Daily Fantasy Sports is hugely popular in the US and around the world thanks to it giving sports fans the chance to win potentially win vast sums of money based on their knowledge of a chosen sport. For years it was football, baseball, and basketball that dominated the Daily Fantasy Sports scene, but the popularity of fantasy soccer betting is also increasing. If you are knowledgeable about soccer, you simply have to take a look at the possibility of fantasy soccer betting.
For those of you who don’t know what Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) are, this is what they entail in a nutshell. The fantasy soccer site, such as DraftKings, lists hundreds of real soccer players and gives them a value or salary. You need to pick a predetermined number of these players. You then receive points based on the players’ actual performances on the pitch.
Points are received for a whole host of actions on the pitch such as goals scores, assists, shots on goal, tackles won, and clean sheets, with points removed for conceding goals and fouls, receiving yellow or red cards, and missing penalties.
If unearthing hidden gems, players who few will pick yet still rack up the points, is your speciality then fantasy soccer betting could be for you.
Best Online Fantasy Soccer Leagues
Without a shadow of a doubt, DraftKings is the site where you will find the best online fantasy soccer games. DraftKings is the largest fantasy site to offer soccer and covers the MLS, English Premier League and UEFA Champions League.
Fantasy soccer players are asked to pick a team consisting of eight players made up from at least three different teams, and who have a combined salary of less than $50,000. You must choose a goalkeeper, two defenders, two midfielders, two forwards and a utility player (any non-goalkeeper).
Once selected, players in your team are awarded points based on their performances in a set game or number of games, meaning the contests are over quite quickly, hence the name daily fantasy soccer.
The great thing about DraftKings is the fact they run dozens of contests every week. Some of these contests are free to play and are perfect for playing against friends and family members for bragging rights, and also for getting to grips with the nuances of daily fantasy soccer before moving onto real money contests.
Some of the regular contests include a $3 entry called the Striker, a $27 entry called the Golden Boot, and a $300 entry called Top Corner. Some of these contests are run five-man, 10-man, or tournaments with potentially thousands of opponents picking teams and hoping to score points and bag a huge cash prize.
How To Win Fantasy Soccer
When it comes to winning at fantasy soccer knowledge is power. In fact, knowledge is king. Fantasy soccer rewards those who are prepared to put in the groundwork and research every aspect of the games the players they select will be involved in.
Picking players who scores goals regularly is a must. For example, there were 956 goals scored in the 2016 MLS regular season and DraftKings awards 10 points per goal, meaning there were 9,560 points in goals alone. With there being a salary cap and a rule that teams must include players from at least three different teams, it is impossible to buy all of the best players in a given league, so it's crucial to look for players on hot streaks or those about to come out of a goal drought.
The majority of MLS fantasy soccer teams should have New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips. He scored 24 goals in 2016, had 103 shots and 56 shots on goal across 34 games for an average of 11.74 points per game.
David Villa of NYCFC scored 23 regular season goals, had 166 shots and 68 shots on goal across 33 games for an average of 14.06 points per game. Both Wright-Phillips and Villa will cost a lot to procure in coming seasons. But they're probably worth it.
Finding midfielders and defenders who chip in with goals will greatly enhance your chances. Someone like Frank Lampard may have only played 19 games, but he bagged 12 goals and would have be a superb addition to any team.
With 6 points awarded for assists, it is also worthwhile looking for creative players. Sticking with the MLS, Red Bulls’ Sacha Kljestan was credited with 20 assists and six goals, while Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco enjoyed 15 assists, had 59 shots on goal and scored 17 times making him one of the most valuable fantasy soccer players in the MLS last season.
Picking Defenders & Goalkeepers
Once you have selected your goal getters, you need to think about the players at the other end of the pitch, namely defenders and goalkeepers. Wing backs will usually have more of a propensity to contribute offensively. They'll get points for assists and crosses, but are more likely to lose points for fouling as they face tricky wingers.
Central defenders are less likely to win you offensive points, but most central defenders are tall players who score a few goals from corners and set pieces.
You only receive defensive points from defenders if their team keeps a clean sheet (five points) or only concedes one goal (two points), so it makes sense to try select players from teams with tight defences such as Colorado Rapids who only leaked 32 goals during regular season in 2016.
Goalkeepers win points for saves and shutouts (also known as clean sheets). In 2016, Portland’s Jake Gleeson had six shutouts and made an impressive 118 saves, although Portland conceded 53 goals.
Teams with weaker defences are likely to see their goalkeepers earn more points from saves, but are less likely to earn points from clean sheets, while the opposite is true for teams with solid defences.
One of the best tips I ever received about winning at fantasy soccer was to not be concerned about picking stellar names or being fixated on big name players. These players will be hugely popular with your opponents and some may have big reputations but don’t actually earn you many points.
For example, Nigel de Jong, formerly of LA Galaxy, was a popular star name but he picked up dozens of yellow card every season and gave away countless fouls.
Use your common sense and select players more likely to excel in a specific game. If the league’s top scorers are facing one of the weaker defences, load up with as many attacking players from the favorites as you can. Conversely, avoid picking defensive players from teams facing an opponent with a wealth of attacking talent.