World Cup Fantasy Journal: Lessons learned [Matchday 4]

I decided to put together a journal about the 2022 Fantasy World Cup, where I write down some of my ideas and experience about the game.

It could help me make better decisions in future Matchdays and future similar fantasy competitions (Fantasy EURO 2024, Fantasy World Cup 2026, etc).

I try to formulate some principles and hypotheses that could prevent me from making stupid or emotional moves, that would lead to losing points.

Here are my notes, intended for future me, or you, Fantasy Football Reports readers. If you have something similar to share as well, feel free to write a comment below.

Matchday 4 (R16) notes

  • Hypothesis: Stick to the best player. If a very good player (Dumfries, Blind, Depay) does not deliver in Group Stage, it does not mean he will keep blanking. If he has good stats, he might finally deliver, and he might deliver big. Statistical principles like The law of large numbers and the Theory of Clusters will deal with that.

Matchday 3 notes

  • Principle: Always expect the unexpected. We think we know which teams will do well and which payers will score fantasy points but truth is, we do not.
  • Hypothesis: keep faith in talismans from weaker teams (like Shakiri, and Mitrovič) – 2 attacking returns in 3 matches is what you should hope for
  • Hypothesis: if a good player is benched in very good fixture (Fullkrug against Costa Rica with 9 points off the bench) despite all logic saying he should start, he might deliver from the bench.

Matchday 2 notes

  • Principle: Do not chase points of previous Matchdays. Many people went for Saka after his brace in Matchday 1, only to see him blank in Matchday 2.
  • Principle: Have realistic expectations from your players. 2 returns per 3 matches is what you should hope for. Everything more is a bonus.
  • Note: Do not be afraid to go with a template team (a similar team as other fantasy managers have). We all use similar decisions making processes, and a majority of managers use the same stats (as there are no other stats we can use) when making decisions. And similar decision-making processes lead to similar results (similar teams). That’s why we all are basically picking players into our team from the range of 25-30 players. If you decide to go different, it might not work out, as you are choosing the second best solution.
  • Note: Don’t overlook big players in their tough fixtures. Best players can do well even in the bad fixtures. (Mbappe brace in the “toughest” game of the Group against Denmark).

Matchday 1 notes

  • Hypothesis: Talismans do well even for weaker teams. Never overlook talismans that are key players for their nation (Valencia, Taremi, Bale). They could do well in any fixture. Fantasy points in big teams might get spread around to many good players. But in weaker teams, fantasy points might get concentrated around a few good players. And those talismans (like Valencia, or Taremi) are much cheaper. So when selecting a cheaper player, focus on talismans.
  • Principle: When it comes to changing the captaincy, always stick to the number (captaincy threshold) and never violate it no matter how tempting it is. So when the first captain score equal or more points than the captaincy threshold, keep the armband on the first player. Captaincy’s change from Messi (7 points) to De Bryune (4 points) would not work out. The captaincy threshold we set before the tournament was 6 points.
  • Hypothesis: clean sheet odds in tournaments like World Cup do not mean as much as in UCL Fantasy or FPL. Weaker teams focus on their defense. Every defensive mistake is costly, so even weaker teams can keep an odd clean sheet when facing an opponent of similar strength (Tunisia, Ecuador, Poland, Mexico, Croatia, Switzerland, Morroco, Korea Republic). Stronger teams rely on their attacking power so might concede while still winning the match by a big margin (England 6:2 Iran, France 4:1 Australia).
  • Note: Triple up on players from one nation that have the best fixture (Argentina 1:2 Saudi Arabia) always looks nice on paper. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. If you want to make sure that some surprising result will not affect your fantasy team output, do not triple up regarding how good the fixture looks before the deadline. If you want to manage risks, go max 2 players per team.


Matej Šuľan

Fantasy Football enthusiast with two top 1k finishes in FPL. Best FPL overall rank: 119th in 2019/20 season. Five top 500 finishes in UCL Fantasy, best overall rank: 23rd in 2018/19 season. Founder of Fantasy Football Reports.


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