Have you ever wondered what the best method is for selecting a captain? Is it an FPL prediction algorithm? Is it to look at anytime goal scoring odds? Is it to pick the top player in the polls? Or is it to listen to the wise words of FPL tipsters?

This series is all about putting these captaincy selection methods to the test.

How does it work?

We’ll be taking the top three picks according to an FPL algorithm, bookies anytime goalscoring odds, the captaincy poll and those of a special guest.

Each pick will be weighted so that the top pick receives 100% of their points, 2nd 850% and 3rd 70%. Each prediction method will also have one bench pick in case any of there top three doesn’t start. A running tally will be kept to find out that all-important question – which one is the best?

The Algorithm

Our resident statistician Carl has kindly agreed to put his super clever prediction algorithm to the test. This excellent tool has been refined and developed by Carl over the season. Here is what Carl has to say about how it works:

The algorithm method for predicting attacking points is conceptually simple and is: 

Goal points = Expected team goals x percentage of team goals a player scores x points for position 

Assist points = Expected team goals x percentage of team assists a player achieves x3 points for an assist 

The expected goals a team will score in a match are derived from spread betting firms. The percentage of team goals/assists a player scores is calculated from the percentage of xG and xA a player scores for a team in the matches he plays. 

A player is assumed to collect two points for playing, adjustments for bookings and probability attached for midfielders team having a clean sheet for an additional point. 

For defenders and goalkeepers the number of goals conceded is estimated using the expected goals and points allocated accordingly. 

So if you’re into numbers and spreadsheets, you can read more about it here. In the meantime, we’re going to be putting this algorithm to the test. Top three picks with expected points totals:

  1. Salah – Expected points: 8.0
  2. Kane – Expected points: 6.9
  3. Mane – Expected points: 5.5

Bench player: B.Davies (5.4)

The Algorithm favours the unstoppable Egyptian with an expected points tally 1.1 greater than Kane. Salah’s inform teammate Mane coming in third edging out B.Davies who makes the bench.

The Bookies

We’ll be using anytime goalscoring odds from the bookies. Not including Llorente (1.80), who is unlikely to start, here are the top three:

  1. Kane – odds: 1.53
  2. Salah – odds: 1.57
  3. Firmino – odds: 1.80

Bench player: Vardy (1.85)

Bookies fancy Tottenham and Liverpool to continue their goal scoring form. As they square up to Huddersfield and Newcastle at home respectively, its easy to see why.

The Poll

The wisdom of the FPL Crowd? Could this be the winner?

[democracy id=”2″]

  1. Salah
  2. Kane
  3. Mane

Bench player: TBC

As well as above, you can find our new captaincy poll on the sidebar. At the time of writing, Salah is winning a two horse race with Kane. An in-form Mane is first amongst the chasing pack. Interestingly, if the current poll results stay the same, the top three picks will be identical to The Algorithm.

The Tipster

Each week we’re going to be inviting a special guest to give their top three picks. This week, we’re starting off with one of our founding Partner‘s The Hype Train founder Rob, who you can find on Twitter @HypeTrainRob.

Who are your top 3 picks and why?

Hello one and all, and thank you to Will and the team for inviting me on the Comparison Challenge to weigh in on all things Captaincy ahead of Gameweek 29. If you’re unaware of who I am, and why I’m qualified to potentially answer this question, I’m the primary owner of The Hype Train, as well as being a founding Partner right here at Fantasy Football Hub.

Captaincy is the bread and butter of my writing activities at Hype Train HQ, and for three years I’ve been trying to find the perfect formula for the armband, and there are some correlations that are evident throughout my own Captaincy series. We pick an ‘essential’, which is based off a poll we run, an alternative pick which is my personal pick (if it is different to the essential), and a ‘wildcard’ pick who possesses a low Fantasy ownership, usually below 7%. All three options have a varying level of ownership to cover a lot of the bases that Fantasy players have on a weekly basis.

The conclusions we’ve come to is that the essential pick isn’t half as successful as the alternative pick. The captaincy essential is by definition, the popular pick, and it can always be misleading if short-term form is nothing more than a blip, which is more often than not why a popular pick fails – the hype doesn’t match the continuity.

As FPL players this season we have had to deal with an inconsistent Harry Kane at home, with many players captaining the Englishman during early season home matches against ‘lesser’ opposition, only to blank. We’ve endured Romelu Lukaku’s early season form completely disappear, and Sergio Aguero largely provides erratic returns to rely upon. Arsenal haven’t been on the Fantasy radar much this season, and Chelsea options fall off any radar as soon as they’re on it, so the main captaincy picks have fallen to Spurs, Man City, and Liverpool.

We start with Liverpool, and the one exception to the rule this season, and the one person who has been a torch-bearer of excellence since joining from Roma in the summer. Of course, the first pick is Mohamed Salah (£10.5m).

The King of Egypt has been a revelation, and having been involved in the analytical and journalistic side of FPL for years, there’s been no player that has brought as much excitement to the Premier League in years. Salah’s 227pts so far has come from 27 appearances, scoring 23 times, and assisted 10 goals. Salah is a pleasure to have in our league, and I am very happy that he departed Chelsea, and proved every single person wrong about his capabilities. As a Newcastle fan, I smell blood in the water this weekend, even if The Magpies drew 1-1 at St James’s Park earlier in the season, a game which was one of 5 blanks this season.

Gameweek 29 has been kind to FPL players, which makes my second pick much easier. Spurs and Harry Kane (£12.9m), no doubt. We’re in the points business, and Kane is at the top of attention every week, especially considering that he scored a first-half brace against opponents Huddersfield during Gameweek 7’s 4-0 route.

The selection of Kane is typical, and has been listed by The Bookies and The Poll, but having run a Fantasy Forecast this season, and being burnt on my own selections, this right now is about keeping ground, just in case Kane builds on the 24 goals he has scored so far this season.

Last up, I’m taking a detour and will stick true to our ‘wildcard’ policy, so Watford talisman Troy Deeney (£6.3m), gets my seal of approval ahead of the weekend. Being the first guest on this article, I’d love to set the benchmark of having a lowly-selected ‘wildcard’ make the cut every week, and Deeney is first up to bat.

There’s nothing more I love to see than a general up top, a unit that oozes confidence in his own ability, with a commanding leadership. Troy Deeney’s lethal strike at home to Everton, the only goal of the game and a furious effort that nearly broke the net, tells you everything you need to know about Watford’s forward. If you’re looking to freshen up your attack, Deeney is the latest flavour of the week, and one deserving of your attention against the Premier League’s bottom side, West Brom, at home.

All aboard.


GW28The AlgorithmThe BookiesThe PollThe Tipsters
Pick 1 (100%)Salah (8)Kane (5)Salah (8)Salah (8)
Pick 2 (85%)Kane (4.25)Salah (6.8)Kane (4.25)Kane (4.25)
Pick 3 (70%)Mane (5.6)Firmino (3.8)Firmino* (3.8)Deeney (6.3)
Bench playerB.DaviesVardyEriksenVardy

Its a close call across the board between Kane and Salah. Most edging it towards the Egyptian magician and his unstoppable form with only the bookies backing Kane by a fine margin. Third place is more mixed with The Algorithm and The Poll backing Mane, whilst our tipster Rob has opted for a left field Deeney pick. It will be very interesting to see which of these methods takes an early lead when we revisit this series next week.

Join in the discussion

Who’s your captain? What method do you use in selecting a captain? Which one of the above do you think will come out on top? Let us know in the comments.

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