Fantasy League is now live for the 2019/20 season and Fantasy managers can begin the process of setting up their leagues by heading to the site to register.
Many of you will need no introduction to Fantasy League, which has been on the scene for a remarkable 28 years.
For the uninitiated, Fantasy League is the daddy of UK Fantasy Football and the primary reason why the various formats are so popular today.
Founded in 1991, Fantasy League even pre-dates the launch of the Premier League and got many of us immediately hooked.
Fantasy League is an auction-based game and perfect for those of us who enjoy pitting our wits against our friends and work colleagues.
Once a mini-league is set up (a pain-free process that takes less than a minute to do), Fantasy managers can invite up to 15 of their acquaintances to take part.
Between five and 16 managers can compete in a mini-league but eight to 12 is the recommended number.
The difference with Fantasy League from, say, FPL Draft is that there is no running order for picks: rather, each Premier League player goes to the highest bidder at auction.
As each squad is unique, leagues are always ultra-competitive. So, if you own Harry Kane, only you get the points when he scores. This means bigger points swings and leagues that stay close right through to the end of the season – no ‘template’ to follow here.
Each Fantasy League manager gets a £200m budget to build a squad of 15 players, with a limit of two players per Premier League club.
We’ve put together some rules and FAQs at the bottom of this piece but to hear more about the game and its origins, we spoke to pioneering Fantasy League founder Andrew Wainstein.
FFS: How long have you played Fantasy games and how long have you been involved in Fantasy League?
Andrew: “As founder of Fantasy League, I have been involved since I launched it in July 1991. I have played Fantasy Football since then, in the same league, with the same group of friends, for the last 28 seasons. We meet up for our auction before the start of each season and it’s become one of the best days of the year and a great way for us all to stay in touch.”
FFS: How much does the Fantasy Football community owe to Fantasy League as the original game?
Andrew: “I suppose I would say a lot. As the first game, it set out basic rules around formation, club quotas and player points (e.g. goals, assists, clean sheets and goals conceded) which remain in every game today.
“Although the original UK Fantasy Football game was our auction format, we also created the first salary cap game for The Daily Telegraph in 1993 as they needed a way of translating it to a mass-market audience. This has allowed the game to become mainstream and that’s a good thing – there are now over seven million Fantasy Football teams playing on the Premier League.
“However, for the more discerning football fan, there is no better way to play the game than the auction format, the way the game was designed to be played.”
FFS: How do you think the Fantasy Football Scout website and Members’ Area could benefit those playing the game?
Andrew: “Fantasy Football Scout is the authority when it comes to understanding Fantasy Football players. The best way to leverage this knowledge is to compete against your mates in an intense, season-long Fantasy League. This includes scouting lesser-known players outside the top six. The need for deeper and wider knowledge is greater with Fantasy League. This is what Fantasy Football Scout is all about, great breadth and depth of knowledge.
“We don’t see Fantasy League as a replacement for FPL or other FF games. Many of our users play other salary cap games as it allows them to continue playing in wider established groups.
“Our game demands an understanding of player value. This gives the Fantasy Football Scout members a chance to back their judgement on player value, both in the auction and during the season in their monthly online transfer windows.
“We hope that some of the Fantasy Football Scout site users will play the auction format and get together with their mates and have a great evening, followed by a season-long game.”
FFS: Are there any particular statistics that it would be worth Fantasy League players staying on top of in order to succeed?
Andrew: “In many respects, it calls for the same approach as FPL: staying on top of form, injuries, fixtures, etc.
“But the difference is that, if you want a player, you have to win him by bidding highest. So, this calls for a smart assessment of player value, based on how much you’re prepared to pay and how much you judge he’s worth to others in your league’s transfer market.”
How to Play
Start by setting up a league and inviting your friends/work colleagues. Fantasy League have made this really quick and easy to do and it should take less than a minute. Leagues can be from five to 16 managers but eight to 12 is recommended. It’s also free for the first season!
Hold Your Auction
Fix a date for your auction and get everyone together, either online or face-to-face. Managers each have a £200m budget to build a squad of 15, with a two players-per-club limit. Each player goes to the highest bidder, so only one team gets Raheem Sterling – just like in the real world.
The simple scoring rules are tried-and-tested and are as follows:
- Goal: 3 points (all players)
- Assist: 2 points (all players)
- Appearance: 1 point (goalkeeper and defenders, 45+ mins)
- Clean Sheet: 2 points (goalkeeper and defenders, 75+ mins)
- Goal Conceded: -1 point (goalkeeper and defenders)
Formations and Substitutes
Each match week you have to choose your starting XI, with the jeopardy of leaving players on the bench who might score big. The formations to choose from are 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 5-3-2, 5-4-1 and 4-5-1. There are no backups, no second chances, no safety net: pressure!
The game creates a real transfer market where everyone competes for players. You have a £50m budget for the season and monthly transfer windows where you place sealed bids for free agents against your rivals. You can also negotiate swap deals with other managers.
What similarities are there to FPL?
The basic concept is the same: choose a Fantasy team, earn points based on their performance in the real world and compete within your league.
Formation and squad rules are similar: 15-man squads, similar formations, and a club limit on players.
Scoring is similar and simplified in the Novice package but – as will discuss below – customisable in the Legend package.
How does Fantasy League differ from FPL?
The fundamental difference is that with Fantasy League, you have to bid in an auction with your friends/colleagues for the players you want, which means you each have unique, hard-fought-for squads.
Each team is unique, so only one team in a league can have Harry Kane (just like in the real world).
Teams are bought in a player auction, where a league of five-to-16 managers gets together online or face-to-face to bid against each other for their squads.
The auction is very different from FPL’s Draft format as instead of the US-style rotation picks, managers get to decide how much they’re prepared to pay for each player and have to battle against each other to capture their choices. This creates extra layers of strategy as you have to assess player value and also carefully manage your spending so you stay competitive against other managers as the auction progresses.
Once the season starts the unique squads make a big difference, as if you are lucky enough to own Raheem Sterling only you get the points when he scores.
This creates a league table with bigger points swings that remains tighter until the end of the season.
This means there is less need for weekly management of extras like who to captain, chip strategy etc. Weekly team management is simpler but with more jeopardy. You must decide who to leave on the bench – and, as we Fantasy managers know all too well, nothing hurts quite so much as squandered bench points.
It also creates a real transfer market where managers bid against each other for Free Agents in monthly transfer windows via online sealed bids (more ‘football-meets-poker’ as you have to outwit and outbid your rivals).
The scoring system in the recommended Novice package (free for users that are new to Fantasy League) is simpler than FPL and follows the tried-and-tested format that has remained intact since 1993. In the Pro or Legend packages, leagues are able to change more and more game features, including fully customised scoring in the Legend package.
As leagues are self-contained, Fantasy League is all about local rivalry. Many of the leagues have, over the years, created their own forfeit rules and traditions. It’s this rivalry that keeps Fantasy League managers coming back year after year.
On top of this, Fantasy League run an overall leaderboard, adjusted for league sizes and rules, which allows managers to see how they fare across the game as a whole.
We’ll have more strategy-based Fantasy League articles coming you way before the start of the season.
Become a Member and access our data
Memberships for the 2019/20 campaign are now available for the annual price of £17.50 or the monthly price of £2.99. For a limited time only, first-month memberships are available at a cut-price £1.99.
Join now to get the following:
- Plot your transfer strategies using the fully interactive Season Ticker.
- Get projections for every Premier League player provided by the Rate My Team statistical model.
- Use Rate My Team throughout the season to guide your selections and transfers.
- Get access to over 150+ exclusive members articles over the season.
- Analyse our OPTA-powered statistic tables specifically tailored for Fantasy Football Managers.
- Use our exclusive tool to build custom stats tables from over 100 OPTA player and team stats.
- Enjoy our brand NEW Flat-Track Bully feature which introduces an opposition filter to your tables.
- View heatmaps and expected goals data for every player.
- Use our powerful comparison tool to analyse players head-to-head.