You only get two goalkeepers for your FPL teams (compared to three forwards and five defenders/midfielders each). It’s the cheapest position. There’s nothing sexy about stopping shots, really, at least compared to scoring goals. No goalkeeper scored in the top 10 fantasy points last season among all players, and only one was in the top 15. Additionally, several star keepers whose national teams went deep in the World Cup may be rested for the first game or two.
So why think about it? Who cares, right? Why not just go with your gut, or pick a name out of a hat? Better yet, why not just go with the cheapest two starters you can find? Well if you want to do any of those things, go ahead. But I want to win! Don’t you? (Yes, of course I know you do! I don’t doubt that at all.) So let’s get cracking!
THE CORRELATION BETWEEN CLEAN SHEETS AND FANTASY POINTS
As we all know, the easiest way to fantasy points for a keeper is the trusty old clean sheet. Looking at the chart below, it is clear that there is a fairly clear correlation between fantasy points and clean sheets. No, it is not a perfect correlation by any means, but it is pretty strong. After all, the #1 and #2 clean sheets ranks perfectly correlate with the #1 and #2 fantasy points ranks (and #5 is also the same). Lucasz Fabianski (#3 in points, #12 in clean sheets) of Swansea was the only player in the top 10 with a difference of more than 6 spots between the two ranks.
2017/18 Keepers - Fantasy Points & Clean Sheets
|KEEPER||TEAM||POINTS||CLEAN SHEETS||PTS RANK||CS RANK|
|KEEPER||TEAM||POINTS||CLEAN SHEETS||PTS RANK||CS RANK|
|D. De Gea||MUN||172||18||1||1|
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TOP TEAMS AND FANTASY POINTS
Particularly at the very top, those keepers largely came from the best teams, and you’ll need to pay dearly for them. Perhaps a bit surprisingly, though, only four of the “Big Six” teams were represented in the above list. As for the two super squads that failed to make the cut, Arsenal’s Petr Cech barely missed out on the top 10 in fantasy points, ranking #11 with 124. For Liverpool, of course the failure to have a keeper in the top ranks for points was due to the lack of a clear #1, as Loris Karius (88 points and 10 clean sheets) and Simon Mignolet (67 and 7, respectively) alternated duty in Keystone Cops style. If you combine the Liverpudlian pair, though, you would have had a wonderful season: 17 clean sheets, 67 saves and 155 points which would have ranked #4.
THE CORRELATION BETWEEN SAVES AND FANTASY POINTS
You may have noticed something from the above clean sheet chart. There is fantasy gold to be mined from less expensive keepers on lower-tier teams who don’t return a huge number of clean sheets. How do they do it? They combine a fair amount of clean sheets with a lot of saves.
There is a correlation between saves and fantasy points, but it is not quite as strong than the relationship between clean sheets and points. Regarding saves and fantasy points, several ranks varied widely, particularly Ederson who was #2 in points at the position but had only the 18th most saves. Jack Butland also showed a big disparity, ranking only #10 in points while making the most saves.
2017/18 Keepers - Fantasy Points & Saves
|KEEPER||TEAM||POINTS||SAVES||PTS RANK||SV RANK|
|KEEPER||TEAM||POINTS||SAVES||PTS RANK||SV RANK|
|D. De Gea||MUN||172||115||1||5|
However, several keepers — Fabianski, Pope, Ryan, Pickford and Lossl — displayed extreme correlation between the two metrics. Joy from a well-tested keeper on a sub-par team with a cheaper price tag is there to be found, but of course that is not quite as easy to divine as it may be with a top side’s #1 for whom clean sheets are more common.
THE BASIC STRATEGIC APPROACHES
So, you’re looking for the magical sweet spot of clean sheets, saves, team quality and player price. Easy, right?!
For your #1, you may want to pay up for a reliable performer, while then you can more speculative with a cheap #2 who would be used somewhat sparingly (such as when your #1 faces a tough away match). Alternately, if you want to go cheap on both keepers and free up funds elsewhere in your line-up, you will hope that heavier rotation between your pair — picking the player with the more favorable match-up each week — can provide almost as much production. In the latter scenario, the times you find yourself cringing when both go up against tough competition will likely be significantly more frequent.
With all of that in mind, who are the best bets this season for FPL fortune at the goalkeeper position?
PREMIUM (£5.5 - £6.0)
The big question at the premium position surrounds whether David De Gea can rebound from his atrocious performance for Spain at the World Cup. In case you have forgotten (and he’d certainly like you to!), De Gea allowed five goals while making only one save, and one of those scores was an absolute howler against Portugal. On top of that, he allowed all five of Russia’s penalty kicks to sail past him in the Round of 16 shootout loss, whereas the other goalkeepers who faced the same situation each managed to make at least one stop, and usually two or three.
If you trust De Gea to repeat last season’s brilliant Premier League performance for Manchester United, go for it. Given that De Gea is the most expensive keeper, being the only one costing £6.0, I’m going to be cautious and look elsewhere for value with a premium price tag. I’d much rather pay £5.5 for my #1 keeper, using the extra funds to spend on field players.
At £5.5, you’re got four options: Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois, Manchester City’s Ederson, Tottenham’s Hugo Loris and Liverpool’s new transfer, Alisson. The most points that Lloris and Courtois have ever scored in a single season is 144 and 141, respectively. For that money, it’s simply not enough. There’s certainly a chance that either or both will set new highs, but it’s not something you can bank on.
Ederson de Moraes ranked #2 with 158 points last season, trailing only De Gea, so he should be a strong, safe pick for the money. Manchester City returns as the title favorite following a season for the ages. The Citizens allowed the fewest goals in the league while setting an EPL record with the most points, wins, and goals as well as best differential. Do you really think things can go as well this season, though? Maybe, but it’s difficult to imagine. By that simple logic, I’m turning elsewhere than Ederson.
Alisson Becker can give you both clean sheets and saves, whatever you need. Alisson nabbed the most saves in EUFA Champions League last season with AS Roma, while tying for the second-most clean sheets in Serie A. Most importantly, as noted earlier, Karius and Mignolet combined for 155 points last season, which would have ranked #4 if they had been combined as a single keeper named KarMig. Do you think that the Brazilian #1 (ahead of Ederson, by the way) is better than Karius and Mignolet? (That’s a rhetorical question. The answer is yes, heck yes!) That’s why Alisson is my top pick at a premium price tag.
In 2016-17, Burnley’s Tom Heaton ranked #1 at the position with 149 points. When Heaton suffered injury early in 2017-18, Nick Pope stepped in and finished #4 among keepers. Clearly there’s something fortifying the waters at Turf Moor, so with Pope looking to continue as Sean Dyche’s #1 this season, he is an outstanding mid-priced option. NOTE: Pope suffered what has been termed a “serious” shoulder injury yesterday, so keep an eye on the news; if you wanted Pope but it turns out he is expected to be out a long time, you could certainly consider merely replacing him like-for-like with Heaton.
Everton’s Jordan Pickford was a slight disappointment last season with 145 points, but his team got off to a horrible start. I’m of a mind that things should be improved all around in Everton, and with Pickford full of confidence following a strong World Cup showing for England, he’s also a pretty good pick at the £5.0 price tag.
Newcastle’s Martin Dubravka could pay off well, too. If you prorate his points from his minutes last season into a full campaign, you’d end up with roughly 160. Newcastle’s defense was not what anybody would call elite, but the Magpies did well conceding the 7th fewest goals in the league, more than Burnley but fewer than Arsenal.
The first place to look in the bargain bin is at a pair who played full seasons for their newly promoted sides (unlike Dubravka, who only played the final third) and returned wonderful value. You won’t mind at all that their keepers have remained extremely affordable! Brighton’s Mat Ryan (#5) and Huddersfield Town’s Jonas Lossl (#9) each ranked in the top 10 in points, while 18 keepers currently cost more than them, obviously including back-ups on several teams. Why would anybody pay more for a back up? I have no idea.
Of the two, I’d lean toward Ryan. Huddersfield is probably more likely to get relegated this season (though Brighton dropping would not be any sort of surprise either). Ryan may face a challenge from incoming Fulham transfer David Button, but the Australian international will be expected to win that duel.
Lukasz Fabianski is also a good option at the price. The transfer from relegated Swansea City has twice hit 150+ points in the past four seasons, and looks to be an upgrade from Adrian (as well as Argh! Joe Hart Argh!) at West Ham.
Speaking of players at new sides, after coming over from Sporting CP, Rui Patricio will man the goal line for newly promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers. Wolves and Cardiff tied for the fewest goals conceded in the Championship last season, so if you are so inclined you could take a punt instead on Cardiff’s Neil Etheridge, but Patricio’s pedigree gives the edge to the Portuguese international in my mind. Fulham allowed the 6th most goals in the Championship last season, making new arrival Fabri less attractive than Patricio or Etheridge.
Crystal Palace welcomed Vicente Guiata from Getafe, and there looks to be a legitimate battle over the starting spot with Wayne Hennessey. Palace memorably had an atrocious start in 2016-17, but righted the ship under Roy Hodgson and go into 2018-19 with plenty of momentum, particularly at the back. After conceding 17 times in their first seven games, the Eagles allowed only 38 goals across the other 31 fixtures.
AS CHEAP AS POSSIBLE (£4.0)
If you just can’t seem to fit enough quality field players into your line-ups, grabbing a back-up keeper at the absolute minimum price is a necessary course of action. But you’re dealing with the dregs, so simply getting a starter for any length of time would be a miracle. You’ll want to keep your eye on injury news to #1 (and #2) keepers in the near future to see if any £4.0 keepers may get a run of play at the start of the season.
If news at Huddersfield changes and David Button does manage to win the starting job, he would be a great call. If not, unfortunately you’re unlikely to get much of anything from your back-up position. After all, the other options at the price are not particularly promising either. Jason Steele is even further down the depth chart at Brighton, Bournemouth’s Artur Boruc did not play a single minute last season, Crystal Palace’s Julian Speroni has not played 1,000+ minutes since 2013-14, Everton’s Maarten Stekelenburg has never played 2,000+ minutes, Huddersfield’s Ben Hamer has never played 1,000+ minutes, and Wolves’ Will Norris is a complete unknown buried down in the depth chart.
WHO DOES THE EARLY SCHEDULE FAVOR?
Many of you will have a mind to loading up on players with attractive early schedules, and that naturally is a very fine idea, particularly if you are planning on using your first half wildcard once those tasty match-ups turn sour. In that vein, take a look at the seemingly favorable fixture list covering the first half-dozen games for the following keepers (and their teams):
Ederson (£5.5, Manchester City): at Arsenal, v. Huddersfield, at Wolves, v. Newcastle, v. Fulham, at Cardiff
Ben Foster (£4.5, Watford): v. Brighton, at Burnley, v. Crystal Palace, v. Tottenham, v. Manchester United, at Fulham
Alex McCarthy or Angus Gunn (£4.5, Southampton): v. Burnley, at Everton, v. Leicester, at Crystal Palace, v. Brighton, at Liverpool
However, if you would like to keep the option open of holding onto your first wildcard longer (say, 10+ weeks into the season), it may be more prudent to take a longer focus on things. Nobody wants to burn a precious transfer on a goalkeeper, unless an injury, benching or other bad scenario happens.
As seen above, there are always some question marks regarding the security of the #1 position ahead of the season start. So if you really want to go with a side where there is some uncertainty, be sure to keep an eye on team news as the opener approaches.
HOW TO JOIN THE NEVER MANAGE ALONE LEAGUE
You will want to join the Never Manage Alone “Beat the Bloggers” league and test your mettle against our crack staff as well as our wonderful community members. To join the league, first you need to pick a team name and fill out your team with all 15 players. Once you have created your team, simply click on this link to join our league and enter the code below.
LEAGUE NAME: Never Manage Alone “BTB”
LEAGUE CODE: 84492-17509
Who are your #1 and #2 keepers at the moment? Is there anybody not named above who you think will have an outstanding 2018-19, or at least a great start to the season? Take the poll below and then let us know your thoughts in the comments!
How much are you paying for your #1 keeper?
This poll is closed
£6.0 - Only the absolute premium for me, baby!
£5.5 - Hey, I’m not afraid to spend for quality
£5.0 - Gotta go with the middle ground approach
£4.5 - I like to save money for field players
£4.0 - Keepers are only worth the bare minimum!