FPL Player Values: The Salah Standard

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The recent re-opening of the Fantasy Premier League doors for the new season immediately sparked a number of debates over pricing. Why was Harry Kane now cheaper than Son Heung-Min? Shouldn’t Trent Alexander-Arnold cost more than £7.5m? Was the ability to fill a whole squad with known assets from the top six a gift or a trap?

Amidst daring discussions of 5-3-2 formations and forward lines with fewer Premier League goals between them than Tyrone Mings has Premier League yellow cards, the key issue driving the debate was always value. How could you sensibly compare £13.0m for Mohamed Salah and £7.0m for Joao Cancelo in terms of value to your FPL squad?

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A couple of seasons ago I looked at the main weekly points-scoring profiles of the leading fantasy assets (https://jumpersforgoalposts.info/haul-marks-part-ii/) and concluded that there were three key metrics to look for:

A)           Returned (5+ pts) in at least 50% of appearances

B)           Hauled (10+ pts) in at least 15% of appearances

C)           Played at least 76% of the time available

Players sustaining those levels of performance are almost certain to score 200+ FPL points over a season. Players falling a little short in one of the criteria are heading for 160-200. Last season both Salah and Son went well beyond that and their position at the top end of the pricing structure reflects their achievements both in the last campaign and others. Some newer elite assets have had a price hike, but are still to prove they can reliably repeat their strong performances.

FPL take a lot of things into consideration when they price a player, but the ABC transfer criteria boil all of that down into three straightforward metrics that represent what any fantasy manager looks for in the weekly performance of their chosen ones. Did he return? Did he haul? Did he look ‘nailed’?

Given that Salah has been at the apex of FPL pricing for a while now to the point where new ceilings are considered to contain his point-scoring potential, it seems a reasonable approach when examining the worth of FPL assets to start with his numbers and work down. If you take his performance on the ABC criteria last season as a benchmark then £13.0m gets you:

A)           23 Gameweek returns of 5+ pts (72% of his 32 GWs with an appearance) 

B)           10 Gameweek hauls of 10+ pts (31% of his appearances)

C)           Played 2758 minutes (81% of the 3420 available)

Clearly Salah was not the best performer in each of those categories, especially minutes, where he was well behind many goalkeepers and defenders not to mention other attackers, but any FPL asset that could be relied upon to repeat those numbers would presumably be worthy of the same price tag. 

Son Heung-min had a very similar performance on the first two metrics last season (69% and 34% respectively) and even managed 250 more minutes on the field, though the actual number of ‘non-blank’ Gameweeks was the same at 32. If anything, you might argue that, taking the most recent season in isolation, Son would now be worth slightly more than Salah, but the price difference might not amount to a full pre-season price point (0.5m).

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The calculation I decided to implement in search of the ‘true’ FPL value of Son’s 2021/22 performance when compared to Salah’s is a simple one. For each of the three criteria:

(Rate of Son’s performance / Salah’s benchmark performance) * 13.0

I decided to use non-blank Gameweeks for the third criteria rather than minutes simply because in this context it felt more appropriate. Most of the players performing at an elite level statistically play most of the time in most of the games. Issues of lots-of-appearances-but-not-many-minutes tend to begin at the bargain pricing levels where the statistics are more erratic in general.

Rounded to one decimal place the results for Son across the three criteria were A) 12.4, B) 14.3 and C) 13.0. Each of the three criteria seem to have similar weight in determining the value of an FPL asset so the most obvious thing to do to reach a ‘true’ price for Son seemed to be simply to average those three results, which gives him a price tag of £13.2m. 

However, as mentioned above, that isn’t a valid starting price in FPL and, rounded to the nearest £0.5m, the ‘true’ price, the value of Son as an FPL asset if we believe he is likely to repeat his performance of last season, comes out at £13.0m, the same as Salah.

If you repeat these calculations for all players who appeared in FPL last season and have been assigned a price by FPL for this season, then the list of players with a ‘True’ Price of £8.5m or higher is as follows:

(“May 22 Price” refers to the end of last season while “Jul 22 Price” refers to the starting price for the 22/23 season)

This table features all positions and includes a £12.0m defender and a £9.5m goalkeeper. It is  not considering any of the nuances that the good people of FPL Towers have to take into account when preparing a new season. This table only cares about Gameweek scores of 5+ and 10+ points and the number of ‘non-blank’ Gameweeks for any given player. It is not interested in how those scores were achieved (goals, clean sheets, saves, bonus…), whether any Double Gameweeks were involved, whether players were unavailable for any reason or that the game won’t let you select ten midfielders or five members of the same Premier League team.

This table is simply trying to portray an idea of the ‘true’ FPL value of a player’s FPL performance last season as measured by the ABC criteria and benchmarked against the most expensive and highest-scoring player in FPL. Nothing more, nothing less.

The table provides some statistical backing for beliefs such as ‘top defenders are underpriced in terms of FPL player performance in general’ which might then persuade you that, for example, opening the season with five high-priced defenders could be a valid strategy if you resist the temptation to Wildcard at the first failures to record consecutive clean sheets. 

It might also persuade you that Son is of even greater value compared to Harry Kane than the FPL admins seem to believe or that Joel Matip is a bigger bargain than Jarrod Bowen. What it can’t do, unfortunately, is enable us to go eight at the back or afford £105m worth of players. As interesting as the raw numbers may be, for them to be of practical use they need to bump up against the constraints that the game sets for us. 

That’s why this article is only the first in a series that will look at how this approach can be used to help you structure and select your FPL squad in time for the Gameweek 1 deadline at 18:30 UK time on Friday 5th August. Come for the chunky footymaths. Stay for the novel approach to goalkeeper selection…

stats: All stats taken from:



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