Whenever the football season approaches, fans across the country become increasingly excitable and optimistic in equal measure (depending on who you support, of course!)

fantasy football

Aside from allowing you to follow your chosen team and share in their collective successes and failures, the football season also delivers many other delightful benefits to genuine fans. One of these is fantasy football betting, which adds a unique dimension to the season and enables fans to enjoy a more integrated level of participation on match-day. The ability to pay an entry fee to specific leagues and win money is also appealing to fans, particularly those with knowledge of the game and understanding of the Premier League.

In this post, we will offer an in-depth guide to fantasy football betting as well as offering hints and tips on how to participate and ultimately build a successful team. So, let's get started:

What Is Fantasy Football Betting, And How Do You Get Started?

Now a multibillion-pound industry, fantasy football betting has evolved from humble beginnings to a staple feature of the sporting landscape in the UK. Operating almost exclusively online, it is an interactive game in which participants assemble virtual teams based on real Premier League players.

These all-star teams compete in national or local leagues, with selected players accumulating points based on their statistical performance in corporeal games on a weekly basis. Points are often calculated automatically online, while one or more league commissioners will assume responsibility for coordinating activity, answering queries and ensuring that the underlying laws (more on these later) are always adhered to.

So how does the betting element work? Essentially, leagues and their administrators will charge each participant an entry fee, depending on the status of the competition and the number of individuals who take part. A fixed (and usually high) percentage of this fee is committed to a prize fund, which each participant will compete for over the course of the Premier League season. In simple terms, the entry fee is a stake that makes competitors eligible for a fixed return, with your estimated odds of success determined by the number of participants and likely to vary over the course of the season.

It is also interesting to note that some of your entry fee will be used to cover basic administration costs, while league commissioners can choose to award smaller cash prizes to runners-up and third place participants at their discretion (so long as they advertise this from the outset).

Once you have got to grips with the workings of fantasy football betting, your first step as a participant is to choose a viable league and register a team. Choosing a moniker is arguably the most enjoyable part of this process, as this list of the best fantasy football team names highlights. From clever and playful names (Kroos Control and Baines on Toast) to those that have a cultural influence (Pique Blinders and Ibe Got a Feeling), most players choose to indulge their unique sense of humour when branding their team. Some even choose risqué names, including Cesc and the City and Exeter Gently.

With a name (and a kit) chosen, the difficult business begins. Now is the time to choose your side, as you select up to 15 players from the 20 Premier League squads registered with the FA. While this may sound challenging enough, you will typically have a budget of around £100 million, making it impossible to purchase a squad of superstars that will successfully vanquish your opposition.

To put this in perspective, selecting Harry Kane (£12.7 million), Romelu Lukaku (£11.8 million) and Sergio Aguero (£11.5 million) in a three-man attack will cost you a whopping £36 million if you are competing in the Premier League's official fantasy league, conceivably leaving you with a paltry £64 million to spend on 12 additional squad members. This means that you will be required to spend your money carefully when picking a playing squad. Don’t worry we will offer some relevant fantasy football advice on this topic a little later in the piece.

Remember, your total budget and the cost of each player will vary from platform to platform, although in most cases you will be restricted to selecting a maximum of three players from a single Premier League club.

If Fantasy Football 2017 is your first experience of this pastime, these steps will help you to select a league, come up with an impactful team name and begin to spend your budget effectively. Hopefully, you will also have chosen a competition that offers the best value in terms of entry fee and total prize fund - while fantasy football betting may ultimately be a game of chance you can at least take steps to optimise the risk-reward ration.

Our Fantasy Football Betting Hints And Tips

As the season starts, games will be segmented into game weeks and you must select a first-11 from your squad at the beginning of each one. From here you will be largely at the mercy of player form and fitness, but below are some tips that will incrementally increase your chances of success over the course of the season:

  1. Monitor The Rankings And Make Use Of Player Trades

While your selection must be confirmed for a fixed time before each game-week, in-between you will have the option to trade players and augment your squad. Most leagues allow you to make one free trade each week, while subsequent swaps will probably cost you a certain amount of points from your accumulated total. Some providers may even allow you one free 'wildcard' during each transfer window, so you can shake-up an underperforming squad when required.

To make the most of these features, make sure that you review the fantasy football rankings and data prior to each week, while also reviewing any relevant suspensions and injuries that may have affected your squad. This will enable you to make informed changes, while we also recommend that you think long and hard about your choices during game weeks that include two league games. Remember, EPL managers are increasingly prone to squad rotation during busier times of the season, so try to focus on players that are likely to feature in both games where possible.

  1. Choose Your Captain Wisely

Selecting a captain is a relatively new element of fantasy football betting, and one that can boost your points total each week. Essentially, your chosen captain for the week will see their individual point tally doubled, so making the right selection can really enhance the performance of your team.

Strikers or goal scoring midfielders often make for the most popular choice of captain, particularly when top-six clubs compete against those at the wrong end of the table. The issue is that top clubs may rotate their players against lesser rivals, so you need to think long and hard before confirming your captain (and vice-captain).

You should also consider reviewing past player performances against specific teams, as this can be a crucial source of data. Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku has scored 11 goals in 13 matches against West Ham United during his career for example, so he would seem like a solid for captain when Manchester United visit Upton Park later this season.

  1. Look Out For The Points Machines

Finally, you will need to identify some affordable points machines if your fantasy football team is ultimately to be successful. These players can take numerous different forms, depending on the position that they play and their core attributes.

Goal-scoring defenders offer significant value, for example, whether they are a threat at set-pieces (John Stones) or designated penalty takers (Leighton Baines). Players such as Chelsea's Marco Alonso are also solid picks, as the Italian plays in an advanced wing-back role and is also responsible for taking free-kicks.

Remember, defenders are awarded far more points for goals than attackers, while they are also rewarded for every clean sheet that they contribute to.

When it comes to midfielders, try to look at players who operate a little further forward. For example, Sadio Mane has been categorised as a midfielder in previous seasons, while his Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah shares this categorisation despite being part of a fluent front three.

Hopefully, this information and our range of tips will help your fantasy football team to thrive, even if you have missed the start of the season. Remember, the key is to choose the right league and prepare for each game week, while also using data to make informed decisions.