Pro Pundits - Mark

How I’ll try to keep pace with the new smart thinkers in FPL this season

When I returned to Fantasy Football in 2006, a statistics fetish and the quest for one-upmanship over my rival Granville inspired this website and underpinned some high ranks in Fantasy Premier League. I got myself a flying start, an early advantage.

Almost fifteen years later, the pitch has been levelled. 

I have to admit, when Fantasy Football Scout became my universe, I buried my head and shut out the social media powered community that grew up around me. I built walls and obsessed about protecting what I had, forgoing likes and subscribers to keep my roof intact.

Now free of those concerns, I was shocked when I reared my head to look around. Both the depth and breadth of the FPL community is extraordinary, the amount of information and data being shared openly overwhelming. 

Eight million managers make a high rank that more difficult to achieve, but the explosion of new voices spraying knowledge and opinion far and wide raises the bar with each passing season. 


Back in the day, I was among a few hundred who wandered trance-like down supermarket isles deliberating a four-point hit. Now there are thousands extending loo breaks to unfeasible lengths of time while they compare Sadio Mané (£12.0m) and Mohamed Salah (£12.0m) for touches in the box. Like myself all those years ago, they have spreadsheets, irritated partners and an insatiable drive to succeed: a triple threat.

I need to raise and change my game if I’m to remain in their company. 

Too long in the tooth and arrogant to be told the latest do’s and don’ts or ten tips for success, I know the mechanics of the game and how to bend them to my advantage. To really improve, I need to look hard at myself, analyse my methods and learn from mistakes. 

I’ve always hurried away from FPL failure. I’m almost ashamed that dismal Gameweeks spark family tension in garden centres, so why would I ever dwell on every error? I bury mistakes to maintain an equilibrium. Forget that bad transfer, move on, greet the next deadline as a liquor to quickly drown my sorrows. 

That changes now. I should see my mistakes as an opportunity to learn more about how I play, to identify my favourite error traps and the bias at play when I run my eye over Match of the Day highlights or Goals Imminent tables.

Thanks to an almost catastrophic campaign in 2019/20, I have plenty to pick apart. I’ve learned to enjoy looking back and attempting to fathom my thought process behind each bad decision. But that’s just a post mortem; I need to attack this new season with this same analytical mindset. 

I have to be more inquisitive as each Gameweek rolls by, question and challenge each decision I make and develop methods that reveal a clear choice that I’m happy to take, not just one I’ve convinced myself is correct by brute-forcing fuzzy numbers and rose-tinted eye tests.  

You might have noticed that psychology is a popular buzzword right now, an emerging theme in the community that can be conveniently tucked away in a bulging box file labelled “overthinking”. 

But I’m convinced that something is afoot. When Magnus Carlsen, the world’s finest Chess player, hits the FPL top 100, we need to stop in our tracks and consider that there could be a new breed among us. 

I reckon your average Grandmaster spends more time pondering King to G7, rather than King to centre forward. So I might have the edge on Magnus when it comes to thinking time, I may even have more knowledge and data at my disposal. 

But does Magnus employ a logical method to his decisions and keep bias and emotion in check? Does he indulge in bouts of introspection and analysis of his judgement calls? Does he read all those psychology threads on Twitter with a knowing smile?

He’s the best chess player in the world. He does all the above and has a team of advisors doing it for him while he sleeps. 

These days everyone can get a glut of knowledge, information and data in their timeline with relative ease. But to work out how best to process it, how you learn to separate luck from skill and focus on improving the input, not dwell on the output, that might just be the new marginal gain. A fresh route to success.

After last season, I’ll give anything a go. 

Magnus must be petrified.  

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Mark Mark created the beast. He's now looking to tame it.”

1,076 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Starskyb
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    9 months, 11 days ago

    Really good article. My thinking is similar... so I joined the community to get the stats and the wisdom of the crowd!
    After much tinkering, I have gone for:

    McCarthy (Steer)
    TAA, Justin, Vinagre, Doherty (Mitchell)
    ASM, Auba, Salah, Soucek (Bruno)
    Adams, Werner (Davis)

    Am I good to go?

    Is Doherty nailed? Otherwise I will maybe go Digne with all Everton's new flash signings!

    1. LordRougeGrog
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      9 months, 7 days ago

      Vinagre could be transferred imminently. Watch out for news on this.

      Doherty is a great pick when at Wolves but an unknown quantity in a negative Mourinho team.
      Do you know your transfers for GW2/3 ?

      1. Starskyb
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        9 months, 7 days ago

        Thinking of holding and making double move for gw3. A template one like Auba or Salah out for a city player. And my other move will be to get on a form player, maybe at Doherty's expense.

        1. CasperLilleby
            9 months, 6 days ago

            I had Vinagre myself but when they signed a new left back I thought that he probably isn`t first in the pecking order. Having that in mind Marcal was only in the OL squad 12 games last season.He`s a pretty risky choice in my opinion.

    2. SaltnPep678
        9 months, 10 days ago

        First time commenting:

        RMT please?

        TAA Justin Vinagre Dier
        ASM Auba(C) Soucek
        Adams Mitro Werner


        Nyland Fernandes KdB Mitchell

        Thinking is Fernandes and KdB are going to be mainstays again for me so I have no issue just swapping them in for one of my defenders and either a mid or striker from gw2 and getting a free transfer in the bag. Don't trust Leicester (other than vardy) esp with europa league stretching their squad but will keep Justin in until pereira is back unless he misfires. Hope Vinagre isn't displaced by wolves new signing but am in wait and see mode there as he prefers LCB. TAA must have and dier a better value route into spurs defence than Doherty imo. In midfield I'll keep an eye out on how mane / salah / son perform. Keeping an eye on Greenwood also. doesn't Big fan of Adams and Mitro is prem proven but wont hesitate to switch them out if needs be. ASM may be one of this seasons biggest bargains and I can see his assist count being quite high.

        1. SaltnPep678
            9 months, 10 days ago

            That 'doesn't' was a typo, ignore...

            1. Starskyb
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              9 months, 7 days ago

              After reading one of the recent articles, I'm wondering if there's more value in defence with them having more ways of scoring. Have you thought of choosing one of mitro or Adams and getting a premium defender at 5.5 or 6 mill?

        2. Olson
          • 6 Years
          9 months, 9 days ago

          Not many community articles knocking about considering the trials

        3. Jenko3001
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          9 months, 7 days ago

          Would be good to have anyones thoughts about the team below...

          TAA / Saiss / Robertson / Doherty
          Salah (VC) / Auba (C) / ASM / Son
          Adams / Mitrovic

          Bench: Steer, Calvert-Lewin, Buur, Oriol Romeu

          GW2 - Salah out for Rashford
          GW3 - Auba out for KDB

          Leaves me 3m in the bank

        4. calchas7
          • 1 Year
          9 months, 6 days ago

          Is Charlie Taylor nailed at left back position at Burnley?