8 months ago
We are nearly at the 75% completion mark for this season and things have been going well for me lately after a terrible start. In gameweek 4, I was as low as 4.4mln in the world! I held onto my wildcard as long as I could and eventually had to pull the trigger in gameweek 9. But by gameweek 13, I was still as low as 2mln. Having finished last season at 13k and having a record of 6 top 40k finishes in 9 seasons, I was pretty disappointed in myself. However, last year I was also at the 2mln mark at Christmas yet finished 13k, falling out of the top 10k on the final day. I seem to be on the same trajectory, fingers crossed, this year, sitting at 137k after the double gameweek.
In this article I will do a bit of self-reflecting and identify aspects to my fantasy football game that help my rank in the hope that they can also help yours too.
I will be the first to admit that a poor fantasy football week impacts my wellbeing and attitude. I get a bit short, I snarl my teeth at the missus and just tend to be in a grumpy mood all day. I had plenty of such gameweeks at the start of the season. It is important to not let this affect you greatly, otherwise, you’d mismanage or lose interest in your team. So here are some tips that work for me:
This leads me nicely to my next tip…
Don’t waste your energy on the past. Focus your energy on doing better the next few gameweeks. You can’t change the past so leave it there, but you can determine your future.
I tend to completely ignore my mini-leagues and my rivals until the finishing line is in sight. Focus on your own team and let them worry about you.
It should never cross your mind who they own that you don’t. Focus on your own team, fix the issues in your team and try maximize your potential score. The mini-leagues will then look after themselves.
Firstly, short-term goals can be thrown out the window. Anything can happen in one or two gameweeks. So don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Medium and long-term goals are achievable.
On goal setting, a lot of people say set a realistic goal. Although this is true, don’t let this dishearten you. Aim for the sky! At 4.4mln, I was still aiming for the top 10k which may sound bonkers. Yet it is achievable and I am on the right path. Aim high while making sure it is achievable.
Most important to me are medium-term goals. These set you on your path to your long-term goal but if you are falling on your face, they can be adjusted. It is also a good motivator and reward when you meet objectives at multiple points throughout a season rather than solely at the final whistle.
Make these goals every 4-6 gameweeks. For me, it was New Year after a big double and so on. Hitting these gives you great satisfaction. When usually I’d be disappointed being 999k, it felt like a big achievement when I breached 1mln within my goal timeline.
Perhaps this is why I have finished in the top 40k on numerous occasions but have yet to breach the top 5k. This is my style of play and I am happy with that.
In most cases, I make the clear and obvious transfer. Boring ey? It’s not because I am afraid to take a risk or can’t think outside the box. But it’s because, for the most part, the clear and obvious move is just simply the right move. Hence why I make it.
I punted on Ings in the double gameweek to no avail. I started the season with Pulisic as he just returned from injury and he was overlooked by many managers. In fact, Pulisic is likely the main cause to my poor start. Trying to be too smart doesn’t tend to work out for me. I don’t seek differentials and low-owned players – I seek points. So I keep it simple. Simple may be template but if it works, it works.
Easier said than done, or is it? In buying Pulisic I was not smart. But looking back at my gameweek 9 wildcard, there is one smart buy I am particularly proud of and that is Cresswell.
West Ham were playing well and had a good long-term fixture run. So I liked the idea of investing in a defender. On a wildcard, I was tempted to buy Coufal and use the savings elsewhere as I always tend to pinch the pennies. But at the time, Cresswell was the most creative defender in the league and I told myself he was worth the extra £0.6mn. He has gone on to become the highest-scoring defender this season and rise another £0.7m, making my £5.1mn investment look like a bargain.
In a similar vein, get ahead of the crowd. As I said, I am a template player but that does not mean you can’t get ahead of the crowd with some obvious transfers (seeing a trend here?). Two of my wildcard examples are Bruno, who I bought at his base price of £10.5m (now the game's top scorer and £11.6mn), and Jota.
Everyone has Bruno now but he was relatively low-owned at the time, playing out of his skin and he had great fixtures – he was the obvious move, yet I was on him ahead of the bandwagon while many were getting in Rashford. Again, I did the template, obvious move and I was not overthinking (which I will touch on later). This is a great example of buying smart.
I also got Jota who was playing out of his skin in addition to owning Salah – at a time where people were saying he would not match Salah’s output. I did not care as his form spoke volumes. He scored 2 goals in 2 games and if it was not for his injury, I reckon he’d still be in my squad today.
My strategy is to focus on the team with the best fixtures in the medium term — the next 6 gameweeks. While for defenders I look a bit further down the line (8-10 gameweeks) as I would rather spend my transfer on attackers.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I triple up on West Brom. Team and player form are equally important. But unlike some managers, I value fixtures just as much as form.
I love a good plan. Check out my pinned tweet where I provide a free Excel planner for you to use. What I plan for are:
Sometimes I plan transfers but one injury and that could all be up in the air. Hence why I focus on fixture swings and how I want my team to shape up down the line. Again, I focus on the medium term (4-8 gameweeks) as anything longer than this has a low probability of panning out.
However, don’t overplan and be flexible. Planning fixed transfers and being stubborn in sticking to a plan can have negative consequences. Another reason for my poor start is because I was fixated on swapping Ings for Martial in gameweek 2.
I think this is one of my strongest fantasy qualities. When I buy a player, it is usually because they have good fixtures in the medium term, while also having good stats and decent form. A frustrating asset for many is Watkins. I’m not dead set on keeping him but nor am I in a rush to rage transfer him out. He is the focal point for Villa who are having a great season, as a result, he is ticking over and is the 6th highest scoring striker. Being patient with a cheap player who has 15 attacking returns in 25 works out long term.
The same holds true for premium assets like Salah, Bruno and Son, whom I have held onto. It would take an impressive emerging player or a nasty run of fixtures to make me consider dropping these. Having said that, don’t become attached to your players. I am in no rush to sell Salah but to have a playing player in gameweek 29 he could easily make way. Once it fits into my plan.
Trust your gut. Reduce the noise.
With there being so much fantasy content, it is easy for the noise to impact and could your thinking. I listen to one podcast a week. Read a select number of articles. I also talk through decisions and the fantasy world with a small group of people that I could count on one hand.
In summary, I avoid overthinking.
I had my fair share of bad luck at the start of the season. Lots of VAR decisions went against me and certain clean sheets wiped out of the blue in injury time. I am still having some bad luck now but a lot less than before. There’s nothing you can do about it and over the course of a season, your bad and good luck should even out. It is frustrating, but go back to the start of this article to see how I deal with this.
The season started with 8mln players. Many of them have dropped out and more do week on week. If you keep playing the game, your rank will benefit. Keep this in mind and be patient. Sure you can Bench Boost in gameweek 5 and have a massive rank jump. But if you ignore others and focus on your team, you will benefit more down the line. It is much easier to go from 4mln to 3mln in gameweek 5 than it is to get to 50k from 100k today.
One of the best things I did at the start of the season is I reflected and wrote down what kind of manager I am. Then I made myself comfortable with the type of manager I am. With my style of play I will probably never win the game, but I am likely to finish with a good consistent rank. Own your manager style.
As with anything in life, there is room for improvement. So think of some small things you can tweak. For me, it was limiting pointless hits. So I set myself the goal of using 4 or less hits this year. So far I have taken a hit twice — once it worked out and the other time it didn’t. So limiting this has helped me.
Again, always be flexible. I also said I would keep TAA and Salah all season if fit. Without VVD Liverpool’s defence have been atrocious so I was comfortable in selling TAA. I have also sold Salah for a 2-week punt.
I also like to do early transfers to accumulate value (within reason given Covid). But by knowing this and being comfortable with it helps me deal with it better. Due to early transfers, I have had to take one hit (the one that worked) this year.
And by knowing my own game I was comfortable sitting at 2mln in December as I was aware that I am a slow burner and my team gets going as the season progresses.
This is the most important step. As I said we can tinker with our strategies. I have taken two short-term punts this year which I don’t tend to do. Both failed (Ziyech & Ings) but my thinking was sound so I am comfortable with that.
However, you need to stick to your roots. If you don’t like relying on clean sheets, don’t set yourself up for playing 5 at the back. Play your game because that’s what makes your team strong while working on self-improving little by little. A drastic change is unlikely to work out and you will likely just get frustrated with yourself.
So if you read one of these tips and you completely disagree – ignore it, it is not for you. I have listed 15 pointers here. If you walk away with 1 or 2 to add and tinker your game with then this article has been a success.
Here’s hoping my form continues and this helps you with yours!
As always, best of luck to everyone, and if you want to reach out to me with any questions DM me on Twitter or leave a comment below.
Sports fan and FPL addict from Ireland (still has not forgiven Thierry Henry). Loves numbers in both studies & profession and has incorporated this into FPL in recent seasons. Has played FPL for 8 seasons, finishing in the top 40k 5 times, with the best finish of 8k. Find on Twitter @FplPup if you have any questions