What does it take to become a Fantasy Premier League (FPL) champion? Practically speaking, it takes about 2500 points. It’s an intimidating goal. It feels almost too big to comprehend.
My aim in this article is to provide a simple, straightforward FPL strategy by breaking down those 2500 points into bite-size, achievable goals.
I like this strategy because it teaches FPL managers how to stay patient and maintain a single vision for the length of the season.
Since I first posted this strategy on Twitter in 2019, the “Lock & Swap” (as it has come to be known) has helped a ton of managers reach their personal bests in overall points and overall rank. I hope it helps you do the same.
Are you ready? You sure? Alright, let’s begin…
A Clean Slate in FPL Strategy
Forget everything you thought you knew about FPL.
In due time we will reincorporate some of these things, but first you have to think about the only thing that matters in the end…FPL points. 2500 of them. What do you need to do to reach it?
You have 11 starting spots in your team each week. Each starting spot offers a range of potential points. To reach 2500 points you need to average about 227 points-per-player, or 5.98 points-per-player-per-gameweek. Well, sort of. Keep reading.
If you play your chips right and take advantage of the Blank and Double Gameweeks, a reasonable goal for points earned from your chips is about 50 points. That brings your overall goal down to 2450 points.
Let’s pause here for a second. Write this down or log it into your memory. Despite all your headaches and countless hours trying to get your chips just right, they will only account for about 50 points of your season total.
While not a negligible amount, it means that your FPL success is won in the week-to-week slog. You will want to remember that if (or when) you have a chip fail later in the season. Let’s carry on…
Your FPL Captain
To keep the math simple, let’s assume you gain a modest total of 500 points from the double-points captain bonus.
This sounds like a lot, but it’s actually a fairly easy goal to eclipse simply by rotating the armband between your two or three highest scorers.
In previous seasons we have been able to reach this goal simply by captaining the same player every gameweek, such as Kevin De Bruyne (£12.0m) in the 19/20 season or Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) in the 17/18 and 18/19 seasons.
Your overall points goal is now down to 1950. This means your other ten players need to average 195 points-per-player, or 5.1 points-per-player-per-gameweek.
Seven players had 195 points or more in the 18/19 season, and nine in the 19/20 season. The 20/21 season was a disappointing outlier, with only four players hitting that goal. All of them come with a premium price tag.
FPL Premium ‘Locks’
Price tiers vary season-to-season, and the definition of each price tier depends on the position and points potential.
Common templates offer combinations of the following: 0-1 premium forwards, 1-3 premium midfielders, and 1-2 premium defenders.
Let’s assume you get four premium players in addition to your captain. A conservative estimate for their combined points is 800. This brings our overall points goal down to 1150.
Now you only have to manage 192 points-per-player, or 5 points-per-player-per-gameweek, between your remaining six starters. That sounds much less intimidating than when we started, doesn’t it?
Your premium players are set-and-forget “locks” in your FPL team.
Too many managers burn themselves by swapping their best players in and out of their team in hopes of collecting that big haul, often at the neglect of the rest of their team.
I know the feeling of an itchy trigger finger that just can’t wait to drop your most expensive player after he blanks two weeks in a row. But for the players who are almost guaranteed to get 195+ points in a season, you have to show patience and trust them to do the job.
Sometimes the best strategy in FPL is to do nothing. Locking in half your team for the long haul feels counter-intuitive, but it’s a trustworthy strategy that will guarantee you a solid amount of points.
Budget and Mid-Tier ‘Swaps’
So now you have your captain and four additional premium players selected. The remaining six starters are where you make or break your season.
As I said above, the goal for these six spots on your team is to average 5-points-per-player-per-gameweek. It’s all about keeping your FPL options open.
In order to turn your mid-tier or budget-tier FPL players into a premium points total, your Gameweek 1 team needs players in price tiers that can be easily transferred in and out of your lineup, ready to strike on a good run of fixtures or form.
The question you should be asking is not, “is Ollie Watkins (£7.5m) a good choice for my team?” but rather, “are there enough options around the £7.5m price tier that I can pivot to throughout the season to maximise my FPL points from this starting spot on my team?”.
For example, a forward like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.0m) is stuck on a price tier island with only one other player within £0.5m of his current price, and only three players within £1.0m.
While those players might be good options, you will always have to keep some money in the bank if you want to pivot back and forth between them. Meanwhile, a forward like Watkins has 13 players within £0.5m of his current price, and 23 players within £1.0m.
If you are choosing players who reside on those price tier islands, ensure that they are all worthy of a place in your team. Otherwise, spend your money on the price tiers that give you the most options.
The key to success here is how well you play the transfer game with your budget and mid-tier starting spots.
A set-and-forget £7.5m forward might only get you 150 points for an entire season. But if you give yourself plenty of options and make the right transfers, you could turn those 150 points into something closer to the points total you would expect from a premium priced player.
A quick note about goalkeepers: you can only expect about 130-180 points from your goalkeeper. This unfortunately means that you will have decide how much you want to handicap yourself.
I’m not a big fan of rotating goalkeepers, but it is admittedly the only possible way you could transform your goalkeeper position into a premium point total.
Sometimes you’re locked-in premium players are not working out. Other times you encounter Blank/Double Gameweeks or an irresistible run of fixtures. Whatever the case may be, you need an exit strategy. That is where your Wildcards come in.
Rather than using transfers on your premium players who could haul on any given week, it would be better to wait and make wholesale changes to your team at opportunities when you can profit most from them.
The primary goal for your FPL Wildcard is to reassess how well your premium locked-in players are doing and whether you would like to continue the next stretch of the season with them.
Transfers between premium players often require a complete restructuring of your team, so your Wildcard is the ideal time to do just that .
Phew! That was a lot to take in. Let me break all of that down into four simple steps.
- Select four to five premium FPL players who you can trust for long stretches of the season, including a couple good captain options.
- Use the remaining money to target budget and middle price-tiers that give you plenty of good options to make transfers throughout the season.
- Use your transfers on your budget and mid-tier players to take advantage of good runs of fixtures and form.
- Play your Wildcards to restructure your team, using it as an opportunity to bring in different premium players if necessary.
Below is an example of a team I created following these steps, with emojis representing the Locks, Swaps, and bench players.
There are a lot of ways to be good at FPL, and a manager’s success probably comes down to following a strategy that best fits their individual personality.
I do not claim that this guide is guaranteed to work for you, but I hope the “Lock & Swap” offers you a practical guide that will help you learn and grow throughout the season.
If you choose to utilise this strategy, keep in touch with me on Twitter and let me know how you are faring or what challenges you encounter along the way.
More FPL Content
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