Like most of the managers around the league, the end of this season has me thinking about next season and what can be done to improve what we do and how we enjoy the fantasy games available to us.
The BEST option would be to create our own fantasy game that improves on the experiences currently offered by the "big two" (PremierLeague.com and Yahoo! UK). Unfortunately, that best option is expensive and time consuming so unless there's someone out there with money to spend that believes that there is a market for a better fantasy Premier League experience, we'll have to move on to the next best thing.
The problem is that I'm not sure what the "next best thing" might be. The first thing that springs to my mind is a competition more like American-style fantasy football where those who are interested join a league, pay an entry fee with the winners (maybe the "top four") winning some percentage of the pot.
My intuition tells me that there is a need for both long term prizes like the one suggested above and short term prizes that will keep people motivated as the season wears on. As an example, in our private league, I already know I'm not going to finish above third unless one or both of the top two leave a player out of the line-up for the next four weeks. There is some pride on the line since I'm currently in fourth and would like to beat Jeremy out for third but with no tangible outcome associated with that other than a few boasting IMs over the summer that really isn't enough motivation.
Here is my thought. Since I clearly don't have the answer here, I'd like to hear from our readers. Is there interest in some sort of a premium league that would take your performance from the Yahoo game and translate it into another competition? If so, what ideas do you have for the sort of competition that would keep the fun going throughout the entire season?
I have one idea that I'll throw out there that might provide a different experience. Rather than having a "Cup" competition (AM, PremierLeague.com, and others already do that) or a private group where we exactly follow the scoring system of the overall game (EPLTalk.com and others do that). Maybe we could put teams in to "leagues" and play schedules within those individual leagues. The first few teams in each league would win prize money. It wouldn't entirely eliminate the problem of teams being out of the running for prizes toward the end of the season but it would likely increase the probability of more teams staying in the race longer.
So, what do you think? Do you like that idea? Would you participate? Would you contribute an entry fee to be involved? If not that specific idea, what else would be of interest. I'm very much open to ideas to increase our collective enjoyment of what we're spending our leisure time on.
Where we separate the matches that offer fantasy managers real value versus those that just appear to do so.
- Chelsea vs. Wigan – Don’t be fooled by Chelsea’s mediocre match against Stoke or Wigan’s holding of Spurs last weekend. Chelsea aren’t entirely out of the woods yet on Champions League qualifying for next season and Wigan are no match for them at home.
- ManUtd vs. Fulham – The visitors have made a fortress out of Craven Cottage but their exploits on the road haven’t been nearly so noteworthy. Oh, and United are just exceptional at home. ‘nuff said.
- Blackpool vs. Arsenal – No, I’m not betting on all of the spoils going to Arsenal so much as this being an open attacking match in both directions where you should consider both sets of attacking players and stay far away from the defenders and ‘keepers. Oh, and for those of you who are saying "but wait, Arsenal are in a funk and can't hit the broad side of a barn right now" - in my mind, the pressure is off, the title has been given away and they'll relax and start scoring to their talent again.
I don’t see a lot of matches that LOOK attractive but aren’t. What I see are a lot of even match-ups that could go either way. This shouldn’t dissuade you from taking players in an even match-up. What it SHOULD do is cause you to choose players who produce week-in and week-out as opposed to occasional contributors whose value improves when the match-up is a strong one for that player’s team.
- Chicharito - There's always a risk of rotation here but less so because Rooney is out. I'm prepared to accept the slings and arrows if it ends up being Berbs who leads the line and scores a hat trick with Chicharito watching on from the bench.
- RvP - You're really deciding between Drogs and RvP in this slot and my only concern about Drogs is that he might be rested in hopes of keeping him fresh for the return Champions League match in mid-week. The Champions League is much more important for Chelsea than the league right now.
- Gyan - I'm focusing on the Gyan who played against England and the West Brom that is the second leakiest defense in the league. Not the Sunderland that got waxed by Citeh and the WBA that is undefeated under Woy. WBA may not lose but they WILL give up goals and Gyan appears to be the man to do it.
- Ba - A week off the bandwagon for the United match and I'm right back on @Bolton isn't a great match-up but the Hammers will be motivated by relegation and Ba will be freed from having Vidic in his back pocket.
- SEB - I like him to continue his excellent work leading the line for Wolves who will at least score one or two against Everton regardless of the final outcome.
- Valencia - Obviously Nani is the guy to have if you have the money but Valencia has been playing well since his return and is much more reasonably priced.
- FloMal - With Chelsea's midfield prices - at least amongst the ones who are relevant for fantasy - pretty crazy this is only a modest recommendation but I'd be remiss if I didn't point you toward an attacking player from the best match-up of the weekend.
- Wilshere - I'd suggest Cesc if you have money to spend but Wilshere is the value play in Arsenal's match-up against Blackpool.
- Jarvis - I sense a distinct lack of options in the middle of the price spectrum in my recommendations so far, my first choice would be Albrighton but he didn't start last weekend so Jarvis at home to an Everton side that is improving but still seemingly shy on keeping clean sheets.
- Smalling - I'm guessing he'll get the start over Rio who I don't see starting three matches in 8 days.
- Walker - Certainly not a no-brainer that Villa will do well but I like the match-up with NUFC at home and Walker tends to be good regardless (last week excepted).
- Luiz - Between the home game, match-up, his performances thus far, and the lack of great options under 8 at the back Luiz is still strong value even as his price rises a bit.
- Zhirkov - Not sure if he'll start again but if he does, he's definitely worth a shot at 5.35 and likely playing in a left midfield role.
- Heitinga - Really only an enabler at this point but at least one we know is capable of returning more than his value. He's done it before and not THAT long ago.
- BBBF - At just over 4, Friedel is the value pick of the week. NUFC could do just about anything as we've discussed frequently this season but I like Friedel and Villa's chances and even more so at this price.
- Cech - If you're spending on your keeper, then Cech is your best bet as his price has dropped a little bit below the most expensive keepers. He's still not cheap but definitely a solid value.
- Kuszczak - This one would be a risk as EvdS claims he isn't injured, that said I could see United resting EvdS just to make sure he's right for Chelsea in mid-week.
- Kingson - If you don't believe me about Arsenal relaxing and starting to score again now that the title is out of reach then Kingson is in for a big day and you should think about him priced under 4.
Cheers - Neal