Our final article to reference last season is an interview with the overall winner of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) for 2009/10, Jon Reeson. Having been kind enough in agreeing to talk over his fantastic season with Fantasy Football Scout, here’s what Jon had to say:
FFS: First of all, congratulations, Jon; you played a blinder for virtually the entire season, and the site takes great pride in the fact you are the first ever member of Fantasy Football Scout to win the FPL.
You were top of the tree for what seemed like an eternity in Fantasy Football terms; 11 weeks, as it turned out. Given how long you were number 1, did you continue to enjoy the pressure of being the one every manager was chasing or did the nerves start to kick in as the finishing line approached?
Jon: It was nerve-wracking; every decision I made seemed to be critical and I was determined to win after being up there for so long. But it was still fun and slightly unreal to see my name at the top.
FFS: Are there any Premier League players you wish to thank in particular for their contribution to your overall score? Who were the ones you placed your faith in the most?
Jon: Yes, thank you Frank Lampard! He was first choice captain and an ever present in the team. He seems to be worth whatever value the FPL give him and every season he delivers a massive points haul. Otherwise the usual suspects did well for me when I brought them in like Rooney, Drogba, Tevez, Milner, Malouda, etc.
FFS: Are there any tactics you stuck to throughout the season? How successful were your initial choices, in light of how the season went?
Jon: 1. Cheap keepers 2. Cheap defenders. 3. If in doubt, captain Frank.
Lampard, Drogba, Rooney, Sorensen all started GW1 and stayed there most of the season and did well, no surprises there really. I had James Beattie in my team in GW1 and would have expected him to do well this season, but you couldn’t predict that he would get head butted in the showers by his manager and spend the season on the bench!
In the early part of the season I would transfer in the form players quickly, maybe on the Monday, so when they rose in value that week your total team value increased. In the latter stages of the season, I would wait, so I could avoid bringing in a player who might not be fit, I was less worried about the cost of the player rising. Although all the chasing pack seemed to have a lot higher value teams than me, which did limit my choices in the last few weeks.
Otherwise I’d looked at the Opta stats for the promoted teams and was expecting Ebanks-Blake, Foley and Kightly to do well for Wolves but they were nowhere to be seen.
FFS: With regards to defences, your decision to stick by cheap defenders was much-talked about on the Fantasy Football Scout boards- were you ever tempted to bring in the big guns or was this a tactic you were determined to continue regardless? Also on defences, are you a fan of “doubling up” or were you spreading the risk most weeks?
Jon: I have always sworn by the idea of having the cheapest defenders possible and rotating them so you’d try and play them at home or against weaker teams to give them a chance. Craddock, Caldwell, Dann, etc all did well for me this year. That said, I did start off with Ashley Cole for a few weeks and finished with Bale and Baines. So you need to be flexible with your strategy. But I wouldn’t have 2 defenders on the same team, too risky for me.
I saw some funny banter on FFS about a team called ‘Anti-Lampard’; obviously with a name like that he went all season without Frank and although he ended up finishing in the Top 50 he apparently transferred in Frank in the last few weeks, desperate to climb the table. That shows more than anything you shouldn’t be afraid to admit you’re wrong and change your tactics…
FFS: You played your wildcard in Gameweek 13, and from the following week till the season end, you never left the top ten, which is an outstanding achievement. Was it always your intention to play it then or were there any particular factor(s) that persuaded you to play it at that point?
Jon: Nothing more than a combination of a double gameweek coming up and I think Frank Lampard was injured too. I think you’re better off making wholesale changes early on in the season, so you can bring in players who are going up in value and dump the ones going down in value.
FFS: What was your approach to the Double Gameweeks in general? Did you make a concerted effort to have at least “X” amount of players in your first eleven for these weeks or were you mildly indifferent towards them?
Jon: Before FFS existed this was a well kept secret! The novice or part time players didn’t stand a chance when a few more obsessed fantasy managers had multiple players and a captain playing twice, even “The Pundit” on FPL didn’t make a big deal of the double gameweeks. It was almost like a flaw in the system they didn’t want to make a big deal out of.
But to answer your questions, yes I would transfer in a player weeks in advance to prepare for him playing twice and be sure to have 2 or 3 from each team.
FFS: How successful were you with captaincy selections? Any particular favourites you turned to?
Jon: I was lucky this year for sure. Lampard got the armband mostly, followed closely by Rooney and I seemed to choose the right one at the right time. I captained Rooney when he got 32 points and I was lucky enough to have Lampard subbed in as captain “that week”.
FFS: You didn’t take more than a four point hit throughout the season. Have you always been conservative when it comes to points hits, or has it been a lesson learned over your years of playing FPL?
Jon: It just doesn’t seem to stack up to make more than 2 transfers. You’re asking a lot of your transferred in players to make up the 8 point deficit. So I try and plan in advance so I don’t need to take such a big hit.
FFS: You’re a Hammers fan- ever find yourself battling the urge just to throw Scotty Parker into midfield for a couple of weeks or do you always let your head rule over your heart when picking players? Any teams you avoid on a point of principal at all?
Jon: Head over heart every time, so on that basis West Ham players didn’t stand a chance this season which is a shame. Carlton Cole had a good spell, but he was never going to get in when Rooney, Drogba and Tevez were on form. If I needed a cheap striker, Zamora would get my vote when he’s fit; in fact, on reflection, I might have a slight preference for some ex-Hammers players.
I also admit to being slightly anti-Spurs. So when Bale started scoring against the “big four” and scoring massive points in the latter stages of the season, it hurt to bring him in and it went against my plans for the lowest price defenders as well.
Finally, I think if Steven Gerrard had a good season I wouldn’t have won, I went to the FA Cup Final and witnessed him single-handedly snatching the trophy from West Ham so he’s my last choice of top/expensive players.
FFS: Being at the top for so long has made you something of a legendary figure around here to the extent that you even have your own impersonator. It must have been a surreal experience on Fantasy Football Scout trying to persuade people you were who you said you were.
Jon: That was weird and it was seeing his posts that compelled me to register and leave the odd post myself. Until then I had only made fleeting visits to FFS. For the record, I post under “Westfield Irons”, whereas it is my impersonator who posts under “Jon Reeson”.
Fantasy Football Games
FFS: There are so many other fantasy football games out there; do you participate in others and if so, had any other successes?
Also, are you planning on entering our very own Fantasy Football Scout Cup next season? You do know you’ll be the one everyone wants to pits their wits against.
Jon: No other premier league games, only the UEFA Champions League one. I’ll be all over the McDonalds Word Cup game this summer and having a real go at that one.
Regarding the FFS Cup- why not, although I was knocked out of the FPL cup very early on…
FFS: Finally, we can’t leave without giving you a platform to announce your intentions for next season. What’s your message for all those managers out there looking to take your crown?
Jon: Good luck everyone, no doubt next season the winner will walk away with a massive cash prize and I’ll be outside the top 1000. The last 2 winners were Aussies, so us Englishmen need to keep hold of the top spot again. I’ll be giving it my best shot again, but with FFS around I suspect it will be even more difficult next year…
Can I just say thanks to the SEO Agency League sponsored by Guava for the signed Geoff Hurst picture I won in that league and also to the Football Media (SoccerLens) league for their prizes.