Here are my Ten Commandments for success in FPL.
That’s not to say hits should never be taken – after Bull, you had to go to 53 in the Overall Rankings to find a manager that didn’t take a hit. The key is minimising the risk. Never hit for one-week gambles – only do so if the new signing is likely to outscore the player he replaces over the next few weeks. If you have injuries, suspensions or blanks, sometimes a hit can be the shrewd move in this situation, as your new signing will likely outscore the non-playing player by two points just for playing, making it, essentially, a two-point hit. There is an argument that you sometimes need to take a hit for a defender to facilitate a different premium attacker; with proper planning, you should mitigate the need for this at all.
The other aspect to this is planning future transfers. If you know a player you like has a run of green fixtures coming up, be ready to bring them in. If you know that they will miss a gameweek, ensure you have a plan to sell them or cover on the bench. If one of your defenders is playing one of your attackers in a few weeks, have a plan to make sure you don’t need to have two opposing players in your team.
In addition to this, attacking full-backs can be gold. Alexander-Arnold, Robertson and Doherty perform less like defenders and more like wingers who get four points per clean sheet, and are all valued £7.5m or lower. No player valued at £7.5m or lower scored more points than those three, so there can be an advantage to opting for an extra one of those three than a mid-price attacking midfielder. Below them, the likes of Stevens at Sheffield United, Aurier at Tottenham and Pereira or Chilwell of Leicester can, with the right run of fixtures, prove far more effective than McNeil, Ward-Prowse and Saint-Maximin – similarly-priced players who return inconsistently.
There are outliers to this, though. A cheap defender who is rising in price, like Lundstram last season or Wan-Bissaka the season before, is a viable option for your substitute’s bench even if you have one of their team-mates. We all need cheap subs, and these should not be discounted just because you have another player from their team starting. The other outlier is if a team is on a rampage. Given Liverpool’s defensive strength and the attacking potential of their players, two from Robertson, Alexander-Arnold and van Dijk will produce rewards in the long-term. Likewise, a Salah-Mane double-up, two from Sterling, de Bruyne and Mahrez and two from Martial, Bruno and Rashford will produce regular points over several weeks. The key is ensuring that, should you go with these options, you are planning for several gameweeks, not just a one-off week where it can all go horribly wrong.
If you’re jumping on the premium rotation rollercoaster, there has to be a reason beyond ‘Player A didn’t score this week and Player B did.’ Has Player B got a run of great fixtures, while Player A’s take a turn for the worst? Is Player A over-performing his statistics, while Player B is getting a dozen chances a game? Is Player A carrying a niggling injury, while Player B has regained match fitness? If the answer to these questions is ‘No,’ you’re better off sticking with what you have.
We need to avoid this trap to maximise our chances of success. We need to wait until the latest possible minute to make our transfers, when we have the most information possible at our disposal. There’s nothing worse than signing a Saint-Maximin on a Saturday night after a three-assist gameweek, only to hear Steve Bruce say in his press conference that he is managing an injury and will be rested for the next match. There are few things more frustrating than swapping your premium player for another, then finding out his wife has given birth and he won’t be featuring, or he has pulled-up with a groin strain in training, leaving you with a choice of being a premium player down or taking a hit to correct it. The argument, especially in the opening month or so, is that a 0.1m rise in value for a player can cost 0.5m to bring him in, as you need to downgrade another player. Cover this situation by starting with a team value of £99.5m. Leave transfers as late as possible and give yourself the best chance of them coming off.
Without an effective chip strategy, you will never achieve the higher ranks of FPL. Using them properly, maximising your chances of success, can see you turn from an FPL journeyman into an elite player.
Those are the Ten Commandments of FPL that I will be following this season, as I look to improve on my highest-ever rank. There may be the odd gameweek where I have to break one of them. There may be gameweeks where hits are the strategic move, and I can replace two under-performers with two players on hot streaks. There could be a time where it takes too many transfers to avoid opposing players, and the better plan is to take a diminished gameweek to avoid destroying my squad for the three or four weeks either side. I could plan four weeks ahead, then something happens which forces me to reassess those moves. I may even save my Triple Captain for Gameweek 38, to give myself that extra edge over my mini-league rivals. All I know for sure is, the key to mini-league and overall ranking success is sticking to the Ten Commandments as much as possible.
Good luck in the upcoming FPL season. May all your transfers be successes, may all your arrows be green, and may the FPL Gods forever be in your favour.