FPL How to Improve – Lessons Learnt and Tips for Gameweek 1
FPL how to improve guide with lessons learnt and insightful tips for every manager prior to Gameweek 1 by Jian Batra.
This article will focus on 14 aspects of management which I believe are essential in order to improve in FPL and have a successful campaign.
I haven’t done many of these correctly in the past and they have cost me, so I hope this article will help you avoid making these mistakes.
That’s why I wanted to share this with you, even if you take just one lesson from it, your chances of success will improve significantly.
1. You can win Fantasy Premier League, don’t think otherwise
This is the only mistake I haven’t made. Not everyone will share my line of thinking and I appreciate that.
However, I believe you are setting yourself up for failure if you don’t aim to win Fantasy Premier League.
There’s absolutely no reason you can’t win it. Yes, your understanding of football may be to a lesser standard than that of other FPL managers. Yet you can undoubtedly improve over the course of a season by watching more football.
If you couple this with the plethora of resources provided to you by Fantasy Football Hub, including articles written weekly by some of the best around, then there’s no reason not to improve.
This isn’t to say achieving a top 10k rank is a small achievement. I’d argue it’s a fantastic one but it should be a secondary goal, something you can be happy with if your desired outcome doesn’t arise.
As long as you believe, you can achieve.
2. Find a goalkeeper gem
This position is a delicate yet crucial one. When you find that one gem of a keeper, stick with them and don’t waste transfers in the goalkeeper position.
You can plan the most perfect FPL strategy the world has seen, but one external event which you can’t control (injuries, postponements, rotation, etc.) can blow it up in smoke.
Goalkeepers are slightly immune to this theory. As long as they are the solidified number one, they should play every minute of every game.
Using free transfers in this position is inefficient because they have the lowest points ceiling. It’s far wiser to spend these transfers on outfield players with higher ceilings and solve the problems which will arise.
You won’t get through an entire season unscathed yet this is not to say you should always plan for the worst. It is difficult to prosper with this approach, but it’s crucial to have some sort of a safety net (some money in the bank or reliable starters in your side to name two examples).
Buffet’s most successful investments have been the ones in which he allows a player to flourish by giving them time.
Even if you successfully tinkered and maneuvered goalkeepers at a perfect time, the free transfers used inadvertently cost four points each. Therefore, the margins of profit are so small that it’s simply not worth the risk.
This year, two gems could be either Jordan Pickford (£5.0m) or Illan Meslier (£5.0m). I like them because both of their respective teams face quite a few shots (ranked eighth and 4th worst for total shots faced last season).
Both sides will be stronger defensively with Rafael Benítez’s more defensive minded approach and Marcelo Bielsa being more defensive in the latter part of last season.
Leicester City were ranked fifth best, making Kasper Schmeichel (£5.0m) less appealing.
Robert Sánchez (£4.5m) doesn’t look to be as good an option as people make him out to be. With Ben White (£4.5m) nearing a move to Arsenal, Brighton will be losing their best defender so they could struggle defensively this season.
With Graham Potter, a manager I’m very impressed by, I can see them still being resilient at the back but I’ll likely let them face the test of time before bringing Sánchez in.
3. Trust The Talisman
A lesson that FPL has taught me harshly, but an important one. In the years I’ve played FPL this event occurs again and again.
Back the talisman over their teammates, the difference in points can be colossal.
Bruno Fernandes (£12.0m), Harry Kane (£12.5m), Mohammed Salah (£12.5m) and Dominic Calvert Lewin (£8.0m) scored more points than everyone else in their teams. They are the talisman for a reason and you should trust them.
It sounds very logical in theory but when presented with differentials, it’s easy to swing the other way and go for the riskier option. This will tie into my next point but I’d trust the talisman eight times out of 10.
4. Calculated differentials
Differentials are a necessity to winning.
You can achieve a great rank without them but at some point in the season, in order to get in-front you will need to take a risk.
This could come in the form of acquiring a new differential player or captaining someone other than the obvious choices. However, make sure these choices are logical and calculated. Going for a differential can be just as bad as it can be good.
A small minority of FPL managers will own the player so if they don’t perform, the effective ownership becomes far more prevalent and potentially damaging if the template performs in that Gameweek.
Just as an example in the 2018/19 season, I was ranked around 8k and I chose to go for Christian Pulisic (£8.0m) over Danny Ings (£8.0m). This was for no logical reason, I was simply impatient and wanted to climb the ranks through another differential.
I dropped to 220k around the Christmas period in the space of four weeks. I recovered to finish approximately 30k, but I can only imagine where I would have ranked without that illogical decision.
Be patient as good differential opportunities will arise. Underlying statistics are often a brilliant method to identify them (passes completed in the final third, dribbles completed in the final third and touches in the box are some good metrics to start).
This was the primary cause of my demise last year, it’s the most important factor to success in FPL.
Pick inform players with good fixtures. I’ve often chosen worse options on paper for the sake of being different, or I overcomplicate simple decisions. Others do the same, it’s essential to avoid this mistake in order to be successful.
Take a few risks here and there, but make sure they are calculated ones.
If Mohammed Salah (£12.5m) has a double Gameweek against Watford and Burnley, whereas Harry Kane (£12.5m) has a single Gameweek against Everton at Goodison, pick the first option. The risk is far greater than the reward, and a few 50/50 decisions like this can ruin a season.
6. Plan for massive fixture swings
Keep a few transfers saved or plan them meticulously each week. When massive fixture swings occur, you will be well prepared as a result.
The worst thing to do is tripling up on players who have fixtures against Manchester City (a), Chelsea (H), Liverpool (a) and Manchester Utd (H) in the foreseeable future.
Using Aston Villa as an example from Gameweeks 1 and 3, their fixtures look brilliant. They have a much tougher set of games after that.
You’re likely to have other areas to address in your team as well, so only going for one Villa player at the start such as Ollie Watkins (£7.5m) is the most beneficial strategy long-term.
In terms of a timeline for your thought process, I aim to keep a few core players for the whole season. For the rest, a minimum of six Gameweeks, then the occasional two/three Gameweek punt is the optimal strategy.
7. Bandwagons – Don’t be afraid to jump on
Jesse Lingard (£7.0m), İlkay Gündoğan (£7.5m) and Kelechi Iheanacho (£7.5m) spring to mind for their heroics last season. Dominic Calvert Lewin (£8.0m) at the start of last season to a certain extent.
Prior to their excellent runs of form, none of them were classified as household names and more specifically premium players, however their returns were everything of the sort.
Identifying these types of players early is gold dust. It’s essentially like having a premium player priced at a bang average amount. They heighten the ceiling of your team massively.
However for every success, there are ten or more failures. It’s important to differentiate between what looks to be a short-term pull and a prolonged period of form.
Underlying statistics are very helpful in these but not the basic ones. Look at where shots are taken, detailed heat maps and touches in the opposition box.
They are all helpful tools in navigating between players such as Iheanacho and Che Adams (£7.0m) and you can find all of these exclusively on the Hub!
Also if you prefer the eye test as I do, then it’s critical to be open-minded when watching these players. Don’t discredit their efforts because they don’t have the household name on the back of their shirt.
It’s very likely you’re doing this subconsciously as you have the preconception of what a player will perform like after one eye-test.
Do your research and make a definitive decision, don’t be overly cautious because you are hesitant about “stepping into the unknown” would be my main advice.
8. Twitter template is smart but not safe
This is a slight pet peeve of mine.
I often see negative connotations regarding FPL twitter, specifically regarding the ideas it presents and how it overcomplicates the game.
Some of the best FPL minds around are on Twitter, hence why they have an account specifically focusing on the game. Come the eve of August 13th, most of FPL twitter is likely to have 70% of the same players.
The players selected will be the result of multiple managers working thousands of hours, in which information has been shared, digested and critiqued.
Every manager on there will be better informed as a result and you will see many teams with similar cores.
They are the smart picks, don’t feel like they are safe and it doesn’t allow you to win. Start to separate from the crowd later in the season, but until then I wouldn’t go against it too much.
To clarify, this is the Twitter template so it won’t be a true representation of how most teams look.
You should always trust yourself. This doesn’t mean you should discredit the quality work from other FPL managers because you see a couple tweets saying their picks are boring.
9. Good players don’t equal good assets
Attacking output > Overall influence on a game.
Two players spring to mind here.
The first is N’Golo Kanté (£5.0m). A world class footballer, arguably the best defensive midfielder in the world, but has a lack of attacking output. That is what you are rewarded for in FPL with clean sheets coming second.
Pick players who have attacking potential in abundance, and not world class defensive minded midfield players, regardless of how good they are.
A more prominent problem, amongst experienced managers, is a player such as James Maddison (£7.0m). He is Leicester’s attacking spark, and most innovative player.
However, he isn’t the man who finds himself on the end of crosses and isn’t constantly in the box. He finds himself close to the halfway line picking up the ball and trying to start attacks.
These players should be avoided until they adopt a different dynamic to their game.
10. Statistics can be misleading
Choose them wisely and take everything with a pinch of salt.
11. Medium term planning
Six Gameweeks is the most effective in my opinion, but be flexible and open minded with all planning.
12. Focus on decision making, not the outcome
Simple but effective, you will reap the rewards from this.
13. Don’t let it affect your mental health
I’ve seen people get really upset about FPL and I’m writing this part to ensure you don’t.
Be competitive, care about it, be passionate, and yes that opens up an avenue of potential disappointment. Enjoying the game is absolutely worth it, but above all remember, it is just a game.
Of course at times FPL has affected my mood, but once you put it into perspective I think you will enjoy it despite having a bad Gameweek or season.
14. The game is becoming harder, improvement is a must
More people means more information. You must improve your management skills to maintain the rank you achieved last year.
Following these 14 tips, accessing the insightful articles, tools and planners that Fantasy Football Hub has to offer will place you in good stead for the upcoming season.
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