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Sunday 19 August 2012

Fantasy Premier League 2012/13: Top tips Part II

The second instalment of advice from Fantasy Premier League expert Mark Sutherns

Chelsea's Fernando Torres will be a popular choice for Gameweek 1

With less than a day remaining before the deadline to register Fantasy Premier League teams for the forthcoming season passes, Fantasy Premier League expert Mark Sutherns offers more advice on whom to pick and what strategies to employ for the new campaign.

According to Sutherns, editor of, the forthcoming season will pose even more quanderies than the last. Here he discusses captaincy, bonus points and how to avoid kicking the cat.

Read on for some top tips in this second excerpt of our interview, continued from yesterday.

Are you an advocate of squad rotation?
You can buy goalkeepers to rotate according to who is playing home and away or the difficulty of that fixture. That’s a valid tactic but you have to make the right decision in the right Gameweek. It can be very frustrating, though, because you might play Ben Foster because West Brom are playing at home and drop Adam Federici because Reading are away and the results can go the other way.

"You have to back yourself to always make the right decision and not kick the cat too hard when you don't"
Mark Sutherns

Squad rotation is the way forward then?
If you adopt that approach, you have to back yourself to always make the right decision and not kick the cat too hard when you don’t. Personally I don’t like to adopt that approach in too many areas in my squad. I’ll maybe do it one, for example at centre back, but I wouldn’t do it in two or three areas because you’re going to make the wrong decision every other week.

Do players perform that much differently at home?
Some players are consistent, like Gylfi Sigurdsson, who came in and scored in four or five away games for Swansea, while others such as Rooney are streaky, so you have to know when to play them. Those are the decisions that shape your season. Get it right and you’ll be up there, get it wrong and it’s frustrating but that’s the reason we play this game.

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What about the clubs themselves?
There will be some teams, such as the promoted teams, who will play very differently away from home. Last season Swansea were rock solid at home but had difficulty on the road. Man City struggled away from home for a period last year and Aguero went quiet. In fact, until Carlos Tevez returned to the team Aguero didn’t really wake up away from home. There will be players that return you nothing away from home.

Dempsey factor

Such as?
Clint Dempsey was one. He turned out to be the highest-ranking midfielder but for a long period he didn’t score away from home. It’s frustrating. I dropped him for an away match and he scored a hat-trick. It took me four or five weeks to get over that. You’ve got to have the flexibility in your squad, where you can rotate home and away but to do that you’ve got to have the time to invest to make the right decisions.

"Getting the captaincy right will probably be the deciding factor in a lot of mini-leagues"
Mark Sutherns

How important are captains?
They are absolutely vital. It wasn’t an issue last season because Robin van Persie did the business, but we don’t know what to expect from him now. The obvious option is that Manchester United and Manchester City play at home alternately, so if you go for a big name from each of those two clubs and rotate them, then you’ve the captaincy covered week-in, week-out. The trick is to find the right players.

Who are the right players then?
Wayne Rooney and Aguero are the two most obvious answers to that equation but they are the most expensive options to explore. There may be cheaper options who are likely to start in home matches. It’s difficult because with the captains you have to be sure they are hoping to play, there’s nothing worse than relying on your vice-captain. They might rescue them but it’s not desirable.

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So you would go make Rooney or Aguero captains then?
It’s tough. Rooney often starts the season slowly and then has scoring bursts. Are we going to be able to back him with assurance? Aguero looks like he’s going to have a season alongside Tevez. Last year he scored 25 goals but will he do as well this season? Tevez might help him score but he might also take goals from him as well. Getting the captaincy right will be tricky, but it will be vital. It will probably be the deciding factor in a lot of mini-leagues.

New Blues

Would you go for any Chelsea players?
Chelsea will be popular because they start with a double Gameweek. So we can expect to see people put two or three Chelsea players in their squad. Fernando Torres will be a popular Gameweek 1 pick, but will he stay there? It depends. He scored at the weekend, he’s confident, he should get chances but that doesn’t mean he’ll finish them off.

"Tevez might help Aguero score but he might also take goals from him as well"
Mark Sutherns

What about Juan Mata and Eden Hazard?
Mata and Hazard could be in the top four or five players at the end of the season, but they are expensive and we don’t know how they will perform. Mata looked tired on Sunday, it could take him a few weeks to recover from the Olympics and get up to speed. Hazard could take any number of weeks to become acclimatised to the Premier League.

So who do you favour?
Personally, I’m looking at Torres, but maybe a Frank Lampard or a Ramires who are settled and will probably play both games in Gameweek 1 and so you are assured of getting four points. Ramires should push forward more and Lampard may get free-kicks and penalties so they are a safer bet.

How do bonus points work?
Bonus points are based on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index statistics. Players who have lots of shots on target always fare well, players who have good defensive stats for blocks and tackles also do well but overall the Index favours those players who score goals and win matches and they will always be the ones who hoover up the most bonus Points. It's another reason why the captaincy is important, because Van Persie often got bonus points on top of his goal points. When doubling those points you really were getting a large points-haul from him.

Rooney ploy

What are the Gameweek 1 pitfalls?
I personally wouldn’t go for Rooney on Gameweek 1 because he's a slow starter and historically he doesn't fare well against his former club. Everton and Manchester United are at Goodison Park in their opening match. So people will get Torres in on Gameweek 1, see how he does and then Rooney will get attention in Gameweek 2, when United are at home to Fulham.

"I personally wouldn’t go for Rooney on Gameweek 1 because he's a slow starter"
Mark Sutherns

Most people will start off with a couple of attacking City players, maybe Tevez or Aguero, because they play Southampton at home and they put three past Chelsea on Sunday, and then maybe also a City defender to get the clean sheet.

Will people plump for Man United players on Gameweek 1?
United won’t get a lot of backing initially because of their tricky start. I personally think Everton will score and how many goals can United get against one of the best defensive teams around? We’ll see City and Chelsea backed heavily and Reading will pick up a lot of attention because they also have two matches in the Gameweek.

Will this season be more difficult to predict than last?
I think so. I don’t see any whipping boys. The promoted teams will do well. We saw last year that teams can come up now and play the football they played in the Championship and get results. It’s not easy to predict the Barclays Premier League itself and that is reflected in Fantasy Premier League. Van Persie’s decision not to sign a new contract at Arsenal basically ensured that next season will be tougher. It’s hard to say how regularly he will play next season.

What other factors have come into play this season?
There are a lot of new arrivals as well. Players like Lukas Podolski and Hazard who could be superstars. They could deliver double figures for goals and assists but very few people will commit to those players at the start. You can probably gamble on one but if you go for two or three of them it’s a big risk because they can take time to adjust. Equally, as we saw with Aguero some players can hit the ground running.

I thought you were supposed to make all this easier?
There are a lot of unknown quantities out there but that is what makes the Fantasy Premier League all the more interesting and challenging. If it were easy none of us would get involved.

For the first part of Mark Sutherns' top Fantasy Premier League tips read here.

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Key Points

  • Be wary of using Wayne Rooney on Gameweek 1
  • Choosing the right captain is absolutely vital
  • Gameweek 1 deadline is 11:30am on 18th Aug 2012