How to choose a goalkeeper in FPL

Last updated on July 30th, 2019

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!

Let’s be honest, it’s probably the most unglamorous aspect of setting up our FPL teams, picking a goalkeeper. They aren’t the ones at the front end grabbing the goals and assists, but we couldn’t have an FPL team without them. So, just what should you do to decide, well there are three basic routes. A premium ‘set and forget’, a budget ‘set and forget’ or a rotation. I want to look at each of these strategies to help you decide which way you want to go.

The premium ‘set and forget’ option

The first route is to pick a premium goalkeeper (usually one from the top six) and a cheap keeper and play the premium pick every week. The advantage of this route is obvious. The bigger teams, generally, keep the most clean sheets and the goalkeeper is the most secure member of a defence. So picking the goalkeeper from one of these sides should offer plenty of clean sheets. Last season Alisson and Ederson kept 21 and 20 clean sheets respectively, the next best was 14, whilst the year before David De Gea kept 18. So these guys give a steady, secure stream of points which can be very valuable.

But on the flipside, most of these premium options have a very limited points ceiling. We already know they are unlikely to pick up attacking returns but, because of the teams they play for, saves are often hard to come by. Alisson made just 76 saves, Ederson just 58. The top keeper last season was Lukasz Fabianski with 148. Sometimes there can be exceptions, with De Gea picking up 118 in 2017/18 but even then, Fabianski picked up 137. So, unless they manage to pick up a penalty save, most of these keepers will never score more than six points in a game.


The budget ‘set and forget’ option

So, if you aren’t sure you want to shell out for one of the premium guys, but you still just want to play one keeper every week then the route to take is to buy a budget keeper (4.5m) to go with your cheap backup. As we have seen, using Fabianski as an example, these keepers should provide plenty of save points to supplement the, albeit fewer, clean sheets. Even in games like away to man City or Liverpool these keepers can come away with 4 or 5 points if they are able to make enough saves and picking the right one could still net you around 10 clean sheets whilst also giving you £1-1.5m to spend on other areas of your team. These keepers can also come away from a game with 10+ points if they manage a clean sheet, at least six saves and some bonus points, something the premium keepers are very unlikely to do.

Ideally, the best course of action if taking this route is to take a 4.5 keeper and buy his 4.0 backup so that, in case of an emergency (like an injury) there’s no need to make a transfer as you still have a keeper. However, currently there is only one combination that fits this requirement, Mat Ryan and David Button at Brighton, so if this is the route you want, then you have your keeper. If you are happy to chance it, then just pick any 4.0 keeper to go with your 4.5 of choice.  My advice on this would be, unless picking Ryan, try to avoid the highly owned 4.0sm they are more likely to suffer a price drop.

My personal choice for a budget option? Dean Henderson of Sheffield United. Burnley and Bournemouth both have doubts about who their number one will be, Norwich have an awful start, Villa have attacking defenders.


The rotation option

If the ‘set and forget’ options don’t appeal to you then you could try and go with a rotating pair (usually two 4.5s and I certainly advise against rotation the premiums). The basic premise is simple. You pick two goalkeepers who both play and start the one with the better fixture. You can either go purely for a home/away rotation and pick the guy at home or find a rotation that gives you the best run of fixtures.

The advantage of going down this route is you avoid those tricky ties against the big teams, and thus, in theory, maximise your chances of a clean sheet by giving yourself a fixture against a ‘poorer’ team.

But this approach can backfire. It’s not uncommon for the cheap keeper you have benched to haul when it’s totally unexpected (see Boruc getting 10 against Chelsea last season) whilst the guy with the ‘easier’ fixture scores two, leading to a lot of benched points and a lot of pain. One thing to note here is that this route is still 0.5 cheaper than a ‘set and forget’ premium option.

So there are your choices. Like I always say, it’s your team so do what makes you feel comfortable. I will be taking the budget ‘set and forget’ option. I prefer to spend my cash elsewhere and chase the upside.

Mark De Carvalho
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