Choosing great Fantasy Football players

Choosing great Fantasy Football players

Some players provide good Fantasy Football points just a few weeks. Some return good points for just one season. Other players produce great Fantasy Football points season after season.

By exploring the points players earn over many seasons I hope to find clues to enable us Fantasy Football Managers pick the right players from the start, and also know when to sell players, and in turn make us all Fantasy Football legends. 

This is the last in the series of articles. Previously posts explored

  • The first post, “Types of players not to choose in Fantasy Football“, set the stage by looking at players who earned lots of points in the 2011/12 premier league season, but did not deliver in 2012/13. I tried to find something in common with these players and came up with the rules of thumb…
    1. Players who do not play regularly are more exposed to price fluctuations than regularly playing players and should be avoided when choosing your team in August so you do not lose money early in the season; but these players are worth keeping an eye on as if they become regular and their price has sufficiently dropped then they could be a cheap source of points later in the season.
    2. ‘First team’ players with less 12/13 season game-time than previous seasons could be cheap picks in 13/14 if they are in teams where you feel they will play regularly. Nani, Rosicky, Downing and [at a push] Gervinho were our first spots but there could be more.
  • The second post asked “of the left over players in the analysis, why was each player’s 11/12 Points Per Million Per Game so similar to their 12/13 Points Per Million Per Game?” and introduced the  “Sports Illustrated Effect“, namely
    1. a player will perform at a relatively consistent level;
    2. the level for some players is a lot higher than for other players, and this separates great players from good players;
    3. sometimes a good player will perform really well (at the level of a great player) and get noticed;
    4. we should not expect exceptional results to continue for ever, but instead should expect the form to regress back to the old level at some time.

Which lead us to realise we can spot someone returning great Fantasy Football points if they are performing above average for their price and position. I provided a table of “Average” so we have a yard-stick to measure players, so we will know if someone is earning average, good or great points for their position and price.

In this final post in the series I will use the Sports Illustrated Effect theory and the statistical information above to give you rules-of-thumb for buying and selling players and for measuring new signings; and I will stick my neck on the line and identify the players who are likely good (and players likely to be dodgy) next season.

A rule-of-thumb for choosing players to sell

Not Good EnoughAverage is not good enough. The Sports Illustrated Effect tables tell us what a player’s long-term average-form is likely to be. Yet if we stuff our team full of players only playing “average”, where should we expect to finish in the Fantasy Football League? Average.

More importantly, player performance is constantly improving. What qualified as an average performance ten years ago is below-average today. We want to win our mini-leagues. We want to do well. We want the excitement of picking an obscure player and watching the points come in. So average is not good enough.

In Fantasy Football we can sell one player per week without penalty. If we don’t sell a player in one week, the following week we can transfer two players without penalty. Two is the highest number of players we can sell without a four point deduction from our points, unless we use our wild card. So every transfer is vital. To work out who I am going to sell, each week I make an outlist. This is a list of Fantasy Football players who might sell from my team. I use injuries, fixtures and form to choose the players on my out-list.

My third rule of thumb is “Over any 4 games, if a player’s points or game time drops below average, then you should consider selling them“.

Sell meBy this I mean you should add them to your Out List. The player is only doing OK.

Not great.

Not brilliant.

Not fan-dabby-dozzy.

Just OK. Now, there may be a reason for the “average” form. The last 4 fixtures could have been tough, in which case average could be seen as good. The player might have been injured for 2 games so perhaps it is too early to tell. So I am not saying sell the player immediately. I am saying that if a player is only doing OK, then you should question if you need them in your team.

Average game time in any 4 week period is

£4M 110.7 181.9 137.2
£4.5M 241.5 220.3 198.6 140.1
£5M 275.1 244.9 196.2 185.7
£5.5M 353.2 239.4 223.7 202.9
£6M 295 224.6 223.8 146.8
£6.5M 322.2 231.2 235.4 209.8
£7M 290.9 211.5 235.8
£7.5M 228.2 230.8 230.8
£8M 230.4 201.5
£8.5M 249.4 218
£9M 275.7
£9.5M 311.9 194.2
£10M 276.9 228.3
£10.5M 252.6 233.3
£11M 250.9 235.3
£11.5M 247.8
£12M 252.4

and average points in any 4 week period is

£4M 4.4 5.4 7
£4.5M 9.1 7.1 6.9 7.3
£5M 11.8 8.9 7.5 7.7
£5.5M 14.4 9.5 9.4 9.8
£6M 13.2 9.5 10.3 7.7
£6.5M 15 10.7 10.4 11.3
£7M 13.4 10.9 13.2
£7.5M 11.4 12.1 12.6
£8M 13.6 11.1
£8.5M 13.2 13.7
£9M 16.7
£9.5M 20.8 11.9
£10M 19.9 15
£10.5M 15.2 13.6
£11M 18.2 17.1
£11.5M 20
£12M 18.3

Poor resultsSimple, if your £7.5 million pound defender did not play at least 228 minutes out of the last 360 minutes OR does not earn 11.4 points in the last 4 games, then you should think about selling them. Similarly, if your £7 million pound forward did not play at least 235 minutes out of the last 360 minutes OR does not earn 13.2 points in the last 4 games, then you should think about selling them.

A rule-of-thumb for choosing players to buy

There are many reasons to buy a player. You might like the fixtures a player faces. A player might be coming back from injury and you fancy taking a chance. A player might be earning lots of points. However, an often missed reason is that the player is doing really well for his price. The “players doing well for their price” are the players who will earn you 4 points in a week when your captain only got 2.

Above Average

If only we knew how to spot players performing well? Well we can. As well as using stats to work out what is average, we can use stats to work out what is good, and what is great (I use Standard Deviation).

So my fourth rule of thumb is “Over any 4 games, if a player’s points or game time is good or great, then you should consider buying them“.

Great game time in any 4 week period is

£3.5M 162.9
£4M 259.8 251.1 209.7 212.1
£4.5M 305.4 303.7 261.5 248.5
£5M 360 325.1 289.8 233.5
£5.5M 360 317.2 296.9 254.8
£6M 351.8 317.8 311.7 261.3
£6.5M 360 328.2 308.2 293.6
£7M 360 328.5 295.3 307.3
£7.5M 360 311.9 305.1
£8M 360 280.9 240.7
£8.5M 335 305.3
£9M 307.4 285.4
£9.5M 342.3 305
£10M 287.3 209.3
£10.5M 321.2 314.4
£11M 307.4 260.8
£11.5M 280 275.7
£12M 342.7 292.1
£12.5M 301.5 182
£13M 213.1 351.8
£13.5M 338.7 328.7

and great points in any 4 week period is

£3.5M 5.3
£4M 9.4 8.1 7.7 7.7
£4.5M 12 10 9.2 12.3
£5M 16.2 11.4 11.1 11.4
£5.5M 15.9 12.6 12.9 11
£6M 16.4 13.2 13.7 14
£6.5M 16.4 14.1 14 15.1
£7M 18.3 16.1 14.8 17.3
£7.5M 17.8 15.2 16.4
£8M 19.5 15 14
£8.5M 17.9 15.2
£9M 18.3 18.5
£9.5M 22.5 18.5
£10M 22.3 10.9
£10.5M 21.6 22.8
£11M 26 15.7
£11.5M 16.2 21.1
£12M 23.8 23.1
£12.5M 22.5 14.2
£13M 13.7 28.4
£13.5M 29.9 27.6

Again, I am not saying rush out and buy these players for a four point hit each week, but I am saying you should find these players and add them to your In List each week.

For me, the strongest use of a check like this is if you spot a player is doing well while watching the match, you can use these tables and recent points to see if they have been playing well recently (for their price) and add them into your team before everyone else catches on.

Fantasy Football MichuThe advantage of the “Average” and “Good” tables is they give us a baseline for new players introduced to the Fantasy Premier League. We should expect that all new signings will perform at the average level. However, if in the first few weeks of the season we spot in the player is performing “good”, then buy them up.

By the way, if you don’t want to calculate if a player is doing well for their price then you’ll need to know we publish weekly stats on players. So come back any time next season and check out our Hot and Not lists to find out if a player is doing well for their price.

The players likely to be good next season

So, now we know how to measure “what is good”, who are the players who are likely to be good next season? Remember, this is about who is returning the points and game time for their price.

Player Team Position Expected Price
Allen LIV MD £4.5
Barry MCI MD £5
Clyne SOU DF £4
Davies SWA DF £4.5
De Guzman SWA MD £5.5
Demel WHU DF £4
Hughes FUL DF £4
Johnson NOR MD £4.5
Lambert SOU FD £7
Martin R NOR DF £4
McAnuff RDG MD £4.5
Michu SWA MD £8
Morrison RDG DF £4
Riether FUL DF £4.5
Schneiderlin SOU MD £5
Snodgrass NOR MD £6
Williams SWA DF £5

Some cracking players on this list, and all reasonably priced, giving you a good starting point for your team next season, especially your bench.

The players likely to be dodgy next season

So, now we know what is average, who are the players who are likely to be dodgy next season? This time we are looking for players who are NOT returning the points and game time for their price.

Player Team Position Expected Price
Anichebe EVE FD £4.5
Begovic STK GK £5.5
Bunn NOR GK £4.5
Chamberlain ARS MD £7
Cleverley MUN MD £5.5
Dejagah FUL MD £5.5
Fabio QPR DF £4
Gouffran NEW FD £6
Guzan AVL GK £5
Holman AVL MD £5.5
Hunt RDG FD £4.5
Lichaj AVL DF £4.5
Lloris TOT GK £6
Lukaku WBA FD £6.5
Mata CHE MD £10
Pogrebnyak RDG FD £4
Rafael MUN DF £6
Rose SUN MD £4.5
Senderos FUL DF £4.5
Sissoko NEW MD £5.5
Szczesny ARS GK £5.5
Tiendalli SWA DF £4.5
Van Persie MUN FD £13.5

VeronAre there any surprises on there for you? RVP and Mata probably jump out at most people, yet ask yourself, “Is RVP really worth £13.5 million when Suarez and Lambert did so well?”, “Is Mata worth £10 when Bale can be bought for a little more?” I think the key take-away for these two players is we should expect their prices to fall early in the season.

Some of the players on this list are only on there because of playing time preventing them getting the expected points for their price. For example, Lorris did not start the season, Lukaku was rotated a lot and might not be next season, Oxlade-Chamberlain was injured for some of the season.

However, players like Anichebe, Bergovic and Rafael might have been in your thoughts for your first 11. You should think twice about these players as, while they have periods of good form, they might not be best for you over the long term.


I have introduced a way of measuring if a player is returning the points you should expect for their price, and I have also set an expectation of game time. This gives us our four rules-of-thumb

  1. Players who do not play regularly are more exposed to price fluctuations than regularly playing players and should be avoided when choosing your team in August so you do not lose money early in the season; but still keep an eye on these players game time and points.
  2. ‘First team’ players with less 12/13 season game-time than previous seasons could be cheap picks in 13/14 if they are in teams where you feel they will play regularly. Nani, Rosicky, Downing and [at a push] Gervinho were our first spots but there could be more.
  3. Over any 4 games, if a player’s points or game time drops below average, then you should consider selling them.
  4. Over any 4 games, if a player’s points or game time is good or great, then you should consider buying them.

I hope this helps with your teams next season.


As with all stats, the information is only a guide to help you when picking your team for the 2013/14 season. Also, the player stats assume a price for next season. If the prices vary then that will change the points we should expect for their price. Finally, it is important to keep up to date with team formations and playing time from the friendlies so you know what to expect at the start of the season- which gives is a nice starting point for our next series of articles.

What do you think?

43 thoughts on “Choosing great Fantasy Football players

  1. If I knew how to do a clapping symbol I would! Great article!

    Really enjoyed the series!

    Mata & RVP, are a surprise, but like you say, if you compare to alternatives, & look at pts per million, they’ll not be the best. However, I will have RVP in my first team that I put out…

    Have you noted a few players you consider exceptional value to perform next season?

    • Thanks Bowie, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Mata was the surprise for me, but I think if he gets less rotation then he’ll do better. RVP has to be considered from the ‘double points’ viewpoint, and I suspect next season teams will be either RVP or Bale.

      Have you noted a few players you consider exceptional value to perform next season?

      No, but I have spotted some high-scoring low-gametime players (for the price), so will be watching these as the friendly reports start up.

      How’s your nuclear wrist?

  2. I have a couple which popped up on your good list, which I’m happy about!

    You reckon confederations cup will have a negative/positive effect on the players that are going?

    I won’t find out until mid July the results, so a little wait. Thanks for asking.

    • It usually does. Missed time, recovery and all that. My perception is good form in these cups does not seem to translate in good PL form, but bad form does. However, its only an observation rather than something I’ve researched.

      • I agree, I think you can normally write off the first 3-4 GWs at least of anyone who plays in this. The tournament guys normally end up being slow starters. Again not researched, only observation.

        Actually if you don’t mind, I might try my hand at an article for the tournament & how the players start the season. It’ll obviously be a long term thing, as I wouldn’t have all data until early September. Could come in handy for 2014-15 season, after the World Cup.

  3. In the MSL, my cpt played 90m for zero pts, he was deducted 2 pts for missing 2 sitters. FIVE of his team mates made the dream team of the week 🙁

  4. Scoring

    During the season the fantasy soccer players will be allocated a point score after each game, based on their performances in the matches. Points are awarded as detailed in the table below:



    For playing in a game 1
    For playing at least 60 minutes in a game (includes playing points mentioned above) 2
    For each goal scored by your goalkeeper or defenders 6
    For each goal scored by your midfielders or forwards 5
    For each assist * 3
    For your goalkeeper conceding 0 goals (must also play at least 60 minutes) 4
    For your defenders conceding 0 goals (must also play at least 60 minutes) 4
    For your midfielders conceding 0 goals (must also play at least 60 minutes) 1
    For every penalty miss -2
    For every penalty save 5
    For every 2 goals conceded by your goalkeeper or defenders -1
    For every yellow card -1
    For every red card (includes any yellow card points) -3
    For every 3 saves 1

    Assists *

    An assist is awarded when a pass or cross leads to a goal being scored (no defender touch must interfere with the pass) Live assists are provisional and will be reviewed within 24 hours of the match.

    As an addition, bonus points are awarded to players for their contribution to the game.

    Attacking Bonus

    Players will score extra points for positive play:

    1 point for every 3 crosses (A cross is defined where the ball is played to their own player in the penalty area)
    1 point for every 3 key passes (A key pass is one that leads to a shot at goal)
    1 point for every big chance created (A big chance is one where the analyst determines the player should score)
    -1 point for every big chance missed

    Defending Bonus

    Players will also score extra points for good defending:

    1 point for every 6 clearances, blocks or interceptions
    1 point for every 6 recovered balls
    -1 point for every error leading to a goal

  5. Great article Chorley! i’m sure it’ll come in very handy especially when picking the cheaper bench players and when trying to judge new comers to the Prem.

      • Hi CR,

        They also signed Dutch midfielder Leandro Bacuna. Okore is a very good signing for Villa, especially since he was courted by the likes of Chel$ea in the last TW.

  6. CR, this was the article I had been waiting for! Of course, excellent does not do your article and research justice, as I will have to make up a word just to honour your work. A “Wilshering” post my friend :) (highest praise you could get from an Arsenal fan)!

    Too often this past year, I focused on matchups, injuries and playing time when switching out players and not enough consideration to average performances. I ended up selling players I should not have sold because of 2 weeks of average performances, and inevitably, after I sold them they would perform! Thus, your article and site will be a great platform for me to discuss my future transfer moves and I’ll be able to do some research of my own with the help of your fantastic stats :).

    It would also be interesting if SZ or yourself could write an article about how new incoming managers may affect the output of certain players relative to price. For example, when FSW came in, players were more subject to rotation. With Maureen coming in, surely Chel$ea will move to a more defensive formation, relying on counter attacking to score. Moyes at Utd may translate to more robust performances and grinding out wins than more direct football etc.

    Also, is there any chance this article can be stickied for easy access or will the stats table highlight players who are playing “average” etc. (I know you have who’s hot and who’s not, but there isn’t a who’s average section ;) ).

    • Also, when to take points hit would really be a huge bonus, especially for rookie managers. I took so many unnecessary hits throughout the year and if I wanted to buy back players I just sold, I occasionally may not have been able to afford it!

      • HH, to seriously answer your question re hits, last season I saw that worrying about money was a common mistake by many managers. That’s where Chortles stats will help you. Probably the best example is Michu, even if you didn’t have him at the start, you’d have brought him in by GW 4 or 5. You’d still have had a great run with him until Christmas when you’d have sold him, you’d have had all those lovely points and 0.5m profit. Look at his history on the fpl site and you’ll see what I mean.

        • Cheers SZ, I actually had Michu from the start because I watched him frequently at Rayo before he moved to Swansea. What I did not watch carefully, however, was when his performances started becoming average. As you pointed out, I did not sell him because I became over concerned with price and the cost of re-purchasing him if he did hit another run of good form.

        • And I think that’s the way that CR’s stats will help us with the players that we have. Also, he told me last season to look at Benteke, Luka, and being as they were not good for fixtures I completely ignored it. My bad. Just think if you’d sold Michu at Christmas, then bought Benteke for the run in, and then used the extra cash to improve elswhere……….. CR’s onto something imo.

      • This does not surprise me in the least. Arsenal are so frugal and conservative with transfer funds that they are forced to compete at a lower level whereby they can select the best talent from that level with the funds at their disposal. AW is outstanding at getting the best from his players and is then able to sell the good ones for a profit. What managers fail to understand is that 99% of the time, they are buying a player who is largely performing better than they truly are and underestimate the effect AW has on a player’s game.

        Utd are ok because SAF was also not frivolous with his funds. He understood the value of continuity in a squad and only made incremental improvements year after year, only splashing out the cash for a player he absolutely wanted.

        As for Chel$ea and Man $hitty it’s no surprise they’re near the bottom. They rarely, if ever, sell players at a profit because they always buy the best players available and will retain them so long as they are contributing. Departing players are ones that are older and have been replaced, under performing individuals or ones that never really had an impact on the squad at all.

        Liverpool has just always been awful in the TW and have a history of overspending on mediocre players. They have the funds at their disposal but no longer have the prestige or reputation to lure the top players to their club. Liverpool management and scouts are just not as good as Arsenal’s, Tottenham’s etc. in unearthing and developing gems either.

        • I think Levy at Spurs has done a great job on the market, I just don’t think he can always get away with last day brinkmanship. I hope AVB stays in the Prem, I like him, even if he is at the enemy.

        • AVB is good for the EPL, just like Maureen. Two villains/personalities that the league are in dire need of to “spice things up”. I hate both of them as they are truly t**ts, but it makes it that much better when your team beats them ;) .

        • Definitely not 5th, I’d venture to say they would have been competing with Liverpool for the final Europa league spot. Tough to say since they were ravaged by injuries, but Levy/AVB/Arry have made some solid signings over the years: Lloris, Walker, Bale, Vertonghen, Demebele (maybe I just like the lad and he wasn’t a good purchase at 15 mil), Holtby, Kaboul etc.

        • Probably lower CR, but not significantly lower when you consider some of their sales over the years and the talent they’ve produced (Berbatov, Modric, Carrick, Crouch, Van Der Vaart, Keane etc.). Obviously they’ve bought some duds as well, but which manager hasn’t?

          Bale will be leaving sooner rather than later, which means they’ll need to unearth another gem or at least spend the resources they recoup from his sale wisely (always difficult to replace the best player on your team).

    • Thanks for the kind words HH.

      Wilshering – very funny. How about Irwining, in honour of my favorite player? Who would have thought it, two months in and we already have our own FFF slang :)

      I also have been too quick to transfer in the past. Hopefully the above thresholds will restrain me a bit more. I found that the PPMPG method of ranking players would rank a player earning 1 point from 30 minutes football higher than someone getting 2 points from 90 minutes of football. So I introduced the 250 minute minimum on the stats. to remove quirks like this. However, I think next season I’ll judge Hot/Not using points & game time vs expectation, which kinda gives us Hot, Warm, OK, Concerned, Cool. I think this could be more useful for rating players as OK would mean “better than average for the price, but not better than great for the price”. I think this would give you the table of players who are “average”?

      The article idea is a good one. I am not sure if we have enough data to do a good job, but I’ll work with Chipper to investigate it.

      I’ll add the article to the Tips and Guides section too.

      Thanks again. I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. I enjoyed writing it.

      • Cheers CR and you’re welcome – well deserving of the high praise as this article was a masterpiece!

        I really like the idea of expanding the categories of Hot/Not, as it allows the data (players) to be more spread over several sections, opposed to filtering through a long list to find the player you are looking to see how their performance is relative to others at the same price.

  7. “All these City moves are being made without a manager but the Mirror reveals why Manuel Pellegrini’s appointment has not yet been confirmed despite the Chilean having agreed a three-year £15 million deal.
    The paper says that Pellegrini has not been paid by Malaga for two months and if that happens for a third month then he can walk away from the club for free and City can avoid paying the £3.2 million compensation release clause in his contract.”

    • Manuel Pellegrini has been confirmed as Manchester City manager following the successful resolution of the Chilean’s contract wrangle with previous club Malaga.

  8. Great article! I think the difference between a GREAT player and a good player shows significantly during the fantasy season. For me, it is extremely hard to have “good” players on my team, because they seem to be more unpredictable, and require you to have them a whole season to get the most use out of them, in which you’d probably end up losing out on points on players who are more in-form. This may be a poor example, but I have a hard time putting a guy like Snodgrass on my team. I haven’t looked at your stats on Snodgrass, but a price tag of 6.5 for a 152 points season, seems like he is good value for his price. I also like that RVW is in and Snodgrass could have an even better year. BUT, the gap between a good player like Snodgrass compared to a GREAT player like Mata, and the more consistent scoring that comes with GREAT players, makes me have no doubts in spending money for great players.
    Anyways, just sharing my thoughts. Love this read and site!

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