Guest post: A season of three parts

The November international break is a good time for Fantasy Premier League managers to reflect on their progress to date and to assess their strategy leading into the Christmas period and beyond. That’s what Ruth_NZ has been doing and here are his thoughts:

A season of three parts

The Fantasy Premier League season seems to fall into three sections and I think a different strategy is needed for each part, at least that’s how I’m approaching it.

Stage I – Gameweek 1 to Gameweek 12 (followed by an international break)

This is where you need to be cute, it’s all about reaching a solid position and achieving a solid team value. You need to jump on the “good” bandwagons (and try to avoid the ones that are just chasing last week’s points) so you don’t have players like Payet and Mahrez killing you every week. And you need to keep a close eye on price sites because this is the key period of the season for building team value – as more teams become inactive then price movements will slow.

To do this I think you have to be willing to take some hits if you need to. Obviously it’s better if you don’t need to but hits taken in this period have the whole of the rest of the season to pay off, especially if they are hits with a longer-term perspective.

I’d give myself a 7.5/10 rating for how I have navigated this first third – overall rank 16k and team value of 105.2m going into Gameweek 12 and with a team that has all the key players I want and no significant problems. I have taken six hits which is more or less what I expected to do. I’d have hoped for top 10,000 but I’m not too far away from that.

GW13 International Break

Stage II – Gameweek 13 to Gameweek 26 (followed by the FA Cup Fifth Round break)

I think the emphasis switches to smooth management in this period, steady adaptation of the squad rather than the frenetic activity of assembling the “right” players that happens early on. Decisions will need to take a longer-term perspective and be less influenced by potential price changes – you are looking for capable teams with good fixture runs over a period of eight-ten weeks, such as Everton have just commenced (Gameweeks 11-19) and Spurs (Gameweeks 15-25) and Liverpool (Gameweeks 14-20) will be entering soon. Planning will need to be clever, especially in handling the busy Christmas period (Gameweek 18 and 19 are two days apart and a good bench will be important).

In particular, hits should be reduced and basically reserved for very good strategic reasons or emergencies. Saving a free transfer and rolling it will be preferable if possible. Having taken six hits in the first third I’ll be disappointed if I take any more than three in the second third and ideally less than that.

My personal target in Stage II will be to beat the top 1,000 average by an average of five points per week. If I can do that I’ll be 70 points further up by Gameweek 26, enough to put me well inside the top 5,000 as far as I can tell.

Stage III – Gameweek 27 to Gameweek 38

This is where the sprint for the line begins and the time when tactical (shorter-term) considerations again become more important. All the double gameweeks should usually fall into this period and there will also be the second wildcard, bench boost and triple captain to use. Getting the maximum from the chips and the double gameweeks will be the crucial factor and I will increase my readiness to take hits again, but this time for tactical rather than strategic reasons. For instance the bench boost will help to justify a hit or two if the players you are bringing in will radically improve the 15-man potential you can field.

It was relatively hard to make big gains over other capable managers in this period of last season and basically you probably had to be in the top 1,000 going into Gameweek 27 to have a chance of winning. But the volatility will be markedly increased by the chips this time and it should be possible for anyone in the top 5,000 or so to have a chance if they can nail their key choices and get their timing right. It’s a time in the season I am quite looking forward to.

Summary

Well, that’s how I will be approaching it. And one of the reasons I am writing this is to emphasise the change of gear I need in my own mind: calm and steady. That’s what I will need in the next stage of the season.

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6 thoughts on “Guest post: A season of three parts

  1. Thanks Ruth. Your strategic approach appears similar to mine. From memory, I went “calm and smooth” after Gameweek 13 last season. I had hoped to be there by now this year, but injuries to Dimitri Payet and Wilfried Bony, plus the imminent return of Sergio Agüero, may delay it a week or two.

    Stage two is why I think selecting a Payet replacement carefully is important. We don’t want to be making unnecessary transfers if we can help it, so picking a player with staying power is important.

    Looking later into the season, I might want some flexibility around transfers during the January transfer window, particularly as many of us are unlikely to be burning wildcards then like we have in previous years.

    Finally, I might stay calm and smooth until any major double gameweeks appear on the horizon, which could mean staying smooth for a little longer than your stage two.

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    • Ruth_NZ says:

      Yes, the stages are obviously a rough guide. But the first DGW will be caused by the League Cup Final (which falls in GW27 this season) so that seems a good marker point.

      As for the Aguero return being imminent, I’m still not convinced that it is. Anyways, I have a Plan A that brings him in for GW15 or GW16 and a Plan B that brings him in after the Xmas games in GW20. It will be a question of deciding how long I want to be without him in my team really but I am quite tempted to go with my Plan B in any case.

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  2. Zophar says:

    Good post Ruth. A big challenge posed to many managers post break is whether to break a well settled team to shoehorn Aguero in. At the same time, whether to keep faith in Vardy during their Christmas fixtures. Fun times indeed

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  3. Rolls-Reus says:

    Another very good post but wish it could have come out earlier in the season. I’ve failed to build up my team value and catch the bandwagons early enough but nevertheless, one to keep in mind for next season.

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  4. I like this, different phases is spot on. I always treat the first half of the season like a casino to build up TV and go hit mad. But this is at the detriment of OR so it’s a tricky art and one that this season has proved particularly difficult. I give your effort 8.5/10 TV and 8.5/10 OR.

    Alas I’ve fared less well with a TV of 106.5 (9/10) but 385K OR (4/10). After reading your article I’m going to bring forward my plan of building TV in the fist half of the season, stop chasing bandwagons and calm things down a bit to as few hits as possible. Hopefully when Aguero is back and there’s less money around having a high TV will pay of and allow for a steady climb up the rankings..

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