2017-2018 FPL – Season in Review

This year saw my approaching my 5th season participating in fantasy football. A fantasy game I have really taken to, more so than it’s US counterpart ever did, participating for some 38 years! I would like to think I learned a few new things this season, practiced a bit more patience and applied good decision making, based on the facts and information at hand. However, my overall score and rank aren’t representative of where I feel I should be. Then again, I think ALL fantasy manager can related to that, right?

The season started a few months ahead of kickoff, as I paid for a subscription to Fantasy Football Scout and joined in the “speculation game” of where prices would fall ahead of FPL Towers flipping the switch for the new season. It was the first of a few sites/accounts I would subscribe to, based on the time and effort they put into FPL. After prices were finally announced, I started setting up my squad, along with the millions of other managers but quickly realized the midfielders were pricey and many budget players were question marks.

Ahead of GW1, I decided to start the season in a 5-2-3 formation, which wasn’t along the lines of the common formations of 3-4-3 or 3-5-2. This strategy paid off early, recording a fair number of CS points from So’ton before their defense went south and tanked for much of the season. However, I didn’t let the game play out long enough and got frustrated with production from Antonio Valencia and Vincent Kompany, Man City unable to keep clean sheets.

Running “three big forwards” before it was the “in thing” was interesting. Had it not been for Harry Kane ineffectiveness in August, I might have benefited from any number of other forwards who were more productive, resulting in a better performance to start the FPL season. Kane was producing good underlying statistics, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Yet, game after game it was ‘Captain Kane’ continuing to fail to produce, causing frustration.

Kane single-handedly ruined my season, much like not owning Alexis Sanchez last season. One return, wearing the captain’s armband in the first five out of eight weeks of the season was a dismal return, sticking with the Spurs front man would have increased my score by an additional 26 points, if I would have left the armband on him for GW4 and GW6.

In the first 15 weeks of the season, I recorded 10 green arrows, achieving my season best ranking, 171k before the season turned on my after GW15. With the new, Free Hit Chip, I played it for GW9, as many of the big squads had good fixtures. No history on the chip, the jury was out on the best way to use it. While many fantasy managers saved it for a BGW or DGW, I scored a paltry 36 points, a season low. Had I held the chip, I would have gained just 4 more points. Lesson to be learned ahead of next season.

The next turning point of the season came after GW13, on the back of an 8-point performance I made the decision to move Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen for Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard ahead of GW14. The numbers and logic supported the Blues:

Spurs: lei/wat/STO/BHA/mci/bur/SOU/swa/WHU
Chelsea: SWA/NEW/whu/hud/SOU/eve/BHA/STO/ARS

Unfortunately early success for Hazard/Morata in GW15 was out shadowed by Kane/Eriksen when I made the decision to bring the Spurs duo back in. I wrote about this in The Kane Game back in December. Again, another defining moment this season, brought to me by Harry Kane. Justified or not, he became my “red-headed stepchild.”

The red tide season continued, posting just 4 green arrows over the next 13 gameweeks (GW16-28), dropping my team from 171k to 608k in the overall ranking. At this point, it was going to be a real struggle the rest of the season to achieve any pre-season goals and expectations I had. Based around a post from Rob Reid (@FPL_VET), I posted my expectations for the 2017-2018 season.:

  1. Top 10k finish in the Overall Rankings
  2. Average 60.0 points/week
  3. Survive 4 rounds in the cup
  4. Win my private H2H league

Not surprisingly, I didn’t achieve any of these.  I fell well outside the top 10k, finishing 267k, after reaching a season high of 144k in GW36. I average 56.5 points on the season. That’s less than a clean sheet a week (3.4 PPW), just 130 points short of where I wanted my average score. I was beat in the first round of the cup, by what appeared to be a dead team and the H2H league I finished 52nd.

On a more positive note, I finished top in my draft league but I hesitate to guess out of eight teams, maybe 2-3 were active. the Waiver wire was basically mine to own, so I can’t really call it a real win. Not sure this style game interests me with random strangers. If it were a close group of friends, it might be more interesting. More on this in another post.

This is a very telling graphic that goes hand in hand with how my season went. The middle of the season felt like a lot of wheel spinning, making little to no ground for too many weeks before breaking through and and seeing a climb in the overall ranking. However, as already mentioned, DGW37 and GW38 did me in, undoing all the hard work I had managed before those gameweeks played out.

One factor I had more control and restraint over this year, transfers. While I don’t remember what I netted last season, I had a total of 57 transfers this season at a total cost of 64 points, but gained +29 points when all is said and done. Compare this to 72 transfers last year for 152 points and there was a good chance I wasn’t even close to gaining a positive result. However, there needs to be further restraint next season when taking hits. At one point, I was just 30 points off the top 100k, but by the end of the season that number grew to 63 points. Thanks again to the poor performances in the final weeks of the season.

Early season success could have been a bit stronger, had I stuck to my guns ahead of the Friday match in GW1, but I shifted my starting XI from a 5-3-2 to a 5-2-3. Interesting enough, a 5-2-3 wasn’t all that bad, netting an average of 59.3 points (4 times). It doesn’t come as a surprise that a 3-5-2 was my best formation, 62 points (9 times) and a 4-4-2 gained 59.8 points (5 times). I might not “think differently” next season and roll out a more conventional formation to start the season.

In the end, it has been a very enjoyable year, as I mentioned in my final retrospect, lots of thanks to the guys in the #FPLBeerClub for keeping the mood light and cheery when some of our teams were under-performing. Now we wait and speculation begins as to what next season will bring. Thanks to all I interacted with this season.

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