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Pro Pundit Teams

How checklists can help you make better FPL decisions

Ex-FPL winner Simon March: How to avoid getting carried away with your GW1 picks

A recurring theme in this column is the presence of various cognitive biases in us humans and how often they affect our decision-making in Fantasy Premier League (FPL). Being aware of these biases is only the first step to managing them however and, given that we are usually talking about mindsets that have rooted and evolved over hundreds of thousands of years, not succumbing to them is often easier said than done.

While there are many strategies for managing our cognitive biases, one fundamental yet extremely effective one is the checklist. Checklists are not just for remembering what you need from the supermarket or codifying the things you should (but probably won’t) do at work this week, they’ve been used to radically improve safety records in everything from airplanes to factories to hospitals and so on.

Might they also help you make better FPL decisions? Let’s see.

What is a Checklist?

A checklist, in case you don’t know, is a method and practice of recording information as a means of compensating for our limited ability, as humans, to remember stuff and to pay attention. The idea of a checklist is that you follow the items step-by-step and/or cross off each item once the required action is complete.

Checklists can be a motivational tool, sometimes they encourage us to get things done simply by their mere existence and they simplify tasks by breaking them down into sections. They can improve performance and efficiency, allowing the application of a systematic method to whatever it is we need to get done. Finally, as mentioned, they can also help us circumvent some of our deep-rooted cognitive biases.

Some examples of the impact of checklists include the World Health Organisation’s surgical care checklist which, after its introduction in 2001, reduced surgical complications by 36 percent and the rate of hospital deaths by 47 percent in just its first year of operation.

Checklists have also been adopted by the air travel industry where they have been credited with substantially decreasing the number of air crashes since their introduction in the 1980s. Not only do they help cabin crews remember important things like shutting the doors to the plane properly, they also reduce the impact that social conventions and hierarchical status can have on airplane safety.

In his book ‘Outliers’, author and journalist Malcolm Gladwell describes how the poor safety record of a particular Korean airline was partially attributed to co-pilots being unwilling to question their more senior pilot colleagues, to the point that, on at least one occasion, a co-pilot was actually willing to allow the pilot to fly the plane into the side of a mountain rather than break social and hierarchical norms by pointing out that he was about to fly into the side of a mountain. Checklists systematised much of the airline’s cockpit activity, thus effectively removing this power imbalance and dramatically improving their safety record.

If you’d like to read more about the topic of checklists in general, I’d recommend ‘The Checklist Manifesto’ by Atul Gawande which is considered by many to be the core text in this area. Meanwhile, we’ll move on to the important stuff; how checklists might help improve your FPL decisions.

Memory

The first area of benefit to point out relates to memory. It is said that the average human mind can only really remember 5-9 items at a time, which isn’t a lot when it comes to making complex decisions.

Realistically, if you are reading this article, there is a good chance that you already have at least a decent idea of how to play Fantasy Football and you have probably accumulated some dos and don’ts based on your experience of the game to date. The problem is, it’s not always easy to remember all of these principles when you make a transfer, choose a captain or decide whether to Wildcard. The result is that we often make mistakes in FPL that end up being all the more frustrating due to the fact that we feel we knew not to make them.

The process of consulting a checklist before making an FPL decision means that you won’t have to worry about remembering your golden rules and, furthermore, you’ll get the opportunity to look at the decision in the context of these rules, which might be enough to make you think twice if you find it breaks too many or to help you choose which of two options might be the best.

Hierarchy

If you’re the sole manager of your FPL team, hierarchy won’t be an issue in a literal sense but, in a more abstract sense, checklists can help combat two frequent enemies of good FPL management; ego and overconfidence.

If you are a successful FPL manager, it is not unreasonable for you to trust your instincts when it comes to Fantasy Football decisions, but it can be dangerous to make decisions based on instinct alone. Equally, if things are going well for you, it is easy to become overconfident and start to believe that everything you touch will turn to FPL gold. Most of the time, we don’t realise that we’ve grown overconfident until we’re looking back, searching for a reason why things haven’t gone so well. 

However good a manager you are, effective decision-making requires a degree of rigour and self-awareness. Checklists offer a timely reminder of this when we likely need it the most. As rapper Ice Cube once said; “Chickity-check yo self before you wreck yo self”, though it remains a matter of some debate whether he was talking about FPL specifically. 

Impulse Control

Another common challenge of FPL managers is impulse control. If you’ve had a bad Gameweek, it’s hard not to hit the Wildcard button or take a points hit (or 12) and unnecessarily overhaul your team as a response. Equally, if you’re falling behind your rivals, it is tempting to play a chip to try and close that gap as soon as possible. If you’re excited about a match or a particular fixture, you might impulsively play your Triple Captain chip and, of course, there’s the classic ‘knee-jerk’ where you sign a player you probably shouldn’t have just because they had a really good Gameweek.

Checklists can provide objective criteria against which to measure the viability of these decisions and, merely by providing that buffer between impulse and action, they can help avoid a spur-of-the-moment decision that you might live to regret in the not-too-distant future.

Summary

Checklists; are they boring? Yes. Are they useful? Also, yes. Checklists can help compensate for our limitations in terms of memory, ego and impulse control and, thus, employing them as part of your FPL decision-making process has the potential to dramatically improve your Fantasy decision quality.

But what makes a good checklist? And how should they best be used? These are questions I’ll address in my next article as well as sharing the ‘Transfer Decision Checklist’ I have drafted and which I’ll be using to guide all my transfers this season. Until then.

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW FROM GAMEWEEK 4

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417 Comments Post a Comment
  1. TorresMagic™ - 6dcode
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • Has Moderation Rights
    • 12 Years
    9 days, 10 hours ago

    Toney to Raphinha for -4 and a formation change?

    1. BeWater
      • 1 Year
      9 days, 10 hours ago

      Yes. I started with Raph so hoping now is the time he starts delivering returns.

  2. TorresMagic™ - 6dcode
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • Has Moderation Rights
    • 12 Years
    9 days, 10 hours ago

    Last Man Standing entry open (2576 teams qualified)

    Scores needed after hits are 71,55,50,49.

    https://www.fantasyfootballscout.co.uk/2021/07/24/the-last-man-standing-competition-2021-2022/ for details.

    1. St Pauli Walnuts
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      8 days, 5 hours ago

      Forgot about this. Still standing, excelllent.

  3. The Train Driver
    • 6 Years
    9 days, 10 hours ago

    WC:

    A. 0.4 itb
    Sanchez (Steele)
    Shaw TAA Semedo
    Salah Raphina Traore Sarr Gray
    Lukaku Ronaldo
    (Livarmento, Williams, 4.5)

    B. 0 itb
    Sanchez (Steele)
    Shaw TAA Semedo Matip*
    Salah Raphina Sarr Gray
    Lukaku Ronaldo
    (Livarmento, Gallagher*, 4.5)

    C. 0.4 itb
    Sanchez (Steele)
    Shaw TAA Semedo
    Salah Raphina Jota* Sissoko* Gray
    Lukaku Ronaldo
    (Livarmento, Williams, 4.5)

    1. House Frey Wedding Planner
      • 3 Years
      9 days, 10 hours ago

      The one with Jota

    2. BeWater
      • 1 Year
      9 days, 10 hours ago

      C

    3. Legendarypunk
      8 days, 14 hours ago

      Raphiana or jota?

  4. Sharkytect
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 7 Years
    9 days, 10 hours ago

    Lovely article. In particular I like the references - that Outliers book is brilliant, and anyone who quotes rapper Ice-cube in an article deserves a lot of credit.

    But regarding the content; this is the first article in a long time that really has me thinking about a potential genuine po

    1. Sharkytect
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      9 days, 10 hours ago

      *po = improvement to my game.

      Cheers!

  5. Weeb Kakashi
    • 5 Years
    9 days, 10 hours ago

    Better WC Team?

    Sanchez
    TAA Reece Semedo (Livra WILLIAMS)
    Salah Jota Raphinha Sarr (4.5)
    RONALDO Bamford Jimenez

    0.7 ITB

    Sanchez
    TAA Reece Semedo RUDIGER Livra
    Salah Jota Raphinha Sarr (4.5)
    LUKAKU Bamford Jimenez

    0 ITB

    A OR B?
    With A i would get Lukaku in GW7 anyways.
    With B you can play 433 as well as 343.

    1. veedub1989
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      9 days, 10 hours ago

      The only differences between the teams are Lukaku/Ronaldo and Williams/Rudiger.

      You're splitting hairs, more so if you're switching Ronaldo>Lukaku in GW7 anyway.

      Or perhaps I'm missing something...

      1. Weeb Kakashi
        • 5 Years
        9 days, 10 hours ago

        Yes you can put it that way.

        It saves a transfer down the line. I might even get another Chelsea- defender later on. In B i already have that extra Chels defender.

        Cheers

        1. veedub1989
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 2 Years
          9 days, 10 hours ago

          You could use the +0.7M ITB to upgrade Williams or Livra.

          Good point re Chelsea, although personally I'm not going to x2 CHE until GW7-11.

    2. Karan14
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      9 days, 10 hours ago

      I like A for now. Benching one of those defenders in B is a massive headache and you might even need that extra cash to upgrade the mids later.

      I have Antonio, Gray & Marcal over you Jimenez, Sarr & Williams in my draft.

      1. Weeb Kakashi
        • 5 Years
        9 days, 10 hours ago

        Yes benching is a headache. But finding it very hard not to go with 3 Chels in GW7. That run of 5 fixtures is the best you could ask for.

        Good point regarding the extra funds i could need in midfield later.

        Can probably have Mount as an option too later on. A looks sensible. Was swayed by B a bit.

        Cheers.

  6. No end product
    • 5 Years
    9 days, 10 hours ago

    Which one is the priority? Thanks for any help

    A. Gundog>Torres
    B. Ben>Raph

    1. the dom 1
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      9 days, 1 hour ago

      b

  7. tabby98
    • 6 Years
    9 days, 10 hours ago

    Sanchez, Foster
    TAA, Shaw, Ayling, Veltman, Tsimikas
    Salah, Mahrez, Benrahma, Raphinha, Sissoko
    Ronaldo, Toney, Antonio*

    What to do here guys?

    Thinking of doing Toney + Mahrez —> Bamford + £7.6m mid (-4)

  8. tabby98
    • 6 Years
    9 days, 9 hours ago

    Best £7.6m midfielder? (Already own Raphinha & Benrahma)

  9. But You Answer Still
    9 days, 9 hours ago

    Which one of these would you choose?

    Ronaldo, Gray, Marcal
    Antonio / Bamford, Greenwood, Robertson
    Antonio / Bamford, Son (once fit), Marcal

    Don't need to captain Ronaldo

    1. the dom 1
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      9 days, 1 hour ago

      1st one for me

    2. HMC
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      9 days, 48 mins ago

      hmm son a good differential but probably won't be good value at 10m given the cheaper midfield options
      clear to see the compromise by having ronaldo as well (i'm in the same boat)
      I do think its important to have at least a 7.5-8m midfield option to jump between the various options
      Not Robbo for me - Trent, Virgil or none

  10. HMC
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 11 Years
    9 days, 1 hour ago

    wildcard keepers?
    sanchez ownership keeps rising and they have such a mixed bag of games
    who are your top3 choices up to gw 18/19 (max 5.0m)

    Here's the run from gw6 for the following:
    Guiata - BHA LEI ars NEW mci WOL bur AVL lee mun EVE SOU wat
    Ramsdale - TOT bha CRY AVL lei WAT liv NEW mun eve SOU WHU lee
    Sanchez - cry ARS nor MCI liv NEW avl LEE whu sou TOT WOL mun
    Sa - sou NEW avl lee EVE cry WHU nor BUR LIV mci bha CHE

    Will probably go Semedo so might skip Sa even though he has the best gw5 fixture

    1. HMC
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      9 days, 30 mins ago

      Bueller, Bueller, Bueller....anyone?

    2. St Pauli Walnuts
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      8 days, 4 hours ago

      I'm on WC and between Sanchez and Ramsdale for me. Reckon Ramsdale is really nailed now? Arsenal defence should improve with players back fit and better fixtures, not sure how much though!

  11. the dom 1
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 7 Years
    9 days, 1 hour ago

    Gonna roll my FT this GW and have 2FT's GW6....

    G2G?

    Sanchez
    Shaw, Coady, TAA, Williams
    Salah, Greenwood, Gray, Jota
    Jiminez, Ronaldo

    Stelle, Allan, Duffy, Antonio

    0.7itb

    Cheers

  12. Legendarypunk
    8 days, 14 hours ago

    Raphiana or jota?