Premier League: Alternative Formations

With the price list released by the FPL this week, it’s time to start crunching numbers and building your squad for the upcoming EPL 2017/2018 season. During this off season, more than the previous 4 season I have participated, I have remained active researching players, building defensive rotations and making assumptions on where players for my starting XI will come in. In between, I have run across some new websites and Twitter feeds to follow in order to help me this season.

That said, I, like many managers this week have spent time building my 15-man squad, while staying within the £100m budget. Based on last year’s team data, the 3-4-3 (22) and 3-5-2 (8) were the most used (30) formations I started with. However, I am looking at potentially bucking the system and starting with a more conventional 4-4-2, maybe a 4-3-3 or possibly…a 4-5-1? Call me crazy!?!

The one caveat I have before reading about alternative formations, these 15-man squads are based on GW1-6 only. I plan on activating my first WC between GW4 and GW6. Possibly holding out a game week later during the second international break. From GW6/7 on, I plan on reevaluating my squad, team value and overall ranking before making a commitment to the next period in the 2017/18 season.

Each formation listed below spends just £8.5 on two goalkeepers. Initial penciled in are WBA’s, Ben Foster (£4.5) and Newcastle’s Rob Elliot (£4.0). Some talk of Elliot starting for the Toons if Benitez does not buy another keeper during the transfer period. These two players represent a great rotation to start the season: BOU/hud/STO/bha/STO/bha.

Formation 4-4-2

Overall: Four in the back is not typical, based on many managers using a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2. Further up the pitch you lose one offensive player; midfielder or forward depending how you set your starting XI. With increase in prices throughout the 460 player list, defenders appear to have a bit more appeal and could potentially end up with a higher PPM (Points returned per £ Million spent). Having spent too many hours this week shuffling players in and out of my line ups, I don’t believe you can rule out any formation at the start of the season.

Defenders: Victor Lindelöf (£5.5), Cédric Soares (£5.0), Jamaal Lascelles (£4.5), Brent Mee (£4.5), James Tomkins (£4.5)

The core of the defense is made up of budget players of £4.5. These players were selected for the 3-way budget rotation that can cover all 6 game weeks, playing at home, as based off Peter Blake’s 3-way budget strategy at Mathematically Safe.

United’s new boy, Victor Lindelöf heads the defense, based off their lucrative schedule to start the EPL season, as the Red Devils do not face a top 7 team with home games against West Ham, Leicester, Everton (and Crystal Palace in GW7). With 4 defenders at the back I was priced out of including Antonio Valencia (£6.5) and to some degree, Eric Bailly (£6.0), but have been able to fit him in other 4 defender sets I have drafted. Cédric Soares was injured for a portion of last season (£5.0), but gets the nod over Ryan Bertrand (£5.5). So’ton has a very favorable start, much in the vein of United, having two home fixtures to start the season (SWA & WHU) and a visit from Watford in GW4. GW6 could be challenging as the Saints face Man United.

Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne (£10.0), Philippe Coutinho (£9.0), Paul Pogba (£8.0), Wilfred Zaha (£7.0), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (£4.5)

Lots of leeway in the midfield knowing your 5th will be a £4.5. In my 4-4-2, Ruben Loftus-Cheek gets the nod by virtue of his move to Crystal Palace and the potential to start as the #10. That would be an added bonus, as his playing time was going to be nil through GW6. I feel KDB is under priced by £0.5 and should be good for 20+ assists this season, feeding very hungry forwards in Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Agüero. KDB did hit the woodwork 8 times last year, still scored 7 goals. Good fixtures with a home fixture against L’pool in GW4. Coutinho was selected being the complete midfielder for Liverpool, scores, creates, assists. Feel the best is yet to come for him, building off the 8 goal/8 assist season last year. Tricky fixures in GW3/4, home to ARS and away to MCI. Pogba some with the caveat of Man United introducing a new defensive midfielder. However I think he will be more productive feeding Lukakyu, who finished balls stronger than Zlatan did last year. Zaha had a solid season 7 goals and 11 assists. Another year together with Benteke, he’s a big threat player who can create down the side.

Forwards: Harry Kane (£12.5), Romelu Lukaku (£11.5), Ashley Fletcher (£4.5)

Going big up front with a very popular pair from last season in Kane and Lukaku. Hopefully Kane can shake the “slow start” and get off to a bang away to NEW in GW1. Three 20+ goal seasons, expecting great things from Harry again this season. Lukaku’s move to United should see his goal tally increase, as I believe he’s got strong supporting players around him creating. Options are available if these two forward don’t work for £23.0. Could potentially save £1.0 that could be spent on upgrading a midfielder.

Formation 4-3-3

Overall: This is probably the strongest of the three formations based solely on the starting upgraded defenders since your squad will only field 6 attacking players. By virtue of the wingback becoming more of a standard throughout the EPL, expectations for points come from both ends of the pitch. These players appear to provide a better point per value than a comparable midfielder at a similar price (Alonso vs Ramsey/Willian/Zaha). The £4.5 players aren’t expected to play through GW6.

Defenders: Eric Bailly (£6.0), Ryan Bertrand (£5.5), Vincent Kompany (£6.0), Gareth McAuley (£5.0), Brent Mee (£4.5)

With just 3 starting midfielders, a manager can add more attacking options to the defense that are good PPM value. Bailly, Bertrand and McAuley could finish in the top 5 for value. Kompany, if he can stay healthy. Man United, So’ton and WBA all have strong fixtures to start the season, thus their inclusion in the starting back line. If the age of McAuley is a concern, Craig Dawson is your other WBA option, with 4 goals last season.

Midfielders: Paul Pogba (£8.0), Sadio Mané (£9.5), Dele Alli (£9.5), Oriel Romeu (£4.5), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (£4,5)

Dele Alli and Sadio Mané anchor the starting XI in the midfield with Paul Pogba as the “cheaper” of the premium options. Some questions still surround his inclusion after a very lackluster first season for United; 5 goals/4 assists. His 20.7% TSB is third best for midfielders behind Coutinho and the aforementioned Alli. While Alli had a very strong season for Spurs, questions will be asked of him and his teammates while they play the upcoming season at Wembley, their “home” away from home. Alli plays very forward in the attack (20 goals) but has the ability to create, as witnessed by his 16 assists. With £27.0

Forwards: Alexandre Lacazette (£10.5), Romelu Lukaku (£11.5), Troy Deeney (£6.5)

Three forwards who should head the attack for their respective teams. New boy Lacazette could draw some questions, but you can’t deny his 28 goals in Ligue 1 last season. He’s a finishing monster, with Özil creating, could see a 20+ goal season. Some question still surrounds the status of Alexis Sanchez and where he will end up. Lukaku will be strong up front coming off a 25 goal season, hopefully he is more consistent on the road. We saw him disappear on the road during the later part of the season. Tory Deeney under Marco Silva could mean more consistency for the big man. Coming off three 10+ goal seasons, Deeney has proven his worth for Watford. At times frustrating to own, but options at the £6.5 price point are questionable: Dwight Gayle, Charlie Austin, Andre Gray, Salomón Rondón.

Formation 4-5-1

Overall: This formation was used just once last year, by virtue of Diego Costa not playing and the first sub being a midfielder. Could you benefit from this formation? Possibly, the lure of 5 premium midfielders is choice, but would it be enough to cover having just one premium forward? The shape of the defense would be similar in nature to the other two formations, with a rotation of 3 budget defenders rotation depending on their home fixture to provide the best CS potential. With 6 forwards priced at £10.0 or more it would probably be more beneficial to run any combination of two out in your starting XI, knowing you will be required to downgrade two midfielders.

Defenders: Victor Lindelöf (£5.5), Cédric Soares (£5.0), Jamaal Lascelles (£4.5), Brent Mee (£4.5), James Tomkins (£4.5)

The core of the defense is made up of budget players of £4.5. These players were selected for the 3-way budget rotation that can cover all 6 game weeks, playing at home, as based off Peter Blake’s 3-way budget strategy at Mathematically Safe.

United’s new boy, Victor Lindelöf heads the defense, based off their lucrative schedule to start the EPL season, as the Red Devils do not face a top 7 team with home games against West Ham, Leicester, Everton (and Crystal Palace in GW7). With 4 defenders at the back I was priced out of including Antonio Valencia (£6.5) and to some degree, Eric Bailly (£6.0), but have been able to fit him in other 4 defender sets I have drafted. Cédric Soares was injured for a portion of last season (£5.0), but gets the nod over Ryan Bertrand (£5.5). So’ton has a very favorable start, much in the vein of United, having two home fixtures to start the season (SWA & WHU) and a visit from Watford in GW4. GW6 could be challenging as the Saints face Man United.

Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne (£10.0), Mesut Özil (£9.5), Christian Eriksen (£9.5), Philippe Coutinho (£9.0), Paul Pogba (£8.0)

The lure of 5 premium is great! The best part is, if Özil or Eriksen don’t excite you enough, transfer in Sadio Mane (£9.5) and Dele Alli (£9.5). Moving KDB will free up an extra £o.5. With the 5 midfielders I’ve included it runs £46.0. Pogba could be seen as the question mark, unless United bring in a defensive midfielder. Other £8.0 options include Pedro and Leroy Sané. I have included Özil based on the fact he could benefit from having Lacazette up front, who was deadly inside the box for Lyon last term. Many see Özil has overpriced by £o.5, but has the potential to pocket 20+ assists if Lacazette gets off to a good start. We also have the potential of Sanchez leaving the Gunners but Mahrez possibly transferring in. Again, many options with this formation.

Forwards: Harry Kane (£12.5), Collin Quaner (£4.5), Ashley Fletcher (£4.5)

It could be seen as taking a big risk up front with just a single forward. When it’s Harry Kane, some of that risk is greatly reduce. Past history does appear show Kane starting slow, include the move to Wembley for Spurs home games and this formation doesn’t come without risk. Still, I feel the reward could outweigh the risk based on the 5 premium midfielders getting the nod in the starting XI. Obvious with little budget to work with, the other two forwards are £4.5 bench fodder with little starting chances for their teams slim. Kane’s finished with 21, 25 and 29 goals the past 3 season, taking the Golden Boot in the last years. Two questionable fixtures that might cause concern; GW2 home to Chelsea and GW4 away to Everton. But the “home” games are causing some hesitation, but can you run without Kane?

Conclusion

While these formations are not typical, I believe each carries potential and value to FPL. Not sure I have the cajones to actually start a 4-5-1, but if conditions present themselves or forwards aren’t striking, anything could be possible. For the start of the season I am still planning a 4-3-3 but with 4 weeks before the start of the EPL season we will wait and see what transfers are made. The new Free Hit Chip could also allow for unique formation based on fixtures for one week. As always, manager must remain flexible when it comes to the fantasy game.

Premier League: Draft Q&A

Today fantasy managers receive some answers to their burning questions as it relates to the newly announced FPL Draft. As the name says, fantasy managers will now draft their squad of 15 players, using a snake style draft, seen used in fantasy (American) football. League size, draft date and draft order will be set by the league admin. The big difference between FPL Draft and the traditional game is “Each Premier League player can only be in one league squad” as described in the FPL Draft – What you need to know.

This style of fantasy play is what I have experienced the last 37 years, as a league admin for NFL fantasy football. Unlike the traditional game, much more preparation is key to solid draft. With that said, as I highlighted yesterday, the player pool is much smaller than that of it’s American counterpart. Depending on the number of teams in your league, you could ride your top few draft picks all season long.

The recommended league size per the FPL is eight teams, which totals 120 players out of approximately 500 players (number based on a 25 man squad) in the EPL:

GK: 16 players
DEF: 40 players
MID: 40 players
FOR: 24 players

This league size provides a sizable free agency pool in which to acquire players from. “There are no direct transfers between managers.” Dan Bright, ordinary guy and Palace fan says

“This one line here will see fail. Absolutely crucial to making a league work. Shame really.

I disagree. Here’s why. First the opportunity is there for cheating. If you own multiple teams in your league, transferring your better players between teams will give you an unfair advantage. Even with 8 teams, premium players are few and far between. As mentioned last season there were only 6 players in excess of 200 points. Chances are no one will be willing to trade their top talent away.

Second, in my experience, again coming from fantasy NFL football, with the advent of a waiver wire and free agency pool, very few managers propose trades. With the squad size limited to 15 players, an 2-for-1 type trades will require one manager to drop a player in order to see a trade approved. I don’t think this one feature will see draft fail. But it’s surely something to monitor once the season is under way.

Unlike the traditional game, players do not carry a value and there is no budget to remain under. All players selections are based on draft. The question asked,” Do I gain an advantage by picking first?” Scout says, “No, not at all. You might get your top priority player in the first round but, when you come to pick again – last in round 2 – you may find that your other main targets have been selected.

Experiencing tells me otherwise. Your draft cheat sheet can be broken down into tiers based on points from last season. Your top tier of forward would be:

Kane
Lukaku
Costa
Aguero

Moving down to the midfield position, the top tier would be:

Sanchez
Alli
Hazard
Eriksen

Using the players listed over that’s the top 8 players from last season. While the talent level will still be borderline “premium” based on scoring players outside of this top eight will be a lower tier. So even in an 8-team league having the overall #1 draft pick is very important. It will get you a top EPL player to build your squad around.

Draft day is typically the best day of the season, just like the launch of FPL, which commences the week of July 10th this year. Over the years our fantasy drafts usually consisted of all 10 managers getting together in one spot and drafting. More recently that hasn’t been the case, so an ‘auto draft’ sequence is initiated by the manager and players are selected from a pre-determined list they set. FPL Draft will use a watch list feature, which will represent “top targets for each position.” Any period in which you are absent from the draft players from your draft list will be selected.

Transfers and free agency is where you will win your mini-league this year. This is usually the case, since adding a waiver wire/free agency pool in our fantasy NFL league, manager use this feature weekly, where as trades are much less common than they used to be.

A “wavier request” is submitted to add a player from the available player pool. Multiple managers can put a request in for a specific player, but only manager will be awarded that player. The manager with the lowest standing will claim the player. There is only one waiver period per week.

Free agency will open after waiver wire request have been processed and “24 hours prior to the Gameweek deadline.” This is where a bulk of the transfer activity will take place. Managers filing claims to bring in the latest bandwagon player or transfer out an injured player. This is where you team is built, as there will be good talent waiting to impact your team.

Looking over the Q&A from The Scout, there are many similarities to that of fantasy NFL football, which I am experienced in. It will be very challenging to put together a winning squad and not all strategies used in the traditional game will necessarily apply in the draft game.

As mentioned before the most important part of this game is the draft. While free agency plays an role in the game and eventually outcome, how players are ranked, either by position or overall for the upcoming draft will be key to your success. We have just the final point totals of last year to work off. New players have transferred in to the EPL, such as Alexandre Lacazette. Does he immediately become a top tier forward, the likes of Aguero? Diego Costa could be on his way out from Chelsea as well. Lots of research to do before draft day.

Premier League: FPL Draft Initial Thoughts

Dubbed as an, “exciting new format” Fantasy Premier League Draft will run simultaneously with the traditional game for this upcoming EPL season. Without fanfare or ma ny details, lots of questions beg to be answered about this new format. Having spent the past 37 years playing fantasy (NFL) football, I am somewhat torn in with this news. The 2017/18 EPL season will represent just my 5th year participating in fantasy football, as I learn, grow and experience the beautiful game as a fantasy manager.

Details didn’t provide the full scope of the draft game, but I feel some assumptions can be made based on the announcement. Managers can expect to participate in a live snake style draft, in which managers unique players for their 15-man squad. League size appears to be flexible from 2 to 16 team mini-league. All this in a new game, while remaining with in the £100m budget. Let us not forget this will also introduce some form of free agency/waiver wire to the game in order to transfer players.

The most difficult part of this style of game will be the draft. No more deciding who to partner with Kane and Lukaku, as they will be owned by different managers. Even the best prepared manager must be willing to compromise and plan out their draft strategy in order to be successful. The draft game will really be dependent on the size of the league you are involved in. In my fantasy NFL football experience, the more teams involved, the more difficult it becomes to field a strong starting team.

With 32 NFL teams, there is an offensive player pool of approximately 640 players. In the fantasy draft game, with just 20 teams, the player pool shrinks to approximately 500 players. In the NFL game, it’s not uncommon to draft backup players at certain positions, something that isn’t often done in the traditional game. We do occasionally see it with goalkeepers, such as Ben Foster and Boaz Myhill.

Based off last season’s statistics, only 6 players eclipsed the 200 point mark. Of that number, just two were forwards; Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku. If you happen to be in a 10-team league, your potential top forward at the #10 spot would be Alvaro Negredo, Fernando Llorente or Troy Deeney. Doesn’t instill much confidence, does it? This is where you draft strategy comes into play and the decisions you make will shape your squad.

With the #1 overall pick, do you draft Sanchez or Kane? If you draft Kane with this pick, you will get the top forward in the game and be able to partner him with another lower priced forward in a possible 3-5-2. Draft Sanchez and you start building a solid midfield, but won’t see a forward for another 19 picks, which means many of the top 10 midfielders will be gone.

With a 10-team league, that’s 50 midfielders and 30 forwards selected. Quality players will be at a premium, You will be relying on your top draft picks to carry your squad over 38 weeks. It could be that a 4-4-2 becomes the formation of choice, based solely on the lack of quality forwards. There is considerably more depth at midfielder and defense. Regardless of strategy don’t expect the sort of weekly point totals you see in the traditional game.

Even the best laid plans can go astray, as luck will always play a roll in our fantasy game. We will wait and see to make further evaluations on the FPL draft game as it rolls out the week of July 10th.

Premier League: 3-Way Rotation

By no means do I consider myself a fantasy football expert, experiencing just my 4th season playing in the FPL. Like any fantasy game played, it’s a learning experience, sometimes made simpler thanks to website and pundits, who provide their analysis and opinions. Not new to the EPL or football in general, as I have played and watched the beautiful game much my life. Yet living in the United States, soccer takes a backseat to many more popular sports; NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and NASCAR.

Last year was a real struggle after GW6, seeing only 5 green arrows out of the ensuing 20 gameweeks. I analyzed players, statistics, as well as my strategy in order to stop the free fall. It eventually happened in GW27, finishing the 2017/18 FPL season on the back of 10 out of 12 green arrows, recovering admirably to win one mini league, but finishing well of my initial goals.

The new EPL season hasn’t begun and price information for the new game won’t be revealed until the week commencing July 10. Until that time, it’s speculation and strategizing for the upcoming season. I have been doing that a great degree using a few different websites, following along in many threads to get input and advice from other, more experienced (hopefully) fantasy managers.

I was turned on to the site Mathematically Safe authored by Peter Blake, which discussed a three-way budget defender rotation. The link I clicked was for the 2016/17 FPL season, but provided great insight for the upcoming season. Not knowing if Peter would provide a similar article for this season I begun working through the process of finding the best three defender rotation.

His “methodology” is as follows:

My task is to find the best combination of fixtures for three clubs from whom I can pick three regular starting defenders for a low price: £4.5m each, or £13.5m in total. A favourable fixture will be determined as:

  1. A home game
  2. Against a weak opposition to increase the probability of a clean sheet

After consulting a few bookie sites and partially based off previous years, my bottom 10 teams were (in no specific order):

  1. Leicester City (LEI)
  2. West Brom Albion (WBA)
  3. Stoke City (STO)
  4. Swansea (SWA)
  5. Crystal Palace (CPL)
  6. Burnley (BUR)
  7. Watford (WAT)
  8. Newcastle (NEW)
  9. Brighton & Hove Albion (BRI)
  10. Huddersfield Town (HUD)
  11. Bournemouth (BOU)

My bottom 10 were nearly inline with the bookies, who included Bournemouth, as opposed to Leicester City. For my analysis using Peter Blake’s methodology, I included both squads for a total of 11 teams. While working through all the combinations, I saw that Peter updated his article for the upcoming season. Unlike last year, this year he used the bottom 8 teams, which still feature prominently in my analysis but with a few changes. He included West Ham, while omitting Leicester City, Bournemouth and Newcastle.

Using Peter’s method and all the 3 team variations I set out to find the best home/away fixtures featuring the bottom 11 teams. The results are contingent on each team having a “budget” defender priced at £4.5m or below that starts. You can download my worksheet for all possible combinations.

Top Home/Away Fixtures

After spending parts of 3 days working through schedules, I was disappointed to see that Peter had finished his budget defenders article, but would with anticipation to read and compare with what I done.

The most favorable combination in my analysis with 25 home fixtures, 8 away fixtures during the first 33 gameweeks:

  • BOU/SWA/WAT

Bournemouth was woeful in defense last season, but the recent addition of Asmir Begovic in goal and Howe focusing on improving defensively this off season could possibly yield a worthwhile defender including Steve Cook and Adam Smith. Swansea offers up Alfie Mawson (finished at £4.6m) and Martin Olsson (finished at £4.1m). Watford under new manager Marco Silva could tighten things up at home. Most of their defenders should be under £4.5m, the only possible exception being Jose Holebas.

The next best combination with 24 home fixtures, 9 away fixtures during the first 33 gameweeks:

  • BUR/STO/WBA

Burnley played outstanding at home, witnessed by Tom Heaton’s numbers. In front of him Brent Mee (finished at £4.4m) and Matthew Lowton (finished at £4.5m) could be contenders. Chances are Michael Keane will be priced at £5.0m. Bruno Martins Indi (finished at £4.9m) and Erik Pieters (finished at £4.6) could be the budget route into Stoke City. Pieters 6.7% TSB was the 9th overall budget defender under £4.9m. West Brom shows prominently in many of my combinations, but would leave managers with Johnny Evans (finished at £4.4m) and Allan Nyom (finished at £4.4m) as the only budget buys in the Baggies back line.

One of the key components I was looking at was not facing the top 10 teams. This was listed as a ‘No Cover’ on my worksheet and meant that defensive combination would face a top team home/away during the season. Along with the aforementioned combinations, there were 3 other combinations that yielded coverage for all 33 weeks:

  • HUD/STO/WBA (23 home /10 away/0 no cover)
  • BRI/STO/WBA (20 home / 13 away / 0 no cover)
  • CPL/HUD/WAT (20 home / 13 away / 0 no cover)

There were other combinations that featured stronger home fixtures

  • LEI/SWA/WBA (25/5/3)
  • SWA/WAT/WBA (24/7/2)
  • BRI/HUD/WBA (24/3/6)
  • BOU/SWA/WBA (24/3/6)
  • HUD/LEI/WBA (24/5/4)
  • HUD/SWA/WBA (24/6/3)
  • LEI/NEW/WBA (24/6/3)
  • BRI/CPL/STO (23/6/4)
  • BRI/HUD/NEW (23/6/4)
  • BRI/HUD/STO (23/8/2)
  • BOU/LEI/SWA (23/7/3)
  • BOU/STO/WAT (23/6/4)
  • BUR/LEI/WBA (23/9/1)
  • BUR/NEW/WBA (23/8/2)
  • BUR/SWA/WBA (23/6/4)
  • CPL/STO/WAT (23/8/2)
  • HUD/LEI/SWA (23/6/4)
  • LEI/NEW/SWA (23/7/3)

All the defensive combinations listed above face teams outside of  the top 11 I used in my sample size. But if playing a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2, looking to maximize your budget on offensive players, a £4.5m defender rotation could be beneficial. As Peter denoted in his recent article, some combinations “may not be ideal from a players’ perspective” due to player price, as he cites Scott Dann, Patrick van Aanholt being priced above £4.5m.

Once prices are released, the week of July 10th, the rotation picture should be clear. While nothing will be set in stone, this article, as well as Peter’s latest, 3-Way Budget Defender Rotation should give many manager a solid starting point. If I had read his article before I delved into the data, I would not have run all the team combinations, but looking back on it, I am glad I did. Good luck in the upcoming FPL season!

 

Premier League: Me vs. Top 5 Managers

Now that we have had a week to digest Chelsea winning the EPL, Arsenal winning the FA Cup, Harry Kane winning the Golden Boot and the fact that Marco Silva was recently hired to guide Watford, it’s time to reflect deeper into the season. By no means did my squad, the Go ‘Orns have a successful season. However, I end the season with green arrows in 10 of the last 12 weeks, which featured a run of 8 green arrows in a row. To think I had this game figured out after GW6 when I was ranked 29k but the next 20 weeks did me in, finishing 446k in the overall rankings.

To dissect this season, I have decided to compare my finish to that of the top 5 winners in the 2016/17 FPL season in order to find the commonalities they shared when it comes to being a successful manager. It doesn’t take a mathematician to crunch the numbers and draw conclusions on my poor season. The spreadsheet is broken down into 5 categories, based on the information provided from FPL Statistico: actual points, captaincy, transfers, formations and squad stats, common players.

Actual Points: One goal at the start of a season wass to average 60 points per game week (PPGW). Last year I averaged 57.1 PPGW, just 2.89 off that average. When reviewing the season that was, it came down to making stronger captain selections and decreasing overall transfers. Averaging 60 PPGW will get you in the top 25k of most season. From that point it’s about the captains, transfers and differentials to make the difference. This season I averaged a paltry, 53.6 PPGW, down 3.5 points from last year. The struggle was real! But it doesn’t tell the entire story. The top 5 players in the world averaged 66.7 PPGW. Yet these numbers need to be broken down to yield failures and in their positions, the success they achieved.

Captaincy: Handing the captain’s armband to the incorrect player or taking a punt can be detrimental to your overall rank. On the season I earned 531 points by captains, a 13.97 average. Of the top 5 mangers, only one failed to achieve 700+ points (664) with their captain selections. Two managers recorded 755 points scored (29.45% of total score), while two others scored 713 points (27.86% of total score).  The underlying numbers show that Aguero, Lukaku and Sanchez were the favored captains with Ibrahimovic and Costa receiving an honorable mention. Looking at my squad, there were 4 weeks in which my captains totaled 14 points, with Coutinho being the biggest bust, 2 weeks captained and 4 total points. The one success I had was Bailly, captained for DGW34 with 24 points.

Transfers: I’ve already written an article on transfers, Premier League: Excessive Hits, in which I detail how all 72 transfers played out each week. The numbers were quite revealing, showing that while I might have been 20-30 points over the weekly average, my gain was far less that what I expected because of a -4, -8 or -12 point hit to my overall score with regards to players I transferred out. The top 5 managers averaged 3.89 point hit/week, with one manager only take a total point hit of 20 on the season! Impressive! Even more so the one manager who took just 39 hits over the season. With 152 hit points, I set myself up for failure, especially when you look at the raw numbers and see a total point gain of only 336 points. Two of the top five managers exceeded 400 points (407 & 429 points) on nearly half the total transfers that I took. Combined the top 5 managers totaled 144 hit points!

Formations: Is 3-4-3 better than a 3-5-2 when it comes to how you set your formation? Three of the top five managers heavily favored the 3-4-3 formation, while two others were split between 3-5-2 and 4-4-2, a tried an true classic at least on the pitch. The 3-4-3 formation was my favored. I did attempt to use the 3-5-2 six times after activating my WC in GW21. All managers averaged, regardless of formation averaged 63.42 points per week with a 4-4-2 formation yielding the highest average of 67.5 (12 times). There was a big discrepancy when it came to the Bench Boost (5-5-3), I scored just 139 points while the top 5 mangers average 183.6. The high score being 193 and the low 171.

Squad Stats: There really is no comparison in this category. While I had good players at times, overall position scores came in very low when comes to the top 5. I outscore just a single manager at the position of goalkeeper recording 159 points to his 138 points. Two managers exceeded 200 points (210 & 212) averaging over 5.5 PPG from this position. Defensively I struggled all season averaging 3.78 PPG (457 pts). All but one manager finished over a 4.0 average, while a single manager posted 625 points, 83 points clear of the next manager. This was a great year for midfielders with the top 5 recording nothing lower than 838 points and topping out at 909 points. Compare that to my squad with just 720 points. This with the majority of managers starting with a 3-4-3 formation. At forward I did beat one manager, scoring 583 points (5.89 avg) to his 546, still his PPG was higher 6.07 PPG versus 5.89. A score of 699 was the highest for all forwards (6.05 PPG).

Common Players: Looking through the top 5 teams I have compiled a list of 11 players based on game weeks played. No surprise that Sanchez tops the list with 126 appearances (25.2 avg) and 1672 points (13.26 avg),  while Lukaku is a distance second with 103 appearances (20.6 avg) and 1061 points (10.20 avg). Kane only had 44 appearances in these teams recording 669 points (15,20 avg). Sanchez and Lukaku were the only two players to feature in over 100 game weeks played by the top 5 managers. Aside from Sanchez’s dominance in the midfield, it was Hazard (73) and Eriksen (70) as the other top midfielders by appearance. Eriksen scored 503 points (7.18 avg) to that of Hazard’s 428 points (5.86) and Alli’s 416 points (7.42 avg). McAuley, one of three defenders to make this list had 93 appearances, Alonso, 78 appearances and Walker with 67 appearances. However Alonso finished with 420 points (5.86 avg) besting all other defenders.

Sanchez was the most captained player (10.8 avg) who scored the most bonus points (25.4 avg). However there is a large discrepancy when it comes to Sanchez on my squad, who was my top footballer with 132 points. I captained him 8 times but only received 6 bonus points, well off that bonus point average. Just going down the list of these players most I had were 1-2 points off the top 5 manager average. Also looking at the game weeks players none of my players exceed 19 weeks played, which was Costa, Eriksen was at 17 weeks players. Many of the top 5 managers had players exceeding 20 weeks played with one manager having two players who each played 31 game weeks for him. This tells me I need to either make better selections to start the season or be more patient with the premium players.

You can see the data on the spreadsheet. All the categories are taken from FPL Statistico. This all confirms what some pundits have been saying all year. Defensive players and captain’s armband can play a big role in the success of a season. Mistakes, such as excessive hits or gambling on a punt or two could prove futile.