It’s the 9th August 2019. For Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers there is hope more than expectation that the lessons learned and experienced gained over previous seasons will result in improved overall ranks in this one.
I started with Mohamed Salah (£12.2m) as my captain and jumped on Ryan Fraser (£7.0m) and Joshua King (£6.2m) due to their early fixtures. Harry Kane (£10.9m) joined King up front, with Raheem Sterling (£11.9m) expected to have a classic season. With a defensive line consisting of players from Liverpool, Manchester City, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur what could possibly go wrong?
All Downhill From Here
In Gameweek 1 I scored a fantastic 89 points despite a disappointing overall rank of 343,610. With scores between 40 and 50 until the middle of September (Gameweek 5) I found myself with an overall rank of 1.8 million. Over the next three Gameweeks I averaged a score of 49 points per week with an overall rank by early October of 1.6 million. It was not where I expected to be and after such a disappointing start to the campaign I was just about staying loyal to my own FPL rules and theories.
Stick To Your Principles
Nothing really changed significantly until I played my Wildcard in Gameweek 9 (1.3 million Overall Rank). The reason I still had my Wildcard despite my poor start to the season was because I was still reasonably satisfied with my team. By the end of every week I always felt I had been unlucky and was just one or two free transfers away from turning my fortunes around.
The first rule I stuck to was not to use my Wildcard for anything less than changing five players. In order for me to stick to this principle I had to remind myself of another lesson I had learned over my 13 years of playing Fantasy Football, that of being patient. By standing firm and holding my nerve, I managed to save my Wildcard until my target Gameweek.
I saved my Wildcard until Gameweek 9 as there was a turn in the run of fixtures for a number of clubs and I knew what transfers I would want to make for the next few Gameweeks following the use of the chip. I didn’t want to completely commit to a few clubs through my Wildcard just in case their predicted wins and hence FPL scores did not come to fruition.
The hardest aspect when on a Wildcard is facing the prospect that the premium players you had predicted would be pivotal to your team, may not be worth the high price placed on their head. By holding my Wildcard until Gameweek 9, I felt I had gathered a large amount of information from a decent sample size, that perhaps this just wouldn’t be the season expected for some high profile players and at the very least not this side of Christmas.
Time To Go
My Wildcard did see me transferring out a couple of premium players, for some ever so slightly cheaper top shelf footballers. The biggest call of all was the removal of Salah for Sadio Mané (£12.2m). Its a debate that will continue throughout the season, however Mané being £0.9m cheaper at the time was great value for money in my eyes. I also removed Virgil van Dijk (£6.4m) as goals and clean sheets weren’t happening. I also removed the safest way into the Manchester City defence, Ederson (£6.0m), as the league champions were also struggling not to concede. I had already made the decision in Gameweek 1 that I would retain the services of Alisson (£6.0m) once he returned from injury at a lower price.
The party seemed well and truly over for Teemu Pukki (£6.6m) and his colleagues, so I removed the Finland international. I also transferred out his sidekick Todd Cantwell (£4.6m). They had provided me with some great moments but there is little time for sentimentality in Fantasy Football. I also removed the very disappointing West Ham pair of Sébastien Haller (£7.1m) and Issa Diop (£4.5m), while now having the opportunity to upgrade my fifth midfielder that was Leander Dendoncker (£4.4m) at the time.
In It For The Long Term
The principle factor in selecting my Wildcard team was good fixtures over a long period, not just over a month but looking towards the busy festive period. I was not necessarily concerned with the current form of players, if I felt that they had shown quality in previous seasons. I took the opinion that a run of favourable fixtures could be the catalyst to their season.
It will come to no surprise that my Wildcard team included tripling up on Chelsea players. What may be surprising is before my Wildcard, despite my poor performance I already owned Fikayo Tomori (£4.9m) and Tammy Abraham (£7.9m). I decided to finally introduce Mason Mount (£6.6m) to complete the Chelsea allocation, however he has proved to be disappointing so far.
Despite their reasonable low key start to the season (possibly because of their exertions in the Europa League) I brought two attacking Wolves players in the shape of Raúl Jiménez (£7.9m) and Adama Traoré (£5.2m). This decision was based on the favourable run of fixtures until Gameweek 17 and their win over Manchester City in the previous Gameweek. I placed Traoré in my squad as a budget fifth midfielder however despite some of their results ending in disappointing draws, Jiménez has scored 4 goals in 5 games and when I have operated with a 5 man midfield Traoré has delivered with an assist.
Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne (£10.2m) were saved from the chop as I felt the Belgian was amazing value at his starting price of £9.5 million. Diego Rico (£4.3m) and John Lundstram (£5.0m) remained in my squad, the former as an enabler who looked like he would be a regular starter who would have the opportunity to snatch the odd assist. The latter in Lundstram is a season keeper (barring injury) and if not already will go down in FPL history.
My third and final regular defender went to Çaglar Söyüncü (£5.0m) for the simple reason I loved the look of Leicester City’s fixtures until Gameweek 17. Despite eight favourable fixtures in a row I did not bring Jamie Vardy (£9.9m) into my squad until Gameweek 10 as I wanted to give the promising Callum Wilson (£7.6m) the opportunity to collect a haul of FPL points against a struggling Norwich. I shouldn’t of been surprised that I was let down and didn’t hesitate to transfer in the former England international in time for his 20 point haul against Southampton in Leicester City’s 9-0 thrashing of the Saints.
Gameweek 10 (The Turning Point)
It was this performance on the Friday night of Gameweek 10 that I consider the landmark turning point in my season. A Gameweek total of 80 points largely contributed by Vardy’s haul and also a successful captaincy pick in Sterling, my first non-blanking captain in over a month. (465k OR)
With the confidence I gained from the previous week, I held my Free Transfer in Gameweek 11. Once again I returned to normality with a frustrating captaincy blank with Sterling, however Lundstram scored over a quarter of my overall total with a mind blowing 21 points. Abraham and Jiménez were both on the score sheet along with Söyüncü, as well as a goal and an assist from Mané . Despite my failed captain, 83 points meant I was really starting to make significant ground in improving my overall rank. (191k OR)
By holding a free transfer in favour of making an immediate change every Gameweek, I believe I have another week’s worth of information, I would be able to mitigate any injuries I may encounter with greater flexibility and I would reduce my need to compromise on a player or players I would want with the extra freedom two free transfers provides.
My second biggest decision of the season was made in Gameweek 12, as I transferred out Sterling for James Maddison (£7.6m). Another failed captaincy by the Manchester City midfielder was the last straw for me, and I completed my Leicester trio. I placed the armband on Vardy again who produced another goal and assist. My other two forwards also got on the scoresheet along with Mané and my new boy Maddison instantly repaying my faith in him. A rare Chelsea clean sheet and a return from Traoré resulted in a 84 point total. (64k OR)
Another 24 points from captain Vardy in Gameweek 13 along with goals from Jiménez , De Bruyne, and Mané and another clean sheet from Söyüncü all helped me achieve 67 pts and break into the top 50k. With the continuing trend of having two free transfers every Gameweek, I decide to take the opportunity of bringing in Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.2m) for Matthew Lowton (£4.5m). The improving run of fixtures for Liverpool were too hard to ignore and Lowton had recently lost his place in the Burnley starting eleven. This was the first time this season I have doubled up at the back and goes against one of my FPL rules. However with Liverpool’s blank Gameweek 18 not too far away, I’ll look to sell Alisson if Liverpool do not produce a clean sheet soon (50k OR).
I hope you enjoyed this article and found it interesting about how I managed to turn my FPL season around. It can often be a frustrating game, but like life you never know what is around the corner. Enjoy the football, but more importantly enjoy the time with your family and friends this Christmas. Best of luck !!