This article is part of our Fantasy Soccer 101 series.
If you're not a fan of the official Premier League fantasy game, there are other options and Fantrax offers one of the more popular ones.
If you're familiar with American football and Fantasy Football, then this should be easy. If not, Fantrax is much different than FPL and there is a lot to learn. The biggest hurdle is that in draft leagues like Fantrax, no two teams can have the same player. Instead of playing against yourself, you're playing against everyone else in your league.
How does it work?
I could point you to the FPL Draft how-to and say that game is similar to the one at Fantrax, but they don't use the same engines and, for me, the latter is easier and more welcoming than the former. For starters, Fantrax allows you to customize almost every element of the game.
Leagues consist of anywhere from four to 20 people, and teams can be composed of any number of players you want. Going further, scoring is however you see fit, though there are general settings that are closer to the likes of certain daily fantasy sports sites.
After you join a league (or create one), the first step is the draft, which can be done via the snake method or auction, which means every player gets a set budget to use for bidding on players. For snake drafts, if you have the first pick in the first round, you'll have to wait for the last pick in the second. Or if you have the last pick in the first round, you'll have the first pick in the second (back-to-back).
Roster sizes are also customizable, though you'll likely have spots for at least one goalkeeper, one defender, one midfielder and one forward. However, leagues often have more than that, with bench spots and reserve spots for injured players also possible.
Once rosters are set following the draft, the next step is to set your starters for the first gameweek. Making sure your lineup is set with expected starters is the main goal every week. Injuries will pop up and players you drafted may become useless, so changes will have to be made throughout the season. As long as your roster is full of projected starters every week, you at least won't get embarrassed. Trades are also something that most other fantasy soccer sites don't allow and something that intrigues people, but it isn't a requirement to take part in if you feel comfortable with your squad and the free agents available.
Otherwise, that's about it. Some leagues have playoffs at the end of the season or simply go to the team with the best win/loss record or most points. It's yet another thing that's customizable on Fantrax. While the game play isn't much different than FPL Draft, the number of options available is what makes Fantrax a tad easier to get accustomed to.
Some strategy talk
Given the customization of Fantrax, it's hard to get into strategy specifics because many league settings are different.
No matter what kind of draft you have, it's best to wait on a goalkeeper, or spend a minimal amount on one. Whether because of injury or lack of saves, there's no telling who the top goalkeepers will be. In the 2019/20 season, Alisson Becker played five fewer matches than Ederson, yet he provided similar fantasy production. There's no use in guessing who the top goalkeeper will be when you can get viable options who can rack up saves playing on lesser teams.
One would think it's same for defender, but it's a bit easier to project who the top options are ahead of the season. Usually the defenders on the best teams are near the top of the charts because of clean sheets, and ones like Trent Alexander-Arnold and Harry Maguire get another boost because they take corners or get forward on set pieces. Of course, once you move out of the top five teams or so, there isn't much value to be had.
It's a similar case in the midfield because while there's usually someone like Kevin De Bruyne or James Maddison who tower over everyone else in terms of production, the second tier of players can go 20 to 30 deep.
That being the case, the most vital position is forward, where there are a limited number of options. While Liverpool often starts three forwards in the Fantrax game, a lot of teams have only one viable fantasy option up front. Even if you need to start just one forward in your league, it's vital to get one of the top options before they are all gone. In auction leagues, it's best to dish out money on someone who is always a threat to score a goal.
Even if you miss on the big names, it's still worth it to go after a forward because if you wait too long, there's a decent chance you'll be stuck with an inconsistent option like Chris Wood or Wilfried Zaha as your No. 1. If you miss out on a top player at any other position, the difference isn't as big.
It's go time
So, are you ready? Probably not. If you've only taken part in the classic FPL game, Fantrax is a lot different because you never know what the other people in your league will do. For example, someone could be a massive Arsenal fan and overspend on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or draft Mesut Ozil way too early. While some people think they aren't biased, there's a decent chance someone in your league is going to take their fandom a tad too far because they believe this is the season their club reaches the top four after the latest addition in the off-season.
Throw in the array of stats you can use at Fantrax and there are more things to take into account instead of just goals, assists and clean sheets. That often points to midfielders who either create chances and send in crosses from the wing or add a bunch of defensive stats, which is why James Maddison and Jordan Henderson are a tad more useful at Fantrax. Never thought you'd play a fantasy game where Henderson is a viable option? Think again.