Here are 10 things that the experts won't tell you about FPL
FPL is a simple game. You pick the best players and then hoover up your mini-leagues, right? If only it was that easy. With that said you genuinely can game the system and win! Of course you can play fantasy football in multiple ways but in order to do well consistently there are a limited number of tried and test approaches that you can take to guarantee success over 38 Gameweeks. Here are 10 things that are seldom mentioned by mainstream content creators which I'm happy to share with you:
Play the game the way it should be played and not necessarily the way you want to play it This might sound odd but it's completely logical. If you solely rely on your whims and desires when playing FPL then the chances are that you may overestimate your own hype and be detached from the reality being played out in the world of fantasy football. You need to be awake and ahead of the curve, fam. And to sum it up, you need to understand the narrative fairly quickly rather than creating your own artificial one - don't get high on your own supply. Once you do this, you will look at FPL in a different way and dare I say it, the game may become easier and simpler to play when you understand that nuances at hand.
Effective ownership (EO) should influence your decision making I'm fully aware that this will sound controversial to many and it's something that mainstream content creators will seldom say. But apart from identifying the narrative, FPL is a game about EO. But What is EO, why is it so important and how can it affect your overall rank? FPL Planner defines it very well and if you want social proof on how he has done, his back-to-back Top 5k ranks in FPL should be more than sufficient. With that said, no one is telling you to just buy the highest owned players or to simply copy other people's teams, duh. But rather it's about leveraging EO in such a way that you factor it into your decision making and understand the risks, especially if you go against EO for captaincy on a regular basis.
Get value by leveraging premium priced players without the premium price tags There's no clear cut definition of what a premium priced player is. But unofficially speaking many FPL managers would say that a player with a double digit price is almost by default a premium priced player. Sure, they're expensive for a reason as they have consistently shown their prowess in clocking up regular returns in Premier League or elsewhere. But there are also unheralded players that cost considerably less and can punch above their weight as we see time and time again. Take for instance Joel Matip last season (not even a third choice FPL LFC pick for many), he had the best Points Per Million of any player after a stellar second half of the season. We also had Jarrod Bowen who racked up 29 attacking returns from a starting price of £6.5m. And let's not forgot Dejan Kulusevski who signed for Tottenham in January, became an immediate starter and averaged an attacking return for every 90 minutes played. I'm not saying buy the aforementioned three right now, but identifying these kinds of players early on can give you a considerable edge before their ownership levels sky rocket. Therefore be alert on form and just hope you jump on the bandwagon before it's too late.
Don't force yourself to deep dive into tedious data - left the experts do that for you! Unless your're a whizz at maths or working with numbers is part of your day to day job, I'm guessing that you have better things to do on a Friday night than working out the comparative npxG of budget forwards under multiple scenarios for a hypothetical situation that probably won't even happen. Is it all really worth it or do you have better things to do? I'm guessing it's the latter. There are plenty of FPL and non-FPL related weekly streams that cover useful information on a plethora of data points. Leave it to them to extrapolate the data and in turn digest the analysis accordingly. At the same time don't be overwhelmed with too much information that you're left confused. Filter out the noise, limit your trusted sources and develop an approach on how you determine what stats are worth factoring in and what's basically junk data.
Captain the obvious choice for the most part I know this will ruffle a few feathers, but it has to be said. Don't take unnecessary risks on captaincy, especially during the early part of the season. Of course, when risky captaincy selections pay off you're in dreamland but if it fails your season is over before it has even begun. I've tracked captaincy picks of so-called elite managers on a weekly basis for two seasons. And anecdotally speaking I can say that 90% of the times they captain the obvious pick, there's no denying that. But if you're looking to make traction (especially in the second half of the season) it is logical to take mild risks on captaincy especially during Gameweeks when there is no obvious "EO Captain". However, whenever there is a clear choice at hand you could decimate your rank by going rogue, even more so when there is a popular Triple Captaincy option - most notably seen with TC Mohamed Salah (84 points) during last season's Double Gameweek.
Don't by default treat fans as experts of their clubs Whenever fantasy football managers need clarification related to a particular club in the Premier League it's not uncommon for them to automatically ask a fan of that said club for their particular hot take. Sure, that fan may be a season ticket holder and may have even supported them for decades. But the reality is, unless they're a bonafide ITK, they know as much as you in terms of what the club manager is thinking . And if you treat them like a font of knowledge when they're simply second guessing and then in turn you amplify that news you are at a risk of spreading misinformation if it proves to be fake news. One case in point is John Lundstram from the 2019/20 season. FPL Towers priced him up at 4.0 and mistakenly listed him as a defender and yet he was for all intents and purposes a midfielder (OOP) and started regularly for Sheffield United during that season. And yet, despite his glowing pre-season performances in midfield some FPL managers trusted Blades fans when they said he would barely feature in the season ahead. In turn Lundstram was a sensation and his unexpected double digit hauls were missed by many due to speculation that proved to be incorrect.
A good start is a head start in FPL I'm sure you've heard the maxim "it's a marathon, not a sprint!". I feel this creates a false sense of security as if you can plod along until the Double Gameweeks come and then as if by magic you can be catapulted from 1.4M to 14K in the blink of an eye. Well I'm telling you that's not going to happen. More managers than ever before are using sophisticated tools, algorithms and content to guide their fantasy football decisions. What may have been cutting edge information that was accessible by a few not long ago is now accessible by hundreds of thousands of bona fide FPL addicts. The reality is that you need to try and engineer a good start to the season by adopting proven techniques and tactics that will avoid you being left behind early on. After all, it's easier to defend a good position than it is to chase - don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Obviously with inexperienced managers using all of their chips by Gameweek 4 the overall rankings are somewhat artificial in the early stages so don't fret too much if you're not near the top echelons during the early period. Crucially, don't treat the season like one big marathon. Rather cut it up into little sprints and look for the wins whenever and wherever you can find them - albeit cautiously.
Master the art of planning It's no secret that the best performing mangers every season tend to be good planners - be it consciously or subconsciously. The fact of the matter is that they take less hits, score more captaincy points and even have more bench points, as shown here. Some people may question if losing lots of points on the bench is a good thing but the reality is that the best managers generally tend to have balanced squads so by default it's almost expected that they'll lose a fantasy return on the bench every now and then. Having said that, over-planning can be futile and also not good from a time perspective. You've probably got more important things to do than creating multiple hypothetical scenarios and running them through algorithms hours on end. One thing that I can't stand is the notion of "booking in a transfer". You need to deal with the realities on the ground after every Gameweek and your abstract move could become irrelevant in a matter of minutes. So by all means plan - as you need to. But for goodness sake, don't over do it!
You don't have to watch every match every week
Contrary to what some may say on FPL Twitter, the 'hallowed' Eye Test isn't necessarily king. It's not the be all or end all. Is it even healthy watching too much football as you sit idly by? There's no law that forces you to sign up to expensive TV subscriptions or watch dodgy 3pm football streams. There's danger that you can create false narratives in your own mind if you over consume too much and in turn over think. It can also be unproductive and a waste of time if you have more pertinent things to do. So what are the alternatives? Just watch the matches that you think are the most important from an FPL or non-FPL perspective. I'm sure you won't lose out by watching a potential snoozefest with no player involvement for good measure. You could also opt for the "Ear Test" by simply having the radio commentary on in the background while focusing on other tasks. Alternatively, if you're out and about you can use an intuitive app such as FotMob for real time goal alerts as well as seeing FPL points per game on one screen.
Be mindful of the Content Creators' Paradox
In case you didn't know fantasy football content creation is literally a million dollar industry. Therefore producing content as and when required is the norm among the top end professionals. With this in mind there's an ever growing danger that content is created for the sake of content rather than the influencer truly backing their own recommendations.
It's more common than you would think and in effect they may be suggesting picks that they themselves would never have in their own team. Sure, there's no harm in highlighting punts, and influencers have every right to say whatever they want on their channels. But it's also strange if they talk up the merits of captaining a differential yet for their own personal team go for Captain EO.
However, if you are overly reliant on specific content creators due to trust and loyalty keep one thing in mind - do their recommendations reflect their own team selections? You can track whichever FPL manager you want through a plethora of tools and you can see their team after every deadline passes. But to truly see which players they trust you have to ultimately look at their own FPL team to validate their true thinking and actions.
This is the most simple way for you to cut through group think content and the FPL Twitter echo chamber and see what they truly believe when it comes to FPL.
In conclusion, don't be afraid to be a pragmatist if you want to consistently do well in FPL. Yes, you also need to make your own luck and hope for the best. With that said, all the best to you for the season ahead!
About the author: Ash is an amateur fantasy football manager and has played FPL since 2007. He has x4 Top 5k finishes in FPL, with two consecutive Top 5k finishes since 20/21. His best finish is 110th. He is also ranked within the LiveFPLNet Elite Top 500