This short article revisits and summarises some of our very first blog posts – the future trends series, where we made some predictions for the coming year. We’re doing this to review what happened next (so far), and also take an opportunity to revisit our wider thinking about FPL. Links to the articles come after the summaries if you’re interested in reading more…
The importance of choice (28th May)
What we said
- The pricing last season was anomalous because of Leicester’s fairytale Premier League winning season, coupled with the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea having abject campaigns that same year
- This created an unorthodox pricing hierarchy that highly valued Leicester players at the expense of players from objectively superior sides: consider Coutinho starting the season at 8.0 v Mahrez at 9.5
- We mentioned Griezmann to United as a possibility. Shows how quickly things get dated! Remember when that was on the cards?
- The consequence of this was that many potentially high prized assets started from a low price threshold, enabling us to pack our sides full of quality picks – this was especially true at late wildcard after key enablers such as King and Anichebe emerged
- However, a reassertion of dominance by the usual suspects last season meant the normalisation of the league places to some extent (Arsenal in 5th rather than 4th a key difference…)
- Therefore, prices of players from the bigger teams would also follow this normalisation, causing us to have to choose between key assets rather than having them all.
- This season, this development places the onus on the “skill” in FPL managers in terms of their transfer market decision-making and making the right choices at the right times more than we’ve seen in a while
- This would also place further emphasis on finding decent budget players
What’s happened since
- Prices did indeed emerge inflated: the base line price amongst the key individuals has risen
- Several price tiers – a prominent example being premium forwards – have become very crowded, with managers having to make numerous value judgements in order to decide the ideal composition of their teams involving many trade-offs
- Intense hunt for value in 4.5 stakes. Dunk and Suttner (Brighton) appearing in many 3-4-3s as 4th sub, and even Simon Francis seeing consideration.
- Precious few 4.0s, with some placing hopes on Kevin Long (but it looks like Tarkowski is starting for Burnley) and a high ownership (mistakenly, in our view) of Angel Rangel
- Many big decisions are being made and some clear “camps” are forming – for example, those with and without Harry Kane (at 12.5, the priciest player) in their starting lineups
The meta game (1st June)
What we said
- Be it through keeping tabs on the transfer market, or reading news and advice on social media and the forums, everyone is influenced by other opinions
- A herd mentality forms based on majority consensus about what’s the best way to deal with FPL’s challenges, week by week – this is the meta (think “template plus everything else”)
- Usually, that’s fine, as our responses are innately encoded in human behavioural schema in order to help us survive; herd mentality drives behaviours rooted from the dual roots of fear (need to sign [x] as he’ll hurt me otherwise) and greed (I also want [x]’s points), with an offshoot of both, jealousy, further reinforcing response patterns
- However, occasionally the herd can get it wrong, and sway many a manager as the wisdom of the crowds usurps independent thought; an example might be when many jumped on Gündoğan but found themselves with an asset needing to go in very short order.
What’s happened since
- The beginnings of convergence and a “template” forming, with many narratives around certain individuals (e.g. Cedric only just back from holiday, so best look at Yoshi / Bertrand) pushing many players into a similar conclusions
- Waves of change, created by bandwagons sparked (or, indeed, derailed) by preseason performances; think Lindelof after his terrible showing and the dramatic fall in ownership, as our latest infog detailed, or (also on the same infograph!) Trippier
- A lack of key “bad guys” of last season seen in many teams due to their disappointing the masses – think Gabbiadini, who is seen in very few teams despite a strong opening, and not being considered by the same people who are looking at the likes of Chicharito and Iheanacho.
- A critical mass on certain players (e.g. Lukaku) makes it a big risk to go against herd mentality with regards to it as I said on the most recent pod.
From offence to defence (11th June)
What we said
- Last year, the points per value metric (worked out by their overall points return relative to their starting price) for defenders outperformed the outputs of other positions by a notable margin
- This challenged the established wisdom of having 3 at the back, with defenders like Marcos Alonso proving better points per value at 6.0m+ than midfielders and strikers at the same price
- There is a convincing argument for rolling out a “4 at the back” strategy, with the output of players such as Alonso, James Milner (a particular favourite of Nick’s!) and Kyle Walker in the defensive slots worthy of investment
What’s happened since
- Many RMTs and squads favouring four at the back, with the emergence of Kieran Trippier (now owned by more than 1 in 5 managers) at 5.5, plus interest in Saints (Ryan Bertrand, 5.5 and Cedric/Yoshi at 5.0) see many squads look a bit “back heavy”.
- Marcos Alonso, at 7.0, was priced very highly but this has not deterred FPL managers; almost 15% of managers now own the Spanish wing “back”
- Some overpricing as defenders outperformed the other categories; players such as Erik Pieters and our #NyomWatch subject Allan Nyom at 5.0!
- As Nick mentioned on Pod 4 (check this out here if you haven’t already!), he’s very likely to kick off with a 4 at the back strategy in an reflect the lessons of last season; however (boring, boring) Milner has already been sacrificed for Trippier due to injury and rotation fear for him, and also has come in for me since Kyle Walker left for City.
- We were on point with the impact inflated prices would have on choice, with the selection headache more acute than before and players like new Arsenal signing Lacazette and Morata at Chelsea entering the mix to further complicate matters
- Herd mentality continues to inform the meta. We’re like hungry wolves, starved of real information, meaning that any scrap of data is seized upon like fresh meat and used to drive bandwagons; a good point to this is Victor Lindelof, whose poor showing in preseason has caused many managers to abandon him, or Trippier last night
- Similarly, the high ownership of Lindelof’s new team mate Romelu Lukaku, at close to half of all managers (a significant proportion of them also captaining, no doubt) with him in, compels his inclusion in our set up despite his 11.5 pricetag
- Many questions are still unresolved with regard to team composition both in terms of players and formations, with a slight regression to 3-4-3 detectable as we near the start of the season but some proponents of the 4 at the back system still enthusiastic about that set up
We’ll keep an eye on how these continue to unfold as the season develops.