To be fair, I can’t do justice reviewing my FPL season, which ended on a green arrow, an OR at 207k. The season ended on March 9 when the league suspended play after GW29. It was my hope the season would be null and void and I don’t voice that opinion because Watford was teetering on relegation in 17th position. Interest had been declining since October due to complications in my life and interest in the FPL game was at an all time low, no longer finding fun and enjoyment in what I was doing. Life took precedence with a pandemic on the horizon and our daily life in upheaval.
As witnessed by last season, I can’t say I learned much from what I experienced. It was a strong start to scoring 84 points, 20 points over the average. Ahead of GW3 I activated my first Wild Card seeing just 180 minutes of football, this was the same actions I took in the 2018/19 season. Immediately it paid dividends, picking up my second green arrow and jumping 600k in the OR, as my team value (TV) started a quick ascent to £103.1 by GW8. Yet, early season highlights were few and far between, as I alternated between gains and losses until seeing some stability in my starting XI, recording back to back green arrows in GW12 and GW13.
The gains made on the back of the first Wild Card were quickly given back the following week, dropping 500k as my squad struggled to stay inside the 1 million mark. The second “act” of my season began in GW12, running through GW29, when the season came to a grinding halt, on the back of 13 green arrows moving as high as 262k, before ending the opening act of the season with 44 points and a red arrow before life changed. It was the point that my team achieved a TV of £106.1!
With the exception of the first Wild Card, I made the decision to hold all my chips, as I’d been planning on chip activation, as the blank and double games were slowly being finalized. However, all that planning went out the window and interest was lost in the fantasy game.
Captaincy was the center of attention, as I continually failed, recording a six week period (GW4-9) in which I had no returns on my selections; Sterling (6), de Bruyne (2), Puuki (4), Abraham (4), Pukki (2), , Abraham (4). Luck started to change, as captains then recorded returns in the next nine out of 10 games. In the end, I scored 508 (22.84% of total) captain points, but feel that was on the low end of where I should have been. Mo Salah was my most successful captain, tapped eight times, recording 32 points wearing the captain’s ‘C’ in GW24 and GW25.
When it came to chip activation, the Bench Boost was my most effective chip, as I recorded 121 points in GW30+ that saw me achieve my highest rank of the season at 168k. However, all my other chips failed me, as I recorded red arrows at the end of each game week. All chips were used after the play returned with very little thought put into effective use of each chip. It should and the results were indicative of the fact that I didn’t care how my team did.
It’s interesting when you look back on players and see how many weeks or points scored each had while in your starting XI. For reasons unknown now, I came off Trent Alexander Arnold (19), Mo Salah (22) and Nick Pope (20), as all finished at or near the top of their respective positions. Other notable players included John Lundstram (18) and Richarlison (12). As a manager who prides my squad on defense, looking to play five at the back, I rotated 29 different defenders into my squad, along with eight goalkeepers. Not much stability at either position.
Each year, I can usually identify a “season defining moment” that makes or breaks my season. This year with the season in upheaval, the three month absence from the game is that moment. While the game could potentially hinge on a single player that wasn’t the case for my season. I was halfheartedly playing the game from October, my FPL squad felt like my Watford club looked.
Now that the 2019/20 season is behind us, are there any takeaways for the upcoming season that begins in September 12? Patience tops the list because we know star players will usually end up pulling the weight of their price by the end of the season. Mo Salah and Sadio Mane, cases in point. Many FPL managers played the Salah vs Mane game weekly. While I never transferred Mane in, I jumped off Salah in GW13, but back on in GW19 until the game stopped. Conversely, there were moments I showed too much patience with the, “just one more week” mindset that rarely paid dividends.
I did spend about 60 minutes this week putting together some statistics using the VAPM (value added per million) metric on approximately the top 25 players (excluding GK) at each position. While I don’t buy into xA or xG, I’ve been looking at how to better use the VAPM metric to make more logical selection that could potentially be season keepers earlier in the year. I came of Virgil van Dijk after two weeks, he finished the third highest scoring defender, 178 points and a VAPM of 0.41. The goal of VAPM, own players who score over 0.35. Martial posted 200 points and a VAPM of 0.57, while Jimenez finished on 194 points and a 0.47 VAPM. All of these players hurt me when looking back on their replacements.
Points can be a difficult thing to come by and I don’t like giving them away on multiple transfers, which happened seven times this season but rewarded with just a single green arrow over those game weeks. Much like patience, taking hits can benefit your score and OR.
However, I based much of the post GW29 decisions on match ups and not performance but feel it didn’t come off as expected. Three months away from football is a long time, but the season will always have an asterisk as the Premier League changed the rules as games resumed. While I am not looking for an excuse to my poor, limp to the finish I still don’t feel these rule changes did much to help the game. Do we really need five substitutes? Water breaks? Come on, these lads are PROFESSIONALS not five year old kids. They get paid to be in shape and able to play 90 minutes of football. Sure, I understand the games came much quicker to force the end of the season. Those changes I feel accounted for how some of the “sure thing” games didn’t pan our as expected.