Written by Jønathan Kahn. You can catch him on twitter @jkisthe1. Kahn has ranked as high as 211th on the All-Time FPL Manager list!
To start, let’s discuss what we mean when we talk about the structure of an FPL team. Put simply. It’s the amount of money we allocate to each area of our FPL team, so, defence (including goalkeepers), midfield and forwards. This matters because, as much as we would like to, we can’t afford to just fill our teams with premium options. So where we look for the budget options is crucial.
This season it seems as if, up until now, the preference has been to spend heavy in defence, going with four, or even five, expensive options (Robertson, Alexander-Arnold, Digne, Laporte, Zinchenko and Ederson amongst the likely picks) then adding Salah and Sterling and filling the rest of the team with budget options from elsewhere. This strategy could have some merits. Last season, defenders were amongst the highest-scoring players in FPL, so if they repeat the trick they will represent excellent value in terms of Points per Minute (PPM). But it does also have some drawbacks. Primarily it places much of the attacking burden in your side on Salah and Sterling, if either or both, has an off week you could be in trouble (especially if those clean sheets don’t come in). Another potential flaw in this strategy is that many of the bargain basement players in your squad (the ones costing £4.5m) will be midfielders or forwards. Traditionally these have been holding midfielders with very little upside or strikers who are unlikely to play. Having a bench, whilst unglamorous can sometimes be necessary for the unexpected benching or knock and two points are still better than zero.
So, how else can we structure the team? Well, in previous seasons a very common set-up has been to pick two premium defenders who will start every week and then rotate between two or three others for the last spot depending on the fixture. What this allows is for extra money to be invested into the attack by adding in someone like Harry Kane, Kevin De Bruyne or Jaimie Vardy. This can potentially add an extra captaincy option to your line-up or just a little bit of extra threat. Let’s face it, we watch football for excitement. It’s far more exciting hoping for goals then hoping not to see goals. So we can see the merits of this strategy but it can have pitfalls too. The cheaper defenders are generally not as reliable for clean sheets as the more expensive ones, so if the cheap defenders AND the expensive attackers fail and the premium defenders don’t, then you can lose out to those operating with four or five at the back.
My personal preference is for the latter structure. I have various reasons for this. Firstly, I think there are plenty of premium options who could fire, beyond just Salah and Sterling, so having three allows me to switch between them more easily. Secondly, I feel the first set-up, whilst perfectly understandable, ignores possible value elsewhere that allows you to compensate for the lack of extra premium defenders. The likes of Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea (if Zouma turns out to be a starter) and others all have potentially great options that are being overlooked. For me, the likes of Ryan Fredericks, Frederic Guilbert, Dean Henderson (as a keeper), Lewis Dunk (if he moves too Leicester) all offer much better security on the bench then the likes of Issac Hayden, Connor Wickham or Eddie Nketiah). But that’s just my preference, as ever it’s important to remember, IT’S YOUR TEAM, you have to do what you think is best. Whichever way you choose to go remember, FLEXIBILITY IS KEY. Ideally, you want to be able to easily get in any player in no more than two moves, not by having to completely restructure your team with a wildcard or a big points hit.