Steps to building your new Fantasy Premier League 2012/13 team

It’s like Christmas. We’re at that awkward stage of having the fixtures (our present) but not being able to get stuck into building our teams until Fantasy Premier League (FPL) 2012/13 is launched (opening on Christmas Day).

So while we’re waiting, I thought I’d share some thoughts on techniques and strategies for building our new teams.

One option is just to log on and dive straight in. See how many of the best players you can squeeze in, and choose some cheaper players to fit around them. Log off. Then log in again in a few days, and do the same. And so on.

That’s one way, but part of the reason I love FPL is the planning. Getting stuck into the stats, the fixtures, drawing up a long term plan and seeing it come off. Maybe that’s the geek in me, but I love it.

Ironically, I’m even more gung-ho at first. I log on, enter my new team name, choose my kit colours, then hit the good old auto complete squad button! Then I’ll print off the player price list and log off.

Simple as that. Well, not really. It’s time to look at the fixtures.

Getting to know the fixtures

The fixtures versus form debate will always rage on, but other than pre-season form (which should probably be taken with a pinch of salt), there isn’t much form to go on.

Remember when Victor Moses ran riot last pre-season? He found his way into a huge amount of teams, only to fail to return attacking points in the first 12 Gameweeks!

I’ve always been a fixtures man and place huge importance on them when building my team.

I’ll look at the first 5-10 fixtures of all 20 teams, look for patterns, and eventually separate every team into 3 groups: good, medium and bad.

The good group are the strawberries ripe for picking. They have great fixtures, and are my priority when considering players.

The medium group have some ripe strawberries amongst some dodgy ones. They have a mix of favourable and unfavourable fixtures, but I’ll certainly consider players from this group.

The bad group are full of skanky strawberries, and there’s hardly any ripe ones at all. I won’t completely shun players from this group, but they’ll take a backseat.

I won’t shun them because these players may still have one or two ripe strawberries amongst a terrible batch, and when I look at how fixtures rotate between all my targeted players, I may only need to play those bad group players for the one or two ripe games. I can leave them on the bench for the rest of the time.

Now I’ll dig out the player price list I printed off.

Cherry picking the price list

Time to cherry pick (or strawberry pick!) players based on their fixture groupings.

I’ll pick targets from the good group of teams, then the medium group, followed by a quick scan of players from the bad group.

There’ll instantly be players who I will definitely want to fit in, so I’ll also prioritise within the groups themselves.

I’m sure there will be a host of Chelsea players within the good group, so I’ll look to prioritise those players within that group.

(If you’re not sure why I’m highlighting Chelsea, check out Marco’s piece on Chelsea’s early Double Gameweek.)

Let’s start building!

Time to log back on and start building my team properly.

I’ll start piecing my team together by including the players I really want from the good group, and build around them.

Of course it’s impossible to include every player you want from the good group, so you’ll need to dip into the medium and even bad groups to fit certain players in.

And I know those medium group players have some nice fixtures, so they are not bad options at all. You rarely get a whole field of ripe strawberries!

Cue endless amounts of tinkering between all my targets. Trying every combination possible.

Many other factors come into thinking when trying these combinations.

As touched upon earlier, how do our players fixtures rotate each week?

I may choose to go with three players with medium fixtures who rotate well, instead of two players with good fixtures and one with a bad fixture who don’t rotate so well.

So there’s some insight into planning your new team. It may just pay to step back a bit at first.

Don’t look too far ahead!

One word of warning: don’t think too far ahead. I made this mistake last season.

I set up my team with the first 10 Gameweeks in mind, but it meant I overlooked early opportunities, and missed out on some huge points.

Players who I dismissed as too short term (Frank Lampard) racked up the points early on. I fell behind and ended up wildcarding in Gameweek 4, so all my long term planning was in vain.

I hope this article helps, or at least gets you thinking. There’s a lot to consider so hopefully this’ll give you some direction.

I’m not saying it’s the way everyone should go about building their team, but you may find some of the principles useful.

Please do share any techniques and strategies you use!