Lockdown has been difficult for a lot of reasons and, while the lack of Fantasy Premier League will unlikely rank among the most serious of its effects, its absence has definitely been felt. But it hasn’t been a total waste, there are a few things we, as FPL managers, can learn from the experience of lockdown that might help us when football finally returns.
Don’t look back in anger
Being in lockdown means you have more time than normal to think about mistakes or missed opportunities.
For example, in retrospect, I would have had that ‘one last’ drink at the pub had I known that ‘last’ in that context meant ‘for the next three months at least’. Equally, if I could go back in time, I might have bought shares of a certain video-conferencing app.
Most of all though, I wouldn’t have taken a hit to bring in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ahead of a Double Gameweek (which has yet to materialise), getting rid of Jamie Vardy for a hit (who I’d kept hold of despite him apparently ‘socially-distancing’ himself from goalscoring for the previous few months) only for him to score a brace in the very next fixture!
The point is; we can’t go back or change the past, those are ‘sunk costs’ as economists say and it’s a waste of time and brainpower to even think about them. Worse, because these mistakes bug us so much, we’re all too likely to try and ‘undo’ them, leading to even more mistakes. If we want to progress, we should look to the future and only the future.
Sure, it felt like a mistake to switch Vardy for Aubameyang but, it seems, Aubameyang will get his Double Gameweek after all so, if we’re only looking at the future (as we should) then it’s a logical move which could still pay off. I should really stop complaining about it…
Plan ahead, be flexible…
2020 has definitely been a year for dealing with the unknown but it has also illustrated the importance of both planning ahead and of being adaptable to change.
The remainder of the FPL season will present unique challenges, many of which we’ve doubtless yet to even consider. However, having at least some semblance of a plan from the outset will be crucial for navigating it effectively.
Once the fixtures are confirmed, planning out what your team looks like over the remaining Gameweeks and which transfers you’ll likely want to make and when, will likely offer a big advantage. We know that plans don’t last long in FPL, but a foundation on which to pivot in response to what’s thrown at us may turn out to be crucial.
Of course, that also means not painting yourself so far into a corner that it becomes difficult to get out of. We’re kicking off with a Double Gameweek but be wary of filling your team with double-playing players that you might spend the rest of the season trying to get rid of.
…but don’t panic buy
Remember at the start of all this when you couldn’t buy toilet roll in the supermarket because people were buying them in industrial volumes, leading, apparently, to a 5,000% increase in sales in places and a hysteria that has already been dubbed ‘The Great Toilet Roll Grab’?
It seems pretty ludicrous now, but this sort of behaviour isn’t all that uncommon and, indeed, has been observed throughout history. It starts with the ‘early adopters’ who seem to benefit from being the first to do something, people start to notice this so they start doing it too, then the behaviour starts to get some serious publicity and, before you know it, everyone’s doing it, driven, in part, by the fear of missing out.
It’s essentially the psychology underpinning any sort of economic bubble and, of course, FPL bandwagons. You see, in this context, there isn’t an enormous difference between panic-buying toilet roll and panic-buying Teemu Pukki at the beginning of this season, or Shane Duffy ahead of Gameweek 34 last season or Theo Walcott, well, literally any time, any season.
You should never feel panicked into buying a player for fear of missing out, particularly not one who you have good reason to believe may not live up to their hype or sustain their success.
In summary, the key lesson here is that, while panic-buying might make you feel better in the short term, longer term it will almost certainly leave you with egg on your face, or stacks of toilet roll in your kitchen. If you got in there early, brilliant, if you didn’t, take a deep breath and focus on what the next big thing will be.
Simon March is a member of our Pro Pundits initiative, a team of Fantasy managers here to bring you regular advice and updates on their teams. Simon won the FPL title in 2014/15 and has become a fixture on the punditry circuit ever since.
Nominated for ‘Best in Fantasy Football – Editorial’ at the Football Content Awards 2020
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