Fantasy Premier League

FPL season lessons: Why midfielders dominated in 2023/24

By The Scout 4 Jun 2024
Phil Foden

The Scout on why 3-5-2 formation benefited millions of managers in 2023/24 Fantasy

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

The success of midfielders in FPL this season shows why a 3-5-2 formation was the most-popular for millions of managers.

Three of the four top-scoring players in 2023/24 Fantasy were midfielders, with Cole Palmer enjoying an outstanding breakout campaign and amassing 244 points. That put him 14 points ahead of his nearest challenger, Phil Foden

Having started at a cost of just £5.0m, Palmer become the best-value asset of all-time in Fantasy on the back of his 22 goals and 13 assists. His displays are all the more impressive bearing in mind he didn’t make his full debut for Chelsea until Gameweek 7.

Indeed, his total of 240 points across that period was at least 43 points more than any other player in Fantasy.

See: FPL records and AMAZING stats from 2023/24

Manchester City’s Foden also established himself as a key figure for managers this season. His tally of 230 points was a career-high, smashing his previous best by 88 points. 

Palmer and Foden were among just seven players to deliver 200+ points this term, with five of them listed as midfielders.

Bukayo Saka, Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min were the other three midfielders, while Ollie Watkins and Erling Haaland were the only forwards to achieve this feat. 

In a season where only three clubs managed more than 10 clean sheets – Arsenal, Everton and Man City – goalkeepers and defenders simply struggled to keep pace.

Indeed, of the 23 players to amass 150+ points, 20 were either a midfielder or forward.

Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, along with Arsenal defenders Ben White and William Saliba, were the exceptions. 

Points breakdown by position 2023/24
Points  GKP DEF MID FWD
150+ 1 2 14 6
170+ 0 1 9 4
200+ 0 0 5 2

The points-scoring system in Fantasy also meant midfield was the most-reliable position for recording huge hauls. They earn one point more than forwards for each goal they score and collect one point for a clean sheet, whereas forwards are not rewarded for shutouts.

As a result, of the 17 players to deliver five or more double-digit scores in Fantasy this season, 14 were midfielders. 

Indeed, seven of the eight players to produce at least eight double-digit returns were midfielders, with Haaland the only forward.

The Norwegian’s Man City team-mate Rodri more than merits a name-check here. He matched Haaland’s eight double-figure scores across the campaign, with six of them recorded in home matches – joint-top with Palmer among all players in 2023/24.

Olise impresses in limited minutes

The dominance of midfielders is also underlined by the points-per-match (ppm) data. 

Among goalkeepers and defenders, Arsenal right-back White was the top performer, with 4.9ppm. Yet as many as 14 midfielders returned at least 5.0ppm in 2023/24, while only three forwards bettered that average.

Crystal Palace’s Michael Olise delivered 6.6ppm in an injury-hit campaign, level with Salah and Foden and bettered only by Palmer’s 7.2ppm and Haaland’s 7.0ppm.

Olise’s team-mate Eberechi Eze was also among the midfielders who averaged at least 5.0ppm despite missing minutes through injury, along with Brighton & Hove Albion’s Solly March, Brentford’s Bryan Mbeumo and Man City’s Kevin De Bruyne.

Best positions for points per match
Points/match GKP DEF MID FWD
5.0-5.9ppm 0 0 14 3
6.0ppm + 0 0 7 1

That further strengthens the idea of adopting a 3-5-2 formation once again next season, with Palmer's consistency, penalty duties and all-round style of play very likely to make him the go-to midfielder for many, regardless of the inevitably hefty price hike. 

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