Fantasy Premier League has grown to massive proportions in recent years, with over seven million people from all over the world playing the ever popular game.
It’s also an extremely competitive game too, however, and it takes football knowledge, strategy, and pure luck to excel at it. So we’ve put together some useful advice to help you get ahead and beat your mates in the mini-league you’ve got going with each other.
15 tips to help you succeed at Fantasy Premier League:
1. Don’t pick a ‘balanced’ side
You’re not a real manager, you’re not sending a squad out to win on the weekend. You’re looking to accumulate as many points as possible, so it’s imperative that you select the most effective players to that end.
Avoid defensive midfielders such as N’Golo Kante or hard-working forwards like Roberto Firmino who, while excellent in their own right, don’t bring in a lot of returns. Focus on the players who are most likely to get points via goals, assists, clean sheets and, in the case of goalkeepers, saves.
2. Pick players who are certain to start
This may sound obvious, but you want a starting XI that is going to be as nailed on as possible to start each and every game. Too many FPL managers pick players in the hope that they will get minutes rather than know they are a certainty.
This is what makes Manchester City assets so frustrating; the Pep Roulette ensures that we will all be burned at some point or another for owning one or more of their brilliant footballers. But in general it is wise to make sure a player is more than likely going to start before adding them to your team.
3. Don’t leave too much value on your bench
These players are on your bench for a reason; you don’t think they’re good enough for your team. So why pump a significant amount of your budget into them?
As touched upon in the previous point, rotation is always a concern, but there is no point having valuable assets on the bench as a contingency. Fill the bench with budget fodder – so long as they are likely to play – to make your starting XI as strong as possible.
“Early on to begin with, I don’t think the bench plays a huge part because the rotation is at its minimum,” FPL expert and Fantasy Football Hub contributor Abubakar Siddiq explained in episode one of The Fantasy Faithful podcast.
“But when the season progresses, and maybe when I’m playing my wildcard, I’ll have a stronger bench. Early on it’s better to invest in the first eleven, because it allows you flexibility to change players.”
4. Don’t make too many wild punts
It’s not rocket science: proven stars like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mo Salah are going to get you points. But everyone is going to own them, so owning differentials (footballers with a low ownership but have a good chance of returning points) is essential if you are to do well at FPL.
There is a difference, however, between picking a smart difference maker and an absolutely wild gamble. Do more of the former and less of the latter.
5. Plan ahead by looking at future fixtures
Although the Premier League can be an unpredictable league, planning ahead is essential in FPL. Look at which teams have the best fixtures over the next month or so to get an idea of which players you want to focus on. This will help you make smarter transfer decisions over the long-term, rather than reacting to the most recent happenings in the league.
Fantasy Football Hub’s fixture ticker can help you determine which club has the best or worst fixtures over a selected period of time based on how difficult or easy their upcoming opponents are. This is a vital tool, as no one wants to buy a player who is facing down the barrel of a tough run of fixtures.
Of course, you don’t need to stick to a plan based on fixtures too rigidly. Circumstances change quickly and you need to be flexible in order to maximise your points potential. We also recommend rotating your cheap defenders based on fixtures.
6. Make your transfers later in the week
Knee jerk reactions to beat the bandwagon and accrue team value are all too frequent in FPL, and while it pays off every now and again, it’s worth holding off and waiting as long as possible to make that transfer.
You want to collect as much information as possible before hitting that transfer button, looking at the data and numbers before making a final decision. A player might also pick up an injury in the meantime or play a midweek match in the cup or Europe that makes them more likely to be rotated at the weekend.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a player scoring and appearing like a must-have option, but it’s not always the case – just look at Daniel James’ scorching start to last season and how that worked out.
“It’s funny to see people jumping on every bandwagon there is. Every person who scores in gameweek one is going to be a popular transfer in for gameweek two,” Siddiq told The Fantasy Faithful in the second episode of the podcast.
7. Minimise the amount of hits you take over a season
It’s always tempting to make multiple transfers in a single week, even if it means taking a four-point hit. Doing so can be justified every once in a while, but some managers go mad and will take eight or twelve point hits to get in the players they want.
Aside from scrubbing out those valuable points, it rarely pays off. In fact, it often feels like it backfires massively, and the player you transferred out ends up returning points. Unless it’s absolutely necessary and you have factored in the long-term viability of the players you’re bringing in, then it’s not worthwhile.
8. Use your transfer to get rid of your worst player
This might seem obvious when read aloud, but it’s very rarely adhered to. Making sideways moves, such as moving from one premium player to another or from one decent player to a slightly better one, often only bring marginal gains.
The difference in points can be marginal, but by removing your worst player from the team, you can enjoy a win-win situation. Not only can you unburden yourself of a useless squad member, you potentially improve the overall strength of the team. And even if they don’t make big returns, it’s not big a deal.
By implementing this quite simple strategy, you can incrementally improve your team over a period of time and reap the rewards as the season goes on.
9. Keep an eye on price changes
Earlier we advised you to wait as long as possible to make your weekly transfer, but you also need to balance that with watching out for price changes. There is no point in waiting all week to make a move when you could potentially miss out on affording them when their price changes.
If you know for sure that you are going to buy a particular player, then do so before their price changes. The same goes for selling players before their price drops. On the flip side, we don’t recommend making transfers purely on the basis that a player’s price is changing or to increase your team value.
10. Don’t spend big on your goalkeeper
Having a quality goalkeeper is very important for your FPL team, but it’s not splashing the cash on an expensive goalkeeper. Buying a premium goalie will undoubtedly bring you points, but it takes up one of the three valuable spots of a quality team and the extra money is better spent elsewhere.
You want to look for the best value possible when looking for a shot stopper. Last season, for instance, Nick Pope and Dean Henderson were the highest-scoring goalkeepers in FPL, but only cost £4.5m. We recommend spending no more than £5.0m on a ‘keeper when constructing your team.
11. Don’t be too clever when picking a captain
There is sometimes the temptation to take a chance when it comes to captaincy and make a leftfield pick. After all, high risk, high reward, right?
The truth is this is a dangerous strategy that will leave you with egg on your face more often than not. Sure, Michail Antonio scored four against Norwich City last year, and a few lucky managers captained him that fateful weekend, but instances such as those are few and far between.
You are far better off captaining those premium assets who are taking up such a huge part of your budget. There’s a reason why Salah, Kevin De Bruyne and Sadio Mané are so expensive – so you might as well give them the armband, especially when they’re on form. Otherwise, what are they doing in your team?
Who should you captain this weekend?@TheNoveltyAct and @FFH_Will look at the best options out there – but really there's only two up for serious consideration.#FPL #FPLCommunity pic.twitter.com/RPqJeYsu37
— Football Faithful (@FootyFaithful_) September 9, 2020
12. Use stats to plug gaps
Watching football with your own eyes is better than viewing it through a spreadsheet, but as an FPL manager, it is essential that you use statistics to supplement your knowledge of the game. After all, you can only watch so much football and your eyes can deceive you.
If a player passes the ‘eye test’, then it does no harm to check the underlying numbers to confirm if you’re really on to something. It used to be quite difficult to find publicly available football data, but now there are a whole host of excellent websites offering the best of data for free.
Fantasy Football Hub provide all of the Opta data for managers to sift through, and even have filters so that you can look up specific stats by team, position, minutes played and so on.
Siddiq suggests looking at stats such as big chances, shots inside the box and expected goals. “I like the eye test to be backed up by data and numbers”, Siddiq told The Fantasy Faithful. “Once that happens then I know this is the pick I have to go for.”
13. Keep an eye on the news
It’s always important to do your research before making transfers, picking your team and deciding who is your captain. Make sure you are aware of who is injured or suspended for the coming gameweek. Pay attention to the pre-match press conferences, which typically take place one day prior to kick-off.
14. Save your chips
If the first few gameweeks go badly, the allure of using your chips (wildcard, free hit, bench boost and triple captain) early doors grows to an enormous degree. It’s an easy fix to a temporary problem, but you have to keep in mind that there are 38 gameweeks to play this game.
You should save your chips for those gameweeks where teams play twice or don’t play at all. The double gameweeks are particularly fruitful for those who use their chips wisely, so don’t waste them early doors.
15. Don’t live in the past
It’s extremely easy to get down after a bad gameweek or bask in the reflected glory of a really good one, but either way don’t get hung up on what happened last week. Ultimately, it’s in the past now and you need to look forward.
This doesn’t just count from a mentality standpoint, but also from a player performance one too. If Kurt Zouma scores a hat trick this weekend, is he likely to repeat that feat the week after? Or indeed ever again? Just by looking at his history, you would quickly come to the conclusion: of course not.
So don’t get distracted by the shiny new toy and instead focus on those most likely to perform consistently heading into the future.
Join our fantasy league: qcey3l