You might think that Fantasy Premier League is an intimidating closed community with its own confusing lingo and football-obsessed fanatics, though it is more accessible and rewarding than you might think. If you’re bringing up the rear in the leagues you reluctantly joined, this time-saving guide should help see your rank climb and allow you to wow your friends or colleagues without it taking over your life. Though this article relates specifically to FPL, the advice is broadly applicable to all Fantasy Football platforms.
Nail the basics
The most fundamental thing to do before starting FPL is establishing a very basic understanding of the ongoings in the Premier League, so download apps such as Sky Sports Scores, BBC Sport or OneFootball to give you access to league tables, top scorers, and upcoming fixtures. Though football is a famously unpredictable sport, you will want to recruit assets (players) from the high-performing clubs and steer clear of relegation candidates. Fantasy Premier League is a different beast with its own specific rules, so get familiar with them under the ‘Help & Rules’ section to get a firm grasp on how to score points and avoid rookie errors.
Strategy, strategy, strategy!
If you’re struggling so far this season you should be looking to use your first wildcard if you haven’t already. The wildcard – which you get two of each season, the second becoming active around the halfway point – enables you to revamp your entire team and start afresh if things aren’t going to plan. However, whilst we all want to load our teams with premium players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Kevin De Bruyne and Trent Alexander-Arnold, with only £100m in the bank you are limited in who you can buy. Therefore, you will have to strategically consider cost-effective players that will populate both a strong starting XI and a deep bench to rotate when necessary.
It is a long season, so when choosing your squad you must think long-term and plan meticulously since every decision will have a knock-on effect later down the line. Therefore, it is recommended that you play around with draft teams before committing to your wildcard.
To visualise this, the Fixture Difficulty Rating tool on the FPL app and website is essential as it colour coordinates upcoming fixtures according to their difficulty. Whilst not a perfect science, it prevents purchasing players from ‘smaller clubs’ with a difficult run of games. Online tools such as livefpl.net allow you to see how your team is looking in upcoming Game Weeks and helps to formulate a transfer strategy; factoring in how much money you will have remaining according to the transfers you make. Bear in mind, however, that players prices will rise and fall according to form and popularity, so stay alert through the official FPL page on Twitter.
Stay up to date
It is important to keep track of recent trends and seek out in-form players, so having an occasional watch of Match of the Day or highlights on YouTube will allow you to see how players are performing. YouTube in general is a great place to turn, with various FPL-dedicated channels pumping out interactive live streams and regular videos with regards to who you should watch out for and who to captain. These seasoned players of the game also provide general tips regarding what tactical approach is desirable based on current trends, for example there are currently many attacking defenders who are outscoring most strikers, so playing a four at the back formation is considered a wise approach at the moment.
Whilst it is sometimes necessary to jump on certain bandwagons, do not fall into the trap of creating a ‘template’ team as it will reduce the likelihood of pushing ahead of your rivals. World-class players such as Mohamed Salah are considered absolutely essential, though in general you can be brave and seek out differentials (players that are less than 10% owned) to stand out from the crowd. Regardless of what approach you take, though, you will need players who are considered nailed (guaranteed regular game time), so keep an eye on their form, fixture schedule and competition to avoid disappointment.
On a more basic level, keeping abreast of injury news is important for the same reason. If players are a doubt, they will be flagged with a colour according to the seriousness of their injury, with a percentage relating to how likely they are to play. Twitter, namely Fantasy Football Scout, is unrivalled in posting the latest injury and suspension news from press conferences.
Beyond injury, be strategic and factor in other considerations such as players returning from international duty, who is on set pieces (penalties, free kicks, and corners), or more psychological changes such as the ‘new manager bounce’ (where a team’s form directly improves after appointing a new boss).
Don’t forget the bench
When someone doesn’t play, your bench players will come on in their place, so make sure you have solid enough options to deputise. There is nothing more despairing than having a double-digit score rotting at the back of the subs bench, so make sure to place them in order (first, second, third) of how likely they are to score well just in case they do come on.
One of your chips is the bench boost, which you can activate once a season. As with all of your chips, make sure to deploy this wisely. It is advised that you activate the bench boost when you have a very strong bench against favourable opposition, but especially during what is known as a double Game Week (when, during a congested period, teams will be afforded two fixtures for the price of one in a single Game Week). These usually occur later in the season, so keep an eye out and plan accordingly to make your team as strong as possible.
When a player you don’t own performs well there is always the temptation to immediately sign them for our team, though be sure to avoid rage transfers and impulsive decisions. Stay true to your transfer strategy, weigh up whether that player can sustain their form and have belief in the process, as your success will ebb and flow. If you majorly fall down the rankings, put it to the back of your mind and move on to the next week. Remember, FPL is a marathon not a sprint.
Unless there is a pressing transfer to be made due to a potential price rise, always wait right up until to the deadline to get a full amount of information and even some leaked team news if you’re lucky. If your squad is in good shape and there are no fires to put out, some weeks it is best to roll a transfer (not make one), so you have your maximum of two free transfers going into the following Game Week. Only take a hit (minus points for additional transfers) if you really have to!
Ultimately you are limited in how many players you have, so plan wisely, keep a cool head and trust your gut feeling if all fails. Statistics will help guide decisions but challenging and pivotal moves are required each week to get ahead, so your convictions will occasionally be more instinctual than they are data driven. Whilst being risk-averse is a sensible strategy in general, you also have a gut for a reason.
Remember the deadline!
Finally, remember the deadline each week, as all too often the casual player will forget to do basic maintenance on their teams. This is incredibly costly, so set a reminder on your phone each week (two hours before the first kick off of the Game Week) and do some basic tinkering if nothing else. Staying consistent is, ultimately, key if you want to stay ahead of the game and catch your peers out.
Overall, FPL can be frustrating but is highly rewarding and a great way to stay in contact with friends. Hopefully this guide has offered some useful insight as you go forth in your Fantasy Football adventures and supplied you with some key phrases, just try not to get too hooked!
Matt is a content creator and editor who enjoys all things sport, writing, gaming and the theatre.