Editor’s note: Today’s Fantasy Premier League feature marks the debut of a brand-new weekly feature on World Soccer Talk — Fantasy Premier League Strategist — written by FPL expert Steve Rothgeb where he offers several inside tips to help you increase your FPL point score each week.
Don’t forget there’s still plenty of time to pick your team for this season’s Fantasy Premier League game, which is free to play. As we do every year, we’ve created a private league version that you can join so you can compete against the readers of World Soccer Talk. Find out how to join our private league today.
The Fantasy Premier League game continues to grow in popularity with each new season. And with each new season comes a wave of new managers ready to give the game a try. This weekly column will be dedicated to analyzing the many different strategies to consider throughout the season. For this first column, it’ll be more focused on beginners or those FPL players who need a refresher on what to consider when building your FPL squad.
Here are my 8 tips:
1.) Budget – You have £100 million to spend on 2 keepers, 5 defenders, 5 midfielders and 3 strikers. The general philosophy is to budget where you can in defense in order to invest in more dynamic players in attack. There is no reason to have two keepers who cost more than £5 million each. Either pick a nailed-on option from a top club who will never be rested along with a £4 million keeper you will never start. Or find a pair of cheap keepers whose schedule rotates well with each other. There is no reason to spend more than £10.5 million on keepers. Typically you want to spend as little as you can in defense while still fielding relevant players, investing more and more in attack.
2.) Rotation – As alluded to above, rotation is a vital strategy to this game. In your defense, out of five open spots, you want to pick 2 or 3 that look good for at least the first 6 gameweeks that will be your every week starters while in your side, and fill the final 2 to 3 slots with budget £4.5, £4.0 options. More often than not you will want to roll out a formation of 3-4-3 or 3-5-2. You must start with a minimum of 3 defenders, and that’s typically what managers will opt for as they will want as many attacking players in their XI as possible. Rotation is key because if you can find two cheap defenders, whose home/away games rotate so that one is always playing a home match, they can fill that final slot in defense.
3.) Coverage – You are allowed up to three players from any club in your squad at any given time. Sometimes it’s more important to make sure you have at least one from a top side for “coverage”. This is especially true for top clubs with an easy stretch of schedule. For this season, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Tottenham all have a relatively kind run of fixtures to begin with, with potential for higher fantasy output as compared to the fixtures of Manchester United or Chelsea. So consider making room for at least one player from the top clubs with good fixtures.
4.) Wild Card – Each manager is issued two Wild Cards for the season — one that can be used at any time, the other that can only be played for a stretch of gameweeks during the January transfer window. Many managers who score low in Gameweek 1 will kneejerk and play their wild card for Gameweek 2. Others like to hold it for the end of the summer transfer window, capitalizing on player movement and cut-rate prices. Others like to wait till the winter, when games get postponed more frequently due to weather or rescheduled matches due to Cup involvement. This causes Double Gameweeks (DGW), where you can potentially get 2 games worth of scoring from a player in one week. You could use a Wild Card to take advantage of DGWs where you could potentially field eleven players playing a total of 22 games, earning a huge points haul, then Wild Carding the following week to balance the team back to a more normal structure without penalty of points hits. (Take note: Chelsea and Aston Villa have a double gameweek in Week 1.)
5.) Taking a 4 point hit – Some are of the philosophy to never take hits unless absolutely necessary. Others will have shown to take hits on a regular basis with success. You want to see that pretty green arrow at the end of each gameweek, and you can still achieve that when taking a hit. I find that it can be advantageous to take hits in the early part of the season, to bring in players that show themselves to be essential. You want to bring players in that appear to be breaking out before their price inflates. Last year, Michu began his first season with Swansea City priced at £6.5, but it only took a few gameweeks for his price to go up a full million as he burst on the scene seemingly scoring at will. If you had him from the start, you will have pocketed £0.5 million on him and increased your team value. You want to build that team value early to be able to afford the best team possible as the season rolls along.
6.) Research – Research is absolutely crucial to staying up in the rankings. Sometimes when you need to bring in a player as soon as their game concludes, the player is is so appealing to transfer in. But if you wait until close to the following deadline, so many other managers will have brought that player in, raising his price by £0.3 million. Remember that no player can rise or drop more than £0.3 million within one gameweek. If it at all possible though, try to make your transfers as close to the deadline as possible once you’ve heard every bit of news about a player. Nothing stings more than bringing in a new player that doesn’t even feature the first week you bring him in. The fantasy landscape changes often, especially while the transfer window is open. You may reconsider investing in Oliver Giroud for example if word comes out from Arsenal that they are shopping for a new striker before the window closes. Research statistics from preseason matches to get an idea of who is in form to start the year. Find out who looks poised to be a dependable starter week in, week out. There are many expensive players in this game that cannot justify their price because they cannot be counted on for starts.
7.) Captaincy – This league is won and lost by captaincy choices. Your other 10 players could have a ho-hum gameweek, but if your captain scores 16 points (which doubles to 32), you can immediately jump back into respectability. Conversely, your other 10 can have a pretty good week, but if you get the captain wrong, while the majority of managers get it right, you can still take a dive in the rankings. The key is to always have a viable captaincy option for every gameweek. Players like Robin van Persie and Gareth Bale are so expensive, not just because they score so many points, but because they are dependable enough to be a captaincy option every single week. Otherwise, you might use a Chelsea midfielder one week, a Liverpool striker the next based on form and fixture. Always look to the week ahead. Ask yourself ‘Do I have a viable captaincy option next week?’ If the answer appears to be no, then your top priority in selecting a transfer for that upcoming week is to bring in a player you can captain with confidence.
8.) DON’T PANIC! – The slogan of the Hitchhiker’s Strategist’s Guide to Fantasy Premier League. Listen, even a veteran of this game can start the season in a rut. You did all the research, you planned ahead, you’ve got some nice rotation pairings ready to go, you’ve got a great looking team. Then, about 5 hours into the season, everything has gone wrong. Your most expensive midfielder pulls a hamstring and is off the pitch after 20 minutes. One of your defenders gets a red card or an own goal, or BOTH. Yes, it has happened. The striker you captained fails to find the net and you are left with a paltry 4 points. Unless it is a complete train wreck, save your wildcard, take a point hit if necessary and gradually reshape your team. You may find a player who did nothing the first two gameweeks suddenly pop up with a big score. You hadn’t transferred him out yet because its 3rd or 4th on your list of priorities and by the time you are ready to drop him, he has renewed your faith in him. Most of the expensive players with high ownership are just that for a reason, they are world-class players that can hit form at any given time.
Some things to consider as the Saturday deadline approaches.
May your arrows be green.