2018-19 FPL: Season in Review

We approach the first weekend with no FPL but some exciting all English action that starts with Watford (fuck Man City) playing in FA Cup Final. It gets better as it’s an all English final in both the Europa League and Champions League. When it comes to football, there are still some great games to come. As for the FPL season, this post, along with Episode 39: Season Ender Bender on The Pitch & Pint Podcast will close the book on this season.

Starting with the numbers, this season was my best overall performance in the six seasons I’ve participated. I exceeded my pre-season goal of 60 PPG, by scoring 61.39 PPG, finishing with 2,333 overall points. That total, while my best ever, was well off the pace of the top 10k, as I finished 31,487 in the overall rank. It just happened to be a very high scoring year. While my score was excellent, there were others who were much better over the course of 38 weeks.

The last five weeks of the season hurt an otherwise excellent season. I finished with four red arrows out of five and dropped some 20k over that period, as I struggled to hold my positions in a few mini leagues I had a chance at winning. The best finish, a 3rd in the 90MAAT Writers League, a 4th in the Planet #FPL Writers League and a distance 5th in the #FPLBeerClub League.

WILD CARDS & CHIPS

Looking back on my wild card and chips, it was met with mixed results. While I played my first wild card ahead of GW3, it paid off over the course of 10 weeks, but I didn’t experience that same luck when I activated the second wild card in DGW34 that saw the red run begin. The wild card was only compounded when I took a 16 point hit the following week, as I was not able to recover from either action.

I played my triple captain chip in BGW31 on Mo Salah, away to Fulham, where he failed to return, scoring just 6 points. I would like to consider my bench boost a positive experience, but 24 from my bench just to help offset the 16 point hit I took, as a 94 turned into a 78 point week, going from a green arrow to a red one.

The only positive chip this season, the free hit chip, played in GW32 scored 120 points with seven players scoring in double figures, led by Sergio Aguero with 20 points. It was the one week in which Chelsea clicked as the treble of Azpilicueta, Luiz and Hazard posted 39 points! It was also a one-week punt on van Aanholt, doubling with Milivojevic scoring 27 points. It was also the only time this century I would break the century mark.

I took great pride this season in taking a single hit through 34 weeks before I lost my shit in GW35, taking a 16-point hit, followed by a 4-point hit in GW38. All the hits paid off, but things didn’t turn out as expected. Still, it was a much better year when it came to transfers, having a bit more patience and not chasing points, which is what happened very late in the season. On the season it was 40 transfers, 28 point hits for an immediate gain of 215 points!

Over 38 weeks, there were just 5 weeks I did not finish above the weekly average. My 61.4 PPG was the best I have ever posted over an entire season and it’s seen in my statistics. Still, there are facets of my game that need to improve more. Such as captain selections, where I scores just 542 points, which was 23.23% of my overall score. This year’s selections were better then the 2017/18 season, but still had 10 weeks in which I didn’t hit double digits. Mo Salah recorded the best point total of 38 points in GW36.

DEFENSIVELY STRONG, OFFENSIVELY FEEBLE

With a goal of the top 10k, I was close, just over 11k in GW33 but that would slip away, as I finished 52 points off the pace and 11 points short of the top 25k. On the season, my squad, which started off and stayed quite defensive heavy posted 86 clean sheets, with 84 assists and 94 goals. Defenders were by best players, averaging 5.5 PPG, as my forwards picked up the pace, finishing at 5.29 PPG. All season long I struggled with the midfield, right out of GW1 making a mistake selecting Alexis Sanchez. A 4.51 PPG average didn’t provide my squad with the necessary firepower to make consistent gains.

While the midfield struggled, I started the season with no premium forwards and a misconception that I needed a premium, as I didn’t want to go through the season hiding behind the sofa not owning Aguero, Kane or the like. However, it was the non-premium forwards that excelled this season, both Raul Jimenez (£5.5) and Callum Wilson (£6.0) were two of the season’s best, both finishing the season at £6.9. I did own both, as Wilson had 12 games scoring 57 points, buy Jimenez featured in just 6 games scoring 30 points.

It’s no surprise to see four of my top five scoring players were defenders and a goalkeeper; Robertson (205) , van Dijk (162), Alonso (108) and Ederson (81). To start the season, I planned going big at the back, as it paid off the previous year, when I decided to start with treble So’ton. Whatever the reason, this season, I didn’t double up on Liverpool out of the box. An early mistake was dropping David Luiz when I activated my first wild card, adding Alonso but did see a nice boost by doubling up with City defense; Ederson and Ben Mendy.

CAPTAINS TO THE RESCUE

I wasn’t alone to start the season with some excellent captain selections, posting a run of seven correct selections in a row before derailing in GW8, selecting Marko Arnautovic away to Brighton. In the end I would hit 28 out of 38 captain selections, but when I needed it most, late in the season, I struggled to get those all important points. From GW25 to GW31 I failed to hit double digit captain returns four times, including the triple captain in BGW31.

Of all the chips in the FPL game, this is one of the toughest ones to hit correctly. Many managers hold this chip until late in the season, but based on this season’s statistics, a strong case could be made to use it earlier in the season. From GW1 to GW21, I missed my captain just twice, but had three hauls of 30+ points and two 20+ point scores after GW22.

#AlwaysCaptainSalah dominated my armband selections, being captained 14 times for an additional 125 points. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was a distant second, captained just six times for just 36 points. When looking the premium forwards, Aguero and Kane combined for 6 armbands over the entire season. Looking at the breakdown of captain selections and points gained to leave the armband on a single player all season long. We know there is not a player that good who will return each and every week, but a convincing argument could be made.

On the season my captain selections scored 542 points, which including three 30+ point performances from Salah. This number needs to be closer to 600 next season. Captain selections this year averaged 14.2 PPG. In order to get closer to the 600 mark, captain picks would need to average 15.8 PPG.

BETTER EARLY BUT FINISH STRONG

There is usually A LOT of planning that happens ahead of GW1, sometimes FPL managers get so caught up in RMTs and chopping and changing, looking for the best combinations of players and formations, we don’t see the forest through the trees. That is where I got lost to start the season. I used previous seasons data, along with countless articles, podcasts and Twitter banter to make decisions before finalizing my squad. Looking back, I didn’t do a good job, as I held a single player all season long. I would like to see player retention increase to four players, one at each position, which I feel would put me in a much stronger position over the course of 38 weeks.

As I highlighted in my Keys to Success article ahead of the season, “patience” and “make you own decisions” were two important factors I stressed. Using a transfer each week, isn’t necessary. Unless you have an injury or suspension, why burn a transfer if you don’t need it? I prided myself on the fact I took just an 8 point hit through 34 weeks, before losing my shit and dropping a 16 point hit. Patience with players needs to last longer then a week or two, which is where I get caught many times, looking ahead to fixtures or another player who scored big the prior week.

I was also bit by the lemming mindset on Twitter a few times. Reading a tweet regarding a player and deciding, “yeah I can see that” only to be burned by that player. It’s tough to do, especially if it comes from a popular account. Sanchez was that player who hit me hard early. A player NEVER on my radar through planning but thanks to Twitter, he wiggled his way into my GW1 starting XI.

While a strong start is important, getting it done during the business end of the season can play an important role. No idea how my season would have played out had I not activated my wild card in GW34, as my team was in form, coming off four consecutive green arrows. It’s that portion of the season which can make or break you season. Finding that one player, like Ayoze Perez, 3.4% owned, scoring 42 points in the last five weeks. While I can finger players and moments over the course of the season, I didn’t get it done during the business end and it ruined an otherwise excellent season.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This year represented by sixth season and by far the most enjoyment I have got from the game. Numerous reasons for that. Most importantly, the people I’ve come in contact with. All the guys in the #FPLBeerClub, when FPL fails you we are bonded by beer, it’s what brings people together. Want to say thanks to Garf (FPL Shark), Casey (FPL Tornado)  and Gabe (FPLLens), who will make up the FPL Roundtable next season on Twitter and another new podcast. You can sample our show and what we did just twice this year, late in the season on You Tube.

I want to extend thanks to Tom Newman at 90MAAT for giving me the opportunity to be the Watford corespondent this season. Likewise thanks to James and Suj of the Planet #FPL Podcast, as I was also their Watford corespondent over 38 weeks. Excellent time providing previews, reviews, comments and opinions on my beloved ‘Orns.

Finally thanks to everyone who supported my articles and ramblings on this website, as well as taking an interest and listening to yet another FPL podcast, The Pitch & Pint Podcast. I had a great time writing, producing, hosting and editing the show. Have a great off season and look forward to another great year in FPL in 2019/20!

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