Fantasy Premier League

FPL season lessons: Why Dyche tactics made Pickford the top 'keeper

By The Scout 29 May 2024
Pickford, Everton

The Scout explains success of Everton No 1 in Sean Dyche’s first full season in charge

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Premier League 2023/24: Our writers' review of the season

The Scout continues to highlight the standout statistics, trends and lessons from 2023/24 Fantasy Premier League.


The Toffees boasted one of the most reliable defences in the Premier League in their first full season under Sean Dyche. 

Everton's total of 13 clean sheets ranked joint-second alongside Manchester City, bettered only by the 18 of Arsenal.

Their form at Goodison Park was vital to their success in 2023/24. They delivered a league-high total of nine clean sheets in home matches, compared with only four clean sheets in away matches.

The Toffees’ showings are particularly impressive when assessed against other clubs over the season as a whole. Indeed, they were one of only three sides who managed more than 10 clean sheets across the entire 2023/24 campaign. 

Clubs with most clean sheets, 23/24
Club Home Away Total
Arsenal 7 11 18
Everton 9 4 13
Man City 6 7 13
Newcastle 8 2 10
Crystal Palace 6 4 10
Fulham 6 4 10
Liverpool 6 4 10

That resilience helped Everton's Jordan Pickford to top the goalkeeper standings in Fantasy on 153 points, placing him 18 points ahead of his nearest rival, Arsenal’s Golden Glove-winner David Raya

A breakdown of Pickford’s successful outings in 2023/24 shows that he amassed 107 points in the 13 contests in which he kept a clean sheet – an average of 8.2 points per match.

His many routes to returns are very much in evidence here, with the Toffees ‘keeper earning 10 save points in those 13 matches, in addition to 21 bonus points. 

Pickford's clean sheets, 23/24
Opponent Save pts Bonus pts Total pts
GW8, BOU (H)  1 2 9
    GW10, WHU (A)   0 0 5
GW14, NFO (A)  0 1 7
  GW15, NEW (H)   1 0 7
GW16, CHE (H)  1 3 10
GW17, BUR (A)  0 0 6
GW21, AVL (H)   1 2 9
GW22, FUL (A)   1 3 10
GW32, BUR (H)  0 2 8
GW34, NFO (H)  1 1 8
GW34, LIV (H) 2 2 10
GW35, BRE (H)   1 3 10
GW37, SHU (H) 1 2 8
Total 10 21 107

In Dyche’s last seven full seasons in the Premier League, the club he has managed have supplied the top-scoring goalkeeper in Fantasy on three of those occasions.

The previous instances were both during Dyche's stint at Burnley. Tom Heaton led the way in 2016/17 on 149 points, while Nick Pope claimed 170 points in 2019/20.

Why Pickford outscores Everton defenders

Dyche’s pragmatic tactics - and how they impact each player's score in the Bonus Points System (BPS), which helps determine the bonus points in any given match - are crucial to understanding why his goalkeepers are such a big success in Fantasy.

Everton’s no-nonsense approach meant they averaged just 39.6 per cent possession in 2023/24, better only than the 35.0 per cent of Sheffield United.

A player earns two BPS in a match if he attempts at least 30 passes with a 70 to 79 per cent pass completion. An 80 to 89 per cent pass completion earns four BPS. A pass completion rate of at least 90 per cent earns six BPS.

See: How the FPL Bonus Points System works

Among Everton's defensive regulars, James Tarkowski's 40.1 passes per appearance placed top, and the centre-back averaged only 78 per cent pass completion. 

Dyche's most-used full-backs had even lower numbers. Vitalii Mykolenko averaged 31.5 passes per match with a completion rate of 75 per cent, while Ashley Young averaged 25.0 passes per match and completed just 72 per cent of them.

Essentially, then, Pickford's defensive team-mates rarely tick these boxes for passing in the BPS due to Dyche's tactics.

Pickford, meanwhile, earns two BPS for every save he makes, and he also made 354 recoveries - almost 170 more than his nearest challenger at Everton, Tarkowski. A player earns one BPS for every three recoveries.

Top Everton players for key metrics in BPS
Player Passes/90 Pass accuracy Recoveries
Tarkowski  40.1 78%  186
Branthwaite 39.2 80% 181
Pickford 37.6 59%  354
Mykolenko 31.5 75% 142
Young 25.0 72% 120
Godfrey 22.8 71% 45
Patterson 20.4 73% 60

As a result of all of this, Pickford amassed 22 bonus points over the season, more than double the 10 of Tarkowski and fellow centre-back Jarrad Branthwaite, and also more than any other goalkeeper in Fantasy.

Alongside his clean sheets and save points, Pickford's ability to hoover up bonus points under Dyche looks set to lift his appeal once again in 2024/25 Fantasy.

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