Front Page Football's guide to A-Leagues Fantasy
After much anticipation since Danny Townsend and the APL took control of the A-Leagues, one of their key promises, the return of A-League Fantasy, has become a reality.
The online game follows a similar format to the famous Fantasy Premier League. Players buy a squad of 15 under a budget and select a starting eleven each matchday that earns points based on their weekly performances.
The move to bring this game back is designed to help garner interest from fans on all happenings across the league, not just their team. Information such as player injuries and selection is essential to in-game success.
But how will it all work? What separates this game from other versions of fantasy football? What do you need to know to master the game and one-up your mates?
Here’s our ultimate guide to A-Leagues Fantasy.
A-Leagues Fantasy will hopefully help drive fan interest across the whole competition. (Twitter: @aleaguemen)
How to play
Participants select 15 players based on who they believe will be the best performers during the season. Each player is assigned a value based on how likely they are to accrue a large number of points. Prices range from $545.1k for the most expensive player (Craig Goodwin) to $150.7k for the least expensive (a range of young players across the competition).
Adelaide United captain Craig Goodwin is the most expensive player on A-Leagues Fantasy. (The West Australian)
Participants are given a $4 million budget to put their squad together, adding to the challenge of putting together the strongest team possible.
Once you have your squad, you will select a starting eleven that you think will perform the best and get you the most points for each game week. At least one goalkeeper and three defenders must be in the eleven. But aside from that, you can select as many or as few midfielders and forwards as you like.
Once the season begins, participants are allowed 35 trades throughout the campaign to bring in new players and discard those underperforming.
This aspect is where the game first differs slightly from Fantasy Premier League. On FPL, you can make one free transfer each week and take a points penalty to make more. But in A-Leagues Fantasy, you can only make a maximum of two weekly trades.
However, as mentioned, you can only make 35 trades throughout the season, so if you do two each week, you will run out of these by Round 18.
How points are accumulated
Another critical area where the game differs from its English counterpart is the scoring system. While FPL only awards points or penalises players for key match moments such as goals, assists, clean sheets, and cards, A-Leagues Fantasy goes further in-depth.
The scoring method considers intricate details of a player's performance, such as key passes, tackles won, dribbles, interceptions, and much more. The idea is to ensure almost all touches a player makes in a game can affect their final score. Therefore, those who don’t often get involved with the goals and assists in their team, but still play an important role, can be viable purchases.
The full breakdown of the A-Leagues Fantasy scoring system. (Twitter: @josephkayy)
General fantasy tips
The most important general rule to follow in any fantasy football game is to have players that are almost certain to start. Two points are awarded for just playing more than 60 minutes, so you should ensure you select such players in your team to rack up guaranteed points.
As goals and assists are what gain the most amount of points for players, having a selection of players who take set pieces for their team will also be handy.
A-Leagues Fantasy tips and tricks
Following on from the last point mentioned, having players across the A-League Men who are regular set-piece takers will be paramount to success. However, these players come at a cost.
Craig Goodwin ($545.1k), Jamie Maclaren ($365.7k), Beka Mikeltadze ($426.6k), and Jason Cummings ($386k) are all regular penalty takers for their club. Meanwhile, Goodwin is also routinely on corners and free-kicks for Adelaide United.
Jamie Maclaren is the most picked player on A-Leagues Fantasy so far, with 38% of participants putting the Melbourne City striker in their team. (The AFC)
However, as shown, these players are expensive, so you must go bargain-hunting to make up the budget.
Any attacker likely to score goals will set you back financially, and as these are what get you the most points, you will want to splash the cash on your final third.
Other options, such as Aleksandar Prijovic ($367.4k) and Charlie Austin ($329k), are likely to rack up the goals this season. Meanwhile, Macarthur forward Daniel Arzani ($329k) will provide a creative spark in the club's forward line. He should gain points through the key passes and dribbling he often showed throughout their Australia Cup run.
The way the points system works means those in midfield and defence, who aren’t regular goal contributors, will still offer some return on value. However, it’s still essential to have a couple of players in each area capable of impacting the scoreline, considering the points on offer.
In midfield, Jake Brimmer ($490.8k) and Jay O’Shea ($487.6k) registered 10+ goals and assists last season. You can rely on them to earn you points despite their high value.
While at the back, Ben Garuccio ($446.9k) and Javi Lopez ($427.4k) are the most expensive in their roles for a reason, having the highest amount of goals and assists out of last season's defenders.
Jake Brimmer and Jay O'Shea are amongst the most expensive players on A-Leagues Fantasy. (Twitter: @aleaguemen)
But you can also look for players who may not be regular goal scorers but can gain points through other statistics such as key passes and interceptions. Leo Lacroix ($344.5k) and Aiden O'Neill ($267k) are also great options of this nature.
A-Leagues Fantasy bargains
However, the best way to see success will be to take advantage of those who are undervalued.
You can buy two types of bargains: those similar to their teammates but significantly less or lesser valued players who could genuinely impact the league.
Tomoki Imai ($261.5k) is the best example of the former. He is the cheapest defender of Western United’s starting four, but he will still benefit from the clean sheets they achieve as a team. He may not get involved with the goals, but he will still gain points through several defensive statistics.
Another key example of an undervalued player is Riku Danzaki ($292.5k), who will take some creative responsibility off Jay O’Shea at Brisbane Roar. Al Hassan Toure ($165.3k) also looks set to start in Macarthur's opening matches after some stellar performances in the Australia Cup. That price will be the cheaper alternative to his teammate Daniel Arzani.
Al Hassan Toure is set for a big season at Macarthur FC, and is a must-have in your A-Leagues Fantasy team. (Twitter: @FrontPgFootball)
Otherwise, there are several players across the league for participants to take advantage of as bargain buys.
Paul Izzo ($205.5k) will join a formidable Melbourne Victory backline and, after a couple of years overseas, will be eager to show his quality. Bozhidar Kraev ($234.5k) is new to the league and could be a star player for the Wellington Phoenix.
Zach Clough endured a torrid start to his Adelaide United career and is currently valued at $165.3k. However, Carl Veart is optimistic that Clough will turn things around in 2022/23, and if he does, it could be one of the best bargains on fantasy this season.
Bozhidar Kraev ($234.5k) is a potential bargain signing for your A-Leagues Fantasy team. (Stuff NZ)
Other potential bargains include Sydney FC left-back Diego Caballo (234.5k), Newcastle Jets midfielder Beka Dartsmelia (209k), and Macarthur forward Lachlan Rose ($235.7k).
The introduction of A-Leagues Fantasy is one of the first promises the APL have ensured they kept.
The game will help entice fans to keep up to date with the ins and outs of each A-League Men team to assist with their weekly fantasy squad selection.
As the league bounces back from a dismal campaign last season where interest plummeted, this initiative is certainly a creative way to help get fans back in the spirit.
Click here to join the FPF A-Leagues Fantasy competition! Be sure to keep an eye on our socials for weekly tips and tricks on how you can improve your fantasy team.