Once you’ve made your deposit and joined a contest you are ready to select your team. Uniform rules do not exist across all daily fantasy football sites so it is critical to know exactly what the scoring, squad selection, and game setup are for each site you play on. We would prefer that all sites had the same scoring and squad selection rules but realistically that will not happen anytime soon. Sites want to differentiate themselves as they look for their piece of the market, and these unique rules and scoring further that end.
The first thing to look at is what your allotted budget is for your squad on the site you are using. We will focus on sites that use a budget, though the pick’em style games are also popular. On sites with budgets you will typically see £100M given to choose your starting XI. You may not exceed the allowable budget, but you do not have to use every last £ either. Generally it is best to use as much of your budget as reasonably possible. If you have more than, say, £1M left it is likely you can upgrade one of your players to find another player with a higher value and a higher projected score. However, there will be situations where you are very happy with the team that you have selected and if you have enough experience to know that your team is the right one do not hesitate to trust your instincts.
Here is the selection screen from PlayOn:
This consists of a Keeper, then usually 4 Defenders, 4 Midfielders and 2 Forwards. Positions tend to be in this order from most expensive to least expensive: Forwards, Midfielders, Keeper, Defenders. Because Forwards and Midfielders are more often involved in scoring plays, they have the potential to score fantasy above their budget value. In upside leagues you will almost always want to spend the majority of your budget on those positions. However, in cash games, or double ups, trying to secure as many “sure” points as possible from your Keeper and Defenders is often a better strategy due to the unpredictable nature of scoring goals.
The order in which you choose your positions may vary. Some managers like to choose their Keeper and Defenders first and then use their remaining budget on their Midfielders and Forwards. Other managers may want to choose their higher priced players first to ensure they get them in the team, then fill in the remaining positions. Still others take the opposite stance and find the players they think are good, inexpensive options, then use their budget on more expensive players later. There is no hard and fast rule to this, and chances are you will be continuing to tinker with your XI no matter which position you originally start with. It is important to develop your own process and see what works most consistently for you.
Some sites allow you to modify your formation, meaning you could stick with a 4-4-2 or try a 3-5-2, 4-3-3, 4-5-1 or 3-4-3 depending on which formation best fits the players you want to select. Whether you choose to have an extra defender, midfielder, or forward will be influenced by how expensive the players you really want to have in your side are, and what you can afford.
On most sites your starting players will take up all of your budget. However, on WooFBet, for example, you must select a bench of 4 players as well and those players’ values will also count against your overall budget. This adds an extra layer of strategy to your team selection.
Difficulty of Team Construction
Constructing your starting XI can be relatively easy, in what we call a “loose” budget, where fitting in the top players at nearly every position is possible. Or it can be quite a challenge, in what we refer to as a “tight” budget. Due to this, along with site-specific scoring, you may find that you have wildly different teams across different sites. On WooFBet you may decide you have the budget for Eden Hazard, Diego Costa, AND Alexis Sanchez, whereas on Mondogoal you may have to choose just one of the three. That is the difference between a loose and tight budget. Some managers love being able to take a number of top players while others prefer being forced to really think about how they need to spend their budget to optimize their projected fantasy points.
Values on individual players can be very different as well. For instance, Mondogoal updates player values quickly so a rising star, for example currently Harry Kane of Tottenham is amongst the highest value players. Other sites will be slower to react to current performances and breakout players will remain undervalued.
There are advantages and disadvantages for sites based on whether they have tight or loose player values. One of the major disadvantages of season long fantasy football is many managers will own all of the same players. This is due to their values being relatively “loose”. The best daily fantasy sites will work to have player values that make it difficult to all choose the same players. When you have less overlap with your opponents, and more diverse selections, the opportunity to demonstrate your skill comes out.
However, with tight player values the sites run the risk of the better, more experienced managers winning too often. Tight player values can also lead to more difficult and time-consuming team construction which new players may grow tired of. Try each of the sites and see how you feel about team construction, see how the other managers are, and decide what level of difficulty will be best for you. Managers often have different skills. Some are capable of identifying which of the top players will be goalscorers in a given week. Some have the depth of knowledge to know when a substitute midfielder will deliver a great fantasy score for a reasonable value.
Game styles, Scoring, Budgets, Formations, Team Construction: A multitude of factors go into daily fantasy and that is why the game is so much fun!