Stag’s Take – Gameweek 6
An utterly horrendous Gameweek 5, in which my team scored just 53 points, has left me sprawled on my sitting room floor looking for answers. Are they behind the couch? Nope, there’s only the skeleton of an Alexis owner who hid there midway through last season. On the mantelpiece? Nope, there's just a framed picture of Sergio Aguero when he scored 5 in 20 minutes against Newcastle on October 3rd 2015. It's holding pride of place alongside an engraved silver plate describing Pavel Pogrebnyak’s solitary hat-trick for Fulham in 2012 against Wolves.
I haven’t been able to reach a conclusion in my head about Aguero and a potential shift to a “Power 3” up front in my own side – unquestionably City are in hot form and Aguero will score goals, but ahead of the Watford game I had much more confidence in his partner Gabriel Jesus, as you may have read last week in this column. Dropping Lukaku, who has scored in all but one of his games this term seems like folly, while I have an ingrained fear in turning my back on Harry Kane after doing so was my downfall last season. The latter’s underlying stats continue to promise a monstrous set of returns coming down the tracks and his braces against Leicester and Dortmund in recent weeks cannot be discarded from the mind blithely. One thing I know for sure is that decisions over elite strikers will continue to shape our teams' fortunes throughout the campaign.
In a bid to try and boost my fantasy football confidence, I visited a (far) more computer literate school-friend in the hopes that he would dig up some information about the Top 10k teams as we approach Gameweek 6 – The results were astounding. I’d just like to put my thanks in writing to Mr. JC for his assistance here before I move into that segment. He has little interest in football but soldiered on at the promise of a beverage or two on me!
Who are the current Top 10k?
The top 10k has a mythical status amongst the FPL Community as the ultimate benchmark of a quality season. The consensus seems to be that it’s a threshold which can be broken by good team management and a bit of luck, while I think everyone can acknowledge that breaking into the top 1,000 of millions of FPL managers takes a few acres filled with four-leaf clovers.
While JC helped me get this data, I must also doff my cap to FPL Discovery as his research on the 2014/15 season inspired much of my approach to this piece. I hope to give a few updates on the “State of the Top 10k” as the season ticks along, but I would be delighted to hear any suggestions with regards to other information I should try to unearth about the game – Hit me up @FPLStag on Twitter with your thoughts!
CLAIM: The Top 10k changes so much this early in the season that any examination of the group is futile.
CONCLUSION: This is not the case.
I have to say I was really surprised by this: 5,297 of the Top 10k have been there since Gameweek 1. MORE THAN HALF!
At the other end of the scale, Gameweek 5 was the joint-highest scoring week based on the average (58) since Gameweek 1. One would be forgiven for thinking that such a high-scoring week would rocket a huge volume of sides into the upper echelons of the overall ranks, but one would be wrong. Just over 5% of the top tier, or 506 teams, broke through after last weekend. It seems to me that we already have a situation where the rich are getting richer in FPL.
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CLAIM: Most of the sides in the Top 10k are there because they have wasted chips or have benefitted from an early Wildcard.
CONCLUSION: This myth is busted too!
Let’s look at this bit by bit:
Just over 10% of the Top 10k have used their Wildcard at all. Thus it seems that my “Rich getting richer” theory has held very well when you consider how many teams have occupied a berth in the Top 10k since Gameweek 1.
Here is a graph showing WHEN the Wildcard were played. As a guide, 372 played in gameweek two means that 372 were played post-GW1 ahead of GW2.
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My findings with regard to chips has terrified me. A lot of FPL nuts would have dismissed the current leaders as Triple Captain or Bench Boost wasters. For sure, some teams have used them, but the vast majority haven’t. Just 5,166 chips (not Wildcard) have been used by the Top 10k. I would have thought (and perhaps hoped from a selfish point of view!) that this figure would have exceeded at least 10,000! Furthermore, 5,587 teams of the top 10,000 have kept their powder completely dry and used NO CHIPS OR WILDCARD. These teams have already cemented a top rank and will be very hard to catch in the next 33 Gameweeks. They are equipped to roll with the injury punches of fixture congestion, can exploit double gameweeks equally as well as the trailing pack, yet have a points buffer which permits them to pick shield (safe) options each week for the armband. It’s everyone else who needs to catch them.
I looked at the combinations of chips these managers have used too. Not much more than 10% of the top managers can be dismissed as chip burning fools. You can come to your own conclusions based on this:
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CLAIM: The Top 10k is packed with lucky new players who have never proven themselves over the course of an FPL season before.
Here is a table which looks at the top 10k’s FPL Pedigree:
Yes, that’s right. Just under a third have never completed an FPL season. Sure, you can discard some of that figure as people who have created a new account or whatever but it’s indisputable that we have many green heads in control at the top. Perhaps we’re all idiots to think experience counts for something? Lol (Note: I don’t believe that last statement).
Just 1.25% of all the Top 10k have even proved themselves capable of doing so once! The numbers who have repeated that feat even once, as you can see, are miniscule. I stretched the boundaries to see how many placed in the exalted top 1k and that number is pretty negligible too. Just two have repeated the feat.
My thoughts on the findings:
Clearly it’s going to be tough to overhaul the gap to the top sides already. That said, I think you’d be silly to think that you need to rely on a team of differentials to close in on the leaders – instead, focus on having a strong team and getting your captaincy choice right. The gap between 500k and 100k is 22 points. The gap between 100k and 10k is another 22 points. It’s just another 17 points from there to 1k. Picking the right captain will usually see you shave 5 or 10 points off the gap to those thresholds provided the rest of your side doesn’t crash and burn – don’t panic!
I think people are forgetting this...
— #FPL Stag (@FPLStag) September 22, 2017
Gabriel Jesus/Sergio Aguero (Crystal Palace H)
Which one to pick? Who knows? All I know is that CrystalPalacestill haven’t scored in the PL and they look pretty hopeless too.Watford were actually well-tipped going into last weekend’s thrashing atVicarage Road – how can you bet against City and their dynamic strike force now?
It is worth noting that Jesus was started in the midweek Carabao Cup fixture againstWest Brom, and is yet to be rested even once this term. Some would speculate that the Brazilian will be rested this weekend but with Pep’s unpredictable rotation strategy it’s never possible to be completely sure!
Jesus actually ranks above Aguero for expected goals this season 2.5 compared to the Argentine’s 2.4 though of course last weekend’s hat-trick edges Aguero in front in the race for the golden boot with five goals, one more than Jesus.
As the cheaper option, Jesus seems more viable in the long term to me if you hope to keep some of the other big guns in your frontline too. However, Aguero is safer, and history tells you he will score.
Romelu Lukaku (Southampton A)
Roses are red, violets are blue, Romelu Lukaku’s consistency is true.
Sorry that was terrible, but you get my drift. The Belgian has 5 goals this season and has blanked just once while spearheading one of the Premier League’s most impressive attacks. It’s hard to bet against him when he visits Saint Mary’s this weekend.
He has his place deservedly too, ranking second for expected goals with 3.0. Just six of his 21 shots on goal from play came from outside the box, showing his predatory nature in the box and also highlighting the specific role he plays in United’s attack.
One stat you may not see highlighted by anyone else this week isSouthampton’s susceptibility to headed shots. The are joint-worst with Arsenal in terms of headed shots conceded per game with 3.5, a skill which Lukaku has proven himself adept at over the years. He has one headed goal already this season.
Wilfried Bony (Watford H)
After the City game I’ve lost all my confidence inWatfordso why not back fit-again Bony against the Hornets?
As a left-field differential, the Ivorian is tough to match, with clear potential from his brilliant performances for the Swans before he left the club a few years ago.
From the short cameos off the bench we’ve seen in the PL and Bony’s promising 81 minutes in the Carabao Cup in midweek, Clement is ready to deploy the cult-hero this weekend. A risky option no doubt, and as I said earlier, risks at this point in the season are largely pointless! We don’t have a good sample of data to decide on Bony, so we have to work on hunches – if you feel it, why not?
Stag has been providing #FPL Tips since July 2015 and has been a contributor for Rotoworld.com since August 2016. He is a self-proclaimed wannabe fantasy football genius, a student, and die-hard tea enthusiast.