1 year ago

How To Recover From a Poor Start in FPL

It can sometimes be very difficult to remember that this fantasy football game is 38 weeks long. The only overall rank that matters is the rank you get after gameweek 38. Managers do, however, suffer from poor starts to their seasons from time to time, and how you react to that poor start can define your season. It can also give you an insight into what kind of a person you are when things start tilting out of your favour. Are you a manager that will dig your heels in and defend your picks? Are you a manager that will adapt and overcome?

One thing is for certain, I have been there myself having played FPL for more than 10 years to date. I have had poor starts and fought back to respectable finishing ranks. It isn't easy. What follows are my tips and pieces of advice if you're teetering on the edge of deleting the game and giving up.


1. Be Patient

This is quite possibly the hardest thing to do when everything seems to be going against you in FPL. Your instant instinct is to make a change. Whether you think that's for the best or not, you want some control over the outcome and the easiest way you know how is to do something.

Sometimes this can lead to you bringing a new player in that everyone else has, sometimes it means captaining a low owned player to try and catch up some points. As somebody that has been at both ends of the rankings, I can tell you one thing; there is nothing a competitor likes more than to see his opposition make rash moves. It makes them feel like you are on edge and not thinking properly. 

Take your time. If you can roll your transfer — do it. You'll be surprised how many times rolling the transfer is actually the best thing to do. Looking at your team with two free transfers rather than one is a good feeling. You can make a lot of changes to the players you own with an extra week's worth of information.

Take a breath and remember that you picked these players for a reason

No player is going to perform every week and next week might just be their week to shine. 


2. Don't Get Emotional

Ask any businessman or businesswoman and they will all say the same thing — leave your emotion at the door. If you let your emotions run your transfer policy, then your head isn't doing enough of the work. This game should be played with the head and not with the heart. If you've just watched you team be demolished and you own multiple assets, take a second before rage selling them all for multiple hits. Do they have a good fixture next week? Are you losing value in them?

It is also important to not get attached to certain players or to refuse to buy certain players due to personal feelings

I started with both Calvert-Lewin and James Rodriguez this year and have throughly enjoyed owning them. I have, however, now sold both on wildcard. There are no attachments to them and I was happy to see them lose 2-0 to Southampton. It is the same if you support a club and don't wish to invest in a rival club's players. It's nonsense in a game like this. 

Read more: FPL Transfer Targets before GW7

3. Take a Step Back

I would argue that this is the most important lesson. If FPL, or any fantasy game, is affecting you to a degree that your mood changes or you are not enjoying it anymore, then stop. Turn it off, turn off notifications and do something else. These games are brilliant and can be a source of real fun but all things should be done in moderation. It is very easy to become completely enveloped in a game such as this.

Clearing your mind by stepping back is the best thing to do in some circumstances

I find it works well to not access social media while games are being played. I enjoy the games for what they are and come up with my own conclusions for what I am seeing happen. Taking that step back allows me to assess what I am seeing with a clear head. Stepping back from the game between Tuesday and Friday is also a valid tactic. You will not be affected by price changes, bandwagons or gossip.

Sometimes stepping back helps you to see the bigger picture, which leads me on to my next point...

4. Look at The Big Picture

It isn't all about one game week. Sometimes you have to suffer a bad week in order to set yourself up well moving forward. Remember when you are looking at your team to look beyond the present week and try and bring players in who could realistically perform for the next three to four weeks. Players with short term goals tend to find themselves with multiple weeks of putting out fires in their teams and never really feel on top of where they are going. Use the fixture ticker in the app and plan how your team will look, with fixtures, in a few weeks time. If it isn't looking so rosy then maybe a different player is needed. 

One of the most important times in FPL is when double game weeks start to drop in our calendar. All of our time and effort will be focussed on making sure we have enough players to really attack those gameweeks. So remember, as long as you have your chips and your team is set up well for the next few weeks, don't stress too much.

Read more: Big DON'Ts for FPL Season

5. Review Your Moves

Don't be scared to look back through your transfer history and see how your transfer strategy is affecting your scores. Are you transferring out players too early just before they go on a good run? Are you leaving players in too long and hoping they finally come good? Do you switch between premium assets too often? Have you taken too many point hits? Think about all of these questions and ask yourself if any of these things can be attributed to your style of play. No one knows the right way to play this game, but reflecting on your own practise is always a good way to move forward.

Considering how you captain players is also a good way to improve your scores

Captaincy is one of the most important things in FPL. It can be the difference between a green arrow and a red one. Are you captaining low owned players too much? Are you captaining players unlikely to haul? Do you captain players away from home too often? Would it be better to stick with one captain and never change? All of these questions are reasonable things to be asking yourself.


6. Set Manageable Goals

So we've assessed what has gone wrong. We've reflected on our management style and found some minor flaws, or some gaping ones. Now what do we do? We set ourselves small little tasks or goals to help ourselves move forward, positively. This can be as little as saying to yourself "I will only captain players in home games" or "I will not make transfers on keepers". Either way, try your best to stick to your new mantra for the rest of the year. 

Set yourself an overall rank that you wish to achieve by the end of the year. Make sure it is a smart, achievable target. And see if you can get to it by the end. If you wish to have more frequent targets then set a target for the end of the month. Or a GW target at the end of each gameweek. You'll be surprised how it can focus you and give you clarity in your decision making when you are aiming for personal goals.


Examples of goals you can make for yourself:

  • Don't take anymore points hits
  • Only captain players when they play at home
  • Don't make transfers until one day before the deadline
  • Watch Match of the Day every week
  • Never bench a premium asset


7. Don't Be Aggressive

It can be seriously tempting to try and make up for lost points, or chase a mini-league leader, by using one or more of your powerful chips. It can, in some instances, prove very successful too. You get that instant adrenaline rush and feel like all of your problems are now solved. The problem, however, is that it may not work. The chip you used may backfire and get you a minimal return. This will leave you further behind and lacking in weapons to help you climb. 

The other disadvantage to using them early is that other managers will always save theirs for a double game week. They know this game is a marathon and not a sprint. When you have just about caught them up in GW32, out pops their triple captain chip and before you know it, you are forty points behind again. 

Be proactive, don't be too aggressive. You will regret it

So there you have it. My list of how to turn things around and spotting mistakes you may have already made. Feel free to DM me on Twitter if you are finding the game hard or want to chat about the game. Remember though, it is supposed to be fun. Enjoy it!



I have been playing Fantasy Premier League for almost 13 seasons, with multiple top 100k finishes. I still enjoy the start of every season as if it was my first. Always make sure you're enjoying the game!