Think Different: An FPL Tale Part IV

This is the fourth article in the Think Different series, where I discuss key metrics. Take away from these articles what you want, if anything. Like many metrics, this is useful information, depending on how you use the data. I believe metrics can help FPL managers when combined with other data sets and performance based statistics, when we examine players under consideration for the upcoming Premier League season. While I stand by the metric, if you don’t find interest in the results, do find one that helps you make your starting XI or transfer decisions as we roll over the 38-week season.

RECAP

As I’ve mentioned time and time again, this isn’t my key metric, I happened upon VAPM or ‘value added per million‘ a few seasons back on Reddit, when looking for statistics that could potentially offer something more than PPM, PP90 or PPMM. That’s when I happened upon Exploring a key metric: “value added per £1m” and a corresponding (now defunct) site that updated VAPM values weekly. Not being a programmer, I have no idea how to dump all the weekly data, crunch the numbers and spit out information to make a VAPM useful for FPL managers during the season.

VAPM takes into account the ‘price per million’ minus 2-points for player appearance, divided by price. The resulting number will vary, but based on 2300 total points for the season and your captains scoring 500 points, players in your starting XI would need to average 0.35 VAPM to achieve that goal. Possible? Sure, yet to date I’ve been unsuccessful achieving that sort of finish. This year I feel more confident, as I have calculated all the VAPM numbers of every player from last season (minus the promoted teams). That doesn’t guarantee success, but gives me a good foundation to build on.

For more information, on VAPM, I recommend the link above or go back and read Part I of this series.

GOALKEEPERS

This group of players actually caught me by surprise, as I started doing the numbers and the previous two years it was interesting to see where the high priced and the popular keepers showed up. Not sure you could have convinced me that Hugo Lloris would top the list. Now the caveat, he didn’t meet the minimum, 2000 minutes played picking up just 1807 during an injury plagued season. Yet his numbers since the 2017/18 season have been excellent finishing at 0.36 and 0.44. Lloris is priced at £5.5 this season, while I don’t really agree with the price based on last season, he’s in the same bracket as de Gea, Henderson, Patricio, Pope and Schmeichel. As you know, Pope led the league with 170 points, but the other four keepers all finished in the top five.

If we remove Lloris from the picture, Pope was the top keeper, playing all 38 games and a 0.48 VAPM, closely followed by Henderson at 0.47. Both were excellent value on the season as both were £4.5 options to start the season, but finished at £5.2. While Pope didn’t play any games in the 2018/19 season, he was able to duplicate his results from last season with a 0.48 VAPM and  4.4 PPM average, very similar to what he accomplished last season.

I’ve got some question about Henderson with transfer rumors still swirling as to where he ends up. Can Sheffield United duplicate their defensive prowess we saw last season recording 13 clean sheets ( 8 at home). If the keeper stays at Brammell Lane, would think he pushes for top honors again in the Premier League.

Yet every year FPL managers reserve their budget for attacking options, which has them pondering the best £4.5 option between the posts. How many times have we looked to round out our fifth midfielder and come up £0.5 short? Mat Ryan, Brighton is probably your best bet, as he finished the season with 135 points and a 0.33 VAPM (3.6 PPM). At this point, I don’t feel there is much value in Fabianski or Pickford as options. The £5.0 option adds Dubravka, but feel that hinges on a healthy Newcastle defense. Leno could be a viable option, as Arsenal are looking to bring some new defensive talent in. Leno finished the season injured, but at £5.0 had a 0.38 VAPM and score 3.0PPM.

Can’t say there is much interest in the premium options at Liverpool or City. Ederson was terrible, as were City, giving up some really easy goals last season. His £6 price tag is just too high as he finished well down the list at 0.30 VAPM. By comparison, Alisson was better, played 29 games with 0.36 VAPM, but could be a defensive option if you don’t want the more expensive defensive options.

FORWARDS

No discussion would be complete without looking at the forward position. This year I feel the FPL did no justice reclassifying Aubameyang and Greenwood as midfielders, while Martial and Richarlison were changed to forwards. I also feel this move by FPL Towers was purely for balance in the game. I could get into an entire article on player reclassification, but it’s a moot point. Still, I see this as a failure on the part of the FPL.

First and foremost there is no forward listed over £10.5, that being Harry Kane coming off a rather average year and Sergio Aguero, coming off injury. It was the FPL darling of the season, Danny Ings, who to me, most importantly stayed healthy all season. Price at £8.5 to start this season, Ings finished tied with Rashford (who is now a midfielder) on 0.42 VAPM. This was the first season since 2014.15 Ings was able to stay healthy and clock nearly 3000 minutes (2804 mins.) since he came into the Premier League. No doubt with his price and performance at So’ton, he will be a highly sought after forward to start the season.

Vardy comes in at £10, which is fair coming off an excellent season scoring 23 goals, his best since their championship 2015/16 season. While his per90 statistics might not match other forwards, Vardy still has a nose for goal, finishing with a 0.41 VAPM. A year older, but the legs can still see him motor past defenders and find the net. I’ve got to group Jimenez (if he stays at Wovles), Wood and Abraham together. The Mexican was most productive (3236 mins.) and finished well ahead for Wood and Abraham in statistics, but were percentage points off of each other in VAPM.

The other interesting player to be listed as a forward, Michail Antonio priced at £6.5 he finished tied with Vardy at 0.40 VAPM. Remember his statistics were based on midfielder scoring, but at 6.5, he and Wood could be budget options that return all season long. I feel there are some good “cheap” forwards to consider, depending on how you set your formation.

RECLASSIFICATION

I feel a need to touch on this reclassification bullshit the FPL seems to do on a regular basis. Case in point Matt Ritchie. When will they stop jerking the midfielder/defender around and leave him here the club has him listed. He has been bounced around the last four years and is back to a midfielder.

However, I am still not sold on Richarlison as a forward. Yes, Everton does have him listed as such on their club site and plays along side DCL, but his heat maps are predominately on the wings and has been since coming into the league with Watford. The really odd one, Aubameyang, listed as forward on the club site, I guess FPL wanted to make midfield selections more complicated as he joins Salah and Mane in the £12 or higher club.

I know I don’t agree with these changes and feel Richarlison and Martial’s value will decrease with Martial carrying a bit higher value based on his play last year and a 0.50 VAPM! Conversely, Aubameyang could see an increase in scoring this season as a midfielder, even though he’s listed incorrectly. Rest assured he puts up 20 goals and leads Arsenal, he will be reclassified next season or if Lacazette departs.

The series will wrap up in part five with an overview and potential VAPM rankings for the upcoming 2020/21 Premier League season.

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