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Pro Pundit Teams

Why does good FPL form end and what can we do about it?

In the first of a two-part article, former Fantasy Premier League champion Simon March looks at player and team form.


Fantasy Premier League managers often put a lot of emphasis on team and player form and, whether or not you fully buy into ‘form’ as a concept, teams and players definitely go through phases of scoring or conceding more goals.

The objective when considering form is, of course, to exploit the good and avoid the bad. In practice, however, we find very often that the moment we jump on a form ‘bandwagon’ it chooses that specific moment to abandon the assets we’re backing. Why is this and can we predict when it’s going to happen? This will be the focus of this article, the first of a two-part series on the subject.

Salah blanks against bottom-half club again as Fulham's defence continues to impress

Fantasy managers focus a lot of attention on teams who are scoring a lot of goals, sometimes doubling or tripling up on their players to maximise the payoff available from this FPL goldrush. Equally, a Fantasy manager will typically avoid owning players from a team who are not scoring or are conceding a lot of goals or, alternatively, these teams might be targeted as ‘whipping boys’.

What’s remarkable is how quickly these things can change and it often feels like teams or players have waited for us to fully buy into them before they suddenly become useless. Though this perception is, probably, something of a cognitive illusion, it is not entirely without a basis in reality.

You may have heard of the ‘Sports Illustrated Jinx’; the urban legend that claims that sports people who appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine will, subsequently, experience misfortune or failure. There are hundreds of purported examples of this occurring that support this notion.

In fact, Fantasy Football Scout has its very own version of this, in that new guests on the Scoutcast often seem to have bad Gameweeks subsequently. I am, incidentally, myself a victim of the ‘Scoutcast Curse’. After my first appearance back in 2015, I scored 25 points the following week, in a season where I had been averaging closer to 70.

While it is impossible to rule out the possibility of a supernatural or quantum link between Sports Illustrated and athletes’ performance or the Scoutcast and FPL managers’ Gameweek scores, there is an arguably more realistic explanation; regression to the mean.

‘Regression to the mean’ describes the statistical inevitability that outliers will eventually be compensated for, bringing events, scores or outcome closer to the average. So, for example, if a team goes through a phase of scoring three or more goals per match (bearing in mind that the highest-scoring Premier League team ever; Manchester City in 2017/18, averaged 2.5 goals per game) this period will, almost certainly, lead to a subsequent period where they underperform their eventual average.

So, while it might seem like appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated or on the Scoutcast or drafting a player into your FPL team is the influencing factor in the change of form, the reality is more likely that a period of overperforming is actually what lead to there being interest enough in the individual for them to appear on these platforms in the first place. It’s not all that surprising, therefore, that this might also coincide with regression in their performance.

It is important to note that regression to the mean, while inevitable, will not necessarily occur neatly in a small sample. In other words, just because a team might currently be banging in goals for fun doesn’t mean they will suddenly start doing the opposite. It just means that the current rate of scoring is unsustainable and will regress eventually. Consequently, the value of any associated asset will also decline relative to its previous period of overperformance.

Consequently, this effect means that, by the time you become aware of a team or player’s good form, there’s a decent chance it has already passed its peak. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a player or team no longer has any value. Manchester City’s İlkay Gündoğan (£6.1m), for example, may well continue to provide decent point returns even if he isn’t scoring a brace in every match. It just means that we shouldn’t assess future value purely on a team or player’s peak output.

Cancelo finally delivers big haul as Gündogan shines in KDB's absence 12

Instead, it is important to assess the sustainability of output realistically and in context. The drop-off in performance for an ‘in-form’ Tottenham Hotspur striker, for example, is likely to be less dramatic than the drop-off for an ‘in-form’ Sheffield United forward. This is important to note should you ever be tempted to double or triple-up on a mid-to-lower table team.

Equally fixtures, and their difficulty, are likely to have a significant influence on how performance might develop in the future. Conventional wisdom would suggest that a period of good form is more likely, and more sustainable, through a period of favourable fixtures rather than difficult ones.

Finally, an FPL manager might need to delve into the underlying stats in order to determine how much of a player or team’s current form is simply down to luck. If a player is currently scoring with practically every shot or a team is keeping clean sheets due mainly to some extraordinary goalkeeping heroics, there’s a good chance that the coming regression in performance will be more extreme.

However, form is not merely an abstract statistical trend. It is, of course, ultimately driven by the physical performance of the teams and players themselves. The second part of this article will therefore look at the more tangible factors that might drive fluctuations in form and consider how we might be able to use these as indicators to identify when it might begin or end.


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158 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Thomas Magnum
    • 5 Years
    5 months, 27 days ago

    Hello, DZ. How we all doing today - Every day it gets more and more quiet around here. Might need to add some tumbleweeds going across the screen, similar to the snowflakes fpl stats had over Christmas lol

    1. jia you (The No BS League -…
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      5 months, 27 days ago

      Haha, a real DZ today I notice!
      Thankfully have Fantasy Champ Man over the weekend for my fix 🙂

      1. Thomas Magnum
        • 5 Years
        5 months, 27 days ago

        Very nice, enjoy! Haven't heard many talk about Fantasy Champ Man around here for a while

    2. 3 A
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      5 months, 27 days ago

      What is DZ mate?

      1. bobbyg
        • 9 Years
        5 months, 27 days ago

        Dead zone

        1. 3 A
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 5 Years
          5 months, 27 days ago

          Oh i see (oic)

        2. Thomas Magnum
          • 5 Years
          5 months, 27 days ago

          Yep that’s right, DZ. Also known as the exclusive and elite group of FPL players who keep this forum ticking during the quiet hours

          1. Thomas Magnum
            • 5 Years
            5 months, 27 days ago

            Dead zone*

  2. jia you (The No BS League -…
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    5 months, 27 days ago

    Play Jessie (wol) or Ollie (FUL) next GW?

    Pope
    Azpi Cancelo Dallas
    Sterling Auba Raph(C) Havertz *Lingard
    Kane DCL
    (Forster *Watkins Konsa Lascelles)

    1. Thomas Magnum
      • 5 Years
      5 months, 27 days ago

      ooohhh very tough, two players who i'm sure are buzzing after doing well after their international call ups so hard to differentiate. Of course anything can happen from here to next weekend but I would probably leave as is with Lingard on. Fulham are good defensively with a bit more to play for than Wolves have and who knows how influential Grealish will be after his long spell, plus I normally prefer the mid anyways due to possibility of extra points. Continue to ride the Lingard wave I say

      1. jia you (The No BS League -…
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        5 months, 27 days ago

        my thoughts also, cheers!

    2. 3 A
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      5 months, 27 days ago

      Ling for me

      1. jia you (The No BS League -…
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        5 months, 27 days ago

        Cheers

    3. dmhomag
      • 6 Years
      5 months, 27 days ago

      Why not both ahead of DCL, Auba?

      1. jia you (The No BS League -…
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        5 months, 27 days ago

        Nah both have good fixtures to score

        1. dmhomag
          • 6 Years
          5 months, 27 days ago

          Love it that Liverpool is now a "good fixture to score"...

          1. jia you (The No BS League -…
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 5 Years
            5 months, 27 days ago

            🙂

    4. CAVEAT KING
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      5 months, 27 days ago

      did not know solcsjar was still playing (smile)
      so jessie

    5. 4Rsenal_1886
      • 5 Years
      5 months, 27 days ago

      I’m benching Auba, don’t think he’ll start

    6. Flair
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 1 Year
      5 months, 27 days ago

      With Grealish back I'm going for Watkins unless Smith says otherwise

  3. Ragabolly
    • 11 Years
    5 months, 27 days ago

    Risers: None

    Fallers: King (5.2) Davis (4.2)

    1. Thomas Magnum
      • 5 Years
      5 months, 27 days ago

      Thanks RB, shame King had to go and play second fiddle at Everton. Wasn't really expecting him to get a starting spot but thought he could go somewhere where he'd get some game time, like a West Ham when Antonio is rested. He was always such a good 3rd striker option at Bournemouth...

    2. 3 A
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      5 months, 27 days ago

      Thanks Mr Raga

    3. Maximus Bonimus Pointimus
      • 11 Years
      5 months, 27 days ago

      4.2 bench fodder for any 3-5-2 Wildcards

  4. LegendMoon
    • 4 Years
    5 months, 27 days ago

    So if DCL can score against San Marino can he also manage it against crystal palace this weekend or is that too far fetched?

    1. Andy_Social
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      5 months, 27 days ago

      San Marino's level is closer to National League than Premier League, imo.

    2. Maximus Bonimus Pointimus
      • 11 Years
      5 months, 27 days ago

      Forget San Marino - pretend that result never happened, utterly irrelevant

  5. Jamb0
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 3 Years
    5 months, 27 days ago

    Enjoyed the article, thanks Simon!

    1. Max City
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      5 months, 27 days ago

      You're welcome

  6. Thomas Magnum
    • 5 Years
    5 months, 27 days ago

    How much do we think Dias/Stones will be rotated for the run home? does anybody plan to keep either of them (both even) or move to just Ederson for secure starts, or even just looking to go without City defenders altogether?

    1. Holmes
      • 7 Years
      5 months, 27 days ago

      I think I'll be going without Man City defenders.

      Initially I was planning to stick with Dias but with alternatives available with decent fixtures and possible rotation plus a blank in 33, I think its worth a risk to go without.

      (From GW31) Their fixtures looks like: LEE, avl, xxx, crp, CHE, new, bha, EVE

      On paper, they can keep CSs vs all of those teams. Its risky, but I'm willing to bet against them and hope they get rotated or concede.

      Obviously depends on how am I feeling closer to GW31 😛

    2. Holmes
      • 7 Years
      5 months, 27 days ago

      Its Dias in back 4 or a punt on Iheanacho/Bamford as 3rd forward for the run in. I think punting on forward for higher upside makes sense...

    3. Dark Side Of The Loon!
      • 5 Years
      5 months, 27 days ago

      I am keeping Stones. Cheap enough to be auto subbed to bench in case he does not feature.

    4. Phil's Stamps
      • 10 Years
      5 months, 27 days ago

      I think City players will be a minefield in the run-in with their fixture congestion. Over the next 3 or 4 games we expect rotation to cope with the schedule. Then due to Utd having a few trickier fixtures than City I won't be surprised if they've secured the title by GW35 and then it could be a free-for-all in terms of rotation because, well, why wouldn't you to give yourself the best chance to win the other trophies?

      I'm personally not bothering with their defenders due to the above and because there are so many good options elsewhere. I think a back 3 of Cresswell Rudiger/Azpi Shaw is the way to go. I'll probably go with KDB due to FOMO and maybe Gundogan as I got him at 5.5 and am not keen on the template alternatives of Neto and Saka for a similar price.

      Also not sure how many clean sheets Ederson will keep if he keeps chopping and changing the defence, mixing in Laporte and Ake. Better to follow the herd and go with Mendy.

    5. Rover
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      5 months, 27 days ago

      I sold Gundo and Dias heading into GW29 and only have KdB now with no WC.

      I've decided to back double Chelsea defence and hope that City concede consolation goals more often with the shift in priority to CL.

  7. tc93
    • 3 Years
    5 months, 27 days ago

    2FT- early transfer thoughts with this lot?

    1) KDB + Martinez —> Bruno + Mendy
    2) KDB —> Bruno
    3) KDB + Dias —> Bruno + Azpi
    4) other, recommendations?

    Martinez
    Shaw / Dias / Rudiger
    Salah / KDB / Son / Raphinha
    Kane / Watkins / Bamford

    Areloa / Gundo / dunk / Dawson

    1. Thomas Magnum
      • 5 Years
      5 months, 27 days ago

      Probably if anything just Martinez > Mendy. I prefer Bruno to KDB long term but don't see the value in selling KDB when he has 2 pretty decent fixtures coming up, especially the Leeds one. Can do KDB to Bruno in 32 when United have Burnley or something

      1. Thomas Magnum
        • 5 Years
        5 months, 27 days ago

        Or just similar responses to when you last asked

      2. Andy_Social
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 9 Years
        5 months, 27 days ago

        It's painful to own KDB and see him rotated, rested, subbed off on 59 mins. Less painful if it's Gundo. Dias and Stones are more likely to play 90 mins or not at all, so I'd prioritise them.

        1. The 12th Man
          • 8 Years
          5 months, 27 days ago

          I plan on having KDB and moving to Salah in 33 if he has changed his ways.
          In the meantime I’ll be on TAA and Jota.
          I have Dias but I’m seriously thinking of changing him for one of Cresswell,Alonso, Coady or Tierney.

        2. The 12th Man
          • 8 Years
          5 months, 27 days ago

          It’s even more painful to see Salah’s performances week in, week out.

    2. The 12th Man
      • 8 Years
      5 months, 27 days ago

      Salah > Bruno for me.

  8. CONNERS
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 2 Years
    5 months, 27 days ago

    Morning

    Can anyone please explain what happened to the remaining GW32 fixtures - i.e. will more be added?

    I don't remember reading about another blank GW...

    Thanks

    1. CONNERS
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      5 months, 27 days ago

      Scrub that - just seen earlier article. (Not been on here much lately).

    2. bench boost for every gamew…
      • 4 Years
      5 months, 27 days ago

      Most likely to be played in midweek after, so kept in the same gw.