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Premier League 2021/22 Season: The State of Fantasy Premier League (FPL)

It’s a little after midnight on January 12th 2021, a few minutes past my 31st birthday, and the first notes of clarity in my life as my age creeks up a number was to put to bed the idea of wasting time of things that offer little to no value, and will ultimately draw out a lot of time and patience that any sane or rational person just does not have when dealing with something in your life that is waning.

Life evolves, it moves forward at such a quick pace. You snap your fingers like Thanos with a golden gauntlet wrapped around his giant hand and just like that you’re a lot older, more mature and you might not do things you did a decade ago, or even a few years ago, for example, when we formed The Hype Train – which up until a few years ago was a dedicated fantasy football website. Our small team have loved writing about Fantasy Premier League (FPL) and the exotic yet ultimately turbulent world of Major League Soccer (MLS) Fantasy, among more general footballing and entertainment topics.

Our three-person team still to do this day just talk about our love of football, games like FPL within the wider football family, and are bonded forever by this journey we started in 2015, which at the time was built around a pillar of creating FPL content. Whether it be word of mouth on a podcast, or written to the point in a feature article, or through our ever-evolving state of graphic design in the form of infographics that I have solely produced – we are but one example of a footballing website going through the weekly mill, pondering if it the current state of the Europe’s top league is worth it. Our website has evolved to the point that we have the world’s only grassroots football team (Hype Train FC) created by a fantasy football website, our tastes have sharpened, and our viewpoints widened. Yet, what is absolutely crazy, that in a fast paced world, a footballing world in particular that continues to be stubborn in the face of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the FPL game to be extremely specific is one facet of the larger game that has not evolved at all. And yes, it’s a problem.

The FPL is built to be basic, and is the one constant that just will not change. You pick a team of 15 players. You select a captain and vice. Make transfers if you have too. Set a line-up and wait for the deadline to pass. In that time, you can choose to select a ‘chip’, such as a Triple Captain for one Gameweek, or activating your Wildcard, allowing unlimited transfers for one week. There’s also been a set of rules that dictate the game and its scoring system. All of this should take you a couple of minutes prior to each deadline, though if you need help there is countless FPL self-help out there to absorb. But in reality, it’s a game that is at its core a simple game that mixes your football knowledge and insight with elements of luck you see on the football field in the Premier League.

Its rules seem ironclad and those behind the scenes at Premier League HQ seemingly have no intent to change the base game, instead they have attempted to build a social media empire around said game, comprised of apparent influencers and ‘high-powered’ voices from the ‘FPL Community’ to speak on behalf of the game. But no not disguise a media narrative for the game as change, rather the game has steadily grown to more than eight million supposed players (several million are dead accounts, inactive or bots) and have cemented in their current position as a game that is more rigid than earth’s oldest artifacts.

Any attempts for the FPL media team to add to the game, or to throw the players a freebie, like the second Free Hit offered, proved ultimately untimely, and due to the fact it was done mid-season, seemingly at random after a public outcry from players, a move that actually tarnishes the legitimacy of the game. Imagine playing a game of poker and the dealer hands everyone an Ace card in the middle of a game – it completely throws the game off balance and stops becoming poker and something else entirely.

What this postering around the game is all going to summarise by the end of this piece, is that the FPL game has unfortunately followed suit and, at least in the opinions of the team here at The Hype Train, has become largely unplayable, and at times completely unbearable this season. Unplayable to the point, that for this season at least, it’s time to pack away the keyboard and focus on other topics of football.

Just for context, here’s what the pandemic has helped facilitate the league, with the league accepting requests from teams to postpone nearly a brace of Gameweek’s in the space of a month to the day.

Here’s all the postponed Premier League games:

1) Sun Dec 12th 2021: Brighton vs Tottenham

2) Tue Dec 14th 2021: Brentford vs Man Utd

3) Wed 15th Dec 2021: Burnley vs Watford (now 18th Jan 2022)

4) Thu 16th Dec 2021: Leicester vs Tottenham (now 19th Jan 2022)

5) Sat 18th Dec 2021: Man Utd vs Brighton

6) Sat 18th Dec 2021: Southampton vs Brentford (played Jan 11th 2022)

7) Sat 18th Dec 2021: Watford vs Crystal Palace

8) Sat 18th Dec 2021: West Ham vs Norwich (now 12th Jan 2022)

9) Sat 18th Dec 2021: Aston Villa vs Burnley

10) Sun 19th Dec 2021: Everton vs Leicester (second fixture date also postponed)

11) Sun 26th Dec 2021: Liverpool vs Leeds

12) Sun 26th Dec 2021: Wolves vs Watford

13) Sun 26th Dec 2021: Burnley vs Everton

14) Tue 28th Dec 2021: Leeds vs Aston Villa

15) Tue 28th Dec 2021: Arsenal vs Wolves

16) Thu 30th Dec 2021: Everton vs Newcastle

17) Sat 1st Jan 2022: Leicester vs Norwich

18) Sun 2nd Jan 2022: Southampton vs Newcastle

19) Wed 12th Jan 2022: Everton vs. Leicester (second time this has been postponed)

FPL’s struggles with fixture cancellations and the current state of the Premier League:

1) Last Minute Cancellations: Games have been cancelled at a whim this season, just before of after the deadline in many cases this season. Everton vs. Leicester during a supposed Double Gameweek was cancelled due to Leicester citing a giant list of injuries, Covid cases and players involved at AFCON.

2) Supposed Manipulation by Clubs: Critics of Liverpool and Leicester have been suggesting that both clubs have been lying to the league about their availability problems in a bid to halt games. Though not proven, there is little trust that the clubs are doing the right things, but not least that the league can correctly administrate the league.

3) Chips in the Game are going to waste (so far): Triple Captain, Bench Boost, Free Hit or Wildcard in any of the above postponed games? Bad luck, you have ultimately lost out and can’t get back your chips – particularly painful if your TC chip is the one used.

4) Covid is here to stay (and precedents are being established): By this, I mean that patterns of what will happen in cases of mass Covid outbreaks, most likely during the Xmas fixture list. Are being laid down now. It’s like a court case that covers something never before trialled – clubs are setting their own agendas about postponing games, whilst the league’s last minute cancellation procedure has been consistent, and subsequent lack of ideas to change the schedule to fit around Covid, means that this will happen every year until Covid is eradicated (which might not happen).

5) FPL Content Producers aren’t creating any work of real value: Fixtures going down the tube means that countless hours of hard work produced across a rich community of knowledge is ultimately a futile waste of time. The only reason that I can think of as to why someone might continue with the venture is purely monetary. The content is then secondary to clicks for the sake of clicks.

6) There are people genuinely paying for FPL advice, whilst businesses might be suffering: Linked to the point above, there is an industry now where websites charge people for ‘premium’ FPL content to help with their teams. Fixture planners and supposed cheat sheets are out there, whilst there are some good websites that run businesses around fantasy sports (that aren’t betting companies) and equally their efforts to make sense of the mess this season must give them a bad tickle in the throat.

7) Rearranged games give a potential scripted advantage to other teams: Burnley have many games in hand on Newcastle in the relegation zone, and now have 3 games in hand over their relegation rivals to plot a route out of the drop. Southampton have also complained about Newcastle and have even suggested that they shouldn’t be able to use any new players signed in January when they play their rearranged fixture as their game was originally pencilled in for December.

8) Rearranged games are going to cause headaches with create irregularities in the games:

European football returns soon in February, AFCON is currently ongoing, and there are only so many windows of opportunity to replay fixtures. When these games are rescheduled, they will create an entirely new formulate in the game, it could reduce the quality of games as they’ll be in midweek and entice rotation. FPL players will only suffer longer as we are drip-fed a host of Double Gameweek’s, with no guarantees that the games will be played until kick-off on the day. It simply means you cannot plan and have to make crucial last minute decisions on everything as every FPL player is expecting every game to be called off before or after the deadline.

9) The game offering additional Chips mid-season is not helpful:

Already established above, but throwing in additional aids not only penalises players who have already used their first ‘Free Hit’ chip as it denies them of a strategy offered to everyone else, but it unfairly benefits though who can store an additional chip against a mini-league rival later down the season. Either way you look at it, this doesn’t create a balance in the game.

10) FPL Mini League’s are in Chaos:

Disparity of luck in both Classic and Head to Head league’s in terms of luck and the actions forced upon each player in the league has been largely different. We’re not talking about luck of the draw with a single player picking up an injury. We’re talking about wholesale changes, half a team missing randomly like a roulette wheel has been spun. All of this has cascading ramifications on league’s – H2H leagues, the FPL Cup and Classic League’s are being decided without the player themselves making the determining action.

11) The FPL game is rapidly losing its legitimacy (this season):

All of the above points demonstrate a change in variables which for us make the game feel arbitrary and a bit of a farce when FPL players can no longer plan, they can no longer operate or have control over their teams, mini-leagues and can be unfairly penalised. There have been a few Gameweek’s where fixture postponements have left me with 5-6 players, whilst my Head to Head opponent has a full squad of 15 players. The FPL is supposed to be a water cooler topic, though the state of the game means that it isn’t only turning off people from the game, it’s damaging the game’s reputation for having a rigid structure in place, where for the most part the powers that be act like it is business as usual.

12) Making transfers? What’s the point:

Transfer in Ollie Watkins (AVL) ahead of a home fixture against Burnley 20 minutes before the deadline? Put in Everton players ahead of a Double Gameweek? Any player ahead of their eventual cancellations? You get the point – there is no point in planning, no strategy, just an adhoc bunch of random transfers to plug your team each week, usually to a points hit.

13) There seems to be no plan in place to resolve any future issues, only to manage expectations:

When a business or person is given an obstacle, they try to overcome it. Imagine a tsunami is about to hit, what the FPL is telling you is that you’re going to be caught in it no matter what, that they are helpless to stop its impact, and that the only saving grace is that you are deep inland and not on the beach when they sound the siren too late. They then reopen the beach the next day as if it wasn’t hit by catastrophe and tell you the golden sandy beaches haven’t looked better, even though the entire area is still submerged with mushy brown sewage. It’s perhaps unnecessary to this this exact example of flooding, but the point being is that the point they are telling isn’t on change, it’s about managing the impact of any such collision without them changing themselves at all (you know, building defences to protect its players would be way too far a step to take) – mainly because the programming and internal systems doesn’t allow for any scope of advancement or damage control. That ultimately is down to the player to mitigate their own losses, even if they have been caught in the eye of the storm.

14) Are there any solutions to salvage the FPL moving forward?:

Yes, the game can adopt key models used in Fantasy Bundesliga and MLS Fantasy, the latter which I have covered in depth for years, which allows players to change out any player in their squad until kick-off of the match the chosen player is playing in, as long as they can afford the player of course. It might mean you have to check on your team a couple of times a weekend, but it a better alternative than what is currently happening with no option but fielding two third’s of a team on a weekly basis.

a. There are also small changes that can be made, like an emergency ‘Spring Clean’ chip (the name doesn’t matter too much) that can be triggered by the FPL during moments of heightened disaster and cancellations when circumstances are out of the game’s control. This could say give you 3 transfers free of charge for a week and can only be used when the game allows it – better yet, this can be recycled back into the game and the developers can set a list of factors and criteria that dictate when said Chip can be used.

There are even more examples, but for the sake of even my own attention span, I would rather cut off the bullet points with one final point. If you are not enjoying what you are doing, especially when it comes to a game, the correct option is to stop before the negativity consumes you. Similar to gambling, known your internal limits and set boundaries.

I have finally reached that point this season, where the journey is no longer worth the destination within the game. We've cooled on our FPL offerings since Gameweek 17 to see if how everything pans out, but it looks like taking a step back was the right thing to do in hindsight.

The above points have been discussed at massive length, for an entire month, by the team here and we have taken the decision to cease all regular FPL content on our website for the remainder of the season, in favour of writing ad-hoc features about the wider footballing world that is relevant. It’s a more reasonable and logical step for any football based website right now, as we are living in complex and challenging times. I’ll personally be using this time to explore other leagues and competitions, explore my passion for Newcastle United more, and continuing to develop my grassroots football team – all those in a similar position to me, who write and produce all variations of content within the FPL Community in particular – should consider adapting where the FPL just won’t and saving yourselves a lot of frustration along the way in what has been a winter of discontent in the Premier League.

Want to know more about The Hype Train?

The Hype Train is an entertainment website founded in 2015, specialising in general football and Fantasy sports reporting, starting with Fantasy Premier League (FPL), before expanding to MLS Fantasy coverage in 2018.

We pride ourselves in providing beautiful graphics, statistics, in-depth analytical reporting and free weekly insight for hopeful players attempting to climb rankings tables. We are also occasional media reviewers, with a keen interest to review games, live sport, and professional wrestling.

In 2019, Hype Train Football Club was formed, becoming the first Fantasy Football website to take to the field. HTFC is a socially active team across social and web channels, providing regular match highlights, match reports, comprehensive player statistics and unique player profiles. We won both Goal of the Season Awards in the Berkshire and County FA regions, with Callum Parr-Jones winning the Berks & Bucks FA award, whilst Martin King won the PlaySport UK award. In 2021, we formed the Reading Sunday Social League (RSSL), a competitive Sunday League involving 8 teams in its debut season.

The Hype Train were nominated and shortlisted for the 'Best Football Blog' in 2016 by the Football Bloggers Association at their annual Football Blogging Awards (The FBA's), and were again shortlisted as a finalist in 2019 in the 'Best Fantasy Football Blog' category.

You can follow us on Twitter, Like us on Facebook, follow Hype Train FC on Instagram, subscribe to our YouTube channel for exclusive content, visit our club's dedicate website, or visit our website here at

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