Complete Beginner’s Guide to FPL

There are plenty of reasons why people get into playing Premier League Fantasy Football. Maybe you’re just looking to spice up how you follow the Premier League, or an FPL mini league might be the talk of the office and you’d like to get involved. You might even just be a big fan of stats, and want to put that knowledge to good use.

If you’ve signed up to FPL  for the first time, or if you’re a lapsed player that wants to get back into the game, there’s plenty of information to take in.

So, to find the info you need here’s a guide to FPL – how to play, what everything does, common strategies, and more.

How do I pick my FPL team?

Upon signing up, you’ll be able to choose your players while being allocated a budget of £100m, putting together a 15-man squad. You’ll have 2 goalkeepers, 5 defenders, 5 midfielders, and 3 forwards.

Each player is assigned a price. For example, Mohamed Salah was priced at £12.5m at the start of the 21/21 season. This price will change throughout the season based on the transfer activity for that player.

You’ll select 11 starters each week, with 4 being selected for the bench. If any of your starting XI don’t feature at all, a sub will take their place. You will select the ordering of the subs, so your preferred option can be picked as your first sub.

Building an FPL squad requires plenty of balance. Players will be required for the bench, and you won’t be able to have 11 expensive superstars in your starting lineup. Cheaper players who provide value for money is a key part of putting together a successful FPL team, on top of choosing the right premium options at the right time.

Previous seasons have provided players who greatly outperformed their initial valuation. A prime example would be Riyad Mahrez in the season Leicester won the league – he was initially priced at £5.5m but scored 240 points in that historic season. Being able to spot cheaper players, whether it be as a decent enabler or a potential gamebreaker, is key.

How can I change my FPL team each week?

As the game launches prior to the start of the season, you’ll be given unlimited transfers to help you build your squad before the first gameweek. After the opening gameweek, you’ll be given 1 free transfer a week, allowing you to sell a player to bring in a new one.

The maximum number of transfers you can save is 2 – any after that won’t be accounted for, with you still having 2 free transfers even if you don’t make any changes for several weeks.

Making a transfer when you have no free transfers available will require a “hit”. This docks you 4 points, calculated at the end of the gameweek once all matches have been played. Some resources, such as LiveFPL, will take hits into account as the gameweek progresses, giving you an idea of your current rank in real-time.

You’re only able to make changes to your team up until the deadline, which is 90 minutes before the gameweek’s first fixture kicks off. It was traditionally an hour before, but this changed prior to the 20/21 season, with early team news playing a big role in very late transfers.

To get an advantage, it’s generally recommended that you wait as long as possible before making transfers each week. This gives you the best chance to know which players are available for the upcoming gameweek. If a player gets injured in a midweek European game but you’ve already made a transfer, it puts you in a more difficult position.

What formation(s) can I play in FPL? 

In FPL, you have the option of playing a number of different formations. The only requirements are for you to have 1 goalkeeper, at least 3 defenders, and at least 1 forward. If you’re set out in a 3-4-3 and want to substitute a midfielder for a defender on your bench, you’ll switch to a 4-3-3.

Two of the most popular formations are the 3-5-2 and the 3-4-3, with the latter being the more common choice within the FPL community.

This strategy can change and there isn’t a set way of playing, with strategies changing as the season progresses.

How do player prices work in FPL? 

At the start of the season, each player is given a set price, with this being part of the team-building process; fitting as much quality as you possibly can within a £100m budget.

As the season progresses, players’ prices can change based on the number of transfers made with them. A player can go up in price if they’ve received a large influx of transfers, and inversely, their prices can go down if they’re being sold en masse.

This can’t be used strictly for improving your funds, though. Well, not as you’d initially expect. Let’s say you bought a player for 8.0m, and his price goes up to 8.1m. If you sold him, you’d get 8.0m. In order for this to increase, the player’s price needs to have risen by at least 0.2m. Each of these 0.2m increments will represent another 0.1m on top of their sale value.

So, if you bought a player for 8.0m and sold him for 8.4m, you would get 8.2m in return.

One key part of this would be the locking of player prices. This is done if a player has been flagged red, being marked as unavailable. Once their status switches from unavailable back to available, their price will be locked for a week.

This is done to ensure that a player’s price doesn’t fluctuate enormously. If a big name becomes available, it helps prevent their price from rising massively without kicking a ball.

This is something which is key throughout the season, as that 0.1m could be crucial in you being able to make the perfect transfer on any given gameweek. You can check player prices on sites like FPL Statistics.

How do players earn points?

Players can score points in a number of ways, ranging from goals scored through to the number of saves a goalkeeper makes. Each player’s score will accumulate over the course of each match, picking up points through the following methods:

Player ActionPoints Scored
< 60 minutes played1
Goalkeeper saves 3 shots1
Clean sheet kept by midfielder1
Bonus points - based on performance, awarded after the match1 - 3
> 60 minutes played2
Goal scored by a forward4
Clean sheet for a goalkeeper or defender - 60+ minutes played4
Goalkeeper saves a penalty5
Goal scored by a midfielder5
Goal scored by a goalkeeper or defender6

The total accumulative score of your 11 players will provide you with your gameweek score.

How do players lose points?

On top of being able to earn points, players can be deducted points based on what they do throughout the match.

Player ActionPoints Deducted
Given a yellow card-1
Every 2 goals conceded by a goalkeeper or defender-1
Penalty missed-2
Own goal scored-2
Given a red card-3

It’s worth noting, that points will still be doubled if your captain has points deducted for one of these actions; a -2 becomes a -4.

How does the captaincy work in FPL? 

Each gameweek, you’ll be able to captain one of your players, while also giving the vice-captaincy to another player. Your captain will earn double the points that they tallied up in that gameweek. The vice captain will gain the captaincy if your chosen captain doesn’t play during that gameweek.

Note that if your captain has a double gameweek, a subject that will be covered further on, and only plays in one of the matches, they’ll still be your captain for both games. They’ll simply get a score of 0 for the game they didn’t play.

Choosing your captain is a vital part of FPL, as a captaincy haul can essentially carry a team to a positive gameweek. Generally, you’d opt for a premium player that has a favourable fixture.

What happens when players are unavailable?

Throughout the season, players will become unavailable for a number of reasons. These include injuries, suspensions, as well as players heading off to international tournaments mid-season.

When a player becomes unavailable, they become flagged – a yellow or red warning sign will appear next to their name. You’ll still be able to transfer them into your side, they just won’t play and will be subbed out for a player on your bench.

Suspended Player in FPL - Guide to FPL

Suspended Player in FPL

Clicking on the player will bring up their info, including the reason why they’ve been made unavailable and when they’re expected to be back.

Status of Suspended FPL Player - Guide to FPL

When it comes to managing these players, they should be a priority for you to sell, or avoid entirely. The expected return date for injuries may well be longer than it seems, due to the player needing to return to fitness.

Or, perhaps the player that replaced them has earned their place in the team, meaning a chance of rotation once they’re back.

What is the FPL bonus points system?

Each player will tally up figures within the bonus points system during a match, culminating in bonus points being awarded to the top performers at full time. Though a contentious part of fantasy football, each metric is gathered by Opta.

Players who have the top 3 highest BPS figures are given between 1-3 bonus points, with the highest earner grabbing 3 points.

Player ActionBPS Awarded
Goal scored by forward24
Goal scored by midfielder18
Saving a penalty15
Goalkeepers or defenders score a goal12
Goalkeepers or defenders keeping a clean sheet12
> 60 minutes played6
> 90% pass completion (minimum of 30 passes)6
80 - 89% pass completion (minimum of 30 passes)4
1 - 60 minutes played3
Big chance created3
Scored the match-winning goal3
Save made2
Successful tackle made2
70 - 79% pass completion (minimum of 30 passes)2
Successful cross from open play1
Every 2 blocks, clearances and interceptions1
Every 3 recoveries1
Key pass made1
Successful dribble completed1
Error made which led to an attempt on goal-1
Being tackled-1
Conceded a foul-1
Caught offside-1
Shot off target-1
Penalty conceded-3
Yellow card-3
Big chance missed-3
Error made which led to a goal-3
Penalty missed-6
Own goal scored-6
Red card-9

This plays a big role in deciding which players you can bring into your FPL side. Some players can be bonus point magnets, due to them creating a high volume of chances, completing most of their passes, or just being a constant goalscoring threat.

What are the chips in FPL?

In FPL, you’re given 4 chips that can be played throughout the season. Playing these chips at the right time can prove to be massively beneficial for your FPL campaign. Picking the right triple captain or choosing the right free hit side can provide a massive boost when the chip is played.

FPL Chip Selection

Wildcard: Possibly the most important and most talked-about chip in FPL, playing your wildcard allows you to completely revamp your side. Instead of having to take hits, you can make unlimited transfers during the gameweek where your wildcard is active.

You’re given this chip twice during a season – once in the first half of the season, the other in the second half of the season. There was a special exception for this in the 19/20 season for Project Restart. Also, for the 22/23 season, unlimited free transfers can also be made between November 12th and December 26th when the Premier League season makes way for the 2022 World Cup.

If you have 2 free transfers during the week you wildcard, you’ll only have 1 for the following gameweek.

Here is a full wildcard chip guide – check this out for more info.

Bench Boost: The source of this site’s name, the bench boost chip will give you the points that players pick up on your bench for a single gameweek. It’s always a pain when one of your bench players outscores a number of your starting XI – this chip will add the score of all 4 players onto your total score that week.

Check out the bench boost chip guide for more info.

Free Hit: The Free Hit chip in FPL allows you to essentially activate a one-week wildcard. You can completely revamp your team, choosing a completely new side for one gameweek. This isn’t a complete Harlem Globetrotters side, it has to be one that fits within your budget.

Upon the completion of the gameweek, your team will revert to how it was the week prior. If you have 2 free transfers going into using your Free Hit chip, you’ll go back to having 1 once your team reverts back to normal.

Check out this guide to the free hit chip for more info.

Triple Captain: Each week, you’ll choose a captain for your FPL side, with their points tally doubling for that week. With the Triple Captain chip, which can be used once per season on a single player in a single gameweek, your captain’s score will be tripled instead. This is often used in double gameweeks, a subject to be covered further on in this guide.

What are FPL mini leagues?

Mini leagues allow you to create private leagues, entered only by those who are given access.

Upon creating your team, you’ll be placed in several global leagues based on your selected country, supported club, and the gameweek in which you made your side. You’ll also be in a game-wide league, with every other player in the game. This is the goal for FPL, winning the lot – though due to the amount of good fortune that requires, mini leagues are generally the main focus of most players.

This is a key reason why people play the game, entering competitive mini-leagues with friends, co-workers, and invited members, such as FPL podcasts/communities that create their own leagues.

What are double gameweeks?

A double gameweek in FPL is where two matches fall within the same gameweek. This comes due to fixtures needing to be rearranged, most often due to teams playing in cup competitions. Due to this, it’s common for there to be a number of these at the end of the season, often involving the bigger teams.

FPL Double Gameweek Players

Double gameweeks are often a pivotal part of each FPL season. If players are playing in two matches in the same gameweek, there’s so much more potential for points to be earned. These tie into using your chips, with the use of them often revolving around double gameweeks.

A common strategy is to save the second wildcard for the biggest set of double gameweeks, usually held at the end of the season.

The first wildcard is often used between GW6-10. This is due to having a good amount of information about teams and their systems. Also, new signings will have bedded in.

There isn’t a set way to use the wildcard chip – it all depends on your team. Struggling and really need to change things up? Drop your wildcard if you feel it’s the right time.

What are blank gameweeks?

Inversely, due to matches being rearranged, there will be blank gameweeks during each season. This is where certain teams won’t have a match during a gameweek. Any players you have for those teams won’t be available.

This will be highlighted without a warning, but instead a lack of a fixture by the player’s name.

FPL Blank Gameweek Player

The rearranging of fixtures is announced ahead of time. It’s key to ensure that you’re planning around these fixtures. Having active players during blank gameweeks can be a massive boost when so many players aren’t available.

Though an older example, this post on building your team for a blank GW shows what you can do to ensure that you have quality players during blank gameweeks. It also looks at the potential traps that blank gameweeks can provide.

Other FPL Resources

Here are a few more FPL-related resources to help you out when it comes to learning more about FPL.

Fantasy Football Scout: The most well-known FPL site (for now…), providing plenty of information about the game.

Fantasy Football Fix: A freemium resource which provides a large amount of information, helping you build your FPL side.

FPL Review: Several FPL tools, the most prominent of which being their Team Planner.

FPL Rules: The proper set of rules from the official FPL site.

FPL Statistics: Price prediction site, using transfers to analyse which players are likely to fall or rise in price.

/r/fantasypl: The main subreddit for all FPL-related talk.

LiveFPL: See your gameweek rank in real-time.

@BenCrellin: Key provider of all information regarding fixtures, focusing on blank/double gameweeks.

Hopefully this guide to FPL will help you get started for the upcoming FPL season. Follow Bench Boost on Twitter to get the latest information on articles posted, FPL news, and general moaning about poor GW scores.