Fantasy Premier League

FPL champion's tips: How to build an opening squad

31 May 2022
Vardy, Chilwell

2021/22 winner Jamie Pigott discusses the success of his "dead-ending" strategy

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The Scout analyses the strategies of 2021/22 Fantasy Premier League champion Jamie Pigott, so other managers can learn from the best.

Building an opening squad

Ahead of the start of the season, Pigott looked to the fixtures for guidance.

The Tottenham Hotspur fan invested heavily in midfield, picking premium-priced trio Mohamed Salah, Son Heung-min and Bruno Fernandes. 

"From the beginning of the season, when making your first squad, take in all of the fixtures", he says.

"It can be overwhelming but I think it's super valuable to look at the landscape, see how fixtures are going to play out."

The early schedule helped him build a backbone to his squad with less expensive players such as Robert Sanchez, Lucas Digne, Raphinha and Michail Antonio. 

Aside from his midfield big-hitters, Antonio (£7.5m) was the only player in Pigott’s squad who started the season at a cost over £7.0m.

And the West Ham United forward rewarded that faith, scoring 49 points in the first seven Gameweeks, second only to the 70 of Liverpool's Salah.

Crucially, before the campaign had even started Pigott had decided to play his first Wildcard in Gameweek 8, pinpointing favourable turns in schedules for Chelsea and Manchester City.

"Such an important part is targeting teams that are playing the right match-ups in the right schedules and seeing where those fixtures swings come in," he says.

"Plan when you want to use that first Wildcard, targeting ways to jump and take advantage of a team that starts on a good run of fixtures against teams in the lower half of the table."

Short-term picks

This pre-planned tactic essentially gave Pigott a seven-Gameweek window at the start of 2021/22 where his picks could be focused purely on the short-term.

His final three transfers before his Gameweek 8 Wildcard highlight just how effective this strategy, known as "dead-ending", can be.

In Gameweek 6 he brought in Ismaila Sarr for Watford’s matches against Newcastle United and Leeds United

He also bought Jamie Vardy for Leicester City 's encounters with Burnley and Crystal Palace.

Sarr and Vardy combined for four goals and 29 points over those matches, before both were sold in Pigott’s Gameweek 8 Wildcard.

This tactic also allowed him to temporarily sell Trent Alexander-Arnold in Gameweek 7 for Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with Manchester City before buying him back immediately in Gameweek 8.

Chilwell choice pays off

Pigott replaced the Liverpool right-back with Chelsea's Ben Chilwell, who scored and earned eight points at home to Southampton.

“I started to really see my rank rise a bit more," he says. "I was going into that Wildcard deadline where I was able to take a punt on Chilwell when he hadn't been playing, and he scored a goal.

"I had also taken a punt on Vardy knowing that I was going to dead-end and be able to readjust my squad.

“I was taking some short-term picks, knowing that I'm dead-ending, and then pivoting to take advantage of the Wildcard and take advantage of the fixtures.”
By planning the date of his first Wildcard well in advance, Pigott was perfectly placed to take short-term punts on form players with favourable schedules in the early stages of the season.

Also in this series

Part 2: Look for early value
Part 3: Be flexible with your chips
Part 4: Don't fear differential captains
Part 5: Why I took only 10 hits

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