Fantasy Football – Best Season Yet :)

The 2016/2017 Premier League season has just finished and so has my season of Fantasy Premier League. After last year being my all time low, with a finishing position of 785,943, this year I’ve finished 16,876 out of over 4.5 million players. That’s in the top 0.4%, which really isn’t bad going. I’ve also won the various mini leagues in which I compete and even won a bit of money. Ker-ching!

So, what’s been different this year? What have a I learned to propel me up the rankings?

I think the main difference in the second half of my season was taking notice of the ownership of fantasy assets. In the past I’d always picked the players I’d wanted and not worried about what others were doing. I’ve come to realise that you can’t afford to ignore the market. Getting the right players at the right times affects their value in terms of price rises and drops and your overall team value. It also mitigates risk. If a player is scoring well and well owned then not having him can hurt you and lead to a serious drop in rank. Whereas owning him is less risky. If he does perform you creep up ahead of those who didn’t; if he flops it affects a lot of other players too so there’s less of a drop.

This idea of going with the popular pick is also true of the captaincy. It can hurt if a lot of your opponents pick a captain and he delivers a hi score. Go with flow and you’ll be ok. It makes sense to keep your big players in line with the game’s leaders and take the risks with the fringe players.

My other big learning point was using the chips effectively. This year I kept my second wildcard and bench boost back and used them in gameweeks 36 and 37 where there were an extra five fixtures. Lining up the squad for the double and then having 14 players with 2 fixtures gave me a massive boost. In gameweek 36 I climbed 50,000 places. In gameweek 37 a further 28,000.

My final takeaway is that I have tended to write off gameweeks 1 and 38 as a bit of a lottery. With risk of rotation and teams “on the beach” it can be hard to predict. However, there always seem to be a lot of goals in these games. It may be worth investing more in attacking players and even risking the All Out Attack chip or Triple Captain. A very late Triple Captain chip could bring about quite a swing in fortunes if the right payer gets a hat-trick.

Here’s the story of my season, and of seasons gone by, in stats:
https://fantasy.premierleague.com/a/entry/408653/history

Saving the FA Cup

The FA Cup is dying. How can it be restored to its former glory?

There’s no doubt that the FA Cup is struggling. It’s been in decline for a number of years with big clubs and their fans looking on it very much as a lower priority after the Premier League and UEFA Champions League. I’d even go as far as saying that it’s not third after those 2 tournaments. Finishing in the top 4 and qualifying for next season’s Champions League is valued above it. There’s currently talk of getting rid of FA Cup replays due to fixture congestion, which shows that it’s clearly seen as an inconvenience rather than an opportunity to some clubs.

Sadly, it all comes down to money. The FA Cup games don’t have the same international interest and generate the same sort of money from TV rights. The prize money isn’t at a level where it makes top clubs stop and take notice. It’s a drop in the ocean compared with TV money. So, the answer to reviving the big clubs’ interest in the competition lies in creating an incentive for them.

One idea that I’ve heard discussed is giving the winner entry into the Champions League – reducing the top 4 league positions to a top 3 and giving the fourth place to the cup winners. This would certainly create the incentive but a cup competition by its very nature has an element of luck and it would result in weaker teams getting lucky and finding their way into the Champions League, only to find themselves completely out of their depth and knocked out in the first round. Surely, we should have our strongest teams representing us in Europe?

Could the Premier League TV money, instead of being split into 20 shares, be split into 21 with the last one going to the FA Cup winner? In theory this could be done but would require the agreement of all of the clubs and some may prefer to bank the extra 20th rather than gamble on winning the cup or risk one of their rivals gaining a double share.

Could the FA cup be worth 3 league points so would give the winner an advantage going into the following season? Teams can be punished for going into administration or fielding ineligible players by having points deducted so why not award points for a positive achievement like best fair play record or winning the cup – carrot instead of stick? I’m sure all clubs would consider this a prize worth fighting for.

Looking at it another way, is the lack of interest by the bigger clubs, who regularly put out second string teams, a good thing? Does this give smaller clubs the chance of progressing further in the tournament and ever-so-slightly redressing the balance of financial power in the game? Does it give young squad players who spend their lives in the reserves or on the bench a chance to shine?

My feeling is that in the end these things have a natural way of sorting themselves out. The closing of one door opens another. If the big clubs and their fans aren’t as interested as they once were, it’s their loss. Someone else will enjoy their day at Wembley.

Fantasy Football – All Wrong

I’m a big fan of playing fantasy football, in particular the official Fantasy Premier League, which is focused on the highest level of football or soccer in England. For many of us it’s the closest thing we get to being a football manager – analysing the game and picking our teams each week.

Generally speaking I feel I’m pretty good at it too. Not brilliant, certainly nowhere near winning anything but consistently respectable. I generally finish around the 100,000 mark which doesn’t sound like much of an achievement but out of 3.5 million that’s pretty good going.

This season. Disaster. With 10 games to go I’m still outside the top million. It’s been the worst season I’ve ever had, and by some way. There is light at the end of the tunnel though. I think I’m realising where I’ve gone wrong and am starting to put it right. I’ve now done well for 3 weeks in a row and have been on the rise.

Here’s where I’ve been going wrong…

Stats

This season I’ve spent more time than ever analysing the stats – looking at which players are having shots, shots in the box, shots on target, etc. I’ve used this as a basis for my team selection. This seems quite reasonable but stats can be deceptive. A player can have lots of shots appear to be a real threat whereas if you actually watch a game you can see that the player in question was never any real threat whatsoever – the centre half marked him out of the game and blocked every attempted shot with ease.

Listening to Others

I’ve been watching or listening to the weekly chat between the guys at the Fantasy Football Scout site. Their podcast or Scoutcast is very entertaining and enjoyable and I’ve often allowed myself to be led into making transfers on the back of one of them advocating it.

Fixtures

I think I’ve put too much faith in sides being at home. This season more sides seem to be playing a more counter-attacking game and actually seem to do better away from home. When a side is not doing so well and come under fire from their own fans its often easier for them to play away from home.

History

My final realisation is that I’ve put too much faith in what has happened in the past. I tend to pick players who have done well for me in previous seasons rather than look towards the new emerging talent. Previous seasons’ performances influence price and a high price is no guarantee of point scoring.

Back to Basics

My tactic in the past was never any of the above. I’d make my decisions based on watching games. You can easily see which players look a threat going forwards or solid at the back. You take less notice of the actual score and think more about what the score might have been. You see who is putting in the crosses, taking set pieces, who deserved their fantasy points and who just got lucky that week.

Next season…