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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.
Firstly, pre-season, you should avail yourself of the information at FFS Pre-Season Guide
Previous overall winner Ben Crabtree (See Interview in Champions section), recommends what some people call a mini-wildcard. You carry a transfer over, then take a 4-point hit, and change altogether three players. It's just like a mini-wildcard, and costs you 4-points. The major difference is that you can't always do what you want with only swapping two players. When swapping three players however, a whole new realm of possibilities open up. Making strategic hits, rather than guilt-ridden hits, will be liberating. Set yourself free of guilt. Make it part of your strategy. BUT don't exceed 15 hits all season, and keep below 10 if possible. Last year's FPL Champion Yusuf Sheikh took just 9 hits all season.
Your editor plans on playing his wildcard on the 2nd International break. This is where the majority of the top 50 players last season, played their wildcard. But to help get there he's also planning on playing the already mentioned mini-wildcard in the first International break, and then will be tweaking it with a another 4-point hit and mini-wildcard in the 3rd International break. The ability to pick up early bandwagons at their inception should substantially increase both team value and points, in theory! Providing 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. Doing it on international breaks however, 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 buying early to save £100K.
After the 3rd International break it's an ideal time to switch from a defensive strategy to an attacking strategy. By this I mean it appears often 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. I think we should have three solid and attacking, expensive defenders to start with; and have two defenders who are a bit 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. 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
Premier Fantasy Tools (a great site - have a good look round)
Who scores Home and Away
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 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 ~ Awesome! Another idea - a much simpler one - is watching MOTD on a Sunday morning 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.
A key strategy 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, then it's a waste of a transfer and a hit might be required! Speaking of hits... The top 50 players, including last season's winner, have less than 10 hits all season. I've already advised that your editor is going for a mini-wildcard on two of the first three International breaks; however, a lot of the top 50 players drop their 1st wildcard in GW4. This may be so they only have to play the fixtures on the first three games, and then on their wildcard they put in the players from their watchlist that are cutting it - with regards to stats - and whom they are expecting to have a great season. So your hits would then be 1 x hit in the 2nd International break and 1 x hit in the 3rd International break; rather than my route of 1st & 3rd International breaks.
If you're going to have a £13million player in your squad, then he should be captain. It's alright the odd week putting it on someone else, 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.. 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 the rewards are there if you're up to it.
The following links to Fantasy Football Scout are available even for non-members. The pre-season match reviews are necessary reading.