After consecutive red arrows and at least a couple of my players having apparently outstayed their welcome, it feels like action is needed with my team and, yet, I’m doing my best to try and do nothing.
Doing nothing should be a perfectly acceptable strategy in Fantasy Premier League, in fact, doing nothing can offer all sorts of advantages, so why is doing nothing so difficult?
One answer might be found in an appropriately-themed study of goalkeepers and penalties conducted by Israeli psychologist Michael Bar-Eli.
Bar-Eli studied hundreds of penalties faced by elite goalkeepers and found that, in attempting to save the penalty, goalkeepers tend to dive left or right about 94% of the time.
However, crunching the data, Bar-Eli also discovered that about 60% of penalties actually go down the centre of the goal, meaning that, if goalkeepers just remained central instead of diving they would, on average, save more penalties.
Most surprising, however, was the finding that, even after these elite goalkeepers were made aware of these stats, they still continued to dive left or right when facing penalties.
Bar-Eli concluded that this was a manifestation of ‘Action Bias’; a cognitive bias describing an impulse to take action in order to feel ‘in control’ of a situation or problem.
Sometimes, as the goalkeeper study suggests, we prefer to take action even when we know the best strategy is to do nothing and this compulsion is particularly strong when the ‘norm’ or expectation is that we should take action.
In other words; it’s easier to justify action than inaction, and taking action makes us feel better than doing nothing.
It’s not hard to see how this bias can manifest itself among Fantasy managers, particularly after a poor Gameweek.
In some respects, it is the psychological basis for ‘knee-jerking’ or transferring players out based on emotion.
Looking at my team, it’s harder to justify keeping the likes of Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson (£8.0m) and West Ham’s Sébastian Haller (£7.4m) after several blanks each than it would be to switch either out for somebody who seems to be in better form, and the compulsion is to do exactly that.
Of course, the flipside to this is that, around this time last week, owners of Leicester’s Ayoze Pérez (£6.1m) would have looked at their teams and thought exactly the same thing.
Now, by no means is Perez scoring a hat-trick conclusive evidence of the benefits of doing nothing but it does offer a timely illustration that doing nothing can really pay off.
I’d say this is more likely to occur if the player in question has a good fixture and, with Wilson hosting a Manchester United team without a clean sheet in five matches and Haller at home to 17th-place Newcastle, hat-tricks might not be on the cards but I wouldn’t bet against them scoring either.
Perhaps more general are the benefits of banking an extra transfer and I’m a big believer in two transfers being exponentially better than one.
This week, with only one transfer currently available, I have limited forward options to replace Wilson or Haller, none of whom have very compelling fixtures either this week and/or in upcoming Gameweeks, or taking a hit.
If I wait until next week, I get the benefit of my players’ decent fixtures this Gameweek and practically unlimited options for their replacement(s), meaning I can get the player(s) I want, with the fixtures to deliver.
If I’m really lucky, Wilson and Haller hit form, I get some points and I end up with a transfer headache next week.
Ultimately, while too much inertia can be as damaging as too much action, judiciously doing nothing with a view to it paying off over several Gameweeks can be a very viable strategy if you can fight the short term instinct to knee-jerk.
So, this Gameweek, I’m standing still, fingers crossed, hoping that the FPL gods aren’t aiming left or right.
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