It's not over yet - techniques to climbing up the leagues


FPL Dugout regular, Kevin “Kevo” Roberts, currently 6th in the FPL Dugout League, explores some methods on how to climb the leagues in the second half of the season.

OK so you’ve played your wildcard, gambled on various players and still you are behind in your league. How is it every time you compare your squad to the leaders it doesn’t look as good because they seem to have more in form players than you?

Well don’t worry and certainly don’t panic – there’s another wildcard around the corner and more than enough time to catch up and win your league.

For the last couple of seasons I found myself placed between 200,000 and 300,000 at Christmas and ended the 2010/11 season placed 3,528 and last season 2,655 with a respectable 10th in our own FPL Dugout league.

I thought I’d share the tactics that I used to climb up the table and I’m interested to hear your thoughts too as discussions on FPL Dugout always help me.

My philosophy in playing catch up is to have 2 simple rules: firstly choose consistent scoring players and secondly have faith in these players and don’t chase the Gameweek points. I’ll explain more…

Consistent Players

Use the wildcard sensibly, it has been the downfall of many a good man. People say it’s the differential that gets you the points however I’ve never paid much attention to that line of thinking; why choose players based on someone else’s team?

For me, it’s as simple as having as many consistent players/ big hitters in your starting 11 as you can.

I try to pick fit players or players that don’t seem to pick up too many injuries. That way you limit the risk of making unnecessary transfers thereby you can concentrate on improving your squad rather than making sideways moves to cover injuries.

For example last January I wanted a Sunderland defender. I decided on the slightly higher priced John O’Shea rather than the (more) injury prone Wes Brown, then within a few weeks Brown was injured meanwhile I just left O’Shea for virtually the rest of the season and if we remember Sunderland had a good second half to that season.

Talking of which there are some players that always seem to have a stronger second half of the season. Sessegnon and Dempsey were two last season, the season before it was Dempsey and Yaya Toure.

All were reasonably priced for a big hitter and there are still a few bargains to be had this season. Fellaini, Walcott, Michu, Defoe and Ba are all sensibly priced and pretty consistent.

I wonder if a few ‘ex big hitters’, Arshavin, Malouda and Bent, will move clubs along with Sturridge in the transfer window, if so they may again prove to be potential bargains.

When making a long term transfer I ask myself the question: will that player score more points at the end of the season than others on my shortlist.

Also it’s worth remembering a team’s best player isn’t always the team’s best fantasy player. Luka Modric was a prime example of this. He used to run the show for Spurs but fantasy wise he was very average.

Formation

I find this important when playing catch up and I stick to it whether it’s a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3.

If it’s a 3-4-3 I focus on bringing in 3 defenders, 4 midfielders and 3 strikers that will play every week. The subs will be exactly that – usually low scoring players that play for lowly placed teams. Currently they are Guthrie, Clyne and McCartney, although if called upon usually there is at least one of them fit so I can field 11 players.

I don’t see the point of having 5 decent midfielders and 3 decent forwards because every Gameweek there is a decision on who to leave out and there is a very good chance the decent player you leave out bags a 10-point Gameweek.

Those who in the past benched either Fellaini or Michu because of tough away games will relate to this!

Personally I like to save money on the 8th player. Currently my 8th player is £4.1m which allows me to invest in a bigger hitter elsewhere, having a Fellaini over a Pienaar could well be the difference to propel you up the table.

Another way to save money to invest in a big hitter is choosing your keepers, this year I’ve gone with only one keeper. I know madness you say; currently I have Begovic and Cerny.

Having Cerny at £3.9m has saved me money and also the heartache of benching a keeper because he’s playing away only to find he keeps a clean sheet or saves a penalty!

By the end of the season no doubt Begovic will have picked up his fair share of points so I don’t see limiting myself to only one keeper much of a disadvantage especially if it means a better midfield, again as above having one keeper could free up more cash to perhaps add a Carzorla over an Arteta.

Consider this and suddenly your starting 11 are much stronger; however this is not without risk as a suspension or injury will impact more on your team than it will others. Recently I have had exactly this problem with Bale, Suarez and Fellaini either injured or suspended.

Don’t Chase the Gameweek Points

This is especially so when there is a double Gameweek (DGW). It’s all well and good for that Gameweek to alter your team to take advantage of double points however bear in mind the following weeks fixtures otherwise all your efforts will be in vain if the fixtures catch you out.

No one wants to be left with 3 Fulham players away to Man City. In addition to this the players that you may sacrifice for the DGW may cost you a lot more money if in the next few weeks you decide to bring them back to your side.

Points Hit

There is much debate over this one – some use it more than others, when it works well it’s a masterclass of a decision however when it doesn’t and your outgoing players score well it seems the worst decision ever.

Usually, I only ever take a points hit when I need players where I cannot wait another week because otherwise I won’t be able to afford them. However in recent weeks due to suspensions I have taken a couple.

Captain Choices

Get this right and it’s like having an additional big hitter in your side, get it wrong and it can so easily undo everything that is good about the Gameweek.

I try not to gamble too much on this usually picking a player that has a home fixture. Probability may sound boring but overall in the long run I think it will allow you to bag more points.

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

Another way to gain a few extra pounds in the bank is choosing when to make your transfers.

Recently Yaya, Bale and Walcott have all risen approximately .3/.4 from Sunday evening to the following Saturday’s Gameweek with Bale (again) and Fellaini going the other way. However this is not with risk as buying a player that far in advance could see you with egg on your face if he picks up an injury.

These are just my thoughts on how to climb up the table; there are other ways that can work too.

I hope you found it interesting and good luck (which we all know more than plays its part)!