Eleven things you HAVE to read before picking your Fantasy Football team
You said you wouldn’t bother this year. It’s too much effort to keep on top of. Yet here you are, spending hours on end tinkering with your Fantasy Football team for the new season.
The best of intentions at the start of a season to stay on top of transfers and substitutions throughout the campaign have almost always been forgotten by October, and come May you’re absolutely adamant you won’t bother next time.
But then the transfer market kicks into action, and before you know it you’re scouring the squads of the newly-promoted teams for the best-value bench fillers. So, while your intentions are still good, you might as well read these 11 tips…
(1) Rotate your goalkeepers and defenders
It’s common for Fantasy players to pick a starting goalkeeper from one of the big clubs and the cheapest back-up possible to keep on the bench. Don’t do it.
Instead, pick two £4.5m/£5m goalkeepers to rotate, depending on who and where they’re playing. At home to a struggling team? Get him in. Away at Manchester City? Put him on the bench.
By doing this, you should give yourself more chances of clean sheet bonuses across the season. Even the top clubs have plenty of games against their rivals where you wouldn’t necessarily back them to keep a clean sheet, but if you choose the right two keepers from bottom half or mid-table sides, you’ll almost always go into a weekend fancying at least one of them to keep things on lockdown.
All of the above also applies to defenders. You’re going to need some cheaper squad fillers, but rather than filling your bench with duds, spend on two or three cheap defenders you can rotate to maximise your chances of 6+ point hauls.
If you’re really keen, look into every club’s fixture lists to find the best rotation options – there are plenty of FPL Fixture Difficulty sites out there.
Ideally, you want to pick from two clubs that are at home on different weekends and don’t play too many tough fixtures at the same time.
(2) Don’t pick your backline from seven different clubs
Another common practice is to choose your two goalkeepers and five defenders from seven different clubs, on the basis that you’re increasing your chances of at least one clean sheet bonus.
However, by doing that you’re also reducing your chances of really big scores, given it’s unlikely all your picks’ clubs are going to keep out the opponents on the same weekend.
Instead, consider picking a couple of your backline from the same (defensively strong) teams, meaning you’re relying on fewer of them to chalk up some 0s.
(3) Spend your money in defence
Many people pack their defences with several cheap options in order to afford more expensive midfielders and forwards, but the right defender in the £5m/£5.5m range will accumulate far more points than a midfielder of the same value.
Trent Alexander-Arnold was the top-scoring defender in FPL in 2019-20, finishing with 210 points. The top-scoring midfielder in the same price range was £7m Jack Grealish, who scored 61 (sixty-one!) points fewer with 149. Andy Robertson (181 points, £7m), Virgil van Dijk (178 points, £6.5m) and Matt Doherty (167 points, £6m) all got more than that.
Generally, spending an extra million on a defender as opposed to a midfielder will get you far more value.
(4) Consider incorrectly listed players
Any player used in a more forward position than that listed by FPL is worth considering. It’s what makes Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang a must-pick – he’s scored 22 goals in each of his two full seasons in the Premier League yet has been changed from a striker to a midfielder.
This also applies to Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood, who are both listed as midfielders these season but will play as part of a front three. There’s a big difference between Rashford and Nemanja Matic, but in FPL terms, they’re the same.
Also, to reinforce the above point about the value of defenders, look for teams who are likely to play with wing-backs. It’s what made Marcos Alonso everyone’s top choice for so long.
(5) Pick your marquee signings carefully
Often, Fantasy leagues are decided by who’s picked the right big-money signings. There are generally a handful of players that everyone chooses (Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah, Kevin De Bruyne etc), but you need to be absolutely sure they’re going to hit the ground running.
That’s even more important this year with a reduced pre-season. Harry Kane, for example, doesn’t look fully match sharp yet.
And then there are the Manchester clubs, neither of whom have fixtures in GW1. Can you really afford to have £12m Raheem Sterling or £10.5m Bruno Fernandes on the bench?
The best Fantasy players are those brave enough to avoid following what the crowd is doing – and, of course, make the right differential pick so think long and hard about who you spend your big money on – and don’t be afraid to change things early on. Even your wildcard might come into play if you’re desperate.
(6) Don’t be blinded by a player’s club
Another common mistake is to select as many players as possible from the big-six clubs, on the basis that they win more games, score more goals and get more clean sheets.
The reasoning is sound, but the big six clubs also rotate a lot more. Also, think long and hard about signing a top club’s holding midfielder when an extra £0.5-1m could get you one of the mid-level club’s chief creative threat.
(7) Know your set-piece takers
When shopping for these bargains from the smaller clubs, it’s worth checking who’s been taking set-pieces and penalties in pre-season.
It’s why Luka Milivojevic became a must-pick for everyone a couple of years back. And if Manchester United carry on winning the penalties at the rate they were last season, it’d be madness not to have Fernandes in your team.
But it’s worth doing your research to find out who’s been taking corners for the various teams down the table during pre-season.
(8) Be wary of new signings
It can be tempting to get over-excited about players brought in from abroad, but remember there is often a settling-in period involved for overseas signings.
There’s no harm in giving it a few weeks to see how Timo Werner settles at Chelsea for example. A bad start can see you lose interest straight away so you want to make sure your strikers are going to hit the ground running.
(9) Pick players that actually play
It sounds obvious, but lots of Fantasy players fill their benches with the cheapest possible players that rarely get games, holding midfielders that are unlikely to get goal or assist bonuses, and defenders they have no intention of ever rotating in.
If you’ve followed all of the above tips, every member of your squad will be an asset, but just as a reminder: don’t ever waste money on players that aren’t going to guarantee you at least the two points for playing 60 minutes each week.
(10) Do your research
This is more of a reiteration of everything that’s already been said, but it really is worth doing some research unless you want your Fantasy aspirations to be over by September.
Know who’s been playing regularly in pre-season, who’s been struggling with injury, who’s looked off the pace and which youngsters have broken into the first-team squad.
Be aware of players with poor disciplinary records. Know who’s playing where. And most of all, don’t pick players based purely on reputation or their points from last season, or you could get your fingers burnt.
(11) Make changes
This is perhaps the hardest one to stick to, but to stand any chance of succeeding at Fantasy Football you really do need to invest some time before each gameweek to make sure you rotate players depending on their opponents, transfer out players that are injured or out of form, and get hold of any players that have hit a purple patch before their values skyrocket too much.
Remember folks, Fantasy Football isn’t just for
August September, it’s for life.