Pro Pundits - Simon

Hindsight bias and how not to look back in anger in FPL

The 2014/15 Fantasy Premier League champion Simon March provides his final thoughts of the season as we head into Gameweek 38 of the campaign.


There was a discussion in the FPL community this week about hindsight bias, what it is and what it means for FPL managers. Looking back, it’s obviously an interesting topic, I don’t know why I didn’t write an article on it before… Oh well, better late than never.

Hindsight, which is to gain an understanding of a situation or event only after it has occurred, is problematic for FPL managers in a number of ways but, perhaps most significantly, in the way it confuses our decision-making and how it influences our enjoyment of the game. This article will consider why our tendency towards hindsight occurs and what we might be able to do to control its negative effects.

Hindsight bias is the tendency among humans to perceive past events or outcomes as having been more predictable than they, in fact, actually were. While some might consider this bias about as useful as the ‘remember me’ button in the Fantasy Football Scout Premium Member’s Area, it does in fact serve a purpose. Like most cognitive biases, hindsight as a phenomenon is born out of our evolution and the limitations of the human mind to cope with everything that our environments throw at it.

Because we are regularly bombarded with far more information than we can realistically process, our brains prioritise certain elements of it. Thus, we tend to recall more easily and attribute more importance to more recent events than ones further in the past. As a result, we find ourselves judging decisions in terms of their outcomes because this information is more easily accessible. Consequently, we tend to retrospectively consider this outcome information as being obvious all along, especially compared to whatever basis we were using to make our decision before the event took place.

Recency is not the only driver of hindsight bias however, surprise is also a trigger. When we are surprised by something, our life may depend on our brain quickly making sense of it, so it goes ahead and tries to do that. One unfortunate side-effect of this process is that it effectively neutralizes the ‘surprising’ element of the event in our subconscious, again making it seem like it was obvious all along and creating the somewhat perverse circumstance where, the more surprising an event is, the more we are likely to overestimate our chances of having foreseen it.

So, for example, when Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins (£6.5m) bangs in a hat-trick against Liverpool, our first response might be one of surprise, but this will be followed very quickly by our second response, which is to think of reasons why it might actually have been foreseeable.

The final driver of hindsight for this discussion is negativity. We are more likely to apply hindsight to negative outcomes than positive ones. This might partially be due to the emotional, mind-clouding influence that bad news can have on us, but it is also a hardwired survival mechanism. Whereas when something goes well for us, like our captain scoring a hat-trick, we can simply bask in the glory of our own FPL genius, when something goes wrong for us, our mind wants to make sense of it immediately so we can avoid it happening again. Of course, the easiest way to do that is to accept that what you now know was actually quite predictable.

Is all this a problem? Potentially, yes. If we start judging our decisions and the likelihood of events based on their outcomes, we risk polluting our decision-making process with less evidence-based or logical criteria. Instead of accepting that an unpredictable event was, indeed, unpredictable, we start to rely on unreliable factors, believing that they will help us foresee the unforeseeable. We don’t learn anything from this experience, or nothing of value at least, and we potentially become worse FPL managers as a result.

It can also be a problem with respect to our enjoyment of the game. There will, for example, have been plenty of people choosing between, say, Man City’s Riyad Mahrez (£8.1m) and Ferran Torres (£7.0m) ahead of their match against Newcastle in Gameweek 36. The logical decision based on current form, amount of rest and likelihood of starting was almost certainly Mahrez. The correct decision based on outcome was Torres, who outscored Mahrez by 20 points to zero.

So, while out of 100 decisions, the process that might have led to picking Mahrez will likely outperform the decision process that led to picking Torres, anyone who went for Mahrez will feel frustrated, rueful and negative about their ability as an FPL manager because they believe they should have known all along that Torres would start and score a hat-trick and Mahrez would blank entirely. Anyone who went for Torres, meanwhile, will feel like an FPL genius. Yet, based on this decision alone, neither would be entirely true. This event is an aberration which benefited some and not others.

Now, before anybody says anything, I am not saying that there was no skill involved in picking Torres or that his owners just got lucky. We are all, at this point, familiar with the art of ‘upside-chasing’. It is simply to say that one event was, objectively, more likely than the other and the fact that the outcome contradicted this assessment doesn’t, of itself, change that.

What can we do about hindsight bias?

Hat-trick hero Torres making late-season claim as powerful FPL differential

The key to overcoming hindsight bias is learning to evaluate decisions based on their logic rather than their outcome. Rationally-speaking, the outcome should be irrelevant if the logic used in the decision-making process was sound. 

Obviously, this is much easier said than done but one thing that makes it easier is to establish a criteria for making FPL decisions that you stick to and only change when necessary. Not only does this help ensure logic and consistency in decision-making, it allows you to evaluate and refine your process for making those decisions, something which will, over time, actually make you a better FPL manager.

This process may also help FPL managers overcome the negative feelings associated with hindsight bias but, if not, it can also help to consider how you might have come to the decision you didn’t make. 

Using the example from above; to have chosen Torres over Mahrez, a manager would have had to have anticipated the following; Torres would start ahead of Mahrez despite having played City’s previous match (which was a loss in which Torres blanked) rather than Mahrez who was rested for that game entirely, that Torres would play more minutes than Mahrez, despite Mahrez having played around 600 minutes more than Torres this season and, finally, that Torres would outscore Mahrez, something which, by any measure, would have appeared unlikely prior to the match against Newcastle.

Engaging in this process can help you flip your brain back into evaluation mode and, while it might not stop you questioning other aspects of your game, such as your willingness to take bigger risks, it should at least help you avoid your hindsight bias convincing you that your decision was wrong based purely on the outcome.

Pro Pundits 22

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397 Comments Post a Comment
  1. el polako
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 4 Years
    2 months, 8 days ago

    Really need somebody much more wiser than me to suggest good explosive differential captain for the final GW.
    Currently 19 points of top 100k and really want to finish inside it.

    1. ⱼₐᵣᵥᵢₛₕ
      • 6 Years
      2 months, 8 days ago

      Dallas?

      1. el polako
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        2 months, 8 days ago

        Not bad shout.
        Also thinking about Antonio and one of TAA or Mane as both WHU and LFC have still something to play for.

    2. Free Hat
      • 2 Years
      2 months, 8 days ago

      Same rankish sort of.
      Going Mane C. Not performing great, but a candidate capable of hauling in a team that needs to go for it.

      1. el polako
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        2 months, 8 days ago

        Yeah, might be that he is due his 1 a season master haul in last game.

    3. Jon Walter's Hatty
      • 7 Years
      2 months, 8 days ago

      I went TAA for 37 and likely will go 38 too. Playing right wing it seems and has several routes to points. Cleanie always looks about to go though

      1. el polako
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        2 months, 8 days ago

        You can just see Benteke scoring a header from one cross in 80 some minute...

    4. schlupptheweek
      • 7 Years
      2 months, 8 days ago

      I know Rafinha has not got many double digit hauls but he is due a big haul based on his performances.

      1. el polako
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        2 months, 8 days ago

        Rumours that Bielsa.may heavily rotate.

        1. mixology
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 8 Years
          2 months, 8 days ago

          Wow, wasn't expecting that. Will have to wait for pressers

        2. FPL_Motty
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          2 months, 8 days ago

          Are there? I've not seen any, mind pointing them out? Seems a very un-Bielsa type thing to do, it's not like he has a squad like city. I can't see Dallas, Bamford, Raphinha, Ayling, Harrison etc not playing

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

      "Wise ones" are just as likely to suggest a loser , go gut and be done

      1. el polako
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        2 months, 8 days ago

        In the end I will go with my gut feeling but it's good to listen to others in case I am missing someone interesting when shortlisting my final GW captains.

    6. Camzy
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      2 months, 8 days ago

      19 points is a decent amount. I'd take a shot at Antonio, Raphinha, Mahrez type of players.

    7. FPL_Motty
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      2 months, 8 days ago

      I would get Mane + Salah and Cap Mane.

    8. Bushwhacker
      • 2 Years
      2 months, 8 days ago

      Surely have to punt on Aguero starting and every City player passing to him in the six yard box where he’ll be sitting on a deckchair.

    9. No Kane No Gain
      • 2 Years
      2 months, 8 days ago

      Got to be aguero mate

  2. Free Hat
    • 2 Years
    2 months, 8 days ago

    In hindsight playing FPL seems so easy.
    In reality however...

  3. Nomar
    • 11 Years
    2 months, 8 days ago

    Because this goal never really gets the full recognition it deserves.

    Enjoy.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YHbGjCNobQ

    1. el polako
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      2 months, 8 days ago

      The only thing which could make it better for I'd be if Redondo scored it.

  4. The Knights Template
    • 7 Years
    2 months, 8 days ago

    Captain Hindsight always provides absolute clarity about the best decisions to make.

  5. HD7
    • 4 Years
    2 months, 8 days ago

    Pick the best duo of differentials from: Harrison, Pepe, Torres, ESR.

    Ofc if you have other ideas, Im listening:)
    Also Raphinha and Lingard arent the best differentials, but if you think they will haul?

    1. Free Hat
      • 2 Years
      2 months, 8 days ago

      Out of the 4 Harrison because Im not 100% sure whether the others will start.
      Especially arsenal difficult to predict with, laca, auba, willian, odegaard, saka,...

  6. ZAMUNDA
    • 4 Years
    2 months, 8 days ago

    Adams to Rodrigo? Y/N
    Already have Dallas and Raphinha

  7. RedWolf
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 4 Years
    2 months, 8 days ago

    Based on this article, I should be picking Foden over Willock?

    1. Bushwhacker
      • 2 Years
      2 months, 8 days ago

      Given Willock’s out its a sound move

      1. OneMan
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        2 months, 8 days ago

        Willock out ?

  8. ZAMUNDA
    • 4 Years
    2 months, 8 days ago

    Leading ML by 66 points and still 5 points off 10k. Any thoughts what do do here? 1 FT - 0.0 ITB

    Mendy
    TAA - Rudiger - Dallas
    Salah - Bruno - Mahrez - Lingard - Raphinha
    Kane - Antonio

    Forster - Adams - Shaw - Coady

    Adams to Rodrigo and bench Lingard?

  9. Ibralicious
    • 6 Years
    2 months, 8 days ago

    Why is everyong transferring out Son? Been out of the loop, but is he guaranteed to miss the final GW?

    1. el polako
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      2 months, 8 days ago

      Might be something to do with Spurs being abysmal, Kane wanting to leave and Levy letting junior trainee manage first team.

      1. Bobby's Teeth
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        2 months, 8 days ago

        Ryan the Temp!

    2. Pasqualinho
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 12 Years
      2 months, 8 days ago

      People are saying that his poor recent form is because he's upset about Kane leaving. Which is very relevant to the article.

      1. Bushwhacker
        • 2 Years
        2 months, 8 days ago

        Kane can’t leave. Spurs can sell him. This sounds like nonsense.

  10. Aster
      2 months, 8 days ago

      Who of the following is expected to start?

      A) Mahrez
      B) Greenwood
      C) Dias
      D) Shaw

      1. jdp219
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        2 months, 8 days ago

        Oof. C ... maybe? Just for the match fitness? Really no idea, though.

      2. FPL_Motty
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        2 months, 8 days ago

        You could be lucky and get A B and C. Not D

      3. Bushwhacker
        • 2 Years
        2 months, 8 days ago

        No

    • Cancelo Culture
      • 2 Years
      2 months, 8 days ago

      Thoughts on Bruno being rested for the Europa final? What are the chances with 2nd in the bag?

      1. Marcin the Pole
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        2 months, 8 days ago

        50-50 I'd say.

      2. FPL_Motty
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        2 months, 8 days ago

        Probably quite high the more I think about it. There is literally 0 need for him to play. 2nd locked in what else is there?

      3. Bushwhacker
        • 2 Years
        2 months, 8 days ago

        Guaranteed

    • jdp219
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      2 months, 8 days ago

      1FT, 1.5itb // 43k OR // Lead ML by 62

      1) Bruno > literally any other mid (have Salah)
      2) Mahrez > Bale (have Kane)
      3) Vydra > Rodrigo (have Dallas, Raph)
      4) Bruno, Vydra > [any mid under 10], Bamford (-4)

    • leocarter27
      • 6 Years
      2 months, 8 days ago

      What to do here please?

      Play 1

      A) Konsa (Che h)
      B) Coady (Mun h)
      C) Tierney in for a -4 (Bha h)

      Thanks

      1. FPL_Motty
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        2 months, 8 days ago

        Wouldn't take a hit for a def. Play Coady.. just.. or flip a coin.

    • Slitherene
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 8 days ago

      RmFHt?

      Dubravka | Gillespie
      Shaw Dallas Cresswell
      Salah Mane Auba Rashford
      Wood Antonio Bamford
      | Mee Smith-Rowe Phillips

      1. jdp219
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        2 months, 8 days ago

        Looks good, but not sure about Shaw.

      2. FPL_Motty
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        2 months, 8 days ago

        Shaw Wont play. Wheres your Liverpool Def? On a FH I'd probably have both TAA and Robbo. I wouldn't bother with any Utd so I wouldnt get Rashford either.

        Kane still a good option and would be a rank killer if he bangs. Golden boot race on the line.

        And wheres Raphinha? Or could be Harrison but surely must have triple Leeds.

      3. Lemongrab
        • 11 Years
        2 months, 8 days ago

        I wouldn't pick Rashford Shaw (surely the man Utd b team plays on sun) or Aubamayang (Brighton defence is good).

    • SB16
        2 months, 8 days ago

        Chasing ML leader (ahead by 3 points), who has Alisson is goal. Thinking DCL -> Bamford for my team, but should I take a -4 hit to bring in Phillips for Shaw to cover Alission's likely clean sheet?

        My team currently is:

        Martinez
        Azpi TAA Dallas (Shaw Coady)
        Lingard Salah (C) Son Raphinha (Gundogan)
        DCL Kane Antonio

        1. el polako
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 4 Years
          2 months, 8 days ago

          Madness, you'll need cs just to brake even.
          Don't do it.

          1. SB16
              2 months, 8 days ago

              Fair point, thanks.
              Been tossing up between Bamford & Nacho, but the former seems the wiser pick

              1. el polako
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 4 Years
                2 months, 8 days ago

                Considered leaving leaving DCL ?
                Everton much better away, City been leaky lately plus got other priorities.
                You could then get Phillips with your FT to cover his Allison.

          2. Bushwhacker
            • 2 Years
            2 months, 8 days ago

            Palace will score

        2. Neo-Viper
          • 6 Years
          2 months, 8 days ago

          What would you do?

          A) Play Nacho
          B) DCL to Anto for - 4 (Have Lingard)
          C) DCL to Bamford for - 4 (Have Raphinha)

          1. FPL_Motty
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            2 months, 8 days ago

            Play Nacho for sure

        3. vincentwsho
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 2 Years
          2 months, 8 days ago

          Who will score more in GW38? Need to find a Jota replacement.

          A) Lingard
          B) Raphinha

          1. el polako
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 4 Years
            2 months, 8 days ago

            Wait for pressers, there was some talk that he might be back for Sunday.

          2. Neo-Viper
            • 6 Years
            2 months, 8 days ago

            Raphinha

        4. Parsnips
            2 months, 8 days ago

            Bruno and Son > Pepe and mane!! I feel confident about these moves.

            Would make the team look like

            Martinez
            Dallas shaw Coufal
            Pepe Mane Salah Raph/Lingard
            Kane Bamford Antonio

            Fabri Raph/Lingard Holding Philips

          • Aster
              2 months, 8 days ago

              Should I keep DCL or sell for Antonio?

              1. RuudUnited89
                  2 months, 8 days ago

                  Sell!

                • OneMan
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 4 Years
                  2 months, 8 days ago

                  Sell

              2. RuudUnited89
                  2 months, 8 days ago

                  Guys help me out please!

                  It's a long shot i know but I'm desperately hanging onto hope lol. I'm 51 points behind in my mini league but I have triple captain to play! Who should i pick, Salah? Also is it worth me going all out nuts and doing like a minus 12 haha

                  I'd appreciate any help

                  Cheers guys

                  My team is

                  Lloris Sanchez

                  TAA Dias Dallas Castagne Saiss

                  Salah Greenwood Saka Zaha Foden

                  DCL Kane Nacho

                  Was thinking to do minus 4 for Antonio for Kane and Zaha for Mane?

                  1. Bobby's Teeth
                    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                    • 5 Years
                    2 months, 8 days ago

                    I have no idea where this love for Mane is coming from - seems like a plague across the entire community. The guy can't hit a barn door right now

                    1. jtreble
                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                      • 4 Years
                      2 months, 8 days ago

                      “... I have no idea where this love for Mane is coming from ...”. Stats.

                      1. Bobby's Teeth
                        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                        • 5 Years
                        2 months, 8 days ago

                        Hmm, he looks completely short on confidence to me

                        1. MightyGar
                            2 months, 8 days ago

                            It's desperation / nothing to lose. He is a player who could go big, 15+, and has in the past. His current form means he is low-owned. I am considering it, but won't get upset if it fails

                            1. Bobby's Teeth
                              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                              • 5 Years
                              2 months, 8 days ago

                              Fair enough

                  2. Aster
                      2 months, 8 days ago

                      Mahrez to Torres?

                      Yes or no?

                      1. Parsnips
                          2 months, 8 days ago

                          Nah

                          1. Aster
                              2 months, 8 days ago

                              You believe Mahrez starts?

                              1. Parsnips
                                  2 months, 8 days ago

                                  I would of thought. Before the Brighton game he missed 3 in a row. I’d keep if I had him

                            • artvandelay316
                                2 months, 8 days ago

                                Better him than Mahrez.

                            • JJeyy
                              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                              • 5 Years
                              2 months, 8 days ago

                              So did anyone listen to the experts and bench/sell Lingard against the worst defence in the league?

                            • RedJive79
                              • 1 Year
                              2 months, 8 days ago

                              Start Digne or Struijk?

                              1. Aster
                                  2 months, 8 days ago

                                  Struijk

                                • Little Red Lacazette
                                  • 4 Years
                                  2 months, 8 days ago

                                  Struijk

                              2. Marcin the Pole
                                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                • 6 Years
                                2 months, 8 days ago

                                Mane a good option for the final gameweek? Tempted to buy and captain, chasing.

                                1. FFSbet.com
                                  • 5 Years
                                  2 months, 8 days ago

                                  Yeah,thinks its best option for that

                                2. Aster
                                    2 months, 8 days ago

                                    Not convinced by Mane

                                3. FFSbet.com
                                  • 5 Years
                                  2 months, 8 days ago

                                  How many hits are you taking?
                                  I like hits but cant see any this last GW that could pay off.

                                  One of Digne,Son,Kane maybe out but can only see Son > Mane(-4) maybe paying off.

                                  21k and cant make it to 10k,probaby will just use FT.

                                  1. gooberman
                                    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                    • 9 Years
                                    2 months, 8 days ago

                                    No hits for me. Have 2 free.

                                  2. FPL_Motty
                                    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                    2 months, 8 days ago

                                    Yeah I'm of this opinion. Generally I never take hits for 1 week punts, its always with the next 3 or 5 in mind in comparison. That and theres no stand out options this week I can see. I'm stuck with Digne or Coady or Shaw but its definitely not worth punting with a -4 for that. 4pts is still worth alot, I think roughly ~5k in the top 100k.

                                    I also think not taking a hit this week will be an auto-rank boost. Probably see an avg of -2pts at least

                                    1. FFSbet.com
                                      • 5 Years
                                      2 months, 8 days ago

                                      True,think not taking hit could pay off more.

                                      Wanted Digne + Son out (-8) but high chance i end up will less points

                                      1. grumpyman
                                        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                        • 5 Years
                                        2 months, 8 days ago

                                        Sensible. I’ve got four players flagged or unlikely to start so I’ve got to take one unfortunately. Never taken so many hits in the season run-in, it’s been an absolute clusterduck.

                                      2. FPL_Motty
                                        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                        2 months, 8 days ago

                                        Yeah for sure. Digne got an assist last time against city. Son is still a good pick.

                                        "Clusterduck" haha. Better than the original. Yeah I've taken the most hits ever this season, but with all the blanks, PPs, doubles etc it has mostly made sense. I've seen some crazy amount of hit taking though

                                4. gooberman
                                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                  • 9 Years
                                  2 months, 8 days ago

                                  In 3 days time it will all be over!

                                5. Disco Stu
                                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                  • 9 Years
                                  2 months, 8 days ago

                                  Greenwood starts this week. Yay or Nay?

                                  1. Aster
                                      2 months, 8 days ago

                                      I hope so

                                  2. Aster
                                      2 months, 8 days ago

                                      DCL to Nacho?

                                    • Scots Gooner
                                      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                      • 4 Years
                                      2 months, 8 days ago

                                      How positive are we really that Bruno won't play?

                                      It's not like Ole hasn't run him into the ground the rest of the season.

                                      I'm sure he'll play most the game to be honest, it's just a question if you believe he will return anything.

                                      1. jtreble
                                        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                        • 4 Years
                                        2 months, 8 days ago

                                        And risk injury? Pass.

                                    • Parsnips
                                        2 months, 8 days ago

                                        Need some help guys...

                                        Best mid for under 9.1mil pls??

                                        1. Aster
                                            2 months, 8 days ago

                                            Harrison