If you took a look at the insideFPL minileauge you'd see our very own Dan Bright sat atop it covering hmself in glory. He's also 11th in the world right now too, after a top 2000 finish last season. Here's his take on his season so far...
You'll find my team, Dynamo Dan Dan (name unchanged since childhood), has had a very strong start to the season as I currently sit 11th in the overall world rankings. I’ve been placed inside the top 9,000 ever since the beginning of the season and hope to build on my 1,484th place finish last season. Now, there’s still a long way to go and all it takes is one bad gameweek for things to take a turn for the worst but the hope is obviously to maintain position and keep pushing onwards. After all, everyone wants to see those green arrows regardless of where they’re positioned don’t they?
Fantasy football, as a concept, is incredibly simple. However, in practice, it never works out how we expect. Once your first squad has been picked it’s usually just a matter of making (approximately) three correct decisions each week:
- Which transfers do I make this week (if any)?
- Who will warm my bench this week?
- Who gets to wear the captain’s armband this week?
To be successful in fantasy football it’s simply a case of getting those three questions right the majority of the time. This makes it sound a lot easier than it is though and in order to get those questions correct we often need to do some digging into the stats, go with our gut feeling and have a lot of luck!
The reason I’m 11th is because my initial squad was strong and I answered those questions correctly more often than not. However, that is not to say I’ve played the perfect game so far; my squad has been riddled with mistakes since GW1. I had Gylfi Sigurdsson on the bench for his 13 point haul at Old Trafford in GW1, it took until GW3 for me to get rid of bench warmer Filipe Luis and I captained Stevan Jovetic vs. Stoke when there were 8 eventually better options in my team than the 2 appearance points the Man City striker offered. However, there are a few things I’ve done differently this season that have helped me climb the table and have put me in a good standing for the rest of the season.
This season I’ve placed a huge importance on upcoming fixtures and whilst planning transfers I’ve only brought in players who have a favourable set of fixtures coming up. It’s all okay bringing the best players into your team whenever possible but when they’re playing consecutive away games against teams either superior to them or in red-hot form, they’re unlikely to bring in many points in the short-term. I had a decision to make last week on a transfer since Jovetic was injured and had to be replaced. The obvious choice was to jump on the Danny Welbeck bandwagon, and there are many reasons out there that were convincing me to do so. However, Arsenal’s fixtures weren’t kind so I opted for the slightly more expensive (and risky) Pelle from Southampton. He’d shown signs of promise but what really convinced me was his run of fixtures, starting with a leaky Newcastle defence last weekend. That choice really paid off and pushed me ahead of all my rivals. It’s too early in the season to find the fixture-proof players - like Suarez, Toure and Ramsey were last year - so until those players emerge, place a heavy value on upcoming fixtures. The recently updated and re-vamped fixture analyser at InsideFPL will be able to help with that.
This pre-season, for the first time, I invested a lot of time in working out an ideal squad structure and have tried my best to stick to it ever since. The idea was brought to my attention by the InsideFPL pre-season guide which looks at which areas of the team are most likely to bring in the most points and therefore how best to distribute the budget. Unless you’re wildcarding soon it won’t be easy to shuffle your squad drastically without some long-term term planning or significant points hits but this is the structure that I’ve found has worked best this season:
2 x £4.5m goalkeepers who rotate well (not necessarily perfectly)
2 x defenders over £5m
3 x defenders £4-4.5m who rotate reasonably well
3 x ‘elite’ midfielders £8.5m or over
1 x ‘mid-priced’ midfielder around £6m
1 x ‘cheap’ midfielder under £6m
2 x ‘elite’ strikers £10m or over
1 x ‘mid-price’ striker between £7-9m
This isn’t fail-safe but ensures I spend approximately the right amount of the budget on the players who are going to be the highest points scorers. There are of course exceptions to this and as soon as an ‘elite’ defender like Ivanovic or Baines becomes a ‘must-have’ it could all go out the window but until those players start keeping clean sheets as well as offering attacking returns you can find good value in defenders under £6m. My aim this season is to maintain a good squad balance throughout and not get myself in a situation where I’ve overspent on an underperforming part of the squad.
Value in Budget Players
Another key aspect to my successful start this season has been finding value in the budget options. I feel as though my squad is struggling a little at the moment with three of my players not making an appearance last week but I was still able to field all eleven positions and it was my budget option that pushed me up the leaderboard to 11th on Monday evening. With James Chester sitting on the bench for Hull and not making an appearance it looked as though my gameweek was over. However, sat on my bench, ready to take his place, was the modestly priced Michael Duff of Burnley, who was also touted in the Pre-Season Guide. He’d achieved 8 points from his performance against Crystal Palace on Saturday and I was happy to see Chester not make a cameo 1 minute appearance at the KC Stadium on Monday. Finding players who offer regular starts and a steady points income (mine so far have been Duff, Chester & Sigurdsson) will make a real difference to your squad as a whole and can give you that added boost when you need it. I have some issues in my squad that need addressing, particularly with my cheap midfielder (it's still Ashley Young!), but I’ll be on the lookout for players who offer value for money and may pull off a surprise or two.
One of the reasons we love fantasy football so much and keep coming back for more is because it offers a beautiful balance of luck and skill. Without some good fortune I would not be placed where I am. The medical team at Chelsea have performed miracles on Costa’s hamstrings; if Eva Carneiro hadn’t worked her magic on the Spain striker I would have missed out on 64 points this season. Who was to know Steve Bruce would switch to a flat back four and leave Chester out of the squad, meaning I collect Duff’s points from my bench? I’d never have though that with 6 coloured flags next to my player’s names heading into GW4 (curse the international break) I’d be able to jump up to 11th especially after taking a points hit to limit the damage. Sometimes things fall for you and sometimes they don’t. It’s about setting yourself up as best as possible, giving your team the best chance of success and hoping you get the rub of the green.
I try to consume as much information as possible throughout the week to leave me in the best position on a Friday night when I make my transfers and pick my team. However, I can be as prepared as possible with stats to back up every move I make and then my star striker picks up and injury in the warm up and my defenders have an off-day, leaving me with 28 points by the end of Saturday. That’s not great but is okay occasionally. The key though is answering those three questions right more often than not, and that’s what I’ve done well so far this season. Bring on GW5!