Fantasy Premier League is a game where FPL managers must deal with a risk and it means that we can apply classical methods of risk management here. To make the rest of the article much clearer, I define the term risk first.
In scientific books, there are many definitions of this term, but the one I liked at the University the most is: “the risk is a possibility that an unexpected situation which is different from expected state or development will happen with some probability”.
In the FPL words, let’s assume that you are expecting that your FPL team is going to score between 2100 – 2300 points during the whole season. Your expectations are based on the number of points you achieved in previous FPL seasons and your skills. However, there is a possibility that you will not score that number of points and you may end up the season with less than 2100 or more than 2300 points.
We could estimate the probabilities of those two unexpected situations using data from last seasons. So, the source of the risk can cause the deviation from points you are expecting to score. And this deviation can be negative (less than 2100 points) but also positive (more than 2300 points).
Let’s assume that probability of negative deviation (less than 2100 points) is higher than the probability of positive deviation (more than 2400 points). We as FPL managers are looking for methods how to eliminate these negative variations.
There are some methods from Risk Management literature we can use in FPL. Many of them are intuitive and very likely you are familiar with them.
Generally, we can reduce risk in two ways. First, we can reduce negative consequences of the risk. Imagine that one of your players got injured in a midweek training and is red flagged for upcoming fixture. So, you have red flagged player and you know that he is going to get zero points. You repair the damage, use a transfer and get him out of your team. Basically, you just dealt with a negative consequence of this risk, but it costed you one transfer.
Second, we can reduce a cause and an origin of the risk. In order to reduce the possibility that one of your players get injured, you don’t pick injury prone players to your team. It does not mean that some of your players won’t get injured through the season.
You reduce the possibility of it and probably save few transfers. Downside or cost of this is that you don’t pick some good explosive but injury prone players that could score well through the season.
We can use the same approach, for example, to new footballers in the game.
Every investor knows that a key to creation of a stable profitable investment portfolio is a diversification. One of the first and simplest investment rules advise to put 1/3 of your money to real estates, 1/3 to gold and art, and 1/3 to cash. We can look at our FPL teams as a portfolio and players as investments.
In order to achieve expected points in a season (2100 – 2300) we should not put all our money for example to offence, defence, but spread it around. This strategy should secure us certainty of expected 2100-2300 points. Without diversification our “portfolio” may deviate from expected values in both directions and may bring us a great profit but also a terrible loss.
That is why I would not advise you to pick three Liverpool defenders from the beginning of the next season. It may be profitable, but if Liverpool concede, you lose 12 points within a second.
Yes, in the last season it worked amazingly, but we should have in mind that there are no two seasons alike. The diversification is a great way how to play the game safer, without big points loses or without potentially big rewards. It may not help you win the whole FPL, but it can help you to get into top 10k or win your mini league. This approach of risk minimizing can be very useful at the beginning of the season when we have a little information about bargains, best players etc.
There are plenty of topics about FPL flexibility on the twitter. If you have a flexible team structure you can bring in any player you want, for example, in two moves. If you have the most expensive FPL players from every position in your team, you can downgrade them to literally anyone. Flexible team structure helps you to quickly react to market forces and may save you couple of transfers.
4. Sharing the risk
You can share the risk with other FPL managers if you pick only highly owned players. If a highly owned player blanks, he blanks in big percentage of FPL squads and it have small impact on the overall ranking.
However, it also happens when he hauls. If you have 11 players who are highly owned, you can’t really move in the overall ranking. You can use this method of risk minimizing if you are happy with your position in the overall ranking (or you are first in the world) and you want to keep it to the end of the season.
If not, you still can have some highly owned players in your team (4-8) as a pillow against big fall in the ranking. Thanks to the other players in your team (differentials) you climb up (down) the ranking.
5. Avoiding the risk
This is not the method I would ever choose, but it makes this list of risk minimizing methods complete. You can avoid all FPL risks if you are not playing the game. This is really a negative method so let’s move on more positive ones.
6. Getting additional information
Information, information, information. Such a key to success in many aspects of life. FPL is not an exception. Additional information about players, stats, FPL strategies or injuries are available on a lot of websites, podcasts or on some really good twitter accounts.
You get much better picture about players, teams, form and it helps you in decision making process. And even if you don’t agree with the authors of the articles, scouts or podcasters, pay attention to them. Maybe they offer you some little piece of information you missed or overlooked. Be informed and you will do well in FPL.
We can use a concept of reserves in FPL. For example, you can leave some money in your bank (maybe just 0,5m), what can be very useful in getting in some player in one move. We can look also at our bench players as “reserves”. When some of your field players does not show up, your first sub is coming in. It is always nice when he gets you some points.
That’s why you shouldn’t ignore players on your bench (at least a first sub). I prefer 4,5m (4,0m if possible) defender as a first sub rather than 4,5m midfielder because the probability of a clean sheet for 4,5m defender is higher than the probability of 4,5m (or even 5,0m) midfielder scoring or assisting.
8. Optimization techniques
Use an advanced math/optimization technique if possible. FPL is an optimization game and a knowledge from the math field can be very powerful. Optimization models can show you what is the best way of spreading the money around your team, or which players are worth their price.
You can read more about FPL Ompimization here.
Forecasting is irreplaceable among methods of minimizing the risk. There are many forecasting methods you can use like neural networks, regression or one of the simplest: points per match.
I am using points per match metric in almost every gameweek. I just assume, that points per match of a certain player from last 10 gameweeks will repeat in upcoming 10 matches. Forecasting helps you to pick better option and make a stronger squad. You can use spreadsheets or other tools to make it easier.
There are many FPL experts out there. And you can use their knowledge if they share it. You can use their heuristics which are exactly not proven knowledge that expert gained during years of practice. You also can use your own heuristics that you gained during years of playing FPL in order to minimize risk.
There are a lot of risk factors that can influence our FPL performance. Methods of risk management can help us to minimize the risk and to reach our goals.
Source: SMEJKAL Vladimír, Karel RAIS. Řízení rizik ve firmách a jiných organizacích. Praha : Grada Publishing, 2006. ISBN 80-247-1667-4.