Baffling Bonus Points System

We fantasy managers eagerly await the award of precious bonus points each week, don’t we? These extra points are really important to us and can have quite an effect on our overall gameweek score. No wonder then that we feel aggrieved when players (yes, the players in our team) play well and influence both the game and the result but receive too few or, worst still, no bonus points.

This season the FPL, after much criticism in recent seasons, introduced a new ‘Bonus Points System’ (BPS) based on Opta statistics. According to the FPL website “the three best performing players in each match according to the new BPS will receive additional bonus points. 3 points will be awarded to the highest scoring player, 2 to the second best and 1 to the third.”

The FPL’s new BPS system selects the three best performing players by calculating a points score based on the following factors (each one gets 1 BPS point unless otherwise stated):

Playing in a game
Playing over 60 minutes
Scoring goals
Goalkeepers and defenders (4 points)
Midfielders (6 points)
Forwards (8 points)
Assists (3 points)
Goalkeepers and defenders keeping a clean sheet (4 points)
Saving a penalty (5 points)
For every 3 saves
For every 3 open play crosses
Creating a big chance (a chance where the receiving player should score)
For every 8 clearances, blocks and interceptions (total)
For every 8 recoveries
Providing key passes
Making 3 tackles
Scoring the goal that wins a match
Pass Completion (after making at least 30 passes)
70% completion (1 point)
80% completion (2 points)
90% completion (3 points)

Players lose BPS points (one point for each unless otherwise stated) for:

Conceding a penalty
Missing a penalty (-2 points)
For every 2 goals conceded by goalkeepers and defenders
Yellow cards
Red cards (-3 points)
Own goals (-2 points)
Missing a big chance
Making an error which leads to a goal
Every 2 errors leading to an attempt at goal
Being tackled 3 times
Conceding 2 fouls
Being caught offside 3 times
Missing the target with 3 shots

At the end of each game the bonus points are allocated to the players with the highest BPS score.

After looking closely at the new system, I can’t help but conclude that it is not working as it should. For example, I noticed that lots of defenders and goalkeepers this season have received bonuses even when some midfielders and forwards have appeared to have had a bigger influence on a game. So I looked at the first 7 gameweeks’ bonus points to see whether they were awarded to goalkeepers/defenders, midfielders or forwards (n.b. not how many bonus points each player received, just whether they received any bonus).

Here are the results:

Goalkeepers/defenders: 127 received a bonus (average 18.1 players per Gameweek)
Midfielders: 71 received a bonus (average 10.1 players per Gameweek)
Forwards: 50 received a bonus (average 7.1 players per Gameweek)

I was so shocked at these results, I had to go back and re-check my figures in case I’d made a mistake! What these results show is that more goalkeepers/defenders got bonuses than midfielders and forwards combined! Surely, an anomaly.

I also noticed that the pattern was even more dramatic in the first 5 gameweeks:

Goalkeepers/defenders: 100 received a bonus (average 20 players per Gameweek)
Midfielders: 46 received a bonus (average 9.2 players per Gameweek)
Forwards: 33 received a bonus (average 6.6 players per Gameweek)

Yes, almost unbelievably, three times more defenders got bonuses than forwards, and over twice as many defenders got bonuses than midfielders. And in Gameweek 2, no fewer than 8 midfielders got no bonus despite providing, in many cases, match-winning assists.

However, the pattern in Gameweeks 6 and 7 suggests that, just possibly, the balance could be changing:

Goalkeepers/defenders: 27 received a bonus (average 13.5 players per Gameweek)
Midfielders: 25 received a bonus (average 12.5 players per Gameweek)
Forwards: 17 received a bonus (average 8.5 players per Gameweek)

If in coming weeks we still see goalkeepers and defenders receiving the bulk of the bonus points, should we fantasy managers be thinking about what action we can take to make the best of what appears to be another flawed system?

In my opinion, the new BPS is not working as it should. Although there have been some great performances by defenders this season (as I have written in previous articles), I can’t help but wonder whether the new BPS calculations will continue to favour defenders and goalkeepers.

For me, the new system keeps throwing up anomalies that are hard to explain. Saturday’s game between Liverpool and Crystal Palace is a good example. Luis Suárez, despite scoring and having a big influence on the game, got no bonus points. According to Total Live Stats (TLS) which uses Opta stats, Suárez had 2 shots (both on target), 15 runs and completed 30 out of 39 passes (including 3 ‘key’ passes). Suárez and Sturridge, who deservedly got 3 bonus points, both played very well, particularly in the first half during which Liverpool established a 3-0 lead. Suárez getting no bonus is all the more surprising given that over 80% of goalscorers each week are awarded bonus points.

I really don’t want to be overly critical of the FPL because it is an amazing free-to-play system with a brilliantly user-friendly website. It’s just unfortunate that the bonus points system so often seems to be at odds with what we see with our eyes (and, of course, the bias we have towards our own players!).

What are your thoughts on this issue?