With only to weeks to go until the new football season, I decided to look back at my previous fantasy football season and see what lessons I can learn.
I hit triple digit scores twice this season. My highest score was 106 points aided by a bench boost chip during a double game week but my favourite week of the season was back in September. Game week five was off the back of a wild card during the international break. I brought in Hazard and captained him for a total of 40 points. Two budget defenders got high scores, all three forwards and my other new signings Knockaert and Maddison all returned giving me a game week rank of 6,660 which was my highest of the season.
My Favourite Players
I didn’t have many favourite players this season, as everyone was inconsistent and unreliable. Wan Bissaka and Doherty were fantastic for me at the back, and I’m glad I had them for game week one, but soon everyone had them in their team, eroding any benefit from the research I had done.
Mané was probably my most successful captain and player. I had a mid season revival in part from captaining him when everyone else favoured out of form Salah. On a similar theme of bucking the trend Vardy got good returns at the end of the season but was overlooked for not having double game weeks.
As a bad season, there were plenty of contenders for my worst week. I consider anything under forty points a bad week, and this season I had six bad weeks compared to two the previous season. One week however, was so bad it was shocking. In game week 29 I managed a pathetic 18 points. Pogba and Aubameyang missed penalties and only Fabianski got a good score. It was a bad week for everyone, but a terrible week for me, giving me an unthinkable game week rank over over six million. Let’s move on quickly!
My Worst Buys
My worst buys were definitely up front. By consistently favouring premium strikers, I was never able to afford Salah or premium defenders. Kane was frustrating as he would blank in easy fixtures or get injured just as I brought him into the team. But Arsenal strikers were far more frustrating. Lacazette and Aubameyang had so much potential to be a fearsome strike partner ship, but Emery would constantly rotate and change formation, making it impossible to predict who was a good fantasy asset. Other managers stayed away for this reason, but I kept trying to make it work. It was often a straight choice between Aubameyang and Kane and it felt like I picked the wrong player every week.
One of my goals for the season was to get more points from my captains. Had I made better captaincy decisions and trusted Salah more often, I would have comfortably finished in the Top 10,000 last season. Unfortunately my performance here went backwards. I scored 233 points from my captains, down from 264 last season. I only hit double figures with my captains eight times last season.
Looking at the records of the top 10,000 managers in the graph, you can see how 233 points is far below what you need to reach the highest ranks. The average captain score for top managers over the season was 287, where as for an average manager it was 226. Good captaincy decisions are clearly critical to stand out as a manager, whilst my scores are average. Once again this will be an area where I hope to improve next season.
Triple Captain Chips
The triple captain chip is a different story. I scored 13 points by captaining Mané against Huddersfield in game week 36. This game week was by far the most popular week for playing the triple captain chip. As predicted Liverpool racked up the goals against a feeble defence with Salah also scoring 19 points. These peaks are clearly visible on the graph of top 10,000 managers triple captain scores.
Thirteen points is a great score, above the average for top managers (11.5 points) and well above the average overall of 7.3 points. Notably I avoided captaining Sané in game week 25 who was popular, but only scored one point.
Free Hit Chips
My free hit was also successfully played. The most popular strategy for top managers was to free hit in game week 32 which was a double game week surrounded by blank game weeks. I played my free hit a week earlier and used my wildcard in game week 32. This meant top managers played their free hit in a double game week, whilst I was using mine in the week with the fewest fixtures. Because of this you can’t compare free hit scores directly. Instead I calculated the value of the free hit by comparing it with the average score for chip free teams that week. For example I scored 57 points on my free hit, which was 21 points above the average for chip free scores. This is a great score, and well above the average of 14.9 points for top teams.
Bench Boost Chips
The third chip was the bench boost. The overwhelmingly preferred choice for bench boosting was game week 35. A lot of great teams had double game weeks during this week and many people will have field teams of fifteen players who had two fixtures. I only fielded nine such players because of the demands of fixtures between my wildcard and my bench boost. Other managers were able to wildcard later than I was. This meant I scored 106 points overall for my highest score of the season but only 12 points from my bench boost chip.
Looking at the top 10,000 managers, my twelve point bench boost was poor, 11 points below the average score for top managers of 23. But my weekly score of 106 suggests that I was still well set up for the game week. Putting too many resources into your bench for a single week is probably a bad idea.
Reviewing my Philosophy
In the 17/18 season I nearly reached the top 10K with a very budget defence. In the 18/19 season I kept this philosophy and was badly punished. There were two excellent budget defenders, Doherty and Wan Bissaka, but they were in everyone’s teams so I didn’t get any advantage. In my season review last summer, I pointed out that I should invest for on defenders, but then failed to do so. I had not anticipated how many clean sheets Liverpool and Man City would keep. By spending big on strikers, and cutting corners in defence I was going completely against the grain and getting punished for it.
Another principle I started to follow was not taking any hits. Had it not been for a late injury to Harry Kane at the end of the season I would have avoided hits all season long. I don’t think measured and considered hits are that bad to take, but it was fun trying to avoid them entirely.
Lessons for Next Season
My objective for next season is the same as last season, to finish in the top 10,000. After such a bad season, a top 100,000 finish would be reasonable, but pre-season is a good time to be ambitious. I am going to go big at the back next season and play as many expensive defenders as I can. I also hope to improve my captaincy picks. I’m not sure how to particularly improve in this area as I don’t consider myself an especially maverick manager when it comes to picking captains. It did feel like bad luck played its part far too often last season, with a good number of my results.
I also like the idea of going a whole season without taking any hits, which I almost achieved this season with only a single hit in the last few weeks.
Anyway, the new season is nearly here, time for another hundred drafts of my team. Bring on August!