12 Weeks In: Three Observations and Contemplations Within FPL

We’re 12 weeks into the Premier League season and already in our third International Break.

I know…It’s going by far too quickly, right?!

Enough goals have been scored, enough minutes have expired and enough wildcards have been played that it’s time to pause…take a look around…and try to make sense of what’s what in the FPL. Here are a few our observations and what they might be to your FPL team.

1 – Defenders are the new midfielders

This time last year, we began taking note of a newly-promoted Brighton player named Pascal Gross, an all-out attacking player from Man City named Leroy Sane and a new-to-the-Premier-League-(for the second time) player with the first name Mo (perhaps you’ve heard of him!). Add in other names like Hazard, KDB, Eriksen and Mahrez, and FPL managers were not short of options in the midfield.

This season, it’s exactly the same, except we’re not talking about midfielders – we’re talking about defenders. And instead of Mo, Haz and KDB, it’s Robbo, Alonso and Tripps. Whether it’s TAA, PVA or VVD, managers are investing a lot on their back lines.

The overall FPL points leader is a defender: Alonso. He’s also tied for first place in assists (7 – with Callum Wilson). Ben Mendy is right behind with 6 assists. Modern-day outside backs not only offer the potential for defensive returns in the form of clean sheets, but also attacking returns from goals and assists.

Because of this, defenders can represent some of the greatest value in all of FPL. Three of the top six players based on value for the season are defenders: Alonso (£7.1), Robertson (£6.5), Doherty (£4.9).

Speaking of Doherty, he and other defenders alike not only offer the holy grail of clean sheets + goals + assists, but you can get them on the cheap. Yes, you can drop a sizable portion of your budget on premium defenders. And they have their roles in many FPL teams, but you can find a lot of value in much less expensive defenders too.

Accept the aforementioned Doherty, plus his Wolves teammates Jonny (£4.5), Boly (£4.6) and Bennett (£4.2), as well as Holebas (£4.8), Duffy (£4.7), Dunk (£4.4), Bamba (£4.5), Schindler (£4.3), Yedlin (£4.5) and Wan-Bissaka (£4.2) as further evidence.

Like the midfielders of last season, defenders are the difference-makers so far this season. And there’s no reason to think that won’t continue.

2 – Managers are Making Transfers for All the Wrong Reasons

This is not meant to imply that ALL managers have made – or are on the verge of making – ill-advised transfers. BUT…there is an increased quantity of managers guilty of it and an increased frequency in the number of times they’ve done it.

By “ill-advised” we mean transfers that are made for the wrong reasons. Having the presence we do on social media, particularly via Instagram, we’ve had the very good fortune of interacting with hundreds of FPL managers over these last 12 matchweeks. Throughout all this interaction, a couple of common themes have arisen as far as transfers go: 1) Managers want to “beat” price increases (or decreases); and 2) They’re “chasing points”. What do we mean and why does it matter? Glad you asked! And, actually, they’re somewhat related.

First, you might have noticed that FPL prices are rising and dropping at a very fast clip this season. Faster than we can ever remember. Prices are largely influenced by market activity – the transferring in and out of players in large amounts. It’s the old supply and demand theorem: Increased demand causes increased prices. Decreased demand forces prices down. Managers rushing to acquire or drop players are having a large hand in these price changes.

So in fact, by managers rushing to beat a drop or rise, they’re actually accelerating the changes they’re trying to avoid. Remember, a player’s rising value is an indication of past performance and the corresponding demand. It’s not a predictor of future performance.

Next, some managers have made transfers based on a player’s performance from a single game. These managers expect the newly-acquired player to deliver points similar to the kind they delivered last game. This “points chasing” tactic usually doesn’t work out as hoped.

Sometimes it does, but it’s infrequent. Usually it works out the other way. Instead, give the player the eye test. See what he looks like. Do you like his style? Does he have FPL potential? Also, look at predicted statistics, not historical ones. FPL points are scored in the future, not in the past.

Lastly, if it seems unusual, it usually is. If a player that’s never been on your watchlist had a banging performance last game, beware of jumping on the chance to grab him. If it seems like a one-time thing, it probably is. An example: Not to pick on Juan Foyth of Spurs, but let’s look at him for a second. He scored a great goal for his team. A game-winner in fact. Now, does that mean he should be snatched up by most FPL managers? Probably not.

In FPL, excitement creates more excitement. A player has a great match, and everyone is talking about him. Suddenly, he’s in demand and he’s on many watchlists. Don’t get caught up in the hysteria. A level-headed approach will allow you to make decisions based on analysis and instinct, and not on emotions.

All of this hype – beating the changes and chasing the points – has resulted in both very frequent price changes on a large scale AND managers regretting their transfers. We’ve encountered many instances where a manager was driven by one or both of the things, and end up taking a hit once they’re forced to correct their mistake.

Our best advice, especially over this break, is to wait. Be patient. Keep an eye on players’ injuries. Listen for clues their managers might offer in their interviews and press conferences. Be calculated and methodical in your transfers.

3 – FPL Has Changed the Way We Watch Premier League Games

Have you found yourself cheering for (or against) specific players much more intensely than before? Or realized you can’t be fully happy when players from your favorite club score, assist or earn clean sheets because they’re not on your FPL team? Or even when seeing alerts and score updates throughout the weekend, your brain immediately defaults to calculating FPL points? Maybe you’ve let out a sigh of relief when you see a score update showing that your FPL captain scored? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, or even remotely identify with them, you’ve caught it — you have FPL Fever.

These are just a few illustrations of how FPL has ingrained itself into the heads and hearts of us fans and managers. The fantasy aspect has altered how we consume, enjoy and think about the Premier League. It’s become a richer – and yet sometimes stressful – experience all at once.

If you’ve caught this fever, (and if you’re reading this article chances are that you already have the bug) gone are the days of innocently watching a match for the pure enjoyment factor of it. It’s all about returns, average scores, BPS, projected bonus points and green arrows.

If you’re a Man City supporter, you might find yourself thrilled when Aguero scores a goal (primarily because he’s on your FPL team) and at the exact same time, not too excited that David Silva got the assist (because he’s not in your FPL Starting XI…Hazard is).

The purity of it has been replaced – or at least coupled – with an element of competition. We’re much more hands on and attentive than we were before we caught FPL Fever. We enjoy the plotting and planning. The tracking and forecasting. We have our own community. We have our own language. We “get” each other. And we welcome newbies wholeheartedly.  We’re infected with FPL Fever…and we love it!

That’s all for now, guys. As always, may your points be above the average and your arrows green. Cheers, all.

Written by Gary and Josh Brockman, aka the father-and-son team known as Let’s Talk Soccer. Give us a look and a follow on Instagram @LetsTalkSoccer and on Twitter @LetsTalkSoccer2.



Thanks again to LetsTalkSoccer, be sure to follow their FPL accounts!

If you haven’t already, check out our recent article discussing the best FPL alternatives for Mendy.

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