This article is another attempt to explore the concept of value within FPL, following on from the piece titled ‘FPL Captaincy | The Revolving Door’. But instead of purely focusing on captaincy, the game as a whole will be considered with the intention of providing a framework with which to target value players.
As the title of this article suggests, the quest for 30 points per million is the starting point of this discussion, but where did that figure come from? Based on previous seasons, to have any chance of getting close to winning FPL, a points total in the region of 2500 (often more) has to be achieved. In 2018/19, 2500 points would have seen a final rank inside the top 300 overall. As a simplification, a team setup with £18m of the total budget concentrated on the bench and £82m in the starting XI will be considered. Dividing that points total (2500) by 82 results in a value of 30.49, suggesting that around 30 points per million across your team should be targeted.
That figure may seem a bit high at first. Indeed, based on last season’s points and this season’s prices, only Andy Robertson and Virgil Van Dijk would exceed that value. This places emphasis on finding the bargains of the new season as quickly as possible. Players such as Ryan Fraser and Raul Jimenez were able to do this in 2018/19, significantly outscoring their 30 points per million target based on £5.5m starting prices.
In addition, the player in question only needs to hit the 30 points per million target whilst in your team. For example, Gylfi Sigurdsson will not score 240 points this season, but could provide excellent value during Everton’s favourable run of fixtures at the start of the season. Looking at value simply in season-long terms is a somewhat limited exercise, given that two wildcards, a free hit and a further 34 free transfers are available during the season.
With this in mind, what does a player need to average on a per game basis whilst in your team based on their price? At £4.0m, 120 points is a hypothetical season-long target, averaging 3.16 per game. The other price targets are below.
£4.5m – 3.55 £5.0m – 3.95 £5.5m – 4.34 £6.0m – 4.74 £6.5m – 5.13
£7.0m – 5.53 £7.5m – 5.92 £8.0m – 6.32 £8.5m – 6.71 £9.0m – 7.11
£9.5m – 7.50 £10.0m – 7.89 £10.5m – 8.29 £11.0m – 8.68 £11.5m – 9.08
£12.0m – 9.47 £12.5m – 9.87
Those targets may still seem unrealistic in most cases, but it has to be remembered that this is not always a season-long target but an attempt to exploit short to medium-term value, perhaps over a favourable run of fixtures. Set and forget options do still exist, including the Liverpool defence or Aymeric Laporte, who managed 5.1 points per match last season – in line with this season’s £6.5m valuation. In addition, cheaper assets held long-term that are rotated with each other, such as budget defenders or goalkeepers can provide excellent value when selected, even if they do not achieve their points per match target across the season.
Premium assets can also provide long-term value, but when looking at the targets that they need to hit, the impact of captaincy must be considered. Mohamed Salah and Raheem Sterling will be used as an example to illustrate this. At a points per match of 6.8 and 6.9 respectively, the two players offer very little value if they are not captained. This was the basis for the Revolving Door Captaincy article, for those favouring Mohamed Salah in all of the first three gameweeks.
However, if the captaincy was equally shared between the two, those values would increase by 50% to 10.2 for Salah and 10.35 for Sterling, above their respective 30 points per million targets. This demonstrates that despite their price, captain options can be considered set and forget, if their form and fixtures align more favourably than the other contenders.
It also explains why Harry Kane’s price drop to £11.0m was entirely justified, if the previous season’s performance is the main contributing factor. He managed 5.7 points per match, which increases to 8.55 if considered your captain on 50% of occasions. Even despite that increase, he still comes in slightly below the 8.68 points per match target for an £11.0m player. Therefore, for Kane to be a serious consideration, he either needs to increase his output or be targeted during a period of favourable fixtures. With Manchester City away in Gameweek 2, it could be a case of starting without Kane but being prepared to invest in him between Gameweek 3 and 9.
How does all of this information help select a squad for Gameweek 1? The key piece of information is that the true value of every player needs to be considered, taking into account the effect of captaincy and how long that player is intended to be part of your squad. Searching for as many players as possible that have potential to be set and forget options will limit the number of transfers made and crucially points hits that need to be taken. Premium defenders and a pair of excellent captain options are useful in this regard, as indicated by the price specific 30 points per million targets. Two cheap rotating goalkeepers could also do a similar job, as much as that strategy is bemoaned.
With this taken into account, only three to five starting spots remain, providing the option of focusing on short to medium-term value in these positions before considering a switch to an alternative. The aim would be to plan three to five weeks in advance and consider which players (outside of a semi-flexible set and forget core) can provide value over that period. For example, James Maddison might be a consideration between Gameweeks 1 and 4, with 22 points needed to reach the 5.53 per match target for a £7.0m asset across fixtures against Wolves, Chelsea, Sheffield United and Bournemouth. That is potentially two attacking returns coupled with appearance, clean sheet and bonus points.
To summarise, finding value for money is the key to success in FPL. However, knowing that and being able to predict and understand when those opportunities arise are two very different things. The effect of captaincy, being able to rotate players and the difference between short-term and long-term value must all be taken into account when selecting a squad for Gameweek 1 and beyond.