In a season so far characterised by frustration and disappointment, I have been thinking about many of the different factors at play in Fantasy Premier League.
There is just so much I want to talk about when it comes to this game. Group Think, Fear, Ownership, Eye Test, Captaincy and Upside-chasing. The list is endless.
I’ve played Fantasy Football of some sort for the best part of 15 years, like many of you, I’ve been obsessed with it since the days of BBC Fantasy Football (read Stelios Giannakopoulos, Tim Cahill and Morten Gamst Pedersen).
The game has evolved drastically since those days. Somewhere in the middle of the 2011/12 season, I discovered Fantasy Football Scout and was blown away by what I witnessed.
The community here was amazing. People were equally infatuated with this game as I was and we were all working together as essentially a ‘study-group’ to beat the ‘casuals’ (read: my rival) with the text-books handed out to us by Mark.
It took half a season at FFS to rise from mid-table in my mini-league to winning it by the end of the season. I haven’t lost my main mini-league since.
The likes of Doosra, Christina, Epic Fail and Champ from the FFS Community took me under their wings and very soon it became fairly easy to beat my ‘casual rival’, leading me to my own FFS adversary in Triggerlips.
I’ll admit, the urge to beat him might have led to a couple of strong finishes I’ve had. Strong rivalry can actually be a great driver of good FPL decisions.
Your game tightens up as you have seemingly more to lose. I’ll quote Criss Jami here – “Together, we form a necessary paradox; not a senseless contradiction.”
Today, Triggerlips and I are very cordial with each other and he even made a couple of really good recommendations for my honeymoon in New Zealand last year. Community for the win!
It takes little time to discover some basic principles of playing FPL but after that, you’re on your own.
Once you know the importance of budget distribution, captaincy picks (never captain a defender), assessing form and fixture, how you fare in FPL essentially comes down to your individual style.
There are many ways to skin a cat and, in my opinion, none of them is wrong.
You need to find your identity as an FPL player. If you are going to get sleepless nights going without Mohamed Salah (£12.4m), don’t do it. It doesn’t suit your personality. It’s not good for your blood pressure and you don’t end up having fun. You’re better off playing the odds and percentages game because that is where your comfort zone lies.
Personally for me though, there is no greater rush than a bold, against-the-grain, differential FPL call coming through. I’ve been fortunate enough to be on the greener side of these calls more often than not.
Having that differential come through makes you feel like you’re Stone Cold Steve Austin
I landed a similar stunner on my rival last year. I was on the verge of losing my mini-league last year for the first time in six years. He was leading by 50 points in January (I keep telling him it’s because I was getting married and was busy with prep) and I needed to rely on some classic ‘upside-chasing’ to close this gap.
What is upside-chasing you ask? Upside-chasing is all about finding high impact players that have the potential to gain you a lot of ground in a very short time.
It’s about finding those 20 to 40 point swings that shoot you up the rankings very quickly.
Also, it doesn’t always mean targeting a player with very low ownership. While differentials can always help you gain some massive ground very quickly, there are many ways to look at
For example, I’ve been contemplating which Liverpool three to go with for their upcoming run (Gameweek 13 to 21) and I think I’m fairly set on Sadio Mane (£11.8m) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.2m) in my team. For the third spot, I’m debating the merits of Salah versus Andrew Robertson (£6.9m).
While Robertson offers you more ‘value’, Salah is offering you way more upside with his points potential. And when it comes to the big boys, there is no room for compromise in my opinion. We are talking about 40 to 50 points
Coming back to the rivalry I was talking about and the 50 point chase. He had used up his Manchester City quota before the Double Gameweeks and he did not have Sergio Aguero (£12.2m).
Gabriel Jesus (£9.5m) was fit during the time and the title race with Liverpool was a nail biter. Aguero was close to 25% ownership and, while some were thinking about captaining him, very few were thinking of using the Triple Captain chip on him.
The thing about Aguero is that we have a very strong relationship (just like Olivier Giroud). Having Triple Captained him successfully in the past; I didn’t trust anyone else more.
A hat-trick against Arsenal later, that 50 point gap got closed in one Gameweek. Stunner executed perfectly (I ended up beating him in the last Gameweek of the season). Bragging rights withheld.
Aguero and I have been steady for the best part of six years. In the past two of those though, things have been heating up.
Last season and this combined, I have captained him 13 times and he’s returned a staggering 259 points at an average of 20 points per captaincy.
He’s pretty much responsible for me being inside the top 40k already this season. But there’s a little Brazillian that’s proving to be a bit of a thorn in our relationship. And he’s one I can’t ignore.
While I definitely don’t intend on losing Aguero for the next two weeks, I am thinking twice about giving him the armband in a week that would normally be a no brainer.
He’s scored six goals in three home games against Aston Villa. Aguero has started every Premier League game at home that he’s been fit for since January 15th this year. Ideally, he should start.
He looked sharp against Atalanta but Raheem Sterling’s (£12.2m) display on Tuesday night and his statistics while playing alongside Mendy are incredibly encouraging.
With three goals and two assists against Atalanta, his haul last night would have equated to 26 FPL points.
Kevin de Bruyne (£10.1m) had a good game himself. He’s destroyed Sterling statistically at home this season but I think things will average out as Mendy playing allows Sterling to play more central (I strongly believe that Sané was responsible for a lot of Sterling hauls last season).
All three key Manchester City assets have some
As much as I want to captain Aguero, it just seems almost reckless to hand the armband to him over Sterling or De Bruyne.
At present, I’m on Sterling because Pep Guardiola did mention his physicality and ability to play two games in a short space of time because of his ability to ‘regenerate’.
But this decision is going to come down to my instinct on Friday night. There is a thin line between genius and reckless. At the end of the day, this game is about fun, isn’t it?
FFScout user Lateriser12 has a very impressive Fantasy CV. He has registered two finishes in the top 200 (one of them equating to number one in India) and four in the top 10,000 in the last six seasons. The secret to his success has been playing non-conventionally and fearlessly, swearing by ‘upside chasing’ and not giving ownership much of a look.
Lessons learned from Gameweek 9
- Everton 2-0 West Ham United
- Aston Villa 2-1 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Bournemouth 0-0 Norwich City
- Chelsea 1-0 Newcastle United
- Leicester City 2-1 Burnley
- Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Watford
- Wolves 1-1 Southampton
- Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester City
- Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool
- Sheffield United 1-0 Arsenal
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