Sunday, 2 August 2015

Is Reece Oxford the new Rio Ferdinand?

*** Credit to @FPL_Fly for bringing Reece Oxford to my attention ***
(this article is written on his behalf)

Reece is probably not the new Rio.  But he could be the next Michael Carrick or even convert into a Joe Cole lite.  Aged 16, he's played the majority of West Ham's pre-season matches (including Europa League qualifiers and has even captained the Hammers in a competitive match!  His physical stature and composure is formidable for such a young talent.  Is he a future England international in the making? Potentially.  It may be premature to praise a player based on a dozen performances outside of top-flight football against lesser opposition.  But in the context of fantasy football he is an exciting prospect and could be potent.  Ask yourself this; isn't it remarkable that such a young player has played/started so many matches for a Premier League club in a short space of time?

Crucially, in the world of FPL, he is listed as a defender - even though he has been starting as a midfielder under Slaven Bilic.  This means he is an "out-of-position" player (OOP) and at £4.0M he's probably the cheapest one around.  Will he immediately make an impact and start for West Ham in the Premier League? Unlikely.  But the indications do seem positive that he will get game time in the Premier League this season after a string of impressive performances in the summer.  If you already have a strong team and are looking for one last cheap player to fit into your squad he fits the bill.  Having said all that he could be the FPL version of the next Kyle Bartley! Take caution.  But in all seriousness, he could be a locked-in FPL player for the next 15-20 years.  As thing stand he is in my squad as sub3 fodder.

Here's the caveated praise Reece Oxford has been receiving on Twitter...

Looking behind and looking ahead

For me the true thrill of FPL isn't about Berbatov scoring 5 goals on a cold winter's day or Aguero netting 4 times at lunch time.  It's about those differentials and the not-so-big-club players that succeed.  It's about Clint "Captain America" Dempsey and his herculean efforts in a mediocre team.  It's about Christian Benteke scoring a Monday Night Football hat-trick for a below-par Aston Villa.  It's about Robert Huth bagging 2 goals and an assist in a team that primarily parks the bus.  It's about Ryan Bennett somehow being in your team as he scores, keeps a clean sheet and bags 3 bonus points in a very low scoring Gameweek.  It's about Steven Whittaker being your sub 2 while scoring and assisting, only for the auto-sub to work in your favour!  Form is key.  Class doesn't matter. FPL is about all those things and so much more.

It's incredible to think how much FPLH has grown since September 2011.  A lot has happened with various developments and yet we remain one of the oldest running fantasy football blogs to have provided continuous weekly hints (147 Gameweeks and counting).   That's no easy task and all good things must come to an end at some point.  In fact, many have tried and packed it in.  There's all the more pressure for us as FPLH's fantasy football team is published before each Gameweek.  Failure isn't an option.  Fortunately, top 1.1% finishes has been our standard (with one amazing finish* in particular).  In addition, we've looked beyond FPL too, with our involvement with other platforms garnering some success** while retaining our focus on FPL.

Looking ahead to the 15/16 season, we intend to publish our blog's fantasy football team on a weekly basis - at least 12-24 hours before the Gameweek deadline.  Gone are the days when it would be published 3-4 days in advance.  Too many variables are now in play.  With that said, the way we select our players will be reliant on statistics, more so than ever before.  I think algorithm-based statistics are the present and future of fantasy football.  This is not to say that I won't pick players on a hunch or due to old-fashioned research.  But in some ways, automating the methodology is a cutting edge approach which will make the blog's fantasy football team selections a lot easier - and yours too.  I'm not implying that they will predict the future or get you maximum points every Gameweek, but they are a very useful aid.

The blog will also have some new writers for the 15/16 season and they will carry on the fine legacy set out by some of our previous standard bearers, such as Matej, Walt and Fly.  Each brought their own personality and contributed to the blog's success.  They demonstrated that you can succeed in playing the game in multiple ways while having fun!  In addition, despite the blog's name FPLH won't limit itself to FPL.  Once again, we will also be involved in other fantasy football platforms.  We may even produce (or be involved) in some live shows...

On a final note, thank you to you the readers that have allowed us to attain 1,500,000+ blog hits.  Thank you to those on Twitter that have allowed us to attain 10,000+ followers.  Thank you to our partners for their support - they have empowered us and without them we wouldn't be able to produce FPL hints on a weekly basis.

*FPLH's fantasy football team finished 110th in 2011/2012.
**FPLH finished 9th overall in PlayTogga's inaugural Perfect XI game last season.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

How to spend wisely in pre-season

Guest post by @fplchips

Can you bend it like Adam?

With the new Premier League season almost upon us, Fantasy Football addicts are frantically tracking transfers, following pre-season friendlies and studying the fixture lists. Like all my FPL decisions, I base my GW1 squad on two things: gut instinct and cold, hard stats. I won’t bore you with the inner workings of my gut, but I do want to shed some light on the stats I use to get the most out of my £100m starting budget.

I'm only considering value for money based on last year’s stats here and you should use this information alongside fixtures, rotation, friendlies and hunches. There’s no guarantee that last year’s form will carry over, but it’s the only data we have at this point. The aim is to create a short-list of players that represent good value and to identify any who may have slipped under the FPL price-setters’ radar.

For each position I’ll be highlighting:

  • Star Player - scores highly in all areas, though perhaps less so in value.
  • New Arrival - a player with good stats, who should do even better at his new club.
  • Hidden Gem - a real find, someone with good points/game who for one reason or another played less games last year than I expect them to play this year.
  • Auto-rotation - low value, but very high points/game. This player should be paired with a regular starter with decent value/game on the bench. Think of it as fixture proof rotation.
  • Bargain basement - great value at a rock-bottom price.

My choices are based on a spreadsheet that takes Starting Price, Points and Game-time from last season and calculates *Value, Points/Game and Value/Game-time.

*NB: whenever I talk about value I'm referring to points/price, not price.


Star Player - Pantilimon

I had him for most of last year and the reason was simple: no-one else matches his points/game. His value is also high and will sky-rocket if he keeps his place under Advocaat.

Consider: Fabianski, Mignolet

New Arrival - Petr Cech

No-brainer here. Petr Cech’s points/game ratio is extremely high and his increased game-time at Arsenal will boost his value. I expect their defence to improve with Cech in goal.

Hidden Gem - Butland

Jack Butland is Mark Hughes’ first choice keeper and if he can maintain his points/game throughout the season he’ll offer unbeatable value.

Auto-rotation - Myhill

Boaz Myhill’s points/game was second to none whilst deputising for Ben Foster last year. Given the uncertainty over Foster’s fitness in the short term and Myhill’s low price, he is the ideal auto-rotation candidate. Pair him with the likes of Ruddy on the bench.

Bargain basement - Ruddy

In order to judge Ruddy, I dropped his 2013/14 FPL stats into my spreadsheet, so do bear this in mind. He scores highly for value as well as value/game-time. The only area he falls short on is points/game, but if you’re looking to save money then Ruddy’s your man. Whilst you’re at it, you could pick Rudd as your bench warmer - he’s as cheap as the proverbial FPL chip.


Star Player - Terry/Ivanovic

Take your pick, it’s so hard to split these two. Both offer unbeatable points/game and, despite their premium price tag, both represent good value. If you really can’t afford one of them in your team, then Azpilicueta and Jagielka offer increased value for slightly fewer points/game.

Consider: Jagielka, Azpilicueta

New arrival - Clyne

Ever improving and now playing for a Liverpool side that sees attack as the best form of defence, Nathaniel Clyne scores highly in all my stats and offers better value than Terry or Ivanovic. Liverpool’s defence was comparable to Southampton’s overall and his high transfer fee should ensure that game-time isn't reduced.

Consider: Wisdom, Chester

Hidden Gem - Huth

Forget Bellerin, if Robert Huth can translate points/game into a long stint in the first team, he’s the stand-out candidate here. Even with the tinkerman in charge, I would expect him to double his game time and points tally. If he did, his value would match that of Terry and Ivanovic.

Auto-rotation - Kolarov

Every year I think about playing Kolarov in this role and every year I don’t. The stats say yes, but my gut says no. The fact of the matter is that when he’s on the pitch Kolarov scores big points. Granted he will pick up the odd one-pointer from a two-minute cameo, but more often than not he plays against the lesser teams and he delivers with aplomb. Maybe this year my gut will permit me to buy him.

Bargain basement - Morgan

Very hard to recommend a £4m defender when looking at last year’s stats because they all played very few games and the promoted teams have no stats (with the exception of Norwich players from two years ago). There are lots of options at £4.5m, most carry some risk, but based on the stats alone I'm going for Morgan. He may miss the opener, but he’s the stand-out option in that price-bracket. Let’s hope the tinkerman thinks so too.

Consider: O’Shea, Martin Olsson


Star Player - Hazard

There are three candidates and none should come as a surprise. I'm plumping for Eden Hazard, as he scores highly for value, points/game and value/game. However, Sanchez and Fabregas are priced in such a way that you essentially get what you pay for; there’s very little between them.

Consider: Sanchez, Fabregas

New Arrival - Sterling

Just short of the quality of those three is Raheem Sterling. If he can benefit from Manchester City’s exuberant, attacking style, then he may just surpass our star midfielders in all three categories. Beware though, if he doesn't start well he could fall by the wayside, like so many of his compatriots have at the Etihad.

Consider: Milner, Cabaye

Hidden Gem - Walcott

OK, so not very well hidden, nonetheless it’s hard to see how Theo Walcott won’t increase his game-time from last year. With such a high points/game ratio and the possibility of playing as a striker, it would take a brave manager to leave him out, assuming he can stay fit.

Consider: Ward-Prowse, Deulofeu

Auto-rotation - Adam

Charlie Adam may not be the first name that springs to mind in pre-season, but his points/game are impressive and at just £6m he would make an excellent auto-rotating midfielder.

Consider: Rosicky, Osman

Bargain basement - Aarons

Price and game-time are so closely linked here that it’s hard to find true value, but there are plenty of players with high points/game who could do a useful job if they get a run in the side. I'm going for Newcastle’s Rolando Aarons based on his points/game last year. However, as he only played four times, I must confess my gut had a say in this.

Consider: Dyer, Albrighton


Star Player - Kane

Despite his price hike, Harry Kane still offers good value for money this year. It remains to be seen whether he can re-enact his breakthrough season, but it’s frightening to think that if he does, his value will increase due to increased game-time.

Consider: Ulloa, Berahino

New Arrival - Benteke

Benteke’s rebirth under Sherwood was perhaps even more impressive than Adebayor’s under him at Spurs. If Liverpool can adapt their play to get the most out of Benteke, then his value/game will rise sharply.

Consider: Ings, Adebayor

Hidden Gem - Adebayor

Despite only playing a handful of times last year, his points/game remained high and he’s so good under Sherwood that he warrants another mention here. If he gets anywhere near his 2013/14 stats he’ll make a mockery of his £6m price tag.

Consider: Gomis, Rodriguez

Auto-rotation - Cisse

With a points/game ratio second only to Sergio Aguero (in Aguero’s best season to date) Papisse Cisse is the archetypal auto-rotator. At just £6.5m, back him up on the bench with a regular starter from one of the promoted clubs and you’ll be in auto-rotation heaven.

Consider: Crouch, Gayle

Bargain Basement - Bojan

You’ll probably have to look at the promoted clubs to find cheap striker options who play regularly. Instead I’ve picked three slightly more expensive players, with good points/game, who should get extra game time and kick on from last year (so a sort of budget hidden gem). Bojan stats lead the way here, especially with the new additions at Stoke.

Consider: Ideye, Diafra Sakho

So there you have it. Hopefully by getting better value for money across your team you’ll be able to squeeze in that extra big hitter you’ve been hoping for.

Hit me up on Twitter and let me know if you found this useful.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

5 mistakes that #FPL managers will make (Guest Post)

Here we are just days before the new Premier league/FPL season starts. It goes without saying, it’s been a long summer with no fantasy football. After finishing at an overall rank of 2,973 I just had to go through my team's FPL season one more time. I noticed that I made many HUGE mistakes which I should have avoided, but in turn cost me a spot in the illustrious top 1k!

Can you kick out your mistakes from FPL?

Anyway, here’s my top 5 mistakes; I hope you all have a read and learn from my own FPL experiences...

1. Listening to other people’s advice more often than your own
Don’t get me wrong, getting advice from other people is always helpful. However, you can’t let other people influence your final judgement if you’re not 100% convinced. Only YOU know what’s best for your team. Don’t let other people choose your team for you, that’s your job!!

2. Silly captain picks
On some occasions last season I got so frustrated at not being able to improve my overall rank significantly that I just wanted to take huge captain gambles (risk v reward) in-order to succeed. Unfortunately whenever I did that it just backfired and made things worse than the status quo. Everyone has a series of bad weeks, it’s just a matter of how to deal with those weeks that makes a good FPL manager. Choose a reliable & proven captain each week.

3. Early transfers
Making early transfers a few days before the deadline just to avoid price rises is wrong in my opinion. Good points win you mini-leagues and accumulate green arrows, NOT team value! A lot can happen to your players in the days before a Gameweek. The only scenarios I can recommend early transfers is if you really want that player and think he will perform well in the long term or if a 0.1 price rise means you will be unable to afford the player.

4. Last minute changes
Most of us have this problem. Our team is all sorted on Friday night, captain is picked and bench is sorted in the right order.  On Saturday morning, 30 minutes before the deadline we get that drastic feeling that we NEED to change everything! And then immediately regret doing so when the deadline passes. Trust the decision you made and were certain of from onset unless some last minute injury news comes through. If you can’t do so, try to isolate yourself from FPL until the deadline passes, do other home activities to get your mind away from your team!

5. Not Jumping on the bandwagons early enough
This is probably my biggest mistake from last season. Your calculations on this need to be spot on. Jumping on the bandwagons early (or getting a player just before he becomes part of a bandwagon) is very important. It will ensure that you don't avoid missing out on early gains but also allows you to avoid the huge price rise. Unfortunately I missed out on many players before they become bandwagons (i.e. Harry Kane) in 14/15 while everyone else around me seemed to have them.
P.S: Be careful when you jump on a bandwagon. Don’t just get players in because they performed well in the previous week. Do your research and be 100% certain that the player can keep up his form in the coming weeks!

Written by @FPLPlayer