We continue our tips and advice series to help you get the best out of your fantasy football team. Today we focus on rookie players with simple steps to help the newcomer beat the office big-head.
This is the second article in the tips series and follows first article focusing on the basics of fantasy football. The next article will look at some of the more risker strategies used by some experienced managers.
The Trials and Tribulations of a Rookie Fantasy Premier League Manager
Much like most other rookie Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers, I learned a great deal in my first season of fantasy football (FF). I was pleased with my final ranking in the top 30,000, but several mistakes were made along the way that could have improved this final position. Here I hope to impart some of the lessons I learned in hopes that you rookie managers out there won’t succumb to the same fate!
The first question rookie FPL managers generally ask themselves is how should I assemble my squad? Newsflash – there is no one way that is guaranteed to breed success! I agree with Zorro in that FPL is not a game for managers who are unwilling to separate allegiances from the club they support in real life. Managers unwilling to pick up star performing players simply because they are from a rival club or managers that load up on players because of sentimental value, are already setting themselves at a potential disadvantage.
A common way to build squads is to have a core of 4-5 expensive players (generally in midfield and at forward) and fill in the rest of your squad around them. This strategy calls for cheap options on your bench, in order to field the strongest possible starting 11. However, cheap options on the bench do not mean you should be picking up players that will never see the field. You need reliable players on the bench in case one or more of your starters gets injured, suspended or is rested.
When building your squad, try to avoid double coverage in your defense. Having a Goalkeeper (GK) and a Defender (DEF) from the same club can be very risky since one conceded goal from that club can mean less FPL points in the Game Week (GW). Diversifying your options early on is the best way to go – it minimizes risks if one club gets off to a slow start, while also maximizing your points if you have defenders from multiple clubs that perform well.
How you arrange your bench order in the “Pick Team” section is also important when selecting your line-up! You’ll notice a 1, 2 and 3 by your bench players and they can be arranged in the order you would like, in case one of your chosen starters does not play. The 1st bench option will automatically be substituted in at the end of the GW by the FPL system.
Be sure to plan ahead. You should be planning out your transfers 3, 4 or even 5 weeks in advance, in order to stay ahead of the curve. However, you should always leave some leeway in your strategy since there may be an in-form player that becomes a must have at some point in the season.
Be careful about loading up your team with too many Double Game Week (DGW) players. Last season, both Reading and Chelsea started off the FPL season with DGWs. Hazard, Lampard and Ivanovic were the top 3 FPL performing players in last year’s GW1 DGW and managers with 2 or 3 of these players were incredibly fortunate. However, teams with more than 3 DGW players need to be careful. There were managers with 3 Reading players and 3 Chelsea players in the first GW to maximize on the double fixture points. But, these teams were left taking 4-8 point hits to field a squad of 11 players during GW3 when neither of those two clubs had fixtures.
If its worth saying once, its worth saying twice. Do ask others for help in the “Help My Team” section. There is no disadvantage in asking others for help. There are some great FF minds and you’ll be sure to receive invaluable wisdom from some experienced FPL managers. Sure, a rival manager in one of your leagues may see your team, but if they choose to field the exact same team as you, they will not really be gaining a competitive advantage themselves.
For example, last season I was advised to downgrade Sergio Aguero to Carlos Tevez to save some cash, and then upgrade one of my midfielders to Eden Hazard. Suffice to say, I was incredibly grateful for that advice and those were moves I likely would not have made on my own!
Rookie managers generally fall victim to getting trigger-happy and transferring in on-form players too quickly. If you have the cash and can afford to transfer in a player on a Thursday or Friday rather than a Saturday, Sunday or Monday, it is always highly recommended. Players can pick up injuries midweek (especially ones playing in multiple competitions, i.e. Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup, Capital One Cup etc.). Price rises and price drops can be tracked at TotalFPL or FISO, depending on your layout preference.
Sometimes it pays to show patience with some of the players you have. There’s a difference between transferring out a player that’s been struggling for several weeks and giving up on a player after not scoring for one or two GWs. Plenty of managers gave up on Gareth Bale and Juan Mata early in the season due to their slow starts and did not have the cash on hand to transfer them back in later in the season when they hit form. Remember, some players just take a little more time to hit consistency/form and they are at the very least, worth keeping an eye on.
When should a FPL manager take a point hit? This is a great question that every rookie (and even veteran) FPL manager asks him or herself over the course of a season. The wise advice is that you should take as few point hits as possible. As long as you can field a squad of 11 starting players, there should be no need to take a point hit in a given GW. However,
there are always exceptions to the rule. If there are two players you must have and cannot afford them after their prices rise, then it is likely worth it to take a point hit. Another exception would be if a DGW is coming up and you do not have enough free transfers to have enough coverage for the DGW players. There are numerous situations you’ll encounter throughout the year where point hits may or may not make sense, so it’s always recommended to ask someone else first!
Knowing when to use your wildcard (WC) is very difficult to give advice on. Last year’s #1 FPL managed squad used their WC after the first GW! He or she took advantage of having plenty of players for the DGW and used his or her WC the week after to get those players out of his side. However, an early use of the wildcard being successful is more likely an exception than the norm.
The general advice when it comes to using your WC is to wait as long as possible. However, if 4-5 injuries, benchings or suspensions hit your team, then using your WC may merit consideration. If the squad you’ve chosen is performing poorly for 4-5 GWs and none of your transfer ins are performing either, then it may also be worth it to consider using your WC to bring in players on better form.
So, why is it recommended to save your wildcard for later in the FPL season? Well, scheduling for the FA/COC Cups, Champions League, cancelled games due to weather etc. mean that the clubs involved in those contests will need to reschedule their games for a future GW. It’s important to plan your transfers out accordingly leading up to the DGW, because after the DGW ends, it’s typical for FPL managers to use their WC to field a regular squad again.
Who should I transfer in? Again, as with all other aspects of FPL, it’s always a great idea to ask others for advice before making your transfers! It’s also important to be cognizant of the fact that there is no guarantee that transferring in an in-form player will lead to immediate results. Players are human and can suffer from rough patches or the odd off week. This is where exerting patience with some of your players comes in handy.
Who should you captain in a GW? This is undoubtedly the most important question FPL managers come across in a season. The captain scores twice the amount of points of any other player, so it’s vital to make the best possible choice. It’s important to realize that you can ask for all the advice on picking a captain as you’d like, but that ultimately the choice is yours. The combination of an in-form player, historical good performances against a certain club and fixture difficulty is a good basis for selecting your captain.
Much like the criteria for selecting your captain, in-form players and players with an easier run of fixtures are great starting points to review when deciding on who to transfer in. All this data can be found on this site under the “Player Help” and “Team Help” categories!
If you have any additional questions, feel free to drop a comment below and I’ll do my best to assuage your concerns! Best of luck to all you new FPL managers out there.