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Rotating 4.5 goalkeepers

I am generally keen on a rotation pairing of 4.5m goalkeepers, preferring to spend the extra money elsewhere whilst having some flexibility and choice.  So I started to look at what the season long fixture runs would be for ‘keepers in this price bracket.  For the study I only looked at the following 4.5m  keepers on the basis they will have number 1 status.

Tom Heaton (AVL)
Matt Ryan (BHA)
Nick Pope (BUR)
Dean Henderson (SHU)
Angus Gunn (SOU)

What we’re looking for of course are dovetailing fixtures that avoid the top 6, but for this analysis I extended that to last season’s top 9 to include avoiding Everton, Leicester and Wolves, who have more potential to ruin clean sheets albeit potentially offering save points.

I recognise that Wolves are a bit of an outlier in that 6 teams finishing below them last season actually scored more goals.  As the upcoming FPL season is somewhat theoretical at this point, I’ve included them based upon their perceived potential as an attacking side.  Also, the results of this analysis are remarkable with respect to this very point and the best combinations that can be achieved.

Below are the number of unfavourable gameweeks each season-long pairing with these keepers would yield (where both keepers would face a top 9 side in a gameweek).  Throughout this analysis I have ignored whether fixtures are Home or Away.

Heaton & Ryan: 10
Heaton & Pope: 8
Heaton & Henderson: 8
Heaton & Gunn: 6
Ryan & Pope: 11
Ryan & Henderson: 11
Ryan & Gunn: 12
Pope & Henderson: 10
Pope & Gunn: 11
Henderson & Gunn: 11

The clear winner here would be a Heaton and Gunn pairing for the season with one of them having a “favourable” fixture for 32 out of 38 gameweeks.  Those unfavourable fixture choices are: mci/LEI, LIV/mci, wol/EVE, MCI/lei, liv/MCI, MUN/eve.

If you’re happy with the relatively unknown season long performance of Angus Gunn and his number 1 status, plus the relatively known season long performance of Tom Heaton (when he was at Burnley) and don’t want to spend another minute thinking about goalkeeper transfers, then you can probably stop reading now.

Now most of us will indeed want to spend as little of our FTs on our keepers as possible, if any at all, but I assume most of us will use both wildcards and hence there are opportunities either within those gameweeks you pull the trigger or around those gameweeks.  So looking at further combinations involving 2 transfers across the season there is the possibility of reducing the number of unfavourable fixture clashes to just 3, as shown below.

GW1-9 Heaton & Pope: 0
GW10-31 Heaton & Henderson: 2 (mun/wol, wol/tot)
GW32-38 Heaton & Pope: 1 (eve/WOL)
TOTAL: 3 unfavourable gameweeks

This is the best combination I have found and bizarrely leads to Wolves being involved in all unfavourable clashes.  If you believe Man. Utd are better than Wolves and Everton away is harder than Wolves at home, then all 3 games would be against Wolves.

There are other combinations but they lead to unfavourable games against top 6 sides.  An example below.

GW1-13 Heaton & Pope: 1 (mci/CHE)
GW14-32 Heaton & Gunn: 1 (MCI/lei)
GW33-38 Heaton & Pope: 1 (eve/WOL)

I don’t believe there are any other combinations of these 5 keepers that can offer 3 or less unfavourable fixture clashes that only involve 2 transfers.  If you spent a lot more transfers you could avoid any of last seasons top 9, but this is very unlikely to be worth it.

Of course, we don’t know whether Aston Villa’s backline will be able to offer the same level of protection to Tom Heaton as Burnley were able to, so this may all be null and void if they have a torrid time on their return to the top flight.  I’m also aware that the data sample for Heaton is 2 and a half seasons at another team, Pope just 1 season at Burnely and Henderson has 0 seasons in the PL, so although the general consensus seems to be relative confidence in their abilities (as 4.5 GKs) it does feel untested and a little risky.

I plan to roll with the Heaton, Pope and Henderson combination across the season, because Heaton and Pope have served me well in the past and Henderson/SHU have the best defensive record of the promoted sides.

I hope that the two transfers is all I need and the first fits with my current plan to wildcard in GW9.  The second will probably be around wildcard time but I may have some more pressing matters to deal with if it doesn’t make sense in GW32.  Interestingly if you continued with Heaton and Henderson up to GW35 there are two further unfavourable fixture clashes and the best option on each of those weeks would (on paper) be two further games against Wolves at home (WOL/TOT and MUN/WOL), one for each keeper.

So fingers crossed Heaton is solid and Wolves display a similar level of competence against bottom half teams as last season.  Hope this helps someone out, albeit late in the day!

Good luck everyone.

31 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Rotation's Alter Ego
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • Has Moderation Rights
    • 8 Years
    11 months, 5 days ago

    Thank you Shaun for submitting - handy timing too!

    I'm a big fan of goalkeeper rotations based on fixtures, and I can't get past how good the one on the table looks. One of Pope or Heaton could develop into somebody that is a set and forget keeper, but right now we can hedge our bets, get both, and be blessed with a wonderful rotation!

    What's not to like?!

    1. Giggs Boson
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      11 months, 5 days ago

      Do you think it's worth downgrading Robertson to VVD, in order to get a backup keeper?

      Does fixture difficulty have a large enough effect on GK returns?

      1. Forza
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        11 months, 5 days ago

        "Fixture-based rotation is better, generating an expected additional return of 14.2 points, again based only on clean sheets." - https://www.fantasyfootballscout.co.uk/2019/07/30/the-depressing-math-of-home-and-away-rotation/

        This assumes that you'll always pick the right option though.

        1. Giggs Boson
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 8 Years
          11 months, 5 days ago

          Based on just clean sheets, sure. But save points in tough fixtures can negate that points difference.

    2. Dr. Rog
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 10 Years
      11 months, 5 days ago

      Based on this article (https://www.fantasyfootballscout.co.uk/2019/07/30/the-depressing-math-of-home-and-away-rotation/), home/away rotation provides a 7 point uplift, fixture based rotation (avoid top 6) provides 14 point uplift.

      The cost of which would be 0.5m and maybe a couple of free transfers.

      Half a million for 14 points isnt a bad expected return. Van Dijk, as an example, played every match last season and scored 203 points, for 6.5m. That's about 15.5 points per half a million and he was one of the best performers in the game.

      1. Maximus Bonimus Pointimus
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 10 Years
        11 months, 5 days ago

        I’m going to ask a really silly question here as I haven’t read either article yet (I will def read both though as they look good)

        But surely saying that rotation provides a 7 point uplift is quite tenuous? I don’t mean to split hairs, but an expected 7 point uplift over an absolutely huge sample isn’t really of any use to an individual manager... and it would also be extremely dependent on the teams & fixtures being rotated... not just any old rotation

        Totally willing to be educated/corrected here but it doesn’t seem intuitive currently 🙂

  2. evolve89
    • 5 Years
    11 months, 5 days ago

    1)KDB Barkley

    2) Fraser Siggy

    Have Sterling and King.

    1. Yankee Toffee
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      11 months, 5 days ago

      1

    2. Ole's at the wheel
      • 5 Years
      11 months, 5 days ago

      Fraser and Siggy
      King to another 6.0

  3. Valar(Keith)
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 10 Years
    11 months, 5 days ago

    Confirmed what I already kind of saw with pope and Heaton.. Henderson was the missing piece! Cheers.. Can honestly see this 9.0 pairing matching the premiums.. Whereas a 4.5 on their own never will

    1. Giggs Boson
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      11 months, 5 days ago

      Do you have Wilson as well as Vardy, Keith?

      It seems Wilson is better value to me, and with great opening fixtures.

    2. True Deadzoner
      • 8 Years
      11 months, 5 days ago

      Just on paper, one of them will haul on your bench

    3. le flem
      • 6 Years
      11 months, 5 days ago

      Not really, Burnley keepers have normally scored around 150 points over a season due to Burnley's style of play meaning they make many saves. Without Europa I fancy their defence to get back to where they were.

      1. le flem
        • 6 Years
        11 months, 5 days ago

        Pope and 4.0 is best.

  4. Filipovskii
    • 7 Years
    11 months, 5 days ago

    RMT

    Pope/Heaton
    KWP/Robertson/Zinchenko/Rico/Montoya
    Sterling/Salah/Perez/Moura/Dendoncker
    Auba/King/Greenwood

    4-4-2

    1. le flem
      • 6 Years
      11 months, 5 days ago

      Pretty good.

  5. gomez123
    • 6 Years
    11 months, 5 days ago

    Is Woods a viable option at 6.5m vs Saints??

    1. le flem
      • 6 Years
      11 months, 5 days ago

      Yes

  6. Lexi2014
    • 5 Years
    11 months, 5 days ago

    Cheers for the article, really useful! I had Pope and Ryan rotating but now switched to Pope and Heaton which makes sense!

    Here’s my full team:

    Pope (Heaton)
    Digne, KWP, VVD (Lundstram,Prodl)
    Salah, KDB, Moura, Tielemans (Dedonkner)
    Kane, King, Jota

    Leaves me with £1m itb...lots of tinkering ahead I think!

    Any thoughts?

    1. lespaul
      • 10 Years
      11 months, 5 days ago

      I'm the same team but Wilson and Barkley instead of jota and moura

  7. Jam0sh
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 8 Years
    11 months, 5 days ago

    A) Van Dijk, Zinchenko, Shaw
    B) Robertson, Digne, Dunk

    1. le flem
      • 6 Years
      11 months, 5 days ago

      b

  8. Wolves Ay We
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 4 Years
    11 months, 5 days ago

    Would you say it is vital to have:

    A) One Everton defender
    B) One City defender
    C) Both a City and an Everton defender.

    1. le flem
      • 6 Years
      11 months, 5 days ago

      None are vital, plenty of other options will do well. Saying that, save for Laporte the whole City defence is at risk of rotation.

  9. Balmdk
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    11 months, 5 days ago

    Can i ask the opinion of you fine gents on my team please?

    Heaton, Pope
    Kelly/ Digne, TAA, Van D, Guilbert
    Kante, Salah, Sterling, B Silva, Dendoncker
    King, Jimenez, Kean

    Best of luck to you all!

    1. le flem
      • 6 Years
      11 months, 5 days ago

      Kante is not an FPL option. Who the hell is Guilbert. Kean a bit of a risk as may not play from the off and could struggle adapting.

  10. ChelseaBridgeBlue
    • 5 Years
    11 months, 5 days ago

    Thoughts on this?

    Pope
    VVD - Coleman - Zinchenko - Walker
    Salah - De Bruyne - Fraser - Perez
    Aubameyang - Wilson

    4.0 - Greenwood - Dendoncker - Gibson

    Thinking double Bournemouth attack early doors and then an easy switch post GW2.

  11. FP Elephant
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    11 months, 5 days ago

    Thanks Shaun! Great analysis and article. I’d been planning a switch from Premium GK to budget rotation but didn’t know who! Very helpful to see your breakdown.

    I like Pope best... what’s the latest on his fitness? Would not like Heaton in week 1 against Spurs.

    I’m a bit skeptical of Villa’s defense in general so I’m looking at Pope+____. If I knew Pope were 100% I might even roll with him every game plus a 4.0 like Button or Stek!

    Too bad Fabianski is 5.0 this season. He and Pope rotate very well the first half (but at a pricey 9.5). Makes me think rotating WHU/Burnley 4.5 defenders in my 4th D spot is an option, though.

  12. teki0s
    • 4 Years
    11 months, 5 days ago

    Trully a great article! Thanks so much, helps a lot!

  13. Jutee
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 1 Year
    11 months, 4 days ago

    "GW1-9 Heaton & Pope: 0"
    GW 3: Aston Villa (Heaton) vs Everton, Wolves vs Burnley (Pope).

    1. shaun_drift
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 1 Year
      10 months, 22 days ago

      I was just doing some prep work for an update at the end of GW9 and realised the same thing Jutee. A big oversight from myself. It's actually Heaton and Ryan or Heaton and Gunn that provides 0 unfavourable fixtures in GW 1-9. Apologies.