FPL Ownership – analysing the popular picks


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Here’s FFGeek Contributor Stephen Troop with his FPL Ownership article where he analyses the Popular picks so far in Fantasy Premier League. Stephens last 4 seasons ORs were 16k, 22k, 86k and 43k.

FPL Ownership – analysing the popular picks

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Introduction

The game has been released for a little under a week as I write this. Most templates I’ve seen, including my own are very similar and I thought it’d be a good idea to have a look at the overall most popular picks to get an idea of trends and see how this changes through pre-season and as the deadline approaches, more people register and pre-season gets underway.

One of the ways to get a good start in FPL is isolating popular players that you don’t think will do well and identifying differentials to replace them or invest elsewhere. This certainly worked well for anyone avoiding Werner in 2020/21 and for me avoiding Toney in 2021/22.

It’s worth noting that there will be a number of autopicks at this stage and only the keenest players will have solid drafts so it’s likely these early trends are reflective of good players thoughts but not the 9m+ players that will be playing.

So lets dig into each position.

Goalkeepers

FPL Ownership

There is quite a spread in terms of goalkeeper strategy as a result of the reduction in prices of premium goalkeepers. Mendy topping the list is no surprise as 5.0m for a first choice, expected top 4 team’s goalkeeper seems cheap. He was only the 9th highest scoring keeper last season however he missed a number of games due to ACON.

Allison and Ederson at 5.5 are good value for the two best defensive teams. They are nailed and offer a substantial saving on the premium defenders in the same team which could be useful. They can also be set and forget knowing that you’ll get a steady stream of clean sheet points (it’s rare to use free transfers on goalkeepers and getting the wrong 4.5 can be costly). On the other hand, they have less attacking threat vs premium defenders, have much less chance of bonus/save points and block outfield triple ups of players from the same team. In addition, you’ll want a 4.0m keeper to avoid too much budget being spent on this position and getting the backup from the same team really hampers outfield options for the same reason. So if they get injured you have a problem with no bench option to bring in.

Raya is the popular 4.5m option. The fixtures are great, not seeing a top 4 side (from last year) until GW12. He was injured for large parts of last season, hence his lower 95 point total but it was clear Brentford were defensively better when he was playing and his points per game matched the premiums when he did play.

There are a couple of bench fodder options unsurprisingly but given Raya’s popularity I’m surprised not to see a 4.0m Brentford keeper used as backup more frequently. It’s unlikely you’ll be going triple Brentford. Forster is popular and I was expecting more Lloris/Forster combinations but Mendy being .5 cheaper than Lloris and the value in other areas of Spurs defence perhaps has put people off.

Ramsdale in 10% of teams is odd given the value of their other defenders, other goalkeepers prices and the season decline in Arsenal clean sheets in the second half of the season. I guess he does offer a way into the defence if you’re going really big at the back.

Sanchez at 14% is also interesting. He did well for me at the start of last season in terms of clean sheets but got few save/bonus points. In addition, losing Burn in January and Bissouma this summer could impact clean sheet potential.

Martinez, Pope and Sa are obvious absentees from the top picks but at 5.0 it’s hard to justify them over Mendy and the other attacking defenders in their respective teams at the same price (Cash, Trippier etc).

Overall the goalkeeper strategy is varied, and for good reason given the prices. Certainly we will see more premium goalkeepers used this year and I think this makes the strategy interesting. For me, Allison is the best pick individually but takes up a valuable Liverpool slot. As it stands, I’ll be going with Mendy or Raya with his backup on the bench.

Defenders

FPL Ownership

Big in defence, both in having 4/5 defenders in the starting xi and the highest price points is very template currently and for good reason. The top 4 picks (TAA,Cancelo,Perisic,James) are all above 40% ownership and are all 0.5m too cheap at least in my opinion. Perisic is the one where I’d expect some deviation in ownership given the fact he’s new to the premier league and Conte has history with rotating wingbacks frequently. His attacking threat, playing for a top 4 side and at 5.5m makes it a risk worth taking in my opinion. Most drafts I’ve seen have all 4 of these assets or at least 3 with a different 4th premium.
After this the spread of ownership is pretty wide. Cash/Trippier make up the most owned 5.0m assets and only the 2 4.5m Arsenal defenders of White and Tomiyasu make this top 12. All of these are great options at points in the season if you can time the fixture runs. Tripper/Cash offer good attacking threat and White/Tomiyasu offering pure value.

The best way to differentiate here is to go 5 at the back with the double up on CHE, LIV or MCI. Robertson and Chilwell should prove excellent value with the only reason they’re so lowly owned being lack of flexibility with a 5-3-2/5-2-3 system and budget restrictions for midfield.

I’m slightly surprised by lack of Wolves popularity. Outside Coady their defenders are all 4.5m which could be great value. Their defence was great at the start of last season and their first 6 fixtures this season are good. Although performances tailed off I the 2nd half of the season I’m expecting them to return to their defensive best. Leicester defenders could also be great value at low ownership, having received price drops after a poor PL season last season which in part was due to injuries and European Committments. I’d expect to see Leicester improve this season and an increase in popularity of players like Justin.

Midfielders

FPL Ownership

Understandably Salah tops this list by some way but unlike the defenders and strikers there isn’t as much of a template. The spot that will have a potential big impact on early rank is the 8.0m slot. Dominated current by Diaz at 32% ownership with Saka at 17% and Kulusevski at 11.3%. Mount, Mahrez and Foden are the same price too with <10% ownership and you could make a case for them all making them great differentials. Bowen (9.9% owned) who I really wanted pre-release is 8.5m which is hard to justify given the plethora of cheaper options and playing City first game.

Pereira is the most popular 4.5m option for the bench primarily ahead of his move to Fulham and I expect this to rise given a current lack of other bench fodder options. Neto is also popular as an enabler. He was injured for most of last season but returned playing as a support striker and looks the best option currently in the 5.5 bracket. For this price he is certainly worth the gamble but managers will likely have to temper expectations and be more patient (as a result he could be someone who drops in price quite early on if no quick returns)

I’m slightly surprised by Bruno Guimarães being so highly owned. Newcastle improved vastly since January and Bruno was a big reason behind this but I’m not expecting huge FPL returns. He frequently is assisting the assister and involved in build up play. He did score a few last season but he historically isn’t a goalscorer. Newcastle’s fixtures aren’t the best medium term either. He is however nailed unlike Martinelli who is the other 6.0m player in this list and other options are relatively slim.

I also expect Rashford (£6.5m, 9% owned) and Sancho (£7.5m, 4% owned) to increase in popularity before deadline. Their price is low, and only the fact they had a poor season last season and Ronaldo remains is preventing people getting in so far. I’m expected an improvement from United this season under Ten Haag and Rashford to make a mockery of his price.

Forwards

FPL Ownership

I don’t remember 2 strikers having such high ownership at the start of the season. Jesus comes in at a very generous price point and almost certain to start. His recent 2 quick goals in a friendly only increased this ownership. His popularity has completely dampened interest in the 7.5/7.0 bracket. Wilson, Watkins, Toney etc would otherwise have much higher ownership which would have made things more interesting.

Haaland at 65% ownership is insane. Undoubtely could be a sensation, but I’m surprised he is so much higher than Kane etc for ownership. We don’t know for certain he will start the first game or adapt to the team instantly but the fixtures over the first 8 games or so are fantastic and will be the most popular captain for GW2 when he plays Bournemouth. Outside these two ownership is pretty low suggesting 4.5m bench fodder and these two is in most people’s plans. Greenwood and Taylor at are the most popular in this bracket.

 Kane’s popularity is only 16% but there are 25% of players on Son and getting both is unrealistic. Toney could be a good differential at 6.1% ownership and good initial fixtures and if Undav starts over Maupay and Welbeck then could be a shrewd differential. He comes with a good goalscoring record albeit not in the Premier League. Brighton do struggle  attack wise historically too. For me he is an option in a 4-3-3 over Neto in a 4-4-2 etc but I will likely wait and see if he starts.

I am expecting Mitrovic (11% ownership) to become more popular as the more casual players submit teams. More experienced players have been burned before so are cautious despite his goalscoring record in the championship last season. Fulham arguably have the most difficult initial fixtures too which will have put some people off. Johnson, Awoniyi and Solanke may also increase in popularity as a cheap striker closer to the deadline. Historically players use promoted strikers frequently as enablers, hoping for a bargain.

Most Popular (affordable) starting Xi

FPL Ownership

Actually very, very close to my current draft and a strong looking team which shows how generous the budget is this year.

Final Thoughts & Opportunities

The current template is strong. With current ownership levels it will be tricky to get off to a great start without big gambles but easy to stay with the pack. This has made pre-season tinkering a little dull for me. Identifying emerging value will be more key than ever especially with more early wildcards expected due to an transfer amnesty during the world cup. I’ll be interested to see if/how ownership develops over the next few weeks and will write a second article detailing the key movements. There are some opportunities for those who want to try and jump ahead depending how risk averse you are.

Opportunity 1

Going Kane GW1 with a view to swapping to Haaland GW2 has upside. Kane has a better fixture GW1 and we don’t know for sure if Haaland will start and how he’ll settle into Pep’s system. By taking advantage of Kane’s first game, you could get an early boost in points and a potential price swing if Haaland blanks. The upside is however limited given Salah is the most likely choice of captain. Haalands ownership is scary too which means there is some risk (although again dampened by most going Salah as captain). Booking in a transfer is not a strategy I like to go with but the WC situation this season means you can take more risk early doors.

Opportunity 2

By going someone like Mount or Mahrez/Foden as a differential to Dias you can get the lowly owned Robertson alongside Trent Alexander Arnold. Chelsea/City have great fixtures in the long term and Robertson could get more consistent points in the long-term vs Diaz. The loss of Jesus and Sterling most likely should enable more starts for Mahrez and Foden and we know how explosive they can be when they play.

Opportunity 3

By going against Jesus, you could get a big swing in your favour. His ownership has been inflated due to goals in a recent friendly and whilst he could hit the ground running I don’t think it’s as likely as the ownership levels make out. He has been known to underperform on the chances he does get and he is in a team now that don’t create as many chances as City and can go through poor spells of games. The issue is that his price is generous and so the options are limited in the forward position. I like Wilson as an option however.

That’s it hope you found it useful

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