Luke Wilson is a fantasy football veteran and data analyst who loves building FPL team value early to use to his advantage later on in the season. In this article he highlights his thoughts and strategies on the importance of it and how to best deploy them to maximum benefit. 

In October last year I started looking into how price changes in FPL performed and if this could be used to help build team value. Some really interesting insight came from this review and I used it over the course of 2019/20 to get a team that was valued at over £108m by Christmas (and over £110m at one point in the season). This gave me an advantage over many of my mini-league rivals, as my team was worth £6m more than the average FPL manager’s team, and I will be using the tactic again in the 2020/21 season.

To quantify this advantage a debate as been going on for some time about the value of team value (TV) in terms of points.  The consensus has arrived at a figure of 0.5pts/GW for each £1m of team value. Theoretically my £6m advantage between Gameweeks 16-38 would normally equate to an additional 60 points over the average FPL team.

Team Value Debate

I ultimately finished in the top 25k but based on a recent review, on the excellent fplreview.com website, it highlighted that had the luck (based on xG and bookies odds) didn’t go my way.  Had I had even luck my team was predicted to have finished high in the top 500.  This has boosted my belief in the tactic so I am set on trying to maximising early team value as a core strategy for this season.

From the output of this review I have established 10 top tips for maximising value:

  1. Monitor price change prediction sites (e.g. fplstatistics).
  2. Go early on moves if they are close to 90% chance of a change on either site.
  3. Target an early wildcard, ideally between Gameweek 2 and Gameweek 3.
  4. Target players who are clearly under-priced as a priority.
  5. Gameweek 3 to Gameweek 12 is the most volatile for price moves so if you are taking hits this is a good time to do it.
  6. Most rises happen after good returns. If a player hauls jump on them quickly (it’s not chasing points if you are gaining price rises).
  7. Double price moves happen rarely in a single week but when they do its always after big hauls.
  8. If a player blanks, they rarely rise in price so don’t rush to buy these players.
  9. Jump on and off high profile, streaky form, players at the right time… I refer to this as the “Son Factor”.
  10. If you can, target a rising player by selling a falling player to double your net value profit.

A quick guide to how the FPL price change market works (feel free to skip this part if you already know this info)

  • Each manager has a budget of £100m to spend on 15 players
  • Each player in the FPL game has a price that is rounded to the nearest £0.5m.
  • Once the game starts players who are transferred in or out will go up or down by £0.1m, and this is driven by both the volume of transfers but also as a percentage of that players ownership.
  • The more transfers in one direction the more likely a player is to rise or fall.
  • The most a player can move in a single game week is £0.3m. £0.3m moves are very rare as they can only move £0.1m per day
  • The cost at which you buy a player determines how much you can profit or lose on your transfers. Every £0.2m a player rises from the purchase cost you will bank only £0.1m of the sale price.  For every £0.1m you lose, below the purchase cost, in a player you lose £0.1m.

Highlights of the analysis

Looking over the price change data for the last 5-6 years there are some clear trends around rises and falls. Interestingly the way FPL calculates price moves has clearly altered in the last few years.  What this means is that today we see:

  • Less price changes today than we did three + years ago.
  • The price change market is more volatile in the first 10-12 weeks than any other time.
  • There are more price falls than price rises.
  • There are only a handful of players who will have more than 11+ price changes in a season (just 35 in 2019/20). This 5.5% of players accounted for roughly 24% of all the price changes.
  • Forwards see more rises proportionally than other positions.
  • Midfielders have the largest amount of price moves.
  • Goalkeepers see the fewest price moves.

Going into the detail of historical seasons

When I started looking into the data from 2015 to 2019 there were some clear trends which highlight the market is the most volatile in the first few weeks of the season.  Between Gameweek 3 and Gameweek 6 we see the most price moves (with over 100 per week on average between season 2017/18-2018/19) and between Gameweek 7 and Gameweek 12 the market is still very active. From Gameweek 13 onwards the number of price changes drops to roughly 30-40 moves per week.

There are roughly twice as many price falls (vs. rises) over the season but in the early stages it is almost a 4-1 ratio on falls to rises. The key takeaway from this is get off falling players before they drop by using price prediction sites (and ideally move them to players who are rising). Really focus on this from Gameweek 2 through to Gameweek 12.

FPL Team Value

Price changes from last 4 season

Table produced in 2019 so doesn’t include 2019/20 data.

Double price changes

Looking further at the volume of double+ moves each game week it is clear that these are less tied to a consistent trend. They are also less regular today than they were three seasons ago so there has been a shift in the underlying algorithm. What this results in is very few double falls each week but double rises still happen.

Looking at individual seasons it is clear that there is no time driven impact on double rises like we see with the general price market.

Previous Gameweek performance impact

Digging deeper I wanted to look at what drives the price change overall. Obviously transfers make this happen but I am certain that the algorithm used by FPL Towers has a combination of net transfers as well as a % of ownership. 95.6% of falls occur after a player has blanked, while 66.8% of rises happen after a player has scored in the previous game week. This does not mean a player will fall after a blank but when they do fall they have almost certainly just blanked in the previous Gameweek. So when looking for double risers focussing on players with returns and huge returns is key.

Reviewing individual players we can see that there are certain players each season who have significant rises (Vardy 15/16 and Salah 17/18). They just keep going up because they are so under-priced so getting on them early is very important.

FPL Team Value

Highest volume of price changes over last 5 years

Table produced in 2019 so doesn’t include 2019/20 data.

There is a second category of price-orientated player who have very small net price change over the season, but riding the rise and avoiding the fall is key, as they are generally very streaky players. Heung-min Son (18/19), Leroy Sane (17/18) and Diego Costa (14/15) are prime examples of this where both saw over 20 price changes but for a net price change of £0.1m, £0.2m and £0.1m respectively over the season. I call this the “Son” factor and transferring them at the right time is key to maximising team value.

From the historical season data there were some clear rules we need to adopt. Moving to last season (2019/20) there were some further interesting observations.

2019/20 season analysis

FPL Team Value

2019/20 price changes

The season started in a similar fashion to the historical data, with slightly more price changes in the early game weeks than normal.  Gameweek 3, Gameweek 4 and Gameweek 5 all saw over 130 price changes. This was the most important time to jump on or off players from a team value perspective.  The key difference in 2019/20 to others was the impact of COVID19 from Gameweek 30+ onwards where unlimited transfers became a thing (sigh – I am not bitter at all) and a lot of unengaged managers re-joined the game which really drove price changes.

However, the key to building team value is building it in the first half of the season so I will not be reflecting on the COVID impact further in the article as it’s an unprecedented event that we will hopefully never see again.

07-2019-20-summary

2019/20 price summary

Digging into the headline figures we can see that 83% of players had a price change over the season and, in total, 2,206 changes happened of which 26% were rises. Across the game only 5.5% of all players had 11 or more price changes and these “volatile” players are the key to building team value. It is also worth noting that midfielders and strikers had proportionally midfielders and forwards see more price changes than goalkeepers and defenders.

Players grouped by price change volume

 

Number of changes by position

 

% of players in each change group

Of the 35 most volatile price changing players (5.5% of all players) none are goalkeepers. They also make up approximately 24% of all price changes.  How you manage the transfer in and out of these players is so important to how well you build your teams value.

FPL Team Value

Number of changes top movers

2019/20 volatile players

Another important factor of note that is from this group over 55% of price changes are positive which is very different to the 26% of the full player list.

Positive vs Negative price changes

Of the 35 there were some clear winners and losers.  Not holding the likes of Hudson-Odoi, Otamendi or Perez and jumping on the clearly under-priced (or over performing) players such as Ings, Lundstram and de Bruyne was so important.  For what its worth the top increasing players from 2019/20 can be seen below:

FPL Team Value

Net season positive price moves

Taking all of this into account we can really drive team value, and maximise the benefit that brings.

How did I apply this in 2019-20

Looking at my own team from 2019/20 it is clear that because of the transfers made between Gameweek 2 and Gameweek 16 I was able to increase my team value to over £108m by Gameweek 16.  More importantly this was £6m more than the average team’s value which was the difference between having Salah and Mane vs Salah and Henderson at the start of the season. As mentioned earlier this is estimated to provide an additional 60 points over 20 Gameweeks.

FPL Team Value

My team value vs average

There is a counter argument for going after team value and that is that the longer you wait the more informed transfer you make at the decision point. In addition there is a view that you need to take a lot of hits.

I don’t disagree with the informed decision argument however the reality is that between Gameweek 2 and Gameweek 18 I only took four hits, which goes against my normal style of play (which is lots of them). The key to it was the early play of my first wildcard between Gameweek 2 and Gameweek 3 and moving early on any player who was likely to drop or rise in price.

Many managers will also say early transfers increases the chances of getting an injury or rotation problem (which is true) but the reality is that the fear of injury is far greater than the actual number of times it happens.  I would roughly estimate that there is a 5-10% chance of the early moves being impacted by injury (especially if they don’t have another game in a cup/Europe, etc.).  So conversely this means the early transfer has a 90-95% of paying off on average.

In the scenario where one player drops while the other rises scenario you will often gain a net £0.2m team value increase. This adds up to represent an increase of £2m over 10 weeks with maybe one of the moves failing. If the player gets injured, you still have the profit… and this is what the FPL bench players are for.  The potential for lost points are not actually that bad if you have a decent first bench player. Early transfers are a calculated risk but it’s a risk that has far higher upside than down.

This leads us back to the 10 rules for maximising team value:

  1. Monitor price change prediction sites (e.g. fplstatistics).
  2. Go early on moves if they are close to 90% chance of a change on either site.
  3. Target an early wildcard, ideally between Gameweek 2 and Gameweek 3.
  4. Target players who are clearly under-priced as a priority.
  5. Gameweek 3 to Gameweek 12 is the most volatile for price moves so if you are taking hits this is a good time to do it.
  6. Most rises happen after good returns. If a player hauls jump on them quickly (it’s not chasing points if you are gaining price rises).
  7. Double price moves happen rarely in a single week but when they do its always after big hauls.
  8. If a player blanks, they rarely rise in price so don’t rush to buy these players.
  9. Jump on and off high profile, streaky form, players at the right time… I refer to this as the “Son Factor”.
  10. If you can, target a rising player by selling a falling player to double your net value profit.

Finally on to my initial 2020/21 thoughts….

With the player prices out and the fixture schedule released I wanted to cover a few quick thoughts focused on team value.

  • The lack of Manchester Utd and Manchester City (also Burnley and Villa) playing in Gameweek 1 plays into the hands of the early wildcard for two reasons.
      • 1) With no games many players may be reactively sold by the unengaged masses when they realise they didn’t play (seriously it will happen).
      • 2) Many people will be buying these players with their first free transfers in Gameweek 2 and Gameweek 3.

    This leads to a perfect storm for players from these clubs as the likes of de Bruyne, Fernandes, Sterling and even Pope may drop £0.1m and then rise £0.1m by Gameweek 3. There is a lot of potential value to be made here.

  • Using the Hub’s fixture ticker there are a few teams who could have great 2-4 week starts. These include Everton, Southampton, Newcastle, Arsenal, Liverpool and Leicester. Spotting the form players from these will give you an early value boost.

Hub Fixture Ticker – Gameweeks 1-4

There are some interesting prices across the game and some players (if fit and playing) represent incredible value (or high potential). There are a many players who will almost certainly be in my Gameweek 1 team (except from the four clubs missing Gameweek 1). All views on these players are my own:

    • McCarthy (GK) – £4.5m is too cheap vs other Goalkeepers
    • Alexander-Arnold (DEF) – should have been £9m+ not £7.5m
    • Ferguson (DEF) – a likely £4m starter
    • Vinagre (DEF) – if another left back isn’t signed £4.5m is a steal
    • Douglas (DEF) – at 4m he is worth the risk as if he starts it’s a bargain
    • Saliba (Def) – at £4.5m if he starts for arsenal he is £1m under priced
    • Greenwood (MID) – silly price unless Sancho signs, but even then its value
    • Pulisic (MID) – if fit he finished the season with £10m form not the £8.5m he is priced at
    • Foden (MID) – if he plays 70% of games he is worth £8.5m not £6.5m
    • Saint-Maximum (MID) – £5.5m and great fixtures
    • Armstrong (MID) – £5.5m and great fixtures
    • Werner (FWD) – if he scores in GW1 he will rocket from his £9.5m start price
    • Antonio (FWD) – tough fixtures but his form at the end of last season warrants an £8m price not £6.5m. Plays Newcastle on GW1 so he will rise if he scores
    • Brewster (FWD) – if his transfer happens then he is a £4.5m playing striker
    • Kane/Aguero (FWD) – at 10.5m both will rocket in price when (not if) they score a hattrick
  • Following Gameweek 2 I will be wildcarding going into Gameweek 3 and I am likely to find a place for most of these players who I won’t start with in Gameweek 1:
    • de Bruyne
    • Aguero
    • Sterling
    • Laporte
    • Possibly Garcia if he starts in Gameweek 2
    • Foden if starting in Gameweek 2
    • Fernandes
    • Rashford
    • Greenwood (if Sancho doesn’t sign)

So that is the end of my brain dump on building team value in FPL. If you like what you read, please give it a re-tweet and follow me on twitter @fpl_equation.

All the best for 2020/21.

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