The second overhaul is fast approaching and how you set your team up could be the difference in catching league rivals or keeping ahead of them.

This article will cover an analytical approach to selecting an ideal formation and how to spend your budget on the various positions. It will then cover planning and making the best use of transfers.

The Method

Metrics and initial view

It is difficult to know the best metric to use to compare players, but my preference is the number of points per game per value of a player (this takes account of players missing games through injury or some other reason). A plot of these can be found in the sky toolkit (on the “VFM” page). The midfield one is:

The solid blue line is the suggested relationship between points and value of a player. The R2 tells us how well the data fits that relationship. Here it is poor at 0.385, which tells us it is more than just the cost of a player that determines their points per match. If a good fantasy manager can identify the top 20 players in each position, we have a stronger relationship. Midfielders’ graph below:

Plotting the relationship lines on a single graph gives us:

The messages are broadly the same from both charts in that with a small amount of money, it is best to invest first in defenders, then midfielders and lastly strikers – leading to an invalid 5-4-1 formation. Based on the top 20 players per position, there looks to be no significant difference between using a 5-3-2 and a 4-5-1 formation.  The slope of the lines suggests where extra money should be invested. The defender's line is the flattest so should have the least investment (eg cheap valued defenders).

These are general guides and players that a skilled manager can identify should over-ride these principles (eg. Salah is clearly priced too low and should be in any team).

Optimizing transfers

There will be times when transfers are forced upon us through players being dropped or injured. However, we can optimize the value of transfers by following a few simple steps:

  1. Maximum the number of extra games you achieve through making a transfer. Most people already do this by having a player play on the Saturday and the transferred in player plays on the Sunday (sometimes called a 2-4-1).

With many teams having a blank game week (31) due to the FA Cup, there is the potential to maximise this further to achieve a 3-4-1. To achieve this select a player that plays during the FA cup week and then transfer the player to a team that played in the cup.  For example, select Firmino and transfer him to Ozil on April 1st – here Firmino scores points in five matches and Ozil scores points in eight.  So in the last 11 matches, we score points in 13 for one transfer.

  1. Transfer players with a higher value as often as possible. As a rule of thumb, a decent player scores at just over 0.6 points per game for each £m they cost.  So in a typical game, a player costing £10m has an expected score of around six points while a player valued at £6m is expected to around 3.6 points. So it is better to get an extra game via a transfer through a higher valued player.
  2. Point b) makes some cases of point a) invalid. It is better to have two extra matches with £12m valued transfers than three extra matches with £5m valued transfers.

Based on the above points...