Fantasy Premier League Tips: Understanding What Drives The Knee Jerk

The knee jerk is always tempting in FPL after a bad gameweek, but do we actually need to do it, or is it simply a product of failing to understand our feelings and emotions? 

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My GW1 performance: 41 points, 3.3m overall rank

I think I could be the most qualified to talk about the knee jerk this week – 41 points is a miserable total considering the average score of overall FPL managers.

My decision to not have Lukaku alongside Kane, as my premium striker pairing, was a disaster, putting it frankly.

The theory I put forward about Lukaku in my team preview of United, was based on the tactics and performance of them last season, where they only managed 54 goals and generally played a slow-tempo, controlled passing style of play, and as such, didn’t feel United had the potential to score 4/5 goals, thus limiting the appeal of Lukaku.

City by comparison, I felt, could explode and score 4/5 goals and this was the reason I chose Jesus over Lukaku.

Oh how I was wrong…

United blew West Ham out of the park, winning 4-0 playing slick and fluid attacking football. As a United fan, I couldn’t of been happier with what I was seeing, finally Mourinho was taking the game to our opponents in a style that was enjoyable to watch, but from an FPL perspective, I was left tearing my hair out, as I watched the Belgian beast rip West Ham to shreds, like one of Daenerys’ Dragons.

Whilst I may have been wrong about Lukaku, I back the team I chose.

All 3 of my strikers hit the woodwork and both Kane and Jesus could have easily scored a brace each, missing chances that I would have backed my dog, Mollie, to score.

Whilst my players were hitting the woodwork and missing chances that were arguably harder to miss, I was watching everyone else’s players score or assist with ease – it kinda felt like being Anthony Joshua’s punching bag.

The urge to knee jerk after the final whistle blew at Old Trafford was hugely tempting, but so far I’ve resisted the urge, based on the following understanding.

Feelings and Emotions Drive Behaviour


The immediate feeling for most when you’re failing whilst everyone else is succeeding, is that of envy. We can’t help it. We feel left out. It’s embedded within us.

From a biological stand point, we, as human beings, have a need to belong to a group. We crave it. It’s what drives large parts of our behaviour. Think of school and all those times you wanted to be part of the ‘cool kids’; why was that?

In evolutionary terms, our ancestors, as well as other animals, figured out that belonging to a certain social group had advantages from a survival perspective. If you belonged to the group with the strongest hunters, it meant you wouldn’t starve for example.

If we apply this concept to real life social scenarios like school, there were certain advantages to belonging to certain groups, for example; belonging to the ‘cool’ group, usually meant less chance of being bullied.

Those who don’t belong to certain groups are seen as outcasts and are treated as such.

If you’re an outcast looking in, you see all the advantages of belonging to that group, advantages you don’t have and naturally, become envious as a result.

Once that feeling of envy hits, whilst you’re feeling this way, the decisions (behaviours) you make from hence forth are based on your feelings of envy (emotion), rather than that of logic and rationale.

In FPL terms, this could mean a quick transfer to bring in a player that a large majority have (associations with envy) that scored well, for the player you have that didn’t score well (associations with frustration and disappointment) in an attempt to conform and belong to the group (FPL managers with that player who scored better than yours), with the hope of replacing negative feelings of envy, with positive feelings of joy.

This immediately sounds good on paper, but as previously stated, the decision (behaviour) was based on our feelings of envy (emotion) rather than logic and we don’t know for sure that the player we knee jerk for, is going to score better than the one we’re taking out.


When we do badly in a gameweek, it’s important to remember why we chose the players we did in the first place and how long we brought them in for.

It’s also important to consider that once we press confirm and the deadline has passed, we CANNOT control what happens from that point onwards. We need to accept this. We need to accept the fact that luck comes into it and that we’re not always going to get the rub of the green.

For me, my team is a good team. I made it for 6-7 gameweeks. Kane, Jesus, Gabbiadini, KDB, Zaha were all good choices and had plenty of chances to score points – the fact they all didn’t in one gameweek, was just unlucky. I couldn’t have done anything to influence it and on another day, they would have all scored me something – thats just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes and I accept that.

I felt extremely frustrated and still do about my score and would be lying if I said I wasn’t envious of my friends, who all scored better than I did, but does that have to pre-dispose me to making transfers and taking hits? No.

Once you understand how behaviour works, it’s easier to control. If you allow the dust to settle, your feelings on it will disappear in time, allowing you to make your decisions without emotional bias.

For anyone who is currently contemplating the knee jerk, or for anyone that might consider it in the future, allow the dust to settle after a bad gameweek, so that your decisions aren’t influenced by emotion.

I’m not saying do or don’t transfer this week, but rather, allow yourself the best opportunity to make the right decision by taking feelings and emotions out of the equation.

Decision quote

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Thinking man clip art image –  <a href=”″>Clip art image by</a>

4 thoughts on “Fantasy Premier League Tips: Understanding What Drives The Knee Jerk

Add yours

  1. I agree. I scored 58 but like you I picked my team for the first eight weeks, based on upcoming opponents and a good balance. Plenty of players I considered but who didn’t make my team scored well and Kane, de Bruyne and Azpilicueta disappointed this week but they are all proven high FPL scorers and they will retain their places.


    1. Good man. Precisely. It’s just one GW. It feels shit, especially if you have a lot riding on it like I have, but even more reason for me to keep emotion out of it and not let it dictate my future action.

      Stay the course my man, patience will be rewarded!


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