Britrock Blog

Just another Brit in New York City

Posts Tagged ‘fantasy football’

Ten keys to English Premier League fantasy football

Posted by Britrock on October 1, 2014

In true Bilip (bad Philip) style, I’ve just returned from a lot of travel in a short space of time, 50+ airport visits in two months, so naturally there’s lots to catch up on. And I’ve just spent two hours reviewing fantasy football lineups for NFL and EPL leagues I play in. Both seasons are relatively speaking, at a similar premature stage and newbies have either got the hang of it or are utterly lost. NFL fantasy obsessives have countless complex sites and tv shows that provide guidance, but the EPL has relatively few. Perhaps because EPL fantasy fans have more rich and fulfilling lives… or are too lazy/ambivalent to care. To help out two close friends of mine, new to fantasy EPL (Great midwest boys weekend StEvil B and the Pocket Dog!) I threw a few links and pieces of advice together. Make of it what you will. I’ve never won a fantasy EPL league and I’m a Saints fan.
Overall EPL dream team
Biggest factors in EPL fantasy:
  • Goals scored earn 6 pts (plus bonus depending on if the goal won the game)
  • Cleansheets/no goals conceded earn 6 pts for defenders (2 pts for midfielders)
  • Assists earn 3 pts
  • Captain doubles his pts each week
  • Two wildcard transfers a season
  • Playing 90 mins earns 2 pts
Ten considerations for fantasy EPL success
1) Scoring goals from setpieces
As goals are relatively difficult to predict, its good to consider the predictable moments e.g. set pieces (free kicks within shooting distance and of course penalty kicks) Last year Lambert earned me heaps of points because he didn’t miss any of his penalty chances and scored lots of freekicks. The aging legend is on Liverpool’s bench now, and Gerrard (while I don’t rate him much as a player; sometimes controls a game, he overhits 85% of his passes a fundamental skill for a midfield player & perpetually looks perplexed) he does take the penalty and free-kick chances for Liverpool.
So its worth looking at this link: EPL Penalty & Free kick takers

2) Consider the schedule
Southampton are going to have a fairly miserable time of things between the end of November and mid January as they play Man City, Man Utd (twice), Arsenal (twice), Chelsea and Everton. Naturally this will affect your teams ability to score points and my need to drink pints. Useful link of weird colored fixtures: Geekiest spreadsheet of EPL fixtures in existence
EPL 2014 Fixtures Ranking
3) Captains double your points
Selecting a team captain will double his points contributed. This should be your marquee player every week. Diego Costa would have earned you almost 100 pts as your captain every week. P.S. Its week 7 this week. That’s ridiculous return. In general the goalkeeper can only score a maximum of a cleansheet plus a bonus = 8 or 9pts. Diego Costa on two occasions this season has surpassed double figures. The caveats to choosing your best player as captain; if the opposition is difficult it reduces both goal scoring and cleansheets, or if he may not last a full game due to struggling with an injury or is Balotelli. The guy has a shot at goal every 15 minutes but hasn’t scored yet, and negatively affects teammates ability to score. Having said that Liverpool’s fixtures look favorable and he’s bound to go off like a firework from a bedroom window. Link to utterly unhelpful story about Balotelli setting house on fire: 
4) Wildcard transfers let you reset your team
Wayne Rooney is suspended for three games, Aaron Ramsey and James Ward Prowse are injured for multiple games, your goalkeeper is Hart sitting on a bench, Balotelli and Wellbeck are your strikers, for some reason you gambled on a back line of Stoke, QPR and Burnley players. Play your wildcard. Twice a season you can make unlimited transfers in one sitting, that will allow you to reset your team. Don’t forget bargain players at unfashionable clubs. Useful slightly hidden stats page

5) Make transfers at the end of the week
Premier League teams involved in midweek cup competitions risk having players injured and tired from these games, as a result its wise to wait for these games to play before making roster changes. A club with lots of injuries will obviously not play as effectively. Man Utd currently have at least 9 players out. Track injuries here:
6) Set your line-up before Saturday morning
Each week there is a deadline to set your line-up, chose your captain and make transfers. (generally a majority of teams will play on a Saturday morning).

7) Order of substitutes matters
Your lineup is set and contains a number of Man City players. Pelliegrini likes to rest players randomly, and as a result two of your players don’t play any part in the game. Not to worry, because those players not taking part are automatically substituted out and replaced with those on your bench in the order you have placed them. Make sure you leave your weakest player in the number 3 spot. Weakest is defined by ability to score points, not simply because he looks as skinny and weird as Peter Crouch.

8) Formations can change
Unlike Sam Allardyce’s rigid 4-4-2. You don’t have to play the 4 – 4 – 2 shape the form gives you each week. If you’ve built your team around Costa, RVP and Aguero, play with three up front each week. If goalscorers have the potential to earn more points by scoring goals why wouldn’t you play three up front if that’s who score the most goals? Because anyone can score goals, just ask Begovic. Play around until you see a shape you like. Remember midfield players receive two points for a no goals conceded, and forwards are most often substituted reducing their chance at 1 extra point for playing 90 mins.
3-4-3 4-5-1
9) Form & fixtures matters more than class
Balotelli, Van Persie and Dzeko or Ulloa, Berahino and Weimann? The former have 56 pts costing a combined 30.8 m pounds versus the non-glamor players have 98 pts at a current price of 17 m pounds. Track the form and fitness of players, ease of fixtures and potential suspensions.
Useful stats link: form stats

10) Its all luck with a little knowledge thrown in for seasoning. Or vice versa
If anyone could actually predict the result of sporting events they’d setup an organization that would allow them to pit their wallets against anyone who fancies themselves a sporting soothsayer. Not sure who is mostly likely to be the Jacksonville Jaguars of the EPL? See what the sports betting agents think collectively, its not as if they make money on this every week or anything. Combined betting perspectives:

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Getting a good tightend makes life better in America

Posted by Britrock on September 10, 2012

American sports are better observed, learned, understood and then properly enjoyed through gaming. And yes, there’s a British English vs. American English discussion lurking in only the second word of this piece but I’ll save that as a filler paragraph later in another article.

When I first arrived in New York City in the winter of 1999, to reach the sidewalk I had to drag my suitcase over a small embankment of garbage strewn snow, amongst which was the sports section of a newspaper with a close-up photo of a helmeted football participant cheering. Steam poured out of his mouth as rainy globs of snow streaked passed him. Anything that could make a grown adult male that happy while obviously cold, damp and probably bruised was immediately intriguing, yet I didn’t know where to begin learning football.

At school we played and learned games including rugby, association football, cricket, golf, tennis, rounders, softball, athletics, field hockey, volleyball, basketball and cycling. We didn’t learn how to race bicycles but we did learn the principles of how to ride one safely on the road, receiving a ‘cycling proficiency’ certificate and a free reflective piece of plastic on completion. The only time I use the word proficiency is in relation to a cycling lesson at school, making it a grotesquely underused word possibly made uncool because of its originator – the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian

“Football for Dummies” didn’t really help, despite reading more than half of it my limited attention span didn’t allow it to sink in. The mere mention of tightends made me smirk like a schoolboy hearing the word “breast” regardless of context. So I bought a Playstation and a copy of Madden 2000, forced Brett Favre to avoid early retirement and take the Packers to three Superbowl titles. And like a girl I picked Green Bay because at the time their green and golden-yellow uniforms had a nostalgically cool look to them.

So, I became familiar with ‘downs,’ QBs, WRs, RBs, the difference between a passing and running game but not when to deploy them, how to defend or not to ‘go for it’ on fourth down everytime. And I still didn’t know what a tight-end was, where they played or what they did, but I knew I liked the entertaining education and participation in virtual sport played over here, and set about learning an American sport a year.

This was around the end of football season and I can’t remember who won the Superbowl that year. Giants won last year, and a couple of years before that I think. But I can tell you I almost won at a superbowl party pick’em’game, finished second in a fantasy baseball league the following year, and in one evening in the summer of 2005 I learned three American sports; kickball, beerpong and flipcup.

Fantasy baseball takes levels of commitment, conservative estimate is an hour a day and a little luck; I landed New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Alfonso Soriano in his rookie year. Daily scanning of news websites for information on starting pitchers, batters on hot streaks, and patterns. Always looking for patterns because that’s how humans try to make sense of things.

Baseball, college basketball and football, a little ice hockey, MLS have all entertained me but I’ve not really dedicated any time to wasting hours on NFL games beyond dipping my toe lightly into a playoff league where everyone had the same players and no one really cared about the result.

With limited reading and only intuition to go on, I logged onto and dived straight into a free ESPN league that included a ‘live’ snake draft. There are entire websites, books and even TV programs dedicated to fantasy football draft strategies and even more words written about the merits of every single player in the National Football League. So I ignored it all and went with my gut feelings.

Top five things I learned from my first draft:

a) A quarterback will score the most points each week, not always the same QB each week however. There are eight maybe ten elite quarterbacks, and only five or six that will deliver big points almost every week.
b) Kickers and defenses will likely contribute the fewest points and definitely not the most points on any given week. Pick them towards the end of the draft.
c) There are lots and lots of running backs and wide receivers who tend to score points sporadically depending on if their team is winning or losing, and picking the right four or five guys is more luck based than anything else.
d) Tightends, especially good TD scoring tightends are worthy of a 2nd or 3rd round pick. The name makes me chuckle less now.
e) If fantasy sports makes watching sports much more fun, imagine doubling it and making it a once a season activity with the tension of the final moments of any close, freescoring game. There’s more pressure during the draft that will affect enjoyment of sports on a weekly basis than picking lottery ticket numbers that could change your life.

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