FPL 2012/13 in stats and lessons learnt


With the anticipation of the new Fantasy season, I couldn’t wait to get a head start, so I have started the analysis early this season.

Now I’ve been playing FPL since 2009/10, but last year was my first dedicated season to FPL where I’ve tried to use my mathematical background to improve my fantasy points rather than just my gut.

It worked, and I ended up in the top 0.5% of all players last season, but there’s still room for improvement.

So this article is a review of the 2012/13 season to highlight the pitfalls for even experienced players, with comparison to last year’s overall winner, Matt Martyniak’s team, Divine Mercy (referred to as leader from now on).

Goalkeeper rotation theory – Fiction

Now this little chestnut is a topic that every FPL manager will have considered, especially if you have done any analysis.

Long term FPL Dugout readers may remember an article I did last year on goalkeepers, where I completed some detailed notes on how to pick your goalkeeper, however I was even surprised on the completion of this analysis.

Last year I mostly stuck with Begovic and Jaaskelainen after I had completed the selection analysis.

I ended up with in total 144 points for the goalkeeper position, rotating between the two, dependent on their individual fixtures.

Both goalkeepers individually ended up on 144 points for the season. Meaning I didn’t pick up any extra points from the goalkeeper rotation, my gut, or simply a selection of a goalkeeper at home to an easier team than the sub goalie, didn’t benefit my team at all.

At first I just wondered if this was an anomaly, so I decided to have a look at the top 10 overall FPL managers for the season. In general all seemed to not adhere to goalie rotation, and weirdly most teams had Cerny as a sub (QPR’s 4th goalie and never played all season).

The ‘leader’ ended up with 140 points from the goalkeeper position (whoop – about the only position I beat him in).

The leader did a little goalie rotation but for most of the season had Cerny as a sub and tried to jump on form and cheap keepers throughout the season (Bunn, Jaaskelainen etc).

Tactics here were towards saving money and picking up good points. This seems to slam goalkeeper rotation into the Fiction territory, so next year I will be trying to stick to one goalkeeper.

Only if you had Hart all season would you have got more points. For the extra cash £2.5m vs. only an extra 14 points (158), I don’t think it was worth it.

Jose Mourinho might mean a few more clean sheets for Cech and Chelsea. I’ll watch this space with trepidation, as Cech only scored approx. 30 points more in his best season to date (171).

If you managed to score much more than 144 points from the goalkeeper spot last year, please leave comments about how you managed it.

The Skipper makes or breaks the team – Fact

Now last season I managed to beat all of my friends (and my Missus), won my head to head league, and beat work colleagues (yippee!). That’s not including FPL Dugout. Kudos to Aaron. But I still finished 275 points off the leader, that’s a long way back.

Week to week you can beat your friends if your captain is sporadically in form and even win your head to head games, but to reach the very top of the FPL it’s a different question.

I hadn’t suspected that goalkeeper rotation was fiction, but I’ve always suspected that my captain selection might have been letting me down.

The leader picked up a whopping 678 points from his captain alone, 27.4% of his overall score, approximately 17.84 points a Gameweek. You could say the leader was on fire. Bookies must have hated him.

I had to get some insight into what he was doing right and what I was doing wrong.

I picked up a lowly 510 points from my captain, 14 points less than if I had just stuck with RVP all year (currently scratching my head, thinking how did I get that so wrong).

I tried to pick people in form, or with easy fixtures, and used some basic mathematical techniques to pick my captain.

View a table of my captain vs. the leader’s throughout the season.

I lost by an unbelievable 168 points!

Straight away you may ask why I didn’t pick a Double Gameweek captain in Gameweek 23. Lesson learnt, my model said that Arsenal weren’t going to do well and RVP was due to get big points.

Alas, Walcott scored a last minute consolation against Chelsea, which I watched and was more than a little annoyed about. He then went on for midweek win. West Ham’s past history against Arsenal is pretty good, but enough said, Walcott ended up on 36 points for the week.

Lesson – always go with the Double Gameweeker. But that’s still 150 points difference after that! On no less than 5 occasions I picked my captain against Reading, who were bottom for most of the season.

So each time my players under-performed, was I unlucky? I’m not sure. 168 points. The captain matters. Fact.

So if I pick my captain a little better next year, this will still leave me 125 points behind the leader! Where else did I leak points?

Keep transfers to a minimum – Fact

This one might be obvious and if I was reading someone else’s article I might stop at this point. But I thought I hadn’t done too many four point transfers and was managing the team well, only having to bite the dreaded 4 points when it was really needed.

The leader spent 16 points (4 changes all year). I spent 48 points from 12 changes and there was me thinking I hadn’t changed too much?

This will be a mental point for me next year. I will tot up the points throughout. I will think 3 times before making a 4-point change, rather than thinking I had already kept 4-point transfers to a minimum. However, this still leaves me 71 points behind the leader?

275 (Difference to leader) – 168 (captain) – 36 (Transfer points) = 71

Defenders points are of minimal difference – Fiction

It took me a while to find out why, checking forwards and midfielders points. But in the end, surprisingly, it came down to the defence.

The leader finished 72 points ahead of me from defender picks, only playing more than 3 defenders on 3 occasions.

The leader took advantage of price rises throughout the season and invested this across the team, and ended up with Baines, Enrique and Sagna, plus 2 cheap defenders.

I also subscribed to a cheap defence, most of the year selecting Huth and 4 defenders less than 4.5m.

Ivanovic’s and Baines’s massive price rises in the season made me think they were both out of my price range.

The leader changed his team round in Gameweek 32 to get Baines in the side and was rewarded with 40 points, 5 points a game.

Enrique smashed in 67 points over 12 games for the leader. I also noted that Enrique was playing on the wing for Liverpool but thought he was too much cash. I contemplated on transferring the Spaniard into my squad but my tight budget made me think twice.

Overall these defender points were vital to the leader total. Hats off to him and vital lessons learnt for all of us.

Fact or Fiction next season I will be concentrating on these few points, as it will be easier to manage, especially with focus on my captain selection (modelled or not).

Next stop? Research on all unknown players for the 2013/14 season. Wilfried Bony: 31 goals in 30 games for Vitesse last season. Watch this space…