Monday, 5 August 2013

Walt's Premier League of Pundits: The Middle of the Pack

Thanks for following this series so far. If you've followed to this point, you know we started the Top 20 Countdown of Premier League FPL websites/blogs with 2 all-important wildcards and the first 6 sites in our Top 20 Countdown.

They were as follows:

WC 1:  PhysioRoom
WC 2:  FPLPriceChanges
#20:     FPLFiend
#19:     Football Glamour
#18:     EPL Feeds
#17:     FPLAdvice
#16:     FPLStrategist
#15:     FPL247


Tonight we're going to get into the middle of our Top 20 table. These are the guys who are consistently strong and have a stranglehold on their continued placement in the Premier League.  No worries of relegation for these guys; they are accustomed to bringing it every week with their A game. 

What distinguishes them from one another is their focus.  Some are gameday specialists, some introduce us to our first foray into the statistical side/mathematical approach of FPL management.  One is a site so large you could literally be lost in it for days, and some are FPL generalists, covering all aspects of FPL (and covering it well).  While they may be differentiated by their focus and approach; they are all similar in that they bring top quality content to their FPL audience.  If for some strange reason you have not bookmarked these sites already, this is your chance to check them out and return often.  Let's go:

#14:  Fantasy EPL Scout


This site is one of my favorites for many reasons. It is set up perfectly for Twitter and has a very unique way of delivering excellent and timely information in short, easy to follow bursts.  

In a straightforward way, the activity heats up on what I like to call FPL Eve; the day before the gameweek starts.  Whether it's a Friday or the day before a rare mid-week gameweek, things start with a series of individual tips with high relevance to your gameweek FPL management.  Later that evening the individual tips are usually posted in summary form, where each of the Fantasy Tips is shown via an image attachment.  The tips usually punctuate and clarify the many topics of conversation going around the FPL circles since the last gameweek ended.

Then, as each gameweek deadline for setting your teams gets near, they have a special feature called Last Hour where they are available on Twitter to answer any of your last-minute management questions. Sadly, I am usually fast asleep in the USA while this is going on, but I love the concept and have been able to see it in action a few times during last season. It really livens up the final hour before gameweek deadline. And, of course, there's more good stuff to come.

Once the deadline passes, Fantasy EPL Scout switches to reporter mode, and as the games are being played, they are right there to update you in real time with every goal scored, assist earned, and booking handed down.  They are an excellent source of gameday info and even include video highlights of the goals.

And if all of this is not enough; they have an excellent presence on Twitter throughout the rest of the week as well.  Check them out soon at @FantasyEPLScout and let them know how much you like their brand new profile pic.

#13: PL Fantasy



PL Fantasy is our first look at a purely data-driven model to aid you with your FPL management decisions.  Not only does this site have one of the coolest, possibly most sought after domain names in FPL (premierleaguefantasy.blogspot.com), it is FULL of all kinds of good statistical information, including goalkeeper rotation options and player forecast models.

Here you will find all kinds of colorful charts and graphs depicting data and stats that you can use to help with your selection.  Weekly clean sheet and attacking rankings are shown, as well as individual player rankings based on historical data only. Sorry; no assumption is made with regard to playing time or rotation risk for the upcoming week; it is based purely on historical data.

One of the things I really like about this site is the ability to look at upcoming fixture outlooks while isolating both attacking and defensive ease/difficulty as opposed to simply looking at the fixture as being easy or difficult from a win/lose perspective. This really allows you to focus on how well your attackers or defenders may do against an upcoming opponent or opponents and may help you make smart decisions that you may not have made while clouded with the usual easy/hard fixture designation provided by other sites/sources.

I'm running out of space but the Player Dashboard is hugely useful as well. I could go on some more, but just check out this site if you're not familiar with it. The modifiable charts are fun to poke around with and could prove to be hugely valuable tools for you as the upcoming season gets underway.

Don't forget to follow Chris on Twitter as well at @plfantasy

#12:  Football Ultra 




Ultra Fantasy Football is a standout site/blog that really gets into some serious article writing. Their articles are informative, thorough, and always interesting. One of my favorites from last season still stands out to me.  Man United were approaching the period of their season where the next few games would determine whether they would coast into the final gameweeks of the season having already clinched another PL Championship; or if the fixtures didn't go so well, they could find themselves in a dogfight going down to the final gameweek or two of the season.  Things were tense. And as the all-important string of fixtures was upon them, alongside a classic picture of Sir Alex Ferguson glancing down at his watch, came the aptly titled gameweek preview "Squeaky bum time".

I remember it like it was yesterday. Not only did the title catch your attention, but the article, as with the others on the site, was extremely entertaining and a great read.  As a matter of fact, Football Ultra are noted for their excellent gameweek previews and wrapping things up with their gameweek reviews where they highlight the top scoring FPL team of the week and the weekly FPL Dream Team.

They also feature quality guest writers and are soon to release an outstanding phone app that will include live, personalized team news feeds, an advanced player search/discovery tool, and an intuitive drag and drop interface; all aimed at giving you all of the important information you need on the go to give you a competitive advantage.  I hear it will be available very soon and will be a must-download app for everyone to which it is made available.

Note: their website is not currently active but will be back in action very soon.

Don't forget about their awesome Twitter feed too: @FootballUltra

#11:   FISO


FISO is a giant of a website.  It stands for "Fantasy & Interactive Sports Online" and was formed back in March 2000 (they apparently liked the 2000 version of graphics and page design so much that they have kept them for the past 13 years;)).

To give you an idea how big this site is, I have taken a short quote from the site itself. "(FISO) is recognised as the focal website for the UK Fantasy Sports Community. It is a place where any player of any fantasy sports game can find fantasy sports news and resources and, more importantly, interact with our vibrant and friendly community which includes most of the fantasy sports games operators."

These are both their best and worst attributes at the same time.  Their interactive community and boards are well known to people outside FISO. They are known for being a good source of price change info as well, but one visit to the site also gives you a good idea that there's a large fantasy sports world out there, and FPL is just one piece of a much bigger puzzle.  It took me awhile to find the FPL sections of the site, and when I did, it was clear that the site was much bigger than I expected.  You could get lost in it for days.

And I probably will; because in addition to being known for their huge interactive community, they are now known for being the site of choice for the FPL 2012/2013 Champion of the World, Matt Martyniak.  And that, my friends, is good enough for me.

They also, in conjunction with Matt, have sponsored a new charity league that I urge you to look into further.  It sounds very exciting and can be found here.

FISO can be found on Twitter at @FantasySportsUK

#10:  Shots on Target


Shots on Target, in my experience, is one of the most well respected FPL minds on Twitter and has a great website/blog to boot. It is pure and simply one of my absolute favorites. First of all, the name is CLASSIC and if you're smart and take a dip into this statistically driven approach to FPL statistics and probability, you will not only understand exactly why it's named what it is, but you will also be convinced that the theory behind these important underlying statistics can easily separate the men from the boys in your FPL league.

Shots on Target has developed a unique F.SCORE matrix that helps to predict performance of EPL teams and individual players (aka FPL points).  Read this and tell me you don't want to know more:  "Using a combination of statistical techniques and analysis plus optimization software we determine point projections for every team and every player in the English Premier League. Our specially developed F.SCORE metric is used to rank every player from a fantasy football perspective and takes an aggregate of key stats which have a bearing on scoring and assisting goals, and getting a clean sheet."  Yes, I will have some of that, please.

And here's the best part. He puts his money where his mouth is. Like any good statistician, he doesn't just put a bunch of theories out there and leave you to take a leap of blind faith. He tests his projections against actual results and you would be both amazed and impressed with how closely they correlate.  When significant deviations occur, he digs deeper and provides rationale that makes sense.

All of this statistical brilliance ends up taking on the form of some very nice regular bits, including his Gameweek Select XI, players featured on his Buying Guide, Captain Options, and WildCard Now!

This is one site that will be at the top of my go-to list this season, and I urge you to put it in yours too.  His Twitter feed is also easily followed at @shots_on_target

#9:  Fantasy Football Geek


Here's how my Twitter experience, which has led to this list, typically goes.  I follow all of the best FPL Twitter feeds I can find and then sit back and hope that by osmosis I can take what I read and use it to begin thinking like they do.  I often find myself thinking "Hey, that guy made a really good point the other day, and this tweet makes a really good point as well."  And so, over time, after the snowball effect continues, I find myself saying, "Man, I gotta check out that website", at which point I do, and then realize that what is said on Twitter only highlights a small portion of the wisdom behind the genius.

This is how it went for me as it relates to Fantasty Football Geek. Time after time I would read a tweet of his and think "This guy really knows what he's talking about". After enough of those moments, I clicked on his site... and was blown away.

Luckily for me I had played the game for awhile before I got to that point, because if I had checked his site out when I first started playing, I probably would not have understood how knowledgeable he is.  I would have been confused and impressed, but without having the experience of playing the game, wouldn't have recognized the extent of his knowledge and approach.  Like a few other sites mentioned in this article, he uses stats based analysis to try and rationalize his decisions.

I have no idea how he does it, but his blog actually addresses each of the different FPL formats, so it is not dedicated solely to the official FPL game sponsored by The Premier League.  What his site does feature with regards to the official FPL game is the following:

Fixtures ease schedule, game week analysis (including look-backs to the previous gameweek), an in-depth look at his personal FPL team's weekly performance, Ones to Watch (a list of fpl players to consider for the coming gameweek), and last but not least, predicted lineups for each EPL team for the upcoming gameweek.

He also has an EXCELLENT strategy section including articles that would greatly benefit those new to the game of FPL.  I recommend it highly.

This is another site I found too late to benefit from during last season, but one that I will be checking often during the 2013-2014 EPL/FPL season.

Please get ready to learn a lot by following him on Twitter at @fantasyfoot20


___________________________________________________________________________

So, there you have it; another installment of the Top 20 Countdown; Walt's Premier League of Pundits.  I'm having fun with this and hope you are enjoying it as well.

There is only one article left to complete the list; and that is Champions League Contenders /Cream of the Crop group; the final 8 FPL sites/blogs in my countdown. Who do you reckon will be in the list; and where?

Well, you'll find out soon.  Until then, please check these sites out and follow them each on Twitter. I am so appreciative of everything I've learned from each of them and really want you all to benefit from what they can share with you as well.

The previous installments can be found further down on this blog (here, let me give you the links)  The Wildcards and Recently Promoted/Young Guns/Limited Budget Group

My Twitter feed, which fortunately for you limits me to 140 characters at a pop, can be found here: @EPLFanForLife