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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. timawflowers
    • 3 Years
    3 months, 29 days ago

    bamford and antonio in for dcl and watkins? free hits

    1. FPL_Motty
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 1 Year
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Yep

  2. djman102
    • 12 Years
    3 months, 29 days ago

    Great article! I try to overcome hindsight bias with the following (not perfect) analogy:

    I'm rolling dice against an opponent-highest roll wins. There is a 20-sided die and a 6-sided die. I win the coin toss and therefore get to choose which die I roll. I choose the 20-sided and roll a 2. Opponent is left with the 6-sided die and rolls a 6. Opponent wins.

    Did I make a bad choice? Of course not.

    Good decision, bad outcome.

    1. fusen
      • 9 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Yeah, in a more direct FPL way I'll ask myself if I went back in time and were to make my decision again, without knowing the outcome, how likely would I have been to do the same transfer or choose the same captain. If it was a 50/50 call then that's just the luck of the game, but hopefully a logical decision went into the initial choice and if it was logical then you'd probably be making the same choice again if you went back.

      We have no control over random players suddenly scoring hattricks, you just have to accept there will be outliers like that and most will miss them

    2. FPL_Motty
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 1 Year
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Yep nice analogy. Relevant to this last gw when many will take a -4 or -8. It might pay off, might not. But generally over the season I avoid trying to take a -4 unless I look at the decision in a batch of 5 games for example. Unfortunately in this last gw it literally is a "straight shoot" and I don't think there's many good rolls of the dice for -4. In this case it's like your example but you having to use the 6 sided die and trying to beat the 20 sided die.

      I dislike looking at decisions on a single GW basis since it can be so huge. For example the recent Leeds game, I prioritised Raphinha over Bamford. Was it a bad call? Results say yes, but watching the game raphinha could have come away with 1 goal and several assists, just luck of the roll at that point, where a good decision still relies on luck.

    3. Zen Arcade
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      That’s a nice way of thinking about it.

  3. Powers106
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 6 Years
    3 months, 29 days ago

    Any suggestions here, thanks, on my WC which I never used....(I know, I know,,)

    Ederson (Carson)
    TAA - Dallas - Dias (Mitchell - Strujick)
    Salah - Mane - Son - Lingard (Willock)
    Kane - Nacho - Bamford

    Thanks!

    1. waltzingmatildas
      • 11 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Like it. Not sure I'd go for lingard though

    2. FPL_Motty
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 1 Year
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Like it. Id say though.. I think I'd prefer Raph to Son. I know you're probably thinking to spend the money but it doesn't really matter at this stage. Just think Raph is a better pick for this week.

      I think if you have Ederson in goal you dont need dias double up? Im not that convinced city keep a clean, I think they will score alot of goals but wont be so focused to keep a clean sheet. I'd roll the dice with a differential pick, Tierney, R.James, Chilwell? Cresswell too possibly. Up to you tbh. The rest is pretty template so it would be nice for a 1 or 2 differentials on the last day

      Oh also I'd go Antonio or Wood over Nacho but honestly they could all do well its hard to know

      1. Powers106
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        3 months, 29 days ago

        Thanks, I like the idea of 1-2 differentials, I know there are a bunch of good options - I'm less sure about keeping Son than Nacho but sure would like to have Antonio.

    3. thegaffer82
      • 10 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Can't believe you left your WC until GW38. It's the most powerful chip by far IMO, and, crucially, it's a chip that should set you up for 6 weeks of play minimum.

      Obviously, people make a mess of their WC, so it's not fool prooof.

      But, one thing is for sure, you are getting minimal benefit from it if you leave it til the last GW.

      Decent team though. But no chance I'd go for Lingard, Son or even Nacho (fixture).

      I'd find room for Raph & Antonio for sure and maybe a big punt to replace Lingard

      1. Powers106
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        3 months, 29 days ago

        Yeah, well I never quite felt like I needed more than a -4 down the stretch so just never used it. The first WC was during the int'l break so I managed to boost my team value a lot, but the second break I wasn't really ready for massive changes - certainly should have used it to clean up the bench at least somewhere from GW30+ oh well. From that squad, yeah, Lingard, Son, Nacho are my questionable players, I like Rap/Harrison, Antonio and maybe Chilwell. I just wish I could have 4 forwards lol. Cheers!

      2. FPL_Motty
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 1 Year
        3 months, 29 days ago

        I get your point for sure, but I've seen a few very good twitter / content creator managers out there who just didn't need to use their WC until these last couple of GWs. And it actually became a bit of a trap, especially down this last stretch where players who were mass ditched like Martinez, Bamford, Watkins etc, all kept plugging away with points in tough fixtures. I agree it's best used with at least 6 gws to benefit from it but once it gets really late may as well use it like FH in the last GW. I actually dont see much wrong using a FH in the final gw, worth keeping sometimes for that.

        Personally I actually don't like the WC much, or at least I like it but it never works out for me! I definitely end up ditching good players that I wouldn't normally and it drives me nuts. So many times this year, being patient and keeping players on the bench for a good fixture down the road has paid off. Like I've said, Bamford, Watkins, DCL etc etc have all punished when people mass sold them. Myself included!

  4. HD7
    • 4 Years
    3 months, 29 days ago

    Bamford or Antonio as C?

    1. waltzingmatildas
      • 11 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Antonio

  5. KAPTAIN KANE
    • 4 Years
    3 months, 29 days ago

    Pants down

  6. artvandelay316
    3 months, 29 days ago

    Which three would be better to bring in?
    A) Casilla, Torres, Wood
    B) Casilla, Torres, Nacho
    C) Aereola, Raph, Wood
    D) Aereola, Raph, Nacho
    E) Aereola, Torres, Rodrigo

    Cheers.

    1. Aster
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Are you sure Casilla starts?

      1. artvandelay316
        3 months, 29 days ago

        Wasn't it declared for sure by the manager that he will? Earlier in the week someone posted this.

        1. Aster
          3 months, 29 days ago

          I missed that, sorry.

      2. Powers106
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        3 months, 29 days ago

        “It’s a decision I have made. I want Casilla to finish the season in goal.” – Marcelo Bielsa

  7. Powers106
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 6 Years
    3 months, 29 days ago

    Which defender is the best option for the final GW? Thanks!

    a) Dias
    b) Chilwell
    c) Cresswell

    1. waltzingmatildas
      • 11 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Hmm b

    2. Aster
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Cresswell

    3. artvandelay316
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Not that confident a out any of those. They all look like they could concede. Maybe Chilwell.

  8. waltzingmatildas
    • 11 Years
    3 months, 29 days ago

    Mendy
    TAA shaw dallas coufal
    Salah son greenwood lingard
    Kane DCL
    (forster vydra holding jota)

    Thinking I'll do jota and dcl to raphinha and Antonio and bench coufal.
    Either of these worth a hit?
    A) son to Mané
    B) vydra to wood/Bamford (bench lingard)

  9. g40steve
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 3 Years
    3 months, 29 days ago

    Jota & Godfrey > Robertson & Willock -4 ?

  10. son of city
    3 months, 29 days ago

    I don't care anymore about my team this last week, Though am leading in almost all my ML, all my benched players are on a red flag and a yellow flag on one of my starting 11. Have already also wasted my ft on Digne...........

  11. Party time
    3 months, 29 days ago

    Pep was really mad at Potter last night. Wonder If Potter told him something related to Dele

  12. Ibralicious
    • 7 Years
    3 months, 29 days ago

    Which move is better for the final day?

    A) Bruno -> Mane
    B) Son -> Aubameyang

    Cheers!

    1. The Train Driver
      • 6 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Do we think Bruno plays?

      1. Ibralicious
        • 7 Years
        3 months, 29 days ago

        72 hours before the Europa League final with nothing to play for, don't know why Ole would risk him

  13. Aster
    3 months, 29 days ago

    Harrison or Raph?

    1. artvandelay316
      3 months, 29 days ago

      I reckon Raph

    2. Pep's Money Laundry
      • 6 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Raph

  14. HD7
    • 4 Years
    3 months, 29 days ago

    2 FTs, mates... any bright ideas?

    * For context need differentials. Im even considering Bamford or Antonio as Captain

    Mendy
    Philips, Rudiger, Dallas, Holding
    Salah, Son, Jota*,
    Kane, Antonio, Bamford

    Pickford, Greenwood, Siggy, Keane

    1. Pep's Money Laundry
      • 6 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Jota to Mane, siggy/greenwood to fodder if money allows it

  15. artvandelay316
    3 months, 29 days ago

    Pick one from each to start:
    A) Torres/Raph
    B) Wood/Nacho

    1. Aster
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Torres

      Wood

      1. artvandelay316
        3 months, 29 days ago

        Cheers

        1. Aster
          3 months, 29 days ago

          Because Raph still has not hit the form after his injury and Torres missed the last game.

          Wood has a weaker opponent to play.

          1. artvandelay316
            3 months, 29 days ago

            Yeah Wood I am quite confident over as he has SHU.

            Torres I'm a bit dubious over if he will play, but I'll cover him on the bench with either Greenwood or Lingard.

  16. Pep bites Kun
    • 5 Years
    3 months, 29 days ago

    Simon, I really like like your articles. I like this one also, but I don't like the City players as examples of good or bad judgement. An fpl mgr who chose a City player is a 'bigger gambler than most' in my opinion. There were more trusted, nailed, profitable players to play this week and before.

    I get your point; I just don't get your target player profile for it.

  17. BobB
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 12 Years
    3 months, 29 days ago

    I've done Bruno to Mane, to double-up with Salah. Pool should score a few v Palace

  18. jdp219
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 4 Years
    3 months, 29 days ago

    1) Bruno > Mane (have Salah)
    2) Mahrez > Bale (have Kane)
    3) Vydra > Rodrigo (have Dallas, Raph - can't get Bam w/o a hit)

    Open to suggestions, too, if you're willing.

    1. BobB
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 12 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      A. Bruno will surely be rested, and Pool are goal-hunting v Palace

    2. Little Red Lacazette
      • 4 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      1

  19. Chandler Bing
    • 5 Years
    3 months, 29 days ago

    How are Rodrigo and Aubameyang as differential picks if chasing 23 points? Can't push to Bamford due to budget constraints.

  20. MOZIL
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    3 months, 29 days ago

    Rashford likely to start the last game?

    1. Chandler Bing
      • 5 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Doubt it. But he'll feature off the bench for sure.

    2. Bobby Digital
      • 4 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      I'm hoping Utd look at the game as practice for the final and play their best lineup... I know... wishful thinking.

  21. Bobby Digital
    • 4 Years
    3 months, 29 days ago

    Pick one:

    A. Raphinha
    B. Lingard
    C. JWP
    D. Sigurdsson
    E. Other max 6.9m midfielder

    1. dunas_dog
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      A

    2. Chandler Bing
      • 5 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      A

    3. Little Red Lacazette
      • 4 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      A

    4. Bobby Digital
      • 4 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Cheers all

  22. dunas_dog
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 6 Years
    3 months, 29 days ago

    Who scores more - looking for DCL replacement

    A Antonio (SOU)
    B Iheanacho (SPURS)
    C Bamford (WBA)

    1. Bobby Digital
      • 4 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      A

    2. Chandler Bing
      • 5 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      C looks the favourite

    3. Little Red Lacazette
      • 4 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      A

  23. Dwotle
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 1 Year
    3 months, 29 days ago

    Will Forster start? My other keeper is Meslier...

    1. fpork
      • 6 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Will Meslier be dropped again?

      1. Dwotle
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 1 Year
        3 months, 29 days ago

        Apparently Bielsa plans on starting Casilla.

  24. Crazy RedDevil
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 9 Years
    3 months, 29 days ago

    My current team for final gw as below:
    Martínez
    Digne
    Phillips
    Dallas
    Greenwood
    Mahrez
    Salah
    Son
    Iheanacho
    Kane
    Calvert-Lewin
    McCarthy
    Shaw
    Traoré
    Ward

    I've 1 ft and my current global ranking is 688. I'm planning to bring Trent & Bamford for a hit as in my mini league, my rival has got Trent and I'm leading by 13 points only. What do u think,guys? Pl suggest.

    1. AC/DC AFC
      • 6 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      that's quite incredible, you're ranked in the top 700 out of 8 million plus players but only 13 points ahead in your mini league.

      Mind-boggling.

    2. AC/DC AFC
      • 6 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Seems a good approach but trust yourself as you've played into that position.

    3. AC/DC AFC
      • 6 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Looking at his team it's a combo of Rudiger and Mendy that could catch you and Lingard is a threat too.

      Potentially El Ghazi but that would work for you.

      Best of luck and really well played.

      1. AC/DC AFC
        • 6 Years
        3 months, 29 days ago

        Shaw to Trent makes sense if you can afford it and hope Villa score.

    4. Crazy RedDevil
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      U r someone from my mini league?

      1. AC/DC AFC
        • 6 Years
        3 months, 28 days ago

        No, just had a quick look.

        Good luck.

  25. winchester
    3 months, 29 days ago

    Hey lads, have 1ft and 1.7m itb. Leading ML with 50 points. What should be done here?

    mendy
    taa coufal rudiger/lowton*
    greenwood bruno lingard zaha salah(c)
    kane bamford

    forster rudiger/lowton* mitchell davis

  26. MOZIL
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    3 months, 29 days ago

    Kane to Firmino for -4?

    1. Il Capitano
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Nay

    2. Little Red Lacazette
      • 4 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      No

    3. g40steve
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Taking out the second highest points scorer for a player not known for big points could go bad.
      Knowing FPL either could haul final week but one has the advantage of pens?

  27. Aster
    3 months, 29 days ago

    Lingard to Mane?

  28. Little Red Lacazette
    • 4 Years
    3 months, 29 days ago

    Btw, has Mane ever blanked against Palace?

    1. g40steve
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      3 months, 29 days ago

      Salah has never scored at Turf Moor but that never stopped the fear factor.

  29. merin
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 6 Years
    3 months, 29 days ago

    What transfers would you make here?
    I’m 19p behind the leader in my mini league, so I have to take some risk to win it.

    Dubravka Areola
    TAA Shaw Dallas Phillips Targett
    Salah Bruno Greenwood Lingard JWP
    Kane Antonio Bamford

    1 FT, 0.5 ITB, No chips left

  30. fpork
    • 6 Years
    3 months, 29 days ago

    1) Dallas
    2) Robertson