Wondering how to play FPL and want to know the rules? You’ve come to the right place

The official FPL (Fantasy Premier League) game rules are actually really simple and straightforward, especially when you compare it with other fantasy football games. However you still need to know them thoroughly if you want to have that edge over your mini league rivals. Whether you are playing for fun, money or bragging rights it’s always good to know the rules so you can enjoy the game to the maximum.

Whether you are completely new to the game or are a returning player this guide will tell you everything you need to know about getting started from picking your initial squad to the ins and outs of blank and double Gameweeks.


How do I pick my FPL team?

When you register or log into your FPL account you will be prompted to enter some basic details such as your name and address and what team you support etc. Once you have gone through this process you will be prompted to pick your 15-man squad. You will be given a budget of £100m. Each player is assigned a price based on ability and points scored last season or if a player is coming in from a different league FPL will base on their past goals and assist record. There isn’t an exact formula they use but it’s usually quite easy to estimate what a player will come in at, give or take £1m to £2m.

So evidently you are not going to be able to have a team full of 15 of the league’s best players. What would be the fun in that? This is where your expert football knowledge and research comes in, finding those cheap gems, OOP (out of position) players, and under the radar picks. You pick your 11 starters and four bench players. Your team will consist of

  • 2 goalkeepers
  • 5 defenders
  • 5 midfielders
  • 3 strikers

Your bench is only used if one of your starting players does not play. You order your bench from one to three, so put your best player with the best fixture as number one so they are subbed in first. Another important thing to note is you can only choose a maximum of three players from a single Premier League team.

What formations can I play in FPL?

There are many formations you can play in FPL. The only limitation is you have to play one goalkeeper, at least three defenders, and at least one striker. The way the pricing is structured in FPL the most popular and optimal formations seem to be 3-4-3 and 3-5-2. Note you can also play 4-5-1, 4-4-2, 5-4-1, 5-3-2 and 4-3-3. You will probably at some point in the season play most of these formations due to fixtures, form, and circumstance.


How do players score points?

There are a number of ways players score points in FPL. Midfielders and strikers score most of their points via goals and assists, and defenders and goalkeepers via clean sheets and saves (penalty save also). Players can also score minus points. Bonus points are also allocated to the top-performing players but we will go into that in more detail later. For a full breakdown of what each position scores, see the table below:

Some important things to note:

  • A clean sheet is only awarded if a player plays 60 minutes or more (does not include stoppage time) if a player is subbed off with a clean sheet and his team then concedes a goal, his clean sheet will stay intact.
  • If a defender or goalkeeper receives a red card then they will continue to be penalised for goals conceded by their team.
  • An assist is awarded for the player who makes the final pass before the goal is scored, rebounds, own goals, and for earning a penalty or free kick (and is then subsequently scored).


How do I make Transfers?

When the game starts we are given unlimited transfers right up until the Gameweek one deadline. Thereafter we are given one free transfer a week. If you save a transfer in any week it is banked and the following week you get two free transfers. You cannot save more than two free transfers so if you don’t use it you will lose it. If you have two free transfers and you only use one of those, then the following week you will go back to having two free transfers.  Any transfers made after your allowance of free transfer(s) will incur a four-point hit per transfer. Few examples below:

  • GW3, you have two free transfers and your moves are De Bruyne, Doherty and Jimenez to Salah, Lundstram and Vardy. This will cost you four points and in GW4 you will go back to having one free transfer. Even if you just made two of these moves with no points hit you would still go back to having the one free transfer in GW4.
  • GW5, again you have two free transfers. You like your team and don’t see any major changes to make so decide to change your second goalkeeper and only use a single transfer. Heaton to Ryan is your move. In GW6 you will again have two free transfers to use.
  • GW9, you only have one free transfer and you need to make a few changes as one of your players is injured. You decide to go Vardy, Richarlison and Mount to DCL, Bruno, and Pulisic. You will be docked eight points for this as you have made two transfers extra over your free allowance. In GW10 you will have one free transfer.

Each deadline every week is one hour and thirty minutes before the first game kick-off. So be sure to make your transfers before then.


How does the captaincy work in FPL?

The captain pick in FPL is a vital part of the game, probably the most important. If you get the captaincy right more times than not you are likely to have a good season. Each gameweek you have to captain one of your players, and vice-captain (VC) another.

Your captain gets his points doubled. If for whatever reason your captain does not play then the captaincy switches over to the player you vice-captained. When this happens then your vice-captain gets double points. Just a note of caution the vice-captain is something that gets overlooked a lot as it’s very seldom needed. Always set your vice-captain as you never know what could happen – players could get injured in warm-ups, at home, and even things like their partners going into labour (it’s happened before more than once).


Player price rises in FPL?

As mentioned earlier at the start of the season we get £100m budget to pick 15 players. Each player is assigned a price at the start of the season and they don’t increase or decrease before the GW1 deadline. From GW1 onwards player’s prices will start to rise and fall depending on the activity of fantasy managers. Player’s prices only rise or fall by £0.1m at a time and the maximum a player can rise in one gameweek is £0.3m (so three times). Let me give a few examples below:

Let’s say you buy De Bruyne for £10m and his price increases to say £10.6m, you actually haven’t made a £0.6m, but a £0.3m profit. So if you sell De Bruyne you will sell him at £10.3m and not £10.6m. Why? Because you only make £0.1m *real* profit (selling price) for every £0.2m increase. In other words 50%. Thus when you sell a player for a profit you only make half of that. Therefore if in this instance you decide to keep the Belgian and his price rises again to £10.7m, then your selling price (real profit) is still £10.3m. If it rises to £10.8m then you get the £0.4m profit.

The same logic applies when the player’s price falls, until you get to the price in which you bought the player (£10m in this example), then every £0.1, fall equals to a real £0.1m fall.

For a more comprehensive look at the price change system and how to best monitor it, have a read of the price changes guide.


When players become unavailable

When players become unavailable due to injuries, suspensions, or leaving the league they become red-flagged. If you go to the transfers page you will see a list of all the players there. A red warning symbol will appear next to the players name. If you click on it will tell you the reason why they are unavailable. If your player is injured it will inform you of the nature of the injury and their expected return date. This is actually very handy as if a player is out for only one week for example and you aren’t keen on getting rid of him or his replacements don’t appeal, then instead of transferring him out, you can just bench him. If the player is suspended or has left the league (permanently or temporarily) again it will tell you this and their expected return date.

Players could also get yellow or orange flagged.  This only happens for injuries to players but doesn’t necessarily mean they are ruled out. A yellow flag usually means the player has a chance of playing and the injury isn’t serious. An orange flag however indicates the injury is serious and is most likely not to play. With yellow and orange flags clicking on the warning symbols will show the nature of the injury and their chances of playing of percentage format. For yellow flags, it will show 75% and for orange flags either 25% or 50%.

The FPL bonus points system

The FPL bonus point system is based on statistics supplied by OPTA. It is another important factor in the game as it’s not subjective and it can be used to identify players who are ‘bonus magnets’ and those who are not. Although the bonus point system is not perfect it is better than the ‘man in the stand’ system they used in the games early years. It shifts the game more towards skill rather than luck.

The way it works is that players build up their BPS figures throughout the match by certain actions such as goals scored, assists, clearances, etc. At the end of the match, the players who have the top three highest BPS scores get allocated between one to three extra points – three to the highest and so on. Important to note too that players also get minus BPS for certain actions like being tackled, or receiving a yellow card. The full BPS table is below.

As the season progresses it’s made clear which players are more prone to bonus points than others. Players like Kevin de Bruyne always do well as he creates lots of chances and gets a lot of ‘key passes’ also so any type of attacking return is likely to lead to bonus points most of the time. However, players who get tackled a lot and miss a lot of chances generally will need more than one attacking return to get any bonus points.

For a more comprehensive guide on bonus points click here.


FPL Mini-Leagues

Mini-leagues in FPL are probably what got most of us playing this game, whether it was between mates, work colleagues, or even family. It’s a very important part of what makes this game fun and keeps us coming back season after season. In FPL we can enter up to 25 mini-leagues maximum.

You can enter both public leagues and private leagues and in two formats – classic and head to head. Joining a public league will put you in a random league with managers from all over the world. A private league however can only be accessed via unique code that is given to the person who creates the league. There is no limit on the number of entrants in any of the two league formats; however, in the head to head format you cannot join or leave that league once the season starts. If you have created a head to head mini-league midway through the season, then once the first gameweek is played no one else can join or leave.

You can create or join leagues via the ‘Leagues’ tab and following the simple instructions.

Classic Leagues

Classic leagues are your normal leader board type leagues where simply the manager with the most overall points at the end of the season wins. The manager who creates the leagues (admin) is responsible for issuing the code to other managers. The admin has the ability to ‘lock’ the league once the desired participants have all entered, and also to he can remove and block other managers from entering his or her league. This is to obviously stop unwanted people from entering your league.


Head to Head Leagues

Head to Head leagues are more akin to a ‘real’ football league format. Every gameweek you are pitted against another manager from your league. The manager who gets more points in that gameweek wins. Winner gets three points, a draw is one point and a loss zero. If at the end of the season there is a tie on points then overall points is used to determine the winner.


FPL chips

In FPL we are given a total of five chips to use throughout the season – Two wildcards, Bench Boost, Triple Captain and Free Hit. The first wildcard will be available from the start of the season until Sat 26 Dec 11:30. The second wildcard is available straight after this date in preparation for the January transfer window and will remain available until the end of the season. The Bench Boost, Triple Captain and Free Hit can be played at any time during the season. An important thing to note is you can only play one chip per gameweek. This includes your wildcard – for example, you cannot wildcard and Bench Boost/Triple Captain in the same gameweek.

Wildcard: The wildcard is the most powerful chip we have at our disposal. This chip allows you to make unlimited transfers at no cost. You can totally revamp your team. There are many strategies you can use for the wildcard and there is no right or wrong answer. For the first half of the season, it can be used to take advantage of fixture swings or just to jump on in form players that you don’t have enough of. The start of the season is the most difficult to predict so you have to be prepared to use it early. This is a strategy I have used for a number of seasons and has worked out well for me. The wildcard is used when confirming transfers so cannot be cancelled once activated. For a more detailed guide on the wildcard chip, see my Wildcard Guide.

Free Hit: The Free Hit Chip basically allows you to have a one-week wildcard. You can revamp your whole team, but the team will only be for one gameweek and you also have to stay in budget to how much cash you have. Once you use the Free Hit Chip, then the following gameweek your team will revert back to your original. For example if you played your Free Hit in GW20, in GW21 your team would go back to the one you had in GW19. Your original team is still in the background so your players are still rising/falling in price. This is typically best used in a blank or double gameweek. Like the Wildcard, the Free Hit is used when confirming transfers. It cannot be cancelled once you have confirmed. For a more detailed guide on the Free Hit Chip and when to best to use it see my Free Hit Chip Guide.

Bench Boost: Activating this chip allows your bench to score points as well as your starting 11 in the gameweek you use it. Therefore you will have 15 players for that particular gameweek. This is a chip that can be both used effectively during a double gameweek or a standard one. The Bench Boost can be cancelled once activated as it used on the ‘My Team’ page.

Triple Captain: The triple captain will triple your captain’s points instead of doubling it. Although the Triple Captain can justifiably be used in a single gameweek I believe it’s best used in a double gameweek. The reason being you get two bites at the cherry. I have always used my Triple Captain in a double gameweek and more often than not got good returns. Last season for example I used it on Salah who blanked in his first game vs Wolves, but got a goal, assist, and three bonus points in the second game vs West Ham, giving me a total of 48 points.


Double Gameweeks in FPL

Double Gameweeks are when a team has two matches in a gameweek. This is usually caused by fixtures having to be rearranged due to cup competitions and sometimes due to unforeseen postponements such as bad weather and of course worldwide pandemics. The double gameweeks usually come at the end of the season when the cup competitions are past the quarter-final stage and more often than not involves the bigger teams.

Therefore when they come around it makes sense to have the best double gameweek players in your squad. As mentioned earlier it’s also a very good time to play your chips. A popular strategy is to use the second wildcard for the biggest Double Gameweek by wildcarding a week before it, then loading up your team with 15 Double Gameweek players then Bench Boosting, giving you 30 players for that Gameweek.

Blank Gameweeks in FPL

Blank gameweeks are caused due to the rearranging of fixtures due to cup competitions also. A team with a blank gameweek then gets a double gameweek in future fixtures. A blank gameweek is when a number of teams do not play in a gameweek so you are most likely not going to have a starting 11. Every season is different in terms of what teams have a blank gameweek but typically this is when the Free Hit chip comes to the rescue.

It could be some big teams like Liverpool, Man United and Man City have a blank in the same gameweek so instead of getting rid of their players and losing the best players and all that value you can just free hit them out and get them back the following gameweek. As mentioned earlier every season the blanks and doubles are different so you need to have an open mind when it comes to strategy.

The FPL Cup

The FPL cup is a cup competition and starts in Gameweek 17. The top four million-odd scoring fantasy managers in Gameweek 16 will qualify. It has the same rules as a head to head league fixture. You will be pitted randomly against another manager in the first round and if you win you move on to the next round and so on. If you lose you are out – simple. This process will continue until the final Gameweek (38) when the two remaining finalists will battle it out. Any points hits taken will count towards your total cup score also.

In the event of a draw then the following tie break rules will be applied:

  1. Most goals scored in the Gameweek.
  2. Fewest goals conceded in the Gameweek.
  3. Virtual coin toss.

The winner will receive a number of prizes which vary season to season. The cup winner for 2019/20 will receive the below:

-VIP hospitality at one 2020/21 Premier League match
-Includes travel and 2 nights’ accommodation
-Copy of FIFA 20 and a games console
-Tablet computer
-Bluetooth speaker
-Nike manager jacket
-FPL goody bag consisting of a rucksack, t-shirt, mug, water bottle, stress ball, pen, pad and -key ring



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