Keys to Success: FPL 2019/20

This is a series I promoted a few years ago, which is intended to help my focus over the 38-week Premier League season. Setting goals is commonplace for FPL manger and it’s typical to hear, “my goal is to finish in the top 10k.” We’ve all said it. That’s great goals play an important part to our season but to achieve them we need to a set a keys or principles to follow in order to make them a reality.

Last season I experienced my best finish, 31k, partially due to following the keys to success I outlined ahead of the season. No successful FPL season isn’t complete without some level of luck, which is always an ongoing debate in the FPL community when it comes to a string of successful season; skill or luck?

This season I revisit some of the keys to success that played a role the previous year, but will also introduce a few new keys to help me achieve my goals. By no means are these the only keys to success playing FPL, I’ve see a few articles posted on Twitter recently. As we move forward through the preseason, we will see more pundits and podcasts provide their opinions and keys to be successful in the game.

Patience

This attribute topped the list last season and remains important ahead of the 2019/20 FPL season. It’s one of the most difficult attributes to grow playing the fantasy game. It doesn’t take long to becomes frustrated with the game. That frustration can lead to impulsive actions and poor decisions you regret.

We’ve all been in the position with a deadline looming and we make a rash or knee jerk decision become of a piece of information we saw on Twitter or heard on a podcast without thinking it through. The same logic is applied to transfers, when it comes to chasing points or price rises. We hear it said every season, “FPL is a marathon, not a sprint.” You have time, take it, do your research and make an informed decision.

Have a Plan

This key gets carried over from last season, as planning and strategy provide FPL managers a “road map” to the season ahead, one that is quite dynamic as we start the season without knowing vital information that will cause changes to our plans and strategy. Every season FPL managers sit down and spend long hours putting  together a plan for their upcoming season.

We see more pundits creating a “Beautiful Mind” (thanks Art of the Dive for that nugget) when it comes to fixture difficulty, rotation and weekly transfers for the FPL season. I’ve got my own spreadsheet that works for me, laid out in simple format that helps me plan my season.

While it’s unrealistic to plan for the entire season, this season, like last is broken into 4-week intervals through the first 13 weeks of the season with the international breaks providing time away from the game. This makes planning more manageable, but must always take into account unknown variables; rotation, suspension, injuries.

Start Strong

This aspect I want to focus on heavily to start this season. Looking back to last year, my start wasn’t’ poor 67 points (avg. 53) and 66 points (avg. 60). Over the course of the season, I would gladly take a 66 PPG average. However, after two weeks, I was sitting at 970k. Not the strong start I expected, was made worse when I activated the Wild Card ahead of GW3.

One measure I used last season, in retrospect, was the number of players I retained over the 38-week season. It wasn’t reassuring to see I held a single player, Andrew Robertson. The other “premium” players I started with, but didn’t have patience for were David Luiz (164 pts) and Christian Eriksen (161 pts). Both players would of had a profound impact had I held them all season.

So how do an FPL manager start strong? There is no magic equation or telling what’s going to happen early in the season. What I am pushing for this season is to use the information and research I do to build a stronger starting XI, not for the entire season, but that first four to eight week block.  It’s not uncommon to activate the Wild Card out of an international break, so we have three opportunities by early November. More importantly, I don’t want to move off the premium players I buy into, attempting to hold them all season, even if they haven’t returned for a few weeks, as it all evens out at the end of the season.

Avoid the Herd Mentality

The lure of news at our fingertips on Twitter can be a blessing, as we saw with @AnfieldExpress a few years ago leaking the starting lineup for Liverpool. It can also be a guise intended to illicit a response from the community that may or may not be true or cited from a reliable source. I turn to Twitter for most of the information I use to make decisions related to FPL.

The big problem with Twitter or Reddit, they are both such small cross sections of the FPL community as a whole, last year over six million were registered in the game! Last year was an improvement, as patience (see above) helped me avoid the “herd mentality” as I worked to make my own decisions and not those I read over on Twitter.

There are some excellent accounts on Twitter that provide team news, insight and news to help raise your FPL game to a new level. Just be weary of falling into that herd mentality mindset that could leave you hunched over and defeated knowing you would have prospered had you made your own decision.

Be Flexible

This is my favorite key to success over the season. Be flexible, nothing is set in this dynamic game. All the planning in the world won’t help if you are rigid when it comes to forcing your strategy or formation because it works in your plan. We saw the defensive acronym ‘RAM’ was popular to start last season, but an injury to Ben Mendy and no returns from Marcus Alonso had mangers scrambling.

Being flexible goes hand in hand with patience. Roll a transfer, hold a non-performing player that extra week and give yourself a few more options heading into a new game week. Flexibility can play a key role in your FPL season that will help you achieve your goals.

Conclusion

The most important part of the FPL season, have fun. It’s an unwritten rule but the bottom line of ANY fantasy game I’ve played over 36 y ears. If the fun is lost, then I question, “why am I playing?” Maybe it’s group of friends you play with or communication with, for me the #FPLBeerClub has been amazing to keep the enjoyment week after week, even if it’s red arrow after red arrow.

The start of a new season is always exciting, while some managers aren’t ready to tinker and get back into the saddle, as August 9 approaches, we will catch the fever on the pitch and the excitement will return, the fire, reignited. Good luck to all the FPL managers this season.

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