Picking the Best Players: Midfielders

(Warning – this midfielder section is the longest of all the best player picks sections, BUT it’s easily the most valuable and important position in your team so well worth spending the time reading on!)

Midfielders are the key to winning money in your mini contests each week and will often be the difference between top 10 glory or top 1000 misery. It’s as simple as that. Fanduel very kindly created “hypothetical” points for players last year to demonstrate how the scoring system would have applied. Having now played the game for a number of weeks I was not surprised at all to find that based on points per appearance 8 of the top 10 last year were midfielders.

Every time I’ve had a successful week it’s been because my midfielders have turned up and I’ve gone for the correct ‘elite’ players as well as successfully found the risky differentials who have pulled it out of the bag. You see there are a number of midfielders who will regularly guarantee a good points haul. I like to think of them as ‘elite’ Fanduel assets. Creative No.10’s, playing in attack minded teams are pure gold dust. With 3 points on offer for a chance created, an impressive 7 points for an assist and on-going points for successful passes, fouls drawn and shots on target the game is almost set up to reward Coutinho, Payet, De Bruyne and the like who most weeks will be sitting pretty on 15-20 points before half time, even with the game still stagnant at 0-0. A defender could be having the game of his life and he wouldn’t be scoring that well.

The problem with this however is of course the (pesky) £100M budget. Picking the top 5 ‘elite’ midfielders as of GW11 who will almost guarantee points every week will set you back £67M. Even the most savvy of players will know that dividing the remaining £33M into the 6 spots left means £5.5M per player (which by the way isn’t possible to do unless you want a team of benchwarmers) So having all 5 is simply not an option.

The strategy therefore should be simple. Pick two (or three if you’re really savvy with allocation elsewhere) each week that have the best chance on paper of doing well. That doesn’t just mean who has the easiest opponent necessarily. Of course, if City are playing Hull at Home then for god sake put De Bruyne, Silva and Aguero in your team and carry on with your day but other than something obvious like that though, on a normal week make sure you are considering not just who they are playing but how susceptible that team are to giving up chances and the current form of each player. A simple glance at the avg points per game over the last few weeks is a great indicator there.

Remember while scoring goals is of course great, and a sure fire way to earn a healthy points hall for our midfield maestros, it doesn’t always provide the top weekly points scorers. The 6-1 drumming of Watford by Liverpool in GW 11 was not a huge surprise to most educated football fans and duly rewarded Coutinho with a fantastically high points hall (47 points) thanks to his goal and assist. However it’s important to remember that just a week earlier Juan Mata scored just as highly (46 points) having drawn 0-0 against Burnley. 8 chances created, 4 shots on target and 50 (yes 50!) successful passes led to a week high points haul for the little Spaniard.

So as you can see, Fanduel is less about the team and result and far more about the individual players and their performance on the day. Creative, goalscoring midfielders, who also have dead ball duties, are just about the cream of crop and are must picks when fixtures are good. When you also overlay a team that parks the bus in front of them you might just be in for a great haul of points that week. Other midfielders such as Sigurdsson or Snodgrass are also great examples of players whose teams might be scrapping at the bottom of the table but are so wholly reliant on them, not just for goals but for chance creation and set pieces too, they often score strongly even in heavy defeat.

As I always say when deciding your midfield lineup, you must also consider the correlation they have to the strikers and the expected turn out of the fixtures that week. FanDuel allows you to pick 4 players from one team which is one more than in the EPL Fantasy Football game. When Liverpool played Watford at home in GW11, in my opinion it was absolutely a gamble worth taking to include Coutinho & Mane as your midfield elites with Firmino as a striking option too. If all the stats point towards a convincing Liverpool win why would you not treble up because a strong Coutinho performance this season seems to pretty much guarantee a strong Firmino one too. Sure enough, all three went on to score 45 points+ and duly landed me another healthy prize winning total that week.

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