Welcome to the first annual Unusual Efforts Fantasy Premier League League!
If you’re new to either Premier League football or fantasy sports, FPL is a great place to get started. The statistics at play are limited, there’s not a complicated draft, and the time commitment each week is minimal. If you’re a veteran, welcome, and I look forward to you kicking my butt this season.
Here we’re going to go over the basics – signing up, picking a team, and joining a league.
If you know all this, feel free to skip to the bottom to join the UE league. And learn about our prizes.
If you’re here to learn, you should know I’m neither an expert on fantasy sports nor the Premier League. I have, however, successfully coached a lot of new participants (including my girlfriend) into developing an interest and quickly beating me at fantasy PL. I also genuinely believe in this as a quick way to get to know the league as well as a good way to expand the footballing community. So let’s get started, shall we?
First things first – go to https://fantasy.premierleague.com and find the “Sign up” button. You may be tempted to hit that pretty purple “Draft” button, but don’t do it. Stay with me here.
You’ll work yourself through a slightly-lengthy signup form, select your favorite team or identify as a general PL fan (this has no effect on your fantasy team), side-step the email subscriptions, read the Ts&Cs, and finally hit “Confirm Registration.”
Building a Team
You annoyingly are required to build a team before you join a league, and since during this process building your team is where you will spend most of your time, I strongly recommend, hitting “Auto Pick” and letting the site auto-fill for you. You can then move onto the fun stuff of naming your team, joining a league, and then come back to take your time to build out your squad. All transfers are free until the start of the league so there’s nothing to lose by doing so.
Naming Your Team
After your squad is fielded, scroll down to the bottom of the field and hit “Enter Squad.” A window will appear asking you to enter your team name and (again?) your favorite team.
It is somewhat of a tradition in fantasy sports to come up with a punny team name. This is strongly encouraged, but definitely not a hard rule. You *can* change it in the future as well so if nothing is coming to mind, you have time to noodle on it a bit. But you won’t have much time—by the end of four rounds, we’re going to start the best-name bracket. Scroll down to see the prize for the best team name!
When you confirm your choices in the window, your team page will reload with a new view and a whole bunch of new tabs. Still don’t hit that Draft tab, okay? Okay.
Joining a League
This part is pretty straight forward. Find the tab called “Leagues” and go to there. On this page you’ll see a button near the top that says “Create and join new leagues” – click that.
Here you’ll want to follow the arrows to join a league > join private league. There you’ll be asked for a code. If you’re joining another league, your administrator should provide this code. If you’re joining our Unusual Efforts league the code is: ww3035.
Enter that in the box, hit join league, and you’re in!
If you see a note saying that private leagues require a “number-number” code, that means you somehow ended up in Fantasy Draft land. I knew you couldn’t resist that purple button. Find your way back to plain-old Fantasy land and try joining a league again.
That’s all for this time, play with the site while you can without penalty, play with moving players around, and bonus points if you find where you can design your team’s kit. Next time we’ll talk real team selection and go over a checklist for Gameweek 1 which kicks off on August 9.
UE Fantasy PL Pt 2—Here We Go Again
Time to get down to how this whole thing works. In this league, you have a budget of £100. Each player has a price ranging from £4 up to £12.5, and you have to field a team on or under budget, within the following constraints:
- Your team must have 15 players:
- 2 Goalkeepers
- 5 Defenders
- 5 Midfielders
- 3 Forwards
- You can have a maximum of 3 players from a single team – e.g. even though I love Arsenal, I can only have 3 Arsenal players on my team. That’s probably for the best, if we’re being honest.
Aside from that, no restrictions. You get to pick from all the players currently on a Premier League roster.
An important note: This is not a draft league. That means you and I can pick the same players. Or to put it another way, one fantasy manager choosing a player does not remove that player as an option for you. In fact, you and I could have the exact same 15 players, and it wouldn’t break a thing. This league is scored on how you do as an individual, no obstacles. Everyone in the league has their points compared, and the manager with the most points wins.
Each week you will have to field 11 players, just like a real football team. You can fluctuate a bit on formation but you have to have at least one goalkeeper, three defenders, two midfielders, and one forward.
Points are awarded for each individual player’s performance during the Gameweek. The full points breakdown is here, but basically players get points for things like scoring goals and assists and lose points for missing penalties, yellow cards, red cards, etc.
Otherwise, here are some general tips from a certified non-expert:
- Matchups—Keep an eye on who is playing who each week. If six of your players are all in the same game (three on one side, three on the other) you’re probably not getting all the points you could.
- Last season’s points—A good way to estimate a player is how they did last season. These stats are available on the site and might help decide who you keep and who you wait to see. If a player has no stats from last season, they may be new to the league, so it’s good to be aware if they’re just getting used to playing in a new environment.
- Minutes played—A player gets 2 points just for playing a full match. If you have to pick a low-rated player to make your budget, try to get one that at least saw consistent playing time so it’s not a total loss.
- Cards—Cards are an easy way to lose points. Having a bruiser on a non-fantasy team can be important tactically, but in fantasy, unless they’re making up for it with lots of points elsewhere, they could sink you.
Once you have your 15 players, you need to prepare for the actual game by deciding the 11 you’ll field for Gameweek 1, selecting your team captain and vice-captain, and if desired, a power-up.
For your 11-man squad, you want to make sure you have a healthy, full team. You’ll see injuries and suspension indicated by warning symbols next to players’ names. These are usually estimates, so take them with a grain of salt. Second, and this may sound obvious, you also want to put your better players on the field as well as those with the easier matchups for the gameweek ahead. Sergio Agüero scores a lot of goals, but if he’s playing against the team with the best defense in the league, maybe opt for someone who’s got an easier week.
Also, don’t forget to prioritize your bench. In the event that one of your players doesn’t play, the first eligible player on your bench will be automatically subbed in for you. If two don’t play, two will get subbed in, etc. And, before you worry, your goalie cannot be subbed in for your forward.
Next, you want to decide who will be your captain. This is the best and worst part of the game because the player you choose as captain will get double points for the week. The vice-captain is there in case your captain doesn’t play. There will be weeks where you watch your captain get a hat-trick, on cloud 9 knowing all the points are raining down on you, and there will be weeks where your captain plays like absolute garbage, gets subbed at the 30th minute, and you want to eat your scarf. Consider yourself warned.
Last thing I’ll cover is the power-ups. There are two available from week one, but please don’t use these too early. It’s a long season, and it’s best to be a bit patient instead of blowing a valuable boost because you got anxious early.
- Bench boost: Using this means you get points for every player on your team, including your bench players. This is great to use when your whole team is healthy, and your matchups are level across the board. This can only be used once a season.
- Triple Captain: This grants you 3x points for your captain instead of 2x. The best you can do is use it when you feel your captain is going to have a good game. It’s a one-time thing so there’s a lot of luck at play here.
There are two other boosts but they aren’t in play until after the season starts so we’ll cover those next time. Happy managing—and best of luck winning the Unusual Efforts league!
First prize: 50 USD credit to use in the Unusual Efforts store.
Second prize: 25 USD credit to snag merch that shows your #Effortista pride
Third prize: A handwritten letter from cofounder Sonja Cori Missio, along with one of her spectacular Photoshops involving whatever player/person combination you prefer.
THE TEAM NAME PRIZE: We will be running a tournament bracket in which team names will face off against one another, with Twitter users voting on which will move to the next round. The runner up will receive something as yet to be determined, while the winner will score a coffee mug, water bottle, notebook, zip pouch, or (not all, let’s not get greedy) so you can share your mastery of punnery with all the world.