The Premier League is back this weekend and that can only mean one thing: the latest FPL tips to help you get your team back up and running. One of the main considerations for fantasy managers when making transfers is the quality of opposition that players will be facing in the weeks ahead.
To assist with this, the official FPL website calculates a Fixture Difficulty Rating (FDR) which scores each match out of five based on the opponent and whether it is at home or away.
Unfortunately, the system does not provide much detail, especially when you consider no matches are currently rated 1 on the scale and there are only two fixtures with a rating of 5 – Liverpool and Manchester City away.
The ratings have been updated during the international break in a way that’s made it even harder to tell a tricky game from a straightforward one.
In total, 14 fixtures have had their FDR changed to a 3, while only two have gone the other way, meaning that most clubs’ fixture lists now contain an unhelpful amount of grey.
Fortunately, the code on the FPL website contains another metric called “strength”, which seems to power the FDR rating and uses a much more granular scale.
Strength ratings currently range from 1,350 (Liverpool and Manchester City away) to 1,000 (Fulham at home).
We have used these to create our own adjusted FDR scale, also incorporating the 1 rating that the official system avoids, which leaves fewer fixtures obscured in the fog of the middle ground.
Banishing the blues
So what can we learn from our adjusted FDR scale?
On the official website, Chelsea‘s fixture list between now and Boxing Day is a sea of almost uniform grey, with eight of the Blues’ next 10 matches ranked three on the FDR scale.
However, our analysis of the official FPL strength ratings suggests that five of their next seven games are actually easier than average.
Adding a few of Frank Lampard’s players – like the misfiring Timo Werner or the returning Christian Pulisic – could therefore be a winning strategy in the weeks ahead.
Wolves are another team whose short-term future looks a lot greener when the FDR scale is adjusted.
The official site will surely be putting a lot of managers off their players at the moment, showing their next five fixtures as grey followed by two reds.
With the adjusted scale, four of their next five matches show up as green 2s, suggesting that now is not the time to be giving up on Raul Jimenez or Adama Traore.
For those in search of cheap differential options, West Brom’s hunt for a first league win of the season looks a lot more achievable on our five-point scale.
Seven of their 10 fixtures between now and Boxing Day are ranked either 1 or 2, suggesting that the Baggies could yet provide value for managers on a budget.
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