FPL: How to stay calm and make better decisions

decisions

After a two-week break, Fantasy Premier League (FPL) returns this weekend. Highs and lows follow difficult choices – but how can we make better decisions?

Don’t let past decisions, and their outcomes, define future FPL choices.

There’s an old adage in golf:

“The most important shot is always the next one. Don’t worry about your last shot, it’s over, there’s nothing you can do about it now.”

This is something that we should try to apply to FPL, too. It’s far too easy to let what you’ve done previously dictate what you do next, when in reality it should have no bearing. Make each decision based on the individual merits.

I often hear managers say they aren’t bringing in a player because they haven’t scored them points in the past – sometimes referred to as a “troll” – but there’s no logic behind this. A player isn’t sat in their dressing room pre match, waiting to find out if “Chicken Tikka Mo Salah” has captained him that week before he decides whether or not to score a hat trick, despite how it feels sometimes…

You can rely on him to score week in, week out

If the reason that they didn’t perform for you last time still applies (rotation risk, for example) then it’s obviously something you should take into account. Not considering them at all based on some memory you have, however, isn’t a good decision-making tool.

Just because a decision didn’t pay off, doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good decision at the time.

There’s a tendency to regard every decision that delivers as a good one, and every choice that doesn’t as a bad one. Strictly speaking this is correct – the aim of the game is to score points, so you could view any decision that resulted in more points as a good one. But is that necessarily true?

Let’s take the previous gameweek, GW4, as an example: you have both David Silva and Danny Ward in your team, and decide to put the armband on the Cardiff man. Let’s say you do this because you like his tattoos. Ward scores 5 more points than Silva, so was this a good decision?

Danny Ward (4.5m MID) scored Cardiff’s second goal against Arsenal

In hindsight, yes of course it was. But hindsight isn’t a luxury afforded to FPL managers – we don’t decide who our captain is after the event, so we have to view decisions based on their merits before. Ward was a rotation risk (hadn’t started a match), playing for a struggling team (hadn’t scored a single goal), against a ‘top six’ side. Silva looked certain to start (as certain as we can be due to Pep’s wheel of rotation), was in good form, playing for a great team, at home to a side in the relegation zone.

The same applies when you make decision that doesn’t work out – if you can look back at a choice you made and justify it, don’t beat yourself up too much and don’t completely change the way you look at the game. Learn from mistakes, but don’t assume you’ve made one; it’s a game of fine margins.

Wait to gather as much information as possible

Making decisions before key pieces of info are available is risky and something to avoid where possible. Midweek matches and press conferences are important to monitor and can have a huge influence on decisions.

Play Devil’s Advocate.

When making a decision it’s easy to be drawn to a player’s positives and use any research just to reinforce the decision you want to make, but it’s important to consider the negatives too. Play Devil’s Advocate, look at both sides of the argument even if it’s pretty one-sided. Assume the worst, and then even if your decision doesn’t pay off at least you know you gave it your full consideration.

The first thing I do when picking a player is look at the negatives – if you still want to bring a player in after listing all the drawbacks then it’s probably a good pick.

Differentiate between ‘real’ form, and FPL form.

When we talk about form in football, we are generally referring to how well a player is performing, but in FPL terms it’s just about the points they’re delivering. It doesn’t matter how good you think they are as a footballer, just how likely they are to score you points.

Use stats, but put them in context.

“Team X is AWFUL is because they haven’t kept a clean sheet for 4 matches!” Check the facts – who did they play? Were they at full strength? What sort of goals did they concede? Taking a stat at face value can be risky, always fact check.

Don’t dwell on a bad week.

We’ve all been there. Your captain did nothing, your “cheeky punt” showed why no one else has him and your rivals defender scored his first goal since Ceefax stopped reporting them. You then stare endlessly at your final score. It’s as if your tears will somehow draw more points from this shambles of a team.

decisions
For those of you too young to remember when this was how we got our football news…

After a bad week there’s always a temptation to right the wrong as soon as possible. You hope to regain lost ground immediately the week after with a few maverick transfers and points deductions. You may also feel the urge to make a “rage transfer”, as if transferring out a player that’s disappointed you immediately after the final whistle will help matters. It won’t. Take a break. Come back next week.

Be patient.

There’s a fine line between stubbornness and patience, but it’s important to find that balance. Even the very best players don’t deliver every week. There’s no reason that a very bad week couldn’t be followed by a very good one with very little changes.

decisions
My worst GW last season was immediately followed by one of my best, despite making just one transfer
Again, a very disappointing week that was followed by a great one – just one transfer made

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