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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.