Fantasy Football Stats

Building a team for the 2017/18 season

21 days until the start of the season, so it’s time to do my homework and prepare for the coming season. In this article I’ll follow my usual methodology in building an FPL team for 17/18. My process is based on research from many previous seasons and past experience. The article will give you a process to follow in order to build your own teams.
My usual process is:

  • Accept I am going to play 3-4-3 for most of the season, unless there is an out of position player who allows an alternative position.
  • Avoid players new to the Premier League for my game week 1 team, unless they have had an awesome pre-season.
  • Choose 1-2-1 premium players who I will hold for all of the season, barring injuries.
  • Fill my bench with cheap players. In particular two defenders who rotate so my first substitute defender has a home game each week.
  • Decide if I want to rotate goalkeepers too.
  • Identify out-of-position players who are likely to earn additional points.
  • Identify preseason performers who are likely to carry these performances into the early season fixtures.
  • Fill the remaining positions with players who rotate, players with great stats, or who have good fixtures up to when I plan to wild card.
  • Sanity check the team with the RMT Adviser Algorithm.

This season, for the first time in a few seasons, I am going to challenge each of these steps. Over the next 10 days I will look at each of the above decision points and ask, “can we do better?” Hopefully, by the start of the season, any changes to how I pick players will give me a stronger team. But to have a stronger team, we need a team. So today let’s follow these steps and see what team we end up with.

Chose Premium Players

We all know the premium players, right? We don’t need to look at the stats to know that Kane, Lukaku, Aguero, Sanchez, Alli, Hazard, De Bruyne, Cahill, Alonso are “premium players”. So which ones to pick? Value for money is not a great way of measuring these players, predominantly because the premium players are our source of Captain, and therefore VFM is somewhat skewed.

I personally feel fixture difficulty is a good way to choose in the early stages of the season. In particular, home advantage against lower ranked opponents. Using our FPL game difficulty checker, avoiding teams with forwards who are new to the Premier League, we can see Manchester United have the most favourable fixtures for home advantage.  I therefore choose Lukaku as my premium forward.

For our midfield, we have the choice of

Total Games
Sánchez ARS 12 264 38 6.9 22.0 0.58
Hazard CHE 10.5 224 36 6.2 21.3 0.59
De Bruyne MCI 10 199 36 5.5 19.9 0.55
Eriksen TOT 9.5 218 36 6.1 22.9 0.64
Alli TOT 9.5 225 37 6.1 23.7 0.64
Mané LIV 9.5 156 27 5.8 16.4 0.61
Özil ARS 9.5 167 33 5.1 17.6 0.53
Coutinho LIV 9 171 31 5.5 19.0 0.61
Salah LIV 9 0 0 0.0 0.0 0.00

I am going to exclude Sanchez from my team for now because we do not know if he will be at Arsenal come the start of the season. I am also excluding Salah because he is a new signing. Lastly, I am excluding Hazard because he will miss the first few weeks of the season due to injury.

I like the Arsenal fixture set, but I feel I don’t trust Ozil. I’m not keen on anything else, so at this time I select just Alli.

For defenders, we have loads to choose from, the Defenders option off the site top menu is a good place to start. I have picked Alonso for now, but Moses feels like a strong choice too.

Chose Bench Players

I find choosing bench players one of the hardest parts of FPL. My preference is for players who play, rather than cheap players who never get a game, because, like premium players, I almost never change a bench player unless it is wild card time. I also prefer to keep my cash on the pitch. Over a season we earn a point per game for every additional two million spent on the first 11.

For the bench midfielder, my criteria is that they must cost £4.5m and must play. Nothing overly complex. Many managers say “look for attacking midfielders”, which I do agree with. However, to find a cheap attacking midfielder we need to look to the newly promoted teams. This feels like a risk, given my bench is not an area where I want to be making loads of changes. In truth, I want someone dependable. Someone to give me 2 points when one of my first 11 is injured.

The obvious choice is Oriol Romeu of Southampton. He played 35 games last season, earning an average of 2.3 points per game. Great bench fodder and he goes into my team. I did consider McArthur of Palace, who averaged 3.2 points per game over 29 games. However, I wonder why he missed those 9 games. Step up the excellent site,, which shows all last season’s fixtures with an explanation of why a player missed games. 

In McArthur’s case we can see it was manager rotation and not injury that determined these 9 absences. I don’t want a player who is only playing for three quarters of the season, thus I stick with Romeu.

Onto defenders, who I try to choose for home advantage. If I was trying to select the cheapest possible players, then my choices are:

Total Games
Tuanzebe MUN 4 14 4 3.5 3.5 0.88
EVE 4 9 3 3.0 2.3 0.75
Mariappa WAT 4 15 7 2.1 3.8 0.54
Rangel SWA 4 26 18 1.4 6.5 0.36
Long BUR 4 3 3 1.0 0.8 0.25
Brad Smith BOU 4 4 5 0.8 1.0 0.20
Mason WAT 4 1 2 0.5 0.3 0.13
Hünemeier BHA 4 0 11 (Cham) 0.0 0.0 0.00
Rosenior BHA 4 0 10 (Cham) 0.0 0.0 0.00
Goldson BHA 4 0 5 (Cham) 0.0 0.0 0.00
Cranie HUD 4 0 14 (Cham) 0.0 0.0 0.00
Stankovic HUD 4 0 7 (Cham) 0.0 0.0 0.00
Hudson HUD 4 0 22 (Cham) 0.0 0.0 0.00
Hanley NEW 4 0 10 (Cham) 0.0 0.0 0.00
Gámez NEW 4 0 5 (Cham) 0.0 0.0 0.00
Haidara NEW 4 0 1 (Cham) 0.0 0.0 0.00

None of these choices give me the confidence I need for my bench – remember, I want players who I can rely on for my bench. So the minimum price for my defenders is £4.5m. We have a lot more choice at this price:

Total Games
Ward BUR 4.5 91 37 2.5 20.2 0.55
Lowton BUR 4.5 90 36 2.5 20.0 0.56
Simpson LEI 4.5 85 35 2.4 18.9 0.54
Mee BUR 4.5 94 34 2.8 20.9 0.61
Francis BOU 4.5 89 34 2.6 19.8 0.58
Prödl WAT 4.5 67 33 2.0 14.9 0.45
Naughton SWA 4.5 82 31 2.6 18.2 0.59
Delaney CRY 4.5 51 30 1.7 11.3 0.38

Plus there are the players from the newly promoted teams. Checking the fixture difficulty, I like the Palace / Burnley rotation because it means the fixtures of my first sub are Huddersfield (H), West Brom (H), Swansea (H), Palace (H), Southampton (H) and Huddersfield (H) again. Hopefully this gives the sub a chance of beating 2 points, should the sub be needed.

So my two defender subs are Tompkins and Lowton.

Chose Goalkeepers

There are three options with goalkeepers:

  • choose an expensive keeper and a cheap bench keeper,
  • choose two inexpensive keepers and rotate them for home advantage or easier fixtures, similar to the suggested defender rotation above,
  • choose two keepers from the same team, so that if the first keeper is injured, the bench keeper will play.

For this team, I am going to choose the latter option because it saves cash.

The two West Brom keepers offer a good set up for FPL teams at a low price. Always trust a Pulis team to defend first too!

This is the team so far:

Out Of Position / Preseason Performances

An out of position player, in FPL, is a defender playing in an advanced position or a midfielder creating a lot of shots in the box. When the season is in flow Squaka is really helpful with this.

With 3 weeks to go until the start of the season, it is a little early to  judge positions of players and to judge pre-season performances. I think we can realistically only do this after the Community Sheild. The next 10 days will tell us a lot. We need to look for player getting 60 minutes or more, and players scoring.

That said, this is what I have learned so far:

  • Arsenal played 3-4-2-1 in their first two preseason games so we should look wing-backs. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain played wing-back in two of the games, but he’s classed as an midfielder in FPL, so should be avoided. Kolasinac is a possibility. New boy Lacazette played on the wing.
  • Willian scored a hat-trick in Hazard’s absence.
  • Rooney scored pre-season and reportedly looked sharp.

  • Tom Ince (£6m) scored in two consecutive pre-season games for Huddersfield.
  • Liverpool are scoring for fun preseason, but as usual the goals are shared around the team.
  • Phil Foden played excellently for City, and he is not even listed in FPL yet.
  • Rashford and Lukaku are scoring for United. Kane and Rashford offer and alternative to Lukaku and Benteke.
  • Dwight Gayle did well for Newcastle last season, and is carrying the form into preseason.
  • West Brom have yet to keep a clean sheet, a worry for my keeper selection. However, J Rod, one of my favourite players in FPL, scored.

Based on this, I am adding Willian and Coutinho to my team. I also add Milner based on his reclassification as a defender.

Remaining Positions

I have players from Spurs, United and Chelsea in my team. So Manchester City and Arsenal are not represented in my team. To address this I add KDB to the team. I’m leaving Arsenal out for now until I’ve studied preseason a little more.

I have added Benteke to my team because I think he is good, however, he is a little worry given the new manager at Palace. I also add Cedric of Southampton because I think they have good fixtures.

This leaves £13.5m for a midfielder and a forward. I would like to leave £1m – £0.5m in the bank for early transfers, ruling Ramsey and Gayle out. Instead, I go for Ramsey and J Rod.

The Team

Am I happy with this team, yes, but I know it will not  be my final team. However, it gives me a good platform on which to build over the coming weeks.

Please post your teams below, and explain your thinking behind your selections, and we’ll all try our best to help.


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Site founder, first used stats to try to win his work mini-league. Now helps other managers win theirs.

704 thoughts on “Building a team for the 2017/18 season

  1. Does anyone know if Rangel is a guaranteed starter?

    His ownership is up to nearly 21% – is this because he is an ideal 4.0m enabler or is he likely to see a lot of gametime…?

    • @Father72 Rangel is unlikely to start in my opinion. He reminds me the Amat pick last year although he didn’t play. He’s 34 and only started 8 games compared to Naughton who started 31 last season. Not to mention the fact that they have Kyle Bartley who can play as RB if needed.

      Other options are:

      Mariappa but he is injured with no return date.

      Kevin Long who seems to be the 1st backup option in case of injury in Burnley.

      Brandon Mason who played almost full in the last 2 friendlies of Watford and Holebas nowhere to be seen. Watford is also on the market for a LB. Good to keep an eye on.

      Hunemeier but he is 31 and hasn’t played in the friendlies. Dunk and Duffy seem to be the options.

      For me, no 4m option is a good one. Realistically the only ones worth considering are Long, Rangel and Hunemeier but I would prefer to invest 0.5m more every time and get a guaranteed starter of a team that will finish in the top 10 and can get a clean sheet at home. See Burnley, Crystal Palace, Stoke, Leicester, Watford, Bournemouth.

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