August 29, 2016

Visualizing Player Price Change

A quick visualization based on 'Price fluctuation' of players. This should be fun as the season progresses further (data and viz. will be updated automatically). A menu dedicated for visualizations alone is already created (see the menu section on top of the webpage) and this one is also already put there. Also this visualization is totally interactive - so enjoy, try stuffs - move your cursor around, select/deselect players based on positions (by clicking the icons (MID/GKP/FWD/DEF) on top right), zoom in and out etc.

X-axis represent the price change, each players are plotted along Y-axis as a bubble, size of the bubble represents the price of the player (the higher the price the bigger it is).  Players with no change in price are excluded in chart (hence no representation along the line 0 through the middle).

Till next post

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Introducing: Player's Price Watch Table

Beginning today, we start a new featured table - Player's Price Watch.  This will be placed directly under the main menu 'Season 16/17' and will be always available and up to date. This table can be useful to track the price fluctuation of all the #FPL players in one place. Both 'The total change in season's cost' and 'Change in cost per game week' are listed to make the comparisons easier.

tip: keep an eye on Game Week Transfer Ins and Outs - they are the biggest factor on Price change.

Have fun with this table. Till next post.

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August 28, 2016

Reality Check: Most Selected XI Vs Dream Team (Game Week 3)

This post is continuation of series where we check and analyze how good the FPL managers predict as a sum by comparing the 'Most Selected XI' of the game week to the 'Final Dream Team'.

The most selected XI is based on the percentage ownership of the players among all FPL managers before the kick off of the Game Week.

The results for Game week 3 are out.

Most Selected XI
Game Week 3 - Most Selected XI
Formation    : 4-3-3
Total Points  :  35 (yet again LOL )

Final Dream Team

Formation    : 4-5-1
Total Points  : 117

35 out of possible 117 - i.e. 29.91%. The worst prediction of all 3 game weeks that we had so far. Records broken . That is what happens when strikers misfire.

Players in both XIs : Hazard

Comparing the both XIs side by side

Till next post.

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August 27, 2016

Reality Check: How much can we predict ? (Most Selected XI vs Dream Team)

Why humans make any prediction ?

- To feel in control.
- To give the impression they know what they are doing.
- Or just to get some attention - because others are listening.

Predicting comes naturally us. Our brain has to work really fast - that is its nature and it does so by predicting the next move analyzing our actions and the surroundings. This is why most of our day to day work are done in some automatic cycle efficiently without much effort.

Thus may be we can not stop predicting - even when we dont want to do it. It is the natural tendency, even in most complex and extremely unpredictable circumstances. Most of these predictions fail but that does not stop us from making another prediction - it only makes us to predict the next similar situation differently - adds a new variable to consider the next time.

As of now, there are 3,630,948 FPL managers trying to predict the best possible fantasy team for next game week. When the results are out, the best possible team of any particular game week will be officially called the 'Dream Team'. Thus in a way, the goal of every FPL manager is to get as close as possible to this 'Dream Team'.

We can have the data of percentage ownership of every player any given time - and hence we are able to make an eleven of most selected players each week before the game week kick off. Lets call this 'XI' - the 'Most Selected XI'.

Now, by the theory discussed previously, this 'Most Selected XI' is actually cumulative social prediction of the 'Dream Team'. The total of 3,630,948 FPL managers are trying to predict the best players in each position and hence this 'Most Selected XI' is the prediction of best possible players of each position for the game week - the ultimate 'Dream Team'.

Now lets see how well the humans actually predict 

Game Week 1

Most Selected XI
Game Week 1 - Most Selected XI

Formation    : 4-3-3
Total Points  :  35 (LOL )

Official Dream Team
Game Week 1 - Official Dream Team

Formation    : 3-5-2
Total Points  : 109

35 out of possible 109 - i.e. 32.11%. Stop predicting now and making fool of yourselves humans. 

Lets compare the both XIs side by side with an interactive visualization below:

The biggest difference here is the purple bars of both XIs, which represent the total points from Midfielders.

Game Week 2

Most Selected XI
Game Week 2 - Most Selected XI

Formation    : 3-4-3
Total Points  : 57

Official Dream Team
Game Week 2 - Official Dream Team

Formation    : 3-4-3
Total Points  : 127

Little better % this time 57 out of possible 127 is 44.88%.

Again the comparison of both XIs side by side with an interactive visualization  is below:

The biggest difference in game week 2 too remains the Midfield. For sure, Midfield is the most confused position yet and there are possibilities of massive improvements for all FPL managers in that position.

However, overall the Most Selected XI of game week 2 is much better (44.88 %) than that of game week 1 (32.11 %) and may be as more week passes the gap will be better (assuming, FPL managers get better at predicting). May be, may be not - we will see.

Till next post.

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August 13, 2016

The 343 Supremacy

The most popular formations in FPL seem to be 343 and 352 (general observation). This is hardly any surprise, more focus on attack mean more chance of getting goals and assists and picking up more FPL points. But how much difference it would make over the course of one full season ?

 Well, what I came across was quite amusing - more so because I was not looking for it in the first place but performing some other analysis and what I saw just dropped my jaw a little.

 So, as the story goes - one fine day I was looking at the Official Dream Team of the season 15/16 trying to figure out - What could the best possible team a manager can pick over a season.

A screenshot from my terminal showing the 'Dream Team 15/16'

The issue with the picture above is: you can call it the 'best 11' but not really a 'Dream team'. Shouldn't a team be something a manager be able pick or field in practice (even by the most primitive definition of 'A Team') ?

The FPL rules allows every manager to pick maximum of three players from any team - the above official dream team has four from "Arsenal".

So much for the 'Dream team' - I needed a 'Reality Team' which can actually be used. I set myself out to write an algorithm to figure out that 'Reality Team'. Starting from the Dream team of above - if we make it max 3 player per team, then the first logical thing to do would be to replace the lowest scoring player from the team which has more than 3 players - in this case Koscielny from Arsenal and replace him with the next best defender (which would be Fuchs from Leicester who score 150 points total - only 3 points less than Koscielny).

This was only possible only if Leicester did not  already have 3 players in the team already. Luckily, they had only 2 (Mahrez and Vardy) and there was still a place for 3rd player from the team. But I knew, the algorithm was needed to take care of all such small conditions and would be little complex than I originally thought. 

So it was, Fuchentry and Kosciexit. 

As it turns out, that would not be the best team possible. 

After some struggle, I finally got where I wanted to be with my algorithm and  the result was: 

The Best Possible Team Of Season 15/16
Thus no Kosciexit, the best choice was Gomes for Cech (I refrain to use Cechexit here - as that sounds frighteningly real).

*The Dream team scored 2046 points, Reality team scored 2044 points, while replacing Koscielny by Fuchs would have given the score of 2043. 

The case of swapping Cech and Gomes,  as easy it may sounds - it was not. Because how would you mathematically convince your mind that IT IS THE BEST POSSIBLE TEAM ?  In this case, the point difference with Official Dream team was only two - so the heart said yes it is most certainly the best one could have done. But in theory, once you tinkered the combination by moving couple of players around there is every possibility that there could a better team in another universe ( in this case - in another Formation)

There were altogether 723 registered players in FPL last season - if one takes possible combination of 11 players from there,  the result she arrives at is 6.548877005 E+23 [nCr = n! / (r! (n - r)!)]. Whoa.

I performed a series of steps in my algorithm to reduce the number of rows in this data-set (details of which I will skip here).  But the very last step was, to reduce the data by dividing it to 7 different possible sets.

The 7 allowed formations.

By getting the Best team of each formation - one could easily find the best of the best. The result was:

The Best Possible FPL teams of season 15/16 for every combination 
[NOTE: The last column 'Points Per Player Per Game' does not represent the all 38 games of the season, and hence for example on 1st row  4.97 * 11(team) * 38 (game weeks)  is not same as 1933.
The  column 'Points Per player per game' is actual representation of avg. points of each player on the particular formation. For example Özil played only 35 games and Mahrez 37 and the average of those totals are taken in calculation.]

This was the Eureka moment. Even though I already mentioned, in general we know the most popular formations among all FPL managers are 343 and 352 and not surprisingly they have yielded most points over the course of 38 games marathon. The pattern is on the table above is not only about 343 and 352, it is implying something more profound. To sum them up:

step 1 :  Reduce the possible number of defenders.
step 2:   If you have already reduced the number of defenders - reduce the number of midfielders.

Those two statements are ALWAYS holding true on the table above. Just pick any two formation anywhere on table and compare. Lets look at the same data on a bubble chart:

Lets not get carried away here, the data is from only one season - one can not stop thinking. However, how would anyone can ignore the fact that there is the difference of One Hundred and Eleven  points between the best 343 and best 541 formations. Lets plot those two formations on bubble chart again, player by player this time with Total points on X-axis and Points per game on Y-axis for each player.
This makes things clearer, 343 formation has 7 players with the avg. points per game 5 or higher and the lowest scoring player has the average of 4.1. On the other hand, 541 has 6 players below 6 points avg. and lowest scoring player had the avg. of only 3.9.

Things get ridiculous, when you realize 9 out 11 players in both combinations are exactly same. So the massive gulf of 111 points are down to 2 players.  How that can be ? We only replaced two attackers by two defenders - and not just any defenders but the best in their positions.

The difference being - 343 has Kane and Lukaku, 541 has Fuchs and Smalling. Yes, it all boils down to Fuchs and Smalling.

But still, One hundred and Eleven points ?

For Fuchs sake, no one can say this gap Small---ing. 

Ponders. But the math is simple:

211 (Kane) + 185 (Lukaku) - 150 (Fuchs) - 135 (Smalling) = 111.

Of course, it is always not possible to go for most attacking formation and strategy wise sometimes  a defensive unit makes more sense. There are also other factors to consider, like double or no game week for a team, injuries and suspensions to players or plain strategy.

In some way, the strategy of selecting a team for any one game week is like day trading while where a manager finishes at the end of the season is like a result of long term investing. Every FPL manager should recognize this and have their own strategy for long and short term goals along with their own regression formula of  risk and reward calculation. The whole point of this post is not to endorse a certain formation always without the scope of personal wit. The point is always keeping in mind that whenever you choose a more defensive formation - there is extra cost attached to it. Just like the 4 points extra cost one pays for every extra transfer each game week.

Last season between those two formation we analyzed, this cost was 111 points - which is close to 3 points every game week whenever a manger chose to play 541 instead of 434 without any specific plan or strategy. If her strategy yielded more than 3 points by switching to that setup - then it was profit otherwise not.

Now lets try to prove this theory in another way, a team must have 1 to 3 Forwards and 3 to 5 Defenders in any formation. The difference between best performing forward (Vardy, 211 points) with best performing defender (Bellerin, 172 points) was 39, which is about a point every game. Compare Bellerin to Mahrez and the point gap per game grows  to 2. Thus any extra defensive player - even if the very best, is costing 1 to 2 points on average per game (i.e. about 1.5 points per game).

The same holds true when we compare the worst performing Forward (Lukaku, 185 points) and Defender (Smalling, 135 points - 5th best forward in FPL so would get into dream teams of  541 or 532 formation) from the best formations, as we see the gap of 50 points (avg. per game 1.32). Compare Smalling with the worst performing midfielder (Ayew, 171 points) and we still get a deficit of about 1 point per game.

When it is applied over two players, as in case of 343 vs 541 - where two attacking players were swapped for two defensive players, the gap should be about 1.5 * 2 = 3. And that was exactly what we saw with the result of 111 points over 38 games.

The stats can not be clearer than that.

Avoid overthinking - when in doubt go 434.

Till next post. 

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August 10, 2016


This is a blog about "Fantasy Premier League". And if those three words, in that order, do not make any sense to you - then the chances are, you are at a wrong place.

And if you do not enjoy "football" (or soccer, whatever comes naturally to you) and "English Premier League" either - then most certainly you are at the wrong place.

But if not, welcome to FPL Manager. Whether you got here by some random chance or through some other reference - I hope you will like it and find the posts interesting and even helpful as a FPL manager.

A short intro about how the idea of this site was born and how to use this site can be found on About menu.

Content wise, I plan to to do a lot of visualization and statistical analysis based on FPL data. Feel free to comment about anything relevant and specially any analytical ideas that you wish to explore, I would most certainly consider them.

I have also setup a twitter account (@crisscrossdata) and plan to be a lot active there. Go on, give it a follow,  to check how that plan is materializing.  Its safe -  no kidding, I will not be posting click-baits like:
"2531917 things you really need to understand about watermelons before choosing your Goalkeeper this game week 
"This chart proves that your FPL captain will score 3.7 points extra every game if you ate boiled watermelons  before kick-off ".

Sorry, I just love watermelons - though never had opportunity to try a boiled one.

More in next post, from where we will only talk football. See you there.

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