I don't often write articles during the international break - I try and make the most of the downtime. Nonetheless, I thought it best to jot something down to talk of my team's challenging adventure to date (to say the least) during the 15/16 season. Here goes...
It goes without saying, for all FPL intents and purposes, I have had a woeful season. It's been by far my worst ever season as an addictified fantasy football manager. I may still have time to turn it around, but I need to understand the past before I can think of the future. This is how it began:
What has gone wrong (so far)?
It's clearly evident that I got off on the wrong footing. The variance in the Premier League certainly hasn't helped my team's fortunes - the demise of United/Chelsea and the rise of Leicester caught many seasoned manager off guard. The only winners were the casual managers who punched well above their weight (and continue to do so). Yes, form is key and class doesn't matter. But did I really think the iconoclastic cult of Vahrez and subsequent fantasy returns would last so long? Of course not. It took me over 2 months to buy into their awesomeness and by then it was too late - I was already playing catch up as overnight they became high owned players. I have only consistently owned both in tandem since January.
My early backing of former stalwarts such as Rooney, Ivanovic and Hazard backfired. They were yesterday's men. This season hasn't been about expensive players - it's been a £Shop season and alas my early £Shop players were flops that only played second fiddle to expensive prima donnas who weren't any better. To top things off, my captain picks have failed more often than not. I may not have lost as many points on the bench as others, but I certainly haven't won large amounts on the field either.
Slow Start - Gameweeks 1-7
In a season which has seen 3.7M registered fantasy managers, an OR of 2.3M was a poor start, albeit recoverable. The unfortunate thing was that I failed to score in excess of 56 points in the first 7 Gameweeks which proved damaging in the long term, even if the averages were fairly low in that period. Traction was required and that was about to arrive in the shape of tried and tested methods.
False Dawn - Gameweeks 8-18
Aguero and Sanchez's goals windfall were monumental for my FPL team in Gameweek 8. It's just a shame that I didn't captain the Argentian or the Spaniard but de Bruyne's 30 points sufficed as I pocketed 97 points and went up by a million places in the overall rankings. Surely this was a basis for me to build and kick on? Wrong. My subsequent four scores were less than 60 each and I tumbled back into the 1,000,000+ OR zone. Progress became stifled. The wildcard only offered temporary respite. Gameweek 14 saw a herculean 79 points to bring me back up to 559,000 but all that was wasted as I fell back to 1,000,000+ at the end of 2015.
Going Nowhere - Gameweeks 19-25
The Revival? Gameweeks 26 - Present
Only green would do now. I was like a boxer swinging his final hay makers, looking for a crisp connection. I needed a slice of luck. Two back-to-back green arrows helped but this was followed by a paltry red score of 32 in a low scoring Gameweek. But then I finally got some luck. As I eeked my way back into the Top 900,000 a truncated Gameweek awaited. I was to deploy my AoA chip and captain Mahrez. But with managerial change abound at St James' Park I captained Kane instead and didn't use the AoA chip. I ended up scoring 86 points, my best total since bagging 97 in Gameweek 8. This also let me leap 350,000 up the rankings. Kane, or shall I say HurriKane, delivered as captain again the week after when I deployed the AoA chip with a depleted defence that still bagged two clean sheets. A 656,000 rise in the space of 6 Gameweeks has been awesome - The F-for-fun was finally put back into FPL! Having said that I am still well off the pace from where I want to be, but I can only hope for the best as we enter the final leg of this season's FPL
Where I stand - Revised intent
At the start of each season it is my stated aim of finishing in the top 1%. I am not ashamed of wanting this as a good overall finish is crucial for any seasoned manager. Mini-league wins alone will not suffice. Granted the number of places up for grabs in the top 1% has increased but a million more managers - educated managers (with push notifications at hand) - have taken up the game since 2012. It's become harder to finish in the much coveted top 1%. I am almost resigned to the fact that this won't be achievable come May (due to earlier poor performances) but I will not surrender. I refuse to fully accept it, but realistically I would now be pleased with a 99,999 final place (top 3%) or better finish for this season. Despite this, I am knocking on the door of a Top 50 global finish in PlayTogga. In terms of FPL, I need further luck, even if more 100,000 OR rises per week on average isn't deemed sustainable. Then again, this isn't a conventional season. One lesson rings true - anything can happen. The deployment of my wildcard and chips will be key in this regard, a make or break with the Double Gameweeks on the horizon. Those that don't have their key FPL boosts at this stage of the season will be disadvantaged. It remains to be seen what other variables will appear but we must take each week as it comes
So there you have it. I hope your FPL season hasn't been as erratic as mine.
Good luck to you all.