We’ve run the course and are at the finish line (finally!). Sitting here, writing my 39th article – and probably the last for the season – for Fantasy Football Scout, the feeling I’m experiencing is that I’ve been fully FPL’ed out.
This is a big contrast from last season which was my worst by a distance in terms of how I finished but it still remained one of my most enjoyable ones. Most Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers I’ve spoken to feel this feeling of ‘drained’ and not, it doesn’t have much to do with content creation which I’ve now been doing for three years. Perhaps, adulting and having way more real-life responsibilities add to this. Just thinking again about last season (where I finished 678k) and there is such a stark difference in terms of mindset and what I want to do post-Gameweek 38. Last season, after I had a poor finish, I was determined to learn from it and as soon as the season got over, I dived into season reviews from different websites and started researching ‘promoted clubs’. It’s just something we as FPL managers like doing, isn’t it? Based on the type of manager you are, spending time reading up and looking into all things football and/or numbers is one of life’s pleasures, along with a freshly brewed coffee, of course.
There is no such feeling this time. I am very aware I need a break and I need to recharge those batteries because they’ve run out of charge for a while now. I have zero intention of diving into anything FPL for a while. I saw that now but knowing me, I’ll probably consume Planet FPL’s promoted team correspondent pods within a week.
AN ANOMALOUS FPL SEASON
To new FPL managers who have only recently started playing the game, I do want to say that this season is very much the anomaly. The reason a lot of us are feeling this drained is the sheer number of Double Gameweeks in 2021/22. On average, we usually have Premier League football on two to three days a week, which has very much shifted to four to five days a week in the second half of the season. There simply have been no off-days.
One other thing that has taken away a little bit of the fun for me is that, instead of finding my way and picking players that I like based on my preferences with an open field, which in my opinion is the most enjoyable part of the season, most of the decisions are dictated by optimal play focused on Double Gameweeks. For a while now, week on week, you’re not looking at all the players as an option but only those that have a ‘double’. In my head, it’s not ‘Pure FPL’. For me, Pure FPL is making picks from the full pool of players available. It’s about making subjective calls on which players and teams have better fixtures compared to others based on match-ups and data. There is a much greater opportunity to be proactive. This hasn’t been the case in the second half of the season. FPL this calendar year has very much been a complex equation that required us to think through for two full months in an attempt to solve it, so as to optimize the number of Double Gameweekers our teams have. Not only has this limited the pool of players we’re picking from, but we are also mostly making ‘reactive’ decisions governed by the situation. I’ve just found that so curbing.
Alright, I’ll stop the whining now. I did have to write about this because I know that many FPL managers will feel the same way and wanted to cite that this season is very much the anomaly in terms of the sheer magnitude of Double Gameweeks. Given that the season is an anomaly, is there anything I can take away from it? More and more things will come to the surface once the season ends and the brain decompresses all the thoughts. But there are a couple of things that I want to immediately make a mental note of while the 2021/22 campaign still remains fresh in my head.
There have been a few changes in the way I play FPL this year (intentionally so) and some of them have definitely helped to make this season not as much of a disaster as the last one.
STAYING WITH THE PACK
When I was looking back at previous campaigns and my ill-fated 2020/21, one thing I noted was that most of my huge rank gains happened when I went against the template in the second half of the season. I had pre-determined that I’d start the season on a ‘safer’ note and stay with the pack. This also helps as we give ourselves enough time to judge the lay of the land before we start making some high-risk decisions. And most importantly, you’re not over-compensating because of bad starts which might push you even further back (note, so much of FPL is psychology). This was a key learning last season. If you’re behind and there’s enough time left, more ground can be made by cumulatively doing the ‘right’ things instead of ‘different’ things. It all adds up. A quick look at my season history tells me that I largely stayed with the pack in the first half of the season and once there was enough ‘subconscious eye test’ and data registered in my head, I started gambling a little more and clocked a fair few Gameweek ranks under 200k (which lead to big jumps) after Gameweek 10.
I do want to loosely carry the norm of ‘risks being directly proportional to Gameweek number’; the further we go into the season, the more I’ll increase my appetite for risk. I do intend on curbing some of my more adventurous thoughts early on because I’ve seen what kind of damage they can do. Of course, this is a loose theory and if there is an opportunity that I’m fully convinced about, I’ll go for it. I do want to say at this point though that such opportunities existing in the FPL landscape are fewer and fewer as the game progresses and grows. Managers are smarter, faster and are way more armed. All the information is out there already and unearthing gems is a rarity that really only lasts for two Gameweeks because managers catch up.
The second thing I want to make a mental note of is stamina. Decision fatigue is a real thing in FPL, especially because of how grueling this season has been. So much of FPL is about psychology and stamina. You have to stay the course and remain disciplined for nine full months a year and that’s a big deal. I mean, a normal human would easily have four to five weeks of ‘tilty’ decision making, perhaps because of real life happening to them.
The mental note I’ve made in my head is in such a time where I find myself in a ‘tilty’ headspace or struggling to find time to do my research, relying on analytics/models and having three to four trustworthy people as soundboards is a good back-up. I’ve had one group of four to five people this season who have been excellent as soundboards (a couple of them are Pro Pundits here, shoutout to Zophar and Pras). I’ve also used and subscribed to analytics this season; while they’ve merely been a ‘sanity check’ for me most weeks, relying on them during the above stated circumstances (or otherwise) is a good plan.
On a very personal note, this is important to me because my ‘compulsive checklist’ as an FPL manager is very high. I feel like my decision-making will be substandard without having seen a couple of games, watched both episodes of Match of the Day, read all articles on Fantasy Football Scout, spent some time in the Members Area and maybe consumed a couple of podcasts. Let’s face it, doing this on a weekly basis is unsustainable (as much as I enjoy it) and I want to trim down my compulsive list to just a game or two, MOTD and some data before decision making. I also feel like when I am reaching burnout levels, taking two days in the midweek to fully switch off from FPL would be a good idea too to just recharge the batteries a little. I’m talking about this and mentally noting this because in the last month or two, I’ve made a couple of lazy decisions and I really want to get rid of that from my game. I just have to make sure that I’m fresh and in a good headspace when I’m clicking the buttons.
A THANK YOU
There’s obviously a lot more to take from this year but I’m not going anywhere and more articles will follow during the course of the pre-season.
If a thought does surface, it’ll find itself in Neale and Tom’s inbox. I want to take this opportunity to congratulate both of them and the Fantasy Football Scout team for the excellent work they’ve done this year. There’s a reason reading all of the articles on the site is a part of my ‘compulsive things to do’ before decision making. It’s only a big compliment to them. And you guys should know that when it comes to writing for Fantasy Football Scout, I have a free reign in terms of things I want to write about. That is so liberating as a content creator. I’d also like to say thanks to Geoff (Pukka as you’ll know him) who started this journey for me and to Chris, who is more of a friend than a boss. And my last thank you would be to all of you that read my articles, follow me and validate me as a content creator. I appreciate you a lot and would like to just say that there is a lot of genuine heartfelt gratitude here.
I’m sitting here on Thursday morning sitting at an overall rank of 1,760th and feel validated again after the disaster of a season last year. It might have not been as fun as last year, where I got that Sergio Aguero haul at the end, and that has also made me realise that for me, personally, fun is not directly proportional to how well I do in the game. Don’t worry, though, I do like to succeed and the endeavour with my content is to always help you to do likewise. I’ve really enjoyed writing this article and what I’m feeling now is excited for Gameweek 38, curious about the newly promoted teams, and thrilled for Suvansh, who is currently in my city and the FPL world #1. That’s a completely different mindset from about an hour ago when I started writing this article. I love this game and I can’t wait to go through this entire rigour again.
On a final note, I want to say that you have one last roll of the dice. Make it count.
Signing off for the season,
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