With some spare time on my hands, I thought I would look back through the Fantasy Premier League season so far and highlight some key moments.
There were some important decisions to make over the first 29 Gameweeks of the campaign, mostly on the fluctuating runs of form from well-owned Fantasy assets.
Some of these I got right, some I got wrong, and I’m sure many of you lie somewhere in between.
All of these decisions have likely played a big part in your current overall ranking and going over them should help us learn some lessons moving forward.
Who would have thought that deciding whether or not to start the season with John Lundstram (£4.8m) in your side would be such a key decision?
Go to the FPL website, go to the statistics tab, click all players and then sort by value (season).
How fitting that the Lord sits in the number one spot, the best value player in the game – one of only two outfield players amongst eight goalkeepers in the top ten.
Sure, it’s easier for a player priced at £4.0m to achieve this goal but his point tally is no joke either.
The out-of-position legend is currently the 16th highest scoring player in the game and the fourth-highest scoring defender overall.
Cottoning on early to including the Sheffield United man in your starting XI each week was the smart play here, with a very respectable 4.41 points per game (ppg) and the money saved allowing upgrades elsewhere.
With five double-digit hauls, including a 21 point return in Gameweek 11 it’s safe to say the Englishman will have been responsible for large rank swings if and when he featured in your team or your bench.
Think you’re a big man?
Oh Raheem Sterling (£11.7m), what happened? Last season’s wonder asset started off with a bang. Hitting a hat-trick in Gameweek 1 and coming away with 20 points it looked like his hot form was set to continue How wrong we were.
To be fair, a ppg of 20 is hard to maintain but following this up with just 98 points in the following 28 Gameweeks meant Sterling’s ppl since the opening weekend stands at just 3.5. That’s nearly a whole point per game less than Lundstram, who cost £8.0m less!
Many of us (myself included) stuck with Raheem for far too long, convinced he would return to form.
Selling the Englishman after Gameweek 1 would have been seen as madness to most, but it turns out this was the best play. Seeing as very few would have done this without hindsight the defining moment here was just flat out ignoring him from the start, if you did that you likely saved yourself a lot of headaches, blank captain returns and structure issues.
The deep-lying playmaker
Pretty much the polar opposite of his team-mate above, choosing to skimp out on your Manchester City asset and opt for Kevin De Bruyne (£10.6m) was, in fact, a stroke of genius.
Only just back from a long-term injury, rotation worries and an expected deeper role meant there was genuine cause for concern ahead of Gameweek 1… but turns out being one of the best players in the world can compensate for those issues.
Another Gameweek 1 decision that likely impacted your entire season, the Belgian returned 63 points in the opening seven matches – an average of nine points a game.
He’s not been bad since by any means at 5.23 ppg but early acquisition likely set you in great stead given his near 50% ownership and £1.1m price rise since.
The Belgian didn’t stop there though. He has recorded seven double-digit hauls for the season with Gameweek 6 a particular highlight for some when he scored 17 points against Watford. Sterling was still being heavily captained at this point, with many leaving the vice-captaincy on KDB, so a no-show from the Englishman secured a 34-point haul for some. Coincidently, this happened the same weekend that Lundstram came off many a Fantasy manager’s bench to return an unexpected 12 points away at Everton. A 46-point swing for a lucky few.
Sticking with early-season decisions, bargain front men Ashley Barnes (£6.1m) and Teemu Pukki (£6.5m) decided tough early fixtures didn’t apply to them and thought they would hit the ground running. Only after they had amassed hordes of owners and embarked on easier fixtures did they drop off a cliff. How typical.
Barnes picked up 25 points in the opening three weeks (8.3 ppg) to keep the Hindumonkey-inspired train steaming. New owners in Gameweek 4 were in for a treat though as the battering ram decided he was done for the season, managing a staggeringly bad two ppg up until his injury in Gameweek 21. 18 Weeks of two pointers. Lovely stuff.
Pukki was largely in the same boat but on a more widely documented scale. 49 points in the opening five Gameweeks meant a ppg of 9.8 for the Finnish front-man against the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City. Just when even the most stubborn of us had decided he was “must-have” the Canary went on a dreadful eight-Gameweek run, returning just one assist. That’s 2.13 ppg.
Starting well in Fantasy football is often vital if you’re after a good rank come end of the season, and these two had a lot to say on how the initial weeks panned out. With prices changes so volatile, getting on and off Teemu at the right time was probably a key point in your season.
We don’t do laundry
This season has seemed rather troll-like to many of us, with Liverpool often the exception to the rule. However, even they decided to pull us over the coals early on. Fantasy managers looked to double-up or even triple-up on their defensive assets after a strong shut out record in the previous season and a kind opening schedule.
Cue two clean sheets in the opening 15 Gameweeks…
Yes, there was a sprinkling of attacking returns from most of the defenders but given their prices the returns were far below expected. Suddenly, a switch was flicked and from Gameweeks 16 to 26 and they managed ten shut outs from a possible 11.
The disparity here is staggering; timing a double up on attack/defence from Liverpool will have gone some way to shape your season so far. Which leads us nicely to…
It still hurts. Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.8m) decided to finally come good on all his attacking promise at the least predictable time.
Up until that massive Gameweek 19 haul, the full-back had kept just three shut-outs all season and was on 4.4 ppg, not a terrible figure by any means but still less than the likes of Lundstram who also cost a fraction of the price.
Liverpool had a blank in Gameweek and the following round took them away to the league’s most in-form team, Leicester. Selling seemed to make sense…to some.
24 remains the highest return for a single player this season and, as mentioned above, was a kick-start for Liverpool as they started churning out clean sheet after clean sheet.
Did you stick or twist? Your rank probably answers that question.
Danny Ings’ (£7.1m) Fantasy potential was never really in dispute, it was whether he could stay on the pitch long enough to deliver on it.
In the opening six weeks, Southampton looked in trouble, Ings scored just once and did not register 90 minutes in a single match.
From Gameweeks 7 to 22 (16 matches) Mr Glass finally became unbreakable, netting 13 goals, often with maximum bonus to earn 106 points. That’s a very impressive 6.63 ppg at a very low price.
Of all the players mentioned so far it’s arguable your timing on signing, selling and captaining Leicester’s front-man has had the most impact on your season.
Just feast your eyes on Jamie Vardy‘s (£9.6m) numbers…
- Gameweeks 3 to 18: 138 points (8.63 ppg)
His run of form was remarkable, in particular, Gameweek 9 to 13 where he managed 11.6 ppg and was heavily captained.
It all went wrong though when baby Vardy entered the picture. From Gameweek 19 to 28 (10 fixtures) he managed just 14 points in total. A ppg of 1.4!
Such a drop off really highlights the importance of timing in Fantasy football and how quickly form can change.
So what to take away from this? For me, it’s become clearer that forwards often have exceptional bursts of form, many of the highest ppgs over a certain window of fixtures. Of course, the length of this form varied.
This has made me think that knee-jerking in a forward after a decent haul might not be the worst play, it’s often said in football that forwards thrive off confidence and perhaps there is something in this.
Next season I aim to set up my front line with three low to mid-priced forwards that also have alternatives in the same price bracket. I can then monitor form and act fast; being cut-throat if they blank for two to three weeks and swap to any forward showing form in the hope I hit a golden ppg run.
Spending transfers up top where point swings can be huge and keeping faith in the midfield and defensive areas (unless its Raheem Sterling grr!) seems like a fairly common-sense rule that I had somehow veered away from.