At the beginning of this season, there was a debate raging on an FPL forum I frequent – which combination of Kevin De Bruyne + Ayoze Perez or Bernardo Silva + Gylfi Sigurdsson was better for the first half-dozen weeks of the season? Each pair cost 16m and there were pros and cons to both. KDB was coming off an injury-ravaged season but was FPL gold if fit. Perez was at a new club but seemed the standout 6.5m midfielder. Bernardo had put up 15 attacking returns in 18/19 and looked one of the key players for City, while Sigurdsson, who’d scored 182 points in the 18/19 season, had amazing fixtures.
A popular points prediction system had them down to score a similar total of points. So, the decision seemed a pick’em – take whichever pair you fancied and focus your FPL brainpower on other decisions. However, in my opinion, the KDB and Perez combination was far superior and a case study in prioritising the alpha transfer.
1) Premium price tag for premium points.
There aren’t many players who can return points to the level that premium players do. As we can see from the FFHub Opta Tool, the difference in xPts per 90 minutes from rank one, Jesus/Aguero (7.8pts p90) to rank ten, Bernardo Silva (6.5pts p90) is 1.3 points. The current cost of these players, on average, is 10.17m.
If we take that 1.3pts p90 difference and continue down the table, we’ll find that there are 70 players who score between 6.4xPts p90 and 5.1xPts p90. A far bigger cluster of players, and these players have an average cost of 6.22m. For big points, you have to spend big.
2) An additional captaincy option
The captaincy ‘chip’ is incredibly powerful and we get to play it 38 times a season. Most squads can only afford two super premium talents, without ruining the balance of the squad. At the start of the season, Salah/Mane + Sterling or Kane was a combination, with the plan to rotate the captaincy between the two. But, wouldn’t it be good if we could squeeze in a third option? Especially if they played for a different side than our two super premiums. Prioritising the alpha transfer provides you with that additional captaincy option.
3) The ‘other’ player pool is deep
While the premium player pool is shallow, the ‘other’ player pool is deep. This means that in the transfer combination involving a premium player + other, you don’t need to strike gold immediately with your lower-priced player, you just need to have a price point to pivot with a single transfer to whichever player in that bracket looks good. In the KDB + Perez example, Perez started the season poorly, scoring just 10 points in the opening six Gameweeks and shedding nearly 700,000 of his 960,786 owners. At the same time, Mason Mount, who started the season at 6m, jumped from 47,000 owners to over 1.5 million. Those who had Perez or any other player in the 6-7m bracket had an obvious and easy replacement.
4) Saturation of a price point
In the example involving Bernardo Silva and Sigurdsson, both players cost 8m. At the start of the season, the only other legitimate option at the same price point was Richarlison. This all meant that if one, or both, of the players got injured, dropped or failed to deliver (which happened) you would be left with very few one-transfer outs, meaning you’d usually need to spend two precious transfers to adjust the shape of your squad, possibly for a -4. The alpha transfer gives you increased flexibility and more one-transfer options as you’re attacking two different price points.
5) Premium Punts
I call the third premium slot in my squad ‘the premium punt’ slot. I rotate the player who fills this space in my squad based mostly on fixtures and I look for spots where I can captain a premium player in a favourable fixture who I suspect will have a low captaincy percentage, like Aguero vs Aston Villa in Gameweek 22 or Jamie Vardy against Newcastle in Gameweek 7. These premium punts are high upside plays that can rocket you up the rankings. Prioritising the alpha transfer gives you another premium slot in your squad, giving you an additional opportunity to take a premium punt.
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