Thursday, 30 May 2019

2018/19 Fantasy Premier League: The Numbers

To say this has been an incredible campaign would be an understatement. Between the best title race in memory, the worst top 4 race in memory and the goal-laden comebacks in European competitions, it has been a breathless gift of a season for Premier League fans that is already being sorely missed.

Things were just a little less exciting in the FPL race, with the winner nearly assured of his crown a week in advance. Adam Levy from New Zealand captured this season's FPL overall prize with a mammoth 2,659 points averaging just under 70 points per GW, setting the standard for next season's aspirants.

There's nothing like an FPL season review to relieve some of the post-season boredom, or at least kill some time ahead of the European finals. Let's jump in.

The players

Time well spent

The "points per 90 minutes" is a popular aggregate metric to gauge which picks deliver the most FPL points for the time they spend on the pitch over the course of the season. The upper end of the PP90 list is dominated by Manchester City, whose attackers form half of the top 10.

Fantasy Premier League 2018-19: Points per 90 minutes top 10

Ruben Loftus-Cheek's presence at #6 bodes well for his FPL prospects next season once he comes back from injury, as he seems to have established himself as first choice for the third midfield position. Things look as uncertain as ever for the likes of Mahrez, Jesus and Shaqiri, however, despite their efficient usage of minutes to deliver value. Liverpool's marauding full backs Trent Alexander-Arnold (6.77, #13) and Andy Robertson (5.96, #19) are the only defenders in the top 20.

Safe choices

The picture is slightly different from the PP90 if we want to look at players who blanked the least. Defining a "blank" as any score under 4 points in a gameweek, it is possible to come up with a "strike rate" - The percentage of matches in which a player scored 4 points or more.

Fantasy Premier League 2018-19: Top 10 players strike rate

One perspective on FPL captaincy is to sometimes consider the "safe option" - Someone assured of delivering points in a given gameweek. With that in mind, traditional wisdom is disproved somewhat with a defender leading the way - Liverpool's left-back Robertson posted a strike rate of an impressive 69%, ahead of the more-trusted Aguero (64%) and Lacazette (63%). Youri Tielemans is the only player outside the top 6 to make this chart, with an impressive 2019 with Leicester City that sees him lead illustrious names such as Kane, Salah and Hazard in this metric.

Bang for your buck

Introducing the aspect of price to PP90 provides insight into which players provided "value for money". If we use the prices from the start of the season, this is how the top 10 looks overall.

Fantasy Premier League 2018-19: Top 10 points per 90 minutes per pound

This, however, obscures the value of the PP90 metric with respect to price that led to the number in the chart. For example: Mendez-Laing of Cardiff blanked in 16 of his 20 appearances (80%) and features in this list by virtue of his 4 strikes propping up a mere 5.0 starting price. Additionally, players like Shaqiri and Lovren, while not quite as unstable, suffer from not having assured minutes.

If we look exclusively at players with a PP90 exceeding 4 and compare their PP90 with price, we can spot several players who over-delivered on their assigned price, and are worth keeping an eye out for next season.

Fantasy Premier League 2018-19: Points per 90 minutes vs Price
 
Some notable prospects:
  1. RLC (7.26 PP90 @ 5.5)
  2. Shaqiri (7.53 PP90 @7.5)
  3. Wilson (5.98 PP90 @6.0)
  4. Deulofeu (5.8 PP90 @5.5)
  5. Gray (5.53 PP90 @6.0)
The chart also clearly lays out under-delivering premium assets, such as Lukaku, Kane and KdB, who hopefully occupy more reasonable price brackets next season as a result - Particularly for the latter pair, who appeal and performances were diminished more by injuries than a lack of quality.

The Opponents

The idea here is to look at how stingy different teams have been overall, and home vs away, in allowing points to their opponents. The metric under focus is PP90 allowed per player faced.

Fantasy Premier League 2018-19: Points per 90 minutes allowed by team

Predictably, Manchester City and Liverpool (in that order) were the toughest teams to face, conceding a measly 2.3 and 2.4 points per 90 mins per player respectively. This is less than half the PP90 conceded by Huddersfield Town (4.92), the most lucrative opposition for players to pick up points against. A poor 2019 pushed Brighton (4.2) to the bottom of the "still in the league" list.

Most teams are stingier at home than away, as is intuitive, barring 3 notable exceptions: Crystal Palace, Leicester City and Manchester United, who allowed a higher PP90 at home. There are also 3 clubs who were markedly better at home than away: Bournemouth (gap of 1.46 between home and away), Chelsea (gap of 1.31) and Arsenal (gap of 1.19). Over the season, Spurs and Newcastle showed virtually no difference in points allowed based on venue.

I hope you guys enjoyed this post. You can access the full metrics for the teams and players used in this article here. If you have any suggestions or further data requests, just leave a comment and I'll see what I can do!