Fantasy Premier League (FPL) has become more than just a football game these days. You may consider it as part of the daily routine of millions of aspiring managers.
Consistency is key to this game and to finish inside the Top 100k, there are multiple aspects you have to master.
Keep yourself up-to-date with the latest football news and use this information to plan for future gameweeks. You can’t select the best fantasy team without knowing what is going on inside the actual teams. Watching games, reading football news and researching the match statistics that precede the fantasy points are a must. While it’s definitely true that you can fluke a few good gameweeks by playing the game ‘casually’, consistency is important in the long run, and this will come from careful planning and preparation.
One of the most important things to consider is having a good foundation of FPL knowledge – the philosophy of fantasy football. The managers that consistently finish inside the Top 100k, or even the Top 10k, don’t find themselves in that position by accident but through planning, dedication and having a deep understanding of the general rules and tips that we’re about to explore.
1. Dividing Your Budget
You need to consider how much you are spending on each position: goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards. You also need to be aware of how much money you are investing in your starting line-up and how much you have tied up in your bench players. It’s usually not a good idea to have your bench filled with expensive players who aren’t earning you points. However, if you plan on rotating players, you will most likely have to spend more on your bench than if you plan on keeping the same 11 players each week.
The most common tactic is to spend the bulk of your budget on your 7 starting, attacking players. This could mean 5 midfielders and 2 strikers or 4 midfielders and 3 strikers, but you definitely want some reliable ‘big hitters’ in there. Again, you may decide to choose a non-playing, cheap option for the 8th attacking player or, alternatively, you could have 6 fairly strong attacking players and 2 weaker ones with fixtures that rotate well.
2. Choosing Your Formation
For most FPL managers, an attacking 7 is vital, and so they are forced to play 3 defenders for most of the gameweeks. But, given that defenders tend to depend heavily on clean sheets for points, this is an ideal strategy, because clean sheets are often harder to predict than reliable goal scorers.
Another tactic to consider is whether you will make use of your full squad by rotating certain cheaper players, or whether you’ll stick to putting out more or less the same starting XI every week, with your bench being occupied by non-starters or super cheap, risky players that you don’t see yourself ever using. Both are valid strategies and you may decide to experiment with both throughout the season, although it is desirable to have bench cover available during the hectic stages of a season, for example, the festive period when fixtures come thick and fast.
4. Must-Have Players
A core player (‘set and forget’) is someone you plan on keeping for the majority of, if not all, the season. These can sometimes be chosen at the start of the season, if you have a good idea of how a particular player will perform, based on the previous season. However, mostly you stumble upon these a few weeks in.
Halfway into a season, certain players within your team will have risen by so much that selling them would mean losing a lot of value and you being unlikely to afford to bring that player back in the future. These are your core players. As an example, let’s say I purchased Bruno Fernandes at 10.5 million. If his current price has increased to 11.6 million, you would actually sell this player for 11.0 million. The way the profit works in FPL is that the increase in player value is divided by two and then rounded down. If you were to sell him at 11 million and then want to purchase him back, you would then have to purchase him at the current price which would be a loss of 0.5 million in your squad.
5. Importance of Fixtures
Most top FPL managers pay close attention to fixtures. Whilst everyone knows how important form is, a great number of people don’t plan very far ahead when it comes to fixtures.
A player’s upcoming fixtures are very important to consider because, for example, when teams face equally talented opponents, they tend to play more defensive and reserved. This will usually mean that an attacking player will get fewer chances to score, and it, therefore, might be a good idea to bench him in favour of a player who is facing an easier opponent.
Fixtures are also important when you are looking at rotating your squad. If you have a couple of budget defenders, you need to make sure that their upcoming fixtures alternate well so that for each gameweek, one out of the two of them has a fairly good fixture.
For more detailed guidance and advice on FPL, check out FPL Obsessed: Tips for Success in Fantasy Premier League by our contributor, Matt Whelan. The book covers all the important aspects of FPL from pre-season planning to navigating the gameweeks, as well as the different playing styles and psychological aspects of the game.