Community Submission: The Importance of Set Pieces

Updated: Aug 22

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Thank you to Draft Lad (@DraftLad) for submitting the below Community Submission. This article has been subject to minor edits to the formatting, but the written content remains almost untouched.


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Please note that this article is based on Fantrax Default Scoring.


Community Submission: The Importance of Set Pieces

Set pieces have long been a consideration for picking players in fantasy football, but just how important are they? The short answer is very, but we’re here to get deep into the long answer. For the sake of this article let’s define set pieces. Set pieces are dead-ball plays including corners, free kicks, and penalties.


Set Piece Outcomes

Basic football logic dictates that from a set piece it is possible to achieve the following statistics:

Goals (G - 9/10 FPts), Assists (AT - 6/7 FPts), Shots on Target (SOT - 2 FPts), & Key Passes (KP - 2 FPts). We’ll ignore Accurate Crosses & Penalty Kicks Missed for simplicity in this article.


Now how prevalent are set pieces in achieving these statistics? In the 2020-2021 season through GW 29: 13% Goals, 9% Assists, 13% Key Passes, and 7% Shots on Target came from set pieces.


Set Piece Dependence

This may not seem like a ton to most, but when you think more about it on a per player level, you realize the massive impact set pieces have in the Fantrax game. Let’s take 2 examples: the most well regarded, and possibly best, set piece taker, James Ward-Prowse, a well-known fantasy stud, and Pascal Gross, a good fantasy player but a bit more under the radar in terms of set pieces.

Ward-Prowse scored 86% of his goals (6/7), 100% of his assists (5/5), 69% of his key passes (29/42), and 58% of his shots on target (11/19) from set pieces.


Gross scored 100% of his goals (2/2), 33% of his assists (2/6), 48% of his key passes (26/54), and 50% of his shots on target (3/6) from set pieces.


In terms of fantasy points: A whopping 51% of Ward-Prowse’s came from set pieces. That’s the difference between 11.2 PP90 and 5.5 PP90! The difference for Gross is similar: 37% of his FPts came from set pieces, or a difference of 12.7 to 8.1 FPts a game. Without set pieces, these players would be far less useful in the Fantrax game.


Let’s take a look at the set piece dependence of some other players (% represents the % of the stat per player that comes from Set Pieces (SP), PP90 is FPts per 90 mins.):

Fantasy Points Per Set Piece

Convinced yet? Let’s put it another way:

  • For each corner the average corner taker takes, they score 0.4 points.

  • For each free kick the average free kick taker takes, they score 0.7 points.

  • For each penalty the average penalty taker takes, they score 8.7 points (including PKM -4 FPts).

In the average game of football each team takes approximately 5 corners, 2 free kicks (resulting in a shot or cross), and 0.2 penalties. That’s around 5 FPts per team up for grabs by the set piece takers. The penalty taker of course takes a large fraction of that in the event a penalty occurs. Good teams can rack up far more set pieces in a game than the 7.2 average, but that’s a case study for another day.


Important Takeaways

Let’s put the numbers away for a bit and talk important things to note:

  • Set pieces are very important for fantasy

  • Understanding who’s going to take set pieces before a game is crucial

  • Players' values can be very heavily driven by whether they take set pieces or not (think Ward-Prowse, Gross)

  • Teams have pecking orders for set pieces, and often times these pecking orders differ for different types of set pieces. (I.e. the penalty taker is often times not the corner taker – Jorginho/Werner vs Mount)

  • Some teams have players who own a monopoly/all of their set pieces (JWP) whereas other’s have split takers (Bruno & Shaw)


Things to Do:

  • Know who the current set piece takers are on each EPL team: FFScout has great info

  • Recognize who the primary set piece takers are going to be per team when lineups come out

  • Draft, trade, and waiver in primary set piece takers when the situation arises

  • Stay aware of changing set piece takers per team to understand changing player value (i.e. Kalvin Phillips & Klich used to take set pieces, now Raphinha takes most). Use that knowledge to your advantage in trades to recognize your opponents over and underestimating players.

*Sourced data from Fantrax , FBRef, & WhoScored


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