Gameweek 19 is a big milestone in the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) calendar – the halfway point of the season. At this stage we as FPL managers have learned a lot about teams and players to target as well as those who make good bench and differential options.
We asked the Scout Network to share their reflections on the first half of the season and for their plans for the second half.
During pre season I recorded an FPL Family X video with Josh Bull, the 2019/20 FPL Champion. I have always considered myself to be a loyal FPL manager preferring to hold on to my players, as I’ve never really deployed upside chasing. During the video one of the things that Josh said to me was he maintained his premiums throughout his winning season, only moving them on in cases of injuries.
This struck a chord with me as it’s something that I have always thought I did, but this year it has been my focus. I have invested the majority of my money in Harry Kane (£11.2m), Son Heung-min (£9.7m), Bruno Fernandes (£11.3m) and Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) and they have consistently been there from about Gameweek 3 onwards. Holding these players through some difficult matches has resulted in some really positive hauls – especially for Son and Kane against the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal.
This season I have moved my peripheral players around, making key differential picks at the right times (e.g. Tomas Soucek (£5.3m), Michail Antonio (£6.3m), double Saints defence) and this has had a positive impact on my rank. I have come to terms with not owning some of the other premiums due to budget restrictions and I know that over the course of the season the points will likely even out – but I won’t have the stress and disappointment of missing hauls.
For the rest of the season I am planning to continue this strategy as it is working well so far. I decided to buck the trend and not play a chip in Gameweek 19 and therefore carry both my Triple Captain and Bench Boosts through to the second half of the season, alongside my second Wildcard. This will be important for covering any further blank Gameweeks and also means I can use my Triple Captain chip later on in the season to give me a boost, at a time when many other FPL managers will already have used their’s.
I have managed to navigate both Gameweeks 18 and 19 without the use of a chip. There was always the sense that I may have missed out but somehow it feels more comfortable to hold on to all the chips at this stage. The season is literally only halfway through.
There have been more postponements, injuries and fixture changes than any other season in recent memory, so I feel somewhat vindicated to be a “chip scrooge” at this stage.
I have broadly followed three principles and will continue to do so until the COVID situation turns the corner in the UK (and the rest of the world)
• Never Captain and Vice-Captain players from the same team
• Keep a very strong bench
• Make transfers as late as possible to the deadline
I expect to slide down the Overall Rank for the next few weeks as teams around me use their Wildcard and other chips. I plan to use my Wildcard near Gameweeks 25 and 26 to build a fresh team for the run-in when I also expect fewer personnel changes and rotations to Premier League teams.
More than ever, the first part of this FPL season has been about adjusting our game. First, to the penalty fest of the few first gameweeks, then to the COVID related events. It has emphasized one part of the game that we, FPL Froggies like to frequently remind our listeners. Patience is key and don’t get carried away by your week-in week-out Overall Rank as big swings could happen and the season is 38 Gameweeks long. Be aware of the opportunities (Diogo Jota (£6.6m), John Stones (£5.1m), James Justin (£5.0m) etc..) but stick to your strategy and give time to your set and forget assets, they will come good.
The halfway mark is also a relevant checkpoint to review our strategies. We headed into Gameweek 19 with overall rankings of 331,000 (Romain) and 231,000 (Benjamin) without having played any of our chips (bar the first Wildcard). Heading into Gameweek 18 without considering the Free Hit chip underlines our overall strategy, don’t bring more variance into a game that already suffers from it due to the context.
The small number of games in Gameweek 18 led us to think the risk of a Free Hit being spoiled by a late game cancellation and with the games not being very appealing, we held. This turned out to be a good call as Benjamin outscored the average (44 to 30) and Romain lost just five points to the average.
Although at the time of writing we still wait for the complete outcome of Double Gameweek 19 (for which neither of us have activated any chip), we feel in a good position to embark on the second part of the season with the luxury of having all of our chips available.
As soon as the context is (hopefully) ]better, we will switch to a more aggressive style. Until then, we will apply some of the new 2020-2021 special golden rules. One of them is very questionable but we both agree on it. Since the beginning of the season, we are not paying any attention to our team value. We are willing to wait until the last moments to do our transfers as we value the latest fitness/COVID news more than the price tags. This is also related to the bigger pool of players available in the last few years which brings more mid-priced opportunities during the season. Although budget is tight, we don’t feel as priced-out as we used to during the previous seasons.
Until Gameweek 25 and a possible Wildcard, when we will have a better idea of the Blank Gameweeks and Double Gamweeks to come, we will be sticking to our minimise-the-variance strategy. We don’t see any major mistakes or weaknesses in our teams (we always like to look at our teams from weaknesses to strengths as we believe an FPL manager should always address his/her team’s weaknesses first).
Then after Gameweek 25, we will loosen it up and bring the adrenaline in through our chip deployment. We have spent too much time behind the sofa.
The time to jump on the chip usage is coming soon.
Unpredictable is the word of the season. A word that has been dragged through the dirt in FPL circles. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just rely on a Liverpool clean sheet every week and casually stick the armband on Salah without a thought? Or does navigating the unpredictability make the game more interesting?
The problem is that just like real-life football coaches, FPL managers need to adapt. The ones who are stuck in their ways find themselves languishing, while the ones who evolve flourish.
The aim of The FPL Experiment podcast is for three friends to manage a single team to finish in the top 50,000. It has been exciting to understand whether three heads are better than one in the most peculiar of seasons. We realised early on in the season that we needed to move quickly to adapt to the changing landscape. An expensively assembled defence was dead and Patrick Bamford was apparently a thing. We pulled the Wildcard trigger at the end of a disappointing 32 point Gameweek 4 that left us at a lowly 1.3m. It paid off instantly with an 84 point Gameweek 5 and we surged up the league edging towards our target of 50k. We jumped on the form players at the right time, with Emiliano Martinez (£5.1m), Jack Grealish (£7.7m), Bruno Fernandes and Mohamed Salah racking up the points.
In recent weeks though we’ve plateaued. Captaincy decisions have been a huge factor. Backing Salah while he’s blanked hurt our rank and deeper thinking around captaincy is a key area of focus for the second half of the campaign.
We always planned to build a squad for Double Gameweek 19 knowing we’d Free Hit in Gameweek 18. This was running smoothly until COVID started impacting Premier League fixtures and played havoc with our carefully laid plans. We played Triple Captain on Kevin De Bruyne (£11.9m) in Gameweek 19 in an attempt to offset our squad filled with Leeds players – this hasn’t exactly paid off!
Now a new evolution seems to be taking place. There’s great value to be found in defenders like John Stones and Aaron Cresswell (£5.4m). And James Maddison (£7.1m) looks irresistible. As we have seen this Double Gameweek, plan it right and you can see some monster points hauls. Unpredictability is not an excuse!
El Statto Stat Dashboard
This season has certainly thrown in a few added challenges hasn’t it. We’ve had last minute match cancellations and unknown positive COVID tests to deal with. I was caught out in Gameweek 19 after building for the Double Gameweek, having three players from Leeds and Southampton receive the late cancellation, then followed by the Illan Meslier (£4.7m) no show in his one game!
That said I think I have managed to navigate through Gameweek 18 and 19 well, and currently sit with a 500,000 rank rise from it. I’m now inside the top 500k with three chips to use in the second half of the season so I’m optimistic I can push on and continue to rise the ranks. Now we have a lot of data, I’ll be using my stats dashboard to help me review teams and players for potential transfers.
The challenge this season has been in midfield with the premium players. While as expected they are all scoring well, they have been inconsistent. Salah on a current run of five games with no returns being a classic example. I’ve actually kept faith with Kane up top at the expense of another premium midfielder and have been happy with his consistent, if not spectacular, return of points.
I feel the template is breaking a little now which is great. Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.6m) is no longer a go-to cheap forward option for everyone (25% owned) and with forwards not scoring heavily it is good to see different formations and player selections among the community. My main lesson I’ll be using in the second half of the season is to leave transfers as late as possible to give you the best chance with further cancellations and positive tests. And also to be flexible, there will be a lot of doubles coming for some teams so jumping on and off these will hopefully enable rank rises as a result.
What’s happening in the Scout Network?
Last week saw the first episode of Scout The Gameweek released. Hosted by Sam from the FPLFamily, the first episode featured Ted from Ted Talks FPL. Sam and Ted discussed Gameweek 18 and looked ahead to Gameweek 19.
Episode two was released on Thursday afternoon and see’s Sam and her guest FPL Nymfria look back at Double Gameweek 19 and ahead to Gameweek 20.
The FPL Froggies released their most recent podcast this week. Podcast #13 “Dream of procrastination” is available on Sound Cloud, Apple Podcast, Deezer, Spotify and anywhere else you listen to your podcasts.
The FPL Family have had a busy week with two appearances on the FPL Show and Lee’s appearance on the most recent FPL Podcast. Sam also launched the new Scout Network Podcast, Scout the Gameweek. The FPL Family YouTube channel passed 16,000 subscribers and their Twitter page smashed through 40,000 subscribers. Scout Network Lee and Sam will be appearing on the FPL Show twice again as well as Sam making an appearance on the FPL Podcast.
This week El Statto took a look at the recent improvements by Manchester United and asked whether their defence was now a good FPL option. Next week El Statto will be looking at Leicester and why their players are still going under the radar.
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