Review of Gameweeks 28 and 29 in Fantasy Premier League

Review of Gameweeks 28 and 29 in Fantasy Premier League, courtesy of Bet365

It’s been a great couple of weeks for the Merseyside clubs as Everton won 3-0 and 4-0 in home fixtures against West Brom and Hull, while Liverpool beat Burnley at home before drawing away at Manchester City. As a result the red half of Merseyside are very much in the battle to finish runners-up to runaway leaders Chelsea and the blue half have got themselves into the mix for a top 6 finish. They’re currently level on points with Arsenal, who lost for the fourth time in their last five league games to drop to sixth position.

Gameweek 28 saw just four Premier League fixtures and Everton’s 3-0 win against West Brom was easily the most comprehensive scoreline of that weekend. As a result the team of the week was dominated by Everton players, with Phil Jagielka, Ashley Williams, Kevin Mirallas, Morgan Schneiderlin, Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku all amongst the week’s top performers. Bournemouth’s Josh King was the star player of the week though, brushing off an early penalty miss to bag a hat trick and help himself to a haul of 18 points for the week.

In gameweek 29 there were 28 goals scored across the 10 games, and the 2 men who scored a brace each were the standout performers. Both of Romelu Lukaku’s strikes came in injury time and he’d earlier assisted Enner Valencia’s goal so ended the week with 16 points. He was just outshone by West Brom’s Craig Dawson though, with the defender scoring 17 points for his 2 goals in the 3-1 win against Arsenal.

With no games this weekend due to the international break we’ll be back with a preview of the next round of fixtures late next week.

Gameweek 28 preview of Fantasy Premier League

Gameweek 28 preview of Fantasy Premier League, courtesy of Bet365

First a Review of Gameweek 27

Chelsea look to be sailing towards the title after another routine victory last week, with Tottenham their nearest challengers after their pulsating 3-2 win against Everton. Man City failed to capitalise fully on their double gameweek after a disappointing home draw to Stoke on Wednesday evening, mirroring the frustration of their Manchester rivals United, who lost ground on the top 4 after failing to win at home to Bournemouth on Saturday. It looks like it’s Chelsea’s title to lose, Spurs and Man City should be fighting it out for second and Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United in a real scrap for that last Champions League place.

With a double gameweek for Man City and Stoke it’s no surprise to see their players making up over half of the starting XI in the weeks’ Dream Team. With both sides claiming 2 clean sheets in the week a strongly-performing back 5 is made up entirely of players from the two sides, while Marko Arnautovic was the joint-top scoring player of the week, tied on 16 points with Dusan Tadic, although the Southampton man achieved that in one match with 2 assists and a goal in their 4-3 win against Watford.

Gameweek 28 Preview

With FA Cup taking centre stage the Premier League fixture list is sparse this weekend. There are just 4 league games taking place, so big decisions to be made on whether to set your team up with reduced numbers, take a points hit to get players in or if you have your wildcard still intact put that into use.

Bournemouth welcome West Ham to the Vitality Stadium hoping that last week’s point at Old Trafford reignites their form. Prior to that battling performance they’d lost 4 games in a row and conceded 12 times in those matches. Unless they start picking up some wins soon they’ll be dragged into the relegation battle, but one man who is playing well for them despite the poor form of the team overall is Josh King (£5.5m). He has 6 goals in his last 9 league games and is on penalty-taking duties so could be a good source of points for your team this week against a team who’ve kept just one clean sheet away from home all season. The Hammers should have enough up front to trouble a leaky home defence though, and Manuel Lanzini (£6.4m), who’s chipped in with 3 goals and 3 assists in his last 7 appearances, is the man they’ll look to for this.

At Goodison Park two teams in very similar form meet, with both Everton and West Brom recording 3 wins, 2 draws and a defeat from their last 6 matches. The key thing to note here is that West Brom’s defensive record is not what is expected from a Tony Pulis team. They’ve not kept a clean sheet on their travels in any of their last 13 games, and come up against one of the league’s form strikers in Romelu Lukaku (£10.1m). He’s scored in each of his last 4 home games, bagging 7 goals in a run that can be continued on Saturday.

The other Saturday game is between 2 teams who are very much involved in the relegation scrap, Hull and Swansea. Hull have won all of the last 3 meetings between these sides and Swansea have failed to score in each of those, so recent history is on the Tigers’ side. Swansea are in good form though, winning 4 of their last 6 games, and as this game pitches the two sides with the worst defensive records in the league against each other goals could be on the cards. Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.7m) and Fernando Llorente (£6.4m) have racked up over 100 Fantasy Football points each this season, with the former claiming 5 assists and 3 goals in the 8 league matches of Paul Clement’s Swans reign so far, and these are the main danger men in this fixture.

There’s one league game on Sunday, and it looks to be the standout fixture when choosing your captain for the weekend. Liverpool may have had some awful results against teams in the lower half recently but they’ve still got a pretty impressive home record, losing just one league game at Anfield in almost 14 months. Sunday’s visitors are Burnley, a team who’ve not won away in any competition all season and have picked up just 2 points from a possible 39 on their travels in the league this campaign. Sadio Mané (£9.5m), Philippe Coutinho (£8.2m) and Roberto Firmino (£8.4m) are a formidable front three and have amassed 27 goals and 20 assists between them in the league this season. Any of these three should provide you with good points to finish of the gameweek, but the pick of them has to be Mané, with the Senegalese international scoring 3 of the Reds’ 5 goals in their last 2 home games.

Best of luck for this weekend, and we’ll bring you another update next week.

FPL Gameweek 27: Review

Leicester City Fans
Leicester City Fans (CC by 4.0 ) by Ronnie Macdonald

These are uncertain gameweeks for Fantasy Premier League managers, with both the final of the League Cup and the fifth round of the FA Cup having their way with the Premier League fixtures of gameweeks 26 and 28. Many transfers are made keeping the shortened fixtures list of next week (only 8 teams are playing) in mind, and then there still is the first double gameweek of this FPL season, involving Man City and Stoke. In other words, few gameweeks will be as strategically important as the latest one.

Starting with a shock

The weekend’s opener was played at Old Trafford where Manchester United hosted a Bournemouth side that has been struggling as of late, resulting in a meagre five-point gap between them and the relegation spots. United on the other hand are still looking at the top four spots and you can get good betting sites odds on them achieving that. The Reds don’t have a game next week, a good reason to drop United assets for some, but the fact that they were playing the Cherries this week was a good reason to keep some (attacking) assets under your belt. Fantasy managers basing their line-up on the former reason came out on top.

United created chance after chance against Bournemouth, but Zlatan especially was wasteful. He even missed a spot kick, although it should be said, Cherries goalkeeper Arthur Boruc was exceptional on Saturday. He frustrated not only the big Swede, but also an active Pogba and a menacing Martial. In the end it was Marco Rojo’s first goal Premier League that gave United a point, after ex-United talent Josh King converted a penalty following a Phil Jones foul on Marc Pugh in the area after just a quarter of an hour. The referee did not have a good game and missed events between Cherries defender, Mings, and the Reds’ striker Ibrahimovic which has led to an FA violent conduct charge following the match against both players meaning they may face at least a 3-match ban each.

Champions revived and Gunner trouble

Reactions to Claudio Ranieri’s marching orders were mixed, but one thing was clear: something had to happen at the King Power Stadium, and fast. It wasn’t the prettiest of actions, but the 3-1 victory over Hull this weekend, following their 3-1 victory over Liverpool the previous weekend, seems to indicate that it was the right managerial decision for now.

The Foxes showed resilience in spite of their disappointing Premier League season up until now, and some FPL managers will have seen indications that Leicester players might become worth considering again in the near future. Vardy was in the thick of it throughout the game and Mahrez showed glimmers of last season’s brilliance (just check out his goal). Robert Fuchs charged up and down on the left side, resulting in the opening goal after a fine combination with Vardy. Leicester do not play in gameweek 28, but the three games after that are West Ham away, and then Stoke and Sunderland at home. Keep an eye on developments around the King Power…

Spirits were of a whole other kind at Anfield later that same Saturday. Arsenal lost to the hosts 3-1, with superstar Alexis Sanchez starting on the bench, and Mesut Ozil was left out of the squad all together. Liverpool meanwhile, after their defeat against Leicester the weekend before, showed their characteristic intensity again, and Firmino, Mané, Coutinho and Lallana caused all kinds of trouble for the visitors. Liverpool led 2 to nothing by half-time, courtesy of a goal and an assist by both Firmino and Mané. The introduction of Alexis came too late, though he did provide the assist for the only Arsenal goal. A quality first-time finish by Wijnaldum sealed the Gunners’ faith in extra time. Seeing as Liverpool is the only team out of the top six to play next weekend, this victory and the new proof of attacking prowess will surely interest many FPL managers.

Mentioning Spurs

It’s exactly as the title says: Spurs should be mentioned. Despite the significant gap between them and prime champion candidates Chelsea they are turning out to be one of, and possibly the, biggest challenger to the Blues. Pocchetino has managed to create a compact unit that plays high-intensity, well-organised and attacking football. The abundance of talent in the squad is a joy to watch, from Kane’s killer instinct to Dembele’s tactical superiority and the solidity of the English-Belgian defensive block.

The visitors on Saturday were Everton, and Ronald Koeman’s side arrived as the best PL squad this calendar year. No easy task for Spurs to break down you’d think, but they did so in convincing and attractive fashion. Koeman admitted afterwards that Spurs were simply better at the moment, and that he aspires his Toffee-project to one day reach the level Pocchetino’s men are currently displaying. For the FPL managers: Kane scored twice (he’s now the league’s topscorer), and Alli (he scored as well) and Dembele were excellent anywhere on the midfield, while Lukaku and Barkley showed that they can perform for Everton against the best teams.

Are Chelsea the Champions?

Well despite a last-minute goal by West Ham, Hazard and Costa’s goals on Monday night proved that they are determined to take the EPL crown. Hazard’s speed and clinical finishing was the catalyst for Chelsea’s strong performance and Costa was on hand to give them a two goal cushion which was needed due to Lanzini’s strike in injury time. The pressure is on Tottenham and Manchester City to see if they can make inroads into Chelsea’s commanding 10 point lead at the top of the Premier League and Man City have a must-win match against Stoke on Wednesday.

The Basics of Fantasy Football

Ever felt like all the best sports in the world have already been invented, but you’re stuck here yearning for a new game to play. Well, look no more, as fantasy football is here to combine one of the most popular sports ever with your own personal preferences, customizing your every experience.

It is imaginary, not played in real life. Nonetheless, globally, there are millions of interested people.

If you want to play this game, you are supposed to assume the role of coach and general manager combined in a single person. Moreover, you go through the players of the NFL and choose the ones which you deem best. The team you have created basically ‘clashes’ with another team created by a different coach/general manager according to real life schedules. And, as a result of real life events, one of the teams wins and the other looses. Of course, there are complex mechanics which take place before this final deduction, as each player you’ve chosen and each of their actions, passes and injuries influence your fantasy team.

The idea for this sport came more than half a century ago, and it occurred to a certain Wilfred “Bill the Grill” Winkenbach, who had been a limited partner in the Oakland Raiders, and a well-known businessman of the same area. In the Oakland’s 1962 cross-country trip, Wilfred, along with Bill Tunnel, then in charge of the Raider’s Public Relations, and Scotty Stirling, a reporter from Tribune, were situated in a New York hotel room.

Their organization and the rulebook which they constructed turned out to be the basis of today’s modern fantasy football. Nonetheless, to make things clear, it’s best to distinguish the phases of playing this sport.

1. Join a League
Since these come both free and at a certain price, it’s important that you choose wisely. The free leagues can help you practice and learn all the knick-knacks. On the other hand, you need to get an invitation for a private league, and, moreover, you need to have some real money in some situations in order to handle it.

2. Scout Around
Before you start choosing players, check out the offerings and see which variant suits you best. The important thing to remember is to understand your league, its scoring system and roster setup.

3. Draft Away
For drafting, each “coach” selects on a NFL player until the rosters are complete. Drafting the right players for the corresponding positions is crucial to creating a sustainable team.

4. Weekly Matches
As real-life teams clash on the field, fantasy ones use their current points and Bet365 review of statistics to determine the points using their flesh-and-bone counterparts. Ultimately, teams fight to win enough games to make the playoffs.

5. Use Your Power
Since you’re the coach/GM, there’s no need to tell you who’s in charge. You can trade or sell players, or at least bench them as you wish.

All this is done in order to reach the playoffs where the winner is decided by a single eliminatory tournament and the prize couldn’t matter less.

Gameweek 27 preview of Fantasy Premier League

Gameweek 27 preview of Fantasy Premier League, courtesy of Bet365

First a Gameweek 26 Review

With none of Arsenal, Man City or Man United in league action last week the big winners were Chelsea and Tottenham, who are now the top 2 after both recorded routine home wins. Liverpool’s miserable form continued with defeat to Leicester and their top 4 challenge is faltering badly.

The Fantasy Football Dream Team lined up in a 3-5-2 formation with English strikers Kane and Vardy up top having scored 5 and assisting 1 between them in their team’s respective victories. Cesc Fàbregas and Pedro scored excellent points in midfield while Patrick van Aaanholt was the star defender with a goal and a clean sheet helping him to 15 points.

Gameweek 27 Preview

Big news this week is the double gameweek for Manchester City and Stoke. Following the Manchester club’s progress to the FA Cup Quarter Finals in midweek their league game with Stoke has been moved forward a few days, so the teams will face each other on Wednesday evening following a full round of Premier League fixtures over the weekend. With this in mind, and coupled with Gabriel Jesus’ injury, Sergio Agüero (£12.7m) looks to be the standout pick this week. City have scored 5 goals in each of their last two matches and he’s scored a brace in each. He also scored twice earlier in the season away at Stoke and has scored in each of his last 4 appearances against Sunderland. Raheem Sterling (£7.8m) could also be a good pick in midfield, having picked up 8 assists and 2 goals in his last 10 league games.

On the other side of Manchester, United are at home to Bournemouth on Saturday lunchtime. Morale was no doubt boosted when they picked up their first major trophy of the Mourinho era with last week’s EFL Cup Final win against Southampton, and the visit of another south coast club should hold no fear for them here. Bournemouth have lost each of their last 4 games and have gone 8 without a win in all competitions. They’ve conceded at least 3 goals in 6 of their last 8 away, so Zlatan Ibrahimovic (£11.5m) can be trusted to get on the scoresheet again and add to his tally of 6 goals in his last 4 matches.

Stoke City have picked up 4 clean sheets in their last 7 home matches in the league and their defence should be able to hold firm when the league’s lowest scorers Middlesbrough visit the bet365 Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Phil Bardsley (£4.3m) has been preferred to Glen Johnson (£4.7m) at right back recently so could be a good bargain buy to pick up points. Erik Pieters (£4.6m) and Bruno Martins Indi (£4.9m) have 75 points each this season and are guaranteed starters if you want to be more certain of clean sheet points should the Potters keep out Boro as expected. Don’t forget that there’s also the bonus of the second match of the week against Man City too, and while a clean sheet isn’t likely in that one there’s always the possibility of a set piece goal against a vulnerable Man City defence.

The biggest match of the gameweek is Arsenal’s trip to Anfield to face Liverpool. Despite the home side’s poor form, they always seem to raise their game for the big occasion and Sadio Mané (£9.4m) scored both goals in the recent 2-0 victory against Spurs. With 11 goals to his name this season he’s established himself as a vital player for Liverpool and should pose problems for the Arsenal defence. At the back Liverpool have kept just 3 clean sheets in their last 12 games though, with two of those coming against a League 2 side, so Alexis Sánchez (£11.6m) should get opportunities to add to his impressive goal tally this term.

To finish off, one Fantasy Football pick from each of the remaining fixtures:

Leicester v Hull – Danny Drinkwater (£5.3m)
Swansea v Burnley – Alfie Mawson (£4.5m)
Watford v Southampton – Manolo Gabbiadini (£6.7m)
West Brom v Crystal Palace – Gareth McAuley (£5.2m)
Spurs v Everton – Christian Eriksen (£8.7m)
West Ham v Chelsea – Cesc Fàbregas (£6.9m)

Best of luck for this weekend, and we’ll bring you another update next week.

Mane Proves Value to Liverpool and Fantasy Managers

The chase

The chase” (CC BY-SA 4.0) by cchana

Sadio Mane has been a revelation for Liverpool since his move from Southampton in the summer. The Senegalese’s pace and aggression in the final third have added a new dimension for the Reds to mount a challenge to regain their place in the Champions League.

His form was instrumental in helping Jurgen Klopp’s men keep pace with Chelsea at the top of the Premier League, notching a club-high nine goals before he was whisked away to play in the Africa Cup of Nations in early January.

Mane’s departure coincided with Liverpool’s worst run of form in the campaign as they suffered defeats to Swansea City and Hull City, and although they claimed valuable points against Manchester United and Liverpool they lost too much ground in the race for the Premier League title to the Blues.

The 24-year-old displayed what the Reds were missing in his absence with an outstanding performance to put Tottenham Hotspur to the sword with a first-half brace at Anfield to secure the three points for Klopp’s men.

Mane could have scored more than his two strikes if not for a fine outing from Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris, making several phenomenal stops to prevent the scoreline from getting out of hand.

With the Senegalese restored in the line-up – there is no reason why Liverpool should not be able to earn a place in the top four as long as they maintain their level of performance from their victory over Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

The Reds are backed in the latest football betting odds at 4/6 to finish in the top four of the Premier League, and they along with thousands of fantasy football owners will be hopeful that the forward remains fit and firing until the end of the campaign.

Not only was Mane’s absence during January a blow to Liverpool, but also many fantasy football managers who had come to rely on the 24-year-old consistency. Despite missing four weeks of the season he remains one of the top points’ scorers in the official Premier League game.

At 132 points he trails Dele Alli, Alexis Sanchez and Eden Hazard – all of whom have played the majority of their matches for their respective clubs. This highlights the achievements thus far of the Senegalese to be such an asset to Liverpool and managers all over the world to accumulate so many points at this time in the season.

Mane does benefit from playing alongside Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, with Klopp opting to play without a recognised striker. Therefore there are a lot more opportunities in and around the box for the 24-year-old to boost his statistics.

His 11 goals and four assists rank his goal involvement above Alli, Hazard and Sergio Aguero, and if not for Lloris he could well have had several more strikes to his name to match Jermain Defoe and Harry Kane positioned on 14 goals above him.

He has been a transformational player for Liverpool and has improved his production from his previous two seasons in the Premier League. Mane is already on course to beat his 137-point performance from the 2014-15 season, and should he fire the Reds to a Champions League place he will eclipse the 162-mark set last term.

The 24-year-old has been well worth the £34m investment by the Reds and fantasy managers should also take the plunge at £9.3m – as there is plenty more to come from the Senegalese this season.

Gameweek 26 preview of Fantasy Premier League

Gameweek 26 preview of Fantasy Premier League, courtesy of Bet365

First a Gameweek 25 Review

Liverpool returned to winning ways in the league with a crucial 2-0 win over Tottenham. This allowed Man City to move into second above Spurs with an away win at Bournemouth. They’re 8 points behind leaders Chelsea, while just 2 points separate Tottenham in third to Man United in sixth.

Swansea’s defenders dominate the backline in the Dream team of the week, with Mawson, Olsson and Fernández picking up 39 points between them (and at a combined cost of just £13.2m). The star performer of the week was Sadio Mané as he scored both goals in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Spurs to pick up 16 points, while Arsenal’s Alexis Sánchez also scored a brace in a 2-0 win, but his yellow card meant that he finished the week on 15.

Gameweek 26 Preview

There are no early kick-offs this week so the transfer deadline is 2pm on Saturday, giving you plenty of time to study the team news and hopefully ensure all of your first XI are in action over the weekend. With the EFL Cup Final taking place there are two matches postponed from this weekend too, so be sure to bench or ditch any Man United, Southampton, Arsenal or Man City players!

Chelsea will open up an 11-point gap at the top if they beat Swansea at home on Saturday afternoon, a task which they should achieve with relative ease. They’re up against the league’s leakiest defence and Diego Costa (£10.6m) will be looking to end his mini goal drought in this one. He hasn’t scored in any of his last three league games, but before this run he hadn’t fired blanks in back to back games all season.

At the same time Everton host Sunderland at Goodison Park, and there’s every reason to captain Romelu Lukaku (£9.9m) this week. He scored 1 and assisted 2 in Everton’s 6-2 win in this fixture last season and also bagged a hat trick earlier this season when the Toffees won 3-0 at the Stadium of Light. His recent form is excellent too, having scored in each of Everton’s last 3 home fixtures including a 4-goal haul last time out against Bournemouth. At the back Everton have kept 4 clean sheets in their last 6 league games so Seamus Coleman (£5.9m) could well pick up points here. His attacking prowess is not be underestimated either, with the Irishman claiming 3 assists and a goal in his last 5 league games.

On Monday evening a fully-rested Liverpool should be too strong for a Leicester side in terrible form and returning from a midweek Champions League encounter with Sevilla. Sadio Mané (£9.3m) is the obvious choice here, with the Senegalese winger playing a starring role in Liverpool’s victory over Tottenham last time out. He’s scored exactly 11 goals in each of his three Premier League seasons, but the difference this year is that he’s reached that total in just 22 appearances. The Reds missed him while he was away at the African Cup of Nations and they’ll be hoping that the win against Spurs is a sign of things to come over the remaining 3 months of the season.

To finish off, one Fantasy Football pick from each of the remaining fixtures:

Crystal Palace v Middlesbrough – Fabio (£4.4m)
Hull v Burnley – Andrew Robertson (£4.3m)
West Brom v Bournemouth – Chris Brunt (£5.1m)
Watford v West Ham – Manuel Lanzini (£6.3m)
Spus v Stoke – Harry Kane (£11.2m)

Best of luck for this weekend, and we’ll bring you another update next week.

When Hollywood meets Fantasy

From board games, to clubs, and even dexterous draft scouting, fantasy football can bend and shape itself to attract any kind of competitive fan, and big screen stars are no different when it comes to serious involvement with what’s a multi- dollar national and international obsession.

Stateside, some of the key names in Hollywood are self-confessed fantasy football addicts, although ‘aficionados’ is probably a more stylish term for these top-level fans of imaginary games.

The roll-call of Tinseltown players includes stars of both the big and small screen for whom the art of crafting their virtual or imaginary teams is crucial

Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe is a huge NFL fan and has put a twist on the name of Greater Boston’s New England Patriot’s outside linebacker for his fantasy team, Barkevious Mingo’s Mum. Generous with his knowledge, the wizard actor has also been known to offer draft advice to paparazzi and autograph hunters who are in on the fantasy scene.

‘Ant-Man’ actor Paul Rudd is another serious player and has brought his son into the fold, although there’s competition between who has the best fantasy team. Rudd has three teams in his portfolio, and has been known to express the high level of fun it is to ‘care about a game that you would not usually care about’. With all the necessary apps on his phone, he regularly streams the games on his TV when at home in New York.

Jon Hamm, star of ‘Mad Men’ had a tricky time a few years back when he was unceremoniously dumped as a member of the John Simmons’ Fantasy football league. After being voted out by the winner, Hamm has said in an interview; “I closed my laptop, got in my car and drove away”. A mature response to what is a serious business for those in the Hollywood frame.

Even comedian and late night TV host Seth Meyers has an annual ritual of meeting up with old friends to create a face-to-face fantasy football draft. It’s a sociable habit that’s much more convivial than the man who’s known as the ‘Dragon,’ whose real life daily sporting ritual is to drink his own urine.

Dedication is key, and Hollywood’s serious player’s list goes on. Actor, producer and venture capitalist Ashton Kutcher is such a big-time player, he hosted a show called ‘Fantasy Fooball Live’ – although he hired an assistant to do the research and effectively run his team.

Who knows whether comedian David Spade did the same for his ‘Fantasy Football Uncensored’ show, which he hosted alongside teammates made up of a mix of fellow comedians and actors.

Jerry Ferrara, comedian and actor best known for his role as Turtle on HBO’s ‘Entourage’ also produced a series of spin-off minisodes of the ‘Gentlemen’s League’, which followed him and his Entourage cast mates playing the fantasy game.

Of course, it’s not just Hollywood that’s in on the fun. Other big names come from the world of music, and what bigger celeb could here be in the fantasy arena than Shawn Cory Carter (Jay-Z)? With a global list of gigs and music deals under his belt, he still has time for fantasy playing, which he does with an ultra-exclusive league that features a number of key real life players. That’s one advantage that puts the mogul high up on the fantasy football draft success stakes, but there are others who also hold something of an advantage.

Elizabeth Banks of ‘The Hunger Games’ is married to sportswriter Max Handleman, author of ‘Why Fantasy Football Matters (And Our Lives Do Not)’. Both are avid players, although she took a hiatus after their children were born.

NFL players themselves aren’t just the topic of the fantasy drafts; many of them have also taken a punt. Former running back Maurice Jones-Drew was famously drafted into a fantasy team by a fan, even after he retired, but the former player has long been a keen football fantasist, even drafting himself while he was with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders. Now a keen fantasy player and analyst, he hosts his own radio show and has appeared on Fantasy NFL to talk about his drafting strategies.

Former quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, is another player who in the past – while still playing – benched himself in his fantasy team – only to go on and score four touchdown passes, gaining some serious fantasy points.

The fantasy is real, and with Hollywood thrown into the mix of what’s essentially a recession-proof craze, the estimated £1billion a year industry is set to just keep on growing.

Improving fitness with football

Recently, more and more people are looking to expand the active wear section of their wardrobe. It’s becoming increasingly more popular to have a myriad of kits to style – new gear means a new-found motivation to get yourself moving. The bright colours, and myriad of different cuts can really be the persuasion you need to get yourself off to training.

Now that the look is sorted, it’s often difficult to figure out where you want to put your focus when it comes to your workout of choice, and many forget that working on your fitness doesn’t necessarily have to be gym orientated; there are so many ways to get exercising.

It’s clear to see that the days are getting lighter, brighter, with a little bit of warmth hanging in the air. This is often more of a motivation to get moving; be it running, netball, football or hockey. Superdry has created a fun quiz to determine what sport would best suit you.

Research shows the UK’s most popular sport is swimming, followed by running, football and cycling – sports that Team GB succeeded at, at The Olympic Games last year.

FACT FILE:

● 15.74 million people play a type of sport in the UK
● Over 2.5 million people implemented swimming as part of their weekly routine in 2015/16
● Over 1.8 million people in the UK love to play football at least once a week
● Interest in athletics has risen by an incredible 85% since 2005/6

Although it might feel like a lot of effort, focusing on your health and fitness can be fun, and you can reach your goal if you’re persistent.

To get you in the warm weather mood, try brighter tones in your active wear. Deep sea blues, bright oranges and lime colours are a sure-fire way of staying ahead of the game with your style when you’re getting yourself ready for a good exercise session.

According to research, football has a myriad of fitness benefits including:
-building endurance and bone strength
-improves health due to the HIIT aspect of the sport – walking, running and sprinting
-improves your cardiovascular health
-improves muscle tone and decreases body fat

The quiz considers the basics: your age, height, current exercise routine, and the more unusual: your preferred stamina, agility and team or individual sport preference.

Superdry said:

“We understand that many of us are at a loss with where to start when it comes to starting a fitness journey. Getting an exercise kick can come from both the gym or a particular sport, so we wanted to show you that there is so much on offer that you could try. Your health is incredibly important, so whether you’re up for a five minute HIIT session or a full 90-minute kick about, our quiz is worth trying!”

 


Sports Personality Quiz


The Top Fantasy Picks for Cheltenham Festival

Handicap chase
Source: Flickr

With the big news that Irish trainer Willie Mullins has pulled both Faugheen and Min out of Cheltenham this year, many a punter will have to rethink their bets. There were hopes that Faugheen could reclaim his Stan James Champion Hurdle crown and Min was expected to run in the Racing Post Arkle Trophy but injuries have ruled both horses out of the festival.

There’s still a few weeks to go but, it’s probably about time to take a look at what should be your top fantasy picks for the meet’s five most valuable races.

Ryanair Chase – £300,000

The Ryanair Chase is a two-mile, five furlongs steeplechase and this year it looks like the Willie Mullins’ trained Un De Sceaux is the hot favourite. Un De Sceaux also holds an entry for the Champion Chase, but in that race, he will face much stronger competition.

The other entrants in the Ryanair Chase, on the other hand, are quite a distance behind and we fully expect him to win this race comfortably.

Our tip – Un De Sceaux

Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle – £300,000

The Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle is a two-mile, seven furlongs and 213 yards hurdle race that many consider one of the most prestigious of its kind in the racing calendar. While Unowhatimeanharry is the clear favourite, we’re of a mind that Ballyoptic will beat him. This horse clearly has plenty of stamina having won four of his eight hurdle races, yet his two recent falls seemed to affect his confidence a little.

Having said that, this horse has shown that he can compete against Unowhatimeanharry and although he finished four and a half lengths behind him in the Long Walk Hurdle, we fancy that he could spring a surprise at Cheltenham.

Our tip – Ballyoptic

Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase – £350,000

This two-mile steeplechase is the highlight of day two at the festival and last year’s race gave us an epic finale as Sprinter Sacre produced a stirring comeback to reclaim his crown. There’s no place for the now retired Sprinter Sacre this year, so all eyes will turn to Willie Mullins’ Douvan.

Unbeaten in 13 starts, Douvan is the clear favourite especially considering that the second favourite Fox Norton doesn’t seem to have what it takes. In their two previous meetings, Fox Norton hasn’t managed to get within eleven lengths of him.

Our tip – Douvan

Stan James Champion Hurdle – £400,000

Run over two miles, the Champion Hurdle was to be Faugheen’s chance to reclaim his crown, but with a stress fracture ruling him out of the Festival it’s time to change our bets. Yanworth is looking good of late and so far has won eight of his 11 career starts.

This race requires stamina and Yanworth’s win on Boxing Day shows that he’s got it in spades but can he overcome race favourite Annie Power? Last year’s winner will be tough to beat, but with Faugheen out of the race, it could be Yanworth’s time.

Our tip – Yanworth

Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup – £575,000

And so we come to the biggest race of all, The Gold Cup. Worth over half a million and run over three miles and two furlongs, the stage is set for a memorable race. With Willie Mullins dominating the last four festivals it’s very tempting to pick either Vroum Vroum Mag or Djakadam.

However, a quick look at Betstars odds for the race shows us that neither of Mullins horses is the favourite. That honour goes to Thistlecrack, the jewel of Colin Tizzard’s stable but as we all know, in the Gold Cup, anything can happen. It’s a tough one to call, but we’re going with Djakadam who was runner-up in this race in both 2015 and 2016. His good form and consistency this season should see him make it third time lucky.

Our tip – Djakadam