Just to get things straight, before getting down to business, I would imagine that if you are reading these lines there is a high probability you are one of either 1) a complete rookie, noob, greenhorn or 2) an FPL addict.
If you are, indeed, completely new to the world of fantasy football, then this is exactly the article you have been looking for (trust me, I have been there not so long ago). If you are the latter (you know who you are, addicts who devour any and all articles related to FPL) I would recommend skipping to at least sign #2. And fear not, the articles for experienced players and all-stars are coming as well...expect them soon.
So, welcome rookie! Fear not, there is no initiation awaiting you (unless you decide to actively join the Twitter conversation related to fantasy football). What at the beginning must feel like a sect, soon becomes your daily (and especially weekend) bread&butter. All of a sudden, watching a game without a smart phone/tablet, constantly refreshing the timeline, feels so boring that you can't even imagine how you could live without it. Therefore, a word of warning; before you proceed, before you get sucked into this whirlwind of emotions – fantasy football is highly addictive! (link to our 5 reasons why we play fantsay football). Leave while you still can! If you however, do decide to start playing, you should inform your loved ones that you will be subject to mood swings and outbursts of ecstatic episodes, depending on how your team is doing all season long. Let me repeat that. ALL. SEASON. LONG. And you know what? It's as FUN as hell!
Still here? Great, I sense a new all-star manager in the making. But, before we start, there are probably a few things you should know about the game itself, right? For your information, this article refers to the official fantasy game of the Premier League which is available at http://fantasy.premierleague.com. The objective of the game is simple – pick a squad that will score the highest point total over the course of the entire season. Sounds simple enough, huh? How do you go about it? Well, at the beginning of the season you are given £100.0m to select 15 players (2 goalkeepers, 5 defenders, 5 midfielders and 3 forwards) where you cannot have more than 3 players from the same team. The players are awarded points on how they do in real life – for scoring goals, for not conceding goals and for assists, to name the most common ones. If you are interested in more, make sure you visit http://fantasy.premierleague.com/rules/ .
So, with the most basic of introductions behind us, let's get down to business – what are the top 6 signs you are a rookie and how can you (by simply following these very basic rules) bluff your way into top 10% of the managers globally (high probability but no guarantees)?
First thing that will give you away if you are WTF-ing (pardon my French) people who will be using jargon like OOP, CS, WC, DGW, etc. Here is a list of the most frequently used abbreviations on forums and Twitter alike. Get familiar with them and use them. It should make you appear FPL smart.
|GK, DEF, MID, FWD||Player's positions – GoalKeeper, DEFender, MIDfielder, ForWarD|
|CS||Clean Sheet, awarded to the team that does not concede a goal. If a player is on your team and he played for 60 minutes (or more) he will be credited 4 points (if he is a GK or DEF) and 1 point (if he is MID). FWDs don't get any points for CS.|
|DGW||Stands for the much anticipated double gameweeks, which happens whenever a certain team plays two games in a single gameweek. When this happens, it is a very good idea to have a couple of players from that team and/or captain one.|
|C and V||Well, every week you get to pick a player who will be your captain (c), which means that whatever point tally he finishes on, the points get doubled. If, for some reason, your captain does not play that GW, your vice-captain (v) will replace him. If even he doesn't play...well, you are scr***.|
|BP||Bonus Points are awarded to the statistically highest scoring players in a certain game based on the BP System. The points awarded are 3, 2 and 1 and you can have more than one person getting the same amount of BPs.|
|FT||Every GW you get one free transfer which means that you can introduce a new player to your team replacing the one you have no need for anymore (providing you have enough money in the bank). You can choose to save a FT, which means you will have 2 FT the week after. You cannot have more than 2 FTs.|
|Point hit||If you decide to make more transfers than you have FTs, you will have points deducted from your point total. For every transfer over the FT limit, you will be deducted 4 points.|
|WC||Stands for WildCard. Once in a season (when is completely up to you) you are entitled to change your entire team, without any point hits. There is also the January WC that can be used only between January 1 and February 1.|
|OOP||Stands for players who play Out Of Position, a very wise investment most of the time. It means, for instance, if a player is entered as a DEF in the game and plays as a MID, this increases his scoring and assisting potential, while it also means that he will be eligible to get the CS points.|
|Differential||Is a player who is owned by a very small percentage of FPL managers (my preference is at 5%) and still has a potential to bring points to the table if he delivers.|
Let's assume for a minute that you didn't use the auto-complete to create your team (please, please, PLEASE, tell me you didn't do that). You are staring at 15 question marks and have no idea where to start. So you do the obvious thing – start scouring the list of available players and it probably goes something like this:
- As a [instert team] player, I will first get three players from this team. YES!«
- Now, let's see who else do I know?.«
- Never, I will NEVER have anyone from [insert team] because they are ALL [insert a curse or two]!«
- [Insert player] is a complete IDIOT, no way I will EVER get him!«
Look, I understand you are loyal to your team...well, as a matter I don't understand it in this case – this is a game and if you want to do good, you need to consider all players, no matter whether you like them or despise them in real life. Then, and only then will you be able to really consider yourself a contender for the top 10% finish. I realize that if you are a die-hard fan of a club that usually hovers around relegation zone, you feel tempted to fill the team with three players from the get-go, but that just might not be the smartest thing to do. Same thing goes for players you might ha...errrr, dislike. Take Suarez for instance. Think what you will of him, but if you didn't have him in your team last year, there is no way you finished higher than 1 millionth.
Tip: Leave your fan-ego out of FPL.
So you splurt your money on a top-tier player, such as Robin Van Persie or Hazard and after they shoot blanks for 1 or 2 GWs, you decide to send them packing immediately. Sure, it makes sense. Why should you be spending more than 10.0m on a player who does nothing for you. Of course, Murphy's law would command that as soon as you do that, the player scores a hat-trick or something like that. Now, first you probably start hitting yourself over the head and complain to the god of your choice. That is immediately followed by a decision that with your next transfer you will get the guy back.
Here's the thing – if you are chasing points, you are bound to miss out on when the big guns deliver, because they will. Deliver, that is. Plan ahead, decide who should be your mainstays and stick with them. While it might be admittedly hard at times, think of how hard you will be able to laugh at your friends who will get rid of RVP just before his brace and a trio of assists and you being able to say: »I told you so.«
Tip: Don't panic and make a long-term plan.
Now, don't get me wrong. It is perfectly fine to do an early transfer every now and then (I do it roughly once or twice a season), especially if you know for sure that if you wait you will miss out because of that 0.1m price increase. But, as a rule, you should always wait until Friday after the press conferences to make any changes. That is when you will know (at least 80/20) if a player will not feature, or if there were any last minute concerns. Follow the website and FPL pundits of your choice on Twitter, plus the the injury experts @PhysioRoom and, trust me, you will (almost) never regret holding off your transfer(s).
Tip: Wait with your transfers until the day before the match.
Ah, the bandwagon. My favorite herd behaviour and a sure distinction between rookies/experienced players and all-stars. How do you know when you should get a player who has scored a brace after not getting on the score sheet in the previous 46 PL games? Or when a team that is supposed to be cannon fodder starts pilings up clean sheets? What do you do then? This is usually the key decision that will either have you succeed big or fail miserably, if you decide not to follow the herd. Take me, for example. While I finished in the top 0,7% of players in all of the last three seasons in FPL, I never had Yaya Toure (stupid, stupid, stupid) slast year when he was a beast and I only had Aaron Ramsey for one week. Why, you ask? Well, I really didn't think it would last. But, by not getting those two guys, I was still able to search for differentials that did pay out.
The wisdom here is – don't jump on every guy who has a good GW. This way you are just chasing points and there is a good chance you will be one week late most of the time. Spend your time doing research or take some advice from your preferred FPL pundits that offer their opinion.
Tip: if it sounds/looks to good to be true, then it probably is. Do you maths (stat check) before rushing in.
I know how it goes – you read tons of advice, change your team 856 times before the season starts and after the final modification (10 minutes before the deadline), you are certain that you have THE BEST team for GW1. Only, it doesn't play out quite like you planned. But you keep saying to yourself that it is just a fluke and it will work itself out. Only it doesn't. So you have »no other choice« but to cash in that WC in GW2. And luck would have it that when you completely revamp your team, the one you abandoned scored 100+ points and you realize you just wasted something big.
The thing is, you should not panic. In the year when I finished 15th in the world (ahhh, good old times), I didn't use my WC until GW36. That is what gives you real advantage, because by then the majority of the managers have long used theirs, and, if you use it on one of the DGW that usually happen around that time, it gives you a big edge on others. To make a long story short, hold on to your WC for as long as possible. You will be tempted to use it many times during the season, but trust me, sometimes the best transfer is a saved transfer.
Tip: Save your WC for the second part of the season...or for as long as possible.
That's it. Hope you liked it. Next up in the series I'll be sharing the tell tale signs that you are no longer a rookie,but can proudly call yourself an 'experienced fantasy football manager'. If you have any questions or would like to express your thoughts on the matter, all comments will be highly appreciated. I am waiting for your feedback on Twitter, @matejp23.