Research Dead Teams

Dawn of the Dead

‘With over 2.5 million players, Fantasy Premier League is the biggest Fantasy Football game in the world!’. Of course, this statement is familiar to every one addicted enough to be reading this post. Even though there are officially 3,093,825 registered teams now, it is also well known that this statement is somewhat too optimistic as the word ‘player’ hardly suits those countless swarms of ghost teams haunting the game. Are they really countless though? Let’s put an end to speculation and estimate how many dead teams are wandering around trying to beat and eat the living.


In my weekly posts, I include statistical estimates for the number of teams which didn’t make any transfers for a specific gameweek. Here they are for the last 5 gameweeks:

  • GW15 – 64.0%
  • GW14 – 70.6%
  • GW13 – 65.2%
  • GW12 – 64.4%
  • GW11 – 63.2%

As one can see, roughly two thirds of all FPL teams stay away from the transfer market every gameweek. Some of them save transfers and use them in other weeks. Therefore, to separate the wheat from the chaff and detect the ones who are absent on the transfer market on a regular basis, we need to take a look at the recent transfer history.

For this purpose, I’ve run a script for transfer history pages of 50,000 randomly selected FPL teams and analysed the received data.

What Is a ‘Dead Team’?

To calculate the number of dead teams, one has to define a ‘dead team’ first. No transfer activity for how many weeks does make a team dead? This question is somewhat philosophical, so here are the percentages of teams with no transfers for all possible time spans.


  • Approximately 53% of all registered teams haven’t done any transfers for the last 2 gameweeks in a row
  • 40% of all teams haven’t done any transfers for over a month
  • 20% of all registered teams haven’t bothered to make any transfers at all since the start of the season

Where Are Dead Teams Located in the Rankings?

The next question is how well are dead teams doing? I’ve broken down the overall FPL league into 31 groups of 100,000 teams based on their overall rank and estimated the share of dead teams in each group. Here are the shares of teams with no transfers for the last 1 gameweek, 2 gameweeks, 5 gameweeks, and the whole season.

All the rumours that dead teams are eating the living seem to be groundless. In a nutshell, they suck.


  • Only 12.1% of the fantasy managers in the top 100K haven’t made any transfers for 2 weeks in a row. 2.2% have been absent for 5 gameweeks.
  • The proportion of dead teams rises as one descends the overall league table and decreases a bit only at the very bottom where recently created teams kick in.

To summarise the numbers above, here is a graph with cumulative numbers, i.e. the shares of dead teams in the first 100K, 200K, 300K, 1M etc. The very right numbers in this graph correspond to the numbers in the first graph as they reflect the whole sample.


  • Only 0.6% of the teams in the first 1 million teams are completely dead, i.e. haven’t made any transfers at all this season. 6.5% of the managers in the same range have been absent for the last 5 gameweeks.

Instead of Conclusion

A dead team doing extremely well always draws a lot of attention and arouses sincere admiration. A week ago, Ellie Bishop enraptured the fantasy football community having broken into the top 1,000 without any transfers since the start of the season. Unfortunately for her, it didn’t last long as the Luis Suarez show against Norwich threw her team down the rankings.

Luis Suarez has made ‘life’ very difficult for a lot of dead teams. Banned for the first 6 weeks, his subsequent tremendous return has hit them hard and let active players prosper.  If there were a horror movie industry in the world of dead teams, most films would star Suarez. This picture tells the story.

football players vs zombies

One comment on “Dawn of the Dead

  1. Pingback: Dawn of the Dead 2 | FPL Discovery

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