So you’ve picked your squad and selected your starting line-up – now you need to choose a captain.
When it comes to tactics and formations, you’ll struggle to find anyone more knowledgeable than James 'The Coach' Thorogood. Not only does James know every Bundesliga player inside out, he also has a keen eye for the bigger picture. He is regularly spotted discussing tactics with Carlo Ancelotti over a plate of pasta, and has also been seen animatedly moving salt and pepper shakers across the table while out dining with Thomas Tuchel.
In our Official Fantasy Bundesliga, he scores you double points. So he’s the single most important player in your team, and picking the right captain is often the difference between a good fantasy weekend and a great one, between the ecstasy of beating your mates and the agony of having to listen to them telling you how much better they are than you! So choose carefully!
I don’t usually deal in clichés but goals do change games, and in Fantasy Bundesliga, you’re awarded the most points for goals scored, goals assisted or clean sheets kept. The beauty of that is that it means you can choose a player in any position – provided he tends to do one of those three things – to be your captain and you’ll earn yourself some points.
For example, if your goalkeeper keeps a clean sheet, he’ll score three points, which double to six if he’s your captain. You could pick Manuel Neuer, who kept 20 clean sheets in the Bundesliga last season, and you’d collect a healthy stream of points each week, in addition to the extra points Neuer could earn you if he finishes on the winning team, saves a penalty, wins five challenges or more – or even scores or assists!
Defenders: handiness in both boxes key
Alternatively, you could pick a defender, which could be a better option – if you’re happy to gamble. Let’s take FC Schalke 04’s new signing Naldo as an example. The naturalised German is the league’s highest-scoring defender among current active Bundesliga players – he has 38 goals in 298 appearances – and considering a defender earns six points for scoring a goal – 12 points if he’s your captain – he could be worth a punt at 14m.
However, Schalke’s defensive record left something to be desired last season – the Royal Blues won only 15 games and shipped 49 goals in 34 matches in 2015/16 – which means Naldo may not score you many points from clean sheets. All players are awarded two points for an assist, so a defender like VfL Wolfsburg’s Ricardo Rodriguez, who takes corners and free-kicks – and, of course, penalties – could be quite a points-scorer. Then again, the Wolves also conceded freely last term, so you’ll have to decide whether the points Rodriguez could earn you going forward are enough to offset the ones he may cost you at the back. And don’t forget: yellow cards, red cards and own-goals cost you points too.
Midfielders: goals and assists
Many Bundesliga midfielders score and assist goals consistently – Marco Reus, Arjen Robben and Mahmoud Dahoud to name a few – and making one of these guys your captain could reap rewards, particularly if they earn bonuses through tackles won, shots on target and finishing on the winning side. Nevertheless, bear in mind that they score you fewer points (four) for a goal than a defender.
Strikers: goal machines the key?
Finally, we have the strikers. They will ‘only’ score you three points per goal, but consider that the likes of Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Robert Lewandowski will likely score every game – as well as gather points for shots on target and scoring braces, hat-tricks and winning goals. Once their score is doubled for the weekend, they could be the picks that leave your points total looking a lot healthier than it might have done.
So after all that, what on earth are you going to do!? Well, I’ve never been one to discourage a fantasy player from chopping and changing his team before kick-off - I've personally altered my team at least 50 times! However, don’t forget that choosing the captain is the most important decision you have to make. So consider the likelihood of him scoring, assisting or keeping a clean sheet, but also consider his form, his history against the upcoming opponent and all those extras that could swell his total even more – or bring it down, in the case of red cards and missed penalties etc.
Once you think you’ve covered every angle then back yourself, your team and your captain! I'll be back soon with more tips, but until then, good luck deciding who wears the armband!