THIS COULD CHANGE THE WAY you look at FPL forever.
Stay tuned, I’m about to blow your mind.
THIS is how a weekend usually works in the world of FPL.
One of the ‘premium’ strikers – Kane, Lukaku, Aguero, Jesus or Morata – bangs in a couple of goals in the early Saturday kick-off or perhaps one of the three o’clock games. Cue a rash of transfers-in in the standard format and simultaneous gnashing of teeth in draft leagues from every manager that doesn’t own them, shortly followed by scouring their own team to see if they’ve got any candidates to dangle in a trade for the weekend’s newest hot commodity.
After all, this is only a logical strategy, isn’t it (apart from Lemmings making transfers before the weekend is even up)? Acquiring players while they are on the verge of a golden run, before you miss out on them being ‘bang on form’.
However, The Don’s brain doesn’t work like that. I don’t like following the crowd or thinking the same way as everyone else.
So, what nags away at the back of my own little FPL head?
You might think I’m crazy.
Does it actually make more sense to acquire players while they are ‘cold’ and going through a sticky patch, in advance of them hitting form again and while their value is lowest in standard FPL/their draft owners may be thinking of dumping them?
Should you shoot blanks and not chase points as is so common?
After all, form is temporary and class is permanent so if you own a top player surely every blank brings them a step nearer to returns…
There’s only one way to find out, so I took a look at the stats from this season for the top 15 players so far in standard FPL this year (up until GW12).
You will probably find the results astounding.
I sure did.
For the purposes of this article, I took any score of 3 or less as a ‘blank’ and therefore 4 or more a a ‘return’.
As you can see below, only ONE of the top 15 players clearly performed better AFTER a return – Cezar Azpilicueta, who averaged 8.2 PPGAR (Points Per Game After Return) vs 4.3 PPGAB (Points Per Game After Blank) – with two other players performing similarly in both metrics (Sergio Aguero and David Silva with 6.3 and 6.2 PPGAB vs 6.4 PPGAR, respectively).
ALL of the other 12 players, or 80%, performed significantly better after a blank than they did after a return.
Some, like Antonio Valencia, Raheem Sterling and Alvaro Morata by an average of over 5 PPG!
The above data suggests that, if you bought or traded for all those players after a blank, they would have got you a total of 27.3 MORE points in the season so far than if you bought them after a return, an average of 1.8 points per player, per game.
These results astounded me, to be honest.
Overall, the players averaged 7.3 PPG after blanks, and only 5.5 PPG after returns.
I mean, as The Don, I expected to be right, but I never expected to be THAT right.
I will add a small disclaimer here. 11 gameweeks is probably a bit soon to be drawing any firm conclusions and some of the players above like Valencia, Lukaku and Jones have, due to their excellent consistency, only had 2 ‘AB’ weeks to judge so far.
Really, you’d have to look at EVERY FPL player over the course of the whole season and while I don’t mind a bit of stat-hunting, the chances of me digging through over 400 players and 38 games are about as slim as the chances of me joining the Lemmings and making transfers on a Saturday afternoon (it took me long enough doing the above 15).
I also get the feeling that for ‘lesser’ players there may be less of a marked difference in their performance after blanks/returns due to them having a lesser ‘return potential’ in the first place than certified FPL stars.
It would also take longer to judge how ‘big players playing in big games’ affects the averages – are they more likely to blank against another top team and then get back in the money the week after vs a club lower down the league?
However, all the above does seem to indicate the folly of chasing points, even the way more savvy FPL managers do by at least waiting a few days to make their transfers in order to minimise injury risks.
In draft formats, my study seems to reinforce ‘buying low’ on players, as long as you are confident your man isn’t in a sustained run of bad form.
So, for example, if you can find a frustrated Harry Kane owner who has just suffered another Wembley blank from the England hitman and you can offer them Romelu Lukaku who, say, has just banged in 2 against Stoke, it might well pay off in the next gameweek.
I will revisit the above 15 players at the end of the season and see if my original hunch still holds true – that class is permanent and every blank only brings a player closer, rather than further away from, returns.
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