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Getting the Most out of the FPL Bonus Points System

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How does BPS work, and which teams, positions and players are the most effective at padding fantasy scores?

Leicester City v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Jamie Vardy is leading FPL in scoring. How much of a role has the bonus bounty played in that?
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

The official fantasy Premier League BPS (Bonus Points System) may not seem terribly important. After all, it’s only a couple points here and there, right? Well, as we all should know, a few points at every turn across a 38-week season adds up to a huge haul! And when you get the glorious full three-point bonus for your captain, that’s a six point bump; an extra half dozen points time and time again is a vital bounty that can make the difference between winning your league and languishing as an also-ran.

However, even for the most seasoned fantasy managers, the bonus system remains a bit of a mystery, so let’s investigate it and glean how to take advantage for the most benefit.

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HOW DOES THE FPL BPS WORK?

The FPL base scoring system is very simple at heart, rewarding goals, assists, clean sheets and playing time, while making deductions for yellow/red cards and poor defense. However, the bonus system is much more complicated, along the lines of the now-defunct Yahoo and Togga platforms or NMA’s current Fantrax format, which reward all-around play from a variety of statistics.

Each game played rewards the top three players (sometimes more in case of a tie) between the two teams based on the FPL BPS, awarding three additional points for the player with the highest BPS score, two points for the player with the second highest BPS tally, and one point for the player with the third highest BPS mark.

The BPS still largely focuses on goals, assists, and clean sheets, but it also counts other contributions such as chances created, crosses, key passes, pass completion rates, successful dribbles, and successful tackles, while making deductions for actions including being caught offisde, defensive errors, fouls conceded, and shots off target. Interestingly not all goals are treated equally, as the game winner brings the biggest reward; furthermore, in a reversal of how standard scoring treats goals by position, BPS gives the biggest reward for goals to forwards. To see the full list of what categories are included and how they each are scored, consult the “Scoring” section in the explanation of the BPS system at the official Premier League fantasy site.

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WHICH PLAYERS HAVE SCORED THE MOST BONUS POINTS?

Let’s start by looking at the top 20 list for bonus point scoring this season. You won’t be surprised by most of the big names, but some will surely stand out more than others, just as you may also be struck by the absence of certain stars.

Top 20 Players in Bonus Points Thru GW12

RANK POS PLAYER TEAM BONUS POINTS
RANK POS PLAYER TEAM BONUS POINTS
1(T) F T. Abraham Chelsea 16
1(T) F J. Vardy Leicester City 16
3 F R. Jimenez Wolves 13
4(T) F P-E Aubameyang Arsenal 12
4(T) F M. Rashford Man. Utd. 12
6(T) GK M. Ryan Brighton 11
6(T) MF J. Ayew Cry. Palace 11
6(T) F S. Mane Liverpool 11
9(T) MF K. De Bruyne Man. City 10
9(T) D J. Lundstram Sheffield Utd. 10
9(T) GK B. Foster Watford 10
12(T) MF Willian Chelsea 9
12(T) F R. Firmino Liverpool 9
12(T) F T. Pukki Norwich City 9
12(T) F D. Ings Southampton 9
16(T) D L. Dunk Brighton 8
16(T) MF J. Maddison Leicester City 8
16(T) MF M. Salah Liverpool 8
16(T) F H. Kane Tottenham 8
16(T) MF A. Yarmolenko West Ham Utd 8

Now let’s take a mind to breaking down some things that warrant further investigation.

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WHICH TEAMS HAVE GRABBED THE MOST BONUS POINTS?

Since only the best three players from each game get the bonus points, a natural assumption that you may make is that the best teams must be dominating the bonus points. After all, since goals/assists and clean sheets are heavy components of the BPS, the teams that score the most goals and concede the fewest would seem to have the best chance of capturing the bonus. On top of that, accounting for a more well-rounded scoring system, the best teams tend to have the best players, right?

From the above list of 20 players who each have 8+ bonus points this season, this is the breakdown by team for that top-20:

Three players: Liverpool

Two players: Brighton, Chelsea, Leicester City

One player: Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Manchester City, Manchester United, Norwich City, Sheffield United, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford, West Ham United, Wolves

Well, first place Liverpool having the most bonus representation stands to reason, with Sadio Mane (11 bonus points), Roberto Firmino (9) and Mohamed Salah (8) all in the top 20. Chelsea (Tammy Abraham with 16; Willian with 9) and Leicester City (Jamie Vardy with 16; James Maddison with 8) being a rung below with two players each makes a lot of sense given their lofty perch in the table, as Leicester City is in the 2nd spot and Chelsea is 3rd (separated only by goal-difference).

But otherwise it’s a bit surprising, don’t you think? The Manchester City juggernaut has as many players (or rather, player) in the top 20 (Kevin De Bruyne with 10 points) as the three teams currently in the relegation zone: Watford (Ben Foster, 10), Southampton (Danny Ings, 9), and Norwich City (Teemu Pukki, 9); beyond that, 11th place Brighton (Mat Ryan with 11, Lewis Dunk with 9) has more players in the top 20 than “Big Six” sides Manchester City (the aforementioned KDB), Manchester United (Marcus Rashford, 12) or Tottenham (Harry Kane, 8), which seems rather remarkable!

Is there a correlation between bonus and overall scoring by team? While the “Big Six” teams plus Leicester represent only 11 of the top 20 players in bonus points, they account for a much more robust clip in overall scoring with 18 of the top 22 players (there is a three-way tie for 20th place).

The takeaway: Losing teams can rack up the bonus points, too. There is some correlation between the quality of the team and bonus scoring, but star players on the so-called lesser teams can also pay off mightily. However, bonus points are not enough to topple the pecking order in terms of overall scoring, which remains largely the realm of the upper crust sides.

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WHICH POSITION(S) HAVE RACKED UP THE MOST BONUS POINTS?

TOP 20

Again looking at the top 20 bonus point scorers, this is the following breakdown by position:

FORWARDS: 10

MIDFIELDERS: 6

DEFENDERS: 2

GOALKEEPERS: 2

That looks awfully lopsided toward offensive players, particularly forwards. But in this case, the top 20 breakdown doesn’t really do justice.

TOP 5

So let’s drill down even further, looking only at the top five bonus point scorers.

FORWARDS: 5

Yep, that’s it. The top five in bonus points are all forwards! Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham and Leicester’s Jamie Vardy currently lead the way with 16 each, followed by Wolves’ Raul Jimenez (13) then Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubemayang and Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford (12 each).

At the other positions, Brighton keeper Mat Ryan and Liverpool midfielder Sadio Mane tie for 6th with 11 points, while Sheffield United defender John Lundstram ties for 9th with 10 points.

Is there a correlation between bonus and overall scoring by position? BPS rewards strikers with the greatest gift — 24 points — for a goal, compared to 18 for midfielders and 12 for defenders/keepers; on top of that, a game-winning goal earns 3 extra in BPS, and a striker is more likely to score a goal than a player at another position. As a result, perhaps it is not a shock that the top five bonus point scorers are all forwards.

However, only two of the top five in overall FPL scoring come from the striker position, as Jamie Vardy is 1st with 92 points and Tammy Abraham is 3rd with 81 points. Midfielders actually account for three of the top five spots in overall scoring: Sadio Mane (2nd, 83 points), Kevin De Bruyne (4th, 76 points), and Mohamed Salah (5th, 72 points). Midfielders are more likely to get assists, they get one more point than strikers for scoring a goal (five points for midfielders, four for forwards), plus a one-point bonus for a clean sheet that strikers miss out on.

The takeaway: Who gets the glory? I think we all know the answer to that question. Well, just as with who gets the endorsements and other publicity in real life, for bonus points it’s all about the offense, and particularly strikers. At the beginning of every season, we as fantasy managers tend to complain about the exorbitant price tags on offense. This season, though, the overall and bonus scoring numbers have shown that attackers have been well worth their cost outlays, with affordable strikers such as Tammy Abraham and Raul Jimenez proving extremely valuable.

Of note, though, is the streaky nature for many strikers. It’s vital to have players in your team — and to give them the captain’s armband — during their purple patches of form. Vardy has been fairly consistent all season so far, but that has not been the case for many of the other stars. 9 of Abraham’s 16 bonus points, and 40 of his 81 overall points, came in a three-week stretch from GW3-5. All 9 of Pukki’s bonus, and 49 of his 61 total, came in the first five games. 9 of Aubameyang’s 12 bonus, and 36 of his 69 total, came from GW4-7. 10 of Jimenez’ 13 bonus, and 37 of his 61 total, have been in the past five weeks. Getting in on the fun early is a beautiful thing. But if you completely miss out on a hot run of form by one of the star strikers, chasing points after the fact may prove painful... unless of course they are quickly able to get back on another streak.

Raul Jimenez - Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
Raul Jimenez is in the midst of a hot streak, enjoying a huge haul of bonus points.
Photo by Sam Bagnall - AMA/Getty Images

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IS THERE A CORRELATION BETWEEN BPS AND BONUS POINTS?

That question may be a bit confusing. Aren’t BPS and bonus points identical? Well, though it’s possible that they may (or may not) lead to the same result, they are not the same thing. I am asking if there is a difference between a player’s cumulative BPS score for the season and that same player’s aggregate bonus point scoring. It would seem that the players who have racked up the highest BPS scores across all the games this season should be awarded the most bonus points. But is that actually the case, or is there a disconnect?

Remember how the top five scorers in bonus points are all forwards? It’s a completely different story with BPS, which features a positional mix — two forwards, one midfielder, one defender, and one keeper — in the top quintet.

As far as teams go, recall how 11 of the top 20 bonus point scorers are from “Big Six” teams plus Leicester? With BPS, it’s actually fairly similar, as 13 of the top 20 come from those teams.

All in all, we end up seeing some very interesting disparities. While there is some crossover, there is clearly a difference between BPS and actual bonus points. Let’s look at the top 10 players in BPS for the season, where we see a range from a low of 260 to a high of 325 in BPS, but the gap in bonus points for those players is far starker, going from 5 to 16.

Top 10 Players in BPS Thru GW12

BPS RANK BPS POS PLAYER TEAM BONUS PTS RANK BONUS PTS
BPS RANK BPS POS PLAYER TEAM BONUS PTS RANK BONUS PTS
1 325 F J. Vardy Leicester City 1 16
2 317 MF K. De Bruyne Man. City 9 10
3 285 F S. Aguero Man. City 30 6
4 284 D A. Robertson Liverpool 21 7
5 280 GK M. Ryan Brighton 6 11
6 277 F T. Abraham Chelsea 1 16
7 275 D C. Soyuncu Leicester City 45 5
8 268 D T. Alexander-Arnold Liverpool 45 5
9 264 F P-E Aubameyang Arsenal 4 12
10 260 D L. Dunk Brighton 16 8

Jamie Vardy is #1 in both BPS and bonus points, tying in the latter with Tammy Abraham. But while Sergio Aguero ranks #3 with 285 in BPS, that has translated into only six actual bonus points, which ranks much lower at #30. Going the other way, Watford keeper Ben Foster has only the 30th most overall BPS at 223, but boasts the 9th most bonus points with 10.

The takeaway: It’s important to remember that bonus points are awarded on a per-game basis. A player who consistently scores the 4th or 5th most BPS score may actually earn fewer bonus points than another player who scores the top score in a game every so often but otherwise tends to be nowhere near the top three. That helps explain how a top player from a team such as Watford, despite falling short in overall BPS, can actually fare better with bonus points than someone on a star-studded side such as Manchester City, as shown by the situation between Aguero and Foster.

Interestingly, that scenario can also occur with players on an identical team at the same position; in another illustrative example, let’s look at a pair of Sheffield United defenders; Enda Stevens has accrued 240 in BPS, ahead of the 236 from fellow Blade John Lundstram. Yet Lundstram actually has notched far more bonus points — 10 compared to 4 — thanks to his trio of games when he has had at least a goal or assist to claim the full set of three extra points. Stevens has been more consistently excellent, but Lundstram’s periodic brilliance has paid off more for fantasy managers.

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HOW IMPORTANT ARE BONUS POINTS TO OVERALL FPL SCORING?

There are 10 fixtures per standard game week, and at least six bonus points available per game (three points for the top player, two for the 2nd best player, and one for the 3rd best player, plus even more if there are ties). Thus, there are 60+ bonus points being tacked on every standard game week. That sure sounds like a lot, given that we’d all be happy getting 60 points total from our fantasy teams in most game weeks!

Which players are taking the most advantage of the bonus, and just how important are those extras to their overall scoring? Conversely, who are scoring well overall but lacking when it comes to padding their numbers with the bonus?

Bonus Component of Top 10 Players in FPL Scoring

RANK POS PLAYER TEAM TOTAL PTS BONUS PTS BONUS %
RANK POS PLAYER TEAM TOTAL PTS BONUS PTS BONUS %
1 F J. Vardy Leicester City 92 16 17.4%
2 MF S. Mane Liverpool 83 11 13.3%
3 F T. Abraham Chelsea 81 16 19.8%
4 MF K. De Bruyne Man. City 76 10 13.2%
5 MF M. Salah Liverpool 72 8 11.1%
6(T) F S. Aguero Man. City 70 6 8.6%
6(T) D J. Lundstram Sheffield Utd. 70 10 14.3%
8 F P-E Aubameyang Arsenal 69 12 17.4%
9 MF R. Sterling Man. City 67 7 10.4%
10 F M. Rashford Man. Utd. 63 12 19.0%

For the top 10 overall scorers in FPL, the bonus component ranges from a low of 8.6% for Sergio Aguero to a high of 19.8% for Tammy Abraham. Venturing outside of the top 10, Crystal Palace forward Jordan Ayew has 46 points, with a remarkable 11 of them (23.9%) coming from the bonus. In an extreme example the other way, Leicester City defender Ben Chilwell has scored 54 points, but with only 1 bonus (1.9%) to show for it.

The goalkeeper position sees an awful lot of game-to-game volatility, which can make bonus points a huge component of scoring for some. 10 of Foster’s 46 points (22%) and 11 of Ryan’s 55 points (20%) have come from bonus. But there’s certainly an element of feast or famine at the position, as only 1 of Kasper Schmeichel’s 52 points (1.9%) and 2 of Sheffield United’s Dean Henderson’s 54 (3.9%) are from bonus. Those four are all in the top six in overall scoring for keepers, but have seen widely disparate contributions from bonus points.

The takeaway: For some players, bonus points can be a huge source of their scoring, while for others it can be negligible. It may sometimes make sense to captain players who are especially adept at earning bonus points. In the above list, Jamie Vardy, Tammy Abraham, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Marcus Rashford stand out as the only players in the top 10 of scoring who get at least 15% of their points from the bonus realm. A lot of that may have to do with the fact that they are standout stars for their teams; comparatively, Liverpool and Manchester City have a plethora of big names fighting it out for the extra points.

Of course, points are points, so if you’ve got Aguero in your fantasy team and he has a favorable match-up at the Etihad, I’m not going to tell you to captain someone else because the star sniper’s bonus component is currently less than 10%. In many of the extreme cases, the numbers should regress toward the mean as the season progresses. After all, in the past five campaigns Aguero’s bonus component has ranged from 12.5% to 18.3%.

As for the volatile keeper position, those on teams which force them to make a bevy of saves and tend to be part of nil-nil affairs will enjoy some huge-scoring games in fantasy thanks to the bonus, but also will risk other times when they leak goals and score poorly. Thus with keepers, it may simply make sense to focus on overall scoring rather than chasing the bonus. After all, when are you ever going to captain a keeper?

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HOW SHOULD WE REACT TO SOME OF THIS SEASON’S SURPRISES?

Virgil Van Dijk - Liverpool FC - Premier League
Virgil van Dijk’s fantasy production has faded sharply this season, highlighted by a notable drop-off in bonus points.
Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

As always, there has been no shortage of disappointments along with some pleasant surprises. Last season, superstar Liverpool central defender Virgil van Dijk tallied 22 bonus points, but this season has been limited to just three. Meanwhile, Crystal Palace forward Jordan Ayew had only two bonus points last year, while this campaign he has exploded for 11 already.

The takeaway: Strikers have been the main source of bonus joy this season so far. However, patience may pay off in other areas. One such target could be the Liverpool defense, which is third-best in the league, having conceded only 10 goals in the 12 games so far. Yet the Reds have kept only two clean sheets, tying for just 14th in that key department. Inconceivably, they’ve allowed exactly one goal 10 times in 12 tries. If their luck can turn — as it should — and they can earn more blank slates the rest of the way, the likes of not just Virgil van Dijk but also Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson, and Alisson will be more successful at picking up bonus points and replicating — or at least getting closer to — their brilliant returns from last season. Ayew, on the other hand, seems more of an anomaly and will be unlikely to keep up his bonus production.

If you were unsure whether BPS thinks that Leicester is for real, wonder no more. Remember how I lumped Jamie Vardy in with Aubameyang, Rashford and Abraham as more singular stars in contrast to the more overstocked sides such as Liverpool and Manchester City? Well, maybe I should reconsider that a bit. While Vardy is his team’s only player in the top 15 in bonus points, Caglar Soyunco and Ricardo Pereira join him in the top 15 for BPS. Going further down the pecking order, Jonny Evans, Kasper Schmeichel, Youri Tielemans, and James Maddison make it a remarkable seven Foxes in the top 30 for BPS. Simply put, a whole lot of Leicester City players are consistently in the hunt for bonus points, giving fantasy managers another reason to be sure to have the maximum allotment of three Foxes in their teams if they don’t already.

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[NOTE: FPL BPS/bonus point/overall scoring information came from the official fantasy Premier League website. ]

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Which players have earned you fantasy glory thanks to their bonus points bonanza, and who has instead left you bummed? Is there anybody you are rushing to add or dump due to their BPS proficiency or shortfall? Take the poll below and share your thoughts in the comments section!

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Poll

Whom do you expect to finish #1 this season in bonus points?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Tammy Abraham
    (1 vote)
  • 18%
    Kevin de Bruyne
    (5 votes)
  • 11%
    Sadio Mane
    (3 votes)
  • 3%
    Mohamed Salah
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Raheem Sterling
    (0 votes)
  • 59%
    Jamie Vardy
    (16 votes)
  • 3%
    Other (name in comments)
    (1 vote)
27 votes total Vote Now