@SpiderM4tt‘s #FPL Theory for this 2014/15 season
FantasyYIRMA are delighted to feature an EXCLUSIVE guest post from the 2012/13 FPL CHAMPION Matthew Martyniak
Matt finished top of the #FPL tree in 2012/13 season beating out 2.6 million (!!!) players to take the title. Big thanks to Matt for his time and contribution to the site with this excellent post.
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I want to share with you my theory of the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) game for this season, and in hope this theory can help you maximise your FPL points potential each Gameweek (GW).
I feel the game (FPL & also maybe the Premier League) this season has changed compared to last season, which also changed from the season before, and this too changed from the early days of FPL.
Remember, it’s only a theory! And it’s only GW3! But the sooner we can ‘work FPL things out ‘, the better it can be for our FPL team and season.
Last season around about this time by GW2/3, I, along with many other FPL managers, had realised that the 2013/14 FPL game had changed from the previous season of 2012/13. This was largely due to a number of factors. Bonus points (BPs) favouring defenders (mainly central defenders) was a significant factor. The goal scorer in a 1-0 victory was not guaranteed any BPs, never mind picking up all 3 BPs like the season before. Also there was the emergence of more defensive managers – such as Mourinho and Moyes, along with defensive mangers continuing – such as Pulis and Bruce. This was added to by Arsenal significantly improving their defence, and Everton having a FPL friendly defence at times. Also to add to this was the lack of top quality explosive FPL midfield players on offer (and strikers to an extent), hence Brady et al were in a lot of FPL teams cheap midfield. Also the explosive points potential forwards, apart from Suarez/Sturridge was scarce. RvP, Rooney, and Aguero were mainly in & out of form &/or injured.
When people ask me for a top FPL tip, I always say my number one FPL tip is: ‘Play the game the way it is set up to play – and also play it in relation to the real game, which is the Premier League itself’.
Therefore, by GW6 last season I finally reacted (and needed to play my wildcard) and set up my FPL team the way the ‘game was set up to play’ – and I did it in relation to the Premier League at the time. I brought in a few ‘big’ defenders, cheaper midfielders, and Suarez + A.N. Other big striker who were fit (e.g Aguero and/or Rooney). Playing a 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 formation proved fruitful most times last season than the previous season, which favoured 3-4-3.
Although my game plan was successful as I climbed from being ranked over one millionth overall in GW5, up to overall ranking of 175th by GW30, I felt that my poor GWs (GWs 3, 4 & 5) were ultimately costly in me achieving a significantly higher final overall ranking. These poor GWs 3-5 happened mainly because I was playing FPL like the 2012/13 version; ie: 3-4-3 with more money spent on an attacking front seven. The new Bonus Point System (BPS) last season, along with defensive managers, and lack of explosive top quality attacking fit and in form front seven players, caught myself and others by surprise early on in the season – hence a lot of us had poor starts, with some of us not recovering from this.
However, if I had reacted earlier, eg: GW3 instead of GW6, then I believe my damaging red arrows that plummeted me to over one million rank may not have happened. I know it’s all ‘ifs’ and ‘maybes’, but FPL is a predictions game that’s played in foresight, not hindsight. It’s all about predicting which players/strategy/tactics are best suited to getting you the most FPL points the very next GW (or in blocks of 3 GWs as I like to play it).
What’s different about FPL and the Premier League this season?
I know only two GWs have been played, and therefore, it’s difficult to foresee exactly what’s going to happen this season (hence why this is a theory). But what we see already is the wealth of not just good top quality FPL points potential attacking front seven players, but these players have some serious explosive FPL points potential. Add this to the newly tweaked BPS, which makes ties in BPs less, and should stop 8 or 9 defenders hoovering up BPs in a 0-0 or 1-0 like last season.
Also what’s seen from the BPS so far are that players who mainly get the goals and assists (which are usually the front seven players) are rightly being rewarded with BPs. Also defenders who are defending well are getting rewarded, especially more so those defenders that show attacking play (with crosses/dribbles etc due to newly tweaked BPS)
The Premier League looks like it has/will change also this season – not just due to the loss of defensive managers (Moyes, Pulis), but Mourinho and Wenger have much more of an attacking look this season. Even Steve Bruce has made more attacking signings. The objective is more goals for these managers, which was clearly lacking last season. Lack of goals (or a a top class centre forward) cost Chelsea last season, whereas by contrast, the flurry of goals by Man City & Liverpool propelled them to the top two in the end.
Therefore, by having so many top quality FPL front seven attacking players on offer this season, the likelihood is that more attacking football will be on offer week-in week-out (not just from City & Liverpool), hence goals, assists, and the BPs to follow for these players, should not just be a plenty, but more widely distributed between the top teams, and importantly, between top players in each team as there are so many top players now in each team.
In the past few seasons there used to be one or two main players per team who had the best FPL points potential. These players were mainly obvious. Eg: Man Utd there was RvP & Rooney, Chelsea there were Mata & Hazard, Arsenal there was Giroud and Ramsey (Walcott mainly injured last season), Liverpool there was Suarez, Sturridge, & Gerrard, Man City there was Aguero (when fit), Silva, and Yaya (last season). This season there is a big change. The change is that there are a lot more top quality front seven players in each team, especially in the top four teams. And these players are not just top quality, they are also potentially ‘explosive’.
Explosive and top quality is a good mix for a FPL player, as this increases the likelihood of not just a good points return, but a significant points return – or a points haul. It also make this type of player a good captain option, which is a crucial part of the FPL game.
This season players like Costa, Hazard, Fabregas, RvP, Rooney, Mata, Di Maria, Ramsey, Ozil, Sanchez, Walcott, Aguero, Silva, Yaya, Sturridge, Balotelli – are all quality players, and importantly are also potentially explosive (some more than others) in FPL terms. This is not the only thing these players have in common. They also play for the top four teams, which means they are likely to score more goals and win more matches than the teams below them. Also another thing they have in common, which is significant, is that they are all expensive in the FPL game – as their prices range from 9m to 12.5m!
The expensiveness of these top quality explosive players means that you can not have all of them in your front seven FPL team at any one time, as it would cost around 75-80m, and therefore you will need to find your remaining 8 players with just 20m to 25m, which is not possible.
When I won the FPL title in 2012/13, one of my main strategies for helping me that season was not to ‘chase the points’. Your top quality players cannot score well every GW. They will have the inevitable blanks. And vice versa, a player of lesser ability who has just scored a points haul is unlikely to repeat this feat the next GW, or sometimes even ever again. My advice/tactic was to pick the top FPL form players and stick by them and then the points should come.
What does all this mean for the 2014/15 FPL season?
Well as mentioned earlier, it looks like the front seven ‘are back’ this season due to the wealth of attacking and explosive players on offer from the top four teams, and the Premier League’s more attacking/less defensive style of play, and the newly tweaked BPS. Therefore, the 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 system is potentially the better system to play in order to maximise the weekly maximum points potential.
Now here’s my theory on how to play the FPL game this season!
Most managers who will do well at FPL this season will have these top FPL players in their team; Hazard &/or Fab &/or Costa, as well as Rooney or RvP &/or Mata (Throw Di Maria into the mix now), Silva &/or Yaya (Aguero is in now in the mix), Ramsey &/or Sanchez (throw Ozil & soon Walcott into the mix), Sturridge (Throw Balotelli into the mix now).
As said earlier, it’s impossible to own them all – so who do you choose? I guarantee if you have Fabregas one week he’ll do well, but then the next week Hazard who you may not own will do well, and vice versa. The same goes for the other players mentioned above.
Therefore, my theory is that the winner of the FPL title this season, or the ones who finish high up in the overall ranking, or their mini leagues, will not play the game like I played it in 2012/13, which was to stick with the top obvious few main players and let the points come. I believe the managers that do well this season will anticipate more than ever which players and why will do well from one GW to the next. As mentioned earlier, your players you have cannot do well each GW, and now this season the plenty of explosive players that you do not own can ‘hurt you’, potentially every GW!
Transferring Hazard to Fabregas (like a fair few managers did following GW1) is not what I think will work, as proved by Hazard scoring more points than Fabregas GW2. What I feel may be the best way, or theory, is to apply the ‘Form & Fixtures’ theory to my new ‘Hop on, Hop off’ theory each, or most, GWs.
Form and fixtures theory has been a long debate over the FPL years. Some managers plan their FPL teams based on form, with some planning their teams based on fixtures. In my opinion each way is viable – however, in my FPL title winning season, I mainly went with form over fixtures as I realised that top quality FPL players such a RvP, Bale, Suarez, Tevez, & Baines, could score points against any team regardless of fixtures. I know other successful FPL managers have mainly gone fixtures over form – and with great success. I only pick fixtures when the form is equal, or if there’s not much form (e.g. Early season when there’s not much form to go by, or when a player is just coming back from an injury).
The ‘perfect storm’ in FPL is to have your players with both the ‘good form and the good fixture’. This maximises your FPL points potential for your players, as well as having good captain options. Therefore, applying this form & fixtures theory to this FPL season means that if I ‘hop about’ from top player to top player each, or most GWs, using my free transfers, or even maybe taking a few hits, I can have the top explosive good form players along with the good GW fixture.
Here’s an example of my theory for GW3 (which can be applied to each GW by any explosive players).
I have both Costa & Rooney as my main forwards. Both have started reasonably well, especially Costa, and both have the good FPL points potential most GWs, especially with their ‘good’ upcoming fixtures. However, if I ‘hop on’ to Aguero this GW3 (providing he stays injury free!) then this may prove fruitful as Man City play home to Stoke. Stoke are not a bad team, but this fixture is arguably better than Costa’s away GW3 fixture at Everton. It may also be better than Rooney’s GW3 fixture away to Burnley.
Costa and Rooney yes have the potential to score FPL points against their respective GW3 opponents using the successful form over fixtures theory, but Aguero has the good ‘form’ and also the good home fixture, which is the perfect storm. Also when the crucial captaincy tactic comes into play – would you rather back Costa away at Everton, or Rooney away at Burnley, or the form and fixture player Aguero? It’s a tough choice indeed, but probably only due to Aguero’s suspected lack of minutes predicted for this GW3. However, if Aguero was likely to start GW3 (which we are unsure about as yet), then he would surely be the standout captain pick.
Liverpool and Arsenal also have potentially ‘tricky’ away games GW3, making their explosive players ‘less viable’ for captain options.
This ‘hopping on’ to form and fixtures players each, or most GWs, may prove fruitful in the end over managers who ‘sit’ on their players waiting for the points to come; E.g. Costa has a decent GW4 and so on, so managers could hold on to him for this reason, which is good – but this may prove costly (no pun intended!) if he blanks GW3, and also if you miss out on a potentially massive captain haul from Aguero GW3.
Aguero, however, has a tricky GW4 away at Arsenal. He may have good form, but Arsenal away is not a good fixture. The solution to this is ‘simple’ – just ‘hop’ back onto Costa for GW4, who if still has the good form, also has the better fixture, which is Swansea at home. You could also ‘hop on’ to Sturridge GW4 as his fixture, Villa at home, is potentially better than Aguero’s Arsenal away.
*Please note: I’m only using this Aguero/Costa as an example for GW3/4 for my FPL team. This article was written earlier in the week prior Costa’s injury concern, and also I’m not taking into account that Aguero is likely to start on the bench, as we all know the bench does not stop him getting a haul of points.
*This ‘hopping on/off’ players can be applied to any of the above top explosive players who have the good fixtures to go along with their good form in any particular GW throughout the season which is ‘right’ for your FPL team.
The end result of ‘hopping on/off’ players each GW, or most GWs, may mean using a lot more transfers throughout the season, and maybe even losing out on some team value, but the potential reward is huge if it works most weeks. Yes it may not come off every week, and it may go the other way most weeks if you’re ‘unlucky’. But this theory on how to maximise your weekly FPL points potential is born out of previous successful theories – such as ‘form and fixtures is usually optimum’, and ‘your top players cannot score hauls every week’, and ‘don’t chase the points’ from the GWs gone by. Instead, be more proactive, and not reactive, by anticipating more the explosive FPL points potential players on offer for the GW to come with the better fixtures, and also not to ‘worry’ too much about letting a top player go for a GW/s.
Also this theory may be helped by the new/slower price rises/falls. Players are not going up or down in value as much as expected (as yet anyway). For example; Costa has risen, but not by a lot as he would have in previous seasons. This is not just due to the possible new FPL Towers data for price changes, but it may be due to that there’s just simply more explosive top players to choose from for FPL managers. So to buy and sell these top players on a regular basis might not be too costly (no pun again intended), especially if you’ve made a little profit in the first place from your sale.
Well that’s it. It my ‘hop on, hop off’ FPL theory! I’ve decided to give it a go starting this GW (providing I’ve no other major team issues). It may go spectacular wrong, and I may abandon it by GW5! But it may go quite well if the trusted form and fixtures theory continues to work well most GWs.
Have a good GW everyone!
FPL Champion 2012/13
Follow Matt on Twitter where he interacts with #FPL fans across the Globe on a regular basis
For Fantasy Football insight Matt is right up there with the best online! Not only did he manage to WIN the entire competition in 2012/13 – he actually followed that up with a top 1k performance in 2013/14! Throw into the mix 2 additional top 5k finishes and you will be hard pushed to find someone with a better record!
Matt has seen the evolution of the the game over the past 8 years and more importantly, how to adapt and evolve theories and new tactics/plans/strategies.
Unbelievable consistency from a complete gent!