Overcoming the ROT in making FPL Decisions

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Most experienced managers will know that we have had an incredibly unconventional start to the 2020/2021 Fantasy Premier League season. This was inevitable given the circumstances in which the previous season ended as well as a short offseason, a late start to the new season, an even later transfer deadline, and still no fans in the grounds as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to loom over us all. The aftermath has been four gameweeks of wildly confusing and conflicting results.

So how do we make sense of it all? How do we, as experienced FPL managers avoid the dreaded trap of using Results-Oriented Thinking to make bad decisions based on the individual outcomes of four drunk gameweeks?

Results-Oriented Thinking (ROT) is when you alter either a single decision or a longer-term strategy based on one result. In our world of FPL, the ROT is a logical fallacy that manifests itself as rage transfers, knee-jerk wildcards, and other moves throughout the season that forego logic in favor of outcome biases.

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Last year gave us an excellent example of Results-Oriented Thinking with the Mane double gameweek triple captain debacle. Triple captaining him during a rare (at least over the last couple of seasons) double Liverpool game week was a perfectly good decision. It could have been an epic haul, but we all know how that ended. Thinking that it was the wrong decision to triple captain Mane based on the result of him getting hurt 30 minutes into the first game is classic ROT.

Many experienced FPL managers spend countless hours watching videos, listening to podcasts, or reading articles like these to take their fantasy football knowledge to the next level. They build season-long strategies based on the concepts learned, such as: 

  • Pick nailed on starters
  • Go big at the back
  • Have a strong bench
  • Don’t take hits
  • Chase captaincy upside picks
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Yet time and time again, the same managers will also bin all of that effort by jumping on a bandwagon or dropping an underperforming player based on one good or bad gameweek. In fact, we would all probably be better managers if we just remembered these two fundamentals:

Having a good gameweek doesn’t mean that the transfers you made were perfect and the players on your team are peerless.

Having a bad gameweek doesn’t mean that the transfers you made were incorrect and the players on your team are terrible.

Here are some of the season’s (so far through gameweek 4) top moments that could be causing your ROT… And a stat for each to snap you out this type of thinking!

Son > Bruno > Son > Bruno

Manchester United were in scintillating form at the end of last season after the restart. They averaged roughly 2.5 goals per game, and didn’t lose once in the league. The Red Devils (along with City) blanking in the first gameweek of the season made drafting our initial teams that much harder, but it was a sound strategy to set your GW1 team with the intention of bringing United assets in for GW2. 

  1. 23 minutes of Donny van de Beek taking up Bruno’s spaces and scoring a goal already gave managers “all they needed to see” to move the 10.5M midfielder on to chase Son’s four goal haul of points. 
  2. Then in GW3, since everyone seemed to forget how good Bruno Fernandes was in the second half of last season, he quickly reminded us with a goal, assist, and maximum bonus while Son was hamstrung at halftime.

The stat to snap you out of it! DvdB has only played another 23 minutes (1 minute and 22 minutes in GW3 and GW4 respectively)

Daniel Podence is Basically the Portugese Lionel Messi

This one hits very close to home. I used my first transfer of the season to transfer Diogo Jota to Podence in GW3. Jota was now on cleanup duty for the Reds and Twitter had me clearly convinced that Podence might in fact be the greatest playmaker of all time. Fast forward a week:

  1. Podence didn’t even make the squad for Wolves in GW3. 
  2. Jota scored and looked incredible in 20 minutes off the bench in his GW3 debut. 
  3. Mane tests positive for COVID-19 on the eve of GW4 practically guaranteeing Jota a start. 

How bad did that transfer look in hindsight?! I was so close to pulling the trigger on reversing it to bring Jota back in. What could go wrong with that ROT?

The stat to snap you out of it! The visual above from Fantasy Football Hub’s Twitter doesn’t convince you then I have another stat for you: 78. That’s the minute that Podence nutmegged KDB before assisting Jiminez’s goal in GW2. Never forget.

Handballs on Everyone… Everyone except Castagne.

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The unprecedented number of penalties, and thereby goals has been a major factor in making this season feel like one of the most unpredictable to date. Whether or not the new handball law, and the latest implementation of that law, continues to wreak havoc in the penalty area, it has already had a huge impact on our FPL teams.

  1. Wildcards are flying as they often are at this stage of the season. Our own Geoff Peddler has already put together his wildcard team that looks great given the fixtures ahead. However, a lot of goals means a lot of goal scorers. The players you want this week might not be the same as the players you want next week. 
  2. Had Jorginho not missed the pen against Liverpool, he’d be joint-third in the race for the golden boot! He is currently the 8th most transferred player over the international break with more than 200K managers bringing the Chelsea man into their teams. Is this real life?

The stat to snap you out of it! 292/88 – After GW3, the league was on track for 292 penalties awarded (88 of those for handball), which is nearly triple the previous high of 106 in 2016-17. This will NOT continue at the same rate.

Ignore the Spikes

Another great method to avoid the ROT is to ignore a player’s best performance when analyzing their performance metrics. This is especially important early in the season when a player may rise to the top of their positional table based on one good performance. 

  1. Arsenal’s Gabriel is currently ranked in the top 10 for all defenders in the game. This is all based on his outstanding GW1 performance, a 15 pointer against Fulham. 
  2. Since then he has reverted form with 2, 0, 2 from the following gameweeks.

The stat to snap you out of it! Better than one stat, we have a whole dashboard! Use the “Top 10 Points Without Best Gameweek” table in our fully interactive stats dashboard to angle your decisions toward the players that are performing better on a regular basis than spiking one big points haul, and disappointing for the rest of the season. 

Hopefully some of these examples demonstrate why overcoming Results-Oriented Thinking is such a difficult skill for FPL managers to master and an important mechanism to tolerate the incredible variance in our game. We need to be smart enough and strong enough to trust our strategy and resist the urge to ROT! 

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