The race to become global Fantasy Premier League (FPL) champion went down to the wire, with Simon March, leader since GW24, prevailing. It capped an often unpredictable, ever so frustrating season that yielded fewer overall points than the 2013-14 season. The conclusion of the 2014-15 season will be accompanied by a baron summer without major European football competition, so in this time of being left in the sun to burn, the Hype Train introduces you to the first of its articles with an in-depth review of the FPL season.
Saturday August 23rd 2014 seems an age ago, but most will remember fondly when on the first day of the season, Ki scored for Swansea at Old Trafford, and Gylfi Sigurdsson came well and truly onto the radar of FPL managers. Ten months removed, with avid players of the FPL looking back wondering where it went right and wrong, the season had to start somewhere, and in traditional Premier League fashion, the players who made the cut, and those who didn’t shaped the early stages of the season.
A Beginner’s Tale…
We begin our dissection of the season looking at the early season form of newly crowned BPL Champions, Chelsea. With a favourable opening four fixtures, FPL managers will vaguely remember the process of picking their teams based on the opening run of games. Chelsea screamed of big points hauls, and they didn’t disappoint should you have picked the right three to have in your team.
On Fine Form: Cesc Fabregas
GW 1 (vs. Burnley): Two assists
GW 2 (vs. Leicester): One assist
GW 3 (vs. Everton): One assist
GW 4 (vs. Swansea): Two assists
GW 7 (vs. Arsenal): One assist
GW 8 (vs. Crystal Palace): One goal
GW 9 (vs. Man United): One assist
GW 10 (vs. QPR): One assist
Overall points after the opening ten games: 61
Over the course of the first ten Gameweek’s, Fab’s fine form had led to 9 assists and a solitary goal, accumulating a minimum of 31 points and despite the occasional booking and Chelsea’s defensive incapability during this period, Fab was at one time in over 45% of all teams in the game. For every success story, FPL punters aiming for Chelsea to replicate their attacking form were to be sorely mistaken.
Chelsea Clean Sheets: GW’s 1-10
GW 2: Chelsea 2-0 Leicester
GW 6: Chelsea 3-0 Aston Villa
GW 7: Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal
Three clean sheets in ten was simply not good enough to justify the high price tag that Chelsea defenders occupied. Branislav Ivanovic was a rare case of Chelsea defenders getting amongst the points.
Justified of his price tag: Ivanovic
GW 1 (vs. Burnley): One goal (10)
GW 2 (vs. Leicester): One assist, clean sheet (12)
GW 3 (vs. Everton): One goal (7)
GW 6 (vs. Aston Villa): Clean sheet (6)
GW 7 (vs. Arsenal): Cleen sheet (7)
Overall points after the opening ten games: 47
Alongside a solid opening ten, Ivan also got a solitary point at home against Swansea, and an away day at Man City, and would have been more had Frank Lampard not sprung up against his old club. With a favourable opening five fixtures, managers on the most part consisted of a Chelsea squad, which is of course if you found room to accommodate Ivanovic’s seven million price tag at the start of the season.
A striker right off the mark: Diego Costa
GW 1 (vs. Burnley): One goal
GW 2: (vs. Leicester): One goal
GW 3 (vs. Everton): Two goals
GW 4 (vs. Swansea): Three goals
GW 6 (vs. Aston Villa): One goal
GW 7 (vs. Arsenal): One goal
Overall points after the opening ten games: 56
How else did Chelsea’s team rank? (points after the opening 10)
Cesc Fabregas: 61
Diego Costa: 56
Branislav Ivanovic: 47
Eden Hazard: 54
Thibaut Courtious: 31
Cesar Azpilicueta: 30
Gary Cahill: 28
John Terry: 28
Andre Schurrle: 23
Didier Drogba: 13
Loic Remy: 12
Filipe Luis: 6
In general, these three Chelsea players deserve applause from managers, especially as the number of net transfers in their favour does not lie.
Net Transfers (opening ten)
Costa: +576, 697
Cost of having these three in at the start and end of the season?
Fabregas: 9.0m (start), 9.1 (finish) - +0.1 (peak: GW 15, 9.8m)
Ivanovic: 7.0m (start), 7.7m (finish) - +0.7 (peak, GW 38)
Costa: 10.5m (start), 10.6m (finish) - +0.1 (peak: GW 22, 11.2)
Of course, we have excluded Eden Hazard, the player of the season, from this opening section because the general trend at the beginning was developing a Chelsea spine that revolved around the two Spaniards. Alternatively it was an attacking trio of Hazard, Fab, and Costa that was also heavily popular, but with injuries to both Costa and Fabregas, and Costa’s unreliability in matches to gain enough points to accumulate bonus points, the formula for the Fantasy Premier League changed with the arrival of the Hurrikane.
Harry Kane’s Arrival and the Age of Affordable Attackers
Spurs fan constantly sing that Harry Kane is one of their own, you know that song that has been played on repeat more times than reruns of Top Gear and QI on Dave. Well in our regard, Kane, an FPL player also, became one of our own in the 2014-15 season. An assist against West Ham (who can forget people riding the Eric Dier hype train, only for the gamble to crash and burn), did little to put Kane on the radar, especially since people at the time believed Roberto Soldado would be the key striker for Spurs. We’re also not forgetting the 3,017 FPL players that drafted in Emanuel Adebayor for the second game of the season, a 4-0 home victory against QPR, in which Ade scored one, assisted one, and claimed all three bonus points.
Harry Kane came onto the radar at exactly GW 10, when in thirty-three minutes as a substitute the recent England international netted his first goal for Spurs.
Kane’s most prolific point’s tallies.
GW 18 (2-1 away vs. Leicester): One goal, one assist (12)
GW 20 (5-3 home vs. Chelsea): Two goals, two assists (18)
GW 23 (3-0 away vs. West Brom): Two goals, one assist (13)
GW 24 (2-1 home vs. Arsenal): Two goals (12)
GW 25 (2-3 away vs. Liverpool): One goal, one assist (11)
GW 28 (2-1 away vs. QPR): Two goals (13)
GW 30 (4-3 home vs. Leicester): Three goals (17)
These seven particular GW’s are merely just the tip of the iceberg in a stellar campaign for the Hurrikane, who delivered consistently until the final week of the season when he scored a classic header away at Everton, punctuating that those sceptical of his abilities having endured a four-game goalless run, were wrong in doing so. We at the Hype Train believe that should Harry be at a reasonable price at the start of the 2015-16 campaign, FPL managers are going to struggle ignoring his goal-scoring prowess, even more so if Spurs are handed a favourable opening run of games.
The Three Lions Roar: Charlie Austin
When talking attackers, and the make up of this FPL season, Kane was not the only Englishman to come into his own this season. Berahino and Ings came forth in their own right, but if not for Kane’s stellar season, all eyes would be on Austin. As an FPL player that not only kept faith with the QPR hitman, but was a mainstay in my team throughout the season, and going through the thrill of watching him snatch a trio of goals against West Brom, and performing brilliantly during QPR’s DGW33, this season’s biggest underdog award has to go to Chaz, despite the relegation. Austin occupied the third striker’s slot, alongside Kane, and for the most part of the season when fit, Aguero. All three made it into the FPL Dream Team at the end of the season, and of course the Hype Train team of the season too. As you’ll see below, Austin on the whole was consistent, taking penalties, showing from inside and out of the box, and provided many assists as well.
Without pushing too much of an agenda onto you lovely readers, the Hype Train are not the only ones wishing he’ll make a swift transfer to another BPL club that can give Austin more service to build upon for the season ahead.
Austin’s Seasons Best
GW 3 (1-0 home vs. Sunderland): One goal (9)
GW 9 (2-0 home vs. Aston Villa): Two goals (13)
GW 13 (3-2 home vs. Leicester): One goal, one assist (10)
GW 17 (3-2 home vs. West Brom): Three goals (17)
GW 26 (1-2 away vs. Hull): One goal (9)
GW 31 (4-1 away vs. West Brom): One goal, two assists (15)
GW 31 (3-3 vs. Aston Villa): One goal (6)
Kane and Austin provided the two cheap attacking options, freeing up money for one almighty striker, and three to four expensive midfielders, depending on the finance of any given team. was one case of plenty of affordable striker’s coming out of nowhere and into the attention of FPL at some point in the season. So we’ll let our graphics do the talking when we profile reasonably priced strikers, and an Ivorian exception.
A case for the defence: The Saints
Candidates for relegation pre-season due to a supposed ‘exodus’ from the club amongst football pundits, Southampton turned pub talk on its head by becoming the BPL’s surprise package. Like most good teams, new manager Ronald Koeman build the team from the back, with Fonte leading the USS Saint Mary onto fifteen clean sheets throughout a season. Even when conceding, throughout the course of the season much praise has been heaped on the Saints three Englishman, their flavourful Belgian loan, their oriental spice, and their Portuguese captain.
Forster. Clyne. Alderweireld. Fonte. Bertrand. To a smaller extent, Yoshida. Six names that proved to be FPL sensations throughout the season. In particular the full-back partnership of Bertrand and Clyne lit up the Premier League as one of the most formidable in recent memory.
Southampton’s brick wall. (Season clean sheets)
GW 2: Southampton 0-0 West Brom
GW 4: Southamption 4-0 Newcastle
GW 5: Swansea 0-1 Southampton
GW 8: Southampton 8-0 Sunderland
GW 9: Southampton 1-0 Stoke
GW 10: Hull 0-1 Southampton
GW 11: Southampton 2-0 Leicester
GW 17: Southampton 3-0 Everton
GW 20: Southampton 2-0 Arsenal
GW 21: Man United 0-1 Southampton
GW 24: QPR 0-1 Southampton
GW 25: Southampton 0-0 West Ham
GW 28: Southampton 1-0 Crystal Palace
GW 30: Southampton 2-0 Burnley
GW 32: Southampton 2-0 Hull
Where Chelsea and Everton disappointed, the two teams that FPL managers have historically used to fill their defensive spots, a Southampton side ridiculed for overhauling their side due to the likes of Lallana and Shaw leaving for ‘brighter’ horizons, filled that void for a second consecutive season. We’re not forgetting a time when Lovren and Shaw were the go to options for the 2013-14 season.
End of Season points tally: Saint’s defence
Overall, trust with Chelsea and Southampton reigned supreme, not out of choice, but out of unpredictability and cost issues. The Manchester clubs offered very little from defenders, most players priced out. For the most part players were left with budget options in goal and at the back to facilitate for pricy midfield players.
Finding men in the middle…
Perhaps most challenging this season has been occupying spaces in the midfield. We have already established that the defence relied upon Southampton, and frustrated players over the loss of defensive form with Chelsea and Everton defenders that proved so reliable, but as facts have proven, was rectified at the latter end of the FPL campaign. The biggest challenge was finding the right mix of in-form midfielders and wildcards that would yield consistency. As ever, the beginning of the campaign is more gruelling, a lack of funds means people have to build towards players by increasing squad value by drafting in players on the Hype Train. Despite being costly to begin the season with, the biggest price riser when the season ended was Arsenal’s Chilean import from Barcelona. Alexis Sanchez. A player when at his best helped define the 2014-15 season.
Always Involved: Alexis Sanchez’s best showings.
GW 3 (1-1 away vs. Leicester): One goal (10)
GW 8 (2-2 home vs. Hull): One goal, one assist (13)
GW 9 (2-0 away vs. Sunderland): Two goals (16)
GW 10 (3-0 home vs. Burnley): Two goals (16)
GW 18 (2-1 home vs. QPR): One goal, one assist (10)
GW 21 (3-0 home vs. Stoke): Two goals, one assist (19)
GW 31 (3-1 home vs. Liverpool): One goal, one assist (13)
GW 35 (3-1 away vs. Hull): Two goals (15)
Total season score: 207 (only third behind Eden Hazard and Sergio Aguero for the season)
Sanchez: Home vs. Away
Home: 118 points (9 goals, 6 assists)
Away: 89 points (7 goals, 2 assists)
Alexis’s form was predominately a feature during home games, where Arsenal pushed teams back and allowed Ozil to dictate play in the CAM role. Sanchez and Cazorla on the most part were afforded a great deal of time and space to provide assists. On the road, Alexis struggled, only managing two assists, meaning that in some weeks when Arsenal faced another top four challengers, managers did not fear benching the Chilean to the bench for a game.
David Silva, unlike Alexis Sanchez, was seen as immortal to the rotation bug, but at times was culpable of being substituted before the sixtieth minute. The Spanish midfielder spent much of his season on the left hand side of midfield, but that didn’t prevent Silva from getting himself into goal-scoring and assisting positions, and he’s been doing that since day one when he’s been in the BPL.
Twelve is Silva’s number this season (FPL History)
2010/11: 144 (4 goals, 9 assists, 16 clean sheet points)
2011/12: 184 (6 goals, 17 assists, 15 clean sheet points)
2012/13: 147 (4 goals, 12 assists, 15 clean sheet points)
2013/14: 151 (7 goals, 12 assists, 12 clean sheet points)
2014:15: 191 (12 goals, 12 assists, 12 clean sheet points)
Silva’s defining FPL moments this season.
GW 9 (1-2 away vs. West Ham): One goal (10)
GW 17 (3-0 home vs. Crystal Palace): Two goals (16)
GW 18 (3-1 away vs. West Brom): One goal, one assist (14)
GW 26 (5-0 home vs. Newcastle): Two goals, one assist (17)
GW 28 (2-0 home vs. Leicester): One goal (11)
GW 36 (6-0 home vs. QPR): One goal, two assists (16)
The only downside to Silva’s fine form this season is the dreaded yellow card. Stats back themselves up, and just like City stuck in a corner, David Silva often came out kicking (quite literally).
Is David Silva the new Paul Scholes?
(Silva’s yellow card history)
The loss of even a single point could cause the most heated FPL fan to make an enraged FIFA fan boy lost for words, but when you’ve got Eden Hazard in your team, and it goes without saying here, the point’s magnet usually and commonly took away any ill-fate from a player’s Gameweek.
Hazard’s Player of the Year season.
Clean Sheet Points: 19
Bonus Points: 42
Total Points: 233
Did you know?: Hazard scored and assisted the same number of goals in the 2013/14 season, but only finished on 202 points. The sizable difference is down to bonus points, with Hazard only obtaining 23 bonus compared to this seasons 42. The rest of the difference is made up by clean sheet points, with Hazard achieving 19 this season compared to the 14 from the 2014 season.
Chelsea themselves had come forward to criticise the lack of of penalties the club had been awarded during the season. The article itself was incredibly bias and intentionally persuasive. All a part of the Jose Mourinho approach. Fans of the club have been vocal about what they believe to be an injustice. Perhaps the biggest injustice of all though was when Diego Costa stepped up to score his 20th goal of the season via the penalty spot on the final day of the season. Pegged down as their penalty supreme, Hazard stepped aside to allow Costa to reach a landmark for strikers in the BPL. Let’s have a look at the penalties Hazard did get though, and no he didn’t score them all.
For reference, Chelsea were awarded five penalties, and despite the groans from Chelsea loyalists, only five teams (Man City, Crystal Palace, Everton, Arsenal, and Liverpool) received more penalties. Chelsea finished on five, level with Spurs, West Brom, Man United, and QPR.
Hazard’s 2014/15 penalties.
GW 7 (2-0 home vs. Arsenal): Scored
GW 10 (2-1 home vs. QPR): Scored
GW 31 (2-1 home vs. Stoke): Scored
GW 35 (1-0 home vs. Crystal Palace): Missed (scored via the rebound)
All five of Chelsea’s penalties came at home, with the Blues unable to be awarded a single spot-kick in nineteen away days. It is a low count on a personal note for Hazard, but in reflection of the season, they were only denied on two concrete occasions, including Fabregas’s incident at St Mary’s which saw the midfielder booked.
When summarising Eden’s season, it’s perhaps easier talking about the times he didn’t perform at a fantasy level, and that count is joyously low for all players.
Hazard’s two pointers.
GW 3 (3-1 away vs. Burnley)
GW 4 (4-2 home vs. Swansea)
GW 9 (1-1 away vs. Man United)
GW 11 (2-1 away vs. Liverpool)
GW 15 (1-2 away vs. Newcastle)
GW 29 (1-1 home vs. Southampton)
GW 34 (3-1 away vs. Leicester)
GW 36 (1-1 home vs. Liverpool)
GW 37 (0-3 away vs. West Brom)
Rejoice, Liverpool fans! You’ve at least got one accomplishment on your side. You’re the only team to halt Eden Hazard both home and away, and stifle FPL of points. Also of a noteworthy mention is that two of Chelsea’s three league defeats are featured in the nine total dud games for the Belgian. When Eden is performing, it quite literally damages Chelsea’s chances of winning. Haters of the West London club will be hoping that Hazard’s occasional inability to perform in the north of the country will continue, but he’s player of the year for a reason.
With one space left in midfield, two men stick on the mind as having great seasons for themselves and FPL players. We’ll let our graphics do the talking when going into the best of the rest.
Between the Sticks: Reliable Shotstoppers
Perhaps the most intriguing position of the season is the goalkeeping spot during the 2014-15 season. Underutilised, definitely. Bonus points weighed heavily against their favour, almost certainly. The position given least consideration, undoubtedly. It says it all about GK’s this season when the majority of players who had the cheap as chips Boaz Myhill (4.0m at the time) in their FPL squads against Manchester United at Old Trafford, dropped the stand in for the injured Ben Foster. Myhill went on to give the biggest returns of the season for any keeper, 17, and in doing so became the only GK to be the top player of the week. Let’s start off by looking at the Golden Boot for the season.
2014/15 Golden Boot (clean sheets)
Joe Hart (MCI): 14
Lukasz Fabianski: 13
Fraser Forster: 13
Simeon Mignolet: 13
Thibaut Courtious: 12
The golden boot doesn’t do fair reflection on the fortunes of the everyday FPL player, however. Every single keeper here is 5m plus, and most did not feature in FPL sides.
FPL Price of Golden Boot Contenders
Joe Hart: 6.0 (start), 6.1 (end)
Fabianski: 5.0 (start), 5.3 (end)
Forster: 5.0 (start), 5.3 (end)
Mignolet: 5.5 (start), 5.4 (end)
Courtious: 6.0 (start), 5.9 (end)
Total FPL Score of the Golden Boot Contenders?
How many people owned these GK’s at the end of the season?
By the end of the season, Fantasy Football Fix predicts that more than half of the FPL teams were inactive, so looking at such percentages might do more harm than good. Three of the top goalkeepers do actually feature in the golden boot hunt.
Top 5 FPL Goalkeepers
Questions must be asked at this stage, however. Why would any active player have Hart in their teams? Fabianski is cheaper, and more reliable than Man City’s woeful defending at times this season. Why would you pick Fabianski when you’ve got an option 1m cheaper in Heaton? Why would you pick Adrian for the same reason? Why would an FPL player invest heavily with a GK when Fabianski, the top GK, was the second worst player in the overall Dream Team? The only player with fewer points was Jagielka with 142. These are all respectable questions when you think what you get with a budget option. Money that managers could otherwise use to bolster their attacking ranks, especially in a season of inconsistency.
Top Budget Keepers
Heaton (Burnley): 150
Pantilimon (Sunderland): 123
Speroni (Crystal Palace): 115
Green (QPR): 114
Guzan (Aston Villa): 112
Begovic (Stoke): 106
Krul (Newcastle): 99
Budget Keeper Ownership (end of season)
Ownership for Krul and Guzan was high all season, and in regards to ownership for budget keepers over premium, the gap is minimal, with most active players near the end of the season putting their money in Mignolet for a DGW period, and Ospina, who doesn’t feature in these lists. Costel Pantilimon, for us at the Hype Train, is the keeper that deserves to be singled out.
3 Point Panti
Games played: 28
Clean sheets: 11
Saves: 111 (5th most)
Yellow cards: 2
Bonus points: 7
Times in Dream Team: 4 (most out of any GK)
Points per game: 4.4
Total points: 123
The only GK’s ahead of Panti in the average points section are goalkeepers that played just above ten games, or below that margin. Valdes, Cech, Myhill, and Butland, all scored higher average points, leaving Panti as the most consistent keeper in the league. We nicknamed him 3 Point Panti because no matter the occasion, Panti was always good for the save points. Only on 7 occasions did he fall below that level. Had Panti been playing all season, he’d no doubt be the number one GK in this year’s FPL, and he makes our Team of the Season because he was such an influential and consistent force to be reckoned with, from beginning until end.
The 2014-15 Formation
As the season progressed and active FPL managers saw a growth in value to their squads, an apparent theme was set in. The trio of David Silva, Eden Hazard, and Alexis Sanchez, was a certainty if your team was in the top 25k of all players. On any given week the three of them were in every single team in the top 1000. The chunk of money used on the three, around 30m, meant that there had to be subsidies in other positions. It was increasingly rare that four pricy midfielders creeped into your FPL team, simply because the 4th man allowed you to have a marquee defender, and a second prolific striker. It was either that, or find yourself with five reasonably priced defenders, none above 5m, most below 4.5m, i.e. the likes of Patrick Van Aanholt, Hector Bellerin, Paul McShane, pre-injury Kyle Naughton, Andrew Wisdom or Craig Dawson depending on the time of the season, an early Paul Dummett, a late Jeffrey Schlupp or Wes Morgan, and John O’Shea were frequent additions to FPL sides.
The final midfield position was up for grabs, with a wide variety including Sigurdsson, Downing, Mane, Ki, Bolasie or Puncheon, among countless others who could fill the void. Pricing mattered this year a lot more than the last FPL season because though there have been established patterns for both seasons 2013-14 was all about the Liverpool trio of Suarez, Sturridge, Gerrard, with Yaya, Lallana, and Hazard backed up by Everton and Chelsea defenders. 2014-15 was definitely built around a marquee midfield, with Sergio Aguero leading the front line, supported by Harry Kane and another budget attacking option such as Charlie Austin, Sadio Berahino, backed up by Chelsea and Southampton defenders. The top goalkeeping options rarely breached the 5m barrier, with Panti, Krul, Schmeichel, and Foster, among regulars with managers willing to break the bank for Forster, Mignolet, and on occasion, the top GK Fabianski.
The pricing shaped the line-up because there was little faith or consistency with defenders. Speaking from experience, each member of the Hype Team dreaded the prospect of placing faith in four or five defenders. Everton were not reliable, Chelsea conceded at home to most sides in the bottom half, Liverpool Man United, and Man City offered no value for money in regards to pain gains, leaving little option to put in the cheapest of the bunch. The emergence of Harry Kane meant that cost of the strikers load was lessened, meaning manager’s often kept faith with three up top. The only occasions we’ve experienced with four at the back are when managers have doubled down on defenders, or there is a double-gameweek and several of the regulars are not competing.
A common deviation from the popular 3-4-3 formation was the 3-5-2, but was only used when you had a striker playing an away day at one of the top four, i.e. if Charlie Austin and QPR were playing away from home, and you had a fully fit five that possessed the potential to potentially your own expectation. More often than not, however, the 3-4-3’s dominance was faultless for the majority of the campaign if your money was well placed in consistent starters, aka captains and set-piece specialists. You could have four of the cheapest players in the game, for example Stoke’s Andy Wilkinson, only valued at 3.8m, to help fund an all-out main eleven.
This was a year on concession, and constant frustration, in which logic and planning was often disrupted by a bolt out of the blue that would cost your team dearly. The proven formula with team selection that provided any blow to your team, such as John Terry or Ivanovic missing out on a clean sheet, was a shared frustration, which meant that at times the fringe players took a stand, such as Sunderland’s defence in DGW37 or attacking options for QPR or Aston Villa during their 3-3 double-gameweek matchup.
When revising the season, there is not much debate about the success of the 3-4-3 formation this season. The formation is what most new and returning players will use in the opening weeks of last season. Heading into the new campaign, without prices being announced, it sounds the wisest bet as of writing.
The Champion: Simon March
So where exactly did the season accumulate? Whilst the majority of players focus on mini-leagues with friends, work colleagues and with people from all corners of this blue and green marble, at the very top lied Simon March. A player that proved immovable after GW 24 when he took to the summit, never looking back. Only a final day hat-trick from Theo Walcott was enough to shake Simon’s nerves as he held onto his fourteen GW lead.
The new champ has been profiled by the rest of the fantasy football community, and pardon the pun here, but we’re jumping aboard the hype train in congratulating the 2014-15 champ. We have no idea what kind of blood pressure Simon ended up with, and what vessel of concealment he hid himself behind as he watched the action unfold on the final day. Congratulations, champ.
We’ll leave some stats of Simon’s just below, but check out articles on FantasyFootballScout and the official Premier League website for more in-depth analysis of March’s victory.
Facing Simon March’s Facts.
Overall Position: 1st of 3,502,998
Nearest Rival: Joe Sumner, 2449 points
Wildcard: Gameweek 34
Winter Wildcard: Gameweek 24
Hype Train Team of the Season
How did the Hype Team get on?
The three man team here were all at different levels throughout the season. Each took a while to establish their preferred methods. We’ll hear from each of them briefly about their trials throughout the season.
Global rank: 21,495
Out of the three, I (Pownage), did significantly better than my two brothers in arms. If we’re going to talk about the season in a nutshell, my personal experience was a tale of two stories. In my mini-league, which I eventually won, I was trailing our leader, Ryan all the way up until GW24. The first half of my season was a process of discovery as I fully understood the dynamics of the game. How to make money. Team balance. Doubling down on defenders. Captaining the right player. Just generally getting it. For example, I think Liverpool’s near-glory of last season meant that I wasn’t seeing clearly when I kept faith with Coutinho, Sterling and Sturridge, for far too long. I even put in Balotelli at one point, expecting big things. At the time none of us were wise to the fact that it’d take Balotelli up until the home game at Spurs to score his first goal of the season.
In August I only managed 111 points, but every month after I finished in a podium place, mostly first or second. My reigning tactic for the first half of the season just didn’t work. I had no luck with Alexis Sanchez in my team, and transferred his hefty price tag out of my team just before he scored 17 points at home to Stoke. On top of that I didn’t put in Costa and Fabregas at the beginning of the season, and it took me longer than most to get David Silva in. Looking back, I had no idea what I was doing. Believing my path to be laden with logic, I just could not get players on the Hype Train at the right time. It was frustrating seeing what should have been easy points be chipped away by the demon that is fantasy football.
The second half of the season was the complete reverse. The reason I finished in the top 25k is down to sticking both Azpi and John Terry in defence, keeping consistency with Hazard, Silva, Cazorla, and a wildcard midfielder. That, and constantly backing against QPR and my beloved Newcastle, despite Austin's inclusion. The winter wildcard was particularly kind to me. Up top I relied heavily on Kane, Austin, and Aguero. When Aguero was injured, Giroud went in. Arsenal beat Aston Villa 5-0, and Jonathan Walters, who was my vice-captain for the week, bagged three goals against QPR. Arsenal and Chelsea had 6 slots in my team. For the last 8 Gameweek’s I dropped 4 points on each occasion to build my team for the upcoming DGW’s, and never once dropped in the global rankings. On the final day I replaced a sure-to-be injured Eden Hazard with Steven Gerrard, and somehow managed to score in a 6-1 defeat.
Had I figured out the game from the get go, I believe that Pownage FC would have broken the top 5k, easily. Each week I was aiming to break the 50 point barrier, once I got my own Hype Train moving, there was only four weeks in the second half of the season I fell below that line.
Things I learnt about this season are that there is no reliability with defenders, but they can be a get out of jail card in bad GW’s, simply because of the random nature of who kept clean sheets this season. For each DGW I made sure I had two defenders. Except, and wisely so, for the Villa/QPR match. When Chelsea played twice against Arsenal and Leicester, Azpi and Terry scored me 11 and 16 points each, and then in GW37 PVA and Bellerin scored 10+ each as well. The only misfortune I had was some of my transfers. I put in Fraser Forster against Burnley, he got injured. Then I put in Kyle Naughton, he too got injured.
The most nerve racking moment of the season? Easy. Newcastle were beating Villa 1-0 after 58 minutes. Haidara, in mine and PJ’s team, went down injured. The stretcher came out and was taken off the field just two seconds after the clock ticked over into 60 minutes. He got the clean sheet points. Frustrating moments tended to occur when out of the blue, a player such as Koscielny was taken off after 49 minutes in a match he was going to keep a clean sheet in, for ‘precautionary’ measures. He didn’t miss another minute except for the WBA game on the final day. David Silva, also, fell victim to early substitutions, but Fraser Forster hurt the most. The newly drafted in keeper didn’t even last 20 minutes. Kelvin Davis ended up being man of the match and in the Dream Team for the week.
Overall, it’s been a learning curve more than anything as I attempt to get a team into the top 5k, with a closet ambition to break the top 1k. One final lesson that I think needs to be hammered in is, no matter what your friends and family tell you, never trust Liverpool defenders. Mignolet and Skrtyl are just not worth the gamble given their cost. That, and Spurs defenders.
Global rank: 156, 056
Life without Luis Suarez this year has had the same effect as the most hideous breakup imaginable. They go off and do better things, with better people, go travelling around Europe and have great stories to tell. And, to top it all off their new partners are undoubtedly better than you are. All in all it is a bitter pill to swallow, especially when you can’t gel with the new arrivals in your life and your own European adventures end up with total humiliation.
I speak not just for depressed Liverpool fans, but for each and every FPL player this year, when I say that Luis Suarez left a void that cannot be filled. Last year I won my private league and its hallowed crown largely in part of choosing the best time to captain Suarez; every so reliable he was the epitome of chance taking and also creation. I remember the rout against Norwich, what a day that was in my hunt for FPL silverware.
Life was much simpler last year, but Suarez’s departure was ultimately the best thing for everyone. In his abandonment of Liverpool he forced us to become better players of the game, he made us seriously consider our options and build a better rounded team to fill said void. Instead of the typical laziness I had become accustomed to expecting Luis to get a goal a game in all honesty was a bad thing, and a huge risk. Sure…I suffered this year without Luis but my overall position compared to last year dramatically improved, keeping to an average points barrier was an art I was exploring and without Suarez I would have never started thinking like a true FPL player.
Although, it does beg the question…who were the stars of the season? This season was so unpredictable that even the likely faces for goals, assists, and clean sheets became absent when I needed them most. Swansea’s win at Arsenal emphasised this, a game that should have been routine for Arsenal was hashed out and fumbled horribly for them. In fact, Swansea also went to Southampton and caused me an equal amount of defensive woes. Nothing made sense throughout the hundreds of games that occurred, this year felt wildly unstable for the big teams…smaller margins were being fought for, and this links to my point about becoming a smarter FPL manager. Crafting that perfect team was almost impossible, in the back of your head no defender was safe for clean sheets, and no striker was assured of goals. Toppled with bizarre runs of form, confusing transfers, and never-ending full back rotations, this season felt alien to me. Before most gameweek’s I looked at my team and thought to myself: ‘Yeah, my team could win the whole week.’
How far from the truth I actually was, this isn’t the ramblings of a delusion Liverpool supporter, but I am more than sure you’d be equally confused when Aguero goes on five game scoreless run, and Harry Kane can’t bring it to a doomed Burnley. These would be the weeks the likes of Ozil, Jordi Gomez, and Papa Cisse would be the top players of the week. If I had to sum up the season in one word it would have to be ‘random’. You’re guess was as good as mine most of the time, but in truth this gave you such a rewarding feeling when your captain finally hit the back of the net and you could sigh in relief.
I loved this season; I was fully invested, fully adorned by the drama of the league. Chelsea had become deserving champions and Eden Hazard without question the player of the season. My manager of the season goes to Alan Pardew, in both his time at Newcastle and Crystal Palace he was quality all season long, bringing both clubs success when he was with them. Notable players who I tip my cap to are Fabianski who left Arsenal and become one of the best stoppers in the league, Yannick Bolasie for being a delight to watch week-in, week-out. From the club closest to my heart I don’t have a player of the season, but it does look bright for the future, especially with the emergence of Jordan Ibe.
Hopefully for the 2015-16 season we all learn from the mistakes made from last year and can all finally move on from Luis Suarez. After such a turbulent season we all deserve it, riding the hype train can be tiring work, but something we wouldn’t change for anything.
A new dawn awaits for FPL players.
Football fans hate the post season. Professionals enjoy the time away, but come August 8th, BPL fans and players will be united, that is of course until a player betrays the FPL community, and we can never, ever, forgive the player. We’re only kidding. With exciting transfers, and some questionable and understandable releases, we’re looking forward to see how the dynamic of the BPL and FPL change in the coming months. Ings, Depay, Milner, Atsu, Cleverly, and more have already found new homes, and new prospects.
We’ll also be joined by first time top-flight hopefuls Bournemouth, a Watford side who’ve had five managers in one year, and a Norwich City side who must be glad that there is no more Luis Suarez in the league.
The start of the new season will mark the Hype Train’s first season long effort in reporting from the Fantasy Premier League. The trio of us are excited to share any potential insight and stories with every single person that may take a liking to our graphics, or to the site. Just like the game, we aim to be fun, and yes, we know this sounds like a soppy commercial, but we’re every bit eager to get the season underway. Just as you all are. We’re just three overly enthusiastic football fans, one of whom has the misfortune of being deluded due to his ties with a club beginning with L, ending in Pool.
For us, it’s time to get aboard those hype trains!