My fascination with tactical analysis is well-documented, but in the Official Fantasy Bundesliga world, successful tactics are less based on Gegenpressing and more on manipulating the system in your favour.

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About James: When it comes to tactics and formations, you’ll struggle to find anyone as keen or as knowledgeable as James 'The Coach' Thorogood. James is Bundesliga obsessed, with Sascha Mölders, Juan Arango and Jay-Jay Okocha making up his top 3 all-time favourite players. 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.


Considering how much sleep I’ve lost over the issue, I have no doubt that the biggest question facing most fantasy managers right now is how best to make use of the budget available. Do you try and operate with strength in depth for added flexibility during a Bundesliga Matchday, or go for 11 star players that you hope will guarantee a regular points return? 

Precious points from the bench

Pros: Utilising a well-rounded squad of 15 players has its advantages in that substitutions can be made during a Matchday. Using the opening weekend as an example, what that means is that if any FC Bayern München or SV Werder Bremen players in your squad don’t feature or perform poorly on Friday night, they can be swapped out for players set to play on Saturday or Sunday.

Read: 'The Coach' provides a post-match analysis of Supercup

I will begrudgingly give credit where credit is due: Florian ‘The Scout’ has done a fantastic job outlining potential bargain buys that would help in this respect and the chances of seeing a spike in value is also a lot likelier for low-priced players.

Mainz's Leon Balogun made 21 appearances last season and, costing just 4M, could help balance out a 15-man squad. © imago

Cons: Not to slip into the role of ‘The Expert’, whose calculations are a little more advanced, but a simple break down of the starting budget tells us that a team of 15 players would require an average spend of 10M per player. The disparity between the fantasy value and potential of players above and below that price, however, suggests that may not be the winning formula.

Read: 'The Scout' on which stars have been shining in pre-season

Last season’s top goalscorers Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez will all set you back 15M, but very few of the players valued at 5M who could even out your average spend offer much hope of regular games and points.

Taking the plunge with a superstar ensemble

Pros: Let’s be honest, while Flo ‘The Scout’ has his heart set on discovering the next Franz Beckenbauer and Matt ‘The Expert’ gets a kick out of putting Bundesliga stickers on his abacus, I’m looking for players who will deliver both in the short and long-term. Spending just 2M on each of your substitutes leaves you with a hefty budget of 142M to play with (almost 13M per player on average). Adopt this approach and all of a sudden you’ve got stars in your eyes!

This allows you to prioritise picking players who can guarantee regular fixtures, clean sheets and attacking output. The gamble is simply whether the upside of picking the likes of Manuel Neuer and Marco Reus will balance out the downside of not being able to tinker.

The likes of Marco Reus (l.) and Mario Götze (r.) will cost a pretty penny, but you can be confident that they'll deliver throughout a season. © imago

Cons: Beyond the lack of flexibility this strategy affords you, the major downside to filling your bench with players that cost just 2M is that your squad is guaranteed to drop in value. Every player who doesn’t feature on a given Matchday sees their price automatically drop by 100,000 and the likelihood of players in that price range featuring at any stage of the season is slim.

The silver lining in this scenario is that players’ prices can’t go below 1M, so with four substitutes the worst that can happen is that you’ll lose 4M. However, it is worth noting that a player who features and plays poorly could drop in value by 250,000!

Read: 'The Expert' on how to work the transfer market

It’s a lot to consider, hence the sleepless nights. This weekend’s DFB Cup first round fixtures should provide some crucial clues to how teams may line-up on Matchday 1. I’ll be releasing my squad next week so stay tuned for that, though it will likely change another 100 times before then!

Never tactics bored!