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Here are a number of quick fantasy football tips and hints from FISO on tactics for fantasy football games that follow real-life matches. The tips were written in 2000 and are mainly based on the TFFO game.

  1. Read the Rules. It is obvious but do read the rules of the fantasy competition! In particular, what transfers are allowed (and when you can do them), how many players from each Premiership squad, the points scoring system and entry date (leave it late, if possible). For an example, if Defenders receive -2 points for every goal conceded then you should work out that it often won't be sensible to use the defenders if they are playing away!

  2. Want to do some Transfers? Before choosing your new player, look at the fixtures for the next month or so. Things to look at are a run of home matches, or matches against out of form or lower half teams, or Sunday and Monday matches which may help your squad based team. Also consider doing the transfer after your outgoing player has played his Saturday match and before the incoming player plays his Sunday/Monday match. If you have a squad based game there is no point transferring a player in if because of the fixtures etc you will not pick him for the next round of matches - leave your transfer until you are actually going to use the new player.

  3. Form. Players that are on form are much more likely to score points for you time after time, particularly the better quality players, so always watch for a run of form by the top players - a run of form rarely lasts for more than half the season so watch for when to 'get in' and when to 'get out'. Don't worry about being late in buying an 'in form' player if he has already scored a hat full of goals recently - he is still probably going to score more goals than your other striker who hasn't scored in 5 games! If you're going to win the competition you need to 'catch a wave' when top quality strikers are on form and scoring freely. The same goes for teams who often have a run of games where they really 'click' together.

  4. Misclassification. Clearly strikers who are classified as midfielders and midfielders who are classified as defenders can score you more points than a normal midfielder or defender BUT don't get carried away - if they are not a top quality player or are not 'in form' then they are unlikely to score as many points as a quality in form midfielder or defender. If they are on form then you may not be able to afford to ignore them.

  5. The Defense. Choose defenders and goalkeepers who play week in week out for the teams that should finish in the top half of the league. Penalty takers are a bonus but really defenders are less individualistic than midfielders or strikers so try and follow the better teams for defenders - there is nothing worse than your strikers scoring loads of goal but finding your goalkeeper let in 6 goals. Obviously you need to choose the right balance in your fantasy team without overspending and having to end up going for the cheapest goalkeeper just to have the costliest striker in your team. For squad games think carefully before playing a defender whose team is playing away to a high scoring club.

  6. Squad Game. If you're using a squad based system and have to pick your team each weekend then firstly sit down with the fixture list for the weekend and decide what the results are likely to be. For example, look for clean sheets (e.g. playing at home against a team that do not score many goals or who are without key attacking players) or teams that are likely to score (e.g. their main striker is on form or their opponents are missing the main centre back). Once you have your predictions for the weekend, then decide which of your squad deserve to be picked. 

  7. End of Season Run In. Be careful when coming to the end of the season where teams have little to play for or are saving players for Cup finals or European matches etc - second string players often come in to try and prove themselves to the manager which is frustrating if he's dropped your top player to make room! Might be an idea to move to those teams that still have something to play for in the league?

  8. Assists & Appearances. If the fantasy football game gives points for assists then corner and free kick takers can boost your score. Players that play week in week out for a team are also an advantage.

  9. Latest Player and Team News. With most fantasy football games, it pays to keep up to date with injury, suspensions and international call ups news and form guides - this information is provided here for Premiership players.

  10. Focus On Your Team(s). Do keep your eye on your fantasy teams and don't overstretch by entering too many teams in too many different competitions - choose a reasonable number and choose the competitions that appeal to you most (see our reviews of the internet games on offer) - otherwise you will lose out to other competitors who are more focussed on their team.

  11. Get In Front. Sounds obvious doesn't it but it is so damn difficult to catch teams once they have a lead on the rest of the league. Most near the top tend to make the obvious moves for players that are in form so it is quite easy to build up similar teams near the top making it harder and harder to catch the guy in top spot. A number of leagues are won by the person leading at Christmas.

  12. Daily Substitutions. If daily substitutions are allowed where you enter a squad and not just 11 players then think about players from teams involved in Europe whose Premiership game may get postponed to the Sunday (allowing you to play 11 players on Saturday and then further players on Sunday) i.e. use your squad efficiently. Also if you're looking to get a clean sheet for your defenders, a home match often helps, unless it is against Man Utd who rarely do not score. Also most points will be scored at home matches rather than away matches.

  13. Picking Your Team. The crucial time to pick your fantasy soccer team is at the start of the season so watch for those players in form during the pre-season friendlies. Also why not pick your top 20 on form, quality players at the end of one season, so you can refer to that come the start of the next? Top quality strikers with one or two Man Utd midfielders and defense based on top teams should always give you a good base.

  14. Who to Spend Your Money On. Strikers are usually the most important component to your fantasy team (goals win fantasy competitions), then defenders (full backs ahead of centre backs) and goalkeepers and finally the midfield (excluding one or two stars). Naturally this is not always the case but most fantasy games allocate high points to goals scored and clean sheets. So pick your strikers first!

  15. Christmas. The Christmas break means that, weather permitting, teams play 4 games in a week i.e. one month's football takes place in one week! It is very important to make sure your teams are set up properly before these games kick off as so many points are at stake. Also bear in mind that the 1st round of the FA Cup takes place the first week in January so don't go making lots of transfers when you are very nearly through the Premiership Xmas programme.

  16. Some specific things for you to think about when looking at the your squad selection and trying to choose your fantasy team. When a manager makes wholesale changes to his squad it generally takes a while for the team to play well. Watch out for teams where the penalty taker has left. Also a new star striker may insist on taking penalties rather than the previous incumbent. Same applies for the free kicks/corners. Generally wait a while for a new signing from overseas to settle at the club before bringing him in i.e. wait until after he's either scored. The top teams generally provide a lot of the fantasy football points (more goals and more clean sheets). You'll probably need some of the players from the top echelon of teams if you are to be competitive. Beware that Managers involved in European matches now seem to believe that resting star players or rotating the squad is the best tactic. Consider the Managers' records as well. If there are weekly prizes on offer then bear in mind that for one or two weeks each season there might only be one match due to fixture anomalies or rearrangements.
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