The latest break from Premier League action has given us an opportunity to analyse the strategies being deployed by the top ten in our Live Hall of Fame.
This ranking system is applied to everyone who takes part in our Fantasy Premier League mini-leagues – both the free and members league. Managers’ performances over the seasons are then tracked to give a Hall of Fame (HoF) rating.
The live version has been updated to take into account Gameweek 11’s results and can be viewed by Members via this link.
If you would like to know more about the Hall of Fame, we have included a quick guide in this article. Alternatively, you can view this movie to listen to Mark and Rate My Team’s Chris Atkinson talk you through it.
The career version, which shows the standings at the end of last season, is free to view here or via the HoF tab on the home page.
Last season, Jay Egersdorff entered Fantasy Football Scout folklore as the first manager to unseat long-term Hall of Fame leader Ville Ronka, who had been top since the 2013/14 campaign.
Jay eventually finished 2016/17 in a still highly respectable third place and has once again mounted a challenge for an end of season top spot after a sensational start to the current campaign.
A masterclass in Wildcard deployment in Gameweek 6 saw him leap from 226,372 to 733 in the overall rankings by Gameweek 11 to top our Live Hall of Fame update, with green arrows in each of the last six Gameweeks.
Key to this chip’s success was a shift of resources from forward to midfield and defence, as well as a focus on the Manchester City attack, which had just humbled Watford 6-0 away.
Up front, Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku and Liverpool’s ‘false 9’ Roberto Firmino were jettisoned and replaced with Everton’s budget forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Sky Blues talisman Sergio Aguero, who Jay captained in Gameweek 6 to earn him 22 points.
In midfield, his 4.5m double pivot of Crystal Palace’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Swansea City’s Tom Carroll was upgraded to the stronger Pascal Gross of Brighton and Newcastle’s set-piece specialist Matt Ritchie. David Silva was also drafted in to replace his pricier team-mate Kevin De Bruyne.
Jays’ rearguard changes saw non-playing Magpies defender Chancel Mbemba moved on, with Arsenal’s rampaging defender Sead Kolasinac and Burnley’s productive centre-back Ben Mee among those brought into his beefed-up backline.
This well-timed Wildcard has given Jay the luxury of focusing transfers on shuffling heavy-hitters based on fixtures and form, with Mohamed Salah of Liverpool, Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata and Man City’s Raheem Sterling among those drafted in.
In addition, Romelu Lukaku and Spurs striker Harry Kane have been both transferred in and out over that period. According to the FPL Statistico tool, it is these two players who have successfully dominated his captaincy selections, with the England forward handed the armband six times to deliver an average of 12.3 points, and the Belgian used three times, giving Jay an average of 16.7 points.
The Wildcard changes have also given him the flexibility to switch between his favoured 3-4-3 formation, which he has used eight times, to a 3-5-2 set-up successfully used in the last two set of fixtures. A rise from 8,010 to the top 1,000 between Gameweeks 9 and 11 shows how lucrative this focus on midfield has been.
Jay has proved a cautious manager, taking just two hits, and is patient too. When many of his fellow elite managers were Wildcarding in Gameweek 4 he made no changes at all, even sticking by City’s Kevin De Bruyne, who rewarded him by delivering his first attacking returns of the campaign.
With three top 1,000 finishes and a further four within the top 10,000, Jay certainly has the pedigree to cling onto the summit. He also has all his remaining chips in place, which judging by his Wildcard success, he is more than capable of exploiting to the full.
Career Hall of Fame number one Peter Kouwenberg (aka My Pretty Pony), who has finished in the top 500 for the last three seasons, slips to second after a testing campaign so far, which has seen him flounder in 573,475th spot by the end of Gameweek 11.
A ill-fated Gameweek 4 Wildcard has contributed significantly to his decline and saw him reach a season low of 1,573,948 in Gameweek 5. Out went Christian Eriksen, who scored the first of his three goals as soon as he left Peter’s team, to be replaced by Dele Alli, who failed to find the net until Gameweek 9 – the very week he was then sold.
Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette, Burnley’s Robbie Brady, Roberto Firmino, Everton defender Mason Holgate and Watford’s Nathaniel Chalobah are among other Wildcard flops.
Peter has been forced to play catch-up ever since Gameweek 4, using five hits with mixed success over a post-Wildcard run that has seen him earn as many green arrows as red.
This is especially disappointing as Peter started the season strongly with a Gameweek 1 rank of 283,827, thanks to double-digit returns from Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Salah and Lukaku.
A move from his favoured 3-4-3 formation, which he has used eight times, to 3-5-2 could spark a revival. The only time he used this midfield-focused line up, in Gameweek 7, he jumped more than 400,000 places in the rankings.
He may also look to rely more on Lukaku rather than Harry Kane as a captain. The Belgian has delivered Peter an average of 15 points when handed the armband, while the Spurs forward has blanked in each of the four times he has been entrusted with the captaincy.
Graeme Sumner (aka Gregor) slips from second to third and is currently languishing in 842,641st place in the overall rankings – a far cry from last season’s finish of 29th across a nine-year career that has included two other top 1,000 placings.
A poor start, which saw him slip to 2,102,787 in the overall rankings by Gameweek 3, is a factor, as is his Gameweek 4 Wildcard, which proved disappointing.
During this overhaul, Kane scored a brace away at Everton but was ditched by Graeme in favour of Alexandre Lacazette, who mustered just one goal. Meanwhile, Paul Pogba, who picked up a long-term injury was retained on his Wildcard.
Graeme’s decision to opt for a 4.5m midfield double pivot of Loftus Cheek and Carroll also backfired, as it forced him to rely on a defence of Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso, Swansea’s Kyle Naughton, Southampton’s Cedric Soares and Bournemouth’s Charlie Daniels that, in the main, failed to deliver.
Despite this, Graeme has shown signs of turning it around through three hits that have ensured he has received green arrows in six out of the last seven Gameweeks.
A gradual focus on the Manchester City attack has helped, with Sergio Aguero brought in, for a hit, and captained in Gameweek 6. Sterling and Jesus followed in Gameweek 8 and handed Graeme 28 points between them that week.
If he is to continue his upward trajectory, Graeme might be wise to ditch one of Loftus-Cheek or Carroll and invest more in midfield to give him the option of a 3-5-2 formation; a tactic Jay has deployed so successfully. So far this season, Graeme has fielded 3-4-3 six times and a four-man backline in the remaining five.
Graeme also needs to improve his captaincy selection. He has received just 120 armband points this season from six different captains, while Jay has earned 34 more from just four candidates.
A rank of 143,421 at the Gameweek 11 mark is enough to see Lester Cheng climb from sixth to fourth in the Career Hall of Fame.
He potentially has the edge over most of the Live Hall of Fame top ten as he is one of only two yet to play his Wildcard.
A strong start has helped him this season, with a Gameweek 1 score of 83 giving him an overall rank of 183,966. Since then, he slipped below the one million rank mark just once, in Gameweek 3, and reached a season high of 91,564 in Gameweek 10.
With just three hits taken, he is among this elite group’s most patient managers and has also relied heavily on a traditional 3-4-3 formation, which he has used nine times, averaging 59.9 points.
A key failure has been around the captaincy, particularly faith in Kane, who failed to deliver on all four occasions he was handed the armband.
Lester’s track record of a top 100 and two further top 1,000 finishes in his ten-year career suggest he will soon return to the top 100,000 and look to push even further up the rankings.
Our very own Mark’s Gameweek 4 Wildcard woes have been well documented on the Scoutcast. As with Peter and Graeme, the timing was far from perfect, though it was perhaps the faith in a stuttering Roberto Firmino that also helped trigger a slip to a season-low of 1,594,597.
His overhauled side featured no Manchester City players, and he also missed out on Kane’s brace at Everton after attempting a short-term gamble on Lacazette.
The other oversight was opting for the 4.5m Loftus-Cheek and Carroll in midfield, coupled with a cheap defence, which included another short-term gamble on Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold that, like Lacazette, immediately backfired. The full-back delivered just two points from his home outing with Burnley that followed, then lost his starting role to Joe Gomez.
Since then Mark, who has four top 500 season finishes, has looked to spread his funds more evenly and reduce an over-reliance on budget players. It’s a strategy that has proved successful, and he remains in fifth place in the Hall of Fame after moving to a season-high of 278,984 in Gameweek 11.
Tapping into Manchester City’s talent pool has proved key to an upturn in form, with Nicholas Otamendi and Sterling snapped up.
Tammy Abraham in for Firmino in Gameweek 8 proved canny, as was Eden Hazard’s recruitment in Gameweek 9.
Mark, who has taken three hits so far, has also abandoned the unsuccessful 4.5 midfield double pivot by replacing Carroll with Watford winger Richarlison.
A largely successful captaincy strategy has also helped, with Kane captained the most and averaging a return of 12.3 FPL points. Lukaku, with a 16.7 average has been his most successful skipper.
In terms of formation, he has deployed 3-4-3 five times and 4-3-3 on four occasions. Mark may consider using the former far more frequently after delivering an average of 61.8 points, compared to a mere 46.8 for the latter.
Grant Barclay was 16th in the Career Hall of Fame and moves up to sixth after finishing Gameweek 11 with a rank of 36,687. A pedigree of finishing within the top 10,000 in all but one of his previous seven seasons, as well as having all his chips intact, suggests he may rise even higher over the coming months.
Grant has been able to capitalise on a strong opening Gameweek score of 84 by cementing a top 50,000 berth since Gameweek 8.
Key to his success has been banking transfers and using them to refresh his side every two to three weeks, with hits on two occasions.
His Gameweek 10 overhaul, which involved bringing in Liverpool trio Firmino, Salah and Gomez for Lukaku, Spurs’ rotation risk defender Ben Davies and Newcastle’s Christian Atsu was particularly effective. These new Reds recruits have delivered Grant a total of three goals, an assist and a clean sheet over the last two Gameweeks.
This use of ‘mini-Wildcards’ to chase form and fixtures has been vital as he has had Carroll, Loftus Cheek and Burnley’s non-playing defender Kevin Long all season.
With Christmas fixture congestion approaching and having City rotation risks Sterling and Jesus in his squad, it seems likely that Grant will use his Wildcard soon, perhaps even ahead of Gameweek 12. Such a move could also give him a playing fifth defender, which would help further improve his favoured 4-3-3 formation.
Lukaku may also return to his side ahead of home matches against Newcastle and Brighton, given that the Belgian has been Grant’s most successful captain, averaging 15 pts when handed the armband.
Glynn Sherwood (aka Spectrum) is another new entry into the top ten since last season. He rises from 20th to seventh with a strong Gameweek 11 rank of 28,171.
As with Jay, a successful Wildcard has helped, as he soared from a season low of 1,076,190 in Gameweek 5 to 680,763 when he activated in Gameweek 6.
The timing was crucial as it allowed him to draft in-form City assets ahead a flurry of points and, in particular, their Stoke City haul. But it offered immediate rewards via the captaincy of Aguero, who earned 22 points against Crystal Palace.
It also meant he was able to plan more effectively, with Glynn taking two hits prior to his Wildcard and none since.
In addition, it also gave himself the flexibility of fielding a strong back four, by bringing in Kolasinac and Otamendi to sit alongside Phil Jones and Davies.
While 3-4-3 has been the line-up he has used most frequently, Glynn has had most success with 4-3-3, which has earned him an average of 65.6 on the three occasions it was used.
One change on the horizon for Glynn, who has six top 10,000 finishes in his 12-year career, may be his captain selection.
Top choice Kane has only delivered an average of 8.4 points across the five times he has been handed the armband, while Lukaku has earned him almost double that across the four occasions the Belgian was entrusted with the captaincy.
The return of Ville Ronka to the Live Hall of Fame top ten seems inevitable, given last year’s finish of 21,905 was the only time he had finished outside of the top 5,000 in his ten-year career.
He moves from 13th to eighth after moving to 125,169 in the overall rankings in Gameweek 11.
Those familiar with Ville’s strategy will know he is averse to hits. True to form, he has taken none this season.
However, his traditional patience has been lacking this campaign. Instead of saving transfers as Grant has done, Ville has instead used one a week, outside of a Gameweek 5 Wildcard, to chase form.
Sometimes this has been to his detriment, as in Gameweek 9 when he brought in Sterling, who failed to play after a 15-point haul the week before, for Salah, who scored against Spurs. The Egyptian was immediately brought back in for the City winger the following week.
Ville has also been a long-term fan of 3-4-3 and is its strongest backer among the top ten, deploying it ten times, with 4-4-2 used just once. He has also stuck rigidly to captaining either Kane or Lukaku, with Salah the only other to be handed the armband, on one occasion.
Matthew Jones (aka Numb) drops from fourth to ninth after a slow start. The bulk of his budget had been focused on a top-heavy line-up of Jesus, Kane and Lukaku, a trio of Crystal Palace assets and a midfield featuring just one heavy hitter, De Bruyne, who failed to spark early on.
A Gameweek 4 Wildcard was deployed to fix these problems, but saw his rank drop further to a season-low of 2,993,511 by Gameweek 5, with new recruit Firmino again the villain, while Paul Pogba also succumbed to injury.
Another key issue has been missing Manchester City’s rapid rise in form, with only David Silva joining in Gameweek 6 and Sterling eventually being bought in Gameweek 9 – the week after his 15-point haul. Patience with Firmino has also been an issue, the Brazilian remains in his side despite delivering a solitary goal since he Wildcarded.
Although he has earned green arrows in each of his last six Gameweeks, progress has been slow. He moved into the top two million in Gameweek 7 and finally breached the one million mark in Gameweek 11 with an overall rank of 963,868, the lowest of any of the top ten.
A more flexible approach to formation may be required if he is to avoid staining an impressive FPL career that has seen him finish in the top 500 on three occasions.
Matthew’s favoured 3-4-3 formation has only earned him 49 points on average across the nine occasions it has been deployed, while he notched 80 and 56 points respectively on the single occasions he used 4-3-3 and 3-5-2.
He may also be minded to swerve captaining Kane, who has only earned him an average of 8.4 points on the five occasions he has been handed the armband. Lukaku’s strong fixtures from Gameweek 12 may fall in Matthew’s favour, with the Belgian earning him an average of 14.4 points when made captain.
Another to join this elite group is Bruce Savage, who moves from 17th at the end of last season to tenth, with an overall rank of 115,710 at the Gameweek 11 mark.
This comes in spite of a less than successful Gameweek 8 Wildcard that has earned him just one green arrow.
Among his most successful moves was an early swoop for City assets, with David Silva and Jesus joining in Gameweek 6. This also proved fortunate as the Brazilian was captained that week, but after failing to take to the pitch, the armband transferred to vice-captain Kane, who conveniently scored a brace away to West Ham.
However, his captaincy choices have largely let him down, delivering just 100 points, with Kane and Lukaku the most popular armband recipients, Jesus picked twice and Salah once.
He may also be minded to opt for a three-man defence more often. His favoured 4-3-3 formation has only netted him 47.6 points on average on the five times it was used, while 3-4-3 has brought him an average of 65.6 points on the four occasions it was deployed.
With three top 500 finishes, including ending the 2009/10 season in 54th spot, Bruce certainly has the track record to ensure he stays within the top bracket.
Wildcard timing is crucial
The quartet of Hall of Fame top ten managers that used their Wildcard early on in Gameweek 4 are also the four lowest-ranked managers. This early deployment coincided with a downturn in form for Liverpool’s Firmino and the dramatic upturn in fortunes for Manchester City attackers – a trend which reached it’s peak in Gameweek 8 with their 7-2 victory over Stoke. By using the Wildcard, early, these four managers were unable to adapt their squad to catch City’s early explosive form.
React swiftly to emerging trends
In contrast, the two managers that Wildcarded in Gameweek 6 are also the two highest-ranked in our list. A key factor was that this arrived a week after Manchester City thrashed Watford at Vicarage Road, signalling the time to load up on Sky Blues assets. It perhaps highlights that reacting quickly to compelling form trends can pay off handsomely.
Saving a transfer enables FPL managers to deploy ‘mini-Wildcards’, using a single hit to change three players at a time and ensure a team contains those with the best form and fixtures. Bruce has the third-highest 2017/18 rank among this list thanks to successfully using this technique. Mark also advocates the tactic and used it effectively in Gameweek 8 – he enjoyed a rank hike of 700,000 places a week after his three transfers.
Focus chips on double Gameweeks
None of the top ten have used their Bench Boost, Free Hit or Triple Captain chips, suggesting they will be saving these to navigate the second half of the season blank and double Gameweeks. This has proved a successful plan in previous seasons, and 2017/18 looks like being no exception.