FPL strategy – Underlying Stats vs Eye test vs Actual returns vs fixtures

Here’s our FPL strategy article where we take a quick look and compare 4 ways of assessing future player performance and compare and contrast 

FPL strategy – Underlying Stats vs Eye test vs Actual returns vs Fixtures

I outline my  FPL strategy along with 10 other FFGeek contributors in our new EBook.


This article is not intended to say which method is better as the different methods suit different FPL managers more than others.  As I often say there are many ways to play FPL.

What’s also important to recognise is that most FPL managers won’t use 1 method exclusively but I generally feel that most FPL managers will predominantly rely on 1 way of assessing future player performance  even if they also consider other methods as well.  Form and fixtures is a common line put forward as a way of selecting players

Underlying Stats 

I’ve started with this method as it’s the one I predominately use in selecting players.  Anyone who’s seen my player rankings articles will know this much.

I predominately use a players expected goals (xG) and expected assists (xA) and turn them into theoretical FPL points but also with a value for money calculation. Expected stats say what should have happened rather than what has happened.

I then look at the fixture ease ranking and try and marry up a player who has both good expected stats and good future  fixtures to make an optimal choice for that gameweek.  If there is no such pick I will always default to the player with the best expected stats rather than the player with good fixtures only.

This process isn’t the end of the line though.  I prefer players with good shooting volumes and expected stats which have been produced consistently over a season, last 10 gameweeks and last 5 gameweeks.

As I said the advantage of expected stats is that it showed what should have happened.  Danny Ings over performing his expected stats significantly with no Eden Hazard like history of doing so was always a risk that he was going to slow down.  However it hasn’t always worked.  Sterling has posted great expected stats but just not finished them.  I have been waiting for the correction which never happened.

Eye Test

I can’t remember who said it but one American football manager said he relied on stats because he didn’t trust his eyes as he had seen magicians pull rabbits out of hats and he knew that couldn’t happen.

From my perspective I always remember what I think was the first game of one season between Newcastle v Arsenal a few seasons back where I knew Robin Van Persie had posted some good stats towards the end of the previous season.  I watched him in what I recall was a 0-0 draw and he and Arsenal were terrible.  I sold him on the evidence of that game and he went on to have one of his stellar seasons.

So for me the eye test can be a useful supplement to another method and I know FFGeek contributor Sergio Torija would never pick a player for his FPL team unless he had seen him play as a supplementary check.   I personally struggle with it as a predominant method as I think it puts too much emphasis on individual games that you happen too watch as your scouting mission.  It’s also worth noting that even the best players only shoot 3 times or so in 90 minutes so how much is that each individual match really telling you.

I think James Maddison is an excellent example of the problems I have with the eye test.  Every time I watch him I think how fantastic he looks but his expected stats are so bad that I never put him in my team  and certainly recently that has paid off.

Mason Mount to me is a good example of someone who could benefit from the eye test.  His underlying stats are pretty ordinary but his ability to get into the box repeatedly gives you an insight the stats don’t.

Actual returns

The leader of the FFGeek contributors league and currently 558 overall rank with 2 top 10 k finishes before that says he relies pretty much on points per match to select players.

Points per match and points per 90 minutes played are simple ones of assessing player performance to date and when combined with say future fixtures can be an effective way of assessing future player performance.

There’s not much to say on this just that it depends on whether you believe in relying on what has happened or what should have happened as the underlying stats would do


FFGeek Contributor Keith Spencer is probably the biggest proponent of a fixture based strategy that I have seen.  He will often double or triple up on a team with good fixtures ahead as a gamble that returns will come.

It certainly has been effective for him although you do have to use 1 of the other methods in order pick the players.  I think most serious FPL managers will take fixtures into account in selecting players it’s just to what extent they do.  There continue to be some truly awful defensive teams such as Villa, Bournemouth and Norwich who if you get them in a 6 game spell have the potential for a mammoth amount of points.

I outline my  FPL strategy along with 10 other FFGeek contributors in our new EBook.

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