Fantasy Football

Fantasy Premier League (FPL) 2018/19: Three-Way Budget Defender Rotation

Long time readers will remember (maybe) that for the last couple of seasons I have attempted a three-way defensive rotation strategy in defensive to make use of the budget defenders by ensuring that at least one of the three has a favourable fixture most weeks. If I’m honest I probably won’t be following that same strategy this season, but I thought it only right and proper that I at least explore the options. This won’t be an in-depth post like last season’s but rather just an overview of the best combinations for anyone who wants to utilise them (I’m only looking at GWs 1-33 because the second wildcard will come into effect then for most – of course, there is the first wildcard, but I think managers are becoming more flexible about when they use it, so I’m not going to try to second guess that).


My task is to find the best combination of fixtures for three clubs from whom one can pick three regular starting defenders for a low price. A favourable fixture will be determined as:

  1. A home game
  2. Against a weak opposition to increase the probability of a clean sheet


The ‘Weak’ Teams

Obviously at this stage the definition of ‘weak’ teams is somewhat subjective and subject to change so apologies if this list doesn’t conform to the readers’ thoughts, but I have determined the most favourable opposition from a defender’s perspective to be:

  1. Bournemouth (BOU)
  2. Burnley (BUR)
  3. Brighton (BHA)
  4. Cardiff (CDF)
  5. Fulham (FUL)
  6. Huddersfield (HUD)
  7. Newcastle (NEW)
  8. Southampton (SOU)
  9. Watford (WAT)
  10. West Ham (WHU)
  11. Wolves (WLV)

As an aside, this list of 11 is up from 8 last season. I’m excluded: the big six teams for obvious reasons; Everton because they have decent options up front, a new manager that isn’t Big Sam and resources behind them; Leicester because they scored a lot last season; and Crystal Palace because I’m expecting them to kick on next season. With the resources it could be argued that Wolves belong in this list, but they are new to the league so they remain ‘favourable’ for now. Like I said, it’s subjective.

The ‘Budget Friendly’ Teams

We are looking for cheap defenders who are almost guaranteed starters for their clubs, and I would expect the following 14 clubs to have at least one starter at £4.5m or less (please note that this article is being published before the release of the player price list for 2018/19, so it’s possible or even probable that at least one of these teams will not have viable options for under £5.0m, but for the moment we live in hope):

  1. Bournemouth (BOU)
  2. Burnley (BUR)
  3. Brighton (BHA)
  4. Cardiff (CDF)
  5. Crystal Palace (CPL)
  6. Everton (EVE)
  7. Fulham (FUL)
  8. Huddersfield (HUD)
  9. Leicester (LEI)
  10. Newcastle (NEW)
  11. Southampton (SOU)
  12. Watford (WAT)
  13. West Ham (WHU)
  14. Wolves (WLV)

Basically, everyone except the top six.

Presentation Notes

I will present the combinations as follows: the three teams (number of favourable home games from the first 33 weeks; the number of favourable home or away games from the first 33 gameweeks). So, one of the top combinations is Bournemouth, Everton and Leicester, with 26 gameweeks where at least one of them has a favourable home fixture, and all 33 gameweeks where one of them has a favourable fixture either home or away. This will be shown as:

Bournemouth, Everton, Leicester (26; 33)

For the record, here is what the above schedule looks like, to prove that the system works (I’m not doing it for all the combinations below though!)


Top Combinations – 26 home fixtures

Bournemouth, Everton, Leicester (26; 33)
Bournemouth, Leicester, Wolves (26; 33)

Top Combinations – 25 home fixtures

Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Everton (25; 33)
Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Fulham (25; 33)
Everton, Huddersfield, Watford (25; 33)
Bournemouth, Cardiff, Fulham (25; 31)
Bournemouth, Everton, Fulham (25; 31)
Cardiff, Fulham, West Ham (25; 31)
Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Wolves (25; 31)
Leicester, West Ham, Wolves (25; 31)
Bournemouth, Burnley, Huddersfield (25; 30)

Top Combinations – 24 home fixtures

Brighton, Cardiff, Fulham (24; 33)
Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Huddersfield (24; 33)
Bournemouth, Everton, Huddersfield (24; 33)
Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Leicester (24; 33)
Crystal Palace, Fulham, Newcastle (24; 33)
Crystal Palace, Everton, Watford (24; 33)
Everton, Leicester, Watford (24; 33)
Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Watford (24; 33)
Everton, Newcastle, Watford (24; 33)
Crystal Palace, Fulham, West Ham (24; 33)
Burnley, Southampton, West Ham (24; 33)
Bournemouth, Burnley, Wolves (24; 33)
Burnley, Huddersfield, Wolves (24; 33)
Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Wolves (24; 33)
Crystal Palace, West Ham, Wolves (24; 33)
Bournemouth, Brighton, Leicester (24; 32)
Brighton, Everton, Huddersfield (24; 31)
Bournemouth, Fulham, Leicester (24; 31)
Everton, Fulham, Newcastle (24; 31)
Crystal Palace, Watford, West Ham (24; 31)
Brighton, Fulham, Newcastle (24; 30)
Bournemouth, Burnley, Southampton (24; 29)
Cardiff, Watford, West Ham (24; 29)

Thanks for reading everyone, hope you find a combination you like with the right prices when the game is launched. There will be a couple of deeper analysis pieces coming before the season starts, just as soon as I’ve figured out how to write them. In the meantime, find me on Twitter as always, @mathsafe_fpl


5 thoughts on “Fantasy Premier League (FPL) 2018/19: Three-Way Budget Defender Rotation

  1. Thank you Peter for the data. I looked back at the 2017-18 post for fun ( ). My numbers could use checking, but I counted CS for all three periods for the teams under measurement and found clean sheets were on average (GW1-6/ GW7-33 / GW1-33)
    = (6/17/23), the max (10/21/29), the min (3/14/17)
    – The best Home combo BRT / NEW / SWA performed slightly above average (7/19/26)
    – The best Home/Away combo CPL / LEI / WAT was average (5/18/23)
    – The best “gut” pick was BOU / STO / SWA was slightly under average (4/15/19)
    – The #1 combination to *AVOID* (BUR / HUD / SWA) was nearly the *MAX* (10/18/28) !!

    I’m not sure what to do with this info, other than try to pick good defenses at home 🙂


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