Disclaimer: The following piece summarizes my first two FPL seasons. I believe these points are still relevant to anyone that plays now.
I am addicted to the Sun Dream Team which I have been playing since 2004 (1 x Top 1k & 2 x Top 3k). There are a lot of harsh lessons that I want to share from my time playing FPL.
Previous season’s Overall Rank (OR)
1. Select a playing bench
From my first drafts in each of the last two seasons, it was all or nothing on the first 11. I never considered rotating based on fixtures, as I was naïve enough to think everyone will start in my team.
With my previous experience of different fantasy football games (only picking eleven players), this was a brutal initiation to FPL, which gave me a mountain to climb very early.
2. Be patient with premium assets
A constant error I have made is switching premiums too often. I must have yo-yoed every week on Salah, Mane, Sterling to a point of dizziness. It wasted transfers; I took needless hits, and I eventually stopped making sideways moves and planned efficiently around my premiums.
3. Minimise hits
I calculated making 14 hits last season, 10 of those hits in the first 6 months. The changes themselves were wasteful when you look at net gain and mostly stemmed from the former point of switching between premiums.
4. Don’t rage Wildcard (WC)
I rage used my first WC in GW3 (2019-20) which I am embarrassed about. I was so keen to jump on Sterling and KDB that I picked a potentially worse squad with my WC than the one I was replacing.
5. No Goalkeeper from a “top team”
I only really realised the power of the budget keeper in February 2020. Save points are a great aspect and selling Pope (as many of us did during his run of tough FDR fixtures) was such an error of judgement as he plays for a defensive team and is a great shot-stopper (similarly Henderson for Sheffield United last season).
6. Promoted team assets
Pukki was a player I watched in Norwich’s promotion in 2018/19, yet I cowered to bring him in last season. This proved a bad move, especially with his early-season form. However, with the likes of Mitrovic, Bamford and Watkins being in the league, I did not hesitate to own each at different points last season.
7. Do NOT play “Pep Roulette”
I, like many FPL players, try to outthink Pep regarding team selections. Going into the final 5 games of last season, all the data suggested Mahrez would start at least 3 games (based on his involvement in the UCL). However, he was either benched or completely dropped from the squad, meaning a premium option was unavailable to my team.
My advice would be to wait how the season initially shapes regarding Pep’s selections and also look out for possible injuries (and who those potential replacements will be). The only Man City assets I am comfortable selecting are Ederson, Dias and De Bruyne.
8. Do not Freehit (FH) just because it’s a double
I think 2019/20 season’s FH was wasted on the lockdown return GW as we didn’t have sufficient data at the time. I got 93 points, but I really should have held as the haul opportunities would have borne more fruit in future Gameweeks.
9. Do not rage transfer
Listen, I understand the temptation to rage transfer a player after a poor performance. However, I feel this “trigger finger” behaviour can be very detrimental and cause more long-term damage to your team.
Despite it being difficult, I sleep on it and if I still have the same feelings the next day – then I make the move accordingly with a much more logical mindset.
10. Talk to the community
What has really made me climb and play smarter is talking to the FPL community – it has been most enjoyable, and the banter is highly entertaining.
11. Enjoy the game
As obvious as this may seem, FPL is ultimately a game. I spend countless hours on videos, written pieces or just messing around with my team. However, I compartmentalise this into a “hobby” rather than a way of life.
FPL must be put into perspective when analysing our day-to-day lives in work and family.