As we revealed in last night’s feature, our Hall of Fame has a new name at the top for the first time since the 2013/14 season, with Jay Egersdorff replacing long-time leader Ville Ronka.
While Ville drops to third in our Gameweek 20 live HoF update and has an overall rank outside the top 100,000 overall, Jay has enjoyed a stellar season with a current rank of 1,616.
This follows ten previous campaigns, in which Jay remarkably achieved a top 5,000 placing seven times.
A reminder that our Hall of Fame ranking system is applied to everyone who takes part in our Fantasy Premier League mini-leagues – both the free and members leagues.
Managers’ performances over the seasons are then traced to give a Hall of Fame rating, to offer a career version updated at the end of each season, which is free to view here, and a live version, which is available to Members via this link.
Following his achievement, we caught up with Jay to find out more about his Fantasy management strategies and to see if he could offer any advice for the rest of us giving chase.
Congratulations on reaching top place in the Hall of Fame. This season looks like business as usual for you but have you found it to be different?
Jay: If you compare this season to last, there’s actually been a lot more consistency and predictability in the teams and their players. Last season, in contrast, was a nightmare because of the Leicester-factor plus the majority of the big teams were under-performing.
There’s also been a change in the setup of our teams this season, which is driven by the lack of 4.0 defenders at the start and abundance of good value 4.5 defenders. That, combined with bargain-priced Watford midfielder Etienne Capoue (4.5) being on fire in the opening Gameweeks, has lead to a shift in team composition.
For example, my team has taken advantage of this value in certain roles by having five reliable defenders to choose from, all valued above the base price, but a fairly hopeless cheap attacker (Hull City’s Adama Diomande).
Another change I’ve made this season has been to make transfers early a few times.
Speaking of transfers, the FPL market has proved divisive this season, with some managers concerned that price changes have been too volatile. Tell us more about your transfer strategy this season?
Jay: The value of your team is certainly secondary to points, so I’d never make a transfer early just because it would increase team value if there was a foreseeable risk it could affect my points total. For example, if the new player had a midweek game or was an injury doubt, I’d be wary of pressing the button.
That said, there have been examples this season where I’ve moved early, particularly around Christmas, where the fixtures are closer together making it more likely that the player will be rested between games.
My Gameweek 18 transfer of removing the suspended Diego Costa and bringing in Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a good example of making a move for points, as well as to tap into their massive price swings.
If you pick the right players and they’re scoring well, then the value will look after itself.
What are your other tried and tested strategies that you are once again deploying effectively this season?
Jay: The way I look at FPL is that it’s a prediction game, where you accumulate more points by giving your team the highest chance of getting a positive result.
So what you’re looking for is each Gameweek to enhance the probability of a high score.
I also factor in the fact that there are 38 Gameweeks and each week you get to pick 11 players to make up your score. So, over a season, you get to make 418 player selections (and within that 38 captain choices).
Therefore, you need to squeeze as many points out of every Gameweek, because, as each week passes, you have fewer opportunities to build up your score before time runs out.
I’m starting to sound like I use some mathematical approach but I really don’t – this is just logic.
So, while the overall goal is to maximise my score for every single Gameweek, there are some other basic rules I tend to follow:
– making transfers as close to the deadline as possible so I get the latest team news
– having players with a proven track record in the Premier League
– having players who are key to their team.
– having players who offer a variety of ways of scoring points – penalty takers, set piece takers, bonus point magnets and out of position players.
– only having players that play every week and aren’t obvious rotation risks
You have used a 3-5-2 formation for some time. Why adopt this tactic and in what way do you think it has contributed to your success?
Jay: It all goes back to my strategy of maximising each Gameweek score.
Midfielders can score points in multiple ways, while defenders can have points deducted for conceding goals. So, on that basis, it makes sense to have the maximum amount of midfielders and a minimum number of defenders.
Another reason for deploying a five-man midfield is that attacking teams such as Arsenal and Liverpool have been using midfielders – Alexis Sanchez and Roberto Firmino – as out of position strikers.
This means you are essentially playing 3-3-4 with two of your forwards scoring extra as they were listed in the game as midfielders.
So then – form or fixtures?
Jay: Both, although I’m a huge fan of fixtures.
Having a good appreciation of the schedule can help you identify where a team and their key players could enter a run of form.
The form is only of use to Fantasy managers if the fixtures allow us to predict whether a team and player in question will continue a run. It’s not much help if you transfer in a ‘form player’ who is about to come to the end of their spell.
Dele Alli, for example, has three double-digit FPL points hauls in a row. But what is the probability of him continuing that trend if you bring him in now?
I’d say it’s more unlikely than likely because, based on his fixtures, he’s facing a tough defence in West Brom, a team that don’t often concede too many goals.
Spurs then take on Manchester City at the Etihad, a title rival, who are coming into form after beating Burnley at home, West Ham in the Cup and have their star striker, Sergio Aguero, back in the side.
While in the long term Alli has Sunderland and Middlesbrough coming up, the question remains: could there be a better option for my team to maximise each Gameweek score?
You have taken two hits all season? Is this normal for you at this stage of a campaign? Why are you so adverse to taking hits?
Jay: It’s that word again – probability.
You need to look after those points; they’re precious, and you only get 38 Gameweeks to acquire them. Why would you throw them away without a logical reason?
The way I view them is that each -4 transfer is actually -4 plus the score of the player you currently own who would have otherwise played.
Assuming this is an outfield player, this could be the player currently in your starting XI or any of your subs.
So there are four players there you could select from before you have to consider taking a hit. Assuming there’s a player among those four choices who is available to play, it’s pretty reasonable to forecast he’d get two points, so your -4 is actually a -6.
Your new player needs to score six points just to equal the score you’d have got anyway.
That’s not factoring in your current player scoring more than two points.
Immediately you’ve put the probability against you. Yes, this could pay off handsomely, but it could also fail, so as a strategy, taking frequent hits is too unreliable in my opinion.
There are times when a hit is a risk worth taking because you think the probability of a good points return is high and/or it will enhance your team for current and future Gameweeks.
A recent example from me was ahead of Gameweek 19 where I had two free transfers and Sunderland keeper Jordan Pickford and Arsenal’s Walcott both injured.
I really wanted Liverpool’s Adam Lallana because of his form, Liverpool’s attacking play and his key role in earning assists and goals. But this left me with very limited options to replace Pickford, with his deputy Vito Mannone probably my best choice.
My solution was to spend a hit by making three transfers: Liverpool’s Nathaniel Clyne to Everton’s Leighton Baines, which freed up money to afford to upgrade Pickford to West Brom keeper Ben Foster as well as exchange Walcott for Lallana.
My rationale was that Baines had form on his side, is a key man for his team, is on penalties and has strong fixtures. Foster, meanwhile, also enjoys healthy ties over January.
With an assist and a goal since drafting him in, Baines alone has brought profit to the move. Plus I have a great keeper option for this month, and an attack minded midfielder from Liverpool in my side.
Your Gameweek 6 wildcard proved effective, taking you from 44,965 to 12,177. What were its successes and what advice would you give those looking to use their second wildcard?
Jay: This was when I made the switch to 3-5-2 and acquired both Firmino and Sanchez to effectively deploy a 3-3-4 formation.
Diomande also came in as my base price player (unusually an attacker rather than a defender), which meant I was able to bring in players like Jose Holebas of Watford into the squad. He proved to be a great source of points for a few Gameweeks and has increased in price.
The rules around wildcards have changed over the last few seasons; I’ve always been a fan of holding one until the last six to eight Gameweeks, and I think this is even more key now with the Triple Captain and Bench Boost chips proving effective in double Gameweeks.
I think the majority of managers – myself included – didn’t quite utilise the chips to their maximum potential last season, which is understandable given that they were new in the game. Rotation also played havoc with some teams with double fixtures, Liverpool in particular.
My advice is to stick with the wildcard and chips if you can, until the dust settles on the fixture list once the FA Cup and EFL Cup ties are played out.
Having said that, if your team is struggling, you could, of course, use the wildcard sooner then reinvest some of the points you accumulate now as ‘hits’ later in the season (such as following my Baines and Foster technique above).
What have been your most notable player successes and your biggest flops?
Jay: I’ve made some good calls based on my form and fixtures strategy.
For example, when Aguero was banned in Gameweek 4, I brought in Romelu Lukaku, who had under-performed to date but went on to get 17, 12, 2, 8, 8, 5, 12 over the next seven Gameweeks. The Everton striker went up heavily in value during that time too.
I’ve also sold players at the right time; they’d scored well, but I felt they would go off-form.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic in Gameweek 6 is one example. Also Firmino in Gameweek 16 and, more recently in Gameweek 18, when Costa got banned, I recruited Ibrahimovic as captain at home to Sunderland and earned 15 points.
What advice would you give managers who are struggling to rise up the overall rankings?
Jay: Make sure you only pick players who are nailed on to play every week and also apply a form and fixtures strategy, like the one above.
Also look for the teams who are about to hit form and ask yourself a series of key questions.
Such as, who are the key players in a team who will help achieve a run of form? And what factors could help that team go on that run?
A new manager, a return from injury of a key player, a pressing need to win matches due to a title challenge or relegation threat – these are all important factors to consider.
A lack of cup commitments is another, as this means players will, in theory, remain fresher and more focused on the league.
I’d also advise spending time on research.
I enjoy reading Fantasy Football Scout articles like the Scout Picks especially and look at the site’s fixture ticker each day to plan my moves. Having a good appreciation of the fixtures really helps you make reliable selections and decisions.
Any excuse to have a look at the Fantasy Football Scout fixture ticker is a good one, whether sat on the train, in the bath, waiting for a bus, whatever.
Read a newspaper and look at the match reports and lineups. Have fun talking to other managers and using the great features on the site, but at the end of the day, make the big decisions for yourself.
There’s so much data available for everybody – the information is there, you just need to look at it and analyse it, with the fixture list and league table the best place to start.
You don’t need to spend hours and hours managing your team if you’re reading the right stuff.
I’d also add that the data you gather with your own eyes is really crucial; watch the matches and see who you think is playing well.
For example, Harry Kane recently blanked in two “easy” home games. Spurs won both and scored give goals, but I then saw managers across Twitter and elsewhere going crazy, saying “Kane is hopeless, I’m selling him!”.
But watch the goals back, and there are at least two when Kane is there in the box, inches off getting a tap in. Nobody mentioned that.
Just because a good player has blanked doesn’t mean they’ve declined overnight. Kane proved this with three goals and an assist in the next two matches.
Finally, what advice would you give Ville Ronka?
Jay: An FPL great like Ville doesn’t need any advice. My advice to the other 4 million+ players is watch out for him flying up the rankings soon – he’s coming to get you!
If you would like to know more about the Hall of Fame you can view this movie to listen to Mark and Rate My Team’s Chris Atkinson talk you through it.