Advanced FPL guide: How to succeed in FPL

Welcome to the advanced FPL guide. It features most important ideas, tools and best practices to give you green arrows in the Fantasy Premier League game.

If you want to have success in fantasy, win your mini league, get a high Overall Rank (OR) or get to know secrets of top and successful FPL managers, this guide is for you.

If you’re just starting with the game, make sure you read beginners guide to FPL first.

How to build the FPL team

Let’s start this advanced FPL guide from the beginning, shall we?

What is the best way to build initial Fantasy Premier League team?

The official Premier fantasy football game usually opens up for registration during July. That gives you around one month of tinkering before the game actually starts, or rather the English Premier League kicks-off.

That’s good to visualize how you team looks in different drafts, formations, etc. But it is also important not to overdo it, because it could drive you crazy.

During this period, Premier league teams are preparing for the season and playing multiple friendly matches. It is really useful to keep an eye on those, read the match reports and the discussions on Twitter or Reddit FPL community.

By doing that, you can potentially have a standout FPL performer in your team from the start, giving you nice boost and a head start early in the season.

Pre season FPL trap

But it’s important to evaluate the situation well and not to fall in the trap. Managers like to mix up the team a bit in the pre-season period, give extra chances to younger players to impress.

So if somebody is showing good form in the pre-season it doesn’t mean he’s the nailed-on player right from the gate when the season starts.

Another important thing to keep an eye on is when are the proven FPL stars returning from their holidays and if they are going to be ready for the GW1.

If there are multiple high profile players that you want in your team considered unlikely to start the GW1, it makes sense to avoid them in your GW1 team and get them in with and early Wildcard. More on that later.

FPL team structure: how to use the budget

Important aspect to keep in mind when picking players in your FPL team is that you are limited with the available budget of £100.0m.

That means you can’t get each and every high profile player. You need to balance your squad and spread that budget wisely.

Table below shows the “ideal” FPL budget distribution:

Position Budget
GKP 9.0 – 10.0
DEF 23.5 – 26.0
MID 36.0 – 39.5
FWD 26.0 – 31.0

Let’s break it down a bit.

Goalkeepers – don’t overspend

You typically don’t want to spend too much on goalkeepers. Their attacking returns are extremely rare and so are the penalty saves. They tend to pick up fewer FPL points overall than outfield players, despite they generally spend more time on the pitch.

This is why they are not usually viable captain candidates, so you want to save as much budget as possible to strengthen other areas in your team.

Good example of this notion is the FPL season 2017/2018 where De Gea (Man Utd) was a highest scoring GKP with 172 points, but was massively outscored by Mo Salah (MID, Liverpool) who managed to get 303 points in 425 minutes less playing time (almost 5 full matches).

Goalkeepers get the FPL points by keeping a clean sheet (premium goalkeepers tend to get more clean sheets) and getting saves, which also can earn them bonus points (cheaper goalkeepers usually get more saves due to the higher volumes of shots they face).

Also, you can’t play both goalkeepers in the same gameweek, meaning points that benched GKP gets are wasted.

With all that in mind, we can identify 3 viable fantasy goalkeeper strategies:

Premium GK FPL strategy

Premium goalkeeper (5.5 – 6.0) + the cheapest goalkeeper (4.0) = 9.5m – 10.0m spent.

This strategy is used when you are expecting one premium GKP to outscore cheaper options, and you use him as a set and forget option.

In that case you don’t even care if your backup GKP doesn’t even play for his team, you wouldn’t use him anyway.

It is nice to have a backup though, so you might want to choose the 4.0m GKP that actually plays (unlikely), or that is at least first backup.

Good example of a premium GKP that is set and forget was either Alisson (Liverpool, 2018/19) or Ederson (Man City, 2018/19) returning 176 and 169 FPL points respectively.

If you expect a particular team to dominate the season, has a good goalkeeper and strong defense, this is a viable strategy for you.

2 budget GK rotation FPL strategy

Two rotating 4.5m goalkeepers = 9.0m spent

Second strategy is based on the idea that you can rotate two cheaper goalkeepers throughout the season, starting the one with better looking fixture.

By doing that, you can potentially get a higher overall point tally than a set and forget premium goalkeeper can do on it’s own.

Obvious downside here is that you can bench a higher scoring goalkeeper from time time, which brings a lot of frustration. If that happens more often, than the rotating strategy fails miserably.

Cheapest GK pair FPL strategy

Budget goalkeeper (4.5m) + cheapest option (4.0m) = 8.5m spent

Last but not least, we have an option to spend a least amount of budget (8.5m) and get a solid budget friendly goalkeeper that will be a set and forget option, just like the premium option.

Sure, you’ll get fewer clean sheets, but you can make up some of those lost FPL points with saves and bonus points.

The idea is that even though this goalkeeper will likely return less points than a premium GKP, you can invest additional 1.0-1.5m in the midfield or attack. That can get potentially get you much more points overall.

Bonus tip: by employing this strategy, you can try to find a 4.5m keeper that has a 4.0m backup as well.

This can protect you if the first choice GKP gets injured or suspended, you are covered and you don’t have to waste a free transfer to fix the situation.

These situations are very rare though and you shouldn’t pick your 4.5m GKP based solely on that. But still, it is possible to find such an option.

Example is Mathew Ryan (Brighton, 2019/2020) 4.5m goalkeeper that has a good backup in David Button (4.0m). And the best thing is, Button is actually pretty good himself, I would comfortably consider him if he was a first choice GKP in some other team.

All of the above strategies are proven and widely used, you just have to pick the one that looks best for you. In this advanced FPL guide I recommend the third strategy, but that can also vary from season to season, based on goalkeeper prices, available options, strength of teams, etc.

Defenders – it’s OK to save some cash

Defenders are priced similar to goalkeepers, but they offer much more attacking potential.

That’s why it makes sense to invest in one or two premium defenders priced in the region of 6.0 – 7.0m.

These are typically offensive full backs or wing backs that like to go forward and cross the ball into the box often.

Such examples are Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool offensive minded fullbacks scoring recording total of 25 assists among them in 2018/19 EPL season. Or a prolific goalscorer such as Marcos Alonso, Chelsea left back scoring total of 13 goals and 7 assists in two seasons (2016-2018).

Center backs can provide a lot of attacking value as well, but it’s harder to predict which player and when, is going to score, than having a fullback which piles up the pressure through the flank constantly.

You need to pick total of 5 defenders but you’re almost certainly not going to start all five of them ever.

There were some cases when FPL managers try to play 5 at the back, but it was a rarely successful strategy. It is because there’s usually so much more value in other areas of your team.

That means you can’t afford to have all of the premiums or take away spots in your team from offensive minded players.

Ideally you want to have 2 premiums from strong teams ~12.5m + 2 cheaper options ~9.0m + bench fodder that will never feature in your team at 4.0m. That summed up comes up at around 25.5m invested in the defense.

Try to find 4.0m playing defenders

The idea is to have two solid defender options that you’ll start almost every gameweek, two cheaper options to rotate depending on the respective fixture, and finally the least expensive option (4.0m) that will never feature.

This is acceptable because your team has to have 13 outfield players (15 with GKs), and you can only start 10 of them.

At the start of the season, you most likely won’t need a deep bench to cover possible rotations.

In some cases (when you’re planning to use Bench Boost chip, or during a busy Christmas period) it makes sense to have all of the players that are starting for their teams.

But during most gameweeks it doesn’t make sense to invest more than a minimum on 2 or 3 players that will never start for you.

Ideally you want to find a 4.0m defender that is actually starting in his team at least occasionally, but those situations are very rare.

Good examples are Martin Kelly (Crystal Palace, 2019/20) and Diego Rico (Bournemouth, 2019/20) who got plenty of points as they got enough starts.

Even better situation if that 4.0m defender is a starter in a solid defensive team and on top of that actually plays in the midfield, closer to the opposing goal making him an all time FPL hall-of-famer. I’m talking about John Lundstram (Sheffield Utd, 2019/20). However, I don’t see this happening anytime soon in FPL.

Midfielders – time to spend big

Midfield is the area of the pitch where you want to spend the most of your budget. You can get five players and you don’t want to be stingy.

Try to fit in at least two premium options (usually priced in the region of 10.0m to 13.0m). Getting two of them could be difficult to achieve if you want to have a balanced team, but is very useful to have more than one captain option each gameweek.

Also, try to avoid getting in defensive midfielders. Even though these players help out their defense and are often crucial in the real life football match, they usually have no FPL value at all. They are prone to getting yellow cards and very few goals and assists, things that actually matter from a fantasy perspective.

You want to get five attacking midfielders that are starting for their team regularly. That is good step towards a good FPL score each gameweek.

If your preferred formation is 3-4-3 instead of 3-5-2, then fifth midfielder that you are benching should be the cheapest midfielder out there, usually priced at 4.5m but at the same time one that starts and has some potential for attacking returns.

Forwards

This is another area of the pitch where you don’t want to spare the money. Forwards get plenty of BPS for each goal they score and premium ones are good candidates for FPL captain. Depending on your favorite formation, you can opt for 2 or 3 strong forwards from good high scoring teams.

In this section, we discussed strategies to consider when building your initial GW1 FPL squad. If there are some doubts you have about the prices, team formations and rules in general, I suggest you take a look at our FPL guide for beginners.

Tips on how to play the Fantasy Premier League game – FPL

After the FPL game begins, in order to score as much points as possible you do need to have a mix of luck and knowledge.

Extensive research by both watching the Premier League matches as well as the digging into available data provided by FPL community on Twitter, Reddit, FPL websites such as Fantasy Football Scout and Fantasy Football Fix helps a lot as well.

The idea is to manage your team before each gameweek, by setting a formation (benching players), making transfers (1 free transfer per gameweek) and picking a captain.

Member of the FPL community on Twitter, @FPL_Swe wrote an excellent thread of his 5 tips to become the best FPL manager

It’s an excellent thread that sums up most important aspects of the fantasy game perfectly:

1. You need to combine both your knowledge and observations you take by watching matches and stats

2. You shouldn’t chase missed points – if a player A scores big and you don’t have him, it could be too late to bring him in, you can rather try to find the next player that returns big.

Of course it’s easier said then done, but you need to be one step ahead of the crowd, not behind.

Remember, by playing a FPL game, every player has the possibility to sign any player, so you are effectively playing against all other players, betting on an underrated player, player with a low ownership that can boost your ranking.

At the same time, it’s always great if you manage to ditch the highly owned player before he suddenly stops getting returns. This is where you gain ground and boost your ranking.

3. Picking the right captain more often than not, boosts your ranking dramatically. If you pick a good captain you double his points that gameweek, in the long run this is a huge gain. That is why it is important to have 2-3 viable captain candidates in every gameweek.

4. And finally, some luck helps a lot as well. At least according to great GM and chess champion Magnus Karlsen, who spent some time at the overall number 1 FPL rank in season 2019/20.

If you manage to master those three points above, and with some luck you can improve your game a lot. To go even further, it is important to utilize your FPL chips in the best possible way. Which leads us to the next point:

When to use FPL chips?

You have 3 chips and 2 wildcards at your disposal in the official FPL game. It is important to utilize them at the best possible moment.

When to use Bench Boost FPL chip

Bench Boost is ideally used when you have 15 healthy players in your team and you expect them all to start in the gameweek that follows.

As I discussed above, if you play the game the right way and build your team in such a way that you only have 1-2 bench options, then this chip might not be very valuable.

So you can use it when you can’t decide who to bench in the certain gameweek.

But then again, it’s advisable to have a full squad of players around Christmas period, just to avoid problems when EPL teams rotate their players in congested festive period. Somewhere at that point, or just after New Year, bench boost chip could be most useful.

When to use Free Hit FPL chip

Free Hit seems like a much more useful FPL chip.

It allows you to change your entire team for a single gameweek, after which you get the original players back.

It can be used to help you win an important duel in your FPL mini league, or to navigate through blank or double gameweek safely.

Blank gameweek happens usually close to the end of the season due to the cup fixtures that clash with EPL fixtures.

That means, at some those postponed games have to be played, and in FPL, they are added to one or more “normal” gameweeks.

So you can use your Free Hit chip in blank gameweek to fill your team with only players that have a game. Or use it in a double gameweek to get all of the players that have two games in a single FPL gameweek.

Both approaches have their pros and cons, and it’s up to you to weigh what’s the best option for your FPL team at the specific moment. The main takeaway here is that you can use Free Hit chip whenever you see it fit, but it often makes sense to save it for the later stages of the season.

When to use Triple Captain FPL chip

Triple Captain chip is also often used by the end of the season, as a lot of FPL managers like to use it during the double gameweek, as captained player has two chances to score big, and points from both matches are tripled.

However, waiting for double gameweek really limits your options, or at least forces you to triple captain with two fixtures that might not be so good. It is also not impossible for that player to be rested in one of those two matches.

I personally use the Triple Captain chip when I have a premium high scoring player in good form facing an easy opponent, possibly at home. That turned out to be the best strategy for me.

When to use FPL wildcard?

Wildcard is a very important FPL chip so it makes a lot of sense to use it wisely. When is a right time to activate wildcard chip? There’s no definite answer, and it all depends on how you feel about your team.

Injuries unfortunately happen all the time and players get in and out of form quite quickly.

When you are at the point you don’t expect good returns in the short and mid-short team and you have a lot of players on watch list that you are eager to buy, it’s probably a good time to wildcard.

When it comes to planning, some FPL managers are building their GW1 teams with an idea to use Wildcard early, before gameweeks 4 to 6. Others are planning to use it as late as possible. Both strategies have pros and cons.

Benefits of an early FPL Wildcard

When you are building your GW1 FPL squad with an early Wildcard in mind, you are looking to get proven players that have nice opening couple of fixtures. But you also have the luxury to get in some punts, new signings that are unproven in the Premier League or some players you expect to have a breakout season.

If those return big early, you’ve hit the jackpot otherwise there’s no big problem, you take them out with Wildcard.

Usually it takes 3 or 4 gameweeks or more to identify which players are going to have a great season and by wild carding early, you can build a great team that can dominate for a while.

Not only that, important aspect that is often overlooked when it comes to wildcarding early is that you can take a big advantage of early price changes which are moving very quickly at the early stages of the season.

That means you can get certain high scoring players at much lower price than others that decided not to rush it, which can be a big advantage in the long run. This tweet (FPL season 2019/20) sums it up perfectly.

And the best thing is if you activate your wildcard early in the gameweek, at the very first day when current gameweek started, you can strategize a bit and profit from price changes throughout the whole week, before the next GW deadline passes.

Price changes happen overnight, so you wanna use FPL price prediction tools i.e. the one available at Fantasy Football Fix

This tool is fantastic and usually has a high price change prediction accuracy, so you can use it to get in the players that rising in price that night, to take advantage of it and to replace the players that are dropping in price.

Sometimes a player that you want to keep in your wildcard team is about to drop in price, couple of days before the deadline, so you can take him out until the price drop happens, and then bring it back in, before the deadline, effectively earning 0.1m which can be very useful elsewhere.

You can also get the player that’s about to rise in price, even though you don’t necessarily want him in your final Wildcard team, but you can keep him until his price raises by 0.2m and then sell him, to earn that 0.1m that way as well.

If you are confused by this, learn more about how increasing your effective budget works by buying and selling players in our FPL guide for beginners.

Benefits of wildcarding later

There are some benefits of using FPL wildcard later in the season as well. Like mentioned before, injuries are very common in English Premier League, and your team won’t be an exception.

Keeping the Wildcard if your team doesn’t look that bad early in the season makes sense because it can provide a nice boost after early wild carders get in trouble and need to take point hits to fix their teams.

Wildcards are rare commodity in Fantasy Premier League game, you only get two per season, and the second one becomes available around Christmas.

Which means you don’t have the luxury of drastically changing your team for a long period of 3 months if you chose to wildcard early and things go bad soon after that or some new “must have” players emerge.

Making FPL transfers

Making transfers in FPL is a complex issue. But it’s also one of the most important things that make the game so much fun.

Every gameweek, you have to make a decision that has direct consequences not only in the following gameweek, but also potentially for the rest of the season.

Let me explain. If you are considering who to bring in among player A and player B. You choose player A, but player B hauls and his price rises by 0.1m.

That small price rise can be a huge problem, as it might mean you can’t get him in anymore with just one transfer. If you really want him, you can take a point hit (-4) to get him in with two transfers which causes a huge drop in rank.

If you decide to wait one more gameweek to get him in without a hit, you can miss some more points and yet another price rise. That way managers who got him before you, can later on utilize more money in the bank.

Situations like these are unavoidable, as nobody has a crystal ball, so you have to do some research and really take your time planning each transfer to improve your chances succeeding in FPL game.

Form over fixtures or fixtures over form

This is a frequently asked FPL question.

Is it more important to put emphasis on form or fixtures when planning an FPL transfer? In my opinion you can’t really ignore either, and both aspects are equally important.

Because, realistically good run of easy fixtures is often a prerequisite of a good form. But that good form doesn’t mean much if suddenly fixtures turn for the worse.

How to plan FPL transfers

When planning a transfer in FPL, you want to make sure player you’re after is in good form and ideally has favorable fixtures.

Some players are fixture proof, bust most of them are not. However, don’t put too much emphasis on fixtures and don’t go too far in the future.

How many following fixtures you should consider actually depends on the position of a player.

Let me explain. When you’re getting a defender, you might want to check out at least next 6 fixtures.

The idea here is that you’re not going to rotate defenders a lot, as majority of the points they are getting is tied to the clean sheets.

So if a player you’re considering has couple of difficult fixtures against top teams, or mostly away from home, you’re realistically not going to get decent returns.

For midfielders and forwards, situation is much different. Usually, it makes sense to examine next three fixtures a player has, anything more than that doesn’t make much sense.

You’re changing midfielders and forwards more often anyways and they tend to get in and out of form quickly and usually for just a handful of fixtures.

Do the point hits in FPL pay off or not?

Well there’s no definite answer for this eternal FPL question. Sometimes point hits do pay off, but sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they pay off in the long term and look like a disaster in short term.

So when should you consider taking a point hit(s) in FPL?

In my opinion, taking point hits in FPL is useful when you don’t have or don’t want to use Wildcard chip, but you have to fix your team to avoid fielding less than 11 eleven players. These situations happen when you have multiple injured players in the team or in a blank gameweek situation.

Every point hit takes away 4 points from you gameweek score, and when you think about it, that is not easy to make up.

Transferred in player has to outscore the one you took out by 4 points, just to break even. That is really tough task to do.

Not to mention that there’s always possibility transferred out player will outscore the new one you brought. That can be a source of a severe frustration.

But when you do a -4 hit in blank gameweek, it’s essentially -2 considering you’re likely to get at least 2 points in most cases.

This can be a good blank gameweek strategy to gain some ground in your mini league/overall/beat your h2h mini league opponent, or fix your team for the following couple of gameweeks.

In conclusion, if you don’t mind taking point hits, they can pay off as a result of an extensive planning, but they usually fail miserably if you’re doing hits by rage transferring players in or out.

Useful Fantasy Premier League Twitter accounts

Fantasy Premier League community is really big on Twitter. As a bonus in this guide for seasoned Premier League Fantasy managers I’m adding some of the very useful Twitter accounts that you have to follow in order to get better results and green arrows:

@BenDinnery – a trustworthy injury specialist

@BenCrellin – a spreadsheet wizard, useful information regarding blank and double gameweek schedule

@FPL_Rockstar – occasionally has correct early team news, crucial for a late transfer or a captain pick

@BigManBakar and @UtterlyTC– excellent post gameweek analysis and recap threads, with great insights

@FPLStatus – automated account with overnight price changes, etc.

@fpl_chef – occasionally writes fantastic in-depth FPL articles

@mathsafe_fpl – statistics geek with some interesting FPL data analysis

Advanced FPL guide: Conclusion

Hope you liked and learned something you didn’t know before by reading this advanced FPL guide and our breakdown of most important aspects needed to rank higher or win your FPL mini league.

To conclude, let’s repeat the main takeaways:

  1. Preparation is everything; watch EPL matches, read FPL resources, analyze the data and player heatmaps.
  2. Plan your FPL chips wisely
  3. Don’t chase the missed points, identify future high scoring players and focus on points to come
  4. Have at least two good captain options each week
  5. Have fun!