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. Powers106
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 6 Years
    2 months, 16 days ago

    I've got TAA and Salah, but I'm still not convinced that Mane is the better choice over Robbo - once the game in hand (whenever that is) won't Liverpool be trying to feed Salah for the Golden Boot, even despite the alleged "not passing" between Mane and Salah?

    1. FPL_Motty
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      2 months, 16 days ago

      Haha no way Mane is passing to Salah when he's through on goal.

      Robbo is a very good pick, and the double clean sheet potential can easily outscore the double mane salah combo. Equally palace can score and its a double wipe which hurts. I'm going Mane myself but I'm not hugely convinced to be honest. But at the end of the day, theres bigger upside to Mane. Robbo needs a clean sheet and an assist to get double figures. Mane only needs 1 goal probably.

  2. It’s gonna Ben Mee
    • 7 Years
    2 months, 16 days ago

    Meslier won’t start, will he?

    1. Il Capitano
        2 months, 16 days ago

        Nope

    2. DV8R
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 10 Years
      2 months, 16 days ago

      Best midfielder to replace Bruno at 10.9m or less? Thinking Havertz for a punt but not sure if he's fit to start

    3. Nawton
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 10 Years
      2 months, 16 days ago

      Protecting 30 point lead in ML. Appreciate thoughts on options...

      1. Son and Zaha (-4) -> Mane and Raphinha (I already have Salah (c) and rival will almost certainly captain Mane)
      2. Struijk and Zaha (-4) -> Dallas and Lingard (simply as blockers for rival's team)
      3. Chill and just do Zaha -> Lingard or Raphinha

      1. FPL_Motty
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        2 months, 16 days ago

        Do you know for sure what they will do? Honestly with a 30pt lead its cheap but just copy and block their moves and you've won.

        Otherwise in normal times I'd just chill and do Zaha to Raph.

        1. Nawton
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 10 Years
          2 months, 16 days ago

          Yeah, I can't see them doing anything but Bruno to Mané (c) as they don't have Salah. If I did option 1, I'm even considering captain Mané as another cheap block 😀

          1. FPL_Motty
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            2 months, 16 days ago

            Yep in that case 100% captain Mane as well. You can't really lose then haha

            1. Nawton
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 10 Years
              2 months, 16 days ago

              Haha! Cheers 🙂

    4. Dr Jekyll
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      2 months, 16 days ago

      Close in my mini league
      Jota for Raphina or Lingard ?
      Worth -4 to do Digne for Robertson

      Advice appreciated

    5. Il Capitano
        2 months, 16 days ago

        1FT 1.4m ITB

        Martinez
        TAA Digne Shaw
        Son Lingard Salah Raphinha
        DCL Bamford Kane

        Fabri - ESR Targett Mitchell

        A) Targett/Shaw/Digne > Dallas
        B) Digne > Robertson
        C) Both for -4

        1. DV8R
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 10 Years
          2 months, 16 days ago

          B

        2. Aster
            2 months, 16 days ago

            Spread out the risk with Liverpool defence so Dallas def

          • Il Capitano
              2 months, 16 days ago

              Thanks both, tough call.

          • SomeoneKnows
            • 5 Years
            2 months, 16 days ago

            Martinez (Forster)
            TAA, Dallas, Coufal (Shaw, Coleman)
            Salah, Son, Lingard, Greenwood (Jota)
            Kane, Wood (DCL)

            A) Jota > Raphinha
            B) Jota > Willock
            C) DCL > Antonio
            D) DCL > Bamford

          • Little Red Lacazette
            • 4 Years
            2 months, 16 days ago

            Play Watkins or Greenwood?

            Martinez
            TAA Phillips Rudiger
            Raphinha Lingard Son Salah
            Kane Bamford Watkins

            Sanchez Greenwood Digne Coady

            1. MOZIL
              • 5 Years
              2 months, 16 days ago

              Greenwood

            2. timmmuh
              • 5 Years
              2 months, 16 days ago

              or both and drop lingard to 1st bench spot

              1. Little Red Lacazette
                • 4 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                Hard to bench Lingz

          • merin
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 5 Years
            2 months, 16 days ago

            (Bottomed)

            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

            1. timmmuh
              • 5 Years
              2 months, 16 days ago

              Maybe Bruno to Son or Raphina (or Harrison) ...

              1. merin
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 5 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                Cheers

              2. merin
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 5 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                Who would you cap?

          • g40steve
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 3 Years
            2 months, 16 days ago

            Martinez owners holding or moving?

            Casilla or Alisson

            1. Aster
                2 months, 16 days ago

                Casilla if you have Taa, Philips or Robertson

              • FPL_Motty
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                2 months, 16 days ago

                pointless move really?

              • timmmuh
                • 5 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                holding

                1. JohnnyRev7
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 10 Years
                  2 months, 16 days ago

                  Holding Holding or holding?

            2. Ronnies
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 6 Years
              2 months, 16 days ago

              Martinez
              TAA, Dallas, Lowton
              Salah, Raphinha, Lingard, Bruno
              Kane, Antonio, Watkins

              Forster, Greenwood, Shaw, Mitchell

              0.3m ITB, 1 FT

              Worth a -4 ?
              Bruno, Watkins > Mane, Rodrigo

              Not enough in bank for Bamford.

              Cheers

              1. timmmuh
                • 5 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                Watkins has returned in 7 straight ... not sure I'd be keen to move him on.

                1. Ronnies
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 6 Years
                  2 months, 16 days ago

                  Cheers for reply.
                  Do you think he will get something vs Chelsea, surely Bamford has a better chance of hauling?

            3. JohnnyRev7
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 10 Years
              2 months, 16 days ago

              Bushwacker wrote:

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

              I'm all for it if we get a confirmation from Pep that Agüero will start.

              Kun (c) could be gold. Unlike Silva (c) GW38 last season.

              I've nothing to play for so why not have some fun?

              Who's with me?

              1. Ajax Hamsterdam
                • 7 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                Not me

              2. No Kane No Gain
                • 2 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                I’m with you 100%

              3. Scots Gooner
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 4 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                Maybe. See how brave I feel Sunday.

              4. No Kane No Gain
                • 2 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                If fit, why would Pep not play him?! It’s what the fans want and he said himself he’s been a great servant to the club. Will be like an insult to leave him on the bench if he was fit!

            4. dunas_dog
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 6 Years
              2 months, 16 days ago

              To start alongside
              Leno
              TAA Dallas ****

              A Fofana
              B Digne
              C Holding

              1. timmmuh
                • 5 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                C

            5. Toughie
              • 5 Years
              2 months, 16 days ago

              Who scores more?

              A. Dallas, Greenwood & +4 points
              B. Mane, Willock & - 4 points

              1. timmmuh
                • 5 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                Depends on whether Greenwood plays, if he does, then A

            6. timmmuh
              • 5 Years
              2 months, 16 days ago

              Does anyone see a valid/beneficial transfer here? 1 FT/$1.3M ITB:

              Martinez (Forster)
              TAA (c) Dallas Phillips (Shaw/Digne)
              Son Salah Greenwood Raphina (Pereira)
              Kane Antonio Watkins

              Thought about moving Watkins, but he's been so consistent. Any other thoughts on lineup? Bench order is Pereira/Shaw/Digne. Cheers!

              1. PogBruno
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 3 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                Watkins to Bam

                1. timmmuh
                  • 5 Years
                  2 months, 16 days ago

                  Thx

              2. Honker Muddlefoot
                • 2 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                I understand what you’re saying about Watkins, but with Chelsea’s stingy defence under Tuchel and looking to lock up top 4, I don’t know how many opportunities he gets this week. Would you consider Watkins > Bamford? First home match in front of fans against WBA. Could be big returns for Leeds attacking assets. I’d worry a little bit about Greenwood’s minutes, too. A late cameo or early exit could block a Pereira sub without any returns. With Pereira’s form, he might not be a bad shout to just start instead. Maybe I’m being overly cautious about Man U rotation, though. Good luck, mate!

                1. timmmuh
                  • 5 Years
                  2 months, 16 days ago

                  thanks for the thoughts, very interesting ... been wrong on the bench last few weeks (had phillips/pereira/waktins all returning points on bench last week) ... so pereira may be a good shout

              3. dunas_dog
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 6 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                Agree Bamford for Watkins

            7. PogBruno
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 3 Years
              2 months, 16 days ago

              Vardy Keep or Sell?

              1. fr3d
                • 3 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                He was a sell GW18 last season

                1. PogBruno
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 3 Years
                  2 months, 16 days ago

                  Hehe can I get something from him against poor Spurs def?

              2. Zen Arcade
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 3 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                I’d keep, Spurs look horrific.

              3. Powers106
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 6 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                You should sell, plenty of better options.

              4. Ajax Hamsterdam
                • 7 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                Keep 100%

              5. timmmuh
                • 5 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                I'd sell

              6. JJeyy
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 5 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                Keep for spurs

            8. Lucky Z
              • 3 Years
              2 months, 16 days ago

              Lloris • Mendy
              Holding • Shaw • Phillips • Digne • Azpi
              Salah • Bruno • Greenwood • Lingard • Maddison
              DCL • Vardy • Iheanacho

              What to do with this mess, 1.2ITB and 2FTs?

              Bruno and Vardy => Mane/Auba and Kun if fit?

            9. Zen Arcade
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 3 Years
              2 months, 16 days ago

              Back in the pub for the first time last night and watched Pool on the TV having brought in Robbo this week. How they kept
              It clean I don’t know but the pint at full time went down deliciously =)

              1. fr3d
                • 3 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                I want moments like that back in my life

            10. Powers106
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 6 Years
              2 months, 16 days ago

              Just playing with the bench here, but what are the odds of a Burnley cs v SHU? Maybe Lowton or Mee are nailed even for the final gw?

              1. Ajax Hamsterdam
                • 7 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                I m having lowton first on bench but can't see a cs

              2. AC/DC AFC
                • 5 Years
                2 months, 16 days ago

                I'd fancy a no pressure Sheffield United with fans in Bramall Lane to score at least once against Burnley.

                That young kid or Brewster??

            11. winchester
                2 months, 16 days ago

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

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

                forster lowton mitchell davis

                1. Zen Arcade
                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                  • 3 Years
                  2 months, 16 days ago

                  I’d be tempted by Dallas or Raph.

                  1. winchester
                      2 months, 16 days ago

                      Cheers

                  2. Ajax Hamsterdam
                    • 7 Years
                    2 months, 16 days ago

                    Lose Bruno for mane or auba imo

                    1. winchester
                        2 months, 16 days ago

                        Cheers lad

                  3. Ajax Hamsterdam
                    • 7 Years
                    2 months, 16 days ago

                    Harrison or perreira? Have dallas and raphinha

                  4. Aster
                      2 months, 16 days ago

                      Lloris to whom?

                      1. Yank Revolution
                        • 9 Years
                        2 months, 16 days ago

                        Same question- Im thinking Allison.

                        1. Aster
                            2 months, 16 days ago

                            Or Casilla...I already have TAA

                      2. dunas_dog
                        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                        • 6 Years
                        2 months, 16 days ago

                        Which goalie to start

                        A Forster (whu)
                        B Leno (BHA)

                        1. Aster
                            2 months, 16 days ago

                            Leno

                          • Powers106
                            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                            • 6 Years
                            2 months, 16 days ago

                            A for save points
                            B is probably safer choice

                          • dabber7
                            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                            2 months, 16 days ago

                            Are you certain Forster will start?

                        2. pablo discobar
                          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                          • 11 Years
                          2 months, 16 days ago

                          5 points separates 1st - 3td in my cash mini league.

                          Happy to do a -4

                          Was looking at bruno and dcl to

                          A Mane + Nacho

                          B Torres + Kane

                          Both rivals own Ksne.

                          Would put me 9 behind

                          Thanks

                          1. dabber7
                            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                            2 months, 16 days ago

                            A

                        3. Powers106
                          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                          • 6 Years
                          2 months, 16 days ago

                          Might be a 5th mid on bench, maybe 4th, but after seeing Pereira vs WHU, I was thinking he might be a good replacement for Willock, who has been on a roll, and plays FUL (but in front of FUL fans?). It seems everyone is expecting a haul from Leeds but the way they play it could make them susceptible to a few counter attack goals?

                          1. AC/DC AFC
                            • 5 Years
                            2 months, 16 days ago

                            I agree.

                            Could be a 4-3!

                        4. tbos83
                            2 months, 16 days ago

                            Antonio or Firmino?

                          • GE
                            • 4 Years
                            2 months, 16 days ago

                            What would you do here? 🙂

                            (1FT, 0.8 itb)

                            Pickford
                            TAA/Shaw/Dallas
                            Salah/Bruno/Son/Lingard/Greenwood
                            Kane/Antonio

                            Bench: Forster, Holding, Coleman, Davis

                            1. Magic Zico
                              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                              • 2 Years
                              2 months, 16 days ago

                              Bruno > Mane or Pepe

                              1. GE
                                • 4 Years
                                2 months, 16 days ago

                                Thanks, like it!

                          • Neves say Neves
                            • 3 Years
                            2 months, 16 days ago

                            Best 8.1 mid?

                            A) City mid (Foden, Torres, Mahrez)
                            B) Raphinha/Harrison
                            C) Pepe
                            D) Mount
                            E) Willock
                            F) Maddison

                            1. AC/DC AFC
                              • 5 Years
                              2 months, 16 days ago

                              A if you pick right.

                              D or

                              E if fit.

                          • It’s gonna Ben Mee
                            • 7 Years
                            2 months, 16 days ago

                            Meslier + Wood > Casilla + Bamford(c) for free?

                            1. Magic Zico
                              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                              • 2 Years
                              2 months, 16 days ago

                              Nice move

                            2. artvandelay316
                                2 months, 16 days ago

                                You don't think Wood is a good differential against SHU?

                                1. It’s gonna Ben Mee
                                  • 7 Years
                                  2 months, 16 days ago

                                  I do but it’s either him, Kane or Antonio. Kane should be the one to remove really but don’t know if I’m courageous enough.

                                  1. artvandelay316
                                      2 months, 16 days ago

                                      Haha yeah same for me!

                              • Kun Tozser
                                • 6 Years
                                2 months, 16 days ago

                                With Ings, Siggy, Jota and Digne and 2FT - who to move out and move for?

                                1. AC/DC AFC
                                  • 5 Years
                                  2 months, 16 days ago

                                  Siggy and Jota for Mane or Bobby or someone else.

                                2. Scots Gooner
                                  • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                                  • 4 Years
                                  2 months, 16 days ago

                                  I'd say Jota and Siggy are your two priorities there.

                                  Maybe to Raphina or Harrison if you don't already have Leeds? Torres if you think he'll play