We are getting extremely excited as a new, fresh FPL season rolls along in just 2 weeks time! As we start to look at players more seriously in their pre-season games, we're starting to make some judgements on our team for the season. First, though, we should review our team strategy again so we have something to work with when making player picks.
Last season we brought you the Pre Season Guide, in it we talked about solid strategy when it comes to building your team and how to make good decisions to give your team good value. If you want access to a Pre Season Guide this year, you can checkout the one we teamed up with Fantasy Football Fix on and get 25% off too.
To quickly recap though, we split players into 4 categories:
Value – represents good value for money player
Solid – will return a balance of high points and value for your team
Breakout – an exciting player who could make a mockery of his price tag and have a ‘breakout’ fantasy season
Elite – candidate to finish the season amongst the very highest scoring players in the game (nominally 200+ points)
We have to stress that these classifications are not intended to be restrictive, but provide a framework on how to think about the make up of your team and where each player fits into the overall plan through the season.
The classifications (player types) are very strongly based on the players' prices, where as the player ratings are based on potential at that price. Elite players stretch your budget and you really should expect (nay, demand!) a lot from them for the money you are paying. There’s nothing more underwhelming than a FPL team carrying 2 or 3 expensive and underperforming elite players.
Successful Team Structure
Our research has shown that a balance of a team as shown in the above image has been very successful in Fantasy Premier League over the last few seasons. It's by no means a hard and fast rule, but in general, the top ranked managers, as well as our end-of-season retrospectives, have always been consistent with this.
In general, a successful team will have 3 or 4 very high scoring players. Typically, at least one of these players is the league’s eventual top scorer (e.g. Aguero/Sanchez from 14/15 season) and main captain throughout the season.
A successful front three is regularly complemented by what we have called solid players – players like Hazard, Pellé and Eriksen last season. There is also opportunity here for breakout forwards. Kane definitely fits this bil from the 14/15 season!
Your elite contingent is rounded off by 1 or 2 very high scoring midfielders. The demand on these players is less important, they are not typically your captain option so you can probably get away with ‘the next best’ players if you miss on the very top ones for some reason.
Winning midfields have not typically been a place for under-performing elite midfielders or £7-8M players. In short, we don’t believe they offer anything. No budget value, no explosive potential. Instead, successful FPL teams have had 1 or 2 midpriced breakout players in their midfields (e.g. Henderson, Chadli, Siggurdsson).
The defences of successful teams seem to invariably feature 2 high-priced players from the top defensive teams in the division; even if these are amongst the most expensive you can buy. The trick is to get the player £0.5-1M cheaper than his teammates/peers but with an equal points potential. Value defenders always prove their worth too. 1 or 2 of the better ones provide a good basis for your team and free up cash elsewhere, but as with most of the non-elite player options, the points difference between the very best value players and those on the next rung down is not so great that you cannot overcome missing out.
Students of Game Theory will tell you that fantasy football is a Non-Zero-Sum game. There is not a finite amount of points available, nor a definite winner and loser, as in a game of chess, for example. As such, there can be no single 'optimal' strategy or recipe for success. However, the team shape we’ve outlined here is based on research of successful teams over several seasons - we wouldn’t be advocating otherwise! In the very least it provides a framework for you to build your team around as well as evaluate your individual players or even sections of your team in their respective 'pigeon-holes' throughout the season.
In short, it’s all about the elite, top-scoring players. A 250 point forward and de facto captain pick (i.e. 500pts) can score you 20% of the points you'd need to win the game. Two or three of these players plus an astute share of the captaincy could well net you over 1000 points. Back this up with some no-nonsense solid and value options, plus a sprinkling of breakout players here and there, and you will be well on your way to mini-league glory!
We will follow up this article with some picks of players for the upcoming 2015/16 season in each category.