Have you ever had the feeling after an FPL gameweek that you already knew the outcome before the it even happened? This is a well-known cognitive phenomenon called hindsight bias, and it can be one of your worst Fantasy Premier League (FPL) enemies.

In FPL, where the whole point is trying to foresee future events, experiencing hindsight bias is inevitable. Going around pondering about the decisions we wish we had done but didn’t do can drive us mad, but ultimately, none of us have the ability to look into the future.

Check out more of our FPL strategy and tips for the 2021/22 season.

What is Hindsight Bias in FPL?

Once an outcome is known our mind will build a story to explain it, and it becomes hard for our brain to reconstruct our former beliefs (1).

We then experience hindsight bias because our brains, to provide a kinder view of the reality and ourselves, rewires our memories to make them consistent with current conditions.

It does so to such an extent that we genuinely believe that our current memory of what we thought in the past is accurate (2).

If you’re having trouble believing this, try writing down your thoughts leading to your final decisions before a gameweek deadline. Once the gameweek has finished, check if you really held the view that you currently believe you did before the gameweek.

You’ll probably be surprised. A benefit of trying this is that you may be more at ease with future decisions, as your decision-making at the current time is likely better founded than you recall.

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Why is Hindsight Bias in FPL a Negative Thing?

How can hindsight bias be a negative thing when we nail the decisions, foresee the hauling players and bring them in?

After all, it provides FPL points, which is the whole point of FPL, right? Obviously it’s a good thing whenever the outcome of a decision turns out positive, but there are some aspects we should be aware of.

Hindsight bias has a negative effect on the evaluations of decisions we make by leading us to assess the quality of a decision by whether the outcome was good or bad, rather than by the process leading to the decision being thorough (3).

This is definitely a disadvantage for FPL managers chasing success over time who want to reduce luck and increase skill.

When flying high after owning a hauling player, we can easily get overconfident.

In the opposite situation, when we felt that we knew all along that the player would blank, we can get under-confident.

In both cases, we could easily fall into the trap of not stopping to examine why the outcome turned out as it did, which is a crucial skill for FPL success over time.

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What Can We do About Hindsight Bias in FPL

It’s a fact that we can – to a large extent – separate good and bad FPL assets. Choosing the right player between equally great options, and owning them at the right time, is much harder.

When playing FPL, we should always maximise our chances of success by analysing the outcome.

Was the hauling player lucky? Did he over-perform his expected goal involvement (xGI)? Or was his performance backed up by good stats over time with more to come in the future?

Was the blanking player unlucky not to haul or was it a bad pick?

Being aware of hindsight bias could make us better at answering these questions.

As mentioned, we can avoid hindsight bias by writing down our current thoughts and reasoning during the pre gameweek-deadline process. Reflecting on those decisions (transfers, captaincy choice and our bench) after the outcomes are known should help us to avoid warping our pre-gameweek reasoning.

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Why we Should be Aware of Hindsight Bias in FPL

In conclusion, we should be aware of hindsight bias and how it affects us to reduce self-blame after negative outcomes, reduce chances of successful decisions being a result of luck and increase our chances of making successful decisions over time.


(1): @fussbALEXperte – https://cognitivefootball.wordpress.com/2017/03/30/measuring-predictions/#more-589

(2): @jposhaughnessy- https://twitter.com/jposhaughnessy/status/1218578824197218309?s=20

(3): Kahneman, D. (2017). Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.



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