This FPL game we love so much can sometimes be frustrating, with more twists and turns than an Alfred Hitchcock movie, and it can be just as bloody! At times you can feel that you have it all figured out, as the title of this article says “I’ve cracked it!!”, but when it comes to FPL its just as likely for you to be shouting “I’m cracking up!!”. In this the first article by new Feudalist @KudaGodfrey, he tells you the lessons he learnt last season which helped him to his career best rank.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or on Twitter/Facebook . Do you believe it is possible to have  “cracked” FPL or does every season present a different challenge? [Editor: FPLMarple]

 

The Premier League is now only EIGHT days away, and the OfficialFPL game has been up and running for a few weeks after what seemed like an eternity. However, as much as I liked the witty “announce #FPL start date..” tweets, I enjoyed having a break from the game over the summer months. As with anything in life, too much of something can be a bad thing. Last season turned out quite well for me in FPL, and I felt it may be of value to other managers to write an article charting my progress and to see if it is sustainable. I don’t feel that I have “cracked” this game, but I do want to share some lessons I have learnt and I felt helped me to improve, in the hope that they will help other managers too.

In 2016/17 I finished a respectable 6,663 out of approximately 4,500,000 managers. I also won my work mini league out of 40 managers. Admittedly, this is nothing to write home about, but if you consider my previous best overall finish was 666,814 so I felt it warranted getting the champagne out! I would love to hear from other managers who have also seen dramatic improvements. By the way, I’m not advocating the use of alcohol whilst playing #FPL!

 

 

To add some context, I had been playing #FPL for 5 years prior to that. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to play the game as long as you have fun but I definitely took too many risks in previous years. I occasionally missed transfer deadlines and even when I didn’t, I would take -8 or -16 point hits to ironically chase points! My logic being that, once it was clear I couldn’t finish in the top 100K “I had nothing to lose”. I’m sure many will identify with this or perhaps you joined a mini league at your work/college and by December people lost interest. So, you naturally did the same. I also discovered Twitter late (2015 to be exact) so I was oblivious to the large following the game had on social media. Being part of the #FPL community definitely made the game more interesting. There are also numerous #FPL accounts out there offering good advice.

The Premier league season is now only 8 days away so you now have leeway to start annoying your other halves, friends or family by mentioning “#FPL” in ANY football related conversation. Most #FPL managers reading this article have probably started drafted their teams, but don’t fret if you haven’t. For the record, the first deadline is at 6.45pm on Friday 11th August so put that date in your diaries.

 

Research

Try and do whatever research you can prior to 11/08/2017 to help improve your chances. The main one for me last year was watching pre season friendlies. I have tried to do that again this season but I, like many others work or study during the week so it has been difficult. It’s fine listening to #FPL podcasts, reading advice websites and forums but you should also supplement that with the “eye test”. Nothing can beat your own opinion after you have watched a game live or seen highlights rather than relying on another person’s “gut feeling”. Also consider new tactics or players that have been brought in by managers/clubs. A lot of team drafts currently have Aguero or Morata in their #GW1 squads based on historical evidence. However, if you have watched the most recent Man City and Chelsea friendlies, the eye test would suggest caution. This is not saying they are bad players because they’re both top class strikers. But, when it comes to #FPL you need to look at how team tactics affect your chosen players. Aguero & Morata are being asked to do a lot of defensive work off the ball so they are not spending a lot of time in the box.

 

Set realistic targets

My goal at the start of the 2016/17 season was to finish inside the top 100K overall and the top 3 of my works mini league. The plan was then to target the top 50K overall and to win the mini league in 2017/18! As I am slightly ahead of schedule, I have set myself the target of finishing top 10K this year and to retain my works mini league. I only focused on my mini league rivals throughout the season and the decent overall ranking came as a result not vice versa. In order to achieve targets, join as many mini leagues as you can. If your work/college hasn’t got a mini league, it’s easy enough to join leagues via Twitter.

 

Don’t always follow the crowd

Do not be forced into making rash transfers just because people currently ranked higher than you on #FPL Twitter are making them. It’s worth noting that managers ranked higher than you can afford different risks so it is not always in your interest to mirror these moves. Equally, don’t forget that #FPL Twitter is only a small fraction of the global players. If you’ve ever searched the hashtag #FPL on Twitter you will know that the same accounts usually crop up. Even if there were 20K prominent accounts, they only account for a small sample of the 4 million + other players not on social media. #FPL ‘group think’ can lead to making bad decisions. Just look what happened when managers used the triple captain early last season on Aguero and he only managed to score 1 goal in a double game week. Don’t be afraid to make maverick decisions. By maverick, I don’t mean triple captaining a GK!! I don’t care what Forster or Cech did in a double game week last year, I would never use that chip on GK’s!.

 

Look at fixtures

Going into #GW1, my plan is to pick players who have decent fixtures from GW1-3. I am not concerned about picking a team full of season keepers yet. There are too many uncertainties at the moment such as the futures of players such as Costa, Van Dijk or Sanchez. Or, players like Mane and Hazard who are coming back from injuries. If you don’t plan on using an early wildcard, try and leave some money in the bank when you make your final draft for #GW1 or have a clear plan of bringing those players in without too many hits.

 

Pick a formation YOU like

I have always favoured 3-4-3. Quite simply, because I believe having 3 decent strikers who are heavily involved in play will give you a greater chance of success. I tried 3-5-2 a few times last season due to injuries but it’s not a formation I would use regularly. As with everything I have said, it’s up to you and what you prefer.
Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope you found some of it useful. I will be writing a follow up to this with my Gameweek 1 team and my thinking behind it.

Find me on Twitter @KudaGodfrey. I mostly just tweet about #FPL or Arsenal FC who I support. Thanks for reading…