Success in the Statistics

One question I continue to circle back to after posting  my best finish in FPL of 31k, how do I start the season stronger? Seems a simple question to answer at the end of the season, looking over all the top scoring players, but why were some of them not considered at the start of the season? Is there more preparation required or possibly a better way to look at new season and the prospects it holds?

If there was a deficiency in my starting XI last season, it was my midfield. From GW1 I struggled, selecting Alexis Sanchez in a 5-man midfielder. I partnered him with Mo Salah, Christian Eriksen, Pascal Groß and Tom Cairney. In fairness, Salah (259) and Eriksen (161) posted good numbers, but were both down from the previous season.

Of that midfield group, none of those players were season keepers this year, as I moved off Salah ahead of GW15, only to buy him back  for GW23, unfortunately that period of time produced some of his best attacking returns on the season. In fairness, I probably didn’t give Eriksen enough of a chance, as I moved him in my GW3 wild card and brought him back for the second wild card in GW34.

Using a theory developed by Russ Bliss, a sports talk host and former owner of Fantasy Football Starters out of Phoenix, Arizona, I hopefully can apply his ideas to FPL, in hopes of starting the season stronger. Using FPL Statistico and a spreadsheet of FPL points by GW from Simon (@analytic_fpl) and FPLStats.io, I’ve crunched some numbers.

THE FANTASY FOOTBALL LAW OF AVERAGES

The Fantasy Football Law of Averages says, ” you need to recognize the fact that every player will have ‘spikes’ in their fantasy production from week to week throughout the course of an entire season.”

He continues, “Barring injury, there will be a common average a player will usually hover around in terms of the amount of fantasy points he should score each week. If a player is failing to meet his average production, it stands to reason that if his projection was realistic in the first place, the player will have to have weeks where he exceeds his average to even the discrepancy out. It also applies in reverse to players who are exceeding their average; they’ll have to have weeks where they fall short of their projected average. It’s hardly an extreme idea and if you recognize it, it can help you in making sure you’re smart in your fantasy football management skills.

TOP 10: TOTAL POINTS VS MANAGERS

Using two different groups of data here’s how the numbers break down. The first group takes into account the top 10 highest scoring players at their respective positions. The second group is the top 10 managers in the world.

(Note: This comparison would be better, had I sampled a larger size, top 1000 or 10k managers, but didn’t have that data available in easily accessible format.)

VAPM – VALUE ADDED PER MILLION

I’ve written about VAPM before, last year in a Key Metrics article. It was a metric I found last year on Reddit and felt it held value for FPL. Like any metrics, you may or may not agree with the implementation, but I’ve decided to use it more this season, especially during the preseason when selecting my initial squad.

VAPM is calculated by using points scored per match (PPM), subtracting two points for a player in your starting XI that play 60 minutes. That number is then divided by price to get the VAPM. So it’s (PPM-2)/price.

Here’s a quick application of VAPM (value added per million) metric using 2300 points as final score, that would usually place you around the top 10k.

Using goalkeepers who played a minimum of 2000 minutes provides a small list. Based on PPG (top 10 managers), there were just five goalkeepers who averaged 4.1 PPG or better and finished about 0.35 VAPM:

  • 4.6 PPG/0.44 VAPM – Becker
  • 4.4 PPG/0.44 VAPM – Lloris
  • 4.4 PPG/0.42 VAPM – Ederson
  • 4.2 PPG/0.45 VAPM – Pickford
  • 4.1 PPG/0.46 VAPM – Etheridge

Using the top 10 players based on points, you can add Guaita (1754 mins) to the list. It’s interesting to note these 6 players also scored 0.35 VAPM or better on the season, list above list including Kepa.

Continuing to base results on 2000 minutes, defenders averaged 5.3 PPG for the top 10 managers, while that number decreased to 4.5 PPG for the top 10 players, based on score:

  • 6.4 PPG/0.76 VAPM – Trent Alexander-Arnold
  • 5.9 PPG/0.58 VAPM – Andrew Robertson
  • 5.5 PPG/0.52 VAPM – Virgil van Dijk

Quite a distinguished list of Liverpool players only. Widening that scope to 4.5 PPG increases the defenders list. Had you been savvy enough to see this at the start of last season, you have built a very high scoring defense.

  • 5.2 PPG/0.52 VAPM – Marcos Alonso
  • 5.1 PPG/0.49 VAPM – Aymeric Laporte
  • 4.6 PPG/0.45 VAPM – David Luiz
  • 4.5 PPG/0.39 VAPM – Kyle Walker
  • 4.5 PPG/0.46 VAPM – Luca Digne

Midfielders are the heart of many FPL teams, where a majority of your budget ends up going to give you a strong team. This was my downfall last season, never able to record much consistency over 38 weeks. The top 10 mangers midfielders averaged 5.9 PPG:

  • 6.9 PPG/0.42 VAPM – Raheem Sterling
  • 6.8 PPG/0.36 VAPM – Mo Salah
  • 6.4 PPG/0.40 VAPM – Eden Hazard
  • 6.4 PPG/0.43 VAPM – Sadio Mane

Based on the top 10 point scorers at the position, we see the PPG down to 5.2, but doesn’t any any further midfielders to the list. Remember these players are usually the premium options, but if you can start the season with some of these players at each position, you could start the season stronger, rather then how I did last year, activating my wild card ahead of GW3.

The forward position was the oddity this season, as the premium forwards didn’t dominate, as we had seen in years past. The budget options played well, but we saw premium defenders outscoring the top scorers, based on points.

The top 10 managers forwards averaged 5.5 PPG on the season, which gives of four forwards:

  • 6.1 PPG/0.34 VAPM – Sergio Aguero
  • 5.7 PPG/0.34 VAPM – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
  • 5.7 PPG/0.29 VAPM – Harry Kane
  • 5.6 PPG/0.52 VAPM – Callum Wilson

The forward position loses a full point, sliding to 4.5 PPG, when we look at the top 10 forwards based on points.

  • 5.1 PPG/0.34 VAPM – Jamie Vardy
  • 4.8 PPG/0.41 VAPM – Raul Jimenez
  • 4.7 PPG/0.29 VAPM – Alexandre Lacazette
  • 4.7 PPG/0.29 VAPM – Roberto Firmino
  • 4.6 PPG/0.44 VAPM – Salomon Rondon

CONCLUSION

All this work to give us a small pool of players, price dependent to look at to start the 2019/20 season, as potential season keepers who posted the best PPG average in the previous season. There is absolutely nothing scientific about how I compiled the data or even if it will be useful.

The point of the exercise is based on The Law of Fantasy Football Averages, as I look to start the year with players who I will look to keep, through their peaks and valleys , barring injury, during a 38-game week season.

I will talk more at length on this topic on the upcoming Pitch & Pint Podcast Episode 41: Fantasy Football Law of Averages next Tuesday.

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