FPL psychology tips from Hub contributor Woodsy as he brings us a simple message that should be obvious, but sometimes feels like it needs mentioning:
You can manage your FPL team however you choose to! Ground-breaking stuff, I know.
But I think it’s important sometimes to remember not only that this is a game played for the purposes of fun and distraction from the disaster that is the real world; but also, that it is possible to do well at said game by making your own decisions, following your instincts and making ballsy decisions on players that you just like the look of.
Take the man who’s top of the overall ranks for example; Mr. Ola Hovde. He has been in first place solidly since Gameweek 10, which is frankly an absurdly impressive achievement. So surely Ola has got himself in front and then stuck to the template, worrying about ‘Effective Ownership’ (EO) and ‘Shield Picks’ and just fending off those chasing him by picking the obvious players, right? Absolutely not.
Since Gameweek 13 – so for basically half the season so far – the top points scorer has been Ilkay Gundogan. To illustrate how impressive he has been over that period, only two players have reached triple figures in that time, with Gundogan on 114 points and Bruno Fernandes on 107. And they are comfortably ahead of the rest, with Harvey Barnes coming in at third place with 80 points. Add to this that Gundogan is currently priced at £6.1m, having risen steadily from just £5.4m. Surely the marauding Man City midfielder must be absolutely essential?
Well, Ola has had Gundogan in his squad for a total of one Gameweek all season long, and that was on a Free Hit in Gameweek 18. The bearded German only picked up three points for the world number one and is yet to make a return to his squad. (Rumour has it, the ruthless Norwegian was unhappy with his energy. See Tuchel vs Hudson-Odoi for further details).
Ola has made many other decisions throughout the season which have veered from the norm, for example in captaining Ben Mee in double Gameweek 24, rather than the most popular options and those with more than 100% EO, such as Gundogan or Fernandes. And still, he leads the way.
The overall leader is just an extreme example to illustrate the point. You don’t have to do what the FPL Twitter experts advise you to do in order to be successful at the game.
More importantly, you don’t necessarily have to be successful at the game!
FPL is intended to be fun. For me personally, it has always been something I’ve enjoyed for having a bit of a battle with some mates and trying out some new strategies. During the last year or so when we’ve all been going through various lockdowns and have been bored out of our minds, it has been an excellent release from reality for me. The game has given me something to focus on and I have consequently spent more time on it than in previous seasons.
Given the recent rise in FPL’s popularity, I would suspect that many others feel the same way.
Now, of course it is “fun” to fly up through the ranks and have some relative success in a leaderboard sense; but it can also be fun and rewarding to go with some hunches or back certain players that aren’t particularly highly owned.
I am currently having my most successful FPL season to date, ranking around 50,000 overall so far, with eyes on the top 10k. I find chasing rank exciting, but I’m not married to it. I love a differential, so I try to combine that with more sensible ‘template’ options and hope that things work out.
One of the most satisfying aspects of FPL for me is looking into a player that hasn’t necessarily been scoring particularly well or having high ownership, and seeing potential in them. Looking at stats may or may not back up your instinct that this player has something, but I enjoy then having the guts to give them a shot in my team for a while and seeing what comes of it.
One such player, who I brought up as a ‘Majorential’ in my Gameweek 24 article, is Tosin Adarabioyo. The Fulham defender has never scored a Premier League goal, but from the eye test and the stats, is a real threat from set pieces. He didn’t manage to break his duck during that double Gameweek, but he did return 9 points, which in itself felt like a victory. The big man is still in my team now, so there is time for the ultimate satisfaction if he manages a haul! The point is… these are some of the little things and small victories that I enjoy about the game.
And there are different ways to go against the grain. Of late, I have taken very few hits, because I have been planning out my strategy in advance, with Blank Gameweek 29 in mind, as well as the doubles coming before it. This has been as satisfying for me as it might be for somebody else to take multiple hits to ‘attack the doubles’.
Skin a cat how you will. You do you.
Everyone is different. Some people love to plan out fixtures, chip strategies and future transfers weeks and weeks in advance. Some people cannot stand the thought of looking at spreadsheets and transfer planners and prefer to play week-to-week. Some people are in between those two extremes, perhaps having an idea of their plans a couple of weeks in advance.
All options are fine. Nobody is wrong!
Use the game for what you enjoy. If you are happier managing your risks by factoring in effective ownerships and the like, then do that. If worrying about such things bores you, and you’d much rather go with your gut and try out multiple differentials, then do that. If you feel like setting your team and then booking a two-week jaunt in the Caribbean and not even thinking about FPL for the entire trip, then do that. (Disclaimer: please don’t break the law).
I feel like I’m making some obvious points, but also that sometimes we need to be reminded of them. Especially for those of us who spend a lot of time in the ‘FPL Twitter’ world; you can easily second-guess yourself when making decisions contrary to what the majority of your peers are doing. You may even feel stupid about trying these things out and fear derision should they fail.
But it just shouldn’t be that way.
If it worries you too much to take huge risks, then please don’t do it. If it bores you too much to worry about EO (for example), then please don’t do it! And if the game is becoming a chore or is more of a grind for you than a release, take a step away for a while.
Just like when you transfer out Bruno Fernandes, he and you can always come back in at a later date.
Enjoy the game. Play it your way. Don’t take it too seriously. And as ever, try to judge your managerial performance based on your decision-making process, rather than on the outcome. That bit you cannot control.
Drop me a follow @FPLWoodsy if you enjoyed my content!