Oh, Fantasy Football, what do you do to us?
There are some weeks when you just have to laugh. I’ve escaped a tricky Gameweek 23 with a decent-ish score (£48m) and a green arrow but others haven’t been so lucky.
I have my own tales of woe, but that’s nothing compared to some of the stories that I’ve seen banded around the community over the last few days.
Having done the Scoutcast for a couple of years now, and being in charge of grabbing the “Roughs with the Smooths”, I’ve seen my fair share of “Roughs”.
But this Gameweek has made me wince.
The people that have traded their faltering Wolves players for soaring Saints, such as Raul Jiménez (£7.5m) for Danny Ings (£6.9m) you have my sympathy.
For anyone that (like me) that left Adama Traore (£5.7m) on the bench, I feel for you.
For anyone that, probably against their better judgement, removed long-standing goalkeepers, such as Paulo Gazziniga (£4.6m) or Nick Pope (£4.6m), and replaced with Double Gameweek ‘star’ Lukasz Fabianski (£4.9m) or budget ‘hero’ Alex McCarthy (£4.4m), you have my condolences.
For anyone that took punts on Richarlison (£8.1m), Ryiad Mahrez (£8.5m) or Djibril Sidibé (£5.4m)… you did not deserve the fate that the cruel, cruel FPL gods had in store for you.
This game can be a nightmare. We talked last year about the impact it can have on mental health, as more and more people’s enjoyment of a weekend is intrinsically linked to their FPL score. But know that you are not alone. Everyone has bad weeks. Everyone suffers when seemingly good decisions go against them. Everyone has weeks that make them want to close FPL forever and get a new hobby. But don’t. Go outside. Take a breath. Consider why you removed Jiménez for Ings (Jiménez’s fixtures do turn really bad! Ings had scored 80 points in the last 12 Gameweeks!).
To me, “Black Box Thinking” has never been about beating yourself up over making these kind of decisions, the ones where hindsight tells us it was a mistake, but general strategy tells us it was the best move.
I’m not that annoyed I benched Traore, or that I sold Pope, because I really did think it was the right thing to do with the tools at my disposal.
However, what I’m learning more and more this season, is that when it comes to 50/50 calls, when you just don’t feel that certain, the best move may be to show patience.
My last 12 Gameweeks have been the best I can remember, with just one red arrow in this period. I was trigger happy in the first 11 weeks, and when faced with a decision (to transfer, or not to transfer) I would do it.
But actually, the players we have in our teams are those that we have backed for whatever reason, and unless there is really clear evidence that they are now no longer the player we originally signed – perhaps ditching them isn’t the best move.
I’ve shown more faith in players that I’ve selected, allowed them to have a few weeks to perform, and been rewarded. 50/50 decisions for me lately have tended to go in my favour, as I have elected to do nothing, rather than make wholesale changes (often involving hits that do not pay off).
The main reason I’m not going for Mohamed Salah (£12.3m) – see my last article for the ins and out of this – is because it would tear my team apart, particularly my midfield which currently consists of Jack Grealish (£6.5m), Sadio Mané (£12.4m), Kevin De Bruyne (£10.7m), Anthony Martial (£7.9m) and/or Traore.
These players have been fundamental to my rise up the rankings, and the thought of binning these players off to chase a haul from one player fills me with dread.
The fact that I’m not that confident that Salah really will outscore these midfielders by such a considerable margin tells me that I shouldn’t be following the crowd.
Instead, it looks like I will be turning my attentions to a certain Robert Firmino (£9.4m) – who had a goal very cruelly ruled out against Manchester United on Sunday.
I said I wanted to see something to tempt me towards the Brazilian, and he’s been good the last few weeks, with a goal against Spurs and an unfortunate VAR call last week.
Firmino’s away form has been quite appealing as well heading into two matches outside of Anfield. In the last four away matches, for example, he has four goals compared to Salah’s one and Mane’s two – and 16 goal attempts compared to 14 for both the Liverpool midfielders.
For more detailed information on Firmino, read THIS MEMBERS ARTICLE.
Looking further ahead, I’m wondering what other players may come into our considerations. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.7m) is going to be back in a few weeks, after the dust has settled from the Double Gameweek. The golden boot chaser could easily be a major factor for those chasing the pack.
Similarly, a certain Sergio Aguero (£11.9m) has now hit consecutive double-digit hauls but remains a player who is being overlooked in favour of Liverpool’s star assets right now.
More budget-friendly options, such as Leandro Trossard (£5.8m), Lucas Digne (£5.7m) and Ismaïla Sarr (£5.6m) (injury depending) are also looking like options that can help you soar up the table. The key, it seems, is picking them for the right reasons, and sticking with them through uncertain times.
FPL can be the ultimate test of patience. But what I am increasingly learning is the importance of honing your ability to filter out poor Gameweeks, assess what happened and react – or crucially, not react – accordingly.
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