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Will The New Season Be Successful

Now that the season has begun and we see the results of our final tweaked draft, looking back fondly on the time when we could tinker endlessly, we wonder if this year really could be our year. But what is success in FPL?

In this article I review the past two seasons to answer that question. I will use the data I’ve gathered from my analysis of the Top Five in this site’s Career Hall of Fame, and also historical data from sites such as FPL analytics and FPL archives.

The most obvious answer, if winning proves to be beyond us, is a good rank. At least a rank in the top 10,000.

However, as Smarty Pants observed in his look back on the 2013/14 season:

“As the number of teams rises and more and more fantasy managers use specialised fantasy football websites … [the points] gaps between teams decrease.” 

Thus it gets harder and harder to achieve a high rank. Looking at the point gaps to first place over the past two seasons, we can see this trend has clearly continued. Ranks become ever more densely packed as the points gaps between them diminish:

In terms of the points gap to first place, there are only 41 points separating someone with a rank of 100k last season and someone with a rank of 10,000 the year before – 258 points from first to 10,000 in 2016/17 vs 299 points from first to 100k in 2017/18.

Comparing ranks across different seasons is not really comparing apples with apples.

Interestingly, when calculating HoF ratings, Chris Atkinson (RMT professor) doesn’t use rank at all. Instead he uses each manager’s points total to calculate a percentage of the ‘maximum score’, which he defines as:

“An 80% mix of the average of the top 5 scores that year and a 20% mix of the average score that year.“

This accounts for any luck or randomness in the winning points total.

HOF Top Five – Comparing the Past Two Seasons

Averages16/17 Season17/18 Season
Total Points2,3242,261
Points Gap to First240251
Points Gap as a %9.4%9.9%
FPL Rank13,84386,565

For a large part of last season, the Top Five for 2017/18 had scored more points but had a worse rank than their counterparts from the 2016/17 season.

In Gameweek 36 the average total points for last season was 52 points up on the season before. Yet the average rank was nearly four times worse – 18,235 vs 71,863.

Only a poor Double Gameweek 37 last season compared to an excellent Double Gameweek 37 in 2016/17 changed things around

(white circle = double gameweek, black circle = blank gameweek)

Last season was much more competitive and therefore, despite scoring well, our Top Five managers weren’t able to achieve the same high ranks. That the percentage gap to first place only differed by half a per cent – 9.4% (2016/17) v 9.9% (2017/18) – illustrates the point further.

As can seen from the chart below, even the FPL dream team for last season would have ranked outside the top 100k. There was a time when beating the FPL dream team would have guaranteed a top 10,000 or even top 1,000 rank. To quote Smarty Pants again:

“These days, you don’t only have to figure out who the best players of the season will be and ‘ride their points’, you need to pick them during their good spells and drop them during their bad spells for the better performing ones.

Where Did All the Fun Go?

16/17 Season17/18 Season
Transfers Made5046
Immediate Transfer Points Minus Hits & Free Hit chip24873

There was a marked difference in Immediate Transfer Points between the two seasons – 73 points vs 248 points.

Immediate Transfer Points are a sign of our ability to predict which players are going to score well in the upcoming gameweek, and perhaps they are also a reflection of how much fun the game is.

Whilst achieving a good rank is important, that buzz we get from nailing a good transfer – successfully predicting when a player is about to haul – can really enhance a gameweek. Endorphins are released in our brains, and kudos is gained from fellow fantasy managers. Making successful transfers is part of the enjoyment of playing FPL.

Aside from the Free Hit chip played in Blank Gameweek 35, last season’s Elite Quintet were starved of immediate transfer success. It was a pattern repeated for many outside the Top Five – it was simply a season in which it was difficult to predict outcomes; an easy home fixture for Harry Kane often resulted in a blank; Sanchez and Hazard had poor seasons by their high standards.

This is in contrast to the 2016/17 season in which we had Romelu Lukaku scoring four goals at home to Bournemouth in Gameweek 24; Sanchez and Kane scoring 27 and 31 points respectively in Double Gameweek 37; or perhaps you were shrewd enough to buy Josh King ahead of his hat-trick at home to West Ham in Blank Gameweek 28.

Mark wrote in his preamble article to Gameweek 36 last season that, “it feels like I’ve been treading water.”

I wonder if that feeling was in part a consequence of a lack of immediate transfer success, and the season becoming a little less fun as a result.

Will This Season Be More Fun?

Comparing the top 10 highest scoring players from each of the past two seasons reveals what we might expect – that on average players scored less last season than in 2016/17 – 207 vs 213 points.

Take out Salah from last season and Sanchez from the year before, and the difference is even more pronounced – 197 vs 208 points.

Top 10 Players – 16/17Top 10 Players – 17/18
SanchezMID264SalahMID303
AlliMID225SterlingMID229
HazardMID224KaneFWD217
KaneFWD224De BruyneMID209
LukakuFWD221EriksenMID199
EriksenMID218MahrezMID195
De BruyneMID199VardyFWD183
CostaFWD196FirminoFWD181
SigurdssonMID181SanéMID179
FirminoMID180SonMID178

However when we look at defenders and goalkeepers the reverse is true – last season the top 10 defenders and goalkeepers averaged 157 points compared to 150 points the year before.

Top 10 GK & DEF – 16/17Top 10 GK & DEF – 17/18
CahillDEF178AzpilicuetaDEF175
AlonsoDEF177De GeaGK172
AzpilicuetaDEF170AlonsoDEF165
HeatonGK149EdersonGK158
LlorisGK143FabianskiGK157
WalkerDEF142OtamendiDEF156
CourtoisGK141PopeGK152
de GeaGK136ValenciaDEF146
BainesDEF135RyanGK146
DanielsDEF134PickfordGK145

This seems to make sense – if attacking players are scoring less points on average then it follows that defenders and goalkeepers are probably going to score more points.

As Jay is fond of saying “focus on your most expensive players and make your budget work for you”. The problem last season is that the expensive players underperformed while the cheaper players (defenders and goalkeepers) overperformed. This caused ranks to become more condensed and less spread out.

It’s no wonder that managers who favoured mid to premium priced defenders did so well, as I discovered when I analysed the top three FPL teams last season in the second part of my season review. The way last season panned out meant that the advice given by RedArrows in August 2017 in his article on the value of premium defenders became even more prophetic.

Will the same happen this year? Will the game become less fun as expensive players continue to disappoint? Will premium defenders rule again?

The answer is we don’t know. One thing we do know is that Fantasy Football continues to increase in popularity, and the number of managers playing the game is bound to go up again this year.

Below are the FPL Dream Teams from the past two seasons. Both teams are unaffordable – based on each players starting price for the season, they come in about £7m to £8m over budget (assuming the cheapest bench possible). Fail to beat this year’s FPL Dream Team and you are almost certain to finish outside the top 100k.

Perhaps rank should no longer be our default for measuring success?

Dream Team – 2016/17Dream Team – 2017/18
HeatonGK149De GeaGK172
CahillDEF178AzpilicuetaDEF175
AlonsoDEF177AlonsoDEF165
AzpilicuetaDEF170OtamendiDEF156
SanchezMID264SalahMID303
AlliMID225SterlingMID229
HazardMID224De BruyneMID209
EriksenMID218EriksenMID199
De BruyneMID199MahrezMID195
KaneFWD224KaneFWD217
LukakuFWD221VardyFWD183
Total Points2,249Total Points2,203

 

TopMarx - H2H L4 D5 Fan of Fantasy Football and Monty Python. "Archimedes out to Socrates, Socrates back to Archimedes, Archimedes out to Heraclitus, he beats Hegel. Heraclitus a little flick, here he comes on the far post, Socrates is there, Socrates heads it in! Socrates has scored! The Greeks are going mad, the Greeks are going mad! Socrates scores, got a beautiful cross from Archimedes. The Germans are disputing it. Hegel is arguing that the reality is merely an a priori adjunct of non-naturalistic ethics, Kant via the categorical imperative is holding that ontologically it exists only in the imagination, and Marx is claiming it was offside.”

49 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Earn your Spurs
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    1 year, 2 months ago

    Hi - is this years LMS already possible to join? Where would I find the league code please if live?

    1. badgerboy
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      1 year, 2 months ago

      It's live. Code is 988-578

  2. Tommy Tynans Left Shin Pad
    • 8 Years
    1 year, 2 months ago

    Quite a bit of detail in there, well put together and a good read

    1. TopMarx - H2H L4 D5
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 year, 2 months ago

      Thank you

  3. El Topo
    • 4 Years
    1 year, 2 months ago

    “Perhaps rank should no longer be our default for measuring success?”

    It must be the only measure of success in a game where the ultimate goal is to get more points than as many people as possible, right?

    Agree with the fun factor, though.

    Cheers!

    1. Tommy Tynans Left Shin Pad
      • 8 Years
      1 year, 2 months ago

      I guess overall rank isn't the definitive measure, tho. I take notice of my rank, but I am mostly concerned about rivals and mini leagues. Especially the money ones! It is fun, but I love football, so I love this game! Simples!

      1. El Topo
        • 4 Years
        1 year, 2 months ago

        Agree to a certain degree. But a high OR should take care of most of the opposition in your mini leagues. Can’t have one without the other. Most of us will be more than happy with a top 10K OR after gw 38 and let’s be realistic; top 100 OR is almost impossible. But it should be our goal if we take this game seriously. The day I stop having fun and making my own decisions is the day I quit playing.

      2. Here Comes The Son ★
        • 2 Years
        1 year, 2 months ago

        Usually my mini league consists of around 15 people and most give up after 2 or 3 weeks. This is why I tend to focus on OR more because the ML isn't competitive and gets boring.

        This year an Allstar's bar in my town set up a league and there's around 300 people. (£100 bar tab for the winner) - This makes things so much more interesting and will be my main focus this year.

        1. El Topo
          • 4 Years
          1 year, 2 months ago

          But once again; a high OR should give you a good chance of winning mini leagues, cash leagues and even bar tabs.

          Of course we should try and have fun along the way. My way of having fun is to make my own decisions. Can’t for the life of me understand the joy of letting other people pick your team.

    2. TopMarx - H2H L4 D5
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 year, 2 months ago

      I'm really talking about using rank to compare different seasons, a top 10,000 rank last season is much harder to achieve than 10 years ago for instance.

      That's all I'm really saying. I think to compare seasons, it is more useful to look at points differences from either the winning total or a 'maximum', as the HoF does. Even though the HoF uses this method we still talk in terms of ranks, which is slightly misleading I feel.

      1. El Topo
        • 4 Years
        1 year, 2 months ago

        Had a feeling I didn’t really connected the dots on this one 😆

        Always enjoy your high quality material, though. Cheers!

        1. TopMarx - H2H L4 D5
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 6 Years
          1 year, 2 months ago

          Thank you 🙂

      2. KINGVIZO
        • 1 Year
        1 year, 2 months ago

        Completely agree with this, is this within the algorithms to work out overall position?

        1. TopMarx - H2H L4 D5
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 6 Years
          1 year, 2 months ago

          If you mean overall position in the HoF, yes.

          The HoF is also weighted to favour recent seasons.

          1. Hotdogs for Tea
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 4 Years
            1 year, 2 months ago

            Not weighted enough though 😉

      3. DJDave1979
        • 4 Years
        1 year, 2 months ago

        I tend to look at top 1% as the initial target. So top 40k (I don't count the extra couple of million who play for a week later on).

  4. KINGVIZO
    • 1 Year
    1 year, 2 months ago

    How come I don’t figure on the HOF? How do you locate yourself?

    1. DJDave1979
      • 4 Years
      1 year, 2 months ago

      Click on HOF and type your name in.

      1. KINGVIZO
        • 1 Year
        1 year, 2 months ago

        Thanks DJDAVE1979 but I’ve tried this with no luck. This is the first season I’ve signed up to FFS... couid this be the reason? Maybe it needs a refresh from FFS side....

        1. TopMarx - H2H L4 D5
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 6 Years
          1 year, 2 months ago

          If this is your first season you will not be in the Career HoF yet, wait for the first refresh and should find yourself in the Live HoF. Normally a few gameweeks into the season before the Live HoF is updated.

          1. KINGVIZO
            • 1 Year
            1 year, 2 months ago

            Thank TopMarx, that’s very useful...

  5. Mika-eel
    • 2 Years
    1 year, 2 months ago

    My goal was to beat my previous seasons OR of 39k. Ended with a OR of 55k last year but won most my mini league's so I'll still consider that a successful season.

    Would be chuffed to break 50k rank this season.

    1. TopMarx - H2H L4 D5
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 year, 2 months ago

      your performance last season of 55k was probably more impressive than your OR of 39k the year before.

      Look at your points totals for the last two seasons - in which season were you closer to the winning score?

      season 2017/18 winning total = 2512
      season 2016/17 winning total = 2564

      1. Mika-eel
        • 2 Years
        1 year, 2 months ago

        Appreciate the reply pal. May our season be even closer to the number 1 spot this time around.

  6. The Rumour Mill
    • 2 Years
    1 year, 2 months ago

    Great article and analysis, thanks. Nice to see that relatively speaking, I've been improving year on year recently, even if the ranks don't make it immediately obvious! Will be interesting to see how the HOF top 5 perform this year and if they can recapture the form of 2 years ago.

    1. TopMarx - H2H L4 D5
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 year, 2 months ago

      Well my point is that they didn't really lose form last year.

      If you look only at rank then yes, they had a worse season. But look at the points gap to first place, turn that into a percentage, and there's only 0.5% difference.

      I expect this season will continue the trend of it being more competitive and it will be harder again this year to achieve a top 10,000 rank.

      If you have been getting the same/similar ranks then you have been improving.

      Anyway, good luck for the season ahead!

      I won't be following the Top 5 on a regular basis this season, I would like to spend more time actually playing FPL 🙂 although I may do the odd article. ***If anyone is interested in taking the articles over - a very good way to study and learn about the game - I'm happy to share spreadsheets and graphics to help.***

      As a follow up to this article I've created a few alternative views of the HoF. I'm really looking forward to sharing those graphics - I've tried to make the HoF more visual, easier to see good seasons and not so good seasons.

      1. The Rumour Mill
        • 2 Years
        1 year, 2 months ago

        Hi TM 🙂 sorry I do see your point on the averages only being 0.5% different, I think what I was trying to say was there seemed more of a spread of performance within the hof top 5 last season than the season before, but again that may be disproved by the data haha.

        OK cool, that's good, cheers! Best of luck to you too.

        Ah OK, your weekly reviews will be missed, but I understand your reasons! I look forward to seeing your follow up, though 🙂

        1. TopMarx - H2H L4 D5
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 6 Years
          1 year, 2 months ago

          Thank you 🙂

  7. DJDave1979
    • 4 Years
    1 year, 2 months ago

    Thank you for this article. I really enjoy reading things like this. It does get harder and as the 'community' gets larger, it is likely to become REALLY tough this year. The internet 'experts' and the Twitter community seems to have been much more engaged this summer. Not sure whether it has been the World Cup or just more people searching the internet for tips?

    1. TopMarx - H2H L4 D5
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 year, 2 months ago

      I think it's inevitable this year will be harder. Not just the continued increase information but simply the fact that there will be more people playing the game. Of those new people some are bound to be good, and there are others who will improve having learnt from last season.

      I think the World Cup will have made a difference to the number of people playing FPL, not only engaging on Twitter. I think the PL being so strong - we have all these wonderful (real life) managers at the moment - a lot of teams have real quality. We talk more today about a top 6, we used to talk mainly about a top 4. All these factors make the games more attractive and people more interested in FPL.

      Yes, I think it will be really tough this year.

  8. Team Cruel
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 4 Years
    1 year, 2 months ago

    Top marks for Topmarx. Unsung hero of FFScout.

    1. TopMarx - H2H L4 D5
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 year, 2 months ago

      Thank you kind sir.

  9. RedLightning
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • Has Moderation Rights
    • 9 Years
    1 year, 2 months ago

    The total points from the Dream Team does not include any captaincy points, or any points for players auto-subbed from the bench.

    An affordable theoretical dead team squad was posted on Twitter that would have beaten the FPL Champion.

    1. Baberto
      • 5 Years
      1 year, 2 months ago

      I believe it won't happen again. The 300+ points haul from Salah did the trick

      1. RedLightning
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • Has Moderation Rights
        • 9 Years
        1 year, 2 months ago

        It used to happen most seasons before the additional chips came along.

    2. TopMarx - H2H L4 D5
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 year, 2 months ago

      My purpose of using the Dream Team is that it serves as a Benchmark, in seasons past if you did better than the Dream Team you were likely to finish in the top 10,000. Or go right back to the start of FPL and you would have won the whole thing. Smarty Pants has a more complete graph in his article showing this development.

      It's an obvious point but I'm just trying to show how much harder it is to get a good rank today than it was in the past.

      1. RedLightning
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • Has Moderation Rights
        • 9 Years
        1 year, 2 months ago

        Yes, it certainly is more difficult than it used to be to get a good rank.

        1. Mo Mané Mo Problems
          • 5 Years
          1 year, 2 months ago

          Yeah this game was easy last time I played.

          1. RedLightning
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • Has Moderation Rights
            • 9 Years
            1 year, 2 months ago

            Third in the world two years ago was certainly impressive, but was it really that easy?

            And most of us do not have your skill!

            1. Mo Mané Mo Problems
              • 5 Years
              1 year, 2 months ago

              Lol. I’d say this game is about 10% skill, 90% luck.

              Sure, you are likely only going to OR1 by spending a few hours each week going through the stats and weighing up your options, but how many people do that? I’d say 50,000+ and probably rising (as you allude to).

              So after that, it’s just the roll of the dice.

              1. RedLightning
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • Has Moderation Rights
                • 9 Years
                1 year, 2 months ago

                I have often struggled to finish in the top 100k in recent seasons, but there are others who regularly finish in the top 10k - I can't believe that's just down to luck; they have clearly been more skillful than I have.

                But yes, to actually finish in the top ten does require a lot of luck as well as skill.

                There are many who take it all very seriously, but there will be a big range of different levels of skill, application, insight, inspiration etc amongst them.

  10. Norfolk&Chance
    • 5 Years
    1 year, 2 months ago

    Is Salah gonna play???!!!

    caught on his mob while driving past fans and kids etc..

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-45175226

  11. Tufe
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 3 Years
    1 year, 2 months ago

    Great analyse in many levels. Thanks.

  12. Numb
    • 4 Years
    1 year, 2 months ago

    Cheers TM. I agree that it’s getting tougher to get a good rank. I think it used to be that if you followed FFS or similar you could aim to finish top 10k and have a good chance of doing so.

    People seem to have got stuck on that “top 10k” benchmark even though it’s got much much harder to achieve. There are now way more than 10,000 skilled and informed FPL managers and not all of them can finish top 10k.

    I think that a good indication of the depth of this pool of managers is the 650,000 or so managers who started a season with Wan Bissanka in their squads - not a household name that would have been picked without some fairly specialised research.

    And this research no longer needs to be time consuming, it’s just a matter of knowing where to look, or which Twitter account to follow.

    A colleague of mine said that he picked him because “the Scout” recommended him. I thought initially that he meant this place but he actually meant the Scout Tab on FPL, where Wan B was specifically called out with his own article, probably with a tweet signalling people to it. So, you can pick a player like this by analysing performances and stats, following manager quotes and studying pre-season line ups, or you can just wait for a tweet to point you to an article outlining all this - the end result is the same.

    So, that’s at least 650,000 informed managers - is top 10k really still the benchmark?

    1. Eden Wizard
      • 1 Year
      1 year, 2 months ago

      Agreed - FPL towers are dumbing it down.

    2. TopMarx - H2H L4 D5
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 year, 1 month ago

      (sorry for the slow reply!) I completely agree, I have friends in my ML who suddenly ended up with WB and Neves in their GW1 teams. Due to better info being available, and also due to the fact that they are taking FPL more seriously and digging deeper. Some are even using this site now...

    3. GARY AND JAMIE
      • 6 Years
      1 year, 1 month ago

      it may be harder to get in the top 10k but its still the mark. anything higher just feels a failure.

  13. TopMarx - H2H L4 D5
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 6 Years
    1 year, 1 month ago

    (continued!)

    I see it as an evolution - more people joining doesn't just mean more casuals, some managers are making the transition from casual to total obsessives like us 😉

    In terms of participants we are a long way behind US fantasy sports (this is a point David makes in his excellent book 'Wasting Your Wildcard'). There is a lot of room for growth, I mean compared to US sports 5.9 million is about 10% of their numbers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantasy_sport#/media/File:Fantasy_Sports_User_Growth.png and they play sports that are largely North America only, not global sports like football. I can't even imagine how big FF is going to be in 10 years time. Supersized and then some!

    Hopefully you will enjoy my next article in which I take a look behind the HoF numbers, a much better way of comparing seasons. Good luck for GW3, I see you made two free transfers already - Arsenal players coming in?

    1. TopMarx - H2H L4 D5
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 year, 1 month ago

      reply fail. not sure why it didn't post as one reply.