What is Fantasy Football and How does it work?

This is a very basic guide to playing English Premier League Fantasy Football, alternatively known as FPL.

The concept of Fantasy Football was first conceived some twenty-five years ago and since then the game has captured the imagination of people from all corners of the world.

The basic premise is that you take the role of manager and after being given a transfer budget, you must select a team consisting of real-life players.

Once your team of international stars has been selected, the players then score points depending on their real-world performance in competitions such as the Premier League.

While just like in the real version of football, the aim is to top the table and in turn be rewarded for your efforts, a reward that could come in the form of a cash prize.

With that said, you’re probably wondering just how you go about winning a Fantasy Football competition and thanks to this helpful guide below, you can be on your way to glory in no time at all.

The Start

To play Fantasy Football, you’ll need to first select a team of eleven or a squad of fifteen players (depending on what exact game you undertake). These players will represent you each week during the season and what they do on the pitch, will coincide with how successful your team turns out to be Over the course of the season, your team/squad of players will pick up points on a weekly basis. These points will be added and subtracted to a total figure that will be compared to the rest of the teams that are part of your mini-league or in the overall Fantasy Game itself.

While the points you score could then result in prizes at the end of the season.

The Real Thrill Comes in Entering a League

You can play the game solo, which means putting your team against all the other mangers in the game… However, the best option is to enter your team into a private mini-league with known people, such as colleagues and friends.

The Right Game to Play

There are, obviously, a wide range of games to play, so it can be very difficult to find one that works for you and your friends. Even so, just start by looking around and find games that match your commitment and interest level, while not to mention any that are affordable to you.

You can also try out a few sites and carry out a comparison for a clearer picture, although running multiple teams across multiple competitions, can be time assuming and to the detriment of your chances of winning.

Scoring Points

The scoring system for each type of fantasy football game varies., Therefore, you need to start by looking at the points structure for each of the games that are available. Regardless of the game you choose, fundamentally it is the players selected by you, who will score points via a number of on-field actions.

For starters, they will score points for playing matches. If a player makes a real-life appearance, he can earn some points for your fantasy team. More often than not, the player will have to begin the match for these points to be earned, although substitute appearances can also pick up a smaller amount of points.

Next, players earn points by scoring goals and ultimately this is the currency that not only wins football matches but also competitions such as these. The more goals the players score in real-life, the more he will score for your fantasy team.

Next, we have points awarded for clean sheets, which are points that are awarded for impressive defensive play. Should either your chosen goalkeeper or defenders not concede any goals in their real-life fixtures, then they will earn a very useful amount of points for your team.

Your players can score by creating goals, a term that usually is known as ‘assists’. This means that you can score a few points when a selected player makes a pass that leads to a goal in a real-life game. Of course, this isn’t a default scoring method, and only 50% of Fantasy Football games make use of it.

Finally, you can score points for your fantasy team when selected players provide good performances in their real-life matches. For example, bonus points can be awarded for any of your players that have scored and/or created multiple goals in any given game.

However, this is an arbitrary scoring system because judging a player’s performance can be subjective.

Losing Points

While it is not just gaining points that you need to be aware of, there is also the risk of losing them also.

For example, in the reverse to keeping a clean sheet, if your selected players concede multiple goals and have a poor defensive performance, then points will be removed from their tally for that particular game week.

The same can also be said for disciplinary infractions and rather unwanted actions, such as giving away a penalty or scoring an own goal.

Picking a Team

When starting out, you will be provided with a budget to choose your squad. However, this is one that is rarely generous and therefore you’ll need to be able to spot the odd bargain or two…

Typically, you should have:

  1. Two Goalkeepers
  2. Five Defenders
  3. Five Midfielders
  4. Three Forwards/Strikers

You also have something called a transfer budget, which means you can make changes to your team/squad over the season. Now, the number of changes can be limited and dependent on the game. You may even have to deal with “transfer windows.”

You can choose any player from any team. However, you cannot have more than three players from the same team, so as to stop you from loading up with players from the best teams in the league, the likes of Manchester City or Liverpool.

Once you have the initial squad of fifteen players, you can start choosing t your first eleven. This is done by assessing the performances of the players in the actual matches that they take part in. Among your starting eleven, you have to designate your Captain and Vice-Captain.

Once you have your team, you cannot just sit back and keep an eye on your points. Based on individual player status, progress and performance, you can decide whether to replace them or not. Therefore, keeping an attentive eye on performance and injuries is highly recommended

If you do note that some of your players aren’t performing well, you can use the transfer section to get rid of such players and rejuvenate your squad with fresh talent.  

However, if you exceed your transfer limit for any particular game week, it will cost you some of your hard-earned points, in order to bring in additional personnel.

What can you Win?

There are cash-based Fantasy Football games, where the prize money will come from the total entry fees that have been collected at the start of the season. Sometimes the prize pot will be winner takes all, although it can be split for second and third place also.

Not all leagues follow the pay-to-play rule. Sometimes just winning the bragging rights between friends is worth more than winning a cash prize, while instead of a financial reward and the glory that comes with it, a trophy could be won instead.

In the case of daily fantasy football, there is no league. It is a simple contest, but with the most diverse number of prizes. Once again, the entry fee is what are pooled to create the prizes.


Now you are aware of how the game of Fantasy Football works, here is a final checklist for you to run through…

First, find out about the scoring method. Then, find out the number of transfers that are available to you throughout the season. Determine when you can make the transfers and whether or not transfer windows are enforced  

Work on your budget to ensure that you have the right players in your squad and have not missed out some of the best players, due to a lack of financial acumen ., While it also makes sense, to split your budget accordingly across the differing positions, with more for attacking players being a highly recommended strategy.

Access the games’ player list and make use of the many stats that are available, to create a shortlist of players along with their values. Then, narrow things down by taking a look at the season ticker and identifying when teams are likely to have favourable fixtures.

Be wary of any bans and injuries that your players have picked up and ready to make changes where necessary.

Finally, always have a plan b (and sometimes even c!)

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