• James Smith

Become a Fantasy Football Master

Everything you need to know to make a winning FPL team for the new season. Featuring some difference-making players to consider.

As the Premier League has grown, so has fantasy football. Fantasy Premier League is a staple of pre-season for many fans, though the commitment shown to it throughout the campaign varies.

From those jostling at the top of the overall standings to people focused on beating old school friends in mini leagues, Fantasy Premier League has become an integral part of the football season. There are some who commit hours each week to their team, deciding between player X and player Y, trying to second guess managerial decisions and ponder player form.

Plenty take a more casual approach, of course, and forget about their team in the opening weeks of the season. Entering the Ultimate Fantasy Football Competition is one way to motivate yourself to keep engaged with your team.

Ahead of the new season, we have put together a few tips to construct a winning Fantasy Premier League team.

Keep an eye on fixtures

This seems an obvious one, but forward planning is key. Bringing in a striker when they face three strong defences in a row is unlikely to be a good idea and buying a Burnley defender ahead of matches against Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea doesn’t make much sense.

Evaluating upcoming matches for your players can help to lay out plans for transfers or make sure the bench is well stocked. If a player has a run of good fixtures with a difficult one in the middle, having an alternative in your squad with a favourable opponent is handy.

There are resources available that can help managers plot their transfers over long periods, which can be particularly important when there are double game weeks and blanks coming up. Ben Crellin’s Twitter account is a huge help.

Be wary of rotation

Changes to the schedule can cause fixture congestion. Busy spells in the season will see managers rotate their squad. It’s crucial to consider non-Premier League fixtures in this, as the FPL website and app don’t show when teams are playing in Europe or domestic cups.

Certain teams and players are a notable rotation risk (looking at you, Pep). There’s an added concern when selecting Manchester City players, a gamble that’s heightened when Champions League matches are being played close to Premier League game weeks.

There are rotation patterns to take note of. Managers might favour one player over the other in the Champions League, but have others they prefer in the Premier League.

This is mainly a concern with the top clubs, but considering that’s where so many of FPL’s most expensive players are, it’s an important factor. A lot of budget can be wasted if one of your high-cost players is regularly rotated.

Consider the chips

FPL has added different chips over the years. There are two wildcards, a free hit, triple captain and bench boost for players to use throughout the 2020/21 season, and the timing of these can be the difference between success and failure.

Do you gamble on an early triple captain? Do you hold it back for a late-season double game week? When’s the best time to use a free hit?

A lot of players will keep their chips until the schedule gets messy late in the campaign, allowing them to take advantage of fixture pile-ups and manoeuvre their squad when teams are playing in the FA Cup.

Others will take the bolder approach and throw the triple captain down on the back of a hunch. When it comes off, it looks like a stroke of genius (we’ve all seen those people who triple captain a random mid-table striker the week he scores a hat-trick). When it doesn’t work out, it can leave you at a marked disadvantage late in the season.

It’s safest to bide your time with the chips and wait for the big double game week opportunities. Don’t be shy with the wildcard, though. There’s no point holding onto it if your team is struggling.

Find valuable differentials

Anyone can fill a team with big names. It’s the players around them that often make the difference in fantasy football. With a £100 million budget, every manager has to select several low-cost players to their FPL squad.

Finding cheap players who can regularly return points hauls is important. Every FPL player is hunting for the differential pick that pulls them to the top of their mini-league.

A young player set to break through can be a cheap boost to your team. Squad players replacing an injured teammate can be a great value addition to the team, too.

Players to consider for 2020/21

Time to build your squad? Here are a few players to consider for the 2020/21 FPL season.

Bukayo Saka

The Arsenal youngster costs just £5.5 million and contributed to 13 goals across the Premier League and Europa League last term. The Gunners finished 2019/20 strongly, and Saka has already proven himself as a key player under Mikel Arteta.

Conor Coady

Only three teams kept more clean sheets than Wolves last season. Coady was an ever-present for the Midlands club and looks good value at £5 million. He’s reliable, and his 7.6% ownership is much lower than similar options like Brighton’s Lewis Dunk. After playing Manchester City in game week two, Wolves have a favourable run until they face Leicester in early November.

James Rodriguez

New signings are always tempting. James Rodriguez hasn’t had the best time over the last few seasons, but he’s a definite starter for Everton and could be a bargain pickup at £7.5 million. If the Toffees are to challenge for European football, Rodriguez will need to have a productive season.

Neal Maupay

Priced at £6.5 million on the back of a 10-goal season, Neal Maupay is an interesting striker option. Brighton’s early fixtures have deterred managers, resulting in 2.2% ownership. He could be a good differential pick between game weeks four and nine.

If you think you’re ready to test your Fantasy Premier League skills with the chance to win some great prizes, sign up here for the Ultimate Fantasy Football Competition.

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