Think Different: An FPL Tale Part I

Each year FPL managers attempt to dissect their season and draw conclusions. If like me, you find yourself continuously questioning transfers, activation of chips and strategy as the year ticked on. The 2019-2020 Premier League season caused an upheaval in the FPL game, seeing the game go cold for nearly three months. As I have said, I lost nearly all interest in the game when the Premier League said it would push forward in a mad dash to finish the season.

STRUGGLE IS REAL

While I provided a season in review it was not as comprehensive as it has been in the past. All the time, effort and patience put into the first 29 weeks was all lost as the game stopped. Now, weeks after the season has ending, it’s time to look forward and see how to improve on a very poor 207k overall rank. We all start with expectations, which on Twitter goes, “I want to finish in the top 10k!” It’s a great goal to strive for, but just how realistic is it? It seems my bid for the “best of the best” usually takes a hit after the first game week, as I find myself languishing around 800-900k and it’s a struggle the next 37 weeks to salvage the season.

Okay, maybe it’s not completely true, but you know the feeling. I’ve set season goals the last three years and have failed to meet all of them. Does that make me a poor fantasy manager? Unlucky? There are many variables we must take into account when it comes to the game.; player form, fixture difficulty, injuries, rotation, weather conditions, home or away. Those are just some that come to mind. Let’s not forget we must select a captain, vice captain and set our bench, just in case we have a Man City player that Pep decides to rest on the odd weekend.

Like last season I will manage two teams in the upcoming season. The first is 6thGoal, the team I originally signed up with during the 2013/14 season. The second, FPL Beer Mule, using my son’s email was started last season as I wanted to stay red on defense with Liverpool and blue on attack with Man City. Can’t say it worked out as expected, the stoppage didn’t help but its interesting to see the difference in the two teams. This season, there is a new plan for the FPL Beer Mule.

FIVE MAN FEASIBILITY

As recent as 2018/19 I wrote a regular article for Fantasy Football Geek called Think Differently. It started off a differential article with the thought of starting the season using a 5-man defense. This last season the 5-3-2 formation was used just 1.7%. Mangers opting to follow a 5-4-1, were even lower,  0.7%. So, realistically it’s not a popular formation given many FPL managers are willing to budget more economically at the back in order to bulk up their attacking players. Seems like a logical strategy.

Last season I remained conventional and boring playing the game, not  considering a 5-man defense at all. Compared to the 2018/2019 Premier League season, there was a decrease in the number of clean sheets to start the season. Even those clubs like Liverpool and Man City struggled to keep things clean. Looking over the double up of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson, a combined score of 391 points on the season and it was quite possible to have both in your squad. Many did. Both players, premium assets excelled last season. My defenders scored a total of 457 points on the season.

Rest assured we will see price increases across the board. No reason to think prices of premium defenders won’t rise.  An £8.0 million  defender could be a reality, especially providing 28 assists and 30 clean sheets the last two years. Your budget would have gone far, if you bought into the hype of Sheffield United, as their defenders played exceedingly well last season. John Lundstram was the budget buy (finishing at £4.6) who will undoubtedly see an increase (and possible position change). His 144 points was good for the 5th best defender and when compared to midfielders, 11th best. Lots of mileage for a £4.5 to start the season.  My point, defenders and their points will go a long way if you spend wisely, taking a bit of luck into consideration. Undoubtedly we will see defenders who are priced nicely that could allow a big at the back formation.

I struggled with defenders all season long, which is unlike any team I previously had. All 127 defenders combined for just a 3.6 PPG average scoring just 457 points. When the game returned after the hiatus, I was anti-Liverpool and did not bring any Reds players into my team, which accounts for many lost points but long before the stoppage, I couldn’t get a sound defense together that was consistent. Well, they were consistent…but consistently bad.

Next article in the series will discuss a key metric and how I plan to implement it, providing the best chances to be successful.

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