Telegraph Fantasy Football Starting XI – wizardoffire

The following is an article contributed by fiso member wizardoffire who came extremely close to winning the 2016/16 TFF best Starting XI prize as well as finishing in the top 200 overall in the season prize:

As per many on this site, I’ve been involved in the Telegraph fantasy cricket and football competitions for a while, back when paper and pen were used to record your weekly points update and having to send in your transfers by phone or snail mail with the password.

I’ve never really had that much success, every now and then I have had a team get high up only to drop off a cliff for one reason or another. Every year at the conclusion of the season, I would look back on my teams and think what could I have done better. Almost always, my low scoring starting XI teams would jump out at me. Obviously this is a huge faux pas in fantasy sports where transfers are like gold dust and you then have to burn them to fix any mistakes that have been made.

I typically enter around 15-20 teams, several are set up for FISO comps (which I highly endorse) others are designed for the golden boot league. The rest are then season long entries. My first approach is to scan the price list for players that are maybe priced lower than they should be or have been miscategorised. Then I pick a pool of players to build a team from ranging from your must haves to your enablers to fit in as many of the super stars as possible.

One team I so nearly nailed the starting XI and this is a recap of that team. It eventually finished 151st overall and 18th in the starting XI. The 151st finish hurts but I neglected the team during the Winter months and missed chaining key events such as Aguero to Lukaku or bringing in Chelsea defenders when they went on that crazy run that ultimately won them the league.

Team “Nova Scotia” 4-5-1
De Gea 132 points (3rd best keeper)

Valencia 137 points (9th best defender)
Bertrand 119 points (19th best defender)
Cook 95 points (40th best defender)
PVA 96 points (39th best defender)

Sanchez 280 points (best midfielder)
Hazard 228 points (4th best midfielder)
Eriksen 230 points (3rd best midfielder)
Mane 144 points ( 13th best midfielder)
Barkley 129 points (20th best midfielder)

Aguero 218 points (3rd best striker)

Selecting De Gea and Antonio Valencia seemed a good combination to have especially with the hiring of the “Special One”. De Gea is already one of the best keepers in the world, adding to the fact that Jose likes a solid defence he would surely rack up the points. Valencia seemed a good pick as well, having been originally a midfielder he has been moved back to a RB so would have an eye for goal plus pick up points from a strong United defence.

Bertrand, solid full back from a Southampton side that despite being raided year on year for their best players
still punch above their weight and rack up the points through strong defensive efforts.

Cook, a regular for Bournemouth and at 2.2 mill was the enabler that I was looking for.

Van Aanholt (PVA), building on Sunderland’s escape last year I figured them to continue where they left off but that wasnt to be. However, PVA is a solid LB that again has attacking potential to combine with the rare defensive clean sheet. This selection was eventually helped by a Winter transfer to Crystal Palace.

Alexis Sanchez was always going to be on everyone of my teams. Any Arsenal attack would flow through him whether he would be playing as a striker or out wide where he can cut in. Ultimately ends up being the highest scoring player in the game.

Hazard, I said at the end of the last year and during the Euros that he was back to his best and was going in everyone of my teams and he ultimately proved that this season, helping Chelsea to the title

Eriksen, another class act; his set pieces are deadly and with the attacking potential in the Spurs lineup especially when feeding Harry Kane, assists are always going to be there for the taking.

Mane, believe it or not this guy finished 13th for points in midfield scoring and thats despite playing the African Cup of Nations and picking up a season ending injury at the start of April. Liverpools offence just seemed to run through him.

Barkley, by far my worst midfield pick. For the same price could have Sigurdsson but chose him for his potential for playing behind Lukaku

Aguero, always going to be a good pick but even more so with Pep coming in. Unfortunately he didn’t seem to fire all cylinders regularly with one red card and also a 4 game suspension. Had it not been for Kane’s nuclear finish, he would have finished second in points.

We pick this story up, a week into the start of April where Nova Scotia had somehow climbed to the heady heights of 8th overall and encouraged by a certain Mr E. Elbows. I started to chart my progress in the Chasing Starting XI Glory fiso forum topic.

This thread proved to be invaluable in keeping track of my teams progress but also figuring out other teams around me and working out the differentials. It also revealed several other FISOers lurking high up which added to the competition. As the season reached its climaxed, at one stage I had reached the heady heights of second as the eventual winner slipped up as Chelsea stumbled over the finishing line. However, heading into the final week of the premier league, I was sitting in third place and all I needed to do was stay there to assure myself of a money finish. Considering that first place had a Chelsea block and was out of sight, everyone else around the top 10 had Sanchez and Hazard so any impact on the standings in the FA Cup final would have been minimal. Unfortunately the wheels fell off in dramatic style. De Gea, Valencia and Bertrand all missed the Carling Cup Final rematch as they played out a 0-0 so a missed chance there and then Harry Kane, eurgh being an Arsenal fan, it just had to be him and Man Utd to put the nails in my starting XI coffin.

To win the Starting XI competition, you need a huge amount of luck, I just happened to run out of it at the crucial moment. For sure this effort has taught me a lot in terms of fantasy management.

Firstly, getting a strong lineup to start, saves on transfers.

Secondly, don’t sit on your hands, try and be proactive with your transfers where necessary. This cost me a higher finish in the overall competition.

Thirdly, keep some transfers back for the end of the season where other teams are dead and you can chain extra games together.

Fourthly, enjoy the roller coaster ride because at the end of the day it’s a game and adds a whole level of excitement to following the games. It has me watching games I wouldn’t normally care about.

Hindsight is a beautiful thing yet also frustrating, had I had Kane over Aguero or Sigurdsson/Son over Barkley or both. Or had Man Utd been knocked out of the Europa, Valencia and De Gea might not have been rotated as much. Or had Harry Kane not exploded in the final 2 games and score 45 points, this article could have a had a completely different tale. Either way roll on next year!