As I sit here watching both MOTD and my beloved Giants simultaneously at 11:30pm on a Saturday night, having enjoyed a very relaxing (and sober) evening, it seems an appropriate time to pass on some lessons which I “relearned” earlier this week.
Always remember folks:
- Prepare in detail before placing any bet;
- Never give in to the spontaneous gambling monkey when he raises his cheeky head; and
- Never, ever, under any circumstances, gamble when drunk.
Now, I know what you are thinking.
“Surely BOTW doesn’t go on wild, drunken gambling sprees?!”
Thankfully, I was not retaught these lessons by a spate of rash, unprepared, drunken gambling. I may even have reaffirmed this knowledge without it costing me a penny.
After work on Tuesday night, I met up with a group of friends and work colleagues to do one of the most fun things you can ever do – an American style fantasy football “draft”.
We have been going through this ritual for a number of years now and, not only does it make for a cracking evenings entertainment, but it is the only form of fantasy football I find enjoyable.
The game is pretty simple – everyone picks a simple team of XI, using sequential draft picks. As a result, each player can only represent one team. So you avoid the problem of Patrice Evra being in 95% of the teams when a stupid newspaper makes him only £3 million.
If you are lucky enough to get an early draft pick in the first round, you then have to choose last in round 2 and so the pattern continues. By the end of eleven rounds, previous years have indicated it does pretty much all even out.
Now, as resident office football saddo, I have somewhat of a target on my head at such events. Everyone expects me to be well prepared and to have a couple of sneaky undervalued players up my sleeve.
And this year was no exception.
I had highlighted player lists. I had a drafting strategy. I had identified at least 3 players I thought could contribute a lot this season that I could pick in later rounds.
For those that care, here is a summary of the strategy I like to use for games with this draft format:
- Always pick players that are going to play week in and week out – I love Park Ji Sung as much as anyone, but from a league-only fantasy football perspective he won’t represent value;
- Play as few midfielders as you can – as non-premium midfielders score less points than a comparable defender;
- Don’t draft a goalkeeper until the late rounds – their are a number of goalkeepers that play for unfashionable teams that will score a decent amount of points;
- Pick the best player available with your first two picks, irrespective of position – Get the points in the bag and then build around them in later rounds;
- Don’t leave an outfield position totally exposed past round 4 – Or you will find yourself really scraping the barrel in the rounds 10 and 11; and
- Don’t over think it – If you can get “Top 4″ regular starters, take them. Whether you like them or not.
Now, as far as undervalued players are concerned, I was confident that I could pick up Wigan’s new £6 million striker Mauro Boselli in a late round. In fact, I was expecting to get him in the 10th round.
In addition to Boselli, I had my eye on James Collins and Ryan Nelsen as under-appreciated defenders, and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov as an undervalued midfielder.
This would allow me to focus on picking up high scoring defeners early on, or that was the plan at least.
Having been awarded the 5th pick in the overall draft, I instantly had a key decision to make. Would I take Steven Gerrard in Round 1?
I decided against it, and plumped for one of my favourite players in Carlos Tevez. I expect both players to take their sides penalties this year and expect the points totals to be much of a wash.
The swing factor for me was the lack of quality strikers around the league at the moment. I decided to shoot for an Argentinian Tevez/Boselli combination and then focus on my midfield in the middle rounds.
Only time will tell how wise a decision that will be.
After 9 rounds I was playing a solid 4-4-1 formation, which left me in a great position. Most people had chosen a goalkeeper by this point so I knew I could afford to leave that until round 11 and still pick up a bearable ‘keeper.
As a result, in the 10th round I had the pick of the bunch as 5-4-1, 4-5-1 and 4-4-2 are all acceptable formations under the rules of the game.
Not only that but my man Boselli was still available, but almost all of the other 18 players had drafted their quota of strikers.
This is where things unraveled a bit for “Fergie Knows Best III”, and I relearned the aforementioned gambling lessons – on a non gambling night!
I have to confess, by this stage I had consumed three or four pints of European lager and as the lightweights favourite maxim goes “I hadn’t had any tea”!
Rather than sticking to the game plan and simply picking Boselli, having noticed my positional freedom, I started hunting through the list of available players. Now, at this point, I really should have noticed that one of my favourite players in the league, Sebastien Larsson had gone completely undrafted.
But I was a bit drunk, so I didn’t.
Instead, I decided to get clever and placed one of the rashest gambles of my recent memory.
My eye was drawn to the fact that Cheslea centre back Ricardo Carvalho had gone undrafted. And for good reason I may add. I, like everyone else in the room, was well aware he was off to Real Madrid to link up with his master Jose Mourinho.
“But what if it doesn’t go through?!”, the evil gambling monkey whispered in my ear.
With the Staropramen rendering me incapable of dismissing this, I caved in and took the wild gamble.
After all, all I was losing was one of my two (precious) transfers which I could make throughout the season. And with Boselli undrafted, I could just pop him straight in the side and all would still be well.
So I went straight in for it. ”Ricardo Carvalho” I announced to the room, amidst a number of sniggers and snorts.
Within 30 seconds I knew it was a terrible shout. Calls of “Who just made that selection?”" and the subsequent cries of disbelief from people when they were informed were a bad sign.
Flat out laugther from a number of knowledge friends was even more worrying.
Alas, the gambling monkey had got his wish and I was left to rue my decision.
And this is where things got really amusing. I woke up, a little worse for wear due to the evening having got away from itself and having ended in a local curry house, and checked the sports news on my iPhone.
Without a word of a lie, the top headline was “Carvalho completes £6.7 million move to Madrid”.
Genius. And before I had even got to the office the next day, I had sent my email to confirm the earliest substitution in fantasy football draft history. Less than 12 hours after the draft was completed and before a ball had even been kicked!
In retrospect, it seems I got all of my years rash gambling out of my system in one night – that could turn out to be good value in the long run!
Here is the team I was left with for the season ahead:
GK – Chris Kirkland (R11 – 193th pick)
D1 – Ashley Cole (R2 – 34th pick)
D2 – Alexsander Kolarov (R4 – 72nd pick)
D3 – James Collins (R7 – 118th pick)
D4 – Ryan Nelsen (R8 – 147th pick)
D5 – Ricardo Carvalho (R10 – 185th pick)
M1 – Adam Johnson (R3 – 43rd pick)
M2 – Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (R5 – 81st pick)
M3 – Steven Ireland (R6 – 109th pick)
M4 – Lucas Leiva (R9 – 156th pick)
S1 – Carlos Tevez (R1 – 5th pick)
S2 – Mauro Boselli (Annual non injury substitution)
Not a Man United player in sight… I would love to know what price you could have got from my friends on that prior to the draft!