What I’ve Learnt From Editing the Fantasy Football Magazine
Welcome to What I’ve Learnt From Editing the Fantasy Football Magazine. Speaking on last week’s FFSurgery Podcast, Jamie – the Fantasy Football Magazine’s co-creator – remarked that the motive for producing the magazine was simply to gain access to the best FPL advice out there before anyone else.
Though Jamie was joking, I can’t help but agree with the sentiment. Having seen almost all of the magazine’s articles at least 2 gameweeks before its release date, I certainly felt as though I had gained a somewhat unfair advantage over the rest of the field. Combing through such a range of articles with more scrutiny than a US arrivals gate might’ve helped to iron out any grammatical errors, but it had the added benefit of permanently embedding the tactics and strategies of some of the best FPL managers deep into the crevices of my brain.
When putting together the content of the magazine, we made an effort to contact FPL thinkers, rather than out-and-out FPL writers. We were fortunate that everyone we contacted happened to be a dab-hand at putting their thoughts down on paper, but our primary concern was with their ideas, not their skill with a pen (or, as the case may have been, a keyboard).
As the articles began to come through, it quickly struck me that these guys approach FPL very differently to the average manager – of which I am definitely a prime example. Whilst I tend to spend most of my time fretting about which players to bring in (and, usually, compounding my worries with a terrible decision that I’ll later regret), our writers evidently spend most of their time calculating which players to bring in, based on all sorts of factors: longer term strategy, underlying stats, what other managers are doing… I could go on.
It requires an adjustment to play the game in this way. I kind of like the thrill of going with my gut and taking a -8 to bring in a few differentials, or choosing a goalkeeper as a captain because I fancy him to save a penalty, but there’s a reason I’m always south of the top 100k by the end of the season. Going all out for the short-term gains is, for me, akin to the excitement of gambling – it’s a risk/reward relationship that usually ends in disappointment, but occasionally results in euphoria – and that’s what keeps me hooked. The problem is, over the course of a season, I’m always operating at a net loss. It’s impossible to get lucky 38 weeks in a row, and that’s why I’m an average manager. I can pick a player I expect to score points as well as the next guy, but will I finish top of my mini-leagues? Absolutely not. The guys who finish top of their mini-leagues are the ones who minimise the role of luck as much as they possibly can.
The extent to which luck is involved in FPL interests me greatly, and I seized the opportunity to ask Tom Fenley – the 13/14 overall champion and one of the most consistent FPL managers out there – what he thought about it in the magazine’s feature interview. Whilst acknowledging that FPL is based on real life, and real life is unpredictable, Tom argued that the best managers know how to make their own luck. Over 38 weeks, he said, it is a sound strategy, patience and confidence that mostly determine where you end up.
Perhaps that sounds obvious in retrospect, but it was news to me. Peter Blake is another great example of an FPL manager who is successfully eliminating the element of luck as much as he possibly can. He opens his analysis on underlying stats with a reference to Bob Voulgaris, the professional gambler who, despite his vast fortunes, still loses 43% of his bets. The point Peter illustrates so beautifully is that, so long as Voulgaris continues to win more bets than he loses, he will continue to make money. Likewise, FPL managers must accept that not all of their decisions will be good ones. The task, as far as we’re concerned, is to be right more often than we are wrong.
All of this points to the “marathon, not a sprint” mantra that you hear so often. It’s something we’ll be emphasising as much as we possibly can in our 2nd magazine, a pre-season guide to FPL, where we’ll be focusing on how to lay the foundations for your best ever season.
Ultimately, the satisfaction of waiting patiently and moving up the leagues as your rivals panic around you is vastly more fulfilling than ruining your overall rank in search of the next hat-trick scorer, and learning this valuable lesson has reinvigorated my ridiculous obsession with the game. I can only hope it has a similar effect on our readers too.
Thanks for reading What I’ve Learnt From Editing the Fantasy Football Magazine. This article was written by James Copeland
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