Sunday 23 July 2017

5 key decisions that secured victory for this season's Fantasy Premier League champion

This is how the 2016/17 title was won.

By Max McLean

It’s one thing to win your fantasy football mini-league among friends, but imagine beating over 4.5 million people to become the overall champion.

That’s what Everton fan Ben Crabtree did with his team FC Crab Dogg, securing the Fantasy Premier League title on the final day of the season by just five points – his overall total of 2,564 points means he averaged over 67 points per gameweek.

Pretty impressive, right?

We thought we’d ask Ben how he did it: here are five of the key moments from his season that won him the title of Fantasy Premier League champion 2016/17.

Gameweek 6

The wildcard brings instant rewards.

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“I used my wildcard in gameweek six,” Ben said. The wildcard option is allowed twice per season, and allows an unlimited number of transfers, as opposed to the usual one per week.

“Normally I keep hold of a wildcard to save it for the best possible occasion, but I never end up using it until it’s going to expire.

“Sergio Aguero was just back from suspension, and because he’s so expensive you’ve got to alter your team a lot to get the funds together to buy him, so the wildcard was the best way to do that.

“I captained him that week and he got 26 points in total (a brace against Swansea) so there was an instant reward. I also put Charlie Austin in to be able to afford Aguero, and he ended up with 12 points as well, so that paid off.

Gameweek 20

A late Christmas present.

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“Over Christmas there was a lot of rotation. Players were injured, and a lot of the big hitters I had, such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexis Sanchez and Harry Kane, none of them had fixtures that I felt like captaining them on.

“So I ended up captaining Leighton Baines because we (Everton) had Southampton at home. At the time they couldn’t score, so I fancied us for a clean sheet, and Baines is always a good shout for assists and possible goals from penalties and free kicks.

“In the end he scored a penalty and we got the clean sheet as well, so he ended up with 30 points as captain, and I went from 2,431st overall to 825th. I had been in the 2000s for the previous four gameweeks, so this was kind of a big step up.”

Gameweek 24

Lukaku fills his boots.

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If the captaincy of Baines was a subtle decision, Ben’s next choice was more of a blockbuster move.

“I captained Romelu Lukaku and he scored four immediately against Bournemouth,” he said.

“I brought him in that week too. I took out Ibrahimovic and Oliver Giroud, and brought in Lukaku and Diego Costa, who got me two assists.

“It was extra nice because I was at that game as well.”

Gameweek 28

Keep King and carry on.

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Gameweek 28 saw just eight teams playing Premier League fixtures, with other teams involved in cup games. This was time for another genius move from Ben, bringing in Joshua King at just the right time. It probably secured him the title.

“King instantly rewarded with a hat-trick (against West Ham) and there weren’t many teams playing that week from what I remember.

“King got a hat-trick and missed a penalty, so it could have been even better.

“That week was good partly for transferring him in, and then keeping him until the end of the season. I got him quite early and from then he ended up scoring until the end of the season, and I got all those points from a player I’d hardly invested any money in.”

Gameweek 30

The man who won Ben the title.

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The fifth key moment Ben highlighted might be one that has gone unnoticed even now. And what was it? “Transferring in Ben Davies,” he said.

“Danny Rose was injured and Davies was £4.7m, a cheap player for Tottenham.

“One of my friends lives in Vietnam, and I was over there seeing him. We were discussing what transfers to do and I was looking at Davies – he got five clean sheets pretty quickly, and then in the last three gameweeks, where it matters, it looked like Rose might come back – but I thought I’d stick with Davies.”

It proved to be a bold move, as Ben explained: “He ended up getting two assists, and the last goal of the season for me in the 84th minute (against Hull City).”

Davies’ goal earned Ben six points, and in a season where he won the Fantasy Premier League title by five, it was a moment that secured victory.

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