Here’s Rob Reid with his fantasy premier league season review where he focuses on his team’s performance as well as an early look forward to next season.
Rob Reid with his fantasy premier league season review
Hi everyone and welcome to the fantasy premier league season review for my team. This is my 3rd season as a regular contributor on the site and has no doubt been the most challenging of them all. In this article I’m going to review how the season went both for my team and in general, do a final review of my 2018-19 Player Picks series and finally (though it seems a long way off, have an early look forward to 2019-20.
Here goes, I’ll start with a short review of GW38
GW38 Review – 50 points (average 51); GR – 3.35m; OR – 148k (26k red arrow)
A disappointing finish to the campaign, with a below average score, 4/11 returners and a captain blank. I’ll deal with the latter part first – totally self-inflicted this though I had good cause as I had an outside chance of a second place in one of my mini-leagues and a very slim chance of actually winning it (a Salah hat-trick would have put me very close.) It was a risky Hail Mary but one that cost me by not going for the more obvious choices of Aguero or Mane. I’ll happily take this one on the chin.
As for the rest, 4/11 returns but all from high ownership players with none of my differential picks coming through. My transfer in of Laporte proved to be a good one, but I’m a bit gutted that Milivojevic somehow managed to only score 1 point in a game where his team scored 5 goals – right game, wrong player for that final call I guess. Elsewhere, disappointing from Rashford again and I guess it was hope more than expectation thinking that either of my Wolves players might return. C’est la vie.
So the season has gone out with a little bit of a whimper, having looked like I might break into the top 100k at the end of GW36, I’ve lost nearly 50k in rank to finish at 148k; my worst Overall Rank since 2011/12. If you’ve followed my team this season though, you’ll no doubt know that this doesn’t tell the full story and it’s a season I’m strangely satisfied with. And here’s why….
It’s certainly been a rollercoaster of a season for my team, but ultimately there were three major turning points. I actually started the campaign fairly well and was inside the top 100k at GW4, that’s only ever happened to me once before at that stage. I slipped back a bit after this thanks to injuries but I was treading water at around 135k when I decided to activate my Wildcard in GW8. This was the first turning point in my season.
It’s fair to say that my first Wildcard was a complete and utter disaster. Pretty much every 50/50 I made went wrong and continued to do so for the next few weeks. I immediately lost 100k rank and then proceeded to accrue 6 red arrows in the next 7 weeks, leaving me struggling at 400k. It really could not have gone any worse, though unfortunately it did and it was all self-inflicted! In a bid to revive my fortunes I tried to redistribute the funds in my team taking out an out of form Mo Salah. This was the second major turning point in my season as that week Salah promptly produced a hat-trick away to Bournemouth and I ended up with a gameweek rank of 5.3 million, plummeting to 734k in the rankings. Ouch!
Things didn’t get much better over the next few weeks. An in-form Salah continued to punish me week on week and by GW22, I was sitting at 904k with a team I was really unhappy with. I was left with a couple of choices. I could try a -12 point ‘mini-Wildcard’ probably dropping my rank into 7 figures but preserving my Wildcard, or I could use my Second Wildcard and adopt an alternative strategy to navigate the upcoming blank gameweeks. With no chance of a good overall ranking finish and with me way out of contention in my mini-leagues I decided it was time for a change of tact and I hit Wildcard. This proved to be the 3rd turning point of season and thankfully it was for the better.
Over the next few weeks I steadily worked my way back up the rankings, getting 7 green arrows out of 8 weeks which included a successful 57 point Triple Captain Chip on Sergio Aguero in GW25. I arrived at the first blank (GW31) at 212k – I played my Free Hit which was actually a bit of a disappointment, meaning I merely held rank that week. However, the FA Cup ties worked in my favour. I got my best score of the season in terms of gameweek rank in the second blank GW33 with only 10 players – crazy how these things work – and then followed this up with a strong Bench Boost in GW35 to leave me at 102k going into GW37. Sadly as mentioned above I was left with a bit too much deadwood in the last 2 weeks having not had the luxury of my Wildcard to take out out of form Man United or Brighton players, but on the face of it I really can’t complain about finishing at 148k when 16 weeks ago I was looking at dropping below the 1 million mark.
I guess I would call this season The Tale of Two Wildcards and it just goes to show the power of this chip and how timing is key. I got my first chip completely wrong, both in terms of personnel and timing. It looks like early Wildcarders (GW3 or 4) or later (GW11-14) seemed to get the best results with this first one. My second Wildcard however went very well and the strategy allowed me to play fairly freely in the period running up to the blanks, though this was aided by some kind results in the FA Cup.
In the end, I’ve missed all the targets I set myself at the start of the season (I didn’t even qualify for the Cup lol) but I’ve enjoyed it immensely and have found it strangely cathartic. I think I’d got too bogged down with chasing overall rank in the last couple of seasons and when I finally realised that this didn’t matter this season I relaxed and enjoyed the game a lot more. It also reinforced my ongoing belief that you very much have to take the good with the bad in FPL; it’s really worth sticking in there and not giving up, but if you really aren’t enjoying it then you should probably do something else entirely.
Some Thoughts on the Season in General
A tough season is my first thought. Not just because of my own battle, but also looking around other leagues. I’ve seen some very well-decorated managers, in some cases the closest to what you’d call FPL experts who have also really struggled this campaign. Make no mistake, these are guys way better at the game than myself and yet have finished even worse off than me (and for the record I would certainly never refer to myself as an expert, merely an experienced manager.) So why has this been?
First of all, the points ceiling this season was very high. To put things in perspective, my score of 2243 outscored my last season’s total of 2216 which was then good enough for 94k OR, 54k better. 2243 was also only 42 points behind the score that got me a top 5k finish in 2014/15, the only difference there being the Free Hit vs All Out Attack Chip. Those extra 42 points this season would have got me somewhere around 70k!
I’ve not dug deeply enough to confirm this but I suspect this has happened primarily because of the performances of Manchester City and Liverpool. It’s interesting to note that 7 of the season’s top 10 points scorers in the league are from these clubs with 5 from Liverpool and 3 of these defenders. Most of these were also gametime secure – VVD started every game, Salah only failed to start one and Robertson only failed to start 2 for example. This gives you a solid core of defensive options and 4 viable weekly captain options (Salah, Mane, Sterling and Aguero) along with Hazard at Chelsea and even Aubameyang at Arsenal. Plenty of potential for big double-up captain scores here. And we’ve not even considered the injured Harry Kane.
While this gives a high points ceiling, what having several viable captain options each week also means is that there’s much more potential for volatile ranking swings. It’s impossible on a price basis to own all these players and getting the right captain choice each week is more of a lottery. And that’s before you consider rotation from the likes of Pep, Sarri or Emery – could you trust Hazard and Aubameyang to play against lower teams, especially after a Europa League week? the bottom line though was that if you didn’t own one of these players for a few weeks when they’re in form then it’s going to cost you. Look at the damage not owning Salah on his hot streak did to my Overall Ranking!
The final factor for me was the weakness of the teams at the bottom. Unfortunately, Fulham and Huddersfield were thrashings waiting to happen most weeks which is a shame. Geek alluded to this in his final team selection article and I 100% agree with him in that it almost became a case of having a core of 4-6 City and Liverpool players and then simply transferring in who was playing these teams over the next few weeks. I hope we don’t see a similar thing happen next season, though I fear that City and Liverpool are so far ahead of the chasing pack at the moment that we might.
A Few Words on Player Picks
This is the second season I’ve run my weekly Player Picks article. In the final week there were returns for Banker Aguero and Joker Ings, with a blank from Ace pick Jamie Vardy. This left the season averages as follows: Banker – 5.22 points, Ace – 6.11 points, Joker – 4.92 points. The averages were an interesting addition this season. Again as I’m no expert as I’ve previously stated and I think better managers would have got some higher scores than me, but the trend does reflect what we often said on the site in that you need to look for a blend of players who are going to score well over several weeks instead of chasing differentials each week. The Joker picks if anything slightly over-performed I reckon – I’ll put this down to the skill of the FFG Twitter Community who selected a fair few of these in the weekly Twitter polls!
I’m not sure if I’ll run this article in the same format next season, but I’ll be interested to hear people’s opinions or if there is anything else they’d like to see or if there’s something that might enhance the article for next season. I’ll mull it over with Geek and a few of the other contributors as well and see what we come up with.
Looking forward to Next Season
So after a long campaign, I’m looking forward to a summer break from Fantasy Football. I’ve kind of been going non-stop for the best part of 2 years what with the World Cup last summer basically linking one season into the next. Sport-wise, I’m not planning on doing any fantasy games over the summer, but I am looking forward to watching the FIFA Women’s World Cup as a fan, especially seeing as Scotland have qualified for the first time! For the moment though, I’m looking forward to spending the long evenings in the local hills with my dogs or on my bike. That being said I do find that out in the wilderness, my mind does turn to football again and I’m already thinking about 2019-20. So here’s a few early musings!
Prices and new signings
I’m expecting some major price hikes in the defensive and goalkeeping category this season, especially amongst Liverpool and City players. I’m also expecting big hikes for Wolves attacking players – I can’t see Jimenez and Jota being such bargains next season. I’m also intrigued by what’s going to happen in the transfer market. I think it’s likely to be goodbye to Eden Hazard from an FPL point of view and I can’t see City, Liverpool or even Spurs making any drastic changes.
So it could be down to who United and Arsenal sign. Solskjaer has seemingly been promised a war chest, but will have to clear out the deadwood first and this is Emery’s first proper summer transfer window with Arsenal with his priority surely shoring up the defence. And what sort of activity will we see outside the top 6? I can’t see Everton spending so big this summer, Wolves and Watford may have to bolster their squad if they face European football and there’s a whole bunch of teams in the bottom half who will be keen to invest to avoid the trapdoor to The Championship. I see Brighton have already sacked Chris Hughton so this investment may not necessarily just be on the pitch. Interesting times.
The promoted teams
As things stand at the moment, Norwich and Sheffield United are up with Aston Villa and Leeds both holding leads going into the second legs of their respective Play-Off Semi-Finals. Daniel Farke has worked an absolute miracle with Norwich, winning the league on a reduced budget from last season and with no real superstars. They conceded a lot of goals on their way to the title so early thoughts are that I don’t really fancy their defence so it’s a case of whether Teemu Pukki (29 goals in 43 starts) can carry his goal-scoring form to the Premier League. I saw him a few times at Celtic and wasn’t impressed, but he’s looked good when I’ve seen him this season so he could be a bargain if he hits the ground running.
As a Yorkshire resident, it’s nice to see there will still be a Yorkshire club in the EPL (though I’m sure fellow contributor Alex would disagree!) They certainly weren’t one of the favourites for promotion, but they do have a key place in PL history, scoring the first ever Premier League goal back in 1992 through Brian Deane! I think it could be their assets at the other end of the park that appeal this season though. They had the joint best defensive record in The Championship this season so if the likes of Stevens, O’ Connell and Egan are well priced, they could make nice squad fillers. Billy Sharp looks the main attacking asset (23 goals in 34 starts + 6 sub appearances) but is 33 years old and has no EPL experience. Could he defy the odds and be the budget striker we all crave?
As for the Play-offs? Well it’s still very open – any of the 4 clubs involved could win that final spot. I’d like to see Leeds come up personally (again Yorkshire bias) but I think Villa or West Brom would be best placed for survival if they did. The other 2 promoted teams are also going to have to do very well to stay up I reckon – they’ll need some shrewd investment and a healthy dose of luck to do so. History certainly doesn’t work in their favour.
Well that wraps it up from me for the 2018-19 FPL season. One last thing though! This has been my 25th season playing Fantasy Football in one shape or form. I’ve therefore decided that I’m going to do a series of fantasy football legends articles over the next few weeks to keep a bit of interest going over these FPL free summer months. More to come on that soon!
For now though, I’d like to say a huge thank you firstly to Fantasy Football Geek for publishing my articles and contributions – apologies that my FPL performance hasn’t been so good again this season, but I do hope you’ll have me back for 2019-20! I guess my report card reads ‘Must do better. Again.’ Sorry!
Next to all my fellow contributors – it’s been great interacting with you all this season and well done to Yaniv for winning the Contributors League after a tremendous late season surge.
And finally it’s a big thank you to all the FFG readers on here and on Social Media – I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my ramblings and it’s been a lot of fun interacting with all your comments and banter. Please do keep them coming in!
So that’s it from me, but watch this space as I’ll be back soon with the first in my 25 years of Fantasy Football Legends series. Cheers and have a great summer folks!
Follow Rob on twitter