BY FANS – FOR FANS
HINTS TAKEAWAYS INSIGHTS AND MORE Edited by Ash, @FPLHINTS
FRONT COVER DRAWING BY @FPLDOODLES1
CON T E NTS 3
WHAT IS PERFECT PICKS?
X3 TOP 1K FANTASY FOOTBALL FINISHES IN ONE SEASON!
TO WILDCARD OR NOT TO WILDCARD EARLY?
PSYCHOLOGY AND FPL
ANALYSING THE INITIAL GAMEWEEKS
DIFFERENTIALS FOR THE WEEKS AHEAD
5 TIPS FROM A HALL OF FAME MANAGER
UNDERSTANDING THE ICT INDEX
REVISED AND UPDATED FDR FOR GWS 4-11
A MESSAGE FROM THE CHIEF
Firstly, a special thanks to all of the content creators that contributed to the first ever edition of FPLHINTS Magazine (be sure to follow them all on Twitter – click here to see their handles). Following the unanimously positive feedback that was received from our inaugural title, it made sense to act quickly and not waste any time in producing a second edition. In recognition of our “by fans – for fans” ethos, you will be introduced to a different set of fantasy football managers from last time who in turn will share their own FPL perspectives. This early season special will touch upon lessons learned from the initial Gameweeks as well as looking ahead. In addition, you will see content that may help you re-evaluate aspects of the game that you may not have considered before. Finally, thank you to Perfect Picks and Fantasy Football Fix for sponsoring this edition and ensuring that it’s free to read for everyone.
Ash, Chief Editor @ FPLHINTS Magazine
Before you read on, if you wish to support the magazine, please do the following: SIGN UP TO FANTASY FOOTBALL FIX
SIGN UP TO THE FREE PERFECT PICKS APP
FPLHINTS Magazine is an unofficial e-magazine for fantasy football managers and is not affiliated in any way with the official FPL game. In addition, the opinions expressed within this magazine are solely those held by each author. Constant care is made to ensure that content is accurate on the date of publication and content is published in good faith. Finally, please note, within this e-magazine you might find links to websites, third-party content and advertising.
THE FREE TO PLAY PREDICTION GAME THAT’S PERFECT FOR FANTASY FANS
Rewarding players for the accuracy of their predictions, just like FPL, Perfect Picks requires you to simply predict the result and margin of victory in each game, which in turn makes it engaging and exciting right until the final whistle.
Available to download from the App Store and Google Play, Perfect Picks is a free-to-play sports prediction game that you can play against other fans.
As you might expect, Premier League Contests feature heavily as part of Perfect Picks’ comprehensive football coverage, alongside all other major domestic, European, and international competitions. A Contest is a group of games selected by the Perfect Picks admin team, typically over a weekend or midweek period, with many carrying jackpot prizes. In fact, be in with a chance of winning $500 by entering the upcoming Champions League Matchday 1 Contest!
Each Perfect Picks Contest is scored out of a maximum of 100 points, which means the app allows users to easily compare their performance against other players, as well as gain a ranking based on the average of their top scores. Perfect Picks even has its own green arrows and score history so you can easily track those ranking movements. As a matter of coincidence, a certain editor of this magazine is the reigning world number one and has been ranked in the Top 10 since January of this year. In fact, Ash from FPLHINTS says, “I became aware of Perfect Picks last September. I was initially drawn to its simplicity and ease. The moment I qualified for an initial world ranking in Perfect Picks I knew that I wanted to go as high as possible. Gradually, with some consistently high scores over a prolonged period, I worked my way up and haven’t looked back since! For me, Perfect Picks dovetails nicely with fantasy football as with both games you need to speculate with precise anticipation skills to accumulate points.” In addition to Ash, other Perfect Picks players are also motivated by the ranking system.
Grace McKenna has been playing Perfect Picks since it first launched and said, “Trying to rise up the rankings is what keeps me playing Perfect Picks each week.” “It’s useful to get notified after every Contest is completed whether I’ve improved my ranking or not, while the stats section lets me know which sports I’m performing best in, as well as how accurate my Star Picks are.” One Star Pick is available in each Contest which doubles any points scored in that game (a bit like a captain in FPL), which no doubt will appeal to die-hard fantasy football fans. In addition, a personal news feed contains regular Contest alerts and results, league updates, friend request notifications and much more all in one place.
Darren Keane, a regular Perfect Picks player, says, “The app offers an ideal platform for private leagues with my friends. Perfect Picks allows me to personalise which sports and competitions appear in my app, as well as whether I want a reminder before a Contest starts. So there is no excuse for missing a deadline!” “I can’t believe that I used to use a spreadsheet to keep track of our previous season-long Premier League prediction challenge. Perfect Picks does all the hard work for you, and all our league members are really enjoying trying to win the League of Leagues together too.”
New for 2021/22, a Perfect Picks League of Leagues allows private leagues to earn points in every Contest as a team, the total of which is the 5 best scores each week. Cash prizes are on offer, giving you the chance to win with your league rivals – so it’s not just about beating them but collectively doing your best! There is also always the option to join any of the multiple public leagues. Available to all players, many Perfect Picks public leagues are based on average score rather than total points, meaning it’s never too late to get involved. Be sure to join the next bimonthly EPL public league starting on 1 October with $350 up for grabs. Beyond football, If you also have other sporting interests, Perfect Picks also offers Contests for NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA and now NCAAF too. So there really is something for everyone! The new NFL season is just underway, and you can play for $500 in each weekly Jackpot Contest.
Chris Rogers, a previous Perfect Picks Jackpot Contest winner, said, “The app enhances my enjoyment of all sports, particularly those that are televised, and especially if I have a chance of winning one of the jackpots as a Contest reaches its climax.” “The projected points leaderboard lets you know exactly where you stand when games are in play based on the current score. That is a great feature.” “I never used to be much of a US sports fan but I’m now following the MLB and NFL more than ever – and that’s all because of Perfect Picks.” Perfect Picks Contests are always free to enter, so what have you got to lose?! Download the app now via www.perfectpicks.com and start playing TODAY. Available to download from the App Store and Google Play, Perfect Picks is a free-to-play sports prediction game that you can play against other fans.
THREE TOP 1K FANTASY FOOTBALL FINISHES IN ONE SEASON!
FPL Milanista (@Obay_Eid)
Obay is from Jordan and supports AC Milan (hence his alias). He is currently in the process of playing his 16th consecutive Fantasy Premier League season and is listed by livefpl.net as one their legendary managers. Outside of fantasy football, he has a background in accounting/audit as a CPA.
It goes without saying that having a Top 1K finish is the dream for any seasoned fantasy football manager. But imagine achieving that feat multiple times in the space of two months across three different games! Sounds impossible, right? Well, that’s exactly what @Obay_Eid remarkably achieved last season with his Top 1K finishes in FPL, UCL Fantasy and Euro Fantasy. I caught up with him to find out the secret to his polymath-like successes. Ash: Firstly, congratulations on last season. Have you had time to reflect on how well you did? Obay: First of all, I would like to thank you for the nice intro and for allowing me the opportunity to express my thoughts on how things went last season. Going back to your question, I must admit that last season was exceptional for me in terms of fantasy and real football (Milan qualifying for a Champions League spot & Italy winning the Euros). For those who don’t know, I’ve been an FPL fanatic for the past 16 years. Thankfully I’ve had some success stories before such as finishing 2nd overall in Euro Fantasy 2016, 4th in the non-defunct UFPL game (2015), as well as multiple top ranks in various fantasy platforms. And yet last season has been so special and unique in terms of consistency. The high-rank performances ultimately meant that I had to maintain a certain level of involvement throughout the year focusing on all European competitions - not only the Premier League (and Serie A which I normally tend to focus on for obvious club loyalty reasons). In fact, there was no time to rest as I also found myself doing well in the most recent edition of the Euro Fantasy game and hence spent some extra effort in planning/ structuring my team there. However, for my own sake, I tried not to look at any FPL drafts for the 2 weeks that followed Italy’s triumph so as to bring in a relaxed mind to this season’s FPL competition.
Ash: Looking back do you have any regrets on any decisions that you made (or didn’t make) which prevented even higher finishes? Obay: Although fantasy football has a lot to do with feelings, I’ve learnt throughout the years that regretting your own decisions will only lead to frustration and eventually worse results. Nevertheless, there are events/ instances that will definitely get stuck into any fantasy football manager’s mind during a season and the two that really standout for me are related to Stuart Dallas and Matheus Pereira. It is fair to say that I was clearly stubborn by not bringing in the top scoring defender of last season into my team at all. What makes it worse is that I started by owning his teammate Luke Ayling first, and gave him plenty of chances but never accepted the reality that Dallas was the superior pick and that I clearly should’ve switched them around (even if that required a -4)! Matheus Pereira on the other hand was brought into my team for a set of juicy fixtures where he blanked in them all only for me to just sell him before Chelsea’s away game where Tuchel’s men conceded 5 & Pereira’s season took a drastic turnaround! Imagine what could’ve happened if I switched to Dallas early on & kept Pereira... oh well that’s why I said no regrets! MORE >
Ash: For FPL specifically, did you change anything in particular from the previous season? Obay: There were a number of different factors that helped me break into the top 500 after a 16k rank in 2019/20. On this matter, I’d have to talk mainly about two points, the first one is the scenario creation that I explained in one of my Twitter threads. It is essentially done by creating a set of different moves planned in specific order (scenarios) and I then assess them regularly based on team/player form, injuries, price changes, etc... So the point here is that I’ve always planned ahead, but I took this step into a different level given all the uncertainties we had with Covid related postponements and sudden isolation rules. Fortunately, I found out that this step was very useful in avoiding unnecessary hits that managers were taking to solve their team issues. The second point is simply put as “no punts on captaincy”.. If memory serves me well, I think I usually take one or two major captaincy punts a season which is something I didn’t do this season. I did my best not to get excited on any weird captaincy choices and limit that excitement to just getting that player into my team. Of course, owning a player who blanks is very normal/manageable, but your captain blanking while the likes of Salah/Kane/Fernandes getting monster hauls is simply a rank-killer. Ash: How are you managing your expectations for FPL and UCL Fantasy this season? Is 1k the magic number again? Obay: That’s tough to answer. Top 1k is amazing and is getting tougher to achieve with the number of managers increasing and the access to data/stats being too easy nowadays. However, I believe that if you are doing something and spending good time on it then you certainly have to aim for the best result possible, and that is winning the whole thing! As tough as it may sound, it is the ultimate dream and to know that I managed to finish 2nd and 4th in highly competitive fantasy platforms in years gone by shows that it’s not an impossible task - and I’m not saying that to myself only, it’s for everyone reading this (YES you have a chance of winning FPL this season)! I’d also like to emphasize that by aiming too high, you are most likely going to achieve the “lesser goal” you have, be it top 20k, 10k, or even 1k.
Ash: You’ve gone on the record to say that there’s more to football than numbers (and rightly so). I’m curious to know what you’re thoughts are on xG, xA and xnpG? And how often do you rely on them for your fantasy planning? Obay: I absolutely did say that, and I’m still in support of that statement. Watching football has the pure joy, emotion, excitement and tense moments mixed altogether – and I doubt I’d be that much into fantasy football if I wasn’t obsessed with football itself. Now to answer your question, let me talk a little bit about my background. I’m a certified public accountant and I’m currently working in management accounts which includes a lot of budgeting/forecasting/feasibility studies, so you can imagine how much I’m into numbers and key indicators in my professional life - hence looking at football key stats (xG, xA, xnpG, etc...) is simply sensational for me. I truly appreciate all the efforts that have been brought into that aspect of the game and no one can deny that access to such data proved to be very helpful in making decisions for fantasy managers, however my point is still to always use stats as “support” to your eye-test. Stats would never pinpoint a player who got called offside three times by VAR for marginal calls, yet if you watched the game you’ll know how close that player was from a hat-trick! Ash: What one piece of advice would you give to FPL managers that haven’t yet cracked the Top 1K? Obay: Control your emotions; Like any other strategy game, fantasy football can really get into your mind and frustrate you to the extent that you over-react and make rush decisions that you regret a day or so later. It’s not the end of the world if your player blanked or if a player you don’t own gets a monster haul. You need to fully understand that we will all get bombarded with such discouraging events, but only those who direct their minds and vision to the future are the ones that will find themselves getting the top ranks at the end of the year. To conclude, I went through five tips that should improve the overall rank of a fantasy manager (pinned to my Twitter page), so please give them a read and try to incorporate them within your strategy for next season and I’m sure you will notice an instant improvement.
Ash: I know you’re an advocate of planning ahead. But is there ever a danger of over-planning and over-loading on information? Obay: There is definitely a chance of over-planning and that is just as detrimental as too little planning. In my opinion, fantasy football success can be achieved through careful planning, but what is more important is to retain openness to any unexpected circumstances. So to put that in context, the more a person plans, the more they get attached (or sometimes blinded) by their plan, and that is the point where they start making some sort of wrong or let’s say lesseducated decisions, simply because they haven’t factored in those new circumstances. Ultimately, there is no such a thing as a “Perfect Plan” so no one should be obsessed about creating one and the optimum goal of planning is to get just the right level of clarity, so as to know where you should focus your attention and how to evaluate opportunities that arise.
IS IT RIGHT TO WILDCARD EARLY ON? Surya
Surya is an avid FPL fan and also the Co-Founder of allaboutfpl.com, An FPL blog that offers the best articles covering a diverse range of fantasy football content. You can check out the website and follow them on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook at allaboutfpl.
FPL managers always hate the international break as this is a period when there is no Premier League action. This time the absence of FPL action even for a week is widely felt due to several factors which include a lot of managers starting the FPL season well, a certain Cristiano Ronaldo coming back to the Premier League after an absence of 12 years, and few other factors. The first international break is also an elongated window for fantasy football managers to play their wildcard in order to catch up on price swings, to build team value and get in new players that signed just before the transfer window closed. Before going further, I also wanted to point out that 5.14% of managers have already played their wildcards and 1.68% of managers in the top 10k have done so too. We are still in the early period of this FPL season. Remember, FPL is a marathon and not a sprint. Having said that I’ll assess the viability of wildcarding early. Do remember there is no one-size fits all answer for when to use it and it is worth noting that the first wildcard expires before the Gameweek 20 deadline.
Why wildcarding early is not a good move Unlike other seasons when the start to the FPL season has thrown up little surprises, teams that were expected to start well have carried on as per usual and the teams expected to face issues early on have generally gone on to struggle. The likes of Antonio, Benrahma, Salah, Alexander-Arnold, Fernandes, Son, Ings, Calvert-Lewin, Greenwood, Tsimikas (The first two games) have all performed really well. Having 7 or 8 of these players would have guaranteed a great start and given you a top 100-200K rank. Most of these players bar Ings who has a tough run of fixtures and Greenwood who now faces competition from the likes of Cavani and Ronaldo still have a great run of games after the international break. So if you have the core group of players right from the onset then sticking with them is a no-brainer instead of wildcarding. Also, nearly a third of FPL teams have gone with the combinations of two premium midfielders in Bruno Fernandes and Mo Salah who have generated a lot of initial points and once again are showing their pedigree. Switching from one of them to a premium striker is fairly understandable move as managers are increasingly attracted to the likes of Romelu Lukaku or Cristiano Ronaldo.
But in my estimation, wildcarding just for the sake of changing your structure from two premium midfielders to one premium midfielder and one premium forward is again not the best way to utilize your wildcard to the fullest as you can do that with three transfers, popularly known as a ‘mini wildcard’ (two free transfers and one hit). Finally, it’s worth noting that Chelsea face Spurs and Man City in Gameweeks 5 and 6 whereas Manchester United’s fixtures look tricky after their match against Newcastle United. So as per the unwritten FPL law, why break something that is already working in search of points which might not exist? The third and final reason that I would like to present for avoiding wildcard early is that we have just seen only three Gameweeks of football being played and the data set that we have is very limited and cannot be used to make longterm decisions. Also, we have not seen a full-strength Man City team play, whereas Lukaku has played only 100 or so minutes for Chelsea with 11 men on the pitch and Ronaldo has had limited training time with Man United so far. So the amount of information that we have in our hands is extremely finite and it’s better to decide on when to wildcard after we get to see them all in action together. Now having made the case for not wildcarding early, I’ll also look at the other side of the coin. As I mentioned previously, the wildcard is one of the most team-dependent chips out of all FPL chips and if your team has not performed well and is not looking good for the upcoming weeks then it seems right to play your wildcard. Holding on to a squad that simply isn’t performing will only lead to continuous red arrows and also loss in team value which will impact you even more in the second half of the season and moreover remove the joy out of playing FPL.
Why you may want to wildcard early Wildcarding ahead of the curve can help you catch on the popular bandwagons when you still have the time and before concurrent price rises. For instance, the hammers duo of Antonio and Benrahma have a combined ownership of just 18% in spite of the fact that the duo have 12 goal contributions and 66 points in just three games between them and they could still be a potential option on the wildcard if you haven’t got either at the moment. An early wildcard will also help you move away from some of the pre-season deadwood and add a few enablers at low prices who seem to be clocking up regular starts. The players I’m referring to here include the likes of Livramento, Armstrong, Gray, and a few more who offer excellent value that helps you free up funds and build a strong core of premium assets. In the weeks ahead, there are some teams that have their fixtures turn for the better including Wolves, Chelsea and Leeds who have some interesting assets. Wolves for instance have not scored a goal yet but have been playing fluent attacking football. As one part of wildcarding early relies on catching the missed bandwagons early the second part is to identify potential gems and get to them before they become popular FPL assets. My last point on wildcarding early is that you’ll be able to get the structure of your team right very early in the season. As per the current list of players available, one premium forward and one premium midfielder with money to have two good medium-priced strikers and midfielders might be the best way ahead for now. An early wildcard will help you settle in this structure nicely and also allow you to hop on and off the assets easily to get maximum points in each Gameweek. But to add a caveat, switching assets comes with some risk too, especially for premium priced players. But with more expensive FPL players this season (including the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Cristiano Ronaldo), you can’t have them all and it means that it’s very crucial to own the right premiums at particular points this season. I hope my points in this article help you in making a more informed wildcard decision. One thing I would like to reiterate is that you do not have to wildcard early just because a lot of other managers are doing so and similarly if your team needs some serious repair then there is no point in being emotionally attached to a non-performing team. Sources: Livefpl.net and Official FPL
TO IMPROVE YOUR FPL MANAGEMENT
Ross Dowsett @FPL__Raptor
” Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.
Ross is a PhD student and lecturer in Sport Psychology, a YouTuber and Author of best-selling FPL book ‘The Mind Game: Gaining a Psychological Edge in Fantasy Premier League”. You can find the paperback copy at halyconpublishing.co.uk and the eBook on Amazon. While this passage has become somewhat of a cliché over time, it perfectly encompasses how Psychology can improve our FPL management. There is no doubt that there are multiple benefits to weekly pieces of advice, such as ‘captain X player’ and ‘transfer out Y player’, however, this is ultimately a limited approach. Do you know why you are choosing that player? Are you able to evaluate your decision and improve the next time you face a similar scenario? Using Psychology can allow us to improve the manner in which we make decisions, which can transcend specific gameweeks and at points, transcend FPL. In this short article, I will give you my top three psychological tips for the early parts of the season.
Avoid locking yourself into certain
TIP 1 moves or strategies
As serious FPL managers that like to plan ahead, we often book transfers in, decide on captaincy ahead of time, or plan when we are going to play our chips in advance. The risk we run in doing this, is that we become attached to our initial plan, which can engage two well-known cognitive biases: anchoring bias and plan continuation bias. Anchoring bias is the tendency to favour the first piece of information we learn on a given topic, hence the idea of an ‘anchor’. Plan continuation bias is the tendency for an individual to continue with the original plan, despite this plan no longer being viable, or better alternatives since arising. Therefore, by saying that we are definitely going to play our wildcard in Gameweek 7, or that we are definitely transferring in a Wolves player in Gameweek 4, we risk tying our metaphorical anchor to that idea (anchoring bias), rejecting new information, and continuing with that plan of action (plan-continuation bias) despite it potentially not being the optimal strategy later down the line. Therefore, my advice is to be open-minded and adaptive. Avoid locking yourself into certain players, moves, or strategies and always be willing to consider new information that could inform your decision-making. MORE >
Consider the time of day when you make FPL decisions We regularly consider the content of our decisions, but often neglect a very important aspect – when are you making that decision? Whilst this is a very well-researched area with many conflicting opinions, there is a general consensus that important decisions should be made in the morning. A study that supports this was carried out on 100 chess players (Leone et al., 2017). The authors found that players decide faster and less accurately as the day progresses, reaching a plateau early in the afternoon. They also found that players play more accurately and slower in the morning, which could be interpreted as a strategy based on safety (prevention focus), and they play faster and less accurately in the evening, which could be a riskier way of playing (promotion focus). The authors attribute this risky decision-making in the evening to sleep pressure. This theory suggests that throughout our wake cycle, the drive and desire to sleep slowly accumulates, resulting in the gradual degradation of our cognitive functioning (Schmidt, Collette, Cajochen, & Peigneux, 2007). In other words, by the time we reach the final few hours before sleep, our cognitive functioning is inferior to what it was earlier in the day. Once we consider this as the explanation for the riskier strategies chosen at night, it suggests that it may be ineffective and potentially detrimental to make FPL-related decisions in the evening. Therefore, I tentatively advise that you make important FPL decisions as early in the day as possible, and do not let your transfer decisions be driven by fear of price changes late in the evening.
TIP 3 Enjoy the game – avoiding the illusion of control
Often, one of the most difficult times in an FPL gameweek is the 90 minutes following the deadline. That is, when you have submitted your team and eagerly await the team news from the first game. It is also the time when people are posting their teams on social media. The combination of seeing lots of other great teams and one of your players potentially not being in the starting XI is enough to ruin your weekend before it even begins. My key bit of advice, driven by both research and experience, is to take a step away from the game and social media, and socialise or get some exercise. Part of the reasoning for this advice stems from a cognitive bias known as the illusion of control (Langer, 1975). The illusion of control refers to the tendency for individuals to believe they have control over the outcome of random, external events that they demonstrate no ability to directly influence. This is true for FPL as an entirety – while we can choose players that are in form and make educated and well-informed decisions, the actual outcome of those decisions is completely out of our control. We are attempting to predict how 10 matches of 11 vs. 11 will perform and have no ability to influence the eventual outcome of these matches. This illusion of control also applies in the moments following the deadline. As a mantra during my bachelor’s degree, I used to say the following to my close friends:
“You get your grade the moment you put your pen down in that exam hall. There is no use in stressing after you have finished writing, as you now have no control or ability to change the outcome”. The same goes for FPL and your gameweek, so here it is adapted for FPL:
“You get your gameweek score the moment you submit your team prior to the deadline. There is no use in stressing after you have submitted, as you now have no control or ability to change the outcome”. As soon as the deadline passes, your ability to influence the eventual score that your team receives is non-existent. As a result, I advise you to detach yourself from the website and social media and get a nice walk in with some family or friends. This will remind you that you have no control after the deadline passes and hopefully, help release some of the tension felt as you await the first game of the weekend. I hope you have enjoyed this short snippet on Psychology and FPL. If you do enjoy this approach to the game, feel free to order a copy of my book and subscribe to my YouTube channel!
Thank you for reading.
A FANTASY FOOTBALL FIX REVIEW OF GAMEWEEKS 1-3 It feels like it’s happened in a flash, but we have reached the first international break and that seems like the perfect opportunity to look back and see what we’ve learned from the first three Gameweeks. It’s important to note that three Gameweeks is an incredibly small sample size, but the tools that are available at Fantasy Football Fix enable us to process what’s been seen in the opening period, see who has excelled, but also try to use some predictive tools to identify where we may want to invest our crucial FPL transfers - or, if you feel so inclined, which players might feature in your valuable wildcard drafts.
1. Trent….plus who? There’s a general acceptance that Trent Alexander-Arnold is a difficult asset to ignore - and the data backs that up. Using the Opta Stats Sandbox on Fix, we can see his xFPL so far this season is 21.08 from three games, the highest amongst all defenders, and has him 3rd of all players behind Michail Antonio and Mohamed Salah. But there is a lot to consider in terms of other defensive assets. The massively owned Luke Shaw hasn’t delivered what’s been expected so far - his xFPL of 14.21 ranks 14th amongst all defenders. The data highlights that it might be Chelsea and Manchester City assets that we should be targeting. Using the Custom Stats Builder function on the Fantasy Football Fix website, and comparing expected clean sheets with expected FPL points, you can see that Joao Cancelo and Ruben Dias stand out. With the relentless rotation in other areas of the team, could they be the safest City players? Marcos Alonso also stands out as an option - but his position has to come under threat at some stage with Ben Chilwell at hand. The small circle to his right in the graphic is Pontus Jansson - which is probably a reflection of my earlier comment around small sample sizes! Chart comparing defender’s expected clean sheets and expected FPL points using Custom Stats Builder.
A FANTASY FOOTBALL FIX 2. Midfield Enablers The closing stages of the transfer window has changed many managers outlook for the season. Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku entering the game to join Harry Kane as premium forwards will see more and more people re-structuring their teams - and that will undoubtedly bring midfield enablers to the table. Fortunately, we have an array of good options this season - and the Fix Comparison Matrix tool gives us an easy way of analysing them. I set the price limit at £6.0m, excluding the rapidly rising Said Benrahma. If we want more than a couple of those mammoth premiums, chances are we’ll be debating which of these men you want as a 3rd or 4th midfielder. All the stats displayed are per game, and it’s important to again consider the small sample size, but the data evidence is compelling. Adama Traore outshines his rivals in his price bracket in almost all areas. The stats suggest that he should be averaging 6 points per game so far this season - yet we stand here three games into the season and he only has 6 points in total. An average of over 2 shots per game inside the box, coupled with a staggering average of 9 touches in the box, suggests that Adama is the asset that we should all be looking to jump on to enable the potential 3 premium set up. But all of us have watched Adama for years - and that’s what brings the reluctance. Can you go against the data, or do you need to bring the Spanish winger into your squad?
Table comparing midfielders with a maximum price of £6.0m using Fix Comparison Matrix.
A FANTASY FOOTBALL FIX 3. Do we need to attack the premiums? Sometimes, we can get so drawn into the names and reputations, that we can lose track of what is right in front of us. Do we need to rip up our teams for assets like Romelu Lukaku, when we have a man performing like a premium striker that started the season at £7.5m? Michail Antonio’s performance this season shouldn’t have come as a surprise. His xG and underlying stats for the second half of last season were just as impressive. Using Fantasy Football Fix’s Player Heatmaps feature, I looked at a comparison between Michail Antonio and Romelu Lukaku across the last two gameweeks since the Belgian made his debut
Michail Antonio and Romelu Lukaku comparison using Player Heatmaps.
Fixtures obviously play a part in this - Lukaku had a particularly tricky evening against Virgil Van Dijk thrown in there in a team that lost a man, but Antonio’s numbers are staggering. Antonio (light blue on the radar graphic) leaves Lukaku behind. While I am not for one second suggesting that this won’t resort back towards a happy median in the coming weeks, I am still seeing managers forcing in multiple premium forwards and sacrificing West Ham’s number 9 to do so. That is something I would give serious thought to before you proceed - the data suggests it could be a huge mistake. Utilising data on Fantasy Football Fix can be a great aid to your decision-making process - if you’ve enjoyed the tools used here then be sure to sign up at fantasyfootballfix.com
Michail Antonio and Romelu Lukaku comparison using Player Heatmaps.
LOOKING BEYOND THE TEMPLATE: THREE EARLY SEASON DIFFERENTIALS
Tom is the co-editor of FPL Connect and has a background in journalism.
High performing low owned assets are the ‘holy grail’ for FPL managers. Unearthing them is typically one of the most difficult tasks we face each season, and it can take years to hone the kind of anticipation skills required to do so successfully while being ahead of the curve. At this stage of the season ranks are closer together than they will ever be and as such a positive points swing is going to have a significant impact. Many often wait until later in the campaign to take risks and hunt for potentially powerful differentials to make up lost ground, but it can be argued that this approach is even more effective early on, with plenty of time left to correct any risks that don’t pay off. Before the first international break, only 18 points separate managers at 100k and 10k, a haul from a player owned by less than 10% of the game can have a potentially massive impact by rescuing a bad start or strengthening a good one. With it still being too early to gauge true form, it is far more difficult to identify a suitably low owned option at this stage, which in turn encourages many to be risk averse and sticking with the template early on. Therefore in the following article, I make a case for three differentials (one from each outfield position) who I believe have the potential to do well in the weeks ahead.
Nelson Semedo £4.9m – 1.5%* TSB The former Barcelona man joined Wolves among quite a fanfare at the beginning of last season. At one time he was even considered one of the continent’s most promising full backs. Semedo has never quite delivered on his fantasy football potential despite often passing the eye test. Indeed, the man from Lisbon delivered just two attacking returns in 34 league games during his first season in England. His efforts may well have been hampered by Wolves’ defensive problems caused by a switch to a back four, a system former manager Nuno prefers but had not used regularly during his time at the club. New boss, Bruno Lage, has returned to the back three/five in which Wolves have often looked their most dangerous. Early pre-season predictions pegged Wolves as a team likely to play on the edge, as many Lage sides have done, not conducive to clean sheets in a league famed for its plethora of prolific poachers. These predictions appear to be so far unfounded; Wolves have recorded an expected goals conceded (xGC) total of just 2.51, a total only bettered by Brentford, Aston Villa and Man City. This is impressive given the fact that the Black Country side have played Leicester, Tottenham, and Man Utd in their opening three games with narrow defeats in each. From a fixture difficulty perspective, easier games are on the horizon it seems safe to assume that their luck will turn soon. Semedo has so far recorded six touches in the opposition box, a stat no budget defender can better. He has also created three chances, with only Max Aarons (£4.5m) and Konstantinos Tsimikas (£4.2m) bettering his total in the lower price bracket. For those who are wildcarding or looking for a Gameweek 4 transfer, Semedo is a well-rounded pick who plays in a solid defence and offers enough going forward to suggest returns won’t be too far away and in my opinion he is a viable option given Wolves’ upcoming run of games.
Ferran Torres £7.1m – 6.8%* TSB
Adam Armstrong £6.0m – 3.6%* TSB
A player who perhaps won’t be a differential for long, Torres lit up Gameweek 3 with an explosive performance at home to Arsenal. The City man’s 18-point haul was the highest of the week and it perfectly backed up manager Pep Guardiola’s pre-season assertion that Torres could lead the line for his side the season.
The Southampton striker arrived in the Premier League with considerably less hype than former Championship rival Ivan Toney (£6.4m). So far, Armstrong has outperformed Toney, registering a goal and an assist to Toney’s solitary strike.
The Spaniard is likely to be popular among wildcarders, with City facing the inconsistent Leicester and Southampton defences in their next two. The major concern around Torres had been minutes, but so far City have moved recognised striker Gabriel Jesus (£8.5m) to the wing and dropped Riyad Mahrez (£8.9m) to accommodate him. The big test will come when Kevin De Bruyne (£11.9m) returns as the Belgian was often charged with playing as a false nine last season, and with so many options across the front six positions it is hard to predict how everyone will fit in. The underlying numbers for Torres look promising. Among midfielders listed in FPL, only Sadio Mane (£11.9m) can better his xG total of 1.62, while no midfielder has recorded more than his three big chances. Of players to have featured in over 200 minutes, only four have recorded a touch in the box more frequently than Torres. Couple that with the fact that Man City once again top the team xG charts (8.30) and you have a very potent option. City are capable of being a force in any game and their Gameweek 4 and 5 games represent an opportunity to extend their scoring streak as both Leicester and Southampton are in the bottom six for xGC so far. While there is always risk attached with picking a City attacker, Torres’s minutes and recent form can’t be ignored, especially when Man City didn’t sign a replacement for Aguero. Having now delivered as a central attacker it seems unlikely that he will be dropped in the short term, and thus represents a tantalising option for the weeks to come.
Southampton have had a mixed start to the season, picking up two points from a possible nine. With that said, they’ve looked a better attacking force than many suspected. Saints are currently the sixth best side for xG, totalling 5.04, suggesting that losing Danny Ings (£8.0m) hasn’t damaged their attacking threat as much in the short-term. Armstrong’s individual numbers are promising too, his expected goal involvement (xGI) total of 1.52 ranks seventh among forwards and is split roughly 65/35 in favour of goal threat, which suggests that he carries reasonable assist potential too. The former Blackburn man has also performed well on raw data, registering 13 touches in the box, six shots in the box and two big chances. These totals are comparable to several of the far more popular and more expensive forward picks, an earlier indication that he may prove to be excellent value. Saints are on the verge of their own fixture swing and as such Armstrong could be a great enabler for those using their wildcard. His stock is likely to rise closer to GW9, where Southampton’s fixtures really turn for the better. In my estimation he is a player likely to find his way into a few teams in the coming weeks and one to certainly keep an eye on. Source for raw and expected data stats: Fantasy Football Fix *Player ownership at the time of the article being written
5 EARLY SEASON TIPS
FROM A HALL OF FAME MANAGER
Building The Right Formation: Squad Depth & Team Balance
First and foremost, ensure that your 15 FPL players are nailed on starters or at least have a high chance to start. In addition, you need to factor in that the transfer deadline closes just after Gameweek 3. Therefore be aware that some Premier League teams tends to shuffle their team composition until finding the best one during the early season period. In my opinion, a strong bench will minimize wasted point hits for unnecessary transfers in order to mitigate risk of injury, team rotation, international break late arrivals, Covid and quarantine. During the initial part of the season especially, -4 hits could cost hundreds of thousands of places. Like building a great football team in real life, the FPL team must be built in balance with both attack and defence factored in. With that in mind, some FPL managers make the common mistake of disproportionality focusing only on attacking assets. Defensive players also have an important role as a differentiator between one team and another, as the line-up of the midfield and forward players can be relatively similar for certain rank tiers. For this season, it’s easy to find attacking defenders, at the premium and cheap end, that take set pieces, can play advanced up the pitch or put in attacking crosses. I recommend that you consider having a minimum of 3 attacking defenders in your team, so that you don’t solely rely on clean sheet points only.
Make Your Own Decisions Based On Stats And Eye Test
Too many opinions from FPL experts can easily became a distraction. You need to limit the number of opinions by filtering content and selecting only a few reliable sources. There are also many FPL score projection and team planner tools that could assist you to decide your transfer, but they won’t solve your team problems automatically. Actually, it is only you that could solve your FPL team’s faults, because each fantasy football manager will have to overcome their own bespoke challenges. Firstly, you need to sort out your weakest player. Then, you have to find the best player to replace your weakest player with. Your transfer decision should be based on stats and supported by the ‘eye test’. At least then you will have a clearer reason on who to pick and in turn react accordingly.
CAK JURIS @masyuris Cak Juris is from Indonesia with a background in mechanical engineering. He supports Inter Milan with Spurs as his second favourite team and has been playing FPL since the 2012/13 season. FPL Hall of Fame Accolades: ● All Time Manager Rank 9 @PremierFPLTools ● Legendary Manager Rank 15 @LiveFPLNet ● Hall of Fame Rank 21 @FFScout ● World Rank 29 @FPLresearch ● 7X Top 10K ● Best OR = 683 Team ID for the 2021/22 season: 12737
Table 1 – Most Favorite Stats and Eye Test Parameters Here are my most favourite type of stats and eye test parameters that you can use as reference for your own transfer decision making (sorted by preferences):
Pay More Attention To Form Over Fixtures
Ideally, you will choose players that have great form and easy fixtures. However, this perfect dream scenario is usually hard to find. So, more often than not, you may have to choose between a player with excellent form and hard fixtures or a player with poor form and easy fixtures. Given the choice, I prefer to choose form players, as they usually have the ability to also be fixture proof. A common mistake some FPL managers may make is to transfer out their form players when they have a tougher run of upcoming games. Form players, especially attacking players, tend to maintain their performance in general, regardless of the opponent. Perhaps, their team will lose against harder opponents, but they may still potentially register a goal or assist. Other facts need to be considered - fixture trackers or Fixture Difficulty Rating (FDR) are rarely updated, so don’t rely on them too much. I tried to simplify my transfer decision making using this chart below:
The early season is a very critical time to determine your overall rank at end of season. While there isn’t always a fixed team template during this time, you have the potential to raise your rank significantly if you can get the best differential players earlier than others. You need to be open minded. It means we must forgot about any loyalties we have for our favourite teams or players that we admire. And, we must value new or unproven players that demonstrate great performance with good stats, like Martinez, Dallas or Bamford last season. As FPL trends will change quickly, so you need to adapt quickly too, including readiness to change transfer plans or your formation styles. If your FPL strategy has failed, you must acknowledge it first and foremost. Don’t be stubborn in sticking with problematic players in the vain hope that they will get you phantom points while defying facts and stats. In addition, don’t be stubborn in not owning in-form players, just because you don’t like their personalities or playing styles.
Table 2 – Decision Making In Picking FPL Players Based on Forms vs Fixtures
Open Mindedness And Adaptive Playing Style
Enjoy The Game Even If You Have A Bad Gameweek/Bad Start To The Season
It is very common for seasoned FPL managers to have starting ranks in the millions for the initial part of the season. This 7-digit ranks may upset some adversely and in turn influence the quality of their transfer decision making. Social media buzz and mockery from FPL mini league rivals can make it worse with seemingly inflated scores. This could cause some to think wrongly and panic. In turn this can lead to a fundamental mistake of being too reactive with early transfers to avoid price rises, taking too many hits to get popular players and stop observing trends on player form. It is important to keep calm if you have a poor start and focus on your own game. Stay optimistic so that you can raise your rank on a step by step basis. I had some lessons learned of my own from last season. I started Gameweek 1 badly with a rank of 2.8 million. I managed to break into the top 1 million by Gameweek 4 and, then slowly reached the Top 100K by Gameweek 11. Thereafter I hit the Top 10K by Gameweek 27. Finally, with plenty of ups and downs, I finished 1,632nd. To conclude, FPL is a marathon, so prepare your mental stamina and consistency for the entire season. And of course, do your best to enjoy each part of the game, because it is not only about the result, but also about having fun while watching football.
ARE WE OVERLOOKING THE
FPL ICT INDEX? Javed Khan @FPLDaggaFC
Javed hails from the twin-island Republic of Trinidad & Tobago. He is a Registered Engineer and Project Management Professional. A fantasy football enthusiast and Chelsea FC fan, he is participating in his 6th FPL season with a personal best OR of 8179. Selecting your FPL XI may prove to be somewhat of a conundrum at the best of times. After all, fantasy football managers will rely upon a combination of different factors that will shape their team selection. It could be argued that the ‘eye test’ (actually watching games) or the modern statistical metrics or models are elements that should influence our FPL decision making. But in addition to them, I will make a case to show that the ICT Index is a beneficial football index offering insight that can also assist FPL Managers with their thought processes. The acronym ICT means Influence, Creativity, and Threat:
INFLUENCE Influence gauges a player’s sway on a single match as well as over the course of the season. Goals and assists are the key factors for attackers while defensive metrics are taken into account for defenders and goalkeepers.
CREATIVITY Creativity essentially measures a player’s ability to produce goal scoring chances for their teammates. It can gauge a number of things such as crossing, passing, positioning while also considering the quality of their final ball.
THREAT Threat takes into account a player’s potency to score. This includes the number of shots, their positioning in the final third, as well as an emphasis on their ability to create goalscoring chances.
When aggregated, the above indicators merge to form the ‘ICT index’ rating, which can be found under the stats section of the FPL app or website. To determine the value of the ICT index, I am going to compare the FPL total points scored in 2020/2021 using a correlation methodology.
“Correlation is used to test relationships between quantitative variables or categorical variables. In other words, it’s a measure of how things are related.” - statisticshowto.com
The correlation test shows that based on players’ ICT index score against their respective FPL total points (for the 2020/2021 season) there is a correlation of 0.8, representing a high connection in general. This was done using a data filter of players who played 1300+ minutes. Top Scorers in FPL 2020/2021 by position:
ICT vs. Total points for all players (played 1300+ minutes)
As expected, goalkeepers score very low for Creativity and Threat respectively. However, Emiliano Martinez had the 3rd highest Influence score owing to his defensive actions. His Influence had a correlation of 0.75 against total points. However, the correlation test revealed that based on goalkeepers’ ICT index score (for those that played 1300+ minutes) against their respective FPL total points last season there was a correlation of 0.58, which is 27.5% less than the overall 0.8 benchmark correlation value. Hence, Influence alone could be considered when selecting a goalkeeper rather than the combined ICT index.
ICT vs. Total points for GKs (played 1300+ minutes) Attacking defenders such as Andrew Robertson and Trent AlexanderArnold ranked among the highest in terms of Creativity, 5th and 3rd respectively during the 2020/21 season. The correlation test revealed that based on defenders’ ICT index score (for those that played 1300+ minutes) against their respective FPL total points last season there was a correlation of 0.83, which is 3.75% more than the overall 0.8 benchmark correlation value. This shows that the ICT index may be a good indicator for considering defenders. ICT vs. Total Points for Defenders (played 1300+ minutes)
The highest-scoring FPL points scorer (and midfielder) last season was Bruno Fernandes. He boasted a high Creativity score. The correlation test revealed that based on midfielders’ ICT index (for those that played 1300+ minutes) against their respective FPL total points last season there was a correlation of 0.95, which is 18.75% more than the overall benchmark 0.8 correlation value.
ICT vs. Total Points for Midfielders (played 1300+ minutes)
Harry Kane was ranked among the highest for Threat. The correlation test revealed that based on forwards’ ICT index score (for those that played 1300+ minutes) against their respective FPL total points last season there was a correlation of 0.91, which is 13.75% more than the overall 0.8 correlation value, this shows that the ICT index can also be useful for validating attacking premium options. ICT vs. Total Points for Forwards
To conclude, the top three players from the above table yielded a very good correlation when their FPL total points was compared against their ICT Index score. However, using Watkins and Bamford as an example, the relationship wasn’t as connected. With that said (and based on last season’s data), the combined ICT index can be a useful tool for looking at attacking players and defenders, but maybe not as much for goalkeepers or non-premium strikers. It goes without saying that when selecting a player or making a transfer decision, our reliance on the ICT index should come with caveats. I personally recommend that if you want to use the ICT index, combine it with the ‘eye test’, traditional stats and even the popularised xG metric (expected goals is a statistical measure of the quality of chances created and conceded). Finally, the next time you hover over the ICT rating, be sure to give it a thorough look!
Sources: Data research assisted by Zafer Kiliç @FPL_BladeZ. www.fftitan.com www.fantasysportstats.com fantasy.premierleague.com www.statisticshowto.com understat.com superfpl.com
ALTERNATIVE FIXTURE DIFFICULTY RATINGS
@FPLHINTS OLP Rating - GWs 4-11
Last edit was made 4 days ago
See edit history of a cell
Opposition with an average* position of 11+
Right-click cell and choose Show edit history GOT IT
The problem with Fixture Difficulty Ratings (FDRs) is that their relevancy more often than not can have a short shelf life. There are also multiple versions with different definitions. Generally speaking they aren’t updated in real time and may not factor in recent form. In the first edition of the FPLHINTS Magazine, I produced an FDR with a definitive set of parameters. But aside from that I also had another FDR which was based on league positioning from the previous season. It had some overlap with the magazine’s FDR but showed a different picture altogether. I thought it best to update my FDR for the Gameweeks ahead using the alternative version, as shown below. Please note, green doesn’t mean easy and red doesn’t meant difficult (I’ve hidden the numbers contained within them for aesthetic reasons) – see the key. The rating % is an average of the league position from last season and this season (up to Gameweek 3) while factoring in the best run of games. The table is sorted by teams who appear to have the easier run of games between Gameweek 4-11. Be aware, it doesn’t factor in home advantage, derby games or European/Cup competition schedules.
Opposition with -an average* OLP Rating - fplhints.com FDR (21/22) - position GWs 1-7 of
11+ OLP Rating - fplhints.com - FDR
Opposition with an average* position of 1-10
*Average of last season and the position up to GW3 21/22
ILLUSTRATIONS BY @FPLDOODLES1