The Fantasy Premier League game isn’t just about goals, assists and clean sheets. That would be too simple. No, there’s much more to it than that, and that is what makes this game so intriguing. It is as complex and absorbing as a manager chooses to make it. This game is about prediction. No one has the superpower of predicting everything spot on. A player that has all the criteria aligned to emerge with a huge fantasy haul in a given match can pull up with a hamstring injury five minutes in. Yes, Rafael van der Vaart… I’m looking at you.
A major component in the scoring of FPL is the Bonus Point System. This aspect of the game has been modified over the years. It used to be strictly based on the perception of the human eye. Reporters were assigned to each game, and they would determine who deserved recognition, and assigned bonus points accordingly. Then, for the past couple of seasons, the Bonus Point System was altered to a system determined by a computer that would reward points based on cold hard statistics. The problem with this version of the BPS in many manager’s eyes was that it had become too goal-centric and that almost always, the points were allocated to the winning side only.
Now this season, the BPS has been modified yet again, and this time, I feel they got it right. New statistics have been added to the BPS criteria, players now get credited points for the following that go toward their Bonus Points total (along with the standard criteria):
1.) For every 3 open play crosses
2.) For every significant chance created
3.) For every 8 clearances, blocks, and interceptions (totaled)
4.) For every 8 recoveries
5.) For every 3 key passes
6.) For every 3 successful tackles when combined with unsuccessful tackles
7.) Match winning goal
8.) Pass completion success rate (at least 30 passes made)
You also have events that subtract from this bonus system:
1.) Missing a “big chance”
2.) Making an error that leads to a goal (hello Jonjo Shelvey)
3.) Every two errors that lead to an attempt on goal
4.) Being tackled 3 times
5.) Conceding 2 fouls
6.) Caught offsides 3 times
7.) Every 3 shots off target
What this new system does is level the playing field and making just about any player on the pitch eligible for bonus points, whereas in the past, these points were mainly reserved for those scoring goals or providing assists ONLY. Now, a holding midfielder and defender in general do not necessarily need to score a goal or keep a clean sheet to earn their reward. Defenders, especially center backs, do not have to be the attacking threat they once needed to be in order to ever see bonus.
Currently, after four Gameweeks of action, there are 14 FPL players that have earned 5 bonus points or more. Eight of them, over half, are defenders. The leading defender in bonus, Leighton Baines, has yet to provide a goal or an assist this season. It is because of this shift in the BPS that managers are beginning to consider 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 formations, whereas in the past, playing only 3 in the back was a given. Couple this with the fact that scoring as a whole in the Premier League is way down so far this year, and one must consider if their philosophy of the past needs to be readdressed.
My advice is as follows. This appears to be a season where midfield is the weakest link in the formation. Spend your cash on your strikers as you normally would, but instead of having 4 high priced midfielders, try replacing one with a budget option and invest more in defense. Baines, Vidic, Walker, Zabaleta, Enrique, Ivanovic… there are plenty of high priced defenders to consider. But this season, instead of having only one or perhaps two from the elite class, it may be time to roll with three of these type options, and finding a nice rotating option for your 4th and 5th defenders and give a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 a try.
May your arrows be green.
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