Masterclass: How to Make the Most of the Salary Cap If you want to be a successful DFS manager, you will need to learn how to use the salary cap. The guys at DraftKings and FanDuel are clever souls. They want to make picking a winning line up as challenging as possible. At the end of the day, if we had an unlimited amount to spend on our teams, then where would the fun be in that? Setting up Premier League Lineups. Here are some tips to understanding where and when you should be investing in different areas of your line up to stay under the salary cap: #1 – Finders Keepers What is great about the daily fantasy points scoring system is that goalkeepers take on extra importance. Here it’s not simply a case of hoping for a clean sheet or minimal goals conceded. With the addition of points from shots saved and a tiered clean sheet system (keepers get five, defenders three), clearly a decent shot stopper should be high on your shopping list. Petr Cech ist still one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League. Obviously, clean sheets are the key metric when considering goalkeeping options. If your chosen net-tender can go without conceding – and brings a couple of saves into the bargain – then you are looking at an 11 plus point game, very handy in helping you to climb the standings in your contests. As such, you need to draft a reliable goalkeeper. #2 – In Defence of the Defence By their very nature, defenders are the lowest scoring category in fantasy daily football – indeed, only one (Hector Bellerin of Arsenal) was featured in the top ten point scoring players last season. The reasons for this are simple; they score just three points compared to a goalkeeper’s five for a clean sheet, and they very rarely score/assist goals at the other end of the pitch. For many fantasy managers, defenders remain the party poopers. Leighton Jones in Action. But, the unique scoring system of daily fantasy sports means they take on added importance here. Points accrued for crosses (very handy for attacking full backs), passes intercepted, and tackles won mean that within DFS your defenders can become reliable points-scorers and the backbone of your line up, if you will. So don’t leave your defensive picks to the end like the freaks and geeks in the playground; ensure they play a prominent part in your strategy. #3 – Midfield Magic According to one fantasy football provider in the UK, players categorised as midfielders accounted for 11 of the top 20 highest point scorers in the 2015/16 season – that’s 55%. So by that logic, your midfield is the most important section of your line up. Clearly the more attack-minded midfielders offered more than their more defensive counterparts. Riyad Mahrez, Mesut Ozil, and Dimitri Payet all appeared in the top ten in 2015/16. So, those who score/assist goals are highly valued in daily fantasy sports. Riyad Mahrez was the best Premier League in 2015/16. As a consequence, managers should perhaps be investing a healthy slice of their salary allowance on their midfield three. #4 – Goals, Goals, Goals You probably didn’t need us to tell you this, but those consistent goalscorers are like gold dust for daily fantasy managers. Take the 2015/16 season: all five of the English Premier League’s top scorers – Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Sergio Aguero, Romelu Lukaku, and Riyad Mahrez – were also featured in the top six point-scorers in fantasy football (only Mesut Ozil gate-crashed the party thanks to his exceptional assist stats). So when it comes to selecting your line ups, finding those goal-minded strikers that are able to take advantage in each particular gameweek should be your first priority. #5 – Balance is the Key for the Salary Cap Of course, if no salary cap was in place then managers could pick all of the ‘big hitters’, sit back with a margarita and wait for the prize money to roll in. But daily fantasy sports isn’t as simple as that. The challenge of finding the right balance in your line up is the fun part. Besides picking the right players at the right time, you need to find those little golden nuggets hidden away in the dirt: the Gylfi Sigurdssons, the Sadio Manes, the Odion Ighalos – basically those guys who are completely undervalued by the salary system. Here is a breakdown of how many of the top 20 scoring players each team had in their squad: 4 – Arsenal (2nd), Tottenham (3rd) 2 – Leicester City (1st), Everton (11th), Swansea (12th), Watford (13th) 1 – Manchester City (4th), West Ham (7th), Stoke (9th), Sunderland (17th) The conclusion? The so-called lesser teams are just as capable of producing fantasy football heroes as the big names. Don’t be afraid to give them a second look in your line ups – especially if you want to stay under the salary cap.