Heading in to the international break before GW12 we are starting to learn some things about this season. Which players to get in, what players are worth keeping, and that maybe clean sheets are not totally gone from the league. All these things suggest some kind of consistency is emerging and the season is beginning to make more sense. However, in juxtaposition with this growing clarity is points hit madness and transfer mania in the FPL community.
The current state of things
I haven’t written many articles this season, but my first was a reaction piece to my underwhelming GW1 score. Back then I preached patience and warned against hasty transfers and generalised panic. Since then my season hasn’t really become any easier. In a rollercoaster of emotion and regret I have both followed my initial advice- rolling over transfers and resisting the urge to take points hits- and gone against my own advice by taking points hits and jumping on surely short lived bandwagons (CAPOUE).
In the last couple of weeks my form has improved somewhat. I’ve managed to improve a rank in the region of 900k to a rank one just outside the top 300k. Contrary to everything I thought I knew about Fantasy Football I think my improvement was mostly borne out of points hits and blind panic. For example, last week I made a hasty Sunday move to take a lacklustre Son and Sterling out of my team (for 2 FTs) and replace them with an improved form Hazard and certified bandwagon Gündoğan. I moved early to beat price rises despite there being European matches during the week, and yet it paid off with a combined score of 21pts (vs 2pts) for the newcomers.
This week I’m seeing my forced decision to make an early transfer mirrored all over Twitter in the #FPL community- but on steroids this time.
I’ve seen rampant talk of -8s, ditching Sanchez, ditching Agüero, early transfers- particularly risky as we’re about to head into the international break. And yet, I totally get it. I even think that most of the proposed risks I’ve seen are probably worth it.
Managers are largely planning moves to get in the likes of Hazard, Coutinho, Firmino, Costa, Austin, etc. The thing that strikes me about these players is that they aren’t really bandwagons, or 5 goal exploders- it is that they are all showing some consistency.
I’ve even heard a few whispers that they are template players (*gasp*)
Let me take you back in time for a minute
There is some consensus in the community that last season was slightly spoiled by the dreaded “template team”. There was a set of players that were scoring every week, and whats more it was easy to afford them all in one squad. It seemed to be successful in FPL you just had to set your team and watch the points roll in. This did undeniably favour ‘casual’ players. It was as easy as selecting the top scorers in each position, getting them in and keeping them in. Stick to the template.
As an aside: I personally don’t remember this time with as much vitriol as some other managers seem to. After all, every manager who had the template team didn’t come joint first in OR. Last season differentials really came in to play, but just not a team full of them. The two or three spots outside the template made all the difference. I’m not saying this is the ideal way of playing the game, but it maybe wasn’t as devoid of skill and intrigue as some might suggest.
Now back to this season
The 2016/17 season so far has sort of been the antithesis of the template team of last year. Some of the main players (VAHREZ) and teams (LEICESTER) that did so well last year aren’t doing well this year. Clean sheets are no longer a certainty. Above all, most of the well performing players are some of the most expensive in the game- so we can’t just get them all. Cheap players seem to dip in and out of form, and it isn’t quite as easy as #AlwaysCaptainJoeAllen.
On that note, even the infamous FPL adage #AlwaysCaptainAgüero has been well tested in recent weeks.
So what point am I making?
Coming back to the transfer mania following GW11. All the players we are scrapping to fit into our teams are the ones that look most likely to consistently score us points. However, I don’t think we can call them part of a new template.
As a reaction to last year I think some of us, myself included, have made too much of an effort to avoid obvious players. I mean, I started my year with Redmond, Townsend and Deulofeu in my side..
In some ways I think I have been actively shooting myself in the foot at times by not making obvious investments.
As an example: There is a community quandary about which Liverpool midfielder to get: Mané, Coutinho, Lallana or Firmino. If we set aside price for a second, the obvious answer right now is probably at least two of them. But, for those with no room, another valid answer would be Coutinho. Why? because he has by far the highest ownership at 46%. The next highest ownership is Mane at 14.5%. Ultimately not owning Coutinho is more damaging than not owning Firmino if they both score the same points.
And which one do I have? Firmino, of course. And I think I made this decision because he was a “clever” choice, vs Coutinho who was the obvious choice.
Firmino is great for me to have in weeks when he scores big. However, with Coutinho often scoring similar points tallies, I am still getting damaged in terms of overall rank.
To be honest every week when I watch my live rank on FantasyFootballFix rocket around in 100k leaps, I see that I really need stability in my team- not differentials.
I’ve basically written all this to remind everyone in a very round about way that this season is not last season.
The season-long template team is gone. It’s not coming back. GW1-11 has been pretty mental. If we start seeing obvious choices emerge, we don’t need to avoid them as a protest against mundanity.
Personally, to try and find some stability in my team I am going to try and embrace the players that are proving consistent. I will try and stop over-thinking my FPL moves, and just go for some obvious choices. And I will recommend other people to make similar moves.
> Should I get Redmond Tadic or Austin in my team for Southampton Coverage?
Austin. He is scoring more points.
>Should I keep Sterling or get in Hazard?
Hazard. He is scoring more points.
At least for now anyway..