Hierarchy of Needs when transferring a player in

Hierarchy of Needs

I awake in a cold sweat to the early hours of Sunday 12th July 2020.

This is a place where the early-onset hangover from the night before meets the now-routine Sunday morning call of paranoia and anxiety. I groggily peer around the room and all seems familiar. The coffee table is messily dressed with the remnants of crisps and lager, the television is still on, things seem faintly in order; perfectly balanced, as all things should be. The fear recedes. A quick glance at the phone call-logs and messages – nothing worse than usual. Open the Livescore app and scroll. Arsenal, Newcastle, Norwich 0, West Ham 4. Michail Antonio with all 4 (four) goals. The heart rate quickens again. Fade to black.

Now this may have been slightly embellished for effect; I do not dare to puncture your perception of my lived reality.

However, it is true to say that I did not experience the joy of owning a differential, midfield-listed Michail Antonio (6.5) for his four goal and 26-point haul against Norwich. A season-changing event again slips into the ether as the final curtain call of the season draws closer. And in hindsight, as it always does, it seemed so obvious. A player in form against a side now beyond the description of fodder. A once-crocked wide-man now performing as talisman goal-hanger for a side desperate to avoid relegation. A green sea of fixtures as far as the ticker’s horizon extends.

I lucidly resolved the next morning to take a back-to-basics approach to establish why I missed this and how I won’t let it happen again. Let me introduce to you the spoils of this post-season research:

The Haggis’ Hierarchy of Needs (When Transferring a Player In)


OK, so it doesn’t sound as punchy with the bracketed bit in, but it doesn’t make sense without it. Basically, I have riffed on the ideas of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a psychological study which explores the behavioural motivation of humans and used this to make a cool triangular chart for FPL. Edinburgh, I am ready for my honorary degree.

Right, let’s get to it; all you need to know is that the absolute requirements are at the bottom, and the higher-up stuff are the cherries on top. Or garnish, or whatever.

Level 1) Eye Test, Nailed, In-form, Not Injury-Prone

hierarchy-of-needs-when-transferring-a-player-in 1

  • The simple stuff here, I watch a lot of football and hope the eye-test will serve up a player who looks threatening.
  • I don’t want to worry about whether or not a player is going to start or come off early (within reason, basically the best Man City assets are exceptions).
  • Prefer to wait one extra week on bandwagons in the hope to avoid a one-week wonder.
  • I try to avoid assets who have a history of breaking down – it took quite a while for me to trust and put Danny Ings in my side last season, but for every Danny Ings (£8.5m) there is a Luke Shaw (£5.0m).

Level 2) Fixtures, Team Form, History of Success

hierarchy-of-needs-when-transferring-a-player-in 2

  • I will always be a fixtures man at heart. I believe that green fixtures can bring form and will then happily hold a player who has delivered into a red fixture or two, to give them a chance to continue.
  • Team form for me is generally eye test led – I will favour a side who is playing well and creating chances over one who has scraped wins against the run of play.
  • I do not define a ‘history of success’ as season-long, but extend the floor of this to include even the likes of Ayoze Perez 6.3m) and Wilfried Zaha 7.2m) for example, who have at least once in their time reached the ‘fantasy gold’ benchmark for sustained, short and medium-term spells. Basically, I am wary of an asset who is yet to achieve lift-off from ground-zero in their fantasy career. Note that new entrants to the league are viewed on merit – Timo Werner (£9.3m) was firmly in my thoughts for GW1.
Level 3) Talisman, Team Desire

hierarchy-of-needs-when-transferring-a-player-in 3

  • This has been covered extensively elsewhere, not least by the Who Got The Assist (@WGTA) lads. In short, work with the key assets from a team; this means Heung-Min Son (£9.0m) & Jack Grealish (7.0) ahead of Lucas Moura (£6.9m) & Anwar El-Ghazi (£5.9m). A premium must then be paid, but it is rewarded handsomely over time.
  • The latter only comes into play in the final third/quarter of the season, but the aforementioned Antonio Annihilation of Norwich is one such case which should have piqued the interest.
Level 4) The Stats Test

hierarchy-of-needs-when-transferring-a-player-in 4

  • I confess to being an ardent custom stat table user, but my intention is to use them to validate a selection from a shortlist, or conversely, rule them out if the numbers reveal the opposite to my eyes and gut. I do not feel comfortable, nor find it enjoyable, to pick a player on numbers alone. (A personal preference with the luxury of time; I am aware that it is simply not possible for many to watch any or all of their potential targets.)
  • I would prefer to see a player performing well in the following player specific categories:
    • Shots in the box, Touches in the box, Big Chances, xG (non-penalty).
  • Team categories to review:
    • Big Chances Created, Big Chances Conceded (Total) (Opposition), Chances Conceded Left/Right/Centre (Opposition)
Level 5) Penalties, OoP

hierarchy-of-needs-when-transferring-a-player-in 5

  • A long time ago I used to be a big fish in a small school-run fantasy pond, and fundamentals to this were the likes of Ian Harte (Pens & FKs), David Unsworth (Pens & FKs) and Morten Gamst Pedersen (FKs) who chipped in differential points with regularity. We should always be mindful of set-piece takers (who can also do bits in open play, to exclude the Mark Noble’s of the world. I’m not even going to tell you how much he costs to purchase).
  • Even in the context of the 19/20 season where The Lord (£5.3m) and Anthony Martial (£8.9m) held a stranglehold over our defensive and midfield departments respectively, with Michail Antonio I had overlooked the power of a good player playing much closer to the goal than their fantasy description. (By this stage you should realise that this is a repetitive process of self-therapy).

The above forms the composition of my dream fantasy asset. Very few players, even premiums, will ever tick all of the boxes at the same time, but I feel that it has been a rewarding process to visually prioritise my desires to help filter the plethora of options we sift through each week. I hope that this will get you thinking about what kind of player is on your shopping list – I would love to hear your thoughts.

28 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Rotation's Alter Ego
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • Has Moderation Rights
    • 9 Years
    18 days, 11 hours ago

    Thank you FPL Haggis, cracking read and great graphics.

    I think I largely agree with most of it, but there's obviously a case against form being on the bottom step - obviously very important but you can get ahead of the curve if eye test and fixture back the case up.

    Great idea!

    1. FPLHaggis
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      13 days, 14 hours ago

      Thanks for posting this article RAE, and to all for the kind words.

      I agree there is case for form being higher up - I suppose you are likely to end up behind the curve if you always wait on a player to click in to gear first!

  2. @FPLMason
    • 8 Years
    18 days, 10 hours ago

    Love this article.

  3. Brosstan
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 6 Years
    18 days, 9 hours ago

    I enjoyed reading the article. Well written and both quite funny and informative. Nice one. It's a good idea to have some sort of list or hierarchy to guide decisions.

    Personally I would list stuff like OOP and pens as far more essential in my own hierarchy. Consider if Salah suddenly wasn't OOP and on pens - he would be a rubbish option at current price (with the assumption that if he had to play as a traditional winger his numbers would drop drastically). But we just take it for granted with some options like attacking midfielders who border on being forwards in their heat maps.

    It would also be a fun exercise to make a hierarchy of needs (when several turds are stinking up your team) 😀 going off the theory that removing poor performers from your team should have priority over bringing in performers we don't own!

    1. The Suspended One
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      18 days, 8 hours ago

      Wow, you actually made a thoughtful and considerate comment! Good job!

      That said, level 5 is the highest level 😉

      1. Brosstan
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        18 days, 4 hours ago

        I make thoughtful comments when people deserve it. Most don't 😉

        If he used maslow's pyramid as a blueprint for his model then the least important need is on top of the pyramid.

    2. FPLHaggis
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      13 days, 14 hours ago

      Thank you Brosstan.

      I had originally penned this in pre-season, but with what we now know about penalties in the league they should be given much more significance if things carry on this way!

      I agree that a checklist can also be useful to evaluate which of your current players are a priority to ship out.

  4. St Pauli Walnuts
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 2 Years
    18 days, 9 hours ago

    Top banana this one

  5. Jordan.
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 10 Years
    18 days, 9 hours ago

    an important criteria is the never again list ,one such member is ross barkley, who like saruman has emerged from the deep mist...

    1. Zim0
      • 2 Years
      18 days, 9 hours ago

      And zaha

    2. The Suspended One
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      18 days, 8 hours ago

      DCL says hi

  6. El Estadístico
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    18 days, 7 hours ago

    Thanks FPL Haggies...
    This article is one of the best organised articles I 've ever read....
    I asked my self few days ago the same question... How to select a differential player that can reward my faith in him.
    After reading the above article I think I can finally make that decision without fears.
    Great basics-based article....

  7. Easy Cheesy
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 1 Year
    18 days, 6 hours ago

    Great article.

  8. I Must Break You
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 2 Years
    18 days, 6 hours ago

    Great article, well written. Love the supporting graphics. I follow much of this framework. I would suggest to be very careful with the dangerous "eye test" (ask yourself, how did Son and Kane do on your eye test in GW1?) and the term "in form". Form, as defined by FPL (PPM in recent matches) has an almost 0.0 correlation to results in the next match.

  9. CBonci
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 4 Years
    18 days, 3 hours ago

    Great read! I appreciate the organization, explanation, and of course, the humor. Important to take a step back especially so far this season with all the ups and downs!

  10. Tony Moon
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 11 Years
    18 days, 1 hour ago

    Excellent article. Many of the factors are things people subconsciously look at, but we often get blinded by just one or two stats/characteristics. It's good to have it all set out clearly, to help rational thinking!

  11. CroatianHammer
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    17 days, 21 hours ago

    A really good article. And a great subject player, especially since the "West Ham have bad fixtures outside Newcastle until GW8" really has been shown wrong. Team has greater desire, eye test checks out... That GW8 run approaches. Plus what is Antonio going to do to Adrian? Call the police!

    1. FPLHaggis
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      13 days, 13 hours ago

      I brought Antonio in after watching the West Ham games against Arsenal and Wolves - he meets nearly all of my criteria so I decided not to let the fixtures deter me. He's even in my thoughts for the armband in GW8!

  12. prbaker1980
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 2 Years
    17 days, 15 hours ago

    Love, love, love this fplhaggis. I would add another consideration though which, for me, is very important around the TIMING of a transfer in - that being an impending price rise. The reverse being true, and even more important, for a transfer out.

  13. Tarby
    • 1 Year
    17 days, 14 hours ago

    I really good article and great idea to set out your thought process to keep it consistent, I'm definitely going to steal this idea. Thanks

    After taking Pulisic initially this season I'm certainly with you on the not injury prone 'hygiene factor', I'm avoiding the likes of him until they've not several months without injury and proved there worth, just like Ings last season where it might have meant missing some good points for a while but in the long run it's the best strategy I'm sure.

    Talisman something I value highly already but I think you've highlighted it even more for me. Only earlier I removed several players from my watchlist for this reason, but I think i'll reassess and remove more now as well!

    Well done FPLHaggis, great article

  14. Alberto Tomba
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 7 Years
    17 days, 11 hours ago

    Great article, I love the graphic, but really its the stats that you see as important that I feel is showing your little black book ;). Many thanks man!

  15. Saubi
      17 days, 8 hours ago

      Superb article! Thanks a lot 🙂

    • James878
        17 days, 7 hours ago

        A great article thanks for writing. Very thought provoking when picking a fantasy asset and great use of Maslow’s pyramid

      • FPL Virgin
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        17 days, 5 hours ago

        Awesome work, well done!

      • Fulchester's New Centr…
        • 3 Years
        16 days, 19 hours ago

        Pretty late to the party, but I thoroughly enjoyed this. Lovely stuff.

      • Pep bites Kun
        • 4 Years
        16 days, 12 hours ago

        Great article, good style and a very enjoyable read. I've used the system to analyse some of my own decisions and I think if I personally had implemented a version of this preseason I would have avoided a few pitfalls with my initial team and at least one questionable transfer since.

        It would seem like I moved too early on proven post-restart assets from last season and avoided under-performers to my peril. In a lot of cases the opposite have proven to be the early performers.

        Werner was a new mistake for me and went against a standing rule in that he was unproven in PL. Not to mention the associated risk of onboarding an array of new non-PL talent 🙂

        I'll certainly put to use a version of this model as it will hopefully cement in place my own best practises. Cheers!

      • FPLHaggis
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        13 days, 13 hours ago

        I think even with a guide in mind, it's still inevitable that we will pick a few stinkers along the way, especially because we are always weighing up the pros and cons. I started with Pulisic in GW1 after Frank said that he was fit and also drank the Podence kool-aid. Both were high risk but potentially underpriced gems!

        1. FPLHaggis
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 5 Years
          13 days, 13 hours ago

          replay fail to Pep Bits Kun