- Fantasy expert offers three useful tips.
- Use bundesliga.com's live ticker for player statistics, including won duels.
- Don't be afraid to take risks, but don't confirm your transfers too soon.
With only a week to go until the 2016/17 Bundesliga campaign awakes from its winter slumber, it's time for you to start thinking about your Official Fantasy Bundesliga squad.
Don't forget, you can make unlimited transfers right up until the Matchday 17 opener between SC Freiburg and league leaders FC Bayern München on Friday 20 January (kick-off 20:00CET), so make sure you make the most of that rare opportunity! You'll be limited to just three transfers when the window reopens the following Monday, but don't fret - Flo, James and I are here to help.
When assembling my own squad, I always try and bear the following three things in mind:
1) Which players are winning the most challenges?
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past five months, you'll be aware of the importance of won duels in the Official Fantasy Bundesliga. If you can assemble a team of players who like to get stuck in and come out on top in the majority of their challenges, that's half the battle.
I always use the bundesliga.com live ticker to find out which players are winning the most tackles in a match. Thiago Alcantara, for example, won 21 challenges in Bayern's 3-0 victory over RB Leipzig, earning him an extra eight points - that's twice as many points as he received for scoring a goal.
Willi Orban (81 points), Douglas Santos (75), Benjamin Henrichs (58), and Dong-Won Ji (54) are just some of the cheaper players with superb records in the challenges department, but by keeping a close eye on the ticker during games you might just unearth another Official Fantasy Bundesliga gem!
2) Don't make your transfers too early
I've lost count of the number of times I've clicked 'confirm transfers' hours before the window closes, only to find out that one of my new acquisitions has suffered a last-minute injury that rules him out of the weekend's action. Is there anything more irritating in Fantasy Football? The moral of the story: Plan which players you intend to bring in, but don't confirm your transfers until just before the Friday game kicks off.
Otherwise you could suffer the same fate that befell me back on Matchday 9: I must have spent over an hour mulling over which centre-back to sign before eventually opting for Jonathan Tah. Sure enough, the Leverkusen centre-back suffered a gash to his leg in training, a mere 24 hours before Die Werkself were due to play Wolfsburg. As you can imagine, I was seething.
3) Don't be afraid to rotate
It obviously helps to have a strong substitutes' bench in the Official Fantasy Bundesliga, but that's easier said than done. I would be surprised if Flo and James don't have at least one player in their respective teams who is unlikely to make more than a handful of league appearances this season.
If you do have the funds for a strong bench, don't be afraid to rotate your first team during a Matchday. Dropping a player who has already registered a decent score is never an easy decision, but if you have a suitable alternative who you feel can do better, then take the risk! More often than not, fortune favours the brave in the Official Fantasy Bundesliga.
On Matchday 12, I had a choice between sticking with Leverkusen's Henrichs (who had scored six points) or bringing in FC Schalke 04 midfielder Alessandro Schöpf. I opted for the latter, who ended up scoring ten points in a 3-1 victory over SV Darmstadt 98. Oh, by the way, I also made him captain!