Current leader in 2018-19 season is Scott Ireland with an awesome 112 points; closely followed by FPL Chess' old friend Michael Atkins, who was Champion when we were called Football Chess (back in the day). He once came 13th in the FPL overall. Michael drop us a line. In third place is Sebastian Budniak on 107 points. Mark Wood, Karan C, and John Idowu tie for 4th place, then in 7th comes my dear friend Ben Rose, with Nick Gilbert.
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This Calendar points you in the direction of immediate gameweek tactics. It tries to advise when and how to negotiate International breaks, wildcards, and chips, as in using them during the season's blank gameweeks (last season GW31 & GW35) and double gameweeks (last season GW34 & GW37).
Along with the FPL Strategic column, it attempts to explain what is considered 'best practice' - as in the best time to utilise the tools given, and how best to deploy them.
After FFScout appraisal of 2017/18 season, is was shown that this calendar correctly suggested GW35 over GW31 for the Free Hit (marginal victory), GW34 over GW37 for the bench boost, GW32 over GW33 for the Wildcard, and GW37 for the Triple Captain (tied with GW38). Fairly pleased with that.
We'll advise you in this calendar of the best time to play your chips. Don't play them yet!
Hopefully pre-season, you availed yourself of the information at FFS Pre-Season Guide and, since GW1, visited PremierFantasyTools.com FPL Team Analyzer to look at what players the FPL celebrities/ex-champions have in their teams, and analysed how your team shapes up. A fantastic site.
An even amount of the top 50 players last season, played their wildcard in the first and second International breaks. I expect similar this season, when the World Cup players have returned to their respective squads, and are fit to go. Ben Crabtree, the 2016-17 FPL Champion recommends what they call a mini-wildcard, on occasions. This is where you save your transfer for the following week, so that you have two transfers, and then you take a 4-point hit and do an extra transfer. Two transfers are quite limiting but when you've got three transfers then a whole new realm of possibilities opens up. Don't do it too often though, Last year's Champion Yusuf Sheikh only took 9 hits. In fact in season 2017-18 the top 50 players had less than 10 hits on average (8.2) all season. The ability to pick up early bandwagons at their inception should, in theory, substantially increase both team value and points. Ideally we give the players time to increase £200,000 before shipping out (so we get the £100,000). This won't always work to our benefit. We have to be both good and lucky. Playing a mini-wildcard on international breaks, when genuine bandwagons are first emerging, is a strategy to consider. BUT, wait until the Friday or Saturday morning before locking them in. The stats show that most of the top 50 players followed this trend - rather than transferring in early in the week to save £100K. This is especially true after an International break, as we want to see they've returned from International duty in one piece.
It's been said that after the 3rd International break it could be an ideal time to switch from a defensive strategy to an attacking strategy. By this I mean it can be a good idea to spend more on your defence from GW1 to about GW12. We shouldn't try to find three 4.5 and two 4.0 defenders. I've tried rotating cheap defenders from the off and it just doesn't work for me (or anyone else probably). I think we should have three or even four solid and attacking expensive defenders to start with, and have one or two defenders who are considerably cheaper but will play every week as cover. Having 15 players - who actually play - will save us from doing knee-jerk hits when the injuries and suspensions are racking up. From GW12 we'll have a better idea of cheaper defenders - and where the value is, so we can switch to them and spend the money on attackers - and possibly five good midfielders.
I've always believed that the best predictor for goals, is goals. Form over fixtures every time. A player, who is out of form, won't necessarily find form just because he's against one of the lower sides; especially when they park the bus. (continued next page...)
I think however, I've been guilty of underestimating stats. Stats could show when a player is coming back into form, but hasn't translated it into goals yet. So ideal territory when scouting for differentials who are facing weaker sides. Some experts firmly believe that underlying stats can be a better guide than form or fixtures. They rave about shots on goal, shots in the box, or big chances, for instance, suggesting the player is getting into the right position and will surely click anytime now. FF Scout provide this service but I believe it's only for paid-up members (I'm not knocking it, you get lots more. I couldn't imagine not being a member). Our web site links however, include sites that offer underlying stats at no charge. A list of the best free ones we found (that include top FPL Manager stats) are:
Shots on Target : top of the list for a reason!
Premier Fantasy Tools (a great site - have a good look round)
Who scores Home and Away (eye opening!)
Who Scored? Excellent stats.
FF Geek Top FPL Managers
FF Geek Gameweek Analysis
FPL Statistics : Price Change Predictions
Football Fallout : Stats & Tools
The last one is stats based on us, rather than the footballers, and it is recommended by Joe (aka Jonty) of FF Scout. This is a site that gathers stats from just the top 10k FPL Managers. The quick way to know which players each week to get rid of, and which players to put in their place is check out the dropdown box on the FPL site itself - and sort by 'Transfers in (round)' and 'Transfers out (round)' - but that only tells you what all 5 million FPL Managers are doing. This site provides stats from only the top 10,000 FPL Managers. Also, as already mentioned - if you're keen on stats, check out Premier Fantasy Tools I'm trying to reverse engineer how top FPL Managers finish in the top 5K every season. Another idea - a much simpler one - is watching MOTD on a Sunday morning, and Sky football, and making notes. Not the daftest idea I've ever heard. I should really give that a go myself rather than trying to commit everything to memory. The General @FPLGeneral - see his podcast on this site - recommends putting the players who take your eye into your Watch List on the FPL site. His credentials include three sub-500 finishes in the last four years. ~ Awesome!
One of the key strategies is to have one or two differentials in your team. These are players with low ownership that you have a good feeling about - perhaps due to the previously mentioned underlying stats. You could even play them as captain on a week when the captain choice isn't obvious. To reiterate that point: Only try a differential with the captain's armband on, when the captain choice isn't clear-cut. When it is clear-cut, just follow the herd, and pick the market leader. As in poker, and snooker, sometimes you have to play the percentage game - FPL works along similar lines.
Stats also show that the top 50 players do the majority of their transfers on a Friday or Saturday. They don't worry about the odd 100,000 midweek price rise. If a player injures themselves in training on the Thursday (KDB after GW1 injured himself on the Wednesday is a case in point), then it's a waste of a transfer and a hit might be required!
If you're going to have a £13million player in your squad (and you should have!), then he should be captain. It's alright the odd week putting it on someone else - that's fine - but if you're going to spend that much money on a player then he should really only be in your squad when he is clearly the number one captain choice; otherwise, you should get rid of him and share the money out amongst other players. Harsh but fair! I know there's a fear factor, of you shipping him out and him getting a hat-trick, but that will only really hurt when "everyone" is on him - due to him being the "clear" gameweek captain favourite. And whenever there is a "clear" captain favourite - you need to be on him... he needs to be in your squad. This means - if you're spreading the money around your squad, that you leave an exit strategy so you can ship him back in with the minumum of fuss. Managing this aspect of the game successfully - is very hard - but I imagine the rewards are there if you're up to it.
An important strategy is to have the heavily owned top players in your squad, so that if they have a good week you're not left behind; however, for absolute budget players the opposite is true. Having heavily owned bench fodder means that if they're not starting people will ship them out and they'll lose value. 4.0m players will drop to 3.9m etc. So when recruiting these players, it may be better to do your homework and find lesser owned bench fodder, who still might be able to get you a couple of points.
The following links to Fantasy Football Scout are available even for non-members. The pre-season match reviews are necessary reading, and following their team selection verbatim for GW1 would have got you 80-odd points.