Podcast Observation 13: Sterling / Trippier / FPL-Luke ? (FFScoutcast #272)

As a regular consumer and only-occasional-reviewer of FPL podcasts, sometimes I forget who said what in which podcast. And I hardly ever go back to a podcast – today morning, I did.

After Mahrez’s goal yesterday, I remembered a comment from the last Scoutcast. Especially because I felt that Sterling, cutting inside, might be used to target Trippier – and there was resonance in the podcast. Wasn’t very sure who said it or when, so re-checked it today morning.


Listen to it from the 41st minute onwards.


AZ: Spurs (A), you do not expect KDB to get a double-digit haul…

Luke: This is more of a game for Sterling. Kind of the pace-behind-the-defender, Trippier struggles against pace… I know Sterling generally plays on the right side, but can play across the front 3. Ben Davies is not the quickest either.


And there it was. Luke, well done. Good job on your first episode as part of the main cast.


Podcast Observation 12: Marcos Alonso, and Value? (Always Cheating Podcast #145: Random Access Memory)

Podcast Observation 12: Marcos Alonso, and Value?


So, should you get rid of Marcus Alonso?

First Stop: listen to this amazing sequence (at about 30”) from @hailcheaters



Question: Marcus Alonso. Is it worth persevering with him?

On the basis of him putting out one of the worst FPL, if not the worst full stop performances in the game week, I want to punish him somehow. I want to humiliate him. I want to shave his beautiful hair off and make sure he wander around the town square.

But looking at the fixture ticker:

bur CRY EVE tot FUL wol

So, amazing defensive fixtures coming up for CHE despite some of their weak performances in the last couple of weeks.

Also if you look at how Alonso has performed throughout the season, is it just 3 blanks!

He is 7 m. Sure he is expensive, but for his returns it is not too much (expensive). If you had a MID in your team who picks up 6 points in 2 of your last 3 fixtures, replacing him would not be at the top of your priority list surely.

Also owned by 47% of all managers. And FUL at the bridge in 4 weeks’ time!


Okay, here’s a little comparison. Will name a few players, you have to tell me if the player have more or fewer points that Marcus Alonso.

Pierre Emerick Aubameyang.


Alex Lacazette.


Sergio Aguero.



Here’s information. There is only one person in the game who has more points than Alonso, and that is Eden Hazard.

Even then, if you think you are not getting value out of a 7m pound defender, then you need to re-assess your sense of value.


This is the reason, your honor, why I am a big fan of the Always Cheating Podcast.

I have also heard this a couple of times of different Twitter discussions. The question is always a variant of “Is there value in Alonso”; and “Is Alonso worth 7M”.

It drives me to the wall a little bit, really.

Guys, what is value?

If you haven’t quantified value, you haven’t figured out enough about value anyway.

So let me repeat the question.

Can you quantify the worth of 6.5m (the price at which I bought him) in terms of GW points at FPL?

I can.

Here is the measuring scale**. [Link Here]


And here are your points. I expect Alonso to get between 26-28 points in every 6 GWs to be of value.

In the last 6 GWs, he has got 26 points.

And now let’s go back to the great fixtures and pretty good form.


So, I have my answer. Do you?




** CAVEAT 1: You can debate my method of arriving at the scale (it is not sacrosanct), but nevertheless, I have a number to quantify Alonso’s worth. As long as you have another number, I think you are fine. You have something to talk about when you talk about value. You don’t otherwise. Without having a specific numerical value, one cannot talk about value for a player IMHO.

** CAVEAT 2: Does not mean that one should definitely let go of a player who is missing his target points (for example if I think the underlyings are fine, and fixtures are good, or my eye test, whatever it’s worth, tells me that this player is worth holding on to).
But a player who is proving to be of great value (both in terms of meeting targets, and volume of points), and who has a great set of fixtures – if one is letting go of him for a numerically inferior player, then one is not playing the percentages, one is just trying to get lucky (which is fine too and works sometimes, don’t get me wrong. But it’s just that. A punt).


Playing FPL the Non-Compete way (but still doing well)

I play FPL the non-competitive way.

The basic philosophy of my method is that I just target to get the maximum number of points that I can get, in a complete vacuum.

Question, therefore: What do I mean by ‘In a vacuum’?

It means that I do not bother about what the other 5.8 million teams playing FPL are doing. Completely.

I do not care about differentials.  I do not care about ownership percentages. I do not care about week-on-week rank, even.


(Okay, so I do not manage to quite do this last thing. Though I really want to get to that zen state)

I just try to get the maximum number of points I can get. That’s all. The rank will take care of itself.

There are some tenets around it. Some practicalities. Because IMHO, what is your rank anyway? Your rank is a way in which you understand how well you are doing in the game.

Instead of rank, what I would do is,  I set up point milestones across gameweeks, and that will help me track my performance.

Tenet 1. 2500 points

Where does this number of 2500 come from? Well, experienced FPL players would know that in the last 4 seasons, if you average the points that the winner got, it comes to 2501. I round it to 2500.

Winner Averages

If you get 2500 points, you will win FPL, or will be well darn close.

Tenet 2: Sub seasons.

So you have a huge number of points. 2500. You have a huge number of gameweeks. 38. That’s the elephant you will have to eat.

How do you eat the elephant?






You eat it one bite at a time.


Let’s try to eat the elephant one bit at a time, then. I have broken up the season into eight (8) chunks of 5 GWs each, with the first chunk worth 3 GWs. Each is a Sub-season. Each sub-season will have an expected number of points that I need to get. The actual score will be compared with the target, and the surplus / deficit of actual vs target will be carried forward to the next sub-season.

I have mathematically allocated scores for each chip, and whichever sub-season a chip is played, will have the Chip target added to it. (I will be happy to mention details of this in subsequent posts, right here in my 50-followers blog and 120 followers at Twitter. My FISO friends already know).

So what do we have now? We have broken down a target of 2500 points over the length of the season, into constituent targets for 8 sub-seasons. That would be the smaller points-target.


Tenet 3: price point targets

But even 5-week score is a very vague target. I need something that is easier to digest, and track on a week-on-week measure.

One-week score? No, that will be bad. I do not want to play week-on-week, and make rash decisions based on one-week performances. I like the reasonable estimate that 5 weeks provides. Then instead, I take the 11 slots in my team (in whichever formation I play), and for each slot, I set up a 5-GW target. But what should the target be?

So I have created price points, and targets per price-point. I have taken Mike Croom’s plotting of all the GK, DF, MD and FWs, rejected the players who were chosen by less than 5% teams at an average, and who played less than 10 games – and drew a trendline across them. Now I have points-per-game (ppg) targets for each price-points for 11 slots in my team. That can easily built up for 5 gameweeks, which is one sub-season.

Price points, and FPL-point-targets per price-point, for 11 slots, across 5 Gameweeks.

And that is what I track every week.

FPL Podcast Observation 11: xG? xA? How to get FPL-Stats-knowledgeable

How does one get football-stats-knowledgeable?

A friend at FISO had asked me on how to get into football stats for FPL purposes. This observation is an expansion to my response to him, and is about
1) how one can understand football stats better, and
2) how one can continue to upgrade one’s knowledge every week in the face of this barrage of information.

Basically on how to drink from the firehose of FPL information, and on how to continue to use the firehose well.

My FPL playing style has not been too stats-based historically. I think that I have a decent grip of the concepts of the predominant football stats and their application to FPL. However, I am a bit of a lazy FPL stats person. And while I do not trust either of my gut feel or my eye-test, I have always been a football strategy nerd. I’d go Zonal Marking (@Zonal_Marking) over Double Pivot (@DoublePivotPod), almost everytime.

However, there are two problems here:

  1. I personally do not enjoy poring over FPL stats and numbers over the weekend. That is a substantial part of what I do at work, and I think the moment FPL will become work rather than play, I would either quit FPL or quit my job. The former is much more likely, haha.
  2. There is a particularly demanding two-year old who needs my attention over the weekend. There is also a particularly fierce better half, who does not share my love for football – so time on the telly is rationed. Two matches, that’s all – the Arsenal match and any other. Eye test, therefore, is not always comprehensive.

So I do not have a choice but to delve into stats to keep close to the game.

I have created a shortcut for myself. I listen to about 4-5 hours of podcast every week, while either driving back home from office, or while on the late-evening run. Do you have time for listen to podcasts? Here would be my recommendation on how you can be on top of football stats for FPL.

First, understanding the stats.
I recommend the most recent FML FPL podcast / fireside chat with Michael Caley. It is amazing. Alon is a very smart and knowledgeable FPL manager and host, and Michael Caley is one of the most well-known football stats-man. Below is the link to the pod. It will be an hour well-spent.
Link Here

I would also recommend a detailed post by our resident stats-expert at FISO, and perhaps one of the most consistent FPL managers in the world, Stemania on the xA stats. It gives a very good ‘current-state’ perspective for xA.

Second. Keeping abreast.
If you have the patience to go over tables and stats, become a Fantasy Football Scout member – very comprehensive, very good. I had been a member at FFS previously, but I feel that I have not able to use the stats as well as I would have liked to. This is what I do, and I would recommend. Listen to 2-3 of the following podcasts every week. These should give enough perspective on the stats behind the FPL players and teams. I do not make notes too often, I do not pore over tables. But just by osmosis, I capture enough important stats to make do.

Specific Stats-pods of football leagues and players across the world – with an in-depth look at stats. Nothing to do with FPL. Everything to do with stats.

  1. Double Pivot ( @DoublePivotPod ‏ )
  2. StatsBomb ( @StatsBomb )

FPL Oriented ones which primarily are about playing the game, but give regular (near-weekly) stats-based read-outs of Premier League teams and key players

  1. Who got the Assist ( @WGTA_FPL ‏ )
  2. FML FPL ( @FMLFPL )‏
  3. 2 Guys 1 Cup ( @FPL2Guys1Cup )
  4. It would be remiss of me not to mention Fantasy Football Scout – they have been pioneers and flag-bearers of FPL in many ways. Loads of respect. But I think they are missing a trick by not having a specific-to-stats readout every week. Joe’s (@FFScout_Joe) Goals-imminent table is really crying out for a podcast readout. What a brilliant innovation.
  5. To me, the one and only place of all stats-related discussions is the absolutely peerless yearly STC thread at FISO. Regularly visited by some of the smartest FPL minds I know – many of whom have brilliant FPL records as well. This year is a bit of a down-year: Mav3rick is on a sabbatical (you are missed, Mav), and Stemania has just recently embraced fatherhood (Congratulations!). But it is still excellent.

That has been good enough for me. I listen to podcasts, and I chat on FISO (not so much at twitter yet, but heck, I have just joined in). Perhaps they would be good enough for you too?

FPL 17-18: The Continuing Value of the Expensive Defence

You know that FISO (link here) is my regular haunt, right? Excellent forum, rather old-fashioned, good place for a quiet chat with FPL friends — so, over there, Aldershot Rejects, one of the FPL managers whose style I admire (and top 700 ranker last season), was talking about the trend of the expensive defence which was in vogue at the first few Gameweeks, but has petered off now. I added a very pretentious comment as an addendum, which I would like to share. While pretentious, I think it is also right. But you tell me what you think about it. 


The power of the big defence is the regular trickle of 6 points that come in from the CS. CS is the bread and butter of the defence.

The big defence, this season, is fulfilling its value. Comfortably – and I have numbers to show. Early season, when the big defence became fashionable suddenly – Most who jumped in did so because of the goal / assist points that Mendy and Alonso were getting. Once the G+A became more scarce, the masses moved out. The regular bread on the table i.e. CSes are still coming in – the kebabs of the G+A are scarce, and the crowds have moved on in search of that juicy steak. As they always do.

Continue to keep faith on the everyday bread, my friend. That reservoir seems to be pretty full still.

Hunter-gatherer is fine no problem, but farmer is great too.


FPL Podcast Observation 10: Always Cheating Ep 143 She’s So Heavy – Be A Rebel! One – more – time !

Let’s hear it for the guys at Always Cheating ( @hailcheaters ). Here is the pod.

Here is the Pod

And just have a read of this exchange.

With increase in available information, is the template getting harder and harder to beat?

Harder to keep up with, I think. The template changes every week!

We are not playing against robots… hold on: What is a template team? A template team is a team made up of players who are doing extremely well (blogger’s edit: and seem to continue to do well in the foreseeable future) – so if the goal is to get players who are doing and will do better than other people – then that is, kind of, THE GAME. Anyway, a true differential only lasts for a week or two – before everybody has them. AWB was a differential for a week! Before everybody figured out that oh, here is a CRD for 4m who is also picking up assists! Same with Matt Doherty – I mean, Matt Doherty will have perhaps 30% ownership within the next month.


Excellent. Thanks for saying that. THAT IS THE GAME!

Here’s my point. “Be a rebel” is nice as a bumper sticker, and as a T-shirt slogan for teenagers. However, the inherent purpose for FPL is not to be a rebel – it is to get points. Effectively there are 2 ways of playing the game: 1) make the most sensible decision over and over again and get the maximum benefits out of it. (or) 2) Not really care about the results.

To be a good differential pick – first and foremost – it has to be a good pick. Similarly, the safe pick (say for example, the pick everyone else has made) is not immediately (or necessarily) a good pick.

As you must have realized, I have had a bit of an epiphany after the series of posts from Stemania and Stu255. Fantastic Exchange: Link Here ]. A good pick is a good pick – simple as that. My thoughts on this are still developing, but I seem to agree in principle.

Be-a-Rebel-ing could be a lot fun for a few – and I have no problem with that AT ALL. However, that is not the game.

FPL Podcast Observation 9: Who Got The Assist BE and FPL (w/ Simon March) – Show Us Your Rings

Link: Who Got the Assist Pod 48: BE and FPL

The anecdote from today comes from 2010, when I had just landed at Texas. I was young – six odd years into my professional career. The company I had recently joined, had concluded a PE-backed (and very bitter) hostile takeover of an organization there. I was to project manage a key business transformation activity on a certain division of the acquired organization. The Managing Director that had hired me was an inspirational figure – very abrasive, very impatient for results, but also an innovator, a good listener and quite a humane guy. In our initial strategy workshops – and we had a very heterogeneous team within the transformation group – he had this point of starting with a “Show Us Your Rings” conversation, where we basically start with telling the rest of the group what are the credentials we have to be on the table. It was not a session to judge others by, the MD ensured that – the assumption was that we were hired well, and that different folks would bring in different skill-sets. But this medals-on-the-table introduction would ensure that everyone else would know the point of reference anyone was coming from.

This process worked as a charm. The loudmouths, with their half-baked ideas and boisterous verbosity, would invariably come to terms with the genuine expertise and/or considered opinions of others in certain areas – and would require to sit back and think. Often, the results were startling – as I mentioned, the folks were hired well. As best-practice exchange was key, this led to some excellent collaborative work.

This is important to know before one listens to this podcast, about Behavioral Economics. I have read a book on Cognitive Biases, had taken a sensational course called ‘The Science of Everyday Thinking’ (on EdX- totally recommended), and indeed in private conversation would not hesitate to throw in an opinion or two. But when actual practitioners and researchers at the field are discussing on interpreting their learnings on Fantasy Football (one of whom BLOODY WON FPL a couple years ago) – it would be prudent for me to recommend the entire edition, rather that say such-and-such is my opinion on this issue.

Suggestion – listen to this, even if you do not agree with everything. I kinda sense that I don’t agree with a few elements either, but nonetheless came out a fair bit more knowledgeable.

Especially listen to Simon March’s suggestion from 23rd to the 30th minutes.


This is really, really good stuff.