Every season less than 50 points separate the #1 and the #10 Goalkeeper in Fantasy Premier League (FPL). That is tighter than any other position in the game! In this article, we will look at the fine details that separate the best from the rest, and the keys to finding the next budget Goalkeeper hero.
Let me start by asking you a question: What’s the most valuable Fantasy statistic for a Goalkeeper?
Trick Question! Whatever your answer was, it’s wrong. There is no single Fantasy statistic that makes or breaks a Goalkeeper. He needs a good combination of three: (1) Clean Sheets, (2) Saves, and (3) Bonus Points.
Clean Sheets are important, but they are not all-important. Let’s look at Ederson (£6.0m) as an example. In the 18/19 season he kept 20 Clean Sheets and finished #2 overall among Goalkeepers with 169 points. He followed that with another amazing season in 19/20, winning the golden glove with 16 Clean Sheets. And yet, Ederson only finished as the #9 Fantasy Goalkeeper with 133 points. Why? Because he had a dismal amount of Saves and Bonus Points (not to mention some card trouble).
If you want to rely on a Goalkeeper like Ederson, history shows that you really need at least 18 Clean Sheets for it to pay off. There are only one or two Goalkeepers out there who have the potential to achieve that and you’re going to have to pay a premium price to get them.
But don’t completely disregard Clean Sheets either! For example, David De Gea (£5.5m) followed his legendary 17/18 season (18 Clean Sheets, 172 points) with a mere seven Clean Sheets in 18/19, collecting only 120 points despite a whopping 123 saves.
In fact, the historical statistics among Goalkeepers indicate that a minimum of 10 Clean Sheets is the benchmark for a potential #1 Goalkeeper, but even then you’ll need some help from other statistical categories.
It’s time to talk about Tom Heaton (£4.5m). He became a top Goalkeeper in the 14/15 and 16/17 seasons while only managing to keep 10 Clean Sheets in both. How did he do it? By racking up 127 and 142 Saves, respectively. Remember, you get one point for every three saves in a game. It may not seem like much, but it adds up over a season.
The best Goalkeepers in the history of FPL only averaged 4.5 points-per-game. We are always on the hunt for Goalkeepers who will keep the most Clean Sheets, but you can still hit that 4.5 points-per-game mark just as easily with a Goalkeeper who faithfully collects 1-2 Save points every Gameweek with the occasional Clean Sheet.
Bonus Points are the most overlooked Fantasy statistic for Goalkeepers, but it’s often the difference between a great Goalkeeper and a mediocre one. So how does a Goalkeeper earn Bonus Points? Answer: By being on a team that can’t score. Ederson got a measly two Bonus Points in the 19/20 season because City scored 102 goals. With that many goal scorers, it is no wonder why Ederson could never get his hands on a Bonus Point. Meanwhile, Nick Pope (£5.5m) got 23 Bonus Points–the most ever by a Goalkeeper–because Burnley only managed to score 43 goals all season. The more 0-0 draws and 1-0 wins a team has, the more likely the Goalkeeper is going to get Bonus Points.
Let’s take a look at what teams the highest Bonus Points earners played for in recent memory. Do you notice a pattern?
19/20 – Burnley, Sheffield United, Crystal Palace
18/19 – Cardiff, West Ham, Everton
17/18 – Burnley, Leicester, Stoke
16/17 – Burnley, Leicester, Middlesbrough
15/16 – Arsenal, Stoke, Watford
14/15 – Burnley, Swansea, Hull
Almost all of those teams scored and conceded very few goals, giving their Goalkeepers a higher chance of earning Bonus Points. For a position that already has a very low points ceiling, Bonus Points can be the difference between a #1 and a #10 Goalkeeper, so you would do well to target one who plays for the type of team that sets him up for Fantasy success.
Let’s pretend Alisson (£6.0m) has another monster campaign this season like he did with his 176-point debut in the 18/19 season. Should you get him? No! Here are two reasons why… First, those premium Goalkeepers often play on teams where you would do better to use your three-players-per-team limit on outfield players who score more points, like with Liverpool or Manchester City. And second, premium Goalkeepers are almost always a trap because every season there will be a budget Goalkeeper for £1.0m-£1.5m less that finishes right up there with a guy like Alisson.
Remember, only 50 points separates the #1 from the #10 Goalkeeper, and a handful of budget Goalkeepers will almost always finish near the top. Spending that extra £1.0m-£1.5m on a premium Goalkeeper might buy you ten to 30 points at the most. Meanwhile, that £1.0m-£1.5m could buy you so much more at other positions. You are far better off saving that extra money and using it on another position where price makes a real difference.
With all this in mind, we see that getting the highest-scoring Goalkeeper is no longer the objective if he costs too much. What you really want is the highest-scoring budget Goalkeeper–the next Nick Pope! My advice is to buy a Goalkeeper in the £4.5m-£5.0m price tier with the potential for no less than 10 Clean Sheets, no less than 100 Saves, who plays for a top-half or mid-table team that struggles to score goals. The more Clean Sheets, the less dependent you are on Saves and Bonus Points, but you need all three! If you do that, you might not have the #1 overall Goalkeeper on your team, but you will probably have a top 5 Goalkeeper and some extra cash to use elsewhere on your team to earn more overall points.
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