Keeping It Simple

James Egersdorff’s FPL record is quite remarkable. After 11 seasons, he has never finished outside of the top 15,000. In fact, he’s only ever finished outside the top 10,000 on two occasions. We invited him to discuss his common sense approach to FPL success

As somewhat of an FPL veteran, there are a number of strategies I use across a season that enable me to outperform the competition. These strategies can be categorised into two groups: ‘wider principles’, which are elements of my strategy that remain consistent irrespective of the point I’m at in the season and ‘focused principles’, which are more flexible depending on the specifics of a particular situation during the season. A balance between these two types of strategy is essential, but here I’m going to be discussing the former. Wider principles are the key to repeated success, and every FPL manager needs to consider theirs before the season gets underway.

Be Consistent

One of my primary wider FPL principles is to play the game with consistency. This essentially translates as identifying a strategy, executing it and not deviating from it. For example, when faced with a dilemma over which player to start, I’ll always pick the player with the home fixture. This is because I know that, over a season, teams playing at home will win more games and score more goals than teams playing away, thus increasing the likelihood of my player scoring positively. If I apply this rule consistently, there’s an increased probability my overall score will be higher – even if it doesn’t work out on a particular gameweek.

It’s about avoiding the ‘chase’ for points – that constant second guessing as to which players will outscore the other on a particular gameweek. Having a watertight rule eliminates the pain of deliberation and generally always results in a surplus of points come the end of the season.

Understand the Game

To succeed at FPL you firstly need to understand the mechanics behind accumulating points. Not only ‘how do players score points during a match’ but appreciating that you have 38 gameweeks and 11 chances within each gameweek (plus the captaincy selection and chips) to score as many points as you can. As each gameweek passes, you have fewer opportunities to build up your score before the season comes to an end. It’s, therefore, crucial to maximise your points tally each and every gameweek.

This is exactly why I seldom take a points hit to make multiple transfers. Every manager begins a gameweek with a score of 0 so by costing yourself points you’re already gifting your rivals a precious advantage. Ultimately, FPL is a prediction game: there are no guaranteed outcomes, so each week you need to give your team the highest probability of getting a strong score. You might feel you can recover from a points hit if your new signings are form players with favourable fixtures, but these players could also underperform so as a strategy, taking frequent hits is too unreliable and not an example of ‘playing with consistency’.

Unless of course, your strategy is to play with consistent risk!

Watch and Observe

Choosing players who are selected to start every week, aren’t injury prone and play an important role in their (ideally successful) team is easier said than done before the season gets underway. I study the upcoming fixtures, read match reports and do my best to familiarise myself with the starting line-ups for each team. I don’t use any high tech analytical tools. Most importantly, I utilise all of the real-life data that is available to everyone; watching the matches!

Be your own person - you’re the manager, it’s your team.

More Than a Numbers Game

My strategy does not follow any mathematical algorithm approach i.e. player X has had 20 shots on target this month so is projected to score next week. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t factor in real life. The player might have an important European game midweek, so despite these amazing statistics, player X might not even be on the pitch for the next Premier League game on Saturday. You need to plan ahead, being careful to think about the games outside of the Premier League and how they could impact team selection and player pitch time.

Get Into the Minds of the Managers

I believe that as an FPL manager it’s essential to put yourself in the shoes of a Premier League manager to work out who they’re backing to fire their team to success. Who do they trust in taking a crucial penalty? Which defenders would they encourage to bomb forward? Are they basing their strategy on keeping clean sheets or outscoring the opponent every week? If you identify which players are helping each manager execute their winning strategies then you’ll go very far up the rankings.

Be Your Own Boss

Lots of people ask me for help with their team. ‘What should I do? Who should I sign? Who is the best captain this week?’. Whilst advice of this nature can be useful, it seldom increases your overall rank. You’re actually making it easier for the better players to stay on top by not bringing your own ideas to the table. I much prefer to hear someone’s logic and justification ‘I’m looking at a player for these reasons’. If you’re unable to generate your own ideas then you’re always going to be a below average manager, as you’ll never be able to break away from the chasing pack. Be your own person – you’re the manager, it’s your team. I’m sure Conte, Mourinho, Klopp et al value the opinion of others but won’t base their team decisions on them, so you shouldn’t do so either.