The Rules

Once again, I give to you my fantasy football guidelines in handy list form. This is the latest variation on something I first wrote down in 2004. They have served me well over the years, and I hope you find them useful in choosing your teams this season.

1. Punch above your weight

You generally want to pick anyone playing in a more advanced role than they are designated by the fantasy game - defenders playing in midfield and midfielders lining up as forwards. The further up the pitch, the better chance of getting you points. Examples in recent years include Blog Favorite Ashley Young (BFAY), Nigel Reo-Coker (NRC), Ryan Taylor, Paul Scharner, Gareth Bale and the Evertonian youngsters Rodwell and Gosling. Unfortunately, each year Yahoo! gets a bit better about putting the players in their proper designations so the pickings get slimmer.  This year I'm looking at Graham Alexander, a nominal right-back, to get a lot of games for Burnley in midfield.  John "Johnny Utah" Utaka at Portsmouth would be a player listed as a midfielder but who could play at striker.  There are also several midfielders who may play "in the hole" behind a lone striker from time to time.  Gomez at Wigan, Milijas at Wolves, and Kieran "KRich" Richardson at Sunderland would all fit that bill.

The converse to this rule is to avoid players playing behind their designation. For example, you wouldn't have picked Gilberto (the Spurs player) last year as he was listed as a midfielder but playing at left back. This year players to avoid would include McFadden at Birmingham, Dirk Kuyt who will likely be a fixture on the right of Liverpool's midfield (though that didn't slow him down last season), or the likes of Mendy, Eboue and Chelsea new boy Zhirkov who can play both in midfield and defence.

2. Wing it

Another type of player to look for is the wing back or attacking full back. While not lining up in midfield per se, they end up spending a lot of time there. You can find these guys best on teams playing a 3-5-2, sadly out of fashion these days. Oh for the days of Carr and Ziege flanking Spurs teams or Clement and Balis at WBA (though that may have been more of a Boro 5-3-2). There are center backs that come up with more goals over the course of a season, but they'll get you 10pts one week and none the next. The full back is more likely to get crosses and win corners while they are usually less likely to commit fouls and collect cards making them more likely to be steady performers.

Evra, (C)Ashley Cole, Glen Johnson and Sagna are your 'big four' here.  Elsewhere Beye, Baines, Warnock and Konchesky are other examples of varying degrees of quality.

3. Live for the dead ball

Always try to pick the player who takes dead balls for his team - free kicks, penalty kicks and corners. These lead directly to scoring chances - goals, assists and successful crosses. Plus they are free points! Your guy doesn't have to do anything to earn these chances. Let the rest of the team work for your fantasy betterment! Gerrard, Lampard, van Persie... the list does go on. Even a middling player on a poor team can be elevated to must have because they earn enough points taking kicks - Milijas (Wolves) and Gomez (Wigan) could be that player this season.  Graham Alexander is Burnley's penalty kick taker, so he's ticked off two of my boxes already.

4. Never pass up a sure thing

Always try to get the sure starter. Don't pick up Louis Saha or Benni McCarthy because he could get a hat-trick in 20 minutes of play. If you play the odds and get someone on the pitch for 90 (or even 70) minutes you'll be better off. This gets hard because a lot of your best players are on the best/biggest squads. So Chelsea, ManU forwards and middies can be a nightmare to pick. Soometimes you need to save yourself the aggravation.

5. Sell Beckham

New rule named after an old joke. If there is a player who is head and shoulders above the rest of the league, just buy him. Suck it up. Gut the defence, and buy him. In the last few years I would put Beckham, Thierry Henry and CRon in this category. Big Fat Frank Lampard (BFFL or Lamps) and possibly Ruud van Nistelrooy (RvN) are on the outside of this group looking in.  Though perhaps this is the year that Gerrard earns 'Beckham' status.

6. Who is playing Derby?

Another new rule, this one named after my experimental team from the 2007/2008 season. I picked as many players from the team playing Derby - the worst team in the league by a stretch - that week and invariably that team would outperform my first team. This season Hull, Portsmouth, Burnley and Birmingham could fall into the this category and I will try to pick as many players playing against them as I can afford/find space for.

6. No Friday trades

Final new rule, and perhaps the hardest to abide. Unless there is actionable intelligence - an injury, a suspension, or a manager coming out and saying something concrete - don't make changes to your team on Friday. You've likely already processed all the usable information during the week, and remember you've set most of your team on the barn door - that time between when the game locks down for the week and when points and prices update based on the week's games. Too much trading, especially on a Friday based on whims and hunches, is usually deck chairs (a la, on the Titanic). At best it doesn't earn you anything and and worst you could "pick around the points".

7. Other caveats, if not rules, include:

All things being equal, go with the home team.
Never bet on or against Bolton. Unless you do.
Scholes is dead to us for fantasy purposes.
Avoid Spurs' defence. Just do it. Or don't do it, as the case may be.

Good luck!


  1. Anonymous11:22 AM

    Couple of thoughts:
    * Need to update No. 6 to reflect relegation
    * Drogs in 2009-2010 clearly earned Beckham status

  2. A bit outdated, but it mostly holds true.

  3. well, the generalisms are still true. the specific examples are obviously in need of an update. "who's playing blackpool," for instance. i'm not sure if drogba is in the beckham category yet, though. he was great, but he wasn't so much better than everybody else, the way ronaldo or henry was, that you absolutely had to own him, plus there was the usual uncertainty around the african cup of nations.

  4. Anonymous2:07 PM

    @adeem hey guys david silva has been ommitted from their europa league squad .good news for fantasy managers who wanna keepp him.

  5. Anonymous2:11 PM

    @adeem robinho has been named in that squad. no bellamy ,ireland and joe either

  6. Anonymous2:22 PM

    zhirkov is listed as a defender.