In my previous article, I discussed the difficulties we often find in transferring out players who have been performing well, even when it might appear beneficial for us to do so.
However, sometimes we hold on to players too long even when they’re not doing well. This article is the Part One of a two-piece series that will consider the possible causes for that behaviour and how we might overcome them to make better transfer decisions.
Loss aversion is a cognitive bias in humans that describes our tendency to fear losses more than we value gains. Specifically, scientific studies have shown that we fear losses approximately twice as much as we value gains.
This probably explains why we’re reluctant to take hits on players who are unlikely to ‘explode’, but it also goes some way to explaining why we hold on to underperforming players too long.
Arguably the number one source of anxiety among Fantasy managers comes from transferring a player out who you suspect might suddenly start scoring, something that always seems to happen.
The hundreds of thousands of managers who transferred Timo Werner (£9.3m) out ahead of his two goals and assist in Gameweek 5 can probably relate to this feeling. It is, essentially, a feeling of points lost. Because we anticipate this feeling, we fail to act as a result.
In reality, players we transfer out probably don’t score nearly as often as we think, we just remember the instances when they do, thus mentally inflating their frequency. It also doesn’t necessarily become a bad action to have removed a previously underperforming player, just because that player suddenly decides to start scoring that Gameweek.
While it might feel like this kind of thing is a matter of luck, one of the key skill elements of FPL is identifying the contextual factors that influence whether a player will score or not.
Taking Werner as an example again, he had been previously playing out of position on the left wing and a move to the central striker position seemingly improved his prospects. However, he was also playing against a Southampton team who played a high defensive line, something that suits pacy players like Werner.
Therefore, if either or both of these conditions are removed, it’s possible that Werner will go back to underperforming. The skill, therefore, is figuring out what conditions are important to the prospects of a player, and whether they will be consistently present.
If the conditions that contributed to a player’s sudden change in form are not sustainable, managers who transferred them out should not lose sleep over their decision, particularly if it enabled a move to an alternative with better long-term prospects. The spectre of this occurring should also not deter a manager from making a move if it makes objective sense based on whatever standards they employ to make their decisions.
It’s not because of you
Most importantly, although it might feel like it, a player did not start scoring because you transferred them out. That kind of ‘magical thinking’ can quickly sabotage a Fantasy manager’s season as it removes logic and objectivity and puts events firmly into the hands of chance.
Stick to your trusted methods and, if they happen to fail you one Gameweek, console yourself with the knowledge that it absolutely, definitely, happens to everyone.
In Part Two, I’ll be discussing the ‘Endowment Effect’, coffee mugs, and why we sometimes prefer our low performers to others’ high performers.
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