Here’s the first of a few FFGeek Contributors season reviews. First up is Andrew Whitfield.
Andrew Whitfield’s FPL season review 19/20
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GW38+ points 69, total points: 2,251, overall rank: 132k, team value: £104.4m
Here’s his GW38+ points:
– Well I don’t think we will ever experience another season quite like that one. Who would have thought when we kicked off the season back in August that we would still be playing in July, in empty stadiums, having had a three month “spring break “. The important thing is that we got it over the line – and safely.
– A knock on effect of course is that we don’t get our long rest now and we will be back on it extremely soon. We are also not starting with a “blank canvas” as to a degree the “form” will carry over. We just await the all important player prices and then despair as we can only fit in three of our six players we all had earmarked as certainties for our gameweek one teams !!
How did my season go ??
– It was my first season as a contributor to the site, so my thanks go out to Geek for giving me the platform for my ramblings. I also want to thank my fellow contributors for making me feel welcome, and especially to Sergio for winning the contributors league and to Yaniv for a third consecutive top 10k finish. The fact that twelve of our contributors had a top 1% finish last season shows that this is definitely your number one site to turn to in your quest to improving your rank.
– I don’t have the highest rank amongst the contributors but I definitely write the longest articles !! Thank you for all those that have messaged their support. I have tried to take people through an “emotional journey” each week, and hope that resonates with people owning the same players, because FPL is all about the highs and lows, the twists and turns, the green arrows and the reds, and the emotions that come with playing FPL seriously . I hope I have also given you a few vital pointers towards a better rank too !!
– It was always going to be a challenge matching my 19k and 6k ranks from the previous two years. In the end i was a tad disappointed with 130k. But this can be a tough game with 7 Million competitors and a lot of information is out there now on social media for those that seek it out. I feel that a few too many 50-50 calls fell the wrong way this time, whereas last season they dropped in my favour. I seemed to be making a lot of “right decisions” with the “wrong outcomes”. This game can be brutal sometimes and often the margins are very small indeed.
– Having said that, I think I have learned more this season than the previous two. So that can only be a good thing to re focus me on matching those previous ranks. I will cover later a few thoughts about things i might do differently next season.
The key moments:
– I am sure that I am not the only one that triple captained Mane over Salah. It was a proper coin toss. Mane had the better away record ahead of that double header of away games. Salah had only scored once away from home. You can’t legislate for a player hobbling off injured just into the first game of a double gameweek. It was a 30 point swing in the end. The right call possibly but the wrong outcome. It was a tough one to take. Especially so when I think of my triple captain on Aguero’s hat trick the year before.
– I wasn’t helped by unlimited transfers on the restart, though i can fully understand why FPL brought them in, to re engage everyone. As it happened, it punished those having played an early second wildcard. It meant many managers could load up on a squad of “doublers” in that double gameweek that kicked us back off, bench boost their doublers and then wildcard back out. For those without the second wildcard, we couldn’t take that route. I ended up having to free hit instead, play my bench boost in a single gameweek and also lose some favourable free hitting opportunities later. I think on reflection those unlimited transfers and the strategy route I had to take, probably cost me 20-30 points.
– Put those two above examples into the mix, both arguably out of my control, and the difference is a rank of 130k and 50k. Fine margins indeed.
– What we mustn’t lose sight of is when the cards drop in our favour. Gameweek 6, I captained Sterling, who stayed on the bench in an 8-0 win. A late cameo would have given me 2 points. He stayed put, Lundstram brought 11 points in from first sub, and De Bruyne’s 17 vice captain points were doubled. I gained an extra 26 points by Sterling being glued to the bench !! That moved me from 875k to 190k !!
– I still smile about “Vardy Friday“ and that 9-0 away win at Southampton. I had no Leicester players !! I was on a Med cruise at the time, out at sea with no signal. I woke up in port the next morning to 385 notifications. I thought the world must have ended !! Mind you, when I saw that 9-0 score line and screamed, my wife thought I had a giant cockroach come on board !! It dropped me 140k places.
– I bought Vardy the week after and far from it being “after the horse had bolted”, he scored me 111 points over the next eight gameweeks, averaging 14 points. I captained him six games in a row for scores of 24,24,12,10,26 and 10 !! That was certainly one of the best phases of my season. It took me from 330k to 107k by GW13.
– I held on to Trent for his 24 pointer on Boxing Day when many sold him, I held on to a mis firing Kevin De Bruyne for his 19 pointer in a tricky game at Arsenal and his 19 pointer on the last day when many didn’t. I tend to be loyal to my premium proven players and the rewards are usually there.
– It’s interesting to note that when you do have a bad week, it can all flip the other way the week after. After “Vardy Friday”, two weeks later I was 40k better off than before it. After “Mane Gate”, I followed it with three green arrows and a 120k uplift and well up on my “pre Mane” week. Things do turn around very quickly. Often your best weeks follow your worst ones.
– I tend to follow the poll favourite captains. I had 24 “returns” from my captain, compared to 28 the previous year, which was a bit disappointing. I got 21% of my points from my captain, against 25% the season before. If I had put the armband on my “vice captain “ instead every week, I would have had 50 more points !!
– Differential captains came out very well last season. I am unlikely to change my approach to captaincy, given my cautious playing style. I think last season was a bit of an anomaly. I think what last season showed is that unless there is a runaway poll leader, a differential captain if chosen carefully for an attractive fixture, can bring its rewards. I might be more inclined to trust my instinct on the second favourite in the polls, if the polls are close enough.
My key players of the season:
– Trent was my most used player, starting 36 games at an average of 5.8 points. I used De Bruyne 30 times at an average of 8.4 points per game. My next most used player was Lord Lundstram with 22 starts !!
– My best average points gained came from Salah with an average of 11.8 points from 20 starts, Vardy 11.2 points from 12 starts and Fernandes 10.3 points from 8 starts, though they do of course include captaincy. I captained Salah 11 times at an average of 14.7 points, and Vardy 7 times at an average of 14.6.
– I had quite an amusing tale of woe when I went double Liverpool defence. I played double Pool defence in the first 14 games when they kept just 2 clean sheets !! They actually conceded just ONCE in each of the other 12 games !! They frustrated me to bits in finding a way to concede, often late and often to an individual error. When I finally jumped off the double Pool defence, they proceeded to keep seven successive clean sheets !!! Try transferring that into what might have been.
– I was trolled by Danny Ings as usual, missing his best hauls, returning me an average of 3.6 points from 10 games. I even got trolled by Jimenez, owning him three times over 14 games for just 3.9 points per game.
So what might I do differently next season ??
– I will probably hold on to my chips longer. Last season was very different but I had used them with seven weeks left to play !! It’s the first time I have played my second wildcard so early. Having said that, I got three green arrows and a nice immediate uplift from it. It might have worked well but for what transpired in the wider world. I wasn’t to know it would ultimately make life a lot harder. You can’t legislate for a global pandemic.
– We didn’t get the usual late “blank weeks” and “double weeks” due to the way the season dropped after lockdown, that are usually so vital for the chips, so I felt I could safely let them go early and then focus on just playing the game. It felt so strange being without all the chips for the closing weeks when all I ever tell people is to hold all your chips to the last few weeks !! I will be taking my own advice next year and holding a full hand for when it matters.
– I am usually a very patient manager. I sold players a little hastily after three blanks, often before great fixtures. And I got punished. That’s a lesson that Geek often preaches. Choose your exit and entry points carefully when you sell and buy players. I will be more cautious of selling players ahead of a good looking next fixture.
– I am going to roll my transfer more often. It’s a very powerful feeling having two free transfers. I succumbed to the social media noise more last season instead of playing my own game. Instead of making one impulsive change for a player that the twitter community view as “must have” and being restricted to “like for like” moves, rolling and having two means you have far more flexibility to downgrade one player to upgrade to another, without a hit. You can even roll and make just one and then still have two. You can also roll and then make three moves and have a very effective mini wildcard for only four points, where you feel you are getting a lot more out of your hit. Expect me to “roll the transfer” more this time.
– The twitter noise was certainly a factor last season. There is some amazing information out there. The key is to take it in, filter it, and make your own calls. It’s not easy. Maybe I might need to step away more if it means it’s affecting my key decisions.
– I am a very “template based” player and generally risk averse. Last season i was probably “too template” if that’s possible. I ended up owning all of the top “most owned” eight players amongst the top 10k managers. That really restricts rank rises, even though it does offer great rank protection. I want to take a more positive approach and instead of playing “in fear “ and concentrating on covering risks, I want to “chase the upside” more, whilst still staying close to the template.
– I am going to follow a similar path to Geek in my new definition of “template”. I am going to follow closely 20 FPL managers that I have found, that I trust, with very consistent top 10k records. Any player owned by 12 of them will be in my template and in my team, full stop. I am expecting to have 6-8 template players who will be my “shields”. Of the other 3-5 players, I am going to seek out differential players, with two of them being low ownership “explosive“ players who can be my “swords”. At the end of the season, Mane, Rashford, Mahrez and Son all had ownership well under 20%. I am also going to have one “low risk but high gain” cheaper player with ownership under 5%, that I can have some fun with and enjoy !!
– I have seen examples of managers switching around their premiums to target the struggling teams. We saw last season that targeting Norwich, Bournemouth, Watford etc proved a great tactic. It would be interesting to create that “price point” up front, for the likes of Aguero, Aubamayang and Kane to occupy and switch around and rotate to target and batter the struggling sides. I can see a lot of points there. Definitely food for thought.
– I watch a lot of games and I am generally an “eye test” man. But I am going to invest more time with “stats”, in particular “expected goals “ ( xg) and “expected assists” ( xa ), as well as “shots in the box”.. There were some striking examples that bore fruit last season. All the stats were shouting out “Antonio” ahead of a game against bottom club Norwich. Those that bagged the four goals reaped the rewards.
Player prices and classifications:
– I don’t think we will see Lord Lundstram as a 4M defender this time do you !! The bargain 4M defender of the season before was Wan Bissaka. The hunt will be on to find those bargain “enablers” that are going to be so vital. I suspect when we see the prices of Salah, Mane, KDB, Sterling, Aubamayang, Martial, Fernandes, Kane etc, we are going to be scratching our heads trying to squeeze a quart into a pint pot.
– We also need to see any changes in “classification “. Is Aubamayang, playing out wide any different to Sterling or Salah ? And Rashford too ? Does Martial playing central make him an obvious striker ? There are some big classification decisions ahead in FPL towers.
– Rumour has it that Jesse Lingard after his GW38 points, may be re classified as a footballer. Harsh.
– So take time out, it’s been a full on few weeks of non stop football. Go switch off, weed the garden, paint the shed, decorate the bathroom, talk to the missus .. I don’t know about you but I need a rest for a few weeks. But before you know it, FPL will be back.. so go switch off and relax and enjoy the rest of the summer, before we go again !!!