The Premier League returns for the 2019-20 season in August and fantasy football fever is building ahead of the first week.It’s time to pick a clever team name, reactivate old leagues and challenge friends in the battle for supremacy in the fantasy realm.Figuring out how best to use your budget in order to get the best players into your squad is the biggest issue at the start, but in order to really succeed, a fantasy football team needs constant care. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare With the Premier League’s big kick-off fast approaching, Goal takes a look at the fantasy football games on offer and gives you a few tips to get off on the right foot.Premier League fantasy football gamesThere is no shortage of fantasy football games out there for fans of the Premier League, but the most popular is without doubt the league’s official one.Known as Fantasy Premier League, the official game is already open and you can start to assemble your panel of champions with a £100 million budget.For those who have grown frustrated with the traditional style of fantasy football game or if you want to make things extra interesting, players can also take part in a draft version, which limits the player pool and involves trades.While for many the official game may be the only show in town when it comes to fantasy football, there are other versions available to play, with some newspapers and sports websites running their own.Sky Sports offer the incentive of cash prizes for those who take part in their fantasy football game, with the overall winner pocketing the biggest sum and money on offer for second and third place too.The game is broadly similar to the official version – there are some variations when it comes to things such as transfers – and Opta provide the stats.The Sun also offer a fantasy football game through their ‘Dream Team’ and it is even more different to the official version, but, of course, the same idea applies.Dream Team fantasy football players have to make do with a £50 million budget, but the prices are scaled down somewhat too. There are three different versions – Season, Weekender and Draft.Fantasy football tips – how to win?Winning at fantasy football isn’t just as simple as picking the best players, as any aficionado will tell you. Fantasy managers need to be clever about their selections.If you’re a fantasy football novice or a long-suffering underachiever, we’ve got some tips that should help you get off to a solid start this season.1. Focus on your first XIThe official game requires players to select 15 players in their squad, but only 11 of them will earn points at any one time, so you have to focus on your starting players.What that means in practice is investing your budget in the players you hope to use each week and saving money by choosing the cheapest possible options as subs.Of course that doesn’t mean you need to disregard the back-up players completely, just be shrewd about it – find the balance between who is cheap and plays regularly.2. Use your budgetGenerally speaking, it’s a good idea to spend your whole budget, or most of it at least.Don’t be afraid to splash out if it means getting an expensive player, such as Mohamed Salah or Sergio Aguero, who is practically guaranteed to serve up points.That said, with players’ values fluctuating depending on their form, it’s not necessarily a bad idea to leave a small amount left over if you want to make some early transfers. Just don’t leave £10 million in the bank – that could get you someone like Jamie Vardy or Alexandre Lacazette!3. Bargains!It probably goes without saying, but try to get value for money for at least a few players in the squad. Sometimes a player who recently signed for a big club can be undervalued – Aaron Wan-Bissaka at Manchester United for example.Keep an eye on players from newly promoted teams too. In many cases, the brains behind fantasy football will be keenly aware of the potential points-getters, but sometimes they are too conservative and you should try to take advantage of any oversight.4. Pay attention to The ScoutThe official fantasy football game runs a scouting column, where experts give their views and predictions about who the best players to choose are, which is particularly useful if you’re not really that invested in football (surely not?)The Scouts are not always right, but they regularly suggest bargains and offer an educated assessment of the players who are in form or most likely to bag some points.5. Choose attacking and goalscoring midfieldersIn fantasy football, picking goalscoring midfielders is crucial if you want to stand any chance of winning your league. By and large, in the modern game, wingers tend to be most likely to find themselves amongst the goals, but occasionally a central midfielder – think a Frank Lampard type of player, for example – will emerge.As well as that playmakers and midfielder who take charge of set-pieces are desirable due to the fact that they are likely to pick up plenty of assists throughout the season.Defensive midfielders tend not to provide assists or score goals so, it’s usually a good idea to avoid selecting them.6. Check your team every weekInjuries, suspension or a loss of form can cause irreparable damage to a fantasy football team during a season, so you simply have to keep an eye on those things.Set a reminder on your phone, mark it in your diary – do whatever it is you have to do to ensure you don’t miss a week.7. Pick a team name you won’t regretFinally, spend a little time considering what you’re going to call your team. It won’t get you any extra points, but you and everyone else will be looking at it for the season, so make it a good one! Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Fantasy football: Premier League games & tips on how to play