Premier League Fantasy Football: 10 Steps To Success By The Experts

Make injuries work for you, use mind games to turn your rivals into madmen, coax people's transfer targets out of them and know the fixture list inside out...
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1: While reading the manual is about as enthralling as a soggy Carling Cup tie under lights, when it comes to Fantasy Football, it pays to get your head around the rules. Read them and then read them again. The devil is in the detail – do assists come into play? Is the game based solely on league matches or do you need to worry about Cup rotation? Do I lose points for yellow and red cards or can I consider the ultra-violence within the Newcastle midfield? This kind of stuff will shape your squad selection.

2: Scan the player list and look for possible exploits. While you might have the football knowledge to have Jeff Stelling whimpering over his conundrums, the game organisers might not have been as informed when they complied their player prices and position classifications. Look for the bargains coming back from long-term injury, and particularly those players who could possibly be mis-classified. Last season Gareth Bale ripped it up – classed as a defender in several games his flying performances on Harry Redknapp’s left wing made him essential

3: Pan the promoted teams for gold. Last season Charlie Adam delivered on his potential; he might have failed to keep Blackpool afloat but he worked miracles for the average Fantasy Football lineup. This season the smart money is on the mercurial Moroccan Adel Taarabt to provide similar inspiration, while Scott Sinclair at Swansea might be shorter on tricks and flicks, but could be equally as prolific from open play and the spot.

4: Don’t be seduced by a flashy new arrival from foreign shores. While City might have unfurled their chequebook for Sergio Aguero, Fantasy Managers need to bide their time and assess how such a prospect will fare under David Wheater’s agricultural tackles. Proven Premier League talent is the way to go, at least until there’s some form to back up the sparkling CV.

5: Cherish the fixture list -slot next to the photo of the kids in the wallet; pin it to the toilet door. It might seem a tad obsessive but familiarity with the fixtures is key to anticipating big Fantasy returns and that, in turn, will be the major influence when you dip into the transfer market. Look for players with favourable runs of opponents, consider ditching those who have punishing spells.

Last season, having opened up a big lead, my league rival was quite happy to reveal his transfer targets on a regular basis. A fortnight later I was breathing down his neck like an Argentinian man-marker

6: Make injuries work for you. Losing a big name to a cruelly snapped cruciate ligament shouldn’t be the end of the world. Injuries present opportunities for fringe players who should be cheaper and largely ignored by your ill-informed rivals.

7: Don’t come down with the tinsel. The Christmas period can be the turning point – a hectic schedule, bags of injuries and suspensions and a January transfer window just around the corner. You can easily close or lose a big lead at this point so prepare yourself accordingly. Ensure you get rid of your bench-warming fodder and those players in risk of rotation; turn to the “untouchables” - Frank Lampard, Luis Suarez – these players are key to their respective teams and are unlikely to miss matches, even when the fixtures pile-up and won’t be departing when the window opens.

8: If you find yourself chasing a rival then step up your research. Find out their line-up and pick it apart. Look for “differentials” – players that they may have overlooked who you feel are in line for strong returns in weeks to come and build this into your transfer strategy.

9: Play mind games. A few choice words at the water cooler can have your rival jabbering like a crazed Rafa Bentitez. Fact. If you’ve enjoyed a strong weekend, step up the banter and attempt to rattle your opponents with some Monday morning put-downs – it’s surprising how a bout of rage can quickly prompt a knee-jerk transfer that can turn out to be a season-killer.

10: Keep your eye on the prize. A sustained bout of complacency can quickly see your lead evaporate. Last season, having opened up a big lead, my league rival was quite happy to reveal his transfer targets on a regular basis. A fortnight later I was breathing down his neck like an Argentinian man-marker. He still beat me, but you get my point.

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