Fantasy football is the ultimate skill-based game

Marc Saba, co-founder and MD of daily fantasy football site Football Fanager, on why it takes a talented tactical mind to succeed at fantasy football.

Every August,football fans across Europe wake from a summer of transfer rumours, manager sackings and cricket hungry for the beautiful game to start again. It’s also the time when the fantasy football enthusiast can finally get back to doing what they do best – scoring points and beating their mates.

But why is it such a challenge to pick out that high-scoring unknown left back, or to have the insight to bring in a goal-dry Sergio Aguero on the night he scores a hattrick?

Fantasy football is a skill game that can excite and challenge the brain cells like no other. Getting the following right can be the difference between fantasy manager success and failure:

Striking a team balance takes skill

Football Fanager players entering our daily leagues currently have a transfer budget of £250m. Putting the big money where it counts and picking up the right bargains is crucial for your fantasy XI. Plump for Radamel Falcao for £52m, who might not even make the Manchester United match day squad, and chances are you won’t be successful. Take a punt on Harry Kane for a paltry £2.64m, then there’s an opportunity to spend big and bring in a bucketload of assists with Cesc Fabregas or Mesut Ozil.

The statistics matter

On our site, there are in-depth statistics from Opta to help the talented fantasy manager pick out a big scorer for his team.With 13 segments analysing everything from appearances and goals to clean sheets and games won, there is plenty for a seasoned eye to pick apart. However, the real challenge is seeing how those skills match up against their opposite number in a given week. Is the star striker up against the best defence in the league? And, if so, is there value elsewhere?

Spotting the trends takes a trained eye

The ebb and flow of a football season can catch out even the most experienced fantasy football manager. A footballer’s injury problems can be replaced by rampant goal-scoring in the blink of an eye – remember Aaron Ramsey at the start of 2013/14? Or take Harry Kane this year, who has gone from unknown to league top scorer, but will the scoring last? Joining the bandwagon just as the form book changes has caused heartache for many managers in the past, and will continue to do so.

Player loyalties must go out the window

Fans of fantasy football, first and foremost, tend to be fans of football. However, for the Everton season ticket holder, backing talismanic, yet low goal-scoring, central midfielder Gareth Barry is unlikely to win any matches or leagues across the course of the season. Likewise, a Geordie’s love of a battling Jack Colback could prove costly when he picks up 15 yellows (or -30 points on Football Fanager) for Newcastle across the season.

Know your opponents

Whether it’s a daily, weekly or season-long league, all of which are playable on Football Fanager, the tactical battle against opponents in the league can be high-pressure and exhilarating. In a small or head-to-head league, it comes down to identifying those differentiators versus your opponents, such as selecting the right captain, adding in an extra midfielder at the expense of a striker or sacrificing some transfer spend to take a punt on a cheap youngster who may or may not

Crystal Palace v Arsenal Football Match Preview & Tips

Alan Pardew is ticking along nicely in his new role as Crystal Palace manager. Having played in more than 100 league games for the Eagles, the fans are delighted to have him at the club. Honestly, this is a great role for Pardew.

After leaving the waters of the Tyne behind, Pardew has managed a Palace side that has taken a highly respectable ten points from a possible 15 in five Premier League games. As a result, Palace have soared to 13th place in the table, putting some distance between them and the relegation zone.

Arsenal will have the benefit of a week resting and preparing for this London derby. While Chelsea and Man City both had to play in midweek Champions League games, Arsenal will not be in action until next week. As a result, Arsène Wenger will have had more than enough time to get ready.

A victory is the only acceptable outcome for Arsenal, as they are chasing a Champions League spot for next season. After losing 2-1 away at Tottenham two games ago, the Gunners came back with an unconvincing 2-1 home win over bottom side Leicester.

Expectations

Alan Pardew has claimed a number of high profile scalps in games his teams were supposed to lose. To frustrate Arsenal fans, they will need to play deep and narrow to limit space for Arsenal’s wide players who like to cut inside. Their best hope of winning is to keep a clean sheet and nick a goal.

Arsenal had to cope with absence of the highly influential Alexis Sánchez for a few games lately, and now Aaron Ramsey is missing from the midfield with hamstring issues. Thankfully for Wenger, Sánchez have had a couple of extra days to physically prepare for this game. He will be vital in helping Arsenal to be creative.

Match Tips

Tip one: Arsenal
Tip two: Over 2.5 goals
Tip three: ArsenalOver 2.5 goals

Arsenal’s midweek break gives them a fantastic chance to win this game, having avoided any physical distractions. Combine an Arsenal win with over 2.5 goals for larger odds.

For More Football Tips Check Out FootballMatchPreviews.com

Serie A star who could shine in England

Premier League bosses may have missed a trick in the past two transfer windows.

Back in the summer of 2014, Jeremy Menez was edging towards the exits at Paris St-Germain as he prepared to drop into the free agent pool. He is a player who has figured on English radars in the past – during his time at Roma – but he was lured back to the familiar surrounds of Serie A by AC Milan.

Such a move will have raised a few eyebrows. The 27-year-old, a man who should be approaching the peak of his powers, had opted to link up with a side seemingly on the wane.

Milan is not the footballing hub it once was, with AC and Inter enduring humbling falls from grace.

Perhaps that was part of the appeal. Maybe Menez believed that he was the man to get the San Siro fires burning again and return the Rossoneri to the upper reaches of the Italian top flight.

In fairness to him, he has delivered. Unfortunately, those around him have not.

Menez is enjoying his most productive season to date in front of goal, with the target found 12 times in the league. That is a return which places him just two behind Juventus forward Carlos Tevez in the race for the Golden Boot.

He had netted eight of those efforts prior to the winter transfer window swinging open, with a productive run enjoyed in the build-up to Christmas.

Pressed prior to that streak what his targets for the season were in terms of impact in the final third, Menez had said: “To score 10 goals. In Italy when you say Menez, you think: ‘Ah yes, the one who scores four times a year’. It won’t be like that. And I want to get back in the national team. France host the Euros in two years’ time, and I want to be there.”

The Frenchman clearly had no thoughts of moving on at that stage, with there a desire on his part to make a positive impression in Milan and earn a standing as a key man for club and country.

That may be why speculation was thin on the ground over the New Year.

Menez had penned a three-year deal upon his return to Italy, but we all know that most contracts in the modern era are not worth the paper they are printed on.

With Milan on the slide, and unable to spurn big-money offers had they been made, you may have expected more of an interest to have been shown from the Premier League.

It was not forthcoming, though, and the window of opportunity has now closed.

There may be a few bosses reassessing the situation ahead of the summer, when Menez will be able to fully reflect on his first 12 months at the San Siro, what he has achieved and what the future holds.

With his current employers 13 points off the pace in the race for Champions League qualification, maybe those thoughts will start to turn to elsewhere. Make up your own mind in the Serie A betting, where Milan are generally 40/1 to finish in the top three.

Menez can be a handful, on and off the pitch, but surely there is a place for a forward of his undoubted talent at any number of Premier League sides. Enigmatic performers are often embraced by bosses of the real-life and fantasy variety in England.

Top three cheap fantasy football thrills

You cannot beat finding a bargain in life, and the same goes for those of us who dabble in the world of fantasy football. With some big names underperforming this season we pick out the three players who can add value to your side at a fraction of the cost of a YayaToure or Robin van Persie.

1. Stewart Downing

West Ham have been one of the two surprise packages in the Premier League this season, upsetting the odds on the Unibet iPhone betting app left, right, and centre, and climbing to the dizzy heights of third recently. While Enner Valencia and DiafraSakho have grabbed most of the headlines, Stewart Downing has been at the heart of the Hammers’ good start.

A switch to a more central role seems to have suited Downing and he has contributed two goals and six assists to West Ham thus far. Given how he was written off by many, Downing was a snip for shrewd fantasy managers at the start of the season and is still cheap even now.

2. Ryan Bertrand

The other surprise package in the Premier League this season has been Southampton, who have established a solid defensive foundation under new manager Ronald Koeman. The Saints have the best defensive record in the division at the time of writing, and Ryan Bertrand has been a key member of that backline. The on-loan Chelsea left-back has seven clean sheets to his name, while he has also contributed at the other end of the field with one goal and two assists.

It is not too late to add Bertrand to your side but do it quick before everyone else catches on.

3. Charlie Austin

We’d all like to pack our front line with Diego Costa, Sergio Aguero and Wilfried Bony but it is not feasible. The cheap striker to have at the start of the campaign was Leicester’s LeonadroUlloa but the goals have dried up for the Foxes, forcing fantasy managers to look elsewhere.

Step forward QPR’s Charlie Austin, who has netted eight times and contributed three assists. Sending off aside this week, Austin looks to be a striker who has finally gotten to grips with the demands of the top flight and is regularly bagging a hatful of points. And best of all he’s still cheap!

Try Your Luck In Slots:

Slots are very simple and popular to play and don’t require any specific gambling knowledge. Anyone canget in the game. Every spin is just like every other spin – they’re all totally random. But just because they’re random doesn’t mean that there’s no math involved. All machines have one thing in common – the longer you play, the closer the payout will be to the theoretical results.

Classic Slots and Classic Odd:

The technology of slot machines may have changed over the years, but the game has remained the same. A player inserts a coin and pulls the handle to rotate a series of reels. The classic mechanical slot machines used springs and tension to stop the reels at random. These old electro-mechanical slots weren’t any more predictable than today’s modern slots.

How Random Number Generators Work:

The RNG is a mathematical application that does exactly what it says: generates a completely random number. Modern slot machines are more complicated it’s much more difficult to mathematically predict the odds, because the numbers are theoretical and are essentially developed from a pool of infinite spins. It is completely tricky. It’s a big combination of online slot machines and math games tricks. Modern slot machines use a Random Number Generator (RNG). The RNG electronically generates a random value from millions of combinations. These values determine where the reel stops. Electronic slot machines generate these numbers at a rate of 300-500 per second. When you press the “Spin” button on an electronic slot machine, it processes the random values.

For example, for an old slot machine with 20 stops on each reel there would be 8,000 different combinations. We get this number by multiplying the number of symbols on each reel (20 x 20 x 20 = 8,000). The 8,000 possible combinations are known as a cycle. It’s important to know that the cycle does not mean the cycle of winning and losing – just the mathematical cycle.

These machines are perfect for a player who play casino with the intention of spending a few hours of fun without committing too much money to the casino. Remember, you are at the casino to have fun, slot play should be fun. If you lose interest or get bored, cash out, there is always another day. The casinos and the slot machine will be there waiting for you believe me. No sense in rushing back.

La Liga Defender of the Year

Had it not been for Real Madrid winning the Copa del Rey semi-final, Atletico Madrid would have had the opportunity to sweep up all of the available honours this season. Nevertheless, their players are likely to dominate all of the individual awards at the end of this La Liga season.

Diego Costa may receive most of the limelight for his sensational scoring record, yet it is Atletico’s defense which has enabled them to remain so competitive this season.

Thibaut Courtois has conceded the fewest goals this season, just 22 in 34 games, thanks largely to an organised and consistent back four.

Any one of Juanfran, Miranda, Diego Godin or Felipe Luis could win the Defender of the Year accolade, but picking between them would be near-impossible.

All four have played at least 28 of the 34 games this season asAtleti march towards a surprise title, having conceded just 9 times at home. Collectively, this Atletico Madrid defence is an impenetrable machine, deservedly on their way towards winner’s medals.

Staying in the Spanish capital, Real Madrid have also been solid at the back this year. Diego Lopez has continued in goal, and his defense has been well marshalled. Arguably the greatest praise given to Lopez is that Real are not missing Iker Casillas at all.

Although not as strong in the full-back positions, in the middle Real have been impressive. Set-pieces were causing them problems earlier on in the season, but the display against Bayern Munich in midweek was proof of how the team has improved since.

Pepe has shown himself to be more than La Liga’s biggest bully, commanding the backline well alongside Sergio Ramos. Both are susceptible to lapses in concentration from time to time, but over the course of the season their partnership has shown.

Barcelona have a better defensive record than Real, having conceded 28 times in 34 games, which is even more impressive considering they have had to deal with injuries all season. From Carlos Puyol’s ongoing problems to Jordi Alba missing the beginning of the season, it has been a busy season for stand-in Marc Bartra.

It would be hugely unfair for his season to be characterized by the embarrassment Gareth Bale’s Copa del Rey winning goal caused him. This season has seen him adapt fully to first team football and make his Spanish debut, which is testament to his displays. Alongside Gerard Pique, the two have been solid, although Victor Valdes has been superb when called upon.

To pick one defender is too tricky. Had any Barca player had a full season it could also be one of them, but the easy option is to give the award to the Atletico Madrid defence. If the LFP want to split hairs over it then they can, but individuality is not a characteristic seen in Atletico Madrid’s first team, therefore the award must go to all four defenders plus Courtois.

Written by Tom Wellman of La Liga Blog