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What it means to be an FPL manager and a professional footballer

Jordie van der Laan is living the dream – not only does he get paid to play football but he’s also an outstanding FPL manager. Who said life is fair?

Granted, you are unlikely to have heard of him. Jordie (pictured above left) plies his trade in the second tier of Dutch Football with SC Telstar, the club where Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink began his career, and, like Jimmy, is a centre-forward.

There’s nothing new in professional footballers playing FPL. Some like Asmir Begovic have done so for a number of years and while he’s no great shakes – he’s only once finished in the top 100k – others such as Owen Hargreaves and Matt Holland boast top 10,000 finishes.

Jordie, however, is different gravy – currently ranked 5,317 overall, two seasons ago he came 55th in the world.

In his book Wasting Your Wildcard David Wardale makes the distinction between most FPL managers who know about football – the clubs, the histories, the players, who’s in form, who’s not – and those who know football: coaches with the tactical nous to turn a match with their decisions, or scouts with an expert eye to recognise talent.

Being a pro footballer absolutely helps in becoming a better FPL manager. Or maybe I should say: having a good eye for the game helps in becoming a better FPL manager.

In this article Jordie discusses his passion for FPL, his strategies, and his life as a professional footballer.

Unlike Norway, the Netherlands is not fanatical about FPL, and if hadn’t been for Jordie’s local pub he may never have played fantasy football. When the pub set-up mini-leagues, a friendship with the landlord brought out Jordie’s competitive streak. Who doesn’t crave mini-league glory?

Jordie takes FPL very seriously. He watches every single Premier League match that is televised in his country and tunes into Match Of The Day every week. However he doesn’t simply rely upon having a good eye for the game.  

Stats also play an important role and he has an intuitive grasp of game mechanics. Having an analytical mind must run in the family – his brother is a referee with Champions League ambitions. All this combines to mark him out as an FPL manager who is brave and makes well-informed, often left-field decisions.

“I am aware of the template but I won’t ever pick players just because they belong to the template. I pick players because I think they will do well. I use the eye test and I take stats into consideration.”

One particular stat he values is the ICT Index.

“I use the ICT Index in a very straightforward way. I just look at the creativity and threat numbers for a player that I think could be a good FPL prospect. Lots of managers don’t seem to value the ICT Index from what I’ve read, but it has really helped me a lot. It’s very simple.”

“I’m looking at the raw numbers but I don’t set any specific limits. So if a player has a threat index of below 20.0 it won’t necessarily mean that I won’t consider him in the future. I’m looking for consistency in the numbers.”

“For instance Alonso has never had consistent numbers this season. He was way too expensive in my opinion and owners got very lucky in the first few Gameweeks. Yes, I could have caught some price rises, but has he lived up to expectations? Nah, zero goals and three assists since Gameweek 4.”

However he cautions against relying too heavily on stats:

Statistics can be misleading though. When a team is behind, they need to come up with a certain tactic that gets them on the scoresheet. They need to take risks especially when it gets closer to 90 minutes. When a team leads the game, they could decide to sit back, play a little more defensively and take less risks. The scoreline can open a game up or shut it down completely.

Just as a scoreline can change a game, so can a team’s position in the table, and Jordie has first-hand experience of teams being ‘on the beach’:

His move to SC Telstar last summer followed a successful season with JVC Cuijk in the fourth tier of Dutch football. Jordie was the leading goalscorer in their push for promotion. However, his move to a bigger club wasn’t as straightforward as you might expect.

“Before the winter break I scored 18 goals in 15 games. There were contacts at the time which should have already seen me signing a contract in the second tier, but unfortunately no offer became concrete. That also had something to do with my second half of the season, when I only scored 7 goals in 18 games. You need a bit of luck as a football player. Second tier clubs blamed me for a lack of quality and therefore didn’t want to sign me. In my eyes it was different.”

“We won the first period which meant we had qualified for the promotion play-offs. So we could lose all the remaining games and still go up if we won our knock-out games. And we did almost that. We didn’t win for 10 league games in a row. We sat back and most of our players didn’t give 100%, because we had something to fall back on. And, as a striker, I can tell you that is very frustrating. Especially when big clubs come to watch you.”

Thankfully three goals in the promotion play-offs led to a successful trial with SC Telstar. At his new club there’s plenty of competition for places – he finds himself alongside Premier League loanees Ryan Seager (Southampton) and Kyle Scott (Chelsea) – and it’s intense: the team trains up to seven times a week with a lot of attention given to tactics.

Unfortunately for Jordie it’s been a season interrupted by ankle and knee injuries: “It’s a hard time and it made me realize how tough it is to come back from a long-term injury.” Thankfully FPL provides a welcome distraction from the treatment room.

One thing Jordie is particularly good at in FPL is identifying non-template players before they go on a good run. For instance this season he picked up Son in Gameweek 15 ahead of his run of 75 points in the next seven Gameweeks, and Pogba at the start of his good run in Gameweek 19. Players who went on to form part of the template. In previous seasons he’s identified Lingard, Eriksen, and Stanislas before they’ve done well.

“When I go for a differential player, I’m hoping for him to get a haul sooner rather than later.”

“This season I’ve brought in Doherty at £4.4m, Van Dijk at £5.9m, Pogba at £7.8m, Son at £8.3m; all at the right time and all because I thought they were very valuable assets looking at their price tag and the attacking potential they had.”

Lingard last season I picked up very quickly indeed when he went on a great run. That was because I thought there weren’t many players at United at the time who could score a goal or win them games. He had the confidence and he fitted into my structure. Fortunately I seemed to be right about that.”

“Although that last point is something that managers seem to forget sometimes. Your squad structure can hand you opportunities that other managers don’t always get because they play a different formation. You need to be lucky sometimes and don’t tear your team up because of one player.”

“In the season when I came 55th, my punts paid off. And I did like to punt big time. I managed to bring in players who scored extremely well for me while being in very few squads.”

“For example I used my Wildcard in Gameweek 36 and I needed an eighth attacking player – the cheapest – who I could use for my Bench Boost. I never saw him mentioned anywhere but I picked up £4.6m Stanislas, who was owned by only 38k managers. He went on to score three times in the last three Gameweeks for me. I think that typifies what worked well for me that particular season.”

In his successful 2016/17 season Jordie made 54 transfers including 19 hits for a cost of 76 points. It’s interesting to note that it’s the same year in which taking hits proved so fruitful for then Career Hall of Fame number one Peter Kouwenberg25 hits for a cost of 100 points. Peter finished 134th overall.

This season Jordi’s shown a little more patience although he’s certainly not averse to a hit. He’s made 40 transfers and taken 10 hits for a cost of 40 points.

“I delve through every team in FPL. I update my watchlist every week. And that’s also exactly where my punts come from.”

“I try to have not more than 30 players on it because if I have more, I need to jump to page 2! Players who are in my team, are never on my watchlist.”

“Each week I base my transfers on what could happen in the next say three or four weeks. I set my team up with the players I already own and I then try to fill the holes with players that fit my squad structure. ‘Holes’ arise when I think I don’t want to play some of my current players or I just prefer to have others in the coming weeks.”

“After that I look at the fixtures. I put down a lot of options and I start to compare those options fixture-wise. For which fixture could I have a certain player? Does that require a free transfer or a hit? And so on.”

“This fixtures based approach also leads to something else: the players I fear. There are so many highly-owned premium players in the game that you can’t own them all. Which of the players that I don’t own do I fear? And in which specific Gameweek? Is there an option for me to get him in and is it really necessary to get him in? Does he fit my squad structure and would I be satisfied with him long term?”

“The names of the players I can’t or won’t bring in I write down next to my own team to see who can really cause damage. That doesn’t mean that every player who could hurt my rank if he does well is on my watchlist. There should be proof that they could do well.”

“My opinion about this is very simple: if there isn’t any proof that a popular player could do well, then I think that managers who own that particular player are wrong and will eventually fall behind, even if that player does well in one or more Gameweeks.”

“Of course during a season there are a few players that appear must-haves at some point. Just like everyone else I try to fit those players in as best I can, and in some cases it is almost impossible not to mess a bit with your squad structure, or to take a hit to fit certain players in. Those players are mainly, perhaps even exclusively, premium players.”

As a competitive sportsman, one element Jordie has learnt to control is the emotional side to FPL.

“Once you have realized you will do better when you don’t let the emotional side take over, you won’t let the emotional side take over. You need to have a clear head. Don’t make transfers immediately after a Gameweek. Wait till the deadline unless price changes force you.

Before a Gameweek starts your head will be much clearer than when a Gameweek has just ended.

Jordie has needed to heed every word of his own advice after a torrid week in which he dropped from 3,785 overall to outside the top 5,000:

“What a ridiculous Double Gameweek we’ve all had! I’m not as down as I would normally be though because lots of top 10,000 managers were in the same boat. And of course because Ajax went through in the Champions League, which was far more important.”

“I don’t know what I’ll do with my Free Transfer yet. Deeney is a pain and Duffy could go, but I’m sure I will use Bench Boost this week. Double fixtures over the single fixtures in Gameweek 36.”

To end the article I would like to wish Jordie the best of luck in Double Gameweek 35 and for the rest of the season, both in fantasy and real football. Thank you for sharing your insights.

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4,264 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Rebeltactics
    • 1 Year
    2 months, 29 days ago

    Son is apparently nailed for next two games but have (C) on sterling....

    gTG?

    1. Holmes (specialist in failu…
      • 5 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      Son can also do well

  2. CelticBhoy1
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    2 months, 29 days ago

    Pick one

    A) Moura

    B) B Silva

    1. kopite65
      • 4 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      A more for the brighton game imo

  3. kopite65
    • 4 Years
    2 months, 29 days ago

    foster/lloris
    dunk duffy trent valery vert
    ster mane jota son deulafeu
    gray kun jimi

    b/boost or t/c ? cheers

    1. popcoin
      • 7 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      Made any transfers or have a FT?

      1. kopite65
        • 4 Years
        2 months, 29 days ago

        yes trans made - 4, cheers

    2. Carlton_Goal
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      Bench boost

      1. kopite65
        • 4 Years
        2 months, 29 days ago

        cheers for reply, good luck

  4. popcoin
    • 7 Years
    2 months, 29 days ago

    Eriksen & Vardy -> Sterling & Wilson

    .....is starting to feel like chasing last week’s points? About to pull the trigger

    1. drughi
      • 9 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      for free ?

    2. kopite65
      • 4 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      depends if its free, or for a hit?
      sterling in a lot of teams, and is a popular cap
      wilson has good home fixture

  5. New post
  6. DF
    • 5 Years
    2 months, 29 days ago

    Hazard to sterling would take me to -8.
    The hit would cover the lad chasing me in my mini league but rob me of a differential and put me 1 point behind him at kick off.
    Would you do it?

    1. bigbudgie
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      If you really want Sterling for the rest of the season? Then yes.

    2. La Roja
      • 7 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      Play your own game. Hazard at home to Burnley but Sterling in great form with double game.

      Flip a coin

      1. DF
        • 5 Years
        2 months, 29 days ago

        Cheers fellas. I went KdB in the end.

  7. bigbudgie
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 4 Years
    2 months, 29 days ago

    Really don't get the Jiminez captain thing. He's good... But never captain material. When all these teams will have city players, Son, etc. Idk. AMA.

    1. drughi
      • 9 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      2 home games, third highest scoring striker. Great option

      1. bigbudgie
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        2 months, 29 days ago

        Have you ever captained him this season?

    2. La Roja
      • 7 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      I guess he is a good pick if you’re chasing. 2 home games and wolves are decent at home. His numbers looking great at home too.

      1. bigbudgie
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        2 months, 29 days ago

        I get that, sure. It's just he's not God tier Fpl like aguero, sterling etc. He's a wolves striker. Has he even got a brace all season?

        1. La Roja
          • 7 Years
          2 months, 29 days ago

          Yes

          😀

    3. conorbon
      • 6 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      Will be a good differential cap pick if you are chasing as most including myself seem to be on Son or a city playet

  8. balint84
    • 3 Years
    2 months, 29 days ago

    Son (C) over Sterling/Agüero/Jimenez is crazy move?

    1. conorbon
      • 6 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      I currently have Son C over Aguero, KDB and Jiminez and I’m scared!

    2. RamaJama
      • 6 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      Not at all. Seems to be between Son and Sterling for most

  9. sentz05
    • 2 Years
    2 months, 29 days ago

    Captaining Laca. Can’t believe how overlooked he is on here. Arsenal on great form. Laca in form. Palace at home. No European football. Took off 60 mins on Thursday even though was best player.

    1. bigbudgie
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      Arsenal can't be trusted. Still.

    2. La Roja
      • 7 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      Yes he is great pick and wish I had him.

    3. rainy
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • Has Moderation Rights
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      Arsenal play Valencia on 2/5 and 9/5

      1. La Roja
        • 7 Years
        2 months, 29 days ago

        And today is 20th it April. Huge time gap

        1. rainy
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • Has Moderation Rights
          • 3 Years
          2 months, 29 days ago

          No argument there. "No European football" a bit silly when he just scored vs Napoli on Thursday

        2. F_Ivanovic
          • 3 Years
          2 months, 29 days ago

          Yes and they have 3 fixtures between now and the first leg and another in between that meaning he's probably going to get rested at some point in those 3 games or just a victim to Emery's fraudulence.

    4. Business Cat
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      Emery roulette is a far worse game with lower rewards than Pep roulette 🙂

    5. clodhopper
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      Will kolasinac play both games

    6. Magic Zico
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      2 months, 29 days ago

      He is in for Vardy, yes

    7. conorbon
      • 6 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      I would love to have him but Emery’s team selections are just as bad as Peps but with lesser rewards

  10. Feed tha Sheep
    • 6 Years
    2 months, 29 days ago

    First to 3 please..which one?
    A. Cam > Redmond
    B. Eriksen & Vardy > Salah & Gray (-4)

    1. conorbon
      • 6 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      A

  11. conorbon
    • 6 Years
    2 months, 29 days ago

    Took a minus 12 to get this team, only dilemma Vardy or Hazard to start and who to Captain?
    Foster
    Bednarek, Boly, Chilwell.
    Redmond, Son (C), Mane, Hazard, KBD.
    Jiminez, Aguero.
    Bench- Vardy, Dunk, Duffy.

    Cheers!

    1. balint84
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      hazard

      1. conorbon
        • 6 Years
        2 months, 29 days ago

        Cheers, hoping he starts on the left and Burnley are safe nksy

        1. balint84
          • 3 Years
          2 months, 29 days ago

          should win, the last easy game for them.

          1. conorbon
            • 6 Years
            2 months, 29 days ago

            Would be very Chelsea under Sarri to lose a game we should clean up in. Wish Conte never left

  12. La Roja
    • 7 Years
    2 months, 29 days ago

    Why would someone transfer out Brighton defender for Watford defender -4? As if Watford keeps clean sheets.

    1. conorbon
      • 6 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      More likely than concede 7 cos we are shite Brighton

      1. La Roja
        • 7 Years
        2 months, 29 days ago

        To be honest both are crap at defending

        1. conorbon
          • 6 Years
          2 months, 29 days ago

          I agree that Watford aren’t great but I have gone with Foster hoping for at least one cleanie and a few save points

  13. Magic Zico
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    2 months, 29 days ago

    Martial, keep or move out for Jota -4?

    1. conorbon
      • 6 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      Do it!

  14. JurgenRocks
    • 4 Years
    2 months, 29 days ago

    Bring in Laca or Auba for Vardy?

    1. conorbon
      • 6 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      Neither as they will only get 1 game each

  15. F_Ivanovic
    • 3 Years
    2 months, 29 days ago

    Eriksen to KDB for a hit worthwhile? I'm thinking Eriksen surely has to get a rest in one of the next 3 games given how much he has played and how important he will be for the CL Semi final with no Son or Kane.

  16. 420king
    • 5 Years
    2 months, 29 days ago

    Is Gray a better pick on paper than Llorente? Can't decide between the two, although the latter does give me more flexibility for next round.

    1. bennyp
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      Who sets you up better for rest of season? I’d got Llorente

  17. Deeney-is-a-god
    • 2 Years
    2 months, 29 days ago

    Get KDB or sterling? Have no city and also have quite poor squad value. KDB is in terrific form and one would think more likely to play since he now seems fully recovered from his injury. But Sterling is also in very good form and more exsplosive

    1. bennyp
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      Kdb is looking very good!!! Tough call

    2. kopite65
      • 4 Years
      2 months, 29 days ago

      kdb better price, few assists lately
      but sterling in good form, also popular cap pick

  18. bennyp
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    2 months, 29 days ago

    GTG here lads?? Playing BB

    Foster - schmei
    Vvd - lacselles - wan bas - Duffy - pereira
    Salah (c) - mane - hazard - Redmond - Fraser
    Aguero - jiminez - Rondon

    Salah cappy? Already on a -4. Cheers!

  19. bennyp
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    2 months, 29 days ago

    Who to cappy?

    Salah
    Mane
    Haz
    Aguero
    Jim

  20. rohaansunil
      2 months, 29 days ago

      wan bissaka to Cathcart? already on a -8.....

      1. kopite65
        • 4 Years
        2 months, 29 days ago

        no

    • Couch Potato
        2 months, 29 days ago

        Who to captain?

        A Aguero
        B Son
        C Jiminez

        1. kopite65
          • 4 Years
          2 months, 29 days ago

          A for me

      • kopite65
        • 4 Years
        2 months, 29 days ago

        sorry for re-post, any thought appreciated
        pick one from each
        A rash B gray
        1 redmnd 2 jota
        cheers , good luck all

      • Vatroslav
        • 4 Years
        2 months, 29 days ago

        Losing that Femenia CS cost me a 20k rank drop...