The transition from December to January is not two parts, but rather three, as we turn gradually from outward to inward. The month of December is a slow time spent waiting for and then finally enjoying the holidays. It’s ultimately a heart-filled time for friends, family and festivity, as a giving mood toward others takes center stage. New Year’s Eve, of course, is a slap-dash series of fleeting moments, all about sharing a champagne-charged Bacchanalia amidst a flurry of bad decisions in a crazed crowd of revelers. Then as we slowly recover from our violent hangovers, January finally emerges, and our minds turn within ourselves, focusing on personal change as the switch from autumn to winter feels fully cemented.
Now we gaze in the mirror, both literally and metaphorically, asking, How might we better ourselves? And can we really make those changes last for more than a month, or even over a week? Perhaps, we know all too well, a day and a half before we fall back into our usual old patterns may be asking too much.
Saying goodbye to what was a difficult year for many, and perhaps even most, in our communities and around the globe, let’s trot out the usual assortment of New Year’s Resolutions and channel them into improving our fantasy football approach.
1. Eat Better, Drink Less and Exercise More
Holy moly — The delicious, impossible to shun calories kept coming and coming. Every week in December, our countertop and refrigerator just kept getting more overloaded. From family, friends and co-workers, my wife and I received a colorful array of boxes and bottles containing chocolates, cheeses, toffees, brownies, nuts, oils, wines and whiskeys. I’m not complaining. We had many an enjoyable evening drinking and eating to our stomach’s content. But let’s just say that it wasn’t much of a party looking down at the scale every morning.
It goes without saying that I need to be more physically active. Being that I reside in Los Angeles, I actually know people — not just one person, but multiple people — who have bragged about participating in an exercise session led by Richard Simmons. They universally claim it as a highlight to their lives that they will never forget. Sadly, I missed out, and somehow I will have to soldier on without ever having Sweated to the Oldies with David Letterman’s favorite foil.
Happily, there are other options. The “Peloton” has recently emerged as a popular exercise regimen, but it’s a bit too high tech (and pricey) for my taste. I’ve already got a stepper, an old-fashioned exercise bike, and a set of dumbbells gathering dust when what I need is to utilize them regularly on weekday mornings. On the weekend, the beachside paths beckon for an actual outdoor bicycle ride, while the mountains call for a hiking excursion. As always, all it takes is the discipline to set the alarm... and not smack the “snooze” button when the buzzer goes off.
FPL Equivalent: Take Fewer -4 Point Penalties For Extra Transfers
The best FPL season I ever enjoyed, 2019-20 when I finished in the top 2,500 worldwide, I took only five -4 point hits for extra transfers all campaign. Talk about discipline! If you took 30 extra -4 hits over the course of the season, that would cost you 120 points. Would you be able to make that up? Highly unlikely.
Of course, with so many unexpected player absences due to injury/illness/fixture postponements and now the inevitable future double (and perhaps even triple) game weeks, it will be impossible to be nearly as disciplined this season. We’re just past the halfway point, and I have already taken seven -4 hits. Even so, it is important not to be cavalier when doing so, but rather to think long and hard before taking each -4 (or even -8) point hit — Be sure that the cost/benefit analysis is likely to end up positive.
2. Be Better With Money
Most of us have had money problems at some point in our lives, with student/automobile/house/credit card debt stagnating or even growing. Too many of us feel the pressure to keep up with the Joneses, paying too much for a home, car, travel, fashion or fine dining — or just buying anything we don’t need... with money we don’t have... to impress people we don’t know.
For others, it’s the little things that add up to big expenditures over the course of a year, perhaps a daily Starbucks cappuccino (or pack of cigarettes or pint at the pub). Once we figure out a good finance/budget system and follow it, our bank accounts turn from red to black, and there’s no looking back.
FPL Equivalent: Spend wisely on your FPL teams
Don’t leave too much unused money doing nothing for you in reserve, and don’t overspend on injured/suspended/away players who are idle on your bench. Granted, at times it’s necessary to make a transfer that banks money to be used in the next game-week, but it’s vital not to let it sit there; put it back into play as soon as free transfers allow.
Likewise, sometimes it’s a good move to pad your bench, particularly during the festive period with fixture congestion, which coincidentally involved plenty of players and games vanishing due to Covid problems. But as soon as there’s a return to normalcy (assuming there will be), be sure to spend the bare minimum or only minimally above it for your bench.
3. Get Organized / Get Rid of Clutter
Some of us wait for spring cleaning, but for many the urge is overwhelming in January. After all, why stop at taking down holiday decorations? If your place is still a mess, go ahead and keep going, right?
FPL Equivalent: Don’t hold onto expensive busts too long; drop them already!
Let’s look at some players who have absurdly high selection figures given their terrible combination of price and production:
- Man United midfielder Bruno Fernandes (14%, £11.6m, 71 points in 1,469 minutes)
- Man United defender Luke Shaw (13%, £5.0m, 28 points in 1,089’)
- Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku (9%, £11.5m, 53 points in 828’)
- Spurs forward Harry Kane (9%, £12.2m, 53 points in 1,431’)
If you have any of these players, what are you waiting for? Drop them already! Yes, these players are all “stars” who have produced in the past, but they’re just not paying off this season. Maybe their production will eventually turn up for some or all of them (has Kane turned the corner?), but if you want to have a team devoid of clutter in your starting line-up, free up those funds with players who bring a much higher expectation of providing returns the rest of the way. There are much more consistently productive alternatives at significantly lower prices.
4. Don’t Live in the Past; Embrace the Future
The holidays are a time for nostalgia, as we take a trip down memory lane by listening to our favorite sentimental tunes from the likes of Bing Crosby and watching classic Christmas movies such as Die Hard. But when the calendar turns, it’s necessary to focus on the here and now while having an eye on the future.
FPL Equivalent: Don’t chase points.
Every season has its surprises when players break out. The key is to analyze which surprises should persist and which are likely to regress to the mean. Consider Bernardo Silva: After scoring no more than seven goals in any season, he started hot this campaign, scoring twice by GW-8, four goals by GW-12, and seven through GW-15. At every outburst early on, I kept avoiding Bernardo, feeling that his form was a quirk that would cool. Finally, after his third purple patch, I came around, hoping (fearing) that he was this season’s Ilkay Gundogan. I broke down and added Bernardo just ahead of GW-16. Just like clockwork, his point scores since have been 6, 1, 2, 2, & 3. Just as I deserved. So I dropped him ahead of GW-21. A painful reminder to stop chasing points!
5. Spend More Time With Family and Friends
The time spent during lockdown was excruciatingly solitary for many, with phone calls and Zoom meetings providing the only outlet to interact with family and friends. Unfortunately, recent spikes and new variants have made spending time with geographically distant folk and chums at best difficult, and at worst entirely impossible.
But safe, small outdoor gatherings and activities with local friends and family have provided a lovely blessing. I think it’s fair to say that one byproduct of this pandemic is a greater appreciation for personal connections with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.
FPL Equivalent: Participate in the NMA comments section more!
One of the best things about Never Manage Alone is our wonderful community of readers. So don’t be afraid to reach out more. Ask questions. Contribute answers. Share helpful information. Get to know the regulars, and if you aren’t one already, become one!
[SOURCE NOTE: Fantasy player pricing, scoring and other related information came from the official Fantasy Premier League site.]
Which of the above aims will you be sure to follow the rest of this season? What other New Year’s resolutions do you have for life and in fantasy football? Please let us know in the comments section below!