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Fantasy English Premier League 2019-20: How Did You Do?

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Never Manage Alone’s fantasy leagues are chock-full of expert managers. Now that the season has come to an end, it’s time to recognize the best among us.

Liverpool FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League
Liverpool are champions of the real-life Premier League, but let’s see which managers have claimed crowns in NMA’s fantasy leagues.
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Whether Jurgen Klopp’s 2019-2020 Liverpool are the best EPL side in history is debatable. Pep Guardiola’s 2017-18 Citizens finished on more points, scored more goals, conceded fewer goals, and lost fewer games.

But there is absolutely no doubt that this season’s Reds accomplished some unprecedented achievements on their way to winning the league:

  • Biggest lead over second place: At one point Liverpool led Manchester City by a staggering 25 points.
  • Most consecutive home wins: ‘Pool won 24 in a row, crushing the previous record of 20 set by Manchester City.
  • Fastest to 30 wins: Liverpool required only 34 matches to notch 30 wins.
  • Best start: The Reds collected 61 points from their first 21 games.
  • Earliest title win: ‘Pool clinched the title with 7 games still to go.

The simple truth is that for most of the season, Liverpool were playing on a different level than the rest of their EPL peers.

Similarly, in NMA’s fantasy leagues there were managers who dominated their competition too. Let’s have a look at which of them ended the season on top.

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Fantrax 11

I’ll begin with my own GW 38 F-11 squad:

Largely on the strength of Kevin De Bruyne’s assist and brace, I finished the final round on 90 points. In addition to KDB’s fantasy bonanza, I also reaped double-digit returns from Anthony Martial, Raheem Sterling, Bruno Fernandes, and David Silva.

But a failed bet on Burnley’s defense prevented me from cracking the 100-point mark, as the Clarets were defeated 2-1 by Brighton on Survival Sunday. That cost me three clean sheets, and Nick Pope actually finished on negative points. I finished the season on 3754; good enough for sixth place — a ranking unchanged from the game-week before.

Here are the five who finished above me:

NMA Fantrax 11 Top 5 Managers for 2019-20

These managers, along with [TYF] Ragasaki and Whithy Dragons, jostled with each other in a Top 5 scrum for months. But Hall_of_Fame elbowed his way to the top of the heap in GW 28 and stayed there ever since. Congratulations Derrick; and kudos to the other three who also averaged over 100 points per GW for the season! Of note, emeritus staff members Stall and Chris finished 11th and 16th, respectively.

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Fantrax 17

My GW-38 F-17 squad generated 107 points, a sum that placed me into a very mediocre 41st place for the round. My best performers here were the same players who scored well for me in F-11, and the same was true for my low performers. I finished the campaign in 19th place, which was the same middle-class F-17 neighborhood I lived in for most of the season.

Here are our podium-winners in the NMA F-17 league:

NMA Fantrax 17 Top 5 Managers for 2019-20

Once again, these five players dominated the top spots for months, but in the end KMFC withstood a hard charge from INDIA, and reminded KMFC Padawan that his Fantrax Jedi training is not yet complete. Well done Ken!

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Fantrax Sub

Below is how GW 38 shook out for me in F-Sub:

That 103 point return ranked a lukewarm 20th for the week, and slotted me into a 7th place finish for the season, on 4065 points.

The Sub league’s top finishers are below:

NMA Fantrax Sub Top 5 Managers for 2019-20

Successful managers in this league followed one of two strategies. First is the conventional “best 11 plus bench coverage” strategy, which is the route Team Captaingerrard, KMFC, and OKIES followed. These managers fielded the strongest starters they could and then backed them up with subs, similar to the way the Official game is played.

HELLENIC POWER and SUNSEEKER played a different strategy, capitalizing on the fact that the bench algorithm auto-selects the highest-scoring eligible sub to replace a starter who does not play. In this gambit, a cheap non-player is fielded as a starter in one of each of the three outfield positions, and the bench is then stacked with studs. Playing this way guarantees that the returns of the three highest bench performers will end up being included in the side’s total. This is like the switcheroo tactic we were taught here at NMA during a brief flirtation with MLS Fantasy a while back. Cheeky, but not illegal.

If we consider only the managers who played the game conventionally, then KMFC would have finished in second, OKIES third, 1998JJB PMA SAINTS fourth, and Team DavidBrian (hey, that’s me!) in fifth.

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NMA Blog Cup

Those of you who have been a part of the NMA community for a while may remember the old Yahoo fantasy game, as well as the Yahoo Blog Cup that the legendary Nik Argiropoulos built around it. This season we were blessed to have CreweGuy resurrect this competition based on the Fantrax 11 platform.

The single-elimination, head-to-head competition played out round-by-round until only two managers were left standing: Team stormtrooper84 and Team stallexpress. Those two locked horns in the ultimate showdown on Survival Sunday, and Team stallexpress emerged victorious, out-dueling his opponent by 13 points. Kudos Simon!

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Fantasy Premier League (Official Game)

Like many FPL managers, I played my Free Hit in GW 38+. This chip allowed me to construct a team that included lots of heavy-hitting attackers, as well as a defensive corps that I believed held a lot of promise. My squad looked like this:

As you can see by the returns posted under each player’s name, my high hopes for a strong finish to the 2019-20 FPL campaign were dashed. None of my starting defenders kept a clean sheet, and Nick Pope surrendered two goals in the loss to the Seagulls. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mo Salah didn’t even start, but both came on for unproductive second-half appearances that kept Declan Rice’s 5 points and Brandon Williams’ 7 points on my bench.

In the end, I had to settle for a disappointing 53 points, not nearly enough to compete with managers who had KDB and/or Pierre Emerick Aubameyang in their sides. Ranked 106,642 in the world the week prior with hopes for a GW 38+ performance that would take me inside the top 100,000, I instead slipped to finish in 140,912nd place on 2247 points. That put me in 376th place in the NMA mini-league.

But these NMA FPL managers closed out the 2019-20 much more auspiciously:

NMA FPL Top 5 Managers for 2019-20

These scores are simply phenomenal. The lowest finisher among them, Can Tammy Mount Mee, finished #2445 in the world, and No Pukki No Party finished #196. From his outstanding blog articles we already knew that Chris Manfredi is a fantasy football black belt, but when you consider that there were 7,628,928 registered FPL teams this season, the performances of these NMA managers comes into razor-sharp focus: they are among the top 0.03% in the game. Congratulations to them all (and a tip of the hat to Can Tammy Mount Mee for taking gold in the “Most Creative Name” category)!

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Conclusion

That puts a bow on the the 2019-20 fantasy EPL campaign then. It has certainly been a season to remember. We saw the rise of a historic Liverpool side that will continue to challenge Manchester City’s recent hegemony for seasons to come. In Chelsea and Manchester United we saw two teams with green managers and young squads make statements of their intent to return to greatness, with finishes that we couldn’t have expected back in the fall. We saw a newly-promoted Sheffield United finish in the top half of the table after making a serious run at European qualification. And we saw the customary survival drama at the bottom of the table, with two of the three relegated sides not determined until the campaign’s final day. Most importantly though, we saw the gloom of the COVID lockdown lifted by the success of Project Restart.

I’d like to close by thanking our authors — Omar, Darryl, PPQ, Paul, and Ali — for putting their heads down and grinding it out over these last couple months. They’ve pumped out quality content despite having to contend with a pretty brutal publication cadence due to the fixture congestion. And their work would not be nearly as good if not for our editor, Jeff, whose constructive fingerprints are on every article that posts to our site. I also owe a debt of gratitude to Chris Manfredi, who set a standard for managing NMA that I only hope to approximate, and who (along with Stall) continues to serve the blog in an informal capacity.

Finally, let me extend my gratitude to our readership. It’s a truism, but without you we wouldn’t be here. I’d especially like to thank those who contribute frequently in the Comments, with a special shout-out to CreweGuy for running the Blog Cup.

Right then. Ken, wipe that sentimental tear from your eye — ‘tis time we start to look forward to next season!

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We’ve run down the final standings in each of our NMA mini-leagues, and I’ve told you how my teams finished up. Now it’s your turn — Please tell us how YOU did, and feel free to share any closing thoughts in the comments below!

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