Sunday, 14 July 2013

FPL Season is Almost Here - Are You Ready?

Wow..this is a biggie. We're days away from the Fantasy Premier League season officially "starting", as the 2013-2014 prices get set and the 2.5 million members of FPL nation stop what they're doing and spread the word in droves, tweeting about bargain defenders, the astronomically high price of bringing RVP into your team, and wondering what everyone else is deciding; especially their perennial mini league rivals.
My introduction to FPL was memorable. It was about a week and a half before the 2011-2012 season started and some friends of mine invited me to join their "mini-league". I had no idea what the hell that meant, but abandoned the ESPN game I had played for the past two years and joined. I put most of my team together, but like most people, had a few changes I wanted to make the day before the season started. Haha. The afternoon before the EPL/FPL season started I went to log in.... NOTHING. Thank God I had put my team in place and only had a few changes I wanted to make, because NO ONE got into the site that day as far as I crashed and people who hadn't put their teams together at all were completely SOL; as the site did not come back up until after the deadline for GW1 had passed! The FPL site apologized up and down, letting most leagues "restart" at GW2 and giving everyone a "free" WC to use between GW1 and GW2. But the damage had been done. I was not feeling all that great about FPL at that point. As far as I was concerned, the problem had cast a dark cloud over the entire season, and having had no problems with the ESPN game the two prior seasons, over the entire FPL game itself.
Last year things were different. Remembering the difficulties of the 2011-2012 season, I made a conscious effort to do my homework and prepare early. Unfortunately for me, I was still a beginner, and my "homework" meant little more than buying a membership to Fantasy Football Scout, combing the Members Only section for player projections, and using the season-long projections as part of the basis for my gw1 squad selection. It was the best I had at the time. I spent hours on it; creating a spreadsheet showing almost every EPL player, their week by week projections, their starting prices, and their expected Points to Price ratios. I naively felt like I had really put a lot of thought into this all-important decision and that my mini-league rivals would be put to shame.
What a difference a year makes. I'm still relatively a beginner, and I continue to learn more all the time. Since finding Fantasy Football Scout and using it as the sole source of information and "scouting" to help in determining my 2012-2013 FPL squad, I joined Twitter last year and my experience with FPL changed entirely. Instead of being an outsider almost a world away, sneaking momentary glimpses of the English Premier League through my tv set on Saturdays and Sundays and through the American studio hosts who also were almost a world away in both geography and understanding, I was actually talking to people IN ENGLAND; people who could go to an EPL game across town whenever they wanted. For the first time ever, and through the medium that only Twitter could provide, I felt like the English Premier League was something that I was a PART OF.

I can't overemphasize the difference in how that felt. It's like the difference between reading a history book about a Beatles concert and going back in time and being at the concert. Twitter put me in touch with people who walked past the stadiums I watched on tv every day; people who experienced the world I watched through my television and could tell me what it was really like. When a game-changing event happened on my tv, the very same afternoon I could read tweets from people who were right there at the game and who could tell me all about the things that can't be communicated through a television crew and a still camera. It was as close as I could ever come to actually being there; and it was AWESOME.

I am forever indebted to my UK friends for bringing this world so much closer to me, and for teaching me things about FPL that I couldn't have learned otherwise. The majority of people in America cannot fathom what being a football fanatic is like or even means. Sadly, absent a few friends who understand what it's all about and fewer still who have agreed to come to a pub to watch a game or two, being a football fan in America is a solitary pursuit, but a pursuit shared with like-minded friends on Twitter quite easily.

Ok, so here we go with year 3. Incrementally speaking it's only a one year difference, but experientially speaking this year feels different. Sharing my passion for EPL/FPL with so many people who "live" EPL/FPL has been a game changer for me. Unfortunately though, all of the great stuff I've learned through talking to so many knowledgeable fans has made FPL harder. I've seen enough marginal players scoring or creating fantastic goals that it's easy to see many of them "going off" and "reaching their potential" or "having a breakout year".

The FPL site is rumored to be reset soon, and 2.5 million of us are going to be going absolutely crazy. Twitter will be knocked off its hinges by all of us letting each other know that the site has gone live, updating each other with bargain price defenders, startup prices for players newly transferred into the EPL, players who have moved from one team to another, or who came in during last year's January transfer window and whose price is now "adjusted".

People say that very little work gets done on New Years Eve. I would venture to bet that the day the FPL site "opens for business" is right up there and could give New Year's Eve a run for its money. By all accounts it's only a few days away and will feel like Christmas in July. I am not only extremely excited, I am also extremely grateful and thankful for Twitter and more importantly, all of my FPL fanatic friends who share my passion and graciously grant me a window into the world that I otherwise would only be able to see through my television screen.

Thanks to all of you who have welcomed the Yank and have helped me feel like I'm right there with you. It's been amazing.

If you are new to FPL and are looking for helpful, enthusiastic, knowledgeable fans and players to learn from, please "follow" all 50 of the Twitter accounts that are included in my Twitter EPL/FPL list. You can find them all right here; and they will not disappoint you:
EPL/FPL And Stuff

I will follow up shortly with an FPL strategy article, exploring some of the questions that we all ask ourselves as we put together the 15-man squad that will set the tone of our FPL season. Until then, CHEERS everyone....a heartfelt THANK YOU goes out to all of you; and you know who you are.

Special thanks to @fplhints for being one of the first to welcome me to Twitter and for inviting me to contribute to his blog.


Please follow me on Twitter