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Why you should keep your head when considering FPL hits

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

We all have our own unique relationship with -4 points hits in Fantasy Premier League (FPL). Some of us avoid them at all costs, others see them as a sometimes-necessary evil and for some, they are a core part of their FPL strategy, something they use to get an edge on their more risk-averse rivals.

However you view hits normally, it is very apparent from chaotic times such as these that these perceptions can quickly change based on circumstances but, also, on how the prospect of a hit is perceived contextually. This article will examine some of the ways that our perception of hits can be skewed and it considers some methods that we might employ to avoid this becoming problematic for our FPL ranks.

Personal Experience

Why you should keep your head when considering FPL hits

I’m very firmly in the ‘avoid hits wherever possible’ camp, partly because I think spending points isn’t something we should take lightly but, also, because I’ve historically been bad at using them. My first ever hit was to bring in James Collins back in 2009 and that went about as well as you might expect but even the hits I’ve attempted since then, those that have been less objectively idiotic, have tended to backfire more often than not. As a result, it takes a lot for me to take an unenforced hit nowadays.

That said, if my record of taking hits was much better, I would probably take them more freely. It’s hard to look beyond personal experience when assessing whether or not to take a hit and that is one of the more prevalent ways in which our relationship with hits can become skewed. If we were completely rational, whether a hit worked out for us in the past or not would be an irrelevant factor in deciding whether or not to take one now.

With this in mind, it’s useful to step back for a moment when considering whether or not to take a hit and actively question how much of your drive or hesitancy is influenced by past experiences. If you feel like it is very much influenced by past experiences, you might want to seek a more rigorous means of assessing the risk or pay-off of the hit you are considering.

There are many ways in which you might approach this but I personally see it is a fairly simple probability equation; what can I reasonably expect the player coming in to score versus what might I expect from the player I am taking out. Subtract four from the former and you have a very basic formula, though you might also want to consider other factors such as the longer-term pay-off of the hit, the other possible benefits of bringing them in now (e.g. price rises) as well. 

Naturally, all this remains subjective and doesn’t remove the possibility that your decision will be wrong, but applied consistently it will likely lead to much better outcomes than not consciously thinking about it at all. Whatever method you use to assess a hits’ potential, the important thing is that it isn’t simply left up to pure impulse.

Permissive Cascading

FPL Gameweek 15 round-up: Sunday review, injury news and the things we learned

This season, I went all the way up to Gameweek 19 without taking a hit and then proceeded to take three hits in as many Gameweeks. Uncharacteristically for me, they’ve actually paid off reasonably well but, needless to say, the first one was more difficult to take than the other two. 

Making it 18 Gameweeks without a hit meant that the bar for taking one was much higher than if I had taken one in, say, Gameweek 3. Had I done that, it’s very likely I would’ve already taken a lot more by now. This is because the act of taking a hit is ‘enabling’ and ‘permissive’; taking one mentally lowers the bar for taking others, making them easier to stomach.

This is a principle that will be familiar to many of us at this time of year when a good number of us will be trying to give up stuff. Typically it is easier, in the long run, to abstain from something altogether than to have to repeatedly convince yourself not to smoke a cigarette, eat a donut or whatever your ‘vice’ may be. This is because willpower takes effort and, contrary to popular belief, our ability to invoke it becomes weaker rather than stronger the more we try to.

By contrast, habits become easier the longer they remain in place, so forming a habit is ultimately much easier than trying to talk yourself out of doing something each time you feel like doing it.

Typically we form habits of doing something rather than not doing something so, rather than get into the habit of not taking hits, it is probably easier to seek to form habits that might reduce your tendency to take them. This could be applying standard criteria ahead of making transfers or taking hits using a pay-off formula as described above, or it could be carrying the second transfer wherever possible, something which is very likely to reduce the impulse to take hits by both mitigating the urge and reducing the necessity.

At the other end of the spectrum is the reticence or inertia you can develop from not taking hits for a prolonged period. Here the bar gets raised too high so you won’t take them even when taking one is likely beneficial. In these instances, it’s helpful to have criteria for when a hit might be broadly strategically valuable. An example might be where you would otherwise be left without a playing player or a viable captaincy option. While this doesn’t alone justify taking a hit, identifying these scenarios ahead of time might be useful as a means of overcoming hesitancy when they occur.

Packaging Hits

Conte’s 3-4-3 in focus ahead of FPL Gameweek 12 fixture swing 5

Finally, something weird happens mentally when we start packaging hits alongside other transfers. For example, take the following:

  • Mahrez > Jota
  • Mane > Son
  • Martinelli > Gray -4

The three transfers taken collectively look a lot better than just Martinelli > Gray -4 yet, unless the first two are somehow funding the third move, the two free transfers are irrelevant to the viability of the hit. However, our minds sometimes trick us into looking at the three transfers holistically instead of what it ultimately is; Martinelli to Gray for a -4. 

As a result, if we are pleased with our first two transfers, we are sometimes more willing to take a risk and/or a hit with the third. Therefore judging hits by their own merit, rather than as a collective set of transfers, is key to ensuring that they make sense independently.

Conclusion

The prevalent debate in FPL when it comes to taking hits has always centred on whether they are, generally speaking, good or bad. However, a much more valuable question is probably; ‘when are they good and when are they bad?’ How we perceive a hit in the moment, whether that be based on our previous experiences, our current relationship with taking them or how we’ve packaged them mentally, can significantly impact our ability to make good decisions when it comes to this part of the game.

Introducing some formality or rigour to the decision of whether or not to take a hit can help a lot here, in particular criteria for what circumstances might justify one or not. But, broadly, creating some distance or friction between the impulse to take a hit and the action of doing it is key to making better decisions in this context. In the same way that not having lots of unhealthy food readily available in the house is likely to help you eat more healthily, making it easier to do good things and harder to do bad things is always a positive step in the right direction.


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143 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Camzy
    • 11 Years
    22 days, 21 hours ago

    I think your perspective on hits changes a lot when you consider every transfer to be worth 4 points.

    And because of opportunity cost, they often really are worth 4 points. When you choose to make one transfer, you're almost always choosing it over some other move.

    You could do both moves, but usually you find stronger merits in one over the other.

    What I like to do is try my hardest to remember why I bought the player that's in my team in the first place. I've placed much greater emphasis this year on not getting rid of good players rather than focusing on bringing in the latest hot bandwagon. Players that are already in your team are more valuable than players that aren't. Because you pay two costs if you want to get rid - 1. the points you would have had if you didn't get rid or chose a different move. 2. transfer cost.

    As a result, I ask myself if the circumstances around the player I'm selling have changed. Have they played the fixtures I bought them for? Have they fallen out of form? Are they injured/rotation risk now when they weren't before? Serious injury or suspension makes decisions easy because you know they'll be out long term but it's usually not that easy.

    If a player is fit and playing, I will almost always give them at least 3 gameweeks in my team before shipping him. I have stuck to this rule all season - would only have broken it if the player got seriously injured or got like a red card or something. 3 weeks is usually how far ahead I plan based on form/fixtures so you made your bed so to speak. In 3 weeks you can fix any mistakes you made and hopefully you make a better choice going forward.

    It's served me quite well this season. I kept Lacazette vs (nor) over taking a big hit for Ronaldo vs (new) as a result. It can backfire occasionally like not getting rid of Ronaldo for Watkins in the week he blanked but I did it because I bought Ronaldo in for a strong run of games which were unluckily called off for COVID.

    Removing weak links is a far more stable way of playing than chasing the high upside options. Reece James for instance is a far higher priority transfer than say Bernardo Silva because Bernardo could yet turn around and score points like he did this week whereas Reece James is still going to be injured next week and will still be a problem to fix. I know some managers play differently, but I think long term, playing to constantly remove weak links will make sure your team keeps improving and will get you better scores more consistently.

    1. AC/DC AFC
      • 6 Years
      22 days, 21 hours ago

      Also worth remembering that a hit this week gives you an extra free transfer next time, which has value too.

      1. TheTinman
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        22 days, 21 hours ago

        I'm not sure what you mean?

      2. Camzy
        • 11 Years
        22 days, 21 hours ago

        Yep this is encapsulated by opportunity cost to me.

        Doing a transfer you were gonna do next week for a hit this week means that the subsequent week you can be focusing on something else and getting ahead.

        1. TheTinman
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 6 Years
          22 days, 20 hours ago

          Understood.

    2. TheTinman
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      22 days, 21 hours ago

      I follow similar principles for years now and I generally do pretty well. I'm probably on for my 3rd top 10k in the last 6 seasons.

      I place a lot of value on having 2FT. So if I have picked a player and he doesn't perform I will basically always give him that 2nd chance at least. I value 1FT at 4pts but 2FT must be worth something like 10pts, because it allows restructuring.

      A chain of 1FT used tends to be chasing wagons or putting out fires. When you save up to get those 2FT you can put out 2 fires and restructure at the same time. It just feels so much more powerful to me.

  2. dunas_dog
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 6 Years
    22 days, 21 hours ago

    There goes any Liverpool week 22 double

    https://www.skysports.com/share/12509302

    1. Junglist95
        22 days, 21 hours ago

        They're entire team is jabbed, and you would imagine the staff too.

        The giant elephant in the room.

        1. Junglist95
            22 days, 21 hours ago

            Their

        2. Pep's Money Laundry
          • 6 Years
          22 days, 21 hours ago

          It wasn't going to happen anyway, this where Ben didn't think about why would Liverpool agree to schedule a game at a time when players were at the afcon

        3. ⭐ Bemba_Da ⭐
          • 11 Years
          22 days, 21 hours ago

          Really losing my love for football over the last few years and this whole debacle adds to this

          Not just Liverpool but others like Newcastle who used covid to their advantage

          The money, var, the greed, the high ticket prices, teams manipulating the rules. Just about had it

          I’ll still watch games but not as many as I did and maybe I’ll end up watching altogether soon

          1. Bunk Moreland
            • 6 Years
            22 days, 21 hours ago

            I totally understand you. I started to follow my local team more, took my son to some games this season too. The quality of the football is not the same , but it doesn't really matter. I just love the game .

          2. boc610
            • 10 Years
            22 days, 21 hours ago

            hmmm....whats your source for ANY EVIDENCE of teams using covid to their advantage other than speculation fuelled by how its going to effect your FPL team?

            oh , you dont have any. thought so

            1. Baines on Toast...
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 11 Years
              22 days, 21 hours ago

              Did you not see Crystal Palace try to get a game suspended then field their entire first 11?

              1. Rupert The Horse
                • Fantasy Football Scout Member
                • 8 Years
                22 days, 21 hours ago

                Yeah that was pretty damn bad. Probably the worst of the lot.

      • Karan14
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        22 days, 21 hours ago

        So using FH not to have TAA & Jota against Brentford doesn't seem like a great idea

        1. Baines on Toast...
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 11 Years
          22 days, 21 hours ago

          Who on earth are we supposed to Captain? Son?

          1. Magic Zico
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 3 Years
            22 days, 21 hours ago

            JWP!

          2. Camzy
            • 11 Years
            22 days, 21 hours ago

            Son. I'd happily captain Son with ARS lei.

      • Junglist95
          22 days, 21 hours ago

          Arsenal match is 8 days away
          Klopp and entire squad jabbed
          Jabs only help the person who has gotten them
          This entire thing is a farce

          World has gone barmy

          1. Plonatron
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 2 Years
            22 days, 11 hours ago

            The postponed arsenal match was tomorrow, the one you're referring to is the second leg and still on.

            Also jabs help the people who have them and those they come into contact with. If you're jabbed you're far less likely to spread it to others.

        • andylee6@live.co.uk
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 1 Year
          16 days, 1 hour ago

          When playing the Free Hit in DGW 22 is it best to first use your normal transfer to set up for GW 23 and beyond? Given that you won't get a carry over to next week if you play the FH.

          E.g:
          1) Use 1x transfer THEN play FH
          2) Don't use the transfer, play FH.

          Does it make a difference?