Pro Pundit Teams

Why we shouldn’t rush to change the rules of FPL

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

As we enter the final stretch of another season of Fantasy Premier League (FPL), thoughts are already starting to turn to next year and what changes might benefit the game ahead of its next launch. Discussions to date have surrounded the chips, player classifications, the bonus point system (BPS) and the scoring system in general among many others. Typically if you ask a hundred FPL managers what they’d change about FPL you’ll receive 100 different answers but, this time around, there seems like a greater demand for change than normal.

Maybe a change is due – there hasn’t really been a revolutionary change in the way the game is played since the chips were introduced seven seasons ago – but there’s also a pervasive sense in the FPL community that this season has been somewhat ‘sub-fun’. Maybe it’s the last-minute cancellations and all the stress that that generated during the winter, or perhaps it’s the endless procession of Double Gameweeks that it precipitated. Maybe it’s the ‘variance’, with entire seasons seemingly made or undone by a differential captain choice and, of course, there’s the fact that barely a single forward managed to stake a claim for their inclusion in our squads all season. More than anything, it feels like strategy this season has been strongly dictated by circumstance, rather than individual intent. We have been reacting all season, never really on the front foot. It feels like something should change.

But change does not often come without a cost and it can backfire, making the situation worse or creating new problems. This is especially so when change is inorganic, top-down or imposed by edict. Even with the best intentions, change in the form of institutional intervention can serve to stifle innovation and bring about unforeseen consequences. This article will discuss why this is sometimes the case and, via a detour into the 2008 Housing Crisis, it will urge caution with respect to any potential wholesale revamping of the FPL game.

The 2008 US Housing Crisis

Why we shouldn’t rush to change the rules of FPL

An example that well illustrates the danger of overzealous institutional interventions can be found in the 2008 US Housing Crisis which, to cut a long story short, came about because too many mortgage loans were granted to too many people who could not afford to pay them back, and this ultimately led to the crashing of the global economy.

The most pervasive explanations given for how this situation came about tend to point to greed within the, sometimes predatory, financial institutions which were injudiciously granting the loans and the failure of the regulatory bodies to rein in their risky or unscrupulous behaviours. There is undoubtedly much truth to this perspective, but it does not tell the whole story.

In the build-up to the crash, many US government officials campaigned on the idea that their country was suffering from a nationwide affordable housing crisis and that lending institutions needed to do more to help lower-income and socially disadvantaged groups to afford housing. Supporting affordable homeownership was an extremely popular idea among voters and so politicians at the time practically fell over themselves to throw their weight behind various initiatives by which mortgage lenders were either incentivised or threatened to relax their criteria for granting loans. Lenders would almost certainly not have done this independently as the risk of loss to them was too great, however they did and the rest, as they say, is history.

What is almost never mentioned, however, is that there actually was no nationwide housing crisis in the US in the build-up to the crash. In most states, supply and demand tended to balance fairly well. It was only in states where the government had introduced strict land use and development regulations which had artificially pushed up house prices faster than the capacity of people to buy them. So, in many ways, the 2008 housing crisis came about not because of too little government regulation but because of too much government regulation and, while there are few innocent parties within the whole affair, it nicely demonstrates how institutional interventions can disrupt market forces and create problems that didn’t exist and/or make problems worse.

Back to FPL

It is unrealistic to think that FPL is a game without flaws or that it could not be improved by rule changes, but it is important that, if such changes are introduced, that they are necessary, that they solve a genuine problem and that they don’t instigate a whole new bunch of negative consequences. In fact, where possible, I’d argue that rule changes should be a last resort in most circumstances.

As with the example above, the marketplace has a tendency to resolve its own problems and inorganic interventions often serve to disrupt or undermine this process. The rules of ancient games such as chess or Go have barely changed in centuries, yet they continue to generate excitement and innovation. Indeed, throughout the history of FPL, it is typically not the rule changes that have generated energy and interest but, instead, the constant evolution of the actual game that it is based on and the inventiveness of those who play FPL.

In the past 10 years or so of FPL, the ‘template’ has gone from being built around attacking number 8s like Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, to classic 10s like Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie to hybrid 10s like Juan Mata and David Silva to weird 10s like Yaya Toure and Marouane Fellaini to inverted wingers like Mohamed Salah and Eden Hazard to attacking wing-backs like Joao Cancelo, Reece James and Trent Alexander Arnold. In that time, we’ve had the ‘Power Five’ midfield, the ‘Big at the Back’ experiment, Kanexit, Shane Duffy Triple Captain, defensive midfielders like Chelsea’s Jorginho and Crystal Palace’s Luka Milivojevic emerging as unlikely top scores for their respective clubs, anomalies such as 2019/20 John Lundstram at Sheffield United and 2020/21 Stuart Dallas at Leeds and a whole host of paradigm shifts and bold innovations. None of these required anybody to change any of the rules.

Lundstram delivers on recent promise as Grealish misses penalty

If you leave things up to the players, particularly games with a critical mass at the scale of FPL, they will typically find solutions and innovate faster (and often better) than the rule-makers could ever hope to.

An example of this can be observed even with respect to that soggiest of chips; the ‘Bench Boost’. The Bench Boost does not have many fans, some as awkward and overrated. But in the past couple of weeks, you might have noticed people using the Bench Boost in a new and fairly innovative way, namely; to offset a -8 or -12 hit that they can use to revamp and reinvigorate their teams and gain an advantage for the run-in.

Now, you could argue that FPL points are fungible so, if you ever gained any points from your Bench Boost, you could tell yourself that you are spending them now but the difference is that, at this stage of the season, a -12 is a more dangerous move than normal because there is so little time to make it up if it doesn’t yield instant results. But this is not the case if it is offset by the Bench Boost. From this perspective; the Bench Boost offers an advance on its value (a little bit like a mortgage…) to spend on transfers without the negative consequences for your rank. Imagine how much better you’d feel about the hits you might be planning to take for Gameweek 38 if you could offset them against your Bench Boost? All of a sudden it no longer looks so soggy and, again, nobody came in and changed the rules with respect to Bench Boost, some people just found a fairly clever new way to gain some additional value from it.

Conclusion

Salah's brace, Mane's form and United's change of shape: FPL notes 2

Much as I personally lean towards trusting the ‘free market solution’ when it comes to FPL, I’m not such a staunch ideologue as to pretend that the game couldn’t be changed for the better or, indeed, may need to be changed in order to maintain interest, variety or simply to move with the times. 

What I would suggest, however, is that any review of the rules of FPL be done out of a clear necessity and in response to a genuine problem that couldn’t be solved or circumvented naturally by its player base given time. While innovation is often good and shouldn’t be avoided for the sake of it, organic or grass-roots innovation is typically preferable and carries fewer risks of backfiring when compared to explicit rule changes. Explicit interventions by FPL rule-makers may add new dimensions, but these might also end up being gimmicky or serve to dilute the skill factor of the game, creating artificial variance or strategic homogeneity rather than the individual agency, dynamism and diversity that makes the game great.


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199 Comments Post a Comment
  1. ⭐ Bemba_Da ⭐
    • 12 Years
    1 month, 19 days ago

    Frankfurt goal

  2. ZimZalabim
    • 5 Years
    1 month, 19 days ago

    OMG

  3. RedRo
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    1 month, 19 days ago

    Frankfurt have scored and that draws the team level. The blues have been pegged back and you have to say it looked like it was coming.

  4. George James
    • 7 Years
    1 month, 19 days ago

    Best move here for this lot?

    A) Jota >> Mount / Foden / Diaz / Maddison
    B) Zaha >> Mount / Foden / Diaz / Maddison
    C) Jota + Rich >> Barnes + Vardy -4
    D) something else 1.2m ITB 1 FT

    Pickford
    James • Cancelo • Alonso
    Saka • Jota • Zaha • Son
    Kane • Richarlison • Nketiah

    Sanchez / Davies / White / Ramsey

    1. Freshy
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      1 month, 19 days ago

      B for Maddy

      1. George James
        • 7 Years
        1 month, 19 days ago

        Cheers. Think Jota is benched so leaning towards losing him

  5. Buck The Trent
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 10 Years
    1 month, 19 days ago

    Pick 2 to play ?

    A Richarlison (ars)
    B Nketiah (EVE)
    C Laporte (AVL, playing Cancelo too)

    1. Viper
      • 12 Years
      1 month, 19 days ago

      B & C

  6. Gazwaz80
    • 2 Years
    1 month, 19 days ago

    Great article from Simon, in depth and informative…

  7. Tinmen
    • 8 Years
    1 month, 19 days ago

    Folks, If Havertz is ruled out for Watford at home.

    Is Lukaku a good captain pick ? No?

    1. Nomar
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 12 Years
      1 month, 19 days ago

      I think he probably is a good pick anyway, he’s been in decent form lately and has been getting some minutes.

      Chelsea have been disappointing of late so can’t see how he can be much worse than the usual Chelsea suspects we all have.

    2. Viper
      • 12 Years
      1 month, 19 days ago

      I don't see why not, he has looked OK in the past few games and you can't help but think Chelsea will hit 5 or 6 so surely he'd be involved in something. Keep an on him & Chelsea team sheet tomorrow night

    3. mixology
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      1 month, 19 days ago

      Yes-but to afford him means getting rid of other premiums with good fixtures (Son/Kane, Salah, KDB

    4. Freshy
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 11 Years
      1 month, 19 days ago

      Rather have Kane

  8. Viper
    • 12 Years
    1 month, 19 days ago

    Hi all. Which is a better punt? (Not that exciting, my hands are tied transfers wise)

    A. Schar -> Sessegnon. Bench Martinelli

    B. Martinelli -> Eriksen

    1. Nomar
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 12 Years
      1 month, 19 days ago

      B, since you won’t play Martinelli regardless of what else you do.

      1. Viper
        • 12 Years
        1 month, 19 days ago

        Yeah, a little nervous of not having a decent bench though with the likes of James/Alonso. Hopefully both start

  9. RedRo
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    1 month, 19 days ago

    And the game hangs on a knife’s and edge as we enter the final few minutes of normal time here in Seville.

    1. dunas_dog
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 19 days ago

      Not sure why Roofe and Ramsey not brought on - otherwise why have them on bench

      1. BUZZBOMB
        • 7 Years
        1 month, 19 days ago

        Dunno. Would bring Roofe on first tho. Higher ceiling.

  10. manu4life99
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 12 Years
    1 month, 19 days ago

    Trying to hold the 10k rank (currently 6k), any recommendations?

    1FT (£0.9m itb)

    Schmeichel
    Robbo Alonso James Laporte Cancelo
    Salah* Saka Kulu KDB
    Nketiah

    foster richarlison pukki kdh

    1. Nomar
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 12 Years
      1 month, 19 days ago

      You’re doing better than me so well done.

    2. Viper
      • 12 Years
      1 month, 19 days ago

      Son is the major threat to you. KDB -> Son (c) would be the play of your main target is to stay in the top 10k as mad as it may sound

  11. Scholes Out For Summer
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 8 Years
    1 month, 19 days ago

    Vardy worth a -8 for Mateta? The other one is just a bench transfer to free up cash

    1. Nomar
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 12 Years
      1 month, 19 days ago

      Taking -8 is probably not really going to make an awful lot of difference at this point now, is it?

      1. Scholes Out For Summer
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 8 Years
        1 month, 19 days ago

        Well Vardy with a brace scored 13, so I mean would still come off?

    2. GoonerSteve
      • 12 Years
      1 month, 19 days ago

      No

    3. Viper
      • 12 Years
      1 month, 19 days ago

      Nah, I wouldn't anyway. If Mateta starts, there's a decent chance of returns

    4. Not again Shirley
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 19 days ago

      Risky. Vardy would have to do very well to make up for the hits.

    5. DavidBW
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 1 Year
      1 month, 19 days ago

      This smacks of desperation

  12. GoonerSteve
    • 12 Years
    1 month, 19 days ago

    What's the latest on Salah?

    1. g40steve
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 19 days ago

      Booking holidays

  13. Nimby
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 4 Years
    1 month, 19 days ago

    Superb article. I hate pretty much every idea I've come across in twitter. Just keep it as it is, with the usual positional changes based on who plays where, and I'll be happy.

    1. Camino Aleatorio
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      1 month, 19 days ago

      What are the Twitter ideas?

      1. NorCal Villan
          1 month, 19 days ago

          Seconded. I’d like to hear them (but admittedly not enough to join Twitter)

    2. g40steve
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 19 days ago

      Best 5 mids on FH38?

      Son, Maddison, Mount, ???, ???,

      1. The Mighty Hippo
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 5 Years
        1 month, 19 days ago

        Diaz and Bowen

        1. g40steve
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 4 Years
          1 month, 19 days ago

          Run without KDB?

        2. g40steve
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 4 Years
          1 month, 19 days ago

          Foden too risky

      2. Viper
        • 12 Years
        1 month, 19 days ago

        Diaz & Mané

        1. g40steve
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 4 Years
          1 month, 19 days ago

          Cheers posted squad below

      3. GoonerSteve
        • 12 Years
        1 month, 19 days ago

        Bowen has to be in there on form

    3. GoonerSteve
      • 12 Years
      1 month, 19 days ago

      Who would you start out of Nketiah, Pukki and Mateta?

      1. dunas_dog
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 6 Years
        1 month, 19 days ago

        Nketiah

    4. Ronnies
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 6 Years
      1 month, 19 days ago

      Best transfer;

      A) Coutinho > Diaz
      B) Coutinho > Foden
      C) Coady > Alonso

      Cheers.

      1. Viper
        • 12 Years
        1 month, 19 days ago

        A

    5. Burger
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      1 month, 19 days ago

      Which do you prefer out of:

      A. Kane & Kulusevski
      B. Vardy & Bowen

      ?

      1. g40steve
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        1 month, 19 days ago

        Got B & Kane

    6. Bonus magnet
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 19 days ago

      Has there been a call to change the Fpl rules somewhere?

      Trying to understand what led Simon to write about it

      Good piece though!

      1. Ginkapo FPL
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 10 Years
        1 month, 19 days ago

        On twitter

        1. Bonus magnet
          • 5 Years
          1 month, 19 days ago

          Please send a link if you have it

          1. Ⓙⓐⓡⓥⓘⓢⓗ
            • 7 Years
            1 month, 19 days ago

            Basically every big charlatan account was at it the other day just trying to get interactions. No actual merit. Simon is right.

    7. g40steve
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      1 month, 19 days ago

      Rate my FH38 team?

      Best Cap?

      Lloris
      James, Cancelo, Alonso
      Mount, Diaz, Bowen, Son, Maddison
      Vardy, Kane,

      3.9, Tsimikas, Gelhadt, Anderson

    8. NorCal Villan
        1 month, 19 days ago

        Since we’re talking about changes to the game, here’s one that I gave about 30 seconds of thought to:

        Limit # of players from a specific team to 2 instead of the current 3

        Have at it!

        1. g40steve
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 4 Years
          1 month, 19 days ago

          Get rid of chips possibly keep WC

        2. Indpush
          • 4 Years
          1 month, 19 days ago

          No, just one

      • asr
        • 5 Years
        1 month, 19 days ago

        I agree with the article on the FPL stuff, but I'm sorry, the piece above on the US 2008 Housing collapse is just complete revisionist nonsense. In 1999, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act repealed the sensibile notion that banks should not use their customers' deposits to invest in high risk derivates (essentially gambling). It was a successful lobbying of the banks to further deregulate the market. The following year, a further Act was passed to exempt derivates from regulation. If you know how derivates work, and the CD swaps that followed, then the rest explains itself. But you don't have to be a student of Finance or Economics to get all this, you could just watch The Big Short.

        1. DavidBW
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 1 Year
          1 month, 19 days ago

          Totally wrong forum fam

          1. asr
            • 5 Years
            1 month, 19 days ago

            I'm not the person who introduced a US housing collapse (incorrectly) to make a FPL point. I read BS, I call it out. Otherwise just close the comment section.

          2. NorCal Villan
              1 month, 19 days ago

              Nah, this post is discussing what was a big chunk of the article. Totally appropriate, IMO

          3. NorCal Villan
              1 month, 19 days ago

              A Phil Gramm reference on FFS: I have officially seen it all

            • Simon March
              • Fantasy Football Scout Member
              • 10 Years
              1 month, 19 days ago

              I don’t think these perspectives are mutually exclusive tbh. I wouldn’t dispute the fact that the banks were lobbying for mortgages to be gathered as CDOs but it was the push (during the Clinton admin so around the same time as the Acts) for them to facilitate affordable housing which drove the sub-prime part of that market, which is what ultimately led to the crash. Like I said, there were few innocent parties in this matter either in the government or the banks, but it’s worth remembering who was passing/repealing these Acts that you mention.

          4. DavidBW
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 1 Year
            1 month, 19 days ago

            Who’s winning the pens? Vote now.

            A. Rangers
            B. Eintracht HotDog

            1. Dynamic Duos
              • 8 Years
              1 month, 19 days ago

              A

            2. KAPTAIN KANE’S SON
              • 5 Years
              1 month, 19 days ago

              B

              1. KAPTAIN KANE’S SON
                • 5 Years
                1 month, 19 days ago

                Germans never bottle it

                1. schlupptheweek
                  • 7 Years
                  1 month, 19 days ago

                  St Pauli bottled it

          5. DavidBW
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 1 Year
            1 month, 19 days ago

            How did Kent miss that

          6. DavidBW
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 1 Year
            1 month, 19 days ago

            Knew Ramsey was missing

          7. Arteta
            • 6 Years
            1 month, 19 days ago

            Oh Aaron.

          8. KAPTAIN KANE’S SON
            • 5 Years
            1 month, 19 days ago

            Winners of the Europa League are the 11th place Bundesliga side!

            1. Dynamic Duos
              • 8 Years
              1 month, 19 days ago

              The Europa League is rubbish tbf

          9. Arteta
            • 6 Years
            1 month, 19 days ago

            They had to beat Betis, Barcelona, West Ham on the way to the final and remained unbeaten through the Europa League campaign. Nobody can say Eintracht doesn't deserve it.

          10. Dynamic Duos
            • 8 Years
            1 month, 19 days ago

            Going to settle on this , no hits taken , Coutinho to Diaz, thoughts please

            Pickford
            TAA Cancelo Royal
            Son Diaz Mount Maddison Zaha
            Vardy Richarlison

            Foster Watkins Johnson Lamptey

          11. Cruyff's Eleven
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 3 Years
            1 month, 19 days ago

            How much I want the rules to be changed is inversely related to my OR

          12. smegger61
            • Fantasy Football Scout Member
            • 2 Years
            1 month, 19 days ago

            Having skipped past the pointless stuff about US housing or whatever it was... generally, the game adapts well to the changes in the way players roles on the pitch change or the (seemingly harder and harder) find of bargain players bagging good points on a regular basis like Lundstrom and Dallas in recent years. I have used bench boost as a way to offset a -12 or so the last couple of seasons so good to read it's not just me! Lol. That said, I'm a Claudio Ranieri type FPL manager and I do like a regular tinker to my squad and do take regular points hits along the way... sometimes it works well, sometimes I break even but, of course, sometimes it's a disaster!
            My suggestion to tweak the game slightly, if it were really needed, would be to give the option of the make up of your squad's midfield and forwards. It's difficult to tie down the roles of the likes of Salah or Mane to being a midfield or a forward or with Man City using any number of players as a false 9 for example. A way to get around this might be to allow the squad to be made up of 6 midfielders and 2 forwards OR the traditional 5 mids/3 forwards and allow a manager to chop and change week by week... maybe?!?! The cheapest option in both category is 4.5 at the start of the season (think that's what it is anyway), then an FPL squad could have a degree of flexibility that would also reflect the flexible mid/forward roles we see in the Prem. That's my idea anyway... be interesting to see if that is something others like or whether it has come up already on Twitter (not a big Twitter user so no clue what's already been suggested).