Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Philosophy of a Two-Time Top 400 FPL Manager

I have finished in the global top 400 for the past two seasons (352nd and 102nd respectively).  In this article I will discuss my Fantasy Premier League (FPL) philosophy.  In addition, I will provide some insight as to how I navigated to the top-end of the overall table.

Watch a lot of football
It goes without saying, in order to be a successful fantasy football manager, you have to watch as much PremierLeague football as possible. I have been quite lucky in the past two seasons that I have had free time at the weekends to do so. This allowed me to take in as many ninety minutes of football as possible. You learn so much more about a players FPL potential by watching him in action for 90 minutes as opposed to highlights on Match of the Day. Having said that, Match of the Day is an essential part of my fantasy football study each week, whether it be live on a Saturday night or on catch up during the week, I make sure I never miss it.
Make your own decisions
I always go with my own gut feeling rather than following polls or the opinions of others. At the end of the day it is my fantasy football team so why would I follow others. Looking at polls and forums is a good source of information but it is important not to let them cloud your judgement. It can be very easy to follow the crowd, for example with a captaincy poll, but what are you going to gain by picking the same captain as the majority of others? I do spend some time reading fantasy football forums and looking at polls but I always ensure that any decision I make is my own
Avoid obsessing over team value
When I read fantasy football forums I often come across people discussing and comparing their team value. Team value is one aspect of FPL that I have never worried about. I know a lot of managers build their team value over the season by making transfers early in a gameweek with the view of having more money to play with in the latter part of the season. This is a logical strategy but not one that I follow. I am more concerned about getting points on the board rather than my team’s value. At the end of the day, there are no prizes for the most valuable team. This has not affected my overall rank over the course of the last two seasons. My team value at the end of last season was 105.4m.
Don't be so trigger happy with transfers
I believe a big factor in my success over the past two seasons has been my reluctance to take points hits for transfers. I don’t like the idea of starting a gameweek on -4 or -8 before a ball has been kicked. In total last season, I made 39 transfers which shows that I am not trigger happy when it comes to changes. As often as possible, I avoid making a transfer in a gameweek so that I can make two free transfers the following week which gives me much more flexibility on who I can bring in. The only instance where I take a hit for a transfer is when it is necessary due to injuries/suspensions or if I have a strong gut feeling that a player is going to heavily outscore one of my current players.  
Hold off on transfers until Friday
I like to hold off on making my transfer/transfers until Friday at least. A lot of fantasy football managers like to make their transfers early in the week in order to increase their team value. As I already mentioned, I don’t worry too much about my team value so I usually leave my transfers until the end of the week. If you make a transfer early in the week you run the risk of that player picking up an injury before the weekends match which may force you into another unnecessary transfer and a points hit. Premier league managers also give their pre-match press conferences on a Friday afternoon which usually gives us an insight into which players are fit/unavailable for the weekend. This is another reason why I try to wait until Friday at least before making any adjustments to my team.  
Maintain a watchlist
I keep a watchlist and update it weekly. When it comes to making transfers then, I chose from my watchlist rather than having to go through all the team lists. This saves a lot of time. My watchlist consists of players who I consider to have a chance of being transferred into my team in the near future. At the end of each gameweek, I go through the players on my watchlist and remove any players I deem surplus to requirements. This will include players who have picked up an injury, who are out of form or who have lost their place in the starting eleven at their club. I then proceed to go through each of the 20 premier league teams individually assessing how many points each individual player has received during the previous gameweek. I update my watchlist by adding some of these players who are performing well.
Plan ahead for double gameweeks/blanks
It is important to plan ahead for double gameweeks/blanks. When it comes to double gameweeks a lot of managers load up their team with players who will play twice. In my opinion, this is not always a good idea. I go for a more balanced approach. Last season with the introduction of the bench boost chip, the majority of managers used this chip in a double gameweek in order to have 30 players for that week. I played my bench boost in the double gameweek but didn’t overload on double gameweekers. Going into the double, I kept a hold of Mahrez, Alli and Kane who had a single gameweek. Alli and Kane scored 28 points beween them in their one game. 
Get your formation right
I always use a 3-4-3 formation unless I have an injured/suspended player. Last season in particular there was a lot of discussion about whether or not to go for a strong front eight or ‘freight’. This is the strategy of having five strong midfielders as well as three strong attackers. This results in a FPL manager having to bench one of his/her strong players each week. This is a strategy I avoided. One of the most frustrating things about fantasy football is when one of your bench players scores highly. By avoiding a strong front eight I cut out this possibility. I much prefer to have a strong front seven with one midfielder as bench fodder. This cuts out any chance of the frustration of leaving points on the bench. I witnessed this on many occasions in my private leagues when rivals who had a strong front eight left the likes of Mahrez and Alli on the bench who went on to score highly in that gameweek. This would drive me nuts, so I just avoid a strong front eight and put faith in my four midfielders and three attackers. This is not to say a strong front eight is not a good idea, it’s just a strategy that I don’t like.     
Don’t be stubborn on streaky players
One thing I learnt from last season is that it is important not to be stubborn. I refused to bring in Jamie Vardy during his hot streak as I was stuck in my ways that he wasn’t good enough for my fantasy football team and that his goals would dry up. I missed out on a lot of points by doing so. I did the same with Ighalo. On the other hand, later in the season, I brought in Mesut Ozil despite not being a fan of him in terms of fantasy football. He was on a good run of form so I bit the bullet and brought him in. He continued his good form and brought home the points for me.
Be careful with your chips
I am not a fan of the chips aspect of FPL. This is probably due to the fact that last season I held healthy leads in most of my leagues and these chips gave my rivals the opportunity to close the gap in the final weeks. Thankfully I held on to those leads but when my rivals rolled out their triple captains and bench boosts it was scary times for me. I won’t discuss the chips in too much detail as they may not even be a part of the game this season. Last season I held on to my all out attack chip in case of an emergency where I had a shortage of defenders. I used my bench boost in a double gameweek which was successful. Triple captain chip not so much. I used it on big Rom Lukaku in his double gameweek in which he blanked in both games. If the chips do still exist when the game is launched I will most likely use them in the same way, just not with Lukaku!
Forget about your allegiances
When it comes to fantasy football, we must forgot about any allegiances we have to a particular team. Put player biases aside.  I often come across managers who support a certain team and will always have three players from that team in their FPL team for the entire season. I am a Manchester United fan but in the past two seasons I have very rarely had a Manchester United player in my fantasy football team.  Speaking of which...
Aguerooooooooooooooooooo!
As a Manchester United fan it kills me to say this but in my view, when it comes to fantasy football, Aguero is a must have. Whenever he is fit, I always ensure that he is in my team. He may be the most expensive player in the game, but he is too good to go without. 

Follow me on Twitter as I aim for a third consecutive top 400 finish in FPL!