Formation, Formation, Formation

Among the many decisions a fantasy football manager faces is choosing what formation to select.

Should you go with the most attacking option of 3-4-3, invest heavily in defence and play five at the back, or perhaps choose a classic Trapattoni 4-4-2. The wrong formation choice can see a team lose league places faster than Liverpool fans lose belief in their almost infallible duo of Brendan Rogers and Stevie G.

Over here in the land of we don’t believe in anything except statistics (some of us have been applying these principles with more success than others, not entioning any names Chris Brown). Todays’ article takes a brief look back at the year so far up as far as game week 35.

The question we are looking to answer is simple: what  formation has stood up to the test over 35 gruelling weeks, and which line-ups have barely qualified as a flash in the pan. To give us some insight we have been looking back at the 35 dream teams according to our lords and masters at Before delving into statistics let’s be clear on what the options are when it comes to formations. There are eight choices available, and I have organised them below from least to most attacking, as I view them:

My natural instinct is always to select the most attacking option of 3-4-3 putting as much money as can be justified into strikers and high scoring midfielders. However, is this really the best option? The chart below presents the number of times that each of the above formations has been used to make up the dream team.

Formation Number Formation
1 5-4-1
2 5-3-2
3 5-2-3
4 4-5-1
5 4-4-2
6 4-3-3
7 3-5-2
8 3-4-3


The first thing of interest is that 3-5-2 is comfortably the most successful when looking at dream teams. The 3-4-3 options is a clear second, with all of others featuring only as also-rans. This would seem to confirm that the only way to win in fantasy football is to go for goals. It also suggests that for this year in any case, you would be better off putting most of your eggs in the baskets of midfielders like Hazard and Sanchez. Perhaps if Diego Costa had an injury free season this may not have been the case, but more often than not, the midfield has come up trumps this year.


However, before settling on 3-5-2 forever and a day it is also worth taking a look at the average points scored by the dream teams using the above formations. Excluding the first and third formations (each having a sole representative), here is the picture:


Interestingly, 3-5-2 scores relatively poorly, coming in third out of the six formations under consideration above. 3-4-3 wins the day, on average outscoring all other options by over 5 points per week. This would seem to tell us strikers don’t always come out on top, but when they do, they win the day comfortably.

If you’re instincts are attack minded, follow them and they will see you right more often than not.

Gambles on other formations should only be taken under advisement, and our advisement is, don’t.

Here endeth the lesson.

Fairytale Football – a podcast devoted to the EPL fantasy football league. Listen live or listen back at and follow us on twitter @fairytaleleague to find out when we are next on the air.

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