5 Reasons Why I Still Suck at ESPN Premier Fantasy

I know much more about the English Premier League than one might think if they saw how I played ESPN Premier Fantasy.

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t really understand how complicated the game was going to be when I signed up.  I thought I could simply apply the same strategies I used to dominate ESPN Euro Manager.

My goal of reaching the top of the table is fading fast. I’ve let pride, anger, and other emotions adversely affect the way I manage my club.

I’d love to blame it on bad luck or some other random factor, but the reality is there are at least 5 Reasons Why I Still Suck at ESPN Premier Fantasy.

#1 – I Never Have Less than 4 Defenders in My Starting Formation

I’ll rarely deviate from a 4-4-2.

It’s been a frustrating season for John Terry and his ESPN Premier Fantasy owners.

When you consider the fact that defenders are eligible for 8 points per goal in ESPN Premier Fantasy, it seems logical to keep at least four on the pitch at all times.

Before the season started I looked for counter-attacking defenders and set piece specialists, then spent every salary cap dollar I could to acquire them.

Despite a several poor performances from my back four, I stuck with the game’s default formation because it was the only tactical setup that allowed me to have a substitute available at each position.

Unfortunately after looking at the Premier Fantasy leaderboard I realized I had it all wrong – there isn’t a team in the Top 10 that’s starting more than three defenders.

While they may be forfeiting some of the benefits of the game’s substitution system, Premier Fantasy managers starting 3 defenders are leveraging an additional goal scoring threat and increasing the potential upside of their club.

It’s no coincidence – the best managers in the game either use a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2.

#2 – I Misuse My Captaincy

I neglect players whose teams have multiple fixtures scheduled during single scoring periods.

Granted there haven’t been many opportunities to double-down like this in the first half of the season, but it’s a strategy worth remembering.

Premier Fantasy managers that took a chance on RVP have been handsomely rewarded.

Pay close attention to the teams advancing through the knock-out stages of the UEFA Champions League, Europa League, and the FA Cup – these clubs are more likely to have their EPL fixtures rescheduled as the season progresses.  

Take advantage of these opportunities by assigning your captaincy to your dual-start midfielders and forwards.

#3 – I Don’t Pay Attention to the International Transfer Market

I was so focused on Robin van Persie leaving Arsenal and Luka Modric heading to Madrid that I ignored every other transfer rumor posted on ESPN FC.

I had several players leave their real world clubs only to venture outside the EPL or transfer to a team from which I already had 3 players on my roster.  Consequently, I had to use multiple transfers on players who were neither injured nor performing poorly.

I plan on being better prepared when the next transfer period starts on December 31st.  The one month window opens with a week to go in the first segment and then closes three weeks into Segment #2.

I’ll be paying close attention to names like Dzagoev, Sneijder and Zaha to see if they make a move to the EPL. I’ll need sufficient transfer funds and roster space to acquire these players if they find the right home in England.

How long can Everton hold on to Fellaini?

In addition to foreign transfers coming in before the close of the winter transfer window, someone like Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini may very well move to an EPL club clearly in Champions League contention.

You’ll have to be selectively aggressive when choosing players from the same club.

“You can select up to 3 players from any one English Premier League team. If a player transfers to a different team during the season and takes you over this limit, you may be required to make adjustments to your team to be in compliance at your next player transfer.” – Premier Fantasy Official Rules Page

#4 – I Don’t Use the Game’s Transfer System to Create Salary Cap Space

The basic concept of salary cap sports is easy:

Your team gains value when you invest in underrated players that exceed the market’s expectations.

While there’s value in finding hidden talent and keeping the same players for an entire scoring segment, neither my Salary Cap nor my Team Value is greater than the original $100 I was able to work with.

Unlike traditional salary cap games where your overall budget is fixed for the duration of the season, ESPN Premier Fantasy managers can create additional transfer funds every time they sell a player for a profit.

Conversely, transferring underachieving players after their market value decreases will strip precious dollars from a manager’s budget.

Like Dale Johnson mentioned in A game changer”:

“This [makes] the transfer market and the timing of your trades far more important, freeing up the cash to invest on players who would otherwise be out of your budget. Hanging on to players for too long could prove an error in your quest for glory.”

Like managing a real football club, you have to find the balance between developing talent and purchasing international superstars.  When you leverage your solid performers and use the transfer system to create salary cap space, you can acquire the EPL’s most valuable fantasy footballers.

#5 – I Don’t Follow John Culea or Dale Johnson

Will Fernando Torres finally silence his critics?

If you’re like me, you never ask for help.

We forget that everyone has limitations, and we must accept and work within our own.  Additionally, to overcome our own biases, we need objective information.

Coaching is probably the best way to improve your managerial skills.  Luckily the team at ESPN FC has two of the best fantasy soccer advisors in the business.

“Sir” John Culea is a devoted Chelsea supporter and offers candid, often off-beat commentaries on the Premier League from an American perspective.  He keeps his readers updated with weekly lineup advice on his Fantasy Picks blog.

Dale Johnson is a loyal Sheffield Wednesday fan who keeps his followers posted on all the happenings around the EPL and UEFA Champions League.  Stay up to date with the latest soccer news by following him on Twitter at @dalejohnsonESPN.

Extra Time…

I believe you’ll improve your managerial skills by reading this article critically, challenging my positions, and then discussing these tactical adjustments with me in the comments section below and with other managers in the ESPN Premier Fantasy game forum.

Remember that even the best managers look for guidance because they know they can’t accurately assess their own skills and developmental needs.

If you deny this reality and continue to run your club like I have, you will surely find yourself in the relegation zone.

About the Author:  Travis Rowe was a youth soccer legend in Pinellas County Florida during the early ’90’s. He learned everything he knows about international football from playing Championship Manager ’01-02 and EA Sports FIFA Soccer games. He remembers when Rio Ferdinand and Robbie Fowler were teammates at Leeds United and hopes the club returns to the English Premier League again in his lifetime.

Travis still plays in the occasional pick-up game, but now spends most of his free time playing poker and writing articles that help people think more logically about the mental aspects of fantasy sports.

You can follow him on Google+ and on Twitter @GoProFS24.

Thanks for reading!