Sunday, 30 July 2017

The Season That Was: Fantasy Premier League

With just 2 weeks to go for the new Premier League season, the hype is building slowly as the teams wind down pre-season across the world to mount an assault on the big prizes. The sums around the players warming up for the new season are as mind-boggling as ever - At the time of writing, Premier League clubs have thrown over 970 million at the transfer market so far at 167 player movements. With a month to go before the window shuts, the 1 billion mark is set to be shattered (and then some).

"And to think I came over for 10 bleedin' million..."

One of the most popular pieces of machinery built around this hype-train is the official Fantasy Premier League game, with over 4 million players contesting last season. Let's now dive into numbers from the 2016/17 Fantasy Premier League with laser focus. All numbers were calculated considering data from players who played at least 450 minutes (the equivalent of 5 full-length matches), and matches where the player in question made an appearance.

The teams

Anyone who's taken a good look at a player's info would know that FPL assigns a 'difficulty score' ranging from 1 to 5 for all fixtures that a player has coming next. Unfortunately, I couldn't find this precise detail in the data for matches in the past (basically, all of them from 2016/17), so I went about this the hard way - using player statistics to figure out how difficult a given opponent was.

It is a simple concept: Difficulty = How hard it is to get FPL points against a team. Find out how stingy a team is. This is fairly straightforward - Consider the average points allowed per player per game (overall, home and away).

Clubs ordered by stinginess. Rankings look familiar?

Sunderland offered up 3.9 points per game to opposition players, a level of generosity 85% higher than that of champions Chelsea (2.11), who gave away just a little more than appearance points overall. The red and blue lines show an expected trend - That teams are generally stronger at home (2.77 allowed) than away (3.35 allowed).

A couple of noteworthy observations emerge if we consider the gap between points allowed at home vs away by team:
1. Home comforts: Watford (+1.34), Everton (+1.21) and Hull (+1.19) have the largest difference between how many more points they allow away as compared to their own backyards.
2. Voyagers: West Ham (-0.21) and Southampton (-0.1) were the two teams that were harder to host than visit.

The players


#9 is a #9. These things write themselves

The player who "impacted" (Scored 4 or more points) the largest proportion of games was Gabriel Jesus, who scored/assisted in 7 out of 10 (70%) appearances. At a price not too far removed from last season’s 9.0, he should be on several managers’ radars for a strong start to 2017/18. He is followed by Diego Costa (23/35 = 66%), whose strong first half to the season sees him capture second place on this list. Third is Chelsea’s marauding left full back Marcos Alonso (20/31 = 65%).

Take your positions

The position with the best average points per game was... Goalkeeper!

The fat kid gets to... score the most FPL points

Not only did the men with the gloves outdo the others overall, standing between the sticks was also the most venue-agnostic position with a home advantage of 0.3 points per game (PPG) as compared to the defenders, for whom home advantage mattered three times as much (0.9 PPG)

Keepers also have the smallest price range (4.0 - 5.5) among all positions, however, so you might be well-served picking someone at 'basement price' to enable points elsewhere. Indeed, the top-scoring goalkeeper (oxymoron alert) was the 4.5-priced Tom Heaton.

Bang for your buck

Adjusting for price, last season's MVP was Kieran Trippier, who delivered a mammoth 1.62 PPG per pound, delivering 51 points from just 568 minutes of play, priced at £5.0 at the start of last season. Also getting the most bonus points per 90 mins (1.1) for his position thanks to 5 assists, he looks an enticing prospect at£5.5.

While that is an interesting fact, it is only made relevant by the knowledge that he is now nailed-on in the absence of Walker. Generally, looking at a top 10 list here only makes sense for people who've played considerable minutes, so let's get stricter with our filter - A minimum of 1,350 minutes (15 full matches' worth) will be required.

Junior has grown up

The top 4 were listed as midfielders, and the bottom 6 are defensive players - half of those goalkeepers. Predictably, all their prices have risen for this edition, some more than others. Stanislas, Fraser and Heaton are nailed-on players with the smallest increments (+£0.5). Fans of Josh King were hardest hit by the summer revisions, with the 16-goal midfielder seeing a +£2.0 increment, and a change of role to Forward.

The biggest premium-priced let-down by far was the 2015-16 PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez, who delivered a measly 120 points from 36 matches for his initial £9.5 price tag, while Odion Ighalo was another who flattered in 2015-16 only to disappoint last season (0.36 PPG per pound at £7.5).

Bonus round

A popular aspect of FPL curiosity I will address last is bonus points. Who doesn't love gift points?

Premium domination: Free points are not so free

Sticking with the above section's 1,350 minute requirement, we find that the top 10 list is dominated by premium-priced players. Fernando Llorente, Swansea's £7.5 frontman, is currently the most affordable of this bunch.

I hope you found this interesting and useful as you prepare to boss your FPL leagues. If you want to have a look at the data, feel free to go ahead! Also let me know if there’s anything else you all want to know, and I can try to make it happen

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I check your new stuff on a regular basis. Your humoristic style is
    awesome, keep up the good work!


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