Does it seem like the 2019-20 EPL season ended only a few weeks ago? That’s probably because it did. But we’re already just a month away from the 2020-21 campaign, and the official fantasy game is open for business!
Below we’ll tell you what you need to know to set up your FPL squad and join our NMA mini-league. Please note that most of this article is copied directly from Chris Manfredi’s outstanding article from last summer, which FPL ought to offer as a manual for how to play their game. There is no way for me to improve upon that article, so for the most part I simply recycled it with minor updates/edits.
If you would like to go straight to the source, the rules can be found here. Otherwise, feel free to read our primer on rules, scoring and some basic strategy. The rules are largely the same as last season, so you can skip ahead to the bottom if you don’t need a refresher. *Major caveat: see the “DEADLINE” section below.*
- Each team has 15 players: two goalkeepers, five defenders, five midfielders, and three forwards.
- The budget for all 15 players is £100m which cannot be exceeded. (This £100m limit never changes as the season goes on, even as player values fluctuate.)
- A maximum of three players per Premier League team is allowed. You may want to load up on Liverpool and/or Manchester City players, but you can only have three of each (six total) between those two juggernauts!
WEEKLY TEAM MANAGEMENT
- Before each game week, you will want to select your starting 11 players. You will also want to order your bench by priority, as the player in the #1 spot on your bench (or the first spot on your bench that gets field-time and gives you an allowable formation) will sub in for a player in your XI who does not get any on-field time.
- You will also want to select your Captain and Vice Captain. The captain’s score is doubled; if the captain does not play, the vice captain will double, and a player from your bench could slot in for your original captain (but not double).
IN-SEASON TEAM MANAGEMENT
- Once the season starts, you are allowed one free transfer per week. If you do not use your allotment in a given game week, one (and only one) free transfer can be carried to the next game week. Instead of making one transfer every week, often you will want to hold off and then and make a double transfer (to satisfy multiple constraints such as budget and formation). If the move you want to make is adding an expensive midfielder and dropping a cheaper midfielder, but you don’t have enough money in the bank, you can wait and combine that with another transfer dropping a more expensive defender for a cheaper defender.
Similarly, if you really want to add a certain midfielder and drop a certain forward, you will need to do a double switch due to the inability to change your roster requirements in terms of the number of players per position.
Also, the limit on number of players from any one team can intersect with formation and/or budget limits to force a double switch (e.g you want to replace a Liverpool midfielder with a Liverpool defender, but you must then replace any defender with some other midfielder to have a legal formation).
- If you would like to make transfers beyond what’s free, each extra deducts four points from your score. Four points may not sound like much, but you do not want to get in the habit of doing that regularly; instead you want to save that for only special occasions when your squad is hard-hit by injuries and suspensions or because the schedule has blank / double fixtures. If you take a -4 each week, you’ll lose 150+ points over the course of the season, and a series of -8 or -12 hits would be even more painful.
- Player prices rise and fall depending on the market, which is based on a mysterious (i.e. proprietary) algorithm that takes moves across the entire game into account. Basically, the more desirable a player is, the more his price rises, and the less wanted a player is, the more his price drops.
- If you sell a player, your budget gains / loses half the difference in value from when you bought him. If you bought a player at £6.0m and sold when at £7.0m, you get £6.5m back to use to buy another player, a budget expansion of £0.5.
On the other hand, if you bought a player at £6.5m and sell at £6.2m, you will receive £6.4m back, a net loss of 0.1. While losses might seem unacceptable, sometimes loss limitation means accepting a small loss now to avoid a big loss (hole in your squad) for the rest of the season.
Therefore, you want to be buying when a player’s prospects are improving, and selling when a player’s prospects have just hit a wall (or fallen off a cliff).
We have the same chips as last season. You get two Wildcard chips, one in the first half, and another after that. In addition, you get one of each other chip to use during the season:
- Bench Boost: Your four bench players’ scores are added to your starting XI.
- Free Hit: You can make any number of changes (obeying other constraints), but once the week ends, your team reverts all the way back to the players you had for the prior game-week (e.g. don’t burn transfers before playing the Free Hit).
- Triple Captain: Your captain points are tripled instead of doubled.
- Wildcard: You can make any number of changes to your team. Unlike the free hit, the changes carry forward.
Much like trying to avoid taking unnecessary -4 hits, restraint is a virtue when it comes to chip usage. For the first half wildcard, you should try to wait until you get a feel for how the season is playing out, rather than having to blow up your team after two or three weeks. For the bench boost, free hit, triple captain, and 2nd half wildcard, try to save them for the blank and double game weeks that plague top teams (side-tracked by cup competitions) later in the season. See past seasons’ articles and discussions for cautionary tales.
Of course, if you have Kevin De Bruyne or Mo Salah and want to use a triple captain early in the season at home against a newly promoted team, I’m certainly not going to stop you!
Extra constraint: Chips can’t be combined with others in the same week, so don’t go to week 38 with all your chips still in your pocket! Read the rules and ask for discussion to understand the fine details.
Big change here. For 2020-21 the transfer deadline has been moved to 90 minutes before a game-week’s first kickoff. In previous seasons, the deadline was 60 minutes prior to the first kickoff. Don’t get burned — sync the schedule to your calendar here.
Playing Time: 2 points for 60+ minutes, 1 point if playing but not reaching 60’
Goal Scored: 6 points for a keeper or defender, 5 points for a midfielder, 4 points for a defender
Assist: 3 points (including “fantasy assists” such as drawing the PK converted by another player, or taking a shot which rebound is netted by another player)
Clean Sheet: 4 points for keeper/defender, 1 point for midfielder (no goal allowed by team when player is on pitch, minimum 60 minutes played). What’s cool (or odd) is that a player can leave at 61 minutes and and earn a CS even though the opponent scores later.
Saves: 1 point per three saves by a keeper rounded down (2 points for six saves, 3 points for nine saves, etc.), and 5 points for a PK save.
Bonus Points: 3 for the best player in each game, 2 for 2nd best, 1 for 3rd best (decided based on a wide array of attack and defense categories and finalized by Opta’s “BPS” system)
- -3 points for a red card
- -2 points for an own goal
- -2 points for a missed penalty
- -1 point for a yellow card
- -1 point for each two goals conceded by a defender or keeper (-2 for four goals conceded, -3 for six goals conceded, etc.)
Standard: Standard leagues (such as the NMA league) simply accumulate points from each week, then whomever has the most points at the end of the season is the league winner.
Head-to-Head: Managers play each other head-to-head each week, as each team gets a win, loss, or draw. The manager with the best win-loss-draw record at the end of the season wins the league, regardless of whether that team has scored the most points or not. If you play this way, you will want to have an even number of teams ideally, otherwise a rotating odd team out will be left on the sidelines every week.
PLAYER SELECTION FORMAT
Standard: In a standard league, every player is available to every manager for selection. This is the way to play when you play in a big league, and don’t want to feel like your team is largely stuck with what you start out with at the beginning. Standard leagues will generally play with both standard selection and standard competition.
Draft: In a draft league, each player can only be taken (drafted) by only one manager. This can be a fun way to play in a smaller league (for instance, 8-12 managers, but it could be more or fewer; and again, ideally an even number) where everybody knows each other well (family, friends, co-workers, etc). Draft leagues will generally choose to play head-to-head each week, and your team will largely be determined by the draft to start the season, so it will feel like you’re in your own mini-Premier League.
Draft leagues enjoy a variety of customization options (snake draft versus standard draft at the start; waiver / free agent / trade rules during the season), which is a lot of fun, but can also become contentious, so choose your options wisely (and fairly)! When in doubt, going with the default FPL option is probably the smart choice.
WHICH PLAYERS HAVE CHANGED POSITION?
Every season, a few players switch positional designation, offering a chance for fantasy managers to find value... or have another reason to ignore a player. The big changes for 2020-21:
- Richarlison: Midfielder to forward
- Anthony Martial: Midfielder to forward
- Matt Ritchie: Defender to midfielder
- John Lundstram: Defender to midfielder
- Michail Antonio: Midfielder to forward
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: Forward to midfielder
- Fernandinho: Midfielder to defender
- Marcus Rashford: Forward to midfielder
- Mason Greenwood: Forward to midfielder
- Eric Dier: Midfielder to defender
- Diogo Jota: Forward to midfielder
JOIN THE NMA LEAGUE
You will want to have some fun competing in our wonderful league of bloggers and community members. The Never Manage Alone “BTB” (“Beat the Bloggers”) league has been automatically renewed, so if you were a member last season, there should be no need for you to do anything (except buying your initial roster of course).
If you are new to the league, first set up your account and pick a squad. You can do so by visiting the Official FPL site and registering. Then you can join by clicking on “Leagues” and then “Private Leagues.”
League Name: Never Manage Alone “BTB”
League Code: btojt9
If you’re an FPL veteran, then welcome back! If Fantrax has been your only jam, then consider adding the Official game to your portfolio this year. Either way, be sure to invite your friends to play too. The more the merrier!