The Ultimate Guide To Automatic Subs (FPL)

Last updated on November 11th, 2022

With the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) getting more and more competitive each season, taking advantage of every opportunity to gain extra points will be key to winning matchups.

The automatic substitution system is key as it can boost your overall points significantly when you understand how it works.

Here’s all you need to know about using the automatic substitution system to your advantage and give you an edge over your rivals!

How do automatic substitutions work in FPL?

Automatic substitution comes into play when a player from your starting 11 does not play any minutes in that gameweek. A player from your bench will be subbed in at the end of that gameweek, and the score that the subbed in player gets will be included in your total points tally.

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Your benched players are valuable, and they can help bring in precious points in the event that your starting XI does not play!

Every point in FPL matters, whether your aim is to win your mini-league or to break into the top 100,000. 

However, you will need to ensure that the substitution fits the formation rule as well.

What is the formation rule?

Based on the FPL guidelines, there cannot be less than 1 goalkeeper, 3 defenders, and 2 forwards. This means that when you go for a 3-4-3 formation and one of your defenders does not play any minutes, he can only be automatically subbed off for another defender.

In the case of goalkeepers, when your goalkeeper does not play any minutes he is automatically subbed off for the benched goalkeeper if the benched goalkeeper played in that gameweek.

A good strategy would be to pick one premium goalkeeper and one budget goalkeeper that is a guaranteed starter.

This is because goalkeepers usually do not bring in points to your team, unless they keep a clean sheet or score a goal.

Moreover, the order in which you place your subs on the bench is very important. The system will start by picking the first player from the left-most side, so you have to be strategic with the order in which you arrange your bench.

Here are the official FPL guidelines regarding Automatic Substitution


In the event of an injury to any player in your starting 11, a player from your bench will be automatically subbed in at the end of the gameweek. However, the catch is, that the injured player must have not played any minutes in that gameweek

For example, Reece James in Gameweek 29 was injured and was not included in the team sheet. This meant he could not participate in that particular game week.

This meant all FPL players who had Reece James in their starting 11 would automatically have him subbed off for a bench player by the system.

Aside from injuries, there are common situations where a player from your starting 11 ends up being benched for the entire length of the match. 

Since he did not play any minutes, the system will automatically sub him off and bring in a player from your bench who did play, depending on the formation rule.

COVID-19 brought along with it cases where matches had to be postponed.

A popular example is the North London derby (Tottenham Vs Arsenal) being postponed because of high COVID cases in the Arsenal camp. Because of the postponement, none of the Spurs and Arsenal players played any minutes in that gameweek. In this case, the automatic substitution system came into play.

The automatic substitution system only comes into play when a player has not played any minutes. Even if a player in your starting 11 plays just a minute of the match, he will be considered to have played in the game! 

 In most instances, he will receive 1 point and the automatic substitution will not apply to him. 

Can you make substitutions in FPL during the Gameweek?

You are unable to make any substitutions during the FPL Gameweek.

The deadline to make any substitutions is open until 90 minutes before the first kick-off of the first match in that gameweek. For example, when the first match is a Saturday 3 pm kick-off it means all substitutions should be made before 1.30 pm.

After 1.30 pm, no changes will be accepted for that gameweek.

What is the highest priority outfield substitute?

The highest priority outfield substitute is the player on the leftmost side. In the screenshot below, Reece James would be the highest priority substitute.


How do I change the substitute order in FPL?

There are 2 ways to change the substitute order on your bench:

#1 By Dragging 

Left-click your mouse and drag the player you want to change position to the desired new position.

#2 By Selection

Click on the yellow icon on the left side of the player. This will then highlight all players that can be substituted. Next, click on the yellow icon on the preferred player you would like to swap positions with.

Can a defender replace a midfielder in FPL?

A defender is able to replace a midfielder, regardless of any formation you use. In the screenshot below, the formation is 4-3-3, and a defender can replace a midfielder without breaking the formation rule.

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This applies to any other formations as well.

Can a defender replace a forward in FPL?

A defender can replace a forward, but only for certain formations. For example, a defender can replace a forward if you’re using the 3-5-2, 3-4-3, 4-4-2, or 4-3-3 formations. Meanwhile, a defender cannot replace a forward in a 5-4-1 formation.

If you’re using a 3-5-2 formation, you can replace a forward with a defender. In the case that a defender sits at the left-most side of your bench, he will come in to replace any forward who did not play in that gameweek. 

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Meanwhile, if you’re using the 5-4-1 formation you are unable to replace a forward with a defender because all your 5 defenders are already in play. This means you will not have any more defenders on your bench to come in as substitutes.

Moreover, you will also need to have at least one forward in your starting 11!

Can a midfielder replace a defender in FPL?

A midfielder is able to replace a defender, but only for certain formations. If you’re using the 5-4-1, 4-4-2, 4-3-3, or 5-3-2 formations, it will be possible. However, you are unable to do so with a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 formation.

If you’re using the 5-4-1 formation, you are able to replace a defender with a midfielder. If you placed a midfielder at the left-most side of your bench, he will come in to replace any defender who didn’t play.

In the screenshot below, the formation is 3-4-3. In this scenario, you cannot replace a defender with a midfielder because you cannot have less than 3 defenders in any gameweek.

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Can a forward replace a midfielder in FPL?

It is possible for a forward to replace a midfielder, but only for certain formations such as 3-5-2, 4-4-2, 5-3-2, and 5-4-1. Meanwhile, it is not possible to do so with a 5-2-3, 3-4-3 or 4-3-3 formation.

If you used the 4-4-2 formation, you are able to replace a midfielder with a forward. 

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Meanwhile, if you used a 5-2-3 formation, you are unable to replace a midfielder with a forward as all 3 of your forwards are already in play.

Some points to note

In order for the automatic substitution to work in your favor, your benched player has to participate in the gameweek as well. It is important that you always go for first team regulars in your team. 

If they do not play at all, it will be an automatic zero score and they will not be subbed in for any of your starting 11

It will not benefit your team if you put players on the bench and they do not play at all. Even with automatic substitutions, your players won’t earn you any points! 

As such, do try to pick players who play regularly for their teams for them to bring good returns to your FPL team.

If your bench is not strong enough to field a decent team, you can consider using your wildcard or free hit chips instead.


The automatic substitution system is a system that you can use to your advantage to give you an edge over your rivals in your mini-league and even to gain ground in the global rankings.

Do keep in mind how the automatic substitution affects different formations.

Moreover, it will be useful to be on the lookout for any injury, suspensions and postponement news regarding your players. This will help you know who to bring in and out of your team.

One way to do this is by listening to the managers’s press conferences before any gameweek starts.

By being strategic with how you position your bench players, you secure yourself if one or more of your starting 11 players doesn’t get any game time!

In the event that your captain or vice-captain does not play in that particular gameweek, here’s what will happen to the double points bonus.

Moreover, you may need to find the best timings to make an FPL transfer, which you can check out more here.

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