The most critical decision FPL managers face every week is selecting their captain. That’s because by the end of the season, you can expect your captain to bring in somewhere between 20-25% of your total points. But often times managers find it difficult to narrow down their options and select the best FPL captain. Luckily, we’ve put together this FPL captaincy guide for you so that you can be sure that you pick the best FPL captain every time.
If you want to pick the best FPL captain each Gameweek, you’re going to need to do a little bit of research. A little bit of effort will go a long way in making sure you feel confident about your decision. Here are the four most important factors to look at when picking your captain:
The most obvious and also most important statistic to evaluate is the current form of the player that you are considering captaining. While the word “form” will carry a different meaning depending on who you ask, we define current form as the offensive statistics behind a player’s performance over the last 4 or more games. So for example, if a player has scored in each of his last 3 games then he would be considered in very good form. Players have a tendency to be streaky, so look for players who have put together a good stretch of recent results.
When looking at form, be critical of how players accumulated points. A player who scores 3 goals against a red-carded team and then follows it up with three blanks in a row is not in the same form as a player who has scored in each of his last 3 games.
Pro tip: Don’t focus on only goal scorers. Creative players who produce a lot of assists (especially midfielders and defenders) can be great captaincy options as well.
Before selecting your captain, look at who they will be playing and analyze their defensive record. While a player in good form can score against anybody, you probably don’t want to captain a player who is up against the best defensive team in the league. Like individual players, teams can also be streaky so keep an eye out for the ones who have collected a lot of clean sheets recently and try to avoid them.
On the other hand, targeting players who are facing weak defensive sides can be a very effective strategy. Look for teams who are bottom of the table or who have conceded many goals in recent games. Similarly, teams who are defensively unstable through recent injury can also be great targets.
Pro tip: While certainly not perfect, FPL’s Fixture Difficulty Rating (FDR) is a readily available tool that can be used to quickly assess match difficulty.
Record Against Opposition
This is what separates the casual FPL managers from the serious ones. Players have a strong tendency to perform better against certain clubs than others. While some players feast on weaker opposition, others may thrive in fierce rivalries. Understanding your players’ match history can give you the critical edge that you need to pick the best FPL captain every week.
Luckily, you can find many websites online that are filled with historical match data for every Premier League player. Our favorite website is Transfer Markt, which will break down stats by competition, opposition, home/away, year and much more.
Although this is the most time consuming step, it is also the one which will yield the biggest competitive advantage. Most players will look at only what is in front of them on the FPL website. If you really want to nail your captaincy every time, this is a critical step you need to take.
When you are selecting an FPL captain, you are trying to maximize your points return from a single player for a given gameweek. There are two ways of looking at this: points floor and points ceiling.
A player’s points ceiling is the maximum number of points that they can realistically accumulate. This is the traditional way of looking at captaincy returns, and is sometimes called “haul potential”. As an example, an offensive midfielder with a track record of scoring lots of goals (e.g. Mohamed Salah) has a much higher ceiling than a defensive midfielder whose role is to break down opposition attacks (e.g. N’Golo Kante). High ceiling players are typically the most expensive players in FPL and include premium attacking midfielders, prolific goal scorers and more recently, attacking fullbacks.
When looking at high ceiling players, it is important to examine the frequency of points hauls. While it may be tempting to captain a player who recently returned double digit FPL points, you should first make sure that the player has a track record of doing so. Otherwise, you may be left chasing points that just won’t come.
Another way to look at captaincy returns is by evaluating the points floor. This refers to the minimum number of points you expect from a player. Captaining a player with a high points floor can be a good defensive pick to guard against a captaincy miss. Players with low floors are typically players who are consistently getting one attacking return per week, but are unlikely to hit a double digit return.
Other Factors to Consider
While it is usually impossible to predict whether a player will be rotated out of the squad, certain players and managers are more prone to rotation than others. If you do choose a player who might be rotated, make sure you place select a safe vice captain.
Some FPL managers will be tempted to captain low ownership players as a way of climbing rank faster. This is a trap that many new managers fall into. Our advice is to captain the player who you believe will get the most points, irrespective of their ownership. Low ownership players can be great differentials but usually just owning them provides enough differentiation.
Picking the best FPL Captain
So now that you have gathered and analyzed all the data, how do you pick the best FPL captain? Well, there are two strategies you can take:
Offensive Captain Pick
Captain the player who you think has the highest potential for points that Gameweek. With this strategy, you are picking a captain who has a high points ceiling and either favorable form or fixture. Player ownership shouldn’t matter to you (whether high or low).
This should be your strategy for the majority of the season, especially if trying to climb rank.
Defensive Captain Pick
Captain the player who is most likely to be captained by the majority of managers, or who has the highest points floor. There are cases throughout the season where there is no obvious offensive captain pick due to form and fixtures. Sometimes it is best to stay with the crowd for a week and let others take risks.
Trust the process
Once you’ve done the research and analysis, pick your FPL captain and stick with him. Barring unexpected news, resist the temptation to flip-flop based on what others say. Trust the process and be confident in your decision. There is nothing worse than changing your captain last minute and then regretting it.
If you’re interested in more FPL strategy tips and tricks, check out our other FPL strategy guides.