Talisman Theory – November 2018 update

Before you get stuck in: if you’ve not read them before, I recommend reading our summer articles that introduced the Talisman Theory concept and then tracked how Talismen emerged last season to get up to speed.

Note: Joe from FFS has his own way of uncovering Talismen by using stats from their member section. If you are an FFS member, you may access this here

Huge thanks to Mitchell Sterling (@MitchellSt on twitter) for running the data for us.

A talisman in FPL is hugely important. This is because, as we established through examining last year’s data, the talisman – who more often than not is the key man at a club outside of the top 6 – represents true value in FPL.

In the summer, we looked at the Talisman and worked out a way of understanding them based on FPL performance.

This was through focusing on non-appearance points as a metric, which are the “individual” points generated by players rather than the more baseline ones. This therefore includes goals, assists, saves, pen saves and bonus. We include negative actions in the same way – pen misses, yellows, reds etc – to give us a rounded idea of what the individual asset can perform. We have taken the decision to omit clean sheets – this is because this is more of a “team” award of points than an individual one. Defenders performing particularly well are compensated with bonus, but this idea of finding Talismen is more of an attacking than defensive concept. This also means points deducted for defences conceding goals are not considered.

I’ve already posted on twitter about the findings for this year so far, with about a third of the season gone:

The purpose of this piece if to expand on the data above and provide some context, ahead of a podcast discussing this further next week (w/c 19/11/2018 for those reading in the future!)

Findings in detail – team data

Let’s start on a team level – how many non-appearance points have been scored by our Premier League teams so far?

Below is the non-appearance points distribution – I’ve also put their real league positions in the table on the right for the sake of interest.


Unsurprisingly, Man City sit top of the pile in terms of non-appearance points – with 321, they’ve 67 more than their nearest rivals Chelsea (254). Arsenal (222) and Liverpool (214) complete the top 4 of clubs who sit above 200 non appearance points scored so far this season.

Spurs (190) aren’t far off the top 4, though Everton (182) and Bournemouth (179) are performing very well indeed. I was surprised to see the Toffees performing so well – but both teams are fuelled by two individuals who are doing very well (Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson for Everton; Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser for Bournemouth).

We then see a bit of a gap between Bournemouth and Man Utd, who are the lowest ranked of last year’s top 6, reflecting how few of their players are meeting expectations (think the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez) in terms of their yield of FPL points.

The rest of the teams with triple digit scores roughly correspond to their league placing. However, what is surprising is that Cardiff and Fulham are outperforming the likes of Crystal Palace and Newcastle in terms of non-appearance points registered.

Findings in detail – player data

There are two ways of looking at this:

1/ Looking at the total non appearance points scored by one player

2/ Looking at the proportion of non appearance point scored by one player in relation to his team’s total non appearance points.

Let’s do 1 first, looking at the top 20:

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we see the usual suspects in the top 3, with Eden Hazard, Kun Aguero and Raheem Sterling on the podium.

What’s more surprising is Wilson in the 50 club with those three, as well as Fraser on 42 – just 2 behind Mo Salah. This underlines what a spectacular start to the season these two have had, and using this method their value as FPL assets is underscored. They are the key reason Bournemouth are figure so highly in the non-appearance rankings.

Similarly, Richarlison and Sigurdsson are performing well, level with Harry Kane and fuelling Everton’s position in the overall rankings.

So, in some ways, these guys are talismen in a sense that if FPL points are scored, then these men are likeliest to get them so far this season.

However, this doesn’t really help us decide who the talismen are in the strictest sense: there are 5 Man City players in the top 20, displaying their effectiveness in terms of FPL points as a side.

As we pointed out last year, our talisman model helps us to identify those individual players who are likely to provide value in an FPL sense – for example Pascal Gross (5.5m last year) who scored a whopping 40% of his team’s non-appearance points.

Let’s see how proportions of points scored looks:

Now things start to get really interesting.


Looking at the data in this way really highlights how, currently, the cheap forwards are performing the talisman role for several clubs. Last season, it was more about the midfielders (Pascal Gross, Xherdan Shaqiri, Riyad Mahrez) doing the job for their teams, but at the moment the forwards are in the ascendancy.

I wonder if this trend will continue as we move into the next phase of the season, but it certainly seems that as a proportion of points being scored, the key talismen in this sense are Danny Ings (with a whopping 42% of his sides non-appearance points!), Aleksander Mitrovic (31%) and my favourite Marko Arnautovic (29%).

In fact, Southampton are a funny case generally – Ings and Alex McCarthy have scored a ridiculous 66% of all of their non-appearance points!

This also highlights a key difference between the “top 6” and the rest – with the exclusion (so it should actually be a top 5!) of Man Utd who in terms of FPL points are really gunning through Anthony Martial (28%) currently. Apart from “Tony”, Hazard (23%) is the only other representative of the top 6 in the top 20 here.

Broadly, it’s therefore as we’d expect – the bigger teams see points more spread out, versus the smaller ones which have a focal point of a talisman. What is interesting is that we’re more “position agnostic” currently as opposed to our findings with the complete data set last year, which highlighted the mid-priced midfielders.


It’s up to you whether you follow these forecasts or not – it’s easy to run a “trail analysis” but much harder to forecast what will happen given all the external factors at play. We’ll come back to these later in the season and see how well we did.

Weighing up the progress so far, we’ve had a look through the upcoming fixture run based on the outcomes so far and have some forecasts for who one might be targeting if you’re subscribing to talisman theory.

This is because the key finding of last season’s data was thus:

Based on this, here’s a quick run down of which talismen maybe should be in your sights as fixtures play out:

  • Martial GW 15-20
  • Pereyra GW 18-23
  • Richarlison GW 19-24
  • Ings GW 23-28
  • Jimenez GW 24-29
  • Arnautovic GW 26-31
  • Maddison GW 27-32
  • Murray GW 29-34
  • Wilson GW 30-35
  • Mitrovic GW 33-38

We’d expect 28-34 points to be elicited by these players throughout the timeframes highlighted.


It’s always tough doing this kind of thing with just a third of the season gone – so much can and will change.

However, it’s really interesting to review the data and the trends that are within it, and try to get an idea of what will happen going forward.

We’ll discuss this more on the pod ahead this week, but keep these all in mind as they could be a great way for you to get ahead of your rivals in FPL.