MONEYBALL

‘I think the question we should be asking is, do you believe in this thing or not?’

Have you seen the film MONEYBALL? It’s a firm favourite for me. Classic Brad Pitt and a film which further supported the growing belief that Jonah Hill was becoming a massive Hollywood star! For those of you who have not seen the film (and I sit and question why not), below is a summary of the plot! When reading it you will start to understand the relevance to FPL… tenuous maybe, but for me, it captures this mindset perfectly…

Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), general manager of the Oakland A’s, one day has an epiphany: Baseball’s conventional wisdom is all wrong. Faced with a tight budget, Beane must reinvent his team by outsmarting the richer ball clubs. Joining forces with Ivy League graduate Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), Beane prepares to challenge old-school traditions. He recruits bargain-bin players whom the scouts have labeled as flawed, but have game-winning potential.’

*Source, Wiki FFUKing pedia!

For those of you that can remember, I used to rabbit on about PPM (points per million) quite a lot in the WhatsApp group, lobbying that there was actually VALUE to be secured in the wider market, and by that I mean the players that come after the Top 5 of each position. The obsession of filling your team with as many 12.5m players as possible is a common one, and we seem to feel this is the only way to carve out a great squad. But it’s not, there is another way, and it’s all about the distribution of VALUE. Looking for that diamond to complete the puzzle

In this article, I want to bring the Points Per Million argument to life, justify its existence and support its methodology as ALL you need. The ugly brother of famous duo Right Said Fred once in fact belittled PPM, aka Value (Season) in his article COUNTDOWN TO KICK OFF: PP90!!! So in the spirit of not overly granulating the analysis (JDS, Jamie Stewart) I want to deploy a famous principle of mine……… The KISS principle, Keep It Stupidly Simple (or for JDS, Keep It Simple, STUPID!)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KISS_principle

So what will the KISS principle demonstrate here;

  1. Don’t spend less than 5.0m on a defender.
  2. Owning a player like Kevin De Bruyne would be a waste of money.
  3. Your strikers can be sourced and be successful for less than, ok let’s be brave, 9m!
  4. Don’t focus on trying to buy the Top 5 players for your side!

There you have it, the metaphorical nuts on the chopping block.

Furthermore, what I am confident of is that once you have finished reading this, you will formulate one of the following assumptions;

  1. This guy sniffs glue, or
  2. I need to change my recruitment policy and I can actually win this!

So where to begin? Where to start? I need to make this as coherent as possible!!!! Last year the winner of our league scored TWO THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED AND TWENTY FOUR POINTS, that’s right 2424 – won by Nick Johns with the aptly named Johnsy’s Giants! I however scored 2130, some 294 points away, and a bit closer, in 10th place, Mr.Richard Green finished with 2249 some 175 points behind!! FOR GOD SAKE, even Sean Colohan in 2nd finished 71 points behind! Nick Johns smashed it. But, rather than focus on how he did it, I want to focus on how we collectively bridge the gap, adopting a ‘Money Ball’ type theory to how we buy our players, so here we go, let’s find some VALUE!!!!

THE TEAM

The first thing I did was a full extract of the FPL player database, and then sorted players by both total player points from 2017, and importantly the PPM, that is the Value (Season). This stat is available in the second drop down box on the transfers page under ‘Sorted by’, accessible to everyone, and updated through the season.

You can see from the below tables what this threw up from last season’s performers, and the difference between these results and the overall points totals. What we are really trying to look for here is value, and the reason this is so important is that we are working to a budget. So while it may seem logical to simply try and get in as many high priced players as possible, this method looks at spreading the budget, and maximising the points return from each position.

Snip1

Snip2

 

You will see there are some familiar names, but clearly it is not as you would of expected. There are some obvious examples, Heaton was the highest scoring keeper last season with 149 points, Cahill the highest scoring defender with 178 points. But Capoue was not the highest scoring mid, and Kane is nowhere to be seen. What’s the reason for this?

Well if we are trying to create the best team based on value, unfortunately, Kane is too expensive. But Alli is 2nd for Midfielders, which in a nutshell, justifies this theory. In the end, Kane scored 224 points last season and Alli scored 225, so Alli scored more than Kane. I’ll say that again, Alli scored more than Kane. Forgetting last season’s player prices (Kane finished on 11.9m, Alli finished on 9.1m) there is a big difference in these 2 players prices this season. Kane will now cost you 12.5m, with Alli costing £3,000,000 less, at 9.5m. The point here is that you get the same points, for a lot better price with Alli. There are further examples too, look at Alonso at 7m against the similarly priced Zaha, a much stronger return and maybe the rationale for going 4-3-3 as opposed to the heavily backed 3-4-3…..

Now let me just reiterate, Alli outscored Kane last season. Who knew?

So what else can we learn by looking at PPM based on this season’s prices. Well, if you were looking at Goalkeepers, using a Total Points Scored filter, you would see DDG (136) as 4th top scorer. DDG in fact sits in 7th on PPM. Similarly, Kyle Walker (142), is the 4th highest scoring defender overall, but doesn’t even make the Top 10, and KDB with (199) is 18th by way of PPM ranking!!! The jaw dropper for me was the Fantasy Footy god which is Aguero (175) or the FFUKing Kun to some, is found 15th out of all the strikers…….. WOW, that has to be enough to make you sit back and question how we choose our players. Do we really need him?!

Now let’s have a look at building a team based around player value. I wanted to see if I could fit all the Top 5 PPM players into the same team with 100m, sadly I could not based on this years values…. In fact I spent 7 million more. What was not surprising though, was the score this PPM collective delivered: 2577 (bearing in mind that is a total squad score!) Still, that’s about 150 more than NJ.

Money Ball pic 1

Next up I tried again, but compromised on a few players in order to keep things in budget. Looking back at the earlier table you will see the squad member who highlighted in red was sacrificed, for the player in green, a little further down the pecking order, brought in to help keep the squad in budget. Of course this is all based on this season’s player values, and most of these players were a lot cheaper last time round. Again, this takes into account all players scoring points (15) and not the 11 that Nick used to get the magical 2424. but the total squad points total was 2382, not too shabby.

PPM 2

Some observations about this squad;

Fabianski was the 8th highest scoring Goalie. Clyne sat outside the Top 10 for total points scored, Snodgrass and Capoue both come in the late teens for points scored, Firmino would not of been a Top 3 striker, nor King, and Deeney was 11th for points scored. The best 11 out of this squad above would of scored 1875, some 549 points away from Nick!

But. I haven’t yet taken into account the weekly captain pick, the bench boost, the nerving use of the Triple Capitano, and of course the AOA (All Out Attack) bag of uselessness!

Now let’s confirm the starting XI in a formation most commonly adopted by me, 3-4-3; and the points these guys accrued.

The team;

Heaton 149

Cahill 178, Azpilicueta 170, Daniels 134

Alli 225, Hazard 224, Son 174, Snodgrass 133,

Deeney 130, Firmino* 180, King* 178,

TOTAL 1875

*Both Firmino and King are both now classed as forwards.

For the captains pick, I used the principle that 1 in every 4 captains picks ends in no goals, assists, or bonus points (Tim McEwan can confirm that this was a fair reflection). I then looked at a players consequential average GW points. I chose the 3 top performers and assumed a rotation of the captains armband, which is low balling it to be fair! This kicked out a level of additional points. I then added in a DGW Triple Captain assumption and also the Bench Boost, finally awarding nothing for the AOA, but I think we all agree there is no increment to be had!

The break down;

Team 1875

Capt Picks 220

DGW Triple Capt 30

Bench Boost 20

AOA nil points

TOTAL 2145

So that’s a decent score, purely based on last season’s earnings, and this season’s prices. If you factor in a cheap Josh King, or how about a cheaper Alonso (now at a whopping 7m), or this seasons Mahrez and Vardy, you can actually get even more for your money!!!

Anyway, somewhat disappointed by the above return, I realized the disservice I was giving the analysis by using this years player values, why not be a little more apples for apples and as a quick example, with a stroke of the transfer wand quickly swapped some players back in at last season’s prices. Sanchez (11m) back in for Hazard, and Alonso (6m) back in for Azpilicueta. The compound impact of this created stronger returns on the captains pick, and likewise the total score returned – 2250, which would scrape us nicely into that prized 10th spot in the FFUK League!!! REMEMBER Nick Johns 2424, that was 355th in the COUNTRY!!!

So this is what I told you;

  • Don’t spend less than 5.0m on a defender
    • Not one defender currently valued at 4.5m scored over 100 pts last season
  • Kevin De Bruyne would be a waste of money
    • Sacrifice players like the ginger prince and spend your budget on your 5m plus defenders, a healthy blend of midfielders is what is needed
  • Your strikers can be sourced and successful for less than, ok let’s be brave, 9m!
    • You can get the pts returns with your midfield options and defenders
  • Don’t focus on trying to buy the top 5 players for your side!
    • Look at the Value (Season) kpi to influence best picks

In closing, your KISS principle needs to be;

  1. Don’t worry about overly complex formulas
  2. Decide on a single big hitter for your captains pick and triple capitano fast, this is where the points gap can truly be bridged between you and Nick Johns, the man with two first names!
  3. Try to second guess the next Capoue! This will be your second differential!
  4. Wait for GW10 when true PPM can be established and then WILDCARD TO FFUK
  5. Don’t take hits, use your transfers wisely to get PPM value injected into your side and fast!
  6. If all else fails, pay Nick Johns £10 and let him manage your squad for you! Nah!

That Ladies and Gentleman is how you close the GAP! The rest is pure FFUKing luck!!!!

 

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