With over three million players and a top prize of £25,000 (or €35,000), the Fantasy Premier League is taken extremely seriously by those who sign up to participate. Many amateur fans also run their own fantasy football competitions for groups of friends and work colleagues.
In the official fantasy league, you have a budget of £100m to pick a squad of 15 players (2 goalkeepers, 5 defenders, 5 midfielders and 3 forwards) from the Barclays Premier League. Each week, you pick your starting 11, choose your captain, and make transfers. Competitors are awarded points according to how their selections perform each week.
This format incorporates a number of fundamental economic concepts. First, you have a standard constrained optimisation problem. The cost of each player varies according to their performance during the year as well as how they are perceived in terms of skill. You will never have enough in £100 million to be able to afford the top-ranking player in every position, so you are faced with making trade-offs. In economics, this involves an understanding of opportunity costs. You will have to sacrifice some of your preferred choices in exchange for more affordable alternatives. It is not unlike Michael Noonan having to choose between a mixture of tax and expenditure measures in the forthcoming Budget 2016.
Essentially, you have to optimise your likely points reward based on a strict budgetary arithmetic. In the same way that the Minister of Financehas guiding principles when setting fiscal targets for the year, some obvious guidelines apply to a fantasy football squad: select players who are guaranteed to be first-choice for their team; select a balanced team rather than relying too much on a few â€œbig namesâ€?; use transfers regularly; and don’t pick too many players from the team that you follow in the Premier League.
Again, based on the concept of getting a decent â€œbang from your buckâ€?, you should select those players who take penalties, free kicks, and corners as they have the potential to score more goals and assists. Another tip is that players at newly-promoted clubs are often good value as they don’t have the same track record in the top league (statistically, midfielders and strikers are better options at promoted clubs, as their defenders are likely to be conceding plenty of goals).
On a more serious note, the best writing on the economics and finance of modern football comes from Simon Kuper. In his regular column in the Financial Times, as well as in two best-selling books -‘Soccer Against the Enemy’ and ‘Soccernomics’ – Kuper explores the factors that determine which countries and clubs win international and domestic competitions, the growing use of data analytics in a team’s approach to fitness, penalties, corners etc., and thefuture of the transfer market and financial power in world football.
For now, however, you can practise your own data analytics and mastery of opportunity costs playing fantasy football manager. I must warn you that it can become addictive!
– See more at: https://web.archive.org/web/20150907223417/http://www.galwayindependent.com/business/topics/articles/2015/08/12/4064048-fantasy-football-economics/#sthash.4uqzbvJi.dpuf