#FPL is a game of decisions.

How much time do we spend thinking about the quality of those decisions?

Here's a {thread} taking a look at some of the factors at play.

#FPLCommunity #FantasyPL #SkyFF #PremierLeague #epl

Identifying the problem

This might be under-performing players, fixture swings, inflexible team structure or a host of other common issues. The first question is likely to be 'Is this actually a problem at all?' It's often the case in FPL (& fantasy games generally)...

...that we don't have enough data to be sure. Simply put, the sample size is too small to draw conclusions. We often feel like we have to make moves to keep up with the pack. Classic FOMO. As a result we end up over-managing our teams & wasting transfers.

Assessing the alternatives

If there is a clear opportunity to improve our team & we have a reasonable degree of confidence that a move should be made, then we need to collect relevant data so we can make an informed decision. This is easier said than done. A decade back...

...there was limited accessible data for the FPL player, now there is an absolute torrent of it. We need to identify information that has the greatest relevance to our decision & give that the greatest weighting. Other data can be considered, but weighted appropriately.

The value of research

So you've spent far more of July researching players, fixtures swings & hunting for value than any sane person probably should. You're very well prepared for the coming season & based on your exhaustive research your 47th team draft is a well oiled...

...machine that gives you the best chance for a strong start. But then player x has an amazing GW or two & everyone transfers them into their team. This might not be based on any research, but instead be the product of their stellar start to the season, rising value & FOMO.

It's vital that we weigh these decisions carefully against what we already know, as well as what we've just discovered. As human beings we have a tendency to give a greater weighting than we should to what has occurred in the immediate past. That's not to say that...

...bringing in player x is necessarily a bad move. It might be a great move. But check yourself & weigh the immediate instinct against all of that careful research. It may be there are reasons to suspect the conditions have changed. It could also be a classic bandwagon.

Predicting the future

Imo an average of betting odds that take bookmaker's margins into account is probably the best way to predict future performance (after all the bookmakers all use powerful algorithms - why shouldn't we take advantage of the sum of them) while imo...

...expected values are the best way to analyse whether current performance is sustainable in the longer term (taking sample size & known quality of player into account). It may be that a specific combination of odds & expected values is the best predictive tool of all.

External influences

We've gathered the relevant data & we're in a position to weigh the evidence & make a decision. From a purely scientific perspective we might be best served by making the final decision in a vacuum but this is real life & we're constantly bombarded...

...by external influences - particularly on social media. Ultimately you have to find the balance between seeking & weighing useful information vs retaining clarity in your thinking. Reflect on it & find your sweet spot. In the end, it is (& always will be) your decision.

Internal biases

The most pernicious enemy of all in #FPL is your own mind. We are vulnerable to a host of biases that cloud & redirect our thinking. Even awareness of them doesn't offer total protection. Here are some well known ones that will affect our decisions...

Confirmation Bias - a tendency to focus on info that supports our existing view. We find ourselves dismissing data that challenges & give more weight to data that supports.

Endowment Effect - giving greater value to what we already have rather than what we don't possess.

Group Think - We're social animals & seeking conformity is a natural process. Irrational decisions can result if they are based on faulty logic, with dissent suppressed in the pursuit of harmony.

Recency Bias - we give too much weight to recent information & events.

Gamblers Fallacy - assumption that because something has happened more or less frequently than expected in the past this process will be reversed in the future.

Bandwagon Effect - where we do something primarily because others are doing it, regardless of our own beliefs.

Critical thinking is key

Sadly, total avoidance of bias in FPL decisions isn't a realistic proposition. We are all the product of our evolutionary history & view info through the lens of our experiences to reach conclusions that are at least to some degree, subjective.

The best we can hope for is an awareness of the mental shortcuts that we're vulnerable to & a determination to fend them off & be as objective as possible.

Ask yourself some tough questions, challenge your notions & always try to develop your critical thinking skills.

Evaluate your decisions

This doesn't just mean did we score more points as a product of this single decision (although keeping a record of this is wise). What it really means is don't worry about outcomes so much. Just because player 1 scored big in the GW we chose to...

...bring player 2 instead doesn't mean it was the wrong call. For instance if xG suggests that player 2 (we know from seasons of previous data to be a top player) should have had a big haul but blanked & nothing dramatic has changed for this player there's a good chance...

...this is variance & the decision could be sound. Whereas if player 1 had a v.low xG but luckily scored a hat-trick then this actually probably wasn't the best decision, even though we had a v.fortunate outcome. Luck will always be a larger factor in smaller sample sizes.

Focus on the quality of the decision

If the decision looks sound based on the information that you had access to at the time it was made then you are on the right track.

Don't chase previous outcomes.

Quality decision making will always pay off in the long run.

Good luck & I hope your team enjoys a fair wind at its back this season.

(Because with 6.6 million #FPL players we all need a bit of that)

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