2018/19 Mid-Season Retrospect

“Oh what a difference a year can make.” As I sit here and reminiscence, attempting to draw parallels between the success I’ve had this season to the unfortunate fate I suffered last year at this point.  Many aspects of the FPL game are unchanged; put together a 15-man roster and start XI players each week in an attempt to score the most points you can. Easy, right? Last year out of the game week 19, I’d scored 77 points, second highest point total I’d had on the season. That came on the back of a -12 point hit, that got me a red arrow as I plummeted past 526k on the season with an overall score of 1020.

This year my fortunes have have been better, while the game has remained unchanged, there have been a few keys that have paid off during the first 19 weeks of the Premier League season. Some of the were touched on in a pre season article titled Keys to Success. The biggest “key” I’ve followed has been practicing patience, something I really failed to do last year and it cost me well over 100 points in hits. This season, unlike the previous five, I’ve held on to players who might have put in a bad performance, being rewarded nicely in a weeks time. However, there have also been times, as a double Man City that I have practiced too much patience, hoping and praying they could return to form when they ripped off six clean sheets in a row.

BY THE NUMBERS

After 19 weeks I sit on 1126 (avg. 59.26/PPG) overall points, by far my best total in six years. The best part of this figure, I sit just 14 points short of averaging 60 point/week, a valuable number I touted ahead of the season that would surely put me into the top 10k. This before we add in chips and captain’s over the course of a 38 week season. The previous years totals at this point were 955 and 923 points, an improvement of 171 points over last season.

Averaging 59.3 PPG, just 0.7 off my goal.

One reason I am have a successful season has been the fact I have been above the weekly average in all but two game weeks, those coming in game weeks 16 and 17. As it stands I am well over the pace to best my personal overall total of 2170 in the 2015/16 season, that saw me finish in the top 75k, a huge achievement from the first two years in the league. However, I am still waiting for the “hell yes, look at my score” week. The 87 points I scored in game week 10 was close, finishing  246k for the week and seeing a 178k green arrow, my biggest of the season.

CAPTAIN’S ARMBAND

Success in captain selections

While success usually can’t be measured off a single metric, the FPL game can. Your game week can hinge on a single decision, “who do I captain?” When compared to last season, I’ve nailed the selection, 16 out of 19 weeks. In game week 11, it was Mo Salah away to Arsenal, as I moved off my plan of captaining the home player between he and Aguero. Kun at home, finished on 13 points. Game week 18, I talked myself out of Harry Kane against Everton and went Leroy Sane. Kane hit for 15 points, Sane, no return. The only bad decision, game week 8, Marko Arnautovic away to Brighton, picked up a yellow and returned 2 points. Then again, that week none of my players returned big.

Compared to last season, after 19 weeks, I had hit my captain on just seven occasions. This year captain points account for 23.45% of my overall score. Harry Kane failed me four times to leave me frustrated, which turned me off to him earlier in the season. The same can be said for Eden Hazard, who let me down three out of five games. Oddly enough, in a record setting season, Mo Salah had been captained just once.  This season Salah (through GW14) had dominated the armband, grabbing it 9 times to lead all players with a 16.4 average. Kane, a close seconds, as he’s been given the armband three out of the last four games with a 15.3 average.

FORMATIONS

3-5-2, best average points this season

Prior to last year I locked myself in on playing a 5-man defense, which left me frustrated when fixtures turned and the viability in a 5-3-2 or 5-2-3 was lost. This year has been one that’s offered more flexibility, as I’ve experimented with seven different formations. At one point in the season, I had exceeded £38 million in defense and goalkeepers, so it’s no surprise seeing a 4-3-3 formation as my most used formation; 6 times, averaging 57.7 points. Combine that with the 4-4-2 and I’ve used a 4-man defense 10 times with three 5-man defenses. At the heart of these figures were the lack of a quality midfield.

While I started the season with Alexis Sanchez, Christian Eriksen, Pascal Groß and Tom Cairney, but when I activated the first wild card ahead of game week 3 I went with budget options in the midfield, in order to bolster the defense and bring in a premium forward (Kun Aguero). That said, I still feel my squad is very flexible and while the numbers indicate a favored formation, my squad allows me to shift players to lineup using any formation, a plus during the festive period.

PLAYERS

On the season, I have used 39 players through 19 game weeks, that number is down from 45 last year. The main difference has been not taking hits and showing a bit of patience on the season. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Andrew Robertson are my own remaining players from game week 1, but that number increases to five after I activated my wild card ahead of game week 3. Those players, Ederson, Robertson, Hamer and Wan-Bissaka. I’m also including Richarlison, who I picked up on my wild card but upon seeing red after 40 minutes in game week 3, I knee jerked him out, returning him to my squad last week. The only teams I’ve not used on the season, Leicester City and Newcastle.

The success I’ve had playing a defensive game can be see in the numbers, as Marcos Alonso, Robertson and Ederson have all played 17 games. This WAS a good core group until City forgot how to keep clean sheets. Ben Mendy and Virgil van Dijk have each picked up 8 games played and Aymeric Laporte, sent packing last week played 6 in the absence of Mendy, but was nowhere near as effective.

Salah leads all other players with 14 games played, while Mark Arnautovic and Ryan Fraser each posted 12 games. I started the season without a premium forward, but after two weeks I could go no longer and brought in Aguero. I’ve owned Harry Kane for just 5 games, but he’s averaging 12.4 PPG (62 points). Salah shined and while not great value was averaging 11.4 PPG through 14 weeks before I transferred him out with 160 points. Felipe Anderson has been one of the best transfers on the season, he’s featured in 3 games posting 23 points (7.7 PPG). Van Dijk has also proven to be a great commodity after 8 games he’s scored 59 points (7.4 PPG).

A team built on clean sheets

I’ve said it before, but I’ve struggled in the midfield all season long, which is seen in the fact I’ve used 69 midfielders for only 274 points, an average of just 3.97 PPG. When I start comparison points by position, I’ve achieved great success from 73 defenders scoring 401 points (5.49 PPG) and 47 clean sheets! Only since bringing in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Harry Kane have my forward points started to kick over. While they have only scored 257 points (5.35 PPG), their consistency recently should see an improvement in the overall points and PPG numbers. Shifting from a 3-forward set to two premiums and budgeting more money in the midfield should vastly improve my squad as I attempt to crack the top 100k.

The season has been without mistake made on personnel. The biggest and probably most costly, Sanchez (£10.5) to start the year, played just 90 minutes in two games, grabbed a single assist. No surprise he didn’t last the wild card as he continued to struggle before he was sidelined due to injury. In the same vein, David De Gea (£6.0) coming off a spectacular season lasted just two games as Untied conceded 4 goals in the first two games.

Looking at the positives on the season, Salah was my midfield for 14 weeks and posted 160 points, captained 9 times. Andrew Robertson has been the most consistent defender, averaging 6.4 PPG. I feel I moved on van Dijk ahead of the curve and since coming in has been an excellent double with Robertson, as Liverpool continues shine, conceding just 7 goals on the season.  Wan-Bissaka, in his limited role (7 games) continues to be excellent value! Over 7 games, he’s scored 39 points, averaging 5.6 PPG when called upon.

SURPRISES

Each year there are players that surprise owners, this season Wan-Bissaka (£4.0) dazzled owners with 3 clean sheets and 9 bonus points in the first five weeks of the season. He’s gone on to pick up four more clean sheets and rise in price to £4.4. Another outstanding defensive asset has been the Wolves, Matt Doherty, who’s attacking stats have exceeded those of Marcos Alonso. He was a gem at £4.5, picking up four clean sheets a goal and two assists through the first eight game weeks. He’s gone on to net 3 goals and 3 assists with five clean sheets to date.

Bournemouth assets, have cooled off a bit the last few weeks, but have played an important role for many managers. The midfield play of budget, Ryan Fraser (£5.5) has posted 96 points (4 goals, 8 assists), while David Brooks (£5.0) has scored five goals with an assist. Up front, Callum Wilson (£6.0) had been the beneficiary, as a consistent performer through 15 game weeks posting 97 points on 8 goals and  8 assists. Another Wolves standout because of his consistency has been the play of Raul Jimenez, who’s see a £0.7 price increase after 5 goals and 6 assists.

FAILURES

Looking over the first 19 weeks, my biggest failure goes back to all the preseason planning. While I spent time looking at the feasibility of a 5-man defense, I decided against it, starting the season with a 3-4-3. Unfortunately the selection of Alexis Sanchez and Christan Eriksen failed me from the start, which resulted in immediate changes that could have been avoided. Two big reasons why I activated my wild card ahead of game week 3.

As mentioned earlier, goalkeeper selection usually comes down to one of two strategies; play a set and forget premium or a platoon situation with two budget players. De Gea and United were terrible, in fact until two weeks had no reliable defensive assets. DDG highly owned last year, didn’t tick over to this season. Maybe it was a bit of post World Cup hangover, but his selection to start the season failed me.

A decision I should have stuck with from the start was staying on David Luiz, who’s accumulated 79 points on the season. Instead, I moved him for Alonso in the wild card. While I’ve been pleased with his returns, I might have benefited more had I kept Luiz and doubled down on Chelsea. I didn’t but one area of my squad that hadn’t failed was the play of the defense.

In a season of patience, I bought in on Richarlison during the WC, after posting three goals in two games. He lasted just 40 minutes and picked up a red card, accompanied by a three game suspension. I knee jerked him out for…God help me, Theo Walcott, who remained on my squad for seven weeks, starting just 4 games scoring 8 points. Another knee jerk that failed, Lucas Moura, brought in ahead of game week 7, I owned him through game week 13 and provided no attacking returns over that time.

EXPECATATIONS

I’ve got very high expectations for the next 19 weeks. While My recent scores haven’t been representative of the strength of my squad, I’m remaining positive. Ahead of game week 20, I have a strong starting XI with good balance over the pitch. Premiums on defense and up front with in form midfielders should get be off to a good start this weekend.

While I am still confident I can average 60/PPG I do have a bit of making up to do, as I am 14 points off that 18 week average. If I remain on this pace, I will exceed my best overall point total, which should put me inside the top 50k. I am still targeting the top 10k, but anything better than 75k will be considered a successful season.

For that to happen, I need to continue seeing consistent success with the armband selections. Premiums including Aubameyang and Kane NEED to perform. I’ve been living large off my defense, thanks in part to Liverpool, I expect those points will continue to flow leading me to think, could triple Liverpool be more beneficial? The recent success of Man United has added a few more midfielders to an already saturated position.  Picking up Pogba ahead of game week 20 has me a bit concerned, especially dropping Leroy Sane. Knee jerk? Time will tell, but I don’t think City stays down long and will undoubted return with a statement game that will have managers jumping back on their midfield assets.

Points, we all want them. I had achieved an OR of 81k in game week 15, but my stay there was short lived. As it stands now, I am just 16 points off the top 100k, which is my goal for this upcoming game week, as I eye the top 50k. Lots needs to go right in order to see the order of the arrow swing in the green direction. The last four weeks have been my worse run of the season, picking up a single green while dropping 70k in the blink of an eye. Hopefully watching the top 1000 mangers with the help of Fantasy Football Fix will continue to provide worthwhile. In order to “keep up with the Jones” you must own who they own. Right now, I own 8 of the top 15 most owned by the top 1000 managers. Not owning Hazard is my biggest concern, more so than not owning Salah.

Plans are already in plan to bring the Chelsea talisman into the starting XI, while retaining the services of Aubameyang and Kane. So with 19 weeks under our belt, its time to ready our squad as we battle through the next 19 game weeks. Looking forward to the challenge.

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