Need Tips to Help you Succeed in FPL? Look No Further
First Things First…
I’d like to congratulate this years winner in Ben Crabtree. We’ve all dreamed of lifting the prestigious, virtual FPL crown, but few of us have ever had the euphoric pleasure of finishing top 100, never mind winning it! It’s an incredible achievement that, in his own words; “was probably the greatest achievement I’ve had in sport.” Not everyone in sport that play fantasy football, would go that far though:
Transfers/Taking Hits vs Patience in the ‘Heavy Hitters’
Since I started taking this game seriously (2012/13 season), to the point that I began to analyse my performance (suspected probable moment an addiction formed), I noticed that I was taking more hits than the top performing managers. The general consensus amongst the top guys was; ‘the less hits you take, the better chance you have of a high finish’. So naturally at the beginning of each season, I would attempt to make it a priority that I would avoid hits where possible – that didn’t go down too well. For some reason I would always end up making a lot of transfers, with this season being my all time high of 60! If I’m honest with myself, I think it comes down to impatience. I could lie and say it’s because I find it more exciting to make more transfers and subsequently more hits but, if you can’t be honest with yourself, you aren’t going to improve.
So I put it down to impatience. Too quick to show my players the exit door. In a season where many assets, the Liverpool trio of Mané, Coutinho and Firmino in particular, would take it in turns to come to the fore – I can picture it now; Firmino after his brace and maximum bonus against Leicester back in GW4, walking back to the dressing room beaming with joy, to pass the mantle over to his Brazilian counter-part Coutinho, leaving him with the parting words, “There you go mate, it’s your turn” – having some patience could prove pivotal.
I started with Firmino in GW1 and like so many other FPL managers, made the hasty decision to ship him out early for Hazard, frustratingly missing out on that big haul against Leicester. The poor decision was compounded further through me trusting Hazard immediately with the armband against Swansea – he blanked and got booked! An early warning on big assets and patience that I would immediately go on to ignore. I brought in Coutinho for Hazard in GW6, more out of frustration than anything, ahead of a promising Liverpool fixture at home to Hull. This proved to be a very good move as Coutinho hit 14pts whilst Hazard & co slumped to a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal – undoubtedly the key turning point in Chelsea’s dominant domestic campaign.
However, having watched several of the Liverpool games live, I came to the conclusion that Coutinho was the most influential player in their team and committed myself to keeping him in my FPL squad and remaining patient. This was based on him taking both indirect and direct free kicks (and scoring them), having corner kicks and generally getting himself into dangerous areas in and around the box on a regular basis. Coutinho went on to score me 49pts in the 7 games before he got injured, averaging exactly 7pts a game. A rate I was very pleased with given his price.
I believe, like Ben Crabtree, that physically watching the games live, where possible, is a huge help. If you can’t watch the games live, then watch ‘Match of the Day’. I can’t stress that point enough. Had it not been for me watching those Liverpool games live, I might not have come to that conclusion about Coutinho and may have go on to chop and change between him, Mané and Firmino like so many other FPL managers leaving me as frustrated as them. Sometimes stats will show that the player only registered 1 goal attempt, but what it won’t show, is the player picking up great positions, for example; making good runs that are either not seen by a team-mate or the pass being intercepted by a defender, or being inches away from getting on the end of a tap in. Stats don’t always tell the full story.
Eden Hazard was the main source of frustration for me however, in terms of patience with ‘big’ assets. I brought him in and shipped him out 3 times this season – luckily I caught his biggest haul of the season where he destroyed the toffees at the bridge, scoring 2 and assisting 1 amassing 19pts in doing so. After watching his sparkling performance, in a team that was looking so confident with the new change of system, I was convinced he was a season-keeper. However, the more times I watched Chelsea, the more I became aware of a worrying trend. At home, he was brilliant. Complete and utter freedom to roam and do what he does best in the final third but away from home, he seemed to be reigned in somewhat. More the creator than the goal-getter. Despite this, I decided I would remain patient and hope for more Everton hauls…
That went well. Two more double-figure hauls in 13 gameweeks wasn’t enough to justify his price in my opinion, despite him plodding along with the odd goal or assist, I wanted more. This time, being patient, didn’t work.
Chips and Wildcards
A little easier. The general consensus around wildcards (WC’s) is to use the first one between GW4-6 – giving enough time to consider formations and form – and to use the second in combination with the ‘Bench Boost’ (BB) chip during the double-gameweeks, potentially giving a powerful squad of 15 players playing twice – our mouths watered at the prospect ever since the inception of the chips. ‘Triple Captain’ (TC) also being played during a double-gameweek and ‘All Out Attack’ (AOA) generally being used in whatever gameweek you fancy – such is our distaste at this waste of a chip.
I actually went against using the 2nd WC in combination with the BB chip and played my second WC in GW29 after the blank gameweek previous. At this point we knew who had double-gameweeks and who would play who, we just didn’t know which gameweek they would be scheduled for, although we had a general idea. So my logic here, was that I would bring in the key players ready for the doubles, along with those with good fixtures, whilst getting rid of the garbage I brought in for the blank gameweek previous, such as Andy Carrol. My thought was that I would get the jump in rank on those holding the second WC, whilst more or less having the same ‘template’ WC squad most would have for the doubles. Furthermore, those that invested in the blank GW28, such as the leader in my main mini-league, would have to take numerous hits to get their squad anywhere near as good as mine. Here’s how that went down for me;
It’s very difficult to say whether this worked out or not. Five green arrows from GW29-GW33 and a jump in overall rank from 40k-18k would suggest it did, but from GW34 onwards I had to take hits to transfer out players that either got injured, like Gabbiadini – which turned out to be a blessing in disguise for me, as those who used their second WC’s in GW35, brought Gabbiadini into their squad, who went on to claim the title of ‘Fraudiadini’ – or those who went out of form, like Lukaku. Despite having to take a -12 hit, I still kept pace with those who used the combination of WC + BB for GW37 – food for thought perhaps?
So, Has the Dynamic Changed?
With regard to the first WC and TC; No. I think it serves as fairly standard to use the first WC between GW4-6, unless you’ve absolutely nailed team sheets, formations and form meaning that you literally don’t stand to gain anything from using it. TC also speaks for itself. This season, big hitters performed in double-gameweeks, with some excelling, reading the script provided very, very well. I will certainly be doing the same again next year.
With regard to taking hits vs avoiding them where possible; I think it can work. I took 25 hits this year and finished with a pleasing and respectable overall rank. Provided you bring in the right players for those out of form/injured/suspended and avoid being stubborn, it’s been proven to be a viable tactic, as evidenced in the below graphic showing the total immediate points I gained from transfers:
I think the dynamic has changed this year from last year. We’ve almost had to predict when a big hitting asset was about to explode, rather than them staying put in our squad being consistently good – with the exception of an outstanding Alexis Sanchez of course, who came into my GW3 WC squad and stayed put for the rest of my season leading the rest of my team as the shining example, as he did all season for Arsenal.
Last season we could just sit on the likes of Mahrez/Alli/Vardy, who offered such low prices combined with great consistency, resulting in unrivalled value throughout the entire season. We didn’t have that this year. Joshua King was the closest to that, but he came late to the party – a player that caused me great psychological harm with his unbelievable rise to form through tough fixtures, a patch I deemed too tough for him to flourish, to my detriment.
In conclusion, it’s been a testing season for all, FPL veterans in particular I believe who found it difficult to adapt – the exception of course, in manager terms, being the talented Mark Sutherns, who always seems to find a way to adapt to the rigours of each FPL season, finishing 115th in the world; his second best finish (42nd his best).
I always thought that the reason I couldn’t break the top 100k was because I took too many hits, but this season I took the most amount of hits I’ve ever taken in an FPL season, and ended up finishing the season with my best overall rank to date. Does that mean I’ll be as aggressive and pro-active with my transfers next season? Honest answer? I don’t know. I think the two most important traits for success in FPL is being adaptable and learning from your mistakes. The best way to learn from your mistakes is to admit them, rather than blaming them on something, or someone else. Making a mistake just means you can do it better next time!