NMA Fantrax leagues are alike, with the same scoring, salary generation factor*, player roles etc. However, the player prices will end up somewhat lower in NMA-17 because Fantrax automatically adjusts for the larger potential roster.


Known Issue:

Fantrax calculates player prices based on past performance, but some players are new to the league, so they have no past. Such players enter Fantrax at a default price. NMA-11 defaults to $7, and NMA-17 defaults to $6. Since most (but not all) players on newly promoted clubs are new to EPL, they’ll have the default price during preseason and until the first recalc, which is after the first game-week.

Here’s the issue: The first few recalcs can be weird for players with almost no history in the Fantrax database. In recent seasons, the Fantrax recalc has forgotten all about the preseason default price, suddenly treating all those new-boy players as if their histories are full of zeros, so at the end of GW-1 their prices tend to crash to the minimum.

And that’s why we set the minimums relatively high at the start of each season (NMA-11’s is $4, and NMA-17’s is $3). As the season progresses and new players build some point history, their prices will settle into sane levels, and I’ll gradually ratchet down the minimum until it’s only $1 by winter... Happy Christmas.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve written to Fantrax begging them to interpret null data as default pricing instead of zeros, but it hasn’t happened (yet). Expect all new-boys to be min-priced going into GW-2 (you’ve been alerted).

So for Fantrax, the newly promoted clubs and transfers from outside the EPL are mostly a watch-list-building exercise looking ahead to a bargain-bin frenzy in the GW-2 Fantrax Player Picks. The exceptions would be transfers who bring EPL performance history with them (e.g. salvaged players from last season’s demoted sides, loans from top-6 teams etc).


(Re-)Scheduling

When make-up games mess with the schedule later in the season, both Fantrax leagues will adjust in tandem. They’ll always have the same deadlines as each other, and those will almost always coincide with Official FPL. However...

Final Sunday is sacrosanct, so any make-up games that land on a day just before it will always be tacked onto the end of the penultimate week so that our 20-lineup deadline hour isn’t derailed.

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Also, about once per year, FPL decides to do something like a half-week full of blanks immediately before or after a double-game-week containing all of the missing games. When that happens, the Fantrax leagues can diverge from FPL to keep game-weeks as even as possible. If/when that happens, our Fantrax articles will guide you through it.

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By the way, if anyone notices a bizarre scheduling period looming on the horizon (especially if Fantrax deadlines diverge from Official FPL), please bring it up in chat. We will look at it and (with enough lead time) announce how NMA’s Fantrax leagues will handle whatever grief the Premier League and Official FPL schedule-adjusters throw at us.


All season long, we will have articles on Fantrax strategy, tactics and player picks, so even if you haven’t played before, you’ll be an expert in no time. Get on board now so you don’t miss week #1! And after you join, please invite your friends to join one or both of our Fantrax mini-leagues!

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What can we say to persuade you to join our Fantrax EPL leagues? Do you have any unanswered questions? If you know where to reach some more EPL fantasy managers, please tell them about Fantrax and point them here. And then please post your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

Jeff

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