The early January Premier League mini-break has offered an excellent time to reflect upon 2018 and our teams. How has your strategy worked so far? Should you stay the course or try a new tack in 2019? For many of us, the central question when building our teams at the start of this season was: “Mo Salah or no Salah?“ Never before had there been such an expensive player, so I went with Salah avoidance.
And it worked! At least at first. Early on, I was regularly in the top 0.5% worldwide. Then that slipped to the top 1%, and then 2%. All of a sudden, as 2018 ended and 2019 came in, I found myself plummeting all the way down to the top 5%. Not a disaster, mind you, but this humbling fall from the elite upper echelons has left a bitter taste in mouth, like stale fruitcake dipped in curdled egg nog. Had my strategy passed its best-by date?
A good fantasy player should be stubborn enough to play out a strategy without folding too soon, not meandering back and forth without direction. But it is also necessary to be adaptable, to look at the facts when they’ve been given enough time to present themselves, and then to change direction if that course of action seems more logical.
Many of those who pointed to the pro-Salah argument highlighted the importance of the doubled captaincy score (notably Matzy, our editor Jeff, and community member K.M., and surely others as well). When cobbling my squad together initially, I projected Chelsea’s Eden Hazard for 225 points for the season, Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero at 225 (or at least the equivalent of that on a points-per-game basis before his inevitable injury), and Salah at 250. I didn’t think that the extra 25 points justified the big difference in price. I reasoned that if I got enough out of the more affordable centerpiece of my team, Eden Hazard (or Sergio Aguero, or Aguero’s replacement Raheem Sterling, or a different rotating captain at times), that would prove enough to make the savings worthwhile.
But did it work, or was I wrong? Well, I went back and added up my captain’s scores for the season (Hazard, Aguero, Sterling, Richarlison, Sigurdsson, et al.). How much did they score in the first 21 games when I put the armband on them? 114 points, doubled to 228. How many has Hazard scored on his own? 130 points, or 260 when doubled. And Salah has 151, which turns into 302. Blurg, what a disaster! (Those numbers do not count any games that they missed, where the vice captain would have stepped in; but those have been minimal, with Salah playing every week and Hazard only missing out once.)
Rather than tinkering like a mad (emphasis on mad) scientist according to match-ups, I would have been better off simply sticking with Hazard every week. And I would have been much better off with Salah! I projected Salah to score 25 more points than Hazard over the entire season, yet Salah has already scored 21 more points than Hazard, and we’re barely past the halfway point.
So there was definitely something to the argument regarding the doubled captaincy score. The difference between Salah and Hazard is 42 extra captain points. And the difference between Salah and my rotating Hazard/Aguero/other captain has been a staggering 74 extra points! (Or slightly less in each case, factoring the substitution of Hazard the game he missed out.) Are either of those enough to justify the added cost? Do I need to pull the trigger on Salah, even though he actually costs MORE than he did at season start?
My inkling is... unfortunately, yes. On balance, I think the numbers point to my preseason projections — and my strategy — being off. I have a serious captain problem, and I need to fix it.
On top of all of that cold, strategic reasoning, it’s a New Year. Out with the old, in with the new, right?! If I can squeeze in both Salah and Hazard — and be disciplined enough to captain Salah every game, or turn to Hazard only in rare circumstances — based on the way the season has played out so far, that should be expected to work out optimally the rest of the way... and hopefully be more fun as well. (Who doesn’t love having Salah on their fantasy team, right?!) There’s only one way to find out, so let’s see!
How about you? How has your premium player strategy played out so far? Are you doing well with it, or does it need adjustment? Be sure to answer the poll below and let us know if you plan on making any changes based on your captain tally.
How many bonus points have you gotten from your captain through the first 21 game weeks?
This poll is closed
100 or fewer
200 or more