Bonus Points? Completed it mate. (Another suggested tweak to the system)

This article is a guest piece by Tom Campbell, which floats another idea to further discussions around the BPS system.

You can find Tom on Twitter @utterlyTC, where he also produces insightful weekly MoTD summaries.

I’d venture that the vast, vast majority of FPL players are, at heart; football fans.

As such, it’s not too much of a stretch to understand that when, as a football fan, we see what we recognise as great play on the pitch – be it a defence-splitting slide-rule pass, a curling shot into the top corner (top-bins avec pace), an acrobatic save, a last-ditch tackle, etc – should be rewarded through FPL points being awarded.

Happily, FPL has a route designed to accommodate precisely that – the Bonus Points System (BPS).

This is the process by which player actions, as recorded by Opta, are assigned a consequential BPS point score.  A player’s actions will accrue him a BPS point score over the course of his time on the pitch and, at the game’s conclusion, the best three performing players in terms of their BPS point totals are respectively awarded 3, 2 and 1 additional point(s).

Fundamentally, positive actions such as the scoring of a goal or making an assist are rewarded by an award of a pre-determined BPS point score and, perhaps more controversially, negative actions such as being sent-off are punished by way of subtracting BPS points.

Broadly I’m in favour of this type of system – I don’t like fantasy games which promote subjectivity as a means by which for players to score points – as it’s too easy to claim irrational bias and become embittered.

I speak from experience re. missing out on numerous Man of the Match awards!

A better way

The existing structure is, in my opinion, decently configured overall.

I suspect that the majority of Prem games’ bonus points seem logical enough but, increasingly we’ve seen FPL managers wondering why player performances which seem great ‘on the eye’ haven’t been rewarded with bonus points and, conversely, how seemingly indifferent displays are rewarded with seemingly spurious bonus points.

Consequently Official FPL have had to, on multiple occasions, offer explanatory articles as to why the Bonus Points had been apportioned in such a seemingly illogical way (Mo Salah especially has been one of the main ‘sufferers’ this campaign).

To solve this ongoing issue, below is a revised methodology of my own making on how the system could be improved.

It shows how the points awards / BPS awards could be subtly tweaked to try and assign BPS points – and their consequential bonus point awards – in a more reasonable way.

First I’ll show you my proposed changes to points scoring, followed by my proposed changes to BPS.

Points

The table below shows the existing point-award structure in FPL.

Where I have introduced a new award, these are highlighted in green – where I’m proposing a category should be removed or replaced, they are in red.

Nothing fundamental there.

I don’t think wholesale changes are needed nor wanted: people are familiar with the awards and there’s no requirement to fundamentally alter them.  Where I have recommended changes – the reasons are thus:

  • Sub-classify defenders as either wing-backs or defenders. The former would get less points for team clean-sheets because they do less defending and much more attacking than their counterparts (e.g. centre-backs / traditional full-backs) – consequently, I would like to reflect that role
  • A defensive midfielder would be classified as such within the midfielder bracket, meaning they would be more rewarded marginally more for a team clean-sheet than a non-defensive midfielder would. When you think of a player like Matic, Kante or Dembele, we know that their primary role isn’t to contribute directly to attacking play, so I’d like to reflect them successfully achieving what they’ve been charged with. (WGTA: You can find our piece on defensive midfielders and bonus here.)
  • An FPL manager would still choose five defenders and five midfielders. The composition of both would be entirely down to them to determine: you could have a defensive composition of five WB’s, or elect for a mix.  Similarly, your midfield could contain five Defensive-Midfielders should you so wish (clearly unlikely, but likely to be a cheaper strategy).
  • Halve the cost of a player having a penalty saved to the loss of one actual point. The idea here is that the penalty taker has hit the target, and a great penalty save from a goalkeeper shouldn’t be too badly judged against its taker.  That said, I think a professional footballer should always fully expect to score their penalty, so it feels right that they should be docked a point for having one saved – especially as a particularly poor penalty being easily saved should be punished – though the loss of one point rather than two feels like a more proportionate deduction.
  • I would continue to harshly treat a penalty which misses the target altogether by continuing with the current punishment of docking two actual points: you shouldn’t be missing the target from a spot-kick!
  • I would remove the existing punishment of a player scoring an own-goal (you currently lose two points).  Often an own-goal is unavoidable for the culprit, and he and his FPL owners have already been punished by the conceding of the goal (be it the clean sheet vanishing, or subsequent goals).  It’s a perverse inclusion to further punish them.

Bonus points

The table below shows the existing BPS point structure in FPL.

Where I have introduced a new award, this is in green – where I’m changing the score to an existing category, this is in yellow, where I’m proposing removing a category, these are in red, and where I’m proposing a semantic change, this is in purple.

 

It’s not cosmic changes being proposed; it’s more a change of ethos:

  • No loss of a BPS point for a yellow-card (currently -3), as the player has already lost a material point, which IMO is sufficient.
  • Reduce the cost to BPS points for a red-card to -3 from -9, as the player has already lost a massive three material points.  This change would guard against a sensational game with a late, debatable dismissal costing that player more than the loss of the aforementioned three.
  • Remove the punishment of missing a big-chance (currently -3). If a player misses a big-chance; that has cost him and his team a goal, which would have been rewarded with material points.  My revised system would reward big-chances being heroically saved, but if the chance went hit the post (for example); the attacker would gain nothing, nor would he lose anything.
  • Reduce the loss of BPS points for making an error which leads to a goal, such that it is identical to that as you would get if the error lead only to a chance for the opposition – IMO there should be no material difference to the punishment, as the consequence from the error (i.e. whether or not the opposition converts the resulting chance), is not down to the person who made the mistake.  As such; these type of errors (e.g. Schmeichel’s clanger when Aguero lobbed him) would always yield the same small punishment (both -1 BPS point).
  • Being tackled should be removed as a BPS punishment (currently -1 BPS point) because this action is already, quite rightly, positively rewarded for the tackler.
  • Being caught-offside should be removed as a BPS punishment (currently -1 BPS point) because this can be the fault of the passer, the decision may be wrong, and the forward looking to score shouldn’t be penalised.
  • Remove the punishment for shooting off target (currently -1 BPS point).  The player trying to score a goal shouldn’t be punished.  Instead, make it a positive metric; reward shots on target by the addition of 1 BPS point for each shot on target – shots off target wouldn’t impact BPS score.
  • Change the winning-goal metric.  I like the concept of a winning goal being awarded additional BPS points, but this should only be awarded whereby the goal is scored to create a winning outcome.  For example; the only goal in a 1-0 win.  If a game is 1-1, and then a team scores to make it 2-1 at full time, that final goal would get this award.  In the case of a 2:0 game, then seeing the opposition score a goal to halve the deficit – the winning team’s second goal would not be awarded with the additional winning BPS points.  I’d want this award to reflect the series of events in the match.  In a game which ends 2:0, for example; this award would not be allocated in my revised system.  I would also add one additional BPS point to the scorer of an equalising goal where the game ends in a draw.  For example, the fourth goal in a 2-2 game.

Closing notes

The key with these changes is that I’m looking to reward positive actions and not score actions twice.  Successful tackles should be, and are already being, recorded as positive actions for the tackler, for example.  You needn’t also record that same action negatively by way of punishing the attacker.

The advantage of the subtle sub-classification of both defenders and midfielders would be that you’d be able to keep with the 2 GK / 5 DEF / 5 MID / 3 FWD composition.  FPL would need to make decisions on the likes of Rose, Alonso, Trippier, Daniels etc., in terms of whether or not they’d be wing-backs, though  this point shouldn’t be too controversial as it’s merely an expansion of the existing logic we have in place, which would serve to bring more players into the pot of potential selection.  Whereby we currently have Ashley Young playing left-back for Man United, classified as a midfielder in FPL – my proposal isn’t anywhere as severe, as the broad-brush classification persists.

Theoretically, FPL could apportion points against the sub-classification on a game-by-game basis, depending on the formation for the majority of the game – something I’d be opposed to.  I’d classify them once, at the beginning of the season, and let FPL managers react to how they’re being deployed by their managers.

Opinions welcomed! Tweet me @UtterlyTC!

Our thanks to Tom for this really great piece continuing the debate on BPS!

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