Premier League: GW38 Retrospect & Year End Review

League play is finished, as I was not able to catch a second of any GW38 action due to problems at work that required my full attention. In hindsight, that might have been a blessing, as it seems my squad always scored better when I wasn’t watching. First let me say it’s been an enjoyable year, even if my squad didn’t meet the expectations I set forth at the beginning of the season. Being just my 4th season of play, I have learned some more valuable lessons, picked up some new tips and strategies I can apply to next season. However I did notice my reliance more on fantasy sites this year than in the previous years. That comes as a mixed bag, occasionally having me think through a certain transfer, changing captains or shifting my strategy. Without actual evidence to support my total score, I would save more often than not, accessing fantasy sites work to my advantage.

For GW38 it one of the best weeks I have put together all season behind #10, Harry Kane. Another 3 goals this weekend against Hull, making 7 in the last 2 weeks. He also donned the captain’s armband finishing the week on 34 points! I nearly changed the captain pick to Jesus while driving into work, but shut down the fantasy app so I wouldn’t second guess my starters. Speaking of Jesus, he finished with 11 points, a goal and assist with 2 BPS. While I had thoughts of moving Costa, I stuck with him, finishing with just 4 points.

The midfield saw two changes, of which neither benefited me for GW38. I had transferred Alli and Hazard (17 points) out for Fabergas and Sanchez (15 points), for a net -2 points on a -4 point hit. We saw King not play due to illness, which left just Eriksen as my only remaining midfielder from previous weeks, finishing on 2 assists, 1 BPS for 9 points.

Defensively, it was mixed. Man City FINALLY came through as Calballero and Otamendi each picked up 6 points with a CS. I stuck with Yoshida and Stephen of So’ton against Stoke, but they combined for just 3 points in a 1-0 loss. That cost me some points as I expected So’ton to float past Stoke with a CS.

If I wasn’t so dead  set on grabbing Sanchez, more so because of his 3 doubles in the last 4 weeks, I probably could have saved a transfer, stuck with 4 starting midfielders and picked up Vardy or Batshuayi. Aguero was never in my plans. Still, I am pleased with the overall performance and score for GW38. As for the season, it could have been stronger but I finished the year strong, which gives me hope for next season.

The Go’Orns entered their 4th year playing in Fantasy Premier League, on the success of the 2015/16 season, which I score 2170 total points and finished in the top 75k, I had high hopes to improve on both total points and overall ranking. The season started great with 4 green arrows in the first 5 weeks and a overall rank of 29,038 at the end of GW6. The season had hit a high note very early and I thought I had mastered this season and would continue riding the wave of success. Little did I know the season was just starting and I was about to take some serious lumps.

Over the next 20 weeks I would see just 5 green arrows, dropping from 29k down to 1.6m! The subsequent weeks saw just 83 points between GW7 through GW9, from that point on the season was over. Of the 5 green arrows, each was followed by a red arrow as I continued to slip further and further down the overall ranking. GW15 through GW17 was another slide, 3 red arrows with a s game slide in GW19 and GW20.

While I never really contemplated holding my second WC until the DGWs were announced, I needed a change and I activated the WC fo GW21. Like that during GW4, the WC brought me success and a green arrow and 67 points. It appeared the turn around was beginning, yet it was short lived. Rock bottom was hit between GW22 and GW26, my worst run of the season. Scores of 41, 32, 43, 40 and 55 didn’t help the  bottom line and I dropped 500k sat at 1.6m.

Starting GW25 I changed my strategy, while it wasn’t the best idea, I started averaging -8 hit per week through GW38. While GW25 and GW26 weren’t positive returns, GW27 saw the first of 8 green arrows and 10 out of the last 12 weeks. I missed out on GW35 (week avg 46 pts) and GW36 (week avg 46 pts) taking hits of -8 and -12 points. This was the sort of run I needed earlier in the season, if I wanted to salvage the season, but it never did materialize. I guess it was better late, than never. I took some chances during this period and benefited from the excessive hits I was taking in, with just 1 week (GW28) receiving a -1 net result as the players I transferred in scored just 3 points (vs a -4 point hit). It was the triple threat of Spurs that spawned my revival, starting in GW21 when I introduced a new dynamic to my squad.

During this wild card period I transferred Rose, Eriksen and Alli in. Unfortunately Rose lasted just 2 games before he succumbed to a season ending injury. It wouldnt’ be until GW33 that I would finally pick up Kane (for the second time) with returns every week but GW36, Lest we not forget his 7 goals in the final 2 weeks of the season to win the Golden Boot. For me, I won one of two mini leagues, as Kane was a differential. Eriksen played every game from GW21 averaging 6.1 points a game and picked up 15 bonus points. Alli’s first go around was short lived from GW21 through GW24 returning 18 points, bringing in Sigurdsson for him. He returned in GW29 scoring 59 points for me through GW37. While I planned on keeping him, I dropped him in favor of Sanchez for the final week of the season. Together Spurs players scored 296 points in 43 appearances. This group topped my squad for points scored.

Three players who were featured  in 14 game weeks over the course of the season finished in the top spots for points scored on an individual basis. Not surprisingly it was Sanchez leading all scorers with 123 points (8.8/gm when played). Ibrahimovic and Lukaku rounded out the top 3 spots with 117 (8.4/gm when played) and 115 (8.2gm when played) points respectively. If it weren’t for his ineffectiveness and injury, my “man crush” probably would have score more points, but I could not keep a 12.0m player when he wasn’t scoring. Aguero scored 103 points in just 8 games, a whopping 12.9 pts/gm when played! By GW10 my love affair with him was over and I had moved on to players like Lukaku, Kane, Ibrahimovic and Vardy to fill the void.

Defensively the Go ‘Orns were a mess. I used 29 different defenders and 6 different goalkeepers, with Eldin Jakupovic featuring on my squad for 37 weeks, starting just 6 times. Foster was featured 14 times, but I stuck with him too long at the start of the season when WBA hit some bumps and CS were difficult to come by. He averaged just 3.4 PPG in his starts. Heaton was the most effective, but I was late to the bandwagon, playing in just 9 games, but had 5 CS, 8 bonus points and a 5.2 PPG.

Initially I had planned on Valencia being my featured defender for the season, but by GW15 I had moved him because of just 35 points in 14 game weeks (12 as a starter), just 3 CS and no offensive returns. Yoshida, the So’ton budget buy defender featured in 10 games return 52 points (5.2/gm when played), was a nice diamond in the rough during the later part of the season. Coleman appeared to have replaced Baines as the main offensive threat for Everton, brought in for GW23 he lasted just 7 weeks scoring 41 points, an average of  5.9 points! Unfortunately injury cut his season short and left managers looking for a replacement. Above all other positions, I struggled with consistency all season long. I missed Alonso because of the news of Ake coming back to Chelsea, which had me pick up Azpilicueta instead. We know how well Alonso performed starting at that point.

For next year I will need to plan a better strategy than what I have done the first 4 years in FPL. No longer will can I rely on taking mutliple hits each week in order to improve my team. After my last write up, Excessive Hits, I realize that while I had a run of good weeks in which a -4, -8 or even a -12 benefited my sqaud with double digit returns, those were few and far between (WC asides). This means to start out of the box with a solid starting XI that performs when the whistle blows. We are usually left searching for or jumping on a hot player after just a single week. I know I did almost all year. Can’t truly say there is one right way to play this game.

This year I started forward heavy with Ibrahimovic and Aguero, passing on the high priced midfielders like Sanchez and Hazard to start the season. It turned into a love hate relationship with Sanchez, always a step behind his good weeks and poor returns with the captain’s armband. I did favor the 3-4-3 formation 22 times this season, using the 3-5-2 just 8 times. I recall writing an article citing this formation after activating my second WC, but it didn’t last. However, the 4-4-2 used 5 times over the season yielded a 56.2 PPG average, higher than the 3-4-3 at 54.9 or the 3-5-2 at 54.8.

Captain selection is an interesting statistic as Sanchez was the tagged 8 times for 100 points (12.5 pts). Kane and Aguero were each captained 5 times, averaging 15.6 points and 20.8 points respectively. Aguero was the only captain with 5 or more games that gained an average over 20 points. Some were very timely captains, such as  Vardy in GW30/GW31, Bailly in GW34, Jesus in GW37 and Kane in GW38. For as many good selection, there were times that a punt didn’t pay off, Defoe in GW4 for 4 points, Walcott for 6 points, GW9 and Coutinho in GW13 for 4 points.

Overall one thing remained constant, the fun and enjoyment of participating. If that is lost, then there is no reason to continue playing. While my initial goal had to be reevaluated (score more than 2170 points), I did meet the mid-season change of scoring at least 2000 points thanks to the final 2 weeks of the EPL season. On paper scoring 66 points a week seems so simple, each player would average just 6 points a game! Even 60 points a week is just a 5.45 PPG average. Over the course of 38 weeks not taking into account captaincy selections of players scoring more points, averaging 66 points a week gives you a final score of 2508! That puts you in contention to end up in the top echelon of the best in the world. Thanks to everyone for a wonderful season and see you next season!

2015/2016 Premier League Fantasy Result

Not that I have a big following when it comes to the “beautiful game” but even less of an interest when you bring the fantasy aspect to the forefront. Talking fantasy fútbol , which ended this past Tuesday for the English Premier League thus concluding my third season participating. I admit, it was my best showing to date scoring 2,170 points (winner scored 2,458 points), which was up 119 points from last season giving me a final ranking of 75,025 (out of 3,734,001)! Inside the top 100k was my goal this year and I achieved it. I ended on a streak of three green arrows and five out of the last six week I improved my overall position, undoubtedly my best run of the year, when it’s needed most.

When you start breaking down the numbers on a weekly basis, that 288 point difference between my final standing and the winner ends up as a difference of 7.57 points a week. That’s not many points. Drop in 4 points for a clean sheet and number decreases even more! Looking over the season, I am still on the upswing of the learning curve. However, I did get in on some of the “template” players earlier than later in during the season. It took only 3 game weeks and I had used my first wild card introducing Hart, Williams, Ward, Mahrez, Sanchez, Ayew, Silva, Aguero and Gomis. Picked up an early injury on Calum Wilson, who was added prior to game week 2. I did benefit from the use of the early WC, seeing my ranking and team value rise over the next 4 week, climbing to 536k and £102.6m respectively. Unfortunately I left 50 points on the bench during game week 3 and 4.

The triple captain chip was dropped into play for game week 4 on Kun Aguero vs Watford resulting in 6 points, as City won 2-0 and Aguero was held scoreless. Not how I planned on seeing this potential bonus going down, as I had paid heavily for the striker’s services, which meant he won the captain’s arm band often. Game week paid off nicely as Aguero scored 5 goals vs Newcastle scoring 50 points and lead my team to best (non DGW) score of 103. It also vaulted my team to the top 65k my best overall ranking in 3 years. Unfortunately the international break arrived, Aguero got injured and this started a run of red arrows through game week 14 dropping my overall rank to 582k.

Game week 9 saw my all out attack chip played starting Cresswell and Francis as my sole defenders, Chadli, Ayew, Sanchez, DeBruyne and Mahrez in the midfield and Pelle, martial and Ighalo up front. I finished this week with just 43 points, my 5th lowest score of the year and another red arrow following by best score, the week before. I was frustrated, as my decisions were not paying off, weeks of 43, 53, 48, 42, 44 and now 56 capped off my worst run of the year.

Week 15 I made two transfer, which cost me 4 points, the third time this early in the season I had done so. Five weeks prior I had jumped on the Vardy bandwagon, but that was after his 11 game goal scoring streak had ended, yet Jamie was still scoring and Leicester was still winning. Lukaku and Alderweireld made an instant impact on the transfer in, scoring 16 and 6 respectively. Mahrez also hit for 21 points, things were looking up!

What I learned this year, as this was the first year for the three chips, I should of held this chips for the DGW or double game weeks that appeared during the later part of the season. I got antsy and attempted to play catch up by using the chips early in the year, which through 14 weeks had scored my only an additional 4 points! Not how I saw my chips playing out this season.

For the next 8 weeks it was a mix of red and green arrows, never really establishing a consistency on the pitch. Even a good week of 72 points in game week 17 saw a red arrow when the average points scored was just 59. Yet the season started to turn around during game week 23, when my team put up 88 points behind top performances of Alli, Firmino, Ighalo and Aguero. This total propelled my team 324k spots in the ranking to 279k, my best ranking since game week 11.

The next 3 game weeks, scores of 61, 63 and 60 saw just average returns but two green arrows the final two weeks. Looking forward we were starting to get an idea of DGWs and teams with no games because of cup action. The final 13 games weeks saw 9 green arrows and only 4 red arrows, as I chipped away moving closer to 100k.

Week 29, a score of 90 points with 6 players on the dream team pushed me inside 200k, jumping my team 103k for the week. Behind just a single transfer of Schmeichel, for the week, he was key in 28 points for my defensive players with Mahrez, Payet and Aguero scoring 11, 13 and 22 respectively.

One notable issue I need to address next season, the number of transfers that take a point hit in the mini-leagues. I recorded 9 weeks of -4 points and a single week of -20 points (game week 37). Speaking of mini-league action, I started the season 6-0, suffering my first loss, 58-41 in game week 7. The next 8 weeks I would go 2-6, losing 2 game weeks (14, 15) by a total of 3 points. Toss in a draw during week 16 and my team would not recover falling from the top of the table. I did win my final 3 matches, but never moved higher than 5th for the rest of the season. Go ‘Orns finished the season 20-1-15 scoring 2,170 points, outscoring the next closest team by 231 points.

DGW 34 put me in a great position to finish the season, 139 points (avg. 72) powered by Sanchez (25 pts) and Aguero (52), who wore the captain’s armband pushed me inside 108k, my best position since game week 8. After the first games, I was thrilled to see just how well my team and expected bigger points for the second games teams were playing, yet I set my expectations too high and some of the bigger names disappointed.

As the season was winding down, it was one more toss of the dice in game week 37, I took a -20 point hit and made big changes to my squad in hopes of improving my final standing. Introducing Van Aanholt to my defense and giving Hazard the armband accounted for 41 of my 97 points, Payet and Sanchez continued to pay dividends, while Defoe scored another goal. The season closed with a final week of 56 points thanks to a shutout from Bellerin and Monreal as well as a flier on Mane, which resulted in 13 points.

Looking back on the season, I realize I must listen to my head more than I listen to some pundits or polls. Many of us can relate, talking yourself out of a starting certain players or changing the captain’s armband just before the lineups are locked. The bonus points for the three chips absolutely killed me this season, planning on a big reward, which yielded a single digit total. These will be held much longer next season.

The final factor is challenging, starting the season with players who end up on the “template” for much of the season. This year, Vardy and Marhez impressed much of the season. Kane, didn’t hit early on but came back very strong. Ozil was a consistent assist machine for the Gunners. All were template players, but it would those 2-3 players outside the template who hopefully made a positive difference in your team.

After 3 years of playing I set personal records for most points, 2,170 and rank, 75,024. Last year’s score of 1,912 saw a finish of 531k, while my inaugural year was 2,041, finishing 877k. This year was a huge step forward and a cornerstone on which to build for next Premier League season.