The first three game weeks of the current FPL season were remarkable for the amount of points that were being scored and also for the amount of them that were scored by what we’ve come to term as “template players”. The likes of Mo Salah (£12.8m), Bruno Fernandes (£11.8m), and a raft of highly touted mid price-midfielders and forwards all delivered and the FPL community was awash with pictures of teams amassing 80+ points in a single gameweek.
I was someone who benefitted hugely from this flying start, scoring 130 points in the first week, with the aid of a bench boost chip that I normally fluff in the back end of the season. i scored 93 points in the second week, despite a Salah captain blank and after being placed 17th overall in the world after two weeks of the season, I decided to play my triple captain chip on Michail Antonio (£8.1m) GW3 in a bid to win manager of the month and ended up in sixth Overall with a 76 point haul.
This could, and should have been 89 points and number 1 in the world, but I tried to be too clever and a 13 point negative swing on transfers resulted from moves that took Salah and Ivan Toney (£6.4m) out for Harry Kane (£12.1m) and Raphinha (£6.6m) for one week only.
The start to the season got me thinking about how I play the game and how we’re told we should play the game. Should we save all of our chips to the back end of the season? Should we just play the gameweek in front of us? or should we adapt our approach to how we see the trends in the game going whilst trying to pick players that are going to make the game fun, after all that’s why we play right?
In seasons gone by, I’ve gone to the extreme with the latter, often spending over 200 points over a season and picking the players I wanted to have, but that’s only ever given me a single top 100k finish in an FPL career spanning eight seasons and as a result I wanted to go about things differently at the start of the season.
- Always save a transfer where you can.
- Only spend points if you don’t think you’ll field a full XI
- Don’t be afraid to use the chips at an earlier stage than in other seasons if you think it will benefit the team overall.
- Use a transfer planner for the next ten gameweeks so you can avoid points hits.
- Don’t make transfers until the last possible moment to ensure we have as much information as possible and in turn don’t chase the price rises, if you’re team is doing well you’ve team value will follow.
Now I’ve tried to follow these as best I can, but there have already been times where I have waivered from the plan and it’s cost me to an extent already. For example, transferring Alonso in ahead of the Southampton game to make 0.2 in team value as Luke Shaw was dropping proved to be a mistake as he hasn’t featured in the premier league since.
Had I waited, then I would have in all likelihood picked Ben Chilwell (£5.7m) as it became clear as the week went on that he would be first choice for the foreseeable future, and that decision would have paid me back in spades. Now this is all wonderful with hindsight but it’s just a small example of how important it can be to have a clear plan and then stick to it win, lose or draw.
I struggle not to spend points each and every week, the devil on my left shoulder assures me that Riyad Mahrez (£8.7m) will get another hat-trick against Burnley and it’s worth the 12 point hit to bring him in and out again, but 9 times out of ten this will not be the case and I don’t think it’s the way you win FPL. Take risks yes, but long term ones not short term ones, give yourself the best chance to get the luck and variance you deserve from long term planning and allow the player you’re bringing in the chance to reward your faith.
So with all this in mind, how can we apply this to our squads for the next six gameweeks and give ourselves the best chance of pushing ourselves up the ranks? The average score for each gameweek has now reverted back down to the much more predictable 50-60 and as such we need to adjust our predictions and try to see where we can steal a march on the rest of the pack without spending points or pushing the wildcard button.
Avoid Rotational Players
Avoiding rotational players such as the FPL troll above will be crucial in your pursuit of climbing the ranks and leave you sitting pretty whilst your rivals sweat every time a Pep or Tuchel team sheet is released.
For example, Ruben Dias (£6.2m) now has to be the number one pick for Manchester City after his rest against Burnley, that was the Portuguese defender’s first missed start of the season and he only missed four games that he was available for in the premier league last season.
At Chelsea the obvious choices are Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.2m) and Antonio Rudiger (£5.8m) when fit and available but it may be worth having a third defender from either of these teams that’s more exciting in the interest of fun, as long as you have a Tino Livramento (£4.3m) or Shane Duffy (£4.4m) type to ensure you have a full team should he not start. For me the most exciting would be Reece James (£5.5m).
Any Manchester City or Chelsea asset should be avoided in Midfield, even Kevin De Bruyne (£11.9m) won’t play every game and none of these players other than maybe Jorginho (£5.8m) is nailed, as a result I think we need to switch to some of the more secure picks that have some encouraging data to back their claim according to the xG (expected goals) charts.
Firstly, a Brentford asset looks like a really good idea and Bryan Mbeumo (£5.5m) has a lot going for him, at just £5.5m and at 3.0% ownership the Frenchman leads the charts for hitting the woodwork this season and also has an expected goal delta -1.35, indicating that he’s due another Goal in the upcoming fixtures. He’s started every game and played over 75 minutes in each of them and given his lowly price he could be a fantastic enabler over the coming weeks.
Another player that could be worth looking at that is the seemingly nailed Mohamed Elyounoussi (£5.5m), the Norweigan missed the first two games of the season but has started all but one since and that was at Chelsea where the tactics were tweaked slightly to combat the Chelsea attacking prowess.
The former Basel player scored two goals for Norway in the international break and should of scored again against Leeds last time out, he holds an xG delta of -1.85 and with the saints next four fixtures looking favourable I think at £5.5m and just 0.2% owned, he’s primed to be a difference maker.
This position is the one to keep largely simple, Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.5m), Romelu Lukaku (£11.7m) and Antonio are the only three strikers in the past three gameweeks to record higher than -1 xG Delta and given that all three will start nine out of 10 games, these should be the main strikers we target in the next six.
Now I understand they have frustrated many during this period but they are all proven goal scorers, and taking into account that they are maintaining their goal threat over the past four games then it stands to reason that patience is required and we should keep the faith. That being said, I think it may pay to bring in Harry Kane (£12.1m) for gameweek 12 if he manages to notch another one or two in the next four gameweeks.
Practising Patience is perhaps the hardest skill to master in Fantasy and it’s the undoing for many of us each and every gameweek. A Prime example of this for the current season is Said Benrahma (£6.6m), I was lucky enough to have him in for the first two gameweeks when he fetched 24 points, which got the Benny bandwagon up and running.
Since then he’s scored one goal in six games, and even that was a potential own goal, but he’s kept his form up in terms of performance and he plays near on 80-90 minutes every week.
We all want our teams to look perfect each and every week but this isn’t a daily fantasy game and as such we need to trust our squads and only make moves when the player we’re bringing in noticeably improves our squad for the upcoming gameweeks.
This is something I very often struggle to do, the lure of the one week punt is often too hard to resist, but come Monday morning when it hasn’t paid off and I’m left with a team that isn’t suitable for the upcoming gameweek I’ve often wished that I had just done nothing and left myself with two transfers for the next gameweek.
So that’s the rule I’m going to try to adhere to for the next six gameweeks. If I miss out on a haul or two then so be it, but I think in the long term it will stand me in good stead.
Play your own game
Just like Allan Saint-Maximin (£6.8m) here, it’s important to play your own game and do what suits your team week by week, take in all the content you can but use it to support your own ideas rather than just follow the herd and experts religiously.
Of course there is an infamous winner of FPL that didn’t put a single Liverpool player in his team for the whole season and on that notion I decided this year I would play the game differently and be aggressive with my chips. I’ve tried to get out in front of the crowd and as such I’ve used all three of them already and got myself up to 101st in the world.
Now I’m under no illusions that this may backfire, but having a good start allows you to get out in front of the bandwagons and not take as many risks as I normally would, which in turn should stop me spending points.
My chips have gained me 55 extra points, which is substantially more than I’ve had in previous years and I now have a plan I feel confident with that can take me through the rest of the season. After all the 33 gameweeks you have without chips or wildcards will go a lot further to determining your overall position at the end of the season than the mere five that we all get hung up on every season!
*Underlying statistics and tables obtained via the author’s membership at the Fantasy football Scout website*