In order to help beginners and those who have been frustrated by poor starts in previous seasons, The Scout looks at the dos and don’ts of building an opening squad for the start of a new Fantasy Premier League campaign.
Any beginners needing a simpler explanation of how to play FPL will find useful links from our "FPL basics" series at the bottom of this page.
How to spend your budget
Once you have registered, Fantasy managers have a budget of £100.0m to spend on an initial squad of 15 players.
A squad consists of two goalkeepers, five defenders, five midfielders and three forwards.
A maximum of three players can be chosen from any one Premier League club.
An opening squad should be well-balanced at both ends of the pitch, with a player’s form, fixtures and history - as well as their price and ownership in Fantasy - all big factors to consider.
Pick the player, not the club
When analysing the price list, it’s important to look at a player’s position for his club, rather than the club they play for.
At a cost of £5.0m, for example, Enzo Fernandez may well be one of the cheapest options in Chelsea's first XI but there’s a reason for that low cost – he is a defensive-minded midfielder who failed to score last season.
Burnley’s Josh Brownhill is exactly the same price yet he plays as an attacking midfielder, producing seven goals and eight assists in the Championship last season.
Play the fixtures
Targeting the sides with kind schedules over the first four to six Gameweeks can help managers enjoy a strong start to the campaign.
There’s no need to look beyond that point as you have one free transfer each Gameweek to address any issues.
Pervis Estupinan and Ben Mee (both £5.0m) are the standout options in defence, with midfielders Kaoru Mitoma and Bryan Mbeumo (both £6.5m), along with forward Evan Ferguson (£6.0m), all looking likely to deliver major value from the outset.
Don’t take unnecessary risks
When constructing your squad, look to limit the risk attached to each decision.
If a player is uncertain of featuring, for example, whether it be due to injury or a lack of pre-season action, simply leave them out and select someone more reliable.
This approach should be the same when picking your captain, who scores double points in each Gameweek.
In Gameweek 1 of 2023/24 Fantasy, picking a captain should be a very straightforward decision for most managers. Over 86 per cent currently own Erling Haaland (£14.0m) ahead of Manchester City’s trip to Burnley.
In any given Gameweek last season, Haaland was typically captained by over eight million of the 11.4million managers who played Fantasy. This suggests he will be the overwhelming armband favourite in Gameweek 1.
Granted, there are a number of strong alternatives such as Marcus Rashford (£9.0m) and Bukayo Saka (£8.5m). But with millions very likely to rely on Haaland, captaining anyone other than the Norwegian seems an unnecessary risk to start the season.
Go cheap on the bench
Managers should look to invest heavily in their starting XI and mainly use the bench for cut-price picks who you can turn to in emergencies.
For goalkeepers, a wise approach is to pick a £4.5m starter who offers plenty of save points in addition to clean-sheet potential, and who has a deputy costing only £4.0m.
Alternatively, rotate a pair of £4.5m ‘keepers according to their fixtures and spend no more than £9.0m.
In defence this season, all three promoted clubs have regular starters who cost only £4.0m. Burnley’s Jordan Beyer, Sheffield United’s George Baldock and Luton Town’s Amari’i Bell can prove very valuable squad players, freeing up funds for the bigger spends in attack.
A smart tactic can be to rotate your squad, swapping players between your scoring XI and your non-scoring bench according to who has the best fixtures.
In this case, limit that tactic to budget ‘keepers and defenders and simply plough the rest of your budget into your starting XI.
As midfielders and forwards are far more likely to deliver huge points returns in Fantasy, managers should focus the majority of their funds in attack.
Price points can help structure your squad
An opening squad should be structured in such a way that a manager is well-placed to react to any early trends without the need for multiple transfers.
After all, managers are only given one free transfer in each Gameweek, and every additional transfer costs four points.
Using price points across each outfield position is a key tactic for planning ahead.
For example, some managers may decide to start with Ollie Watkins (£8.0m) alongside Haaland as their second forward in a 3-5-2 formation.
Watkins' cost of £8.0m essentially allows a single-transfer move to any other forward apart from the pricier Harry Kane (£12.5m).
In midfield, by starting with Rashford or Son Heung-min (both £9.0m), managers need just one transfer to bring in any other player in the position, apart from Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) and Kevin De Bruyne (£10.5m).
For defenders, the £5.5m price point covers a host of key names such as Luke Shaw, Reece James, Ben Chilwell and John Stones.
By starting the season with Shaw, managers could easily move to James if Chelsea find their form under Mauricio Pochettino. Depending on price rises/falls, of course.
Do your research
After assessing the player price list for Fantasy 2023/24 and the fixtures, follow pre-season form, set-piece takers, new signings and any changes of head coach and/or tactics.
The more knowledge you can soak up, the better chance there is of gaining an early advantage over your mini-league rivals.
Don’t pencil in a transfer for Gameweek 2 in advance. If a key player gets injured or dropped in Gameweek 1, you may have far more important issues to deal with than the move you were planning to make.
Instead, managers should construct their squads in a way that avoids the need to make a transfer in Gameweek 2.
This affords the luxury of heading into Gameweek 3 with two free transfers, which can open up a lot more options for squad surgery.
Crucially, by keeping faith in their early plans and waiting until Gameweek 3 before making any changes, managers also have an extra Gameweek's worth of valuable new information to base their decisions on.
Part 1: What is FPL and how to play
Part 2: How to pick a squad
Part 3: Managing your team
Part 4: How to make transfers
Part 5: How FPL points are scored
Part 6: How to use chips
Part 7: Mini-leagues and FPL Cups
Part 8: How to use the statistics menu