I have enjoyed plenty of outstanding seasons in fantasy football, finishing as high as #53 globally in Yahoo (in 2013/14) and #2,382 worldwide in FPL (2019/20). I am used to faring very well, or at worst pretty well. This 2022/23 campaign, however, has been an absolute dumpster fire, by far my worst ever.
Why? Because I unfortunately advised avoiding Erling Haaland before the opener and stubbornly refused to add him to my own team until GW8. That means that I missed out on his first 11 goals plus an assist... and along with it the ability to double any of those 81 obscene points with the captain’s armband. (In that time, my captain returned only a base of 26 points, which means that instead of a possible 162 points, I earned only 52, thus losing out on 110 points if I had Haaland in my team and given him the armband from the start.)
Even so, despite my horrific struggle this season, somehow I have advanced the furthest I ever have gotten in the FPL Overall Cup. How is that possible? Well, in head-to-head tournament play, there is just about as much luck involved as skill. Upsets are extremely common. If you have an unexpectedly horrible week, you’re out, that’s it. Or if you come out with an amazing score, the luck of the draw could leave you paired up against a manager who somehow tallies an even bigger total out of nowhere. Even if you do manage to avoid a shock defeat in the first few rounds, the longer you stay alive, the tougher the competition gets. You’re either facing a plucky underdog in a fine run of form, or one of the truly elite managers who has been consistently brilliant all season.
It’s kind of like tossing a coin repeatedly. You need it to keep coming up heads over and over again, and that may work three or four or even five times in a row, but eventually it’s going to land tails. I recall one particularly painful match-up a few years back when I’d advanced to the fourth or fifth round, only to end up on the losing end by a single point due to an unfortunately well-deserved yellow card earned by a petulant Jack Grealish in the final minute of added time.
Let’s hit the rewind button and look at my results so far in this season’s FPL Cup, where as of now I’m still... Ah Ah Ah Ah Stayin’ Alive, Stayin’ Alive.
First Match: GW16 (Round of 8,388,608)
It may have felt like practically everybody got in the tournament at the start, but with 11+ million teams in FPL, nearly three million managers were actually left out of the party. My odyssey started against a team, IFK Östersund, ranked just inside the top 5 million which makes it seem like I should have cruised easily to victory. But my team at that point was ranked outside the top 3.5 million, so in other words, in terms of actual rank, it was actually a fairly even match-up.
The global average was 43 points, which I merely equaled. My mistakes were painfully obvious as I left Leicester keeper Danny Ward (11 points) and Newcastle defender Fabian Schär (7 points) on the bench. If my opponent had merely been better than average, I would have been knocked out at the beginning of the competition. I needed to pluck a four leaf clover... and as it turned out, I did! Fortunately for me, the other side’s tally was below par and I came away with a 43-27 victory.
Second Match: GW17 (Round of 4,194,304)
Following my ho-hum GW16 performance, my overall rank actually dropped to outside the top 3.6M globally. My opponent, kereta iblis, ranked just outside the top 4.4M, leaving another fairly even match-up.
What made things very interesting was that every manager was essentially given an free extra Wildcard chip for use during the World Cup break by FPL. I freed up a lot of money by dropping Newcastle’s Nick Pope for the cheaper Kepa Arrizabalaga of Chelsea, the Magpies’ Fabian Schär for teammate Sven Botman, Manchester City’s Phil Foden for Manchester United’s Christian Eriksen and Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka for Newcastle’s Miguel Almirón, which allowed me to upgrade from Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrović to Tottenham’s Harry Kane and from Bournemouth’s Dominic Solanke to Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah at forward, plus from Crystal Palace’s Marc Guehi to Arsenal’s Ben White in defense. Otherwise, I swapped out cheap bench defender Neco Williams of Nottingham Forest for more reliable starter Hugo Bueno of Wolves at around the same price point.
As it turned out, my makeover proved immediately impactful. Nine of my 11 starters returned 5+ points with three of those cracking double digits including my (and pretty much everybody’s) captain, Haaland. So while my opponent delivered an above average tally, I was still able to come away with a tidy 96-78 victory.
Third Match: GW18 (Round of 2,097,152)
After nearly hitting the century mark in points, I moved up inside the top 3M worldwide. However, now I would actually face a higher-ranked team, with my opponent, Of Rice and Men, just outside the top 1.5M. Could I win as an underdog for the first time?
Well, I fell way down from GW17, but so did just about everybody else as the global average plummeted to only 48 points. Common players Kieran Trippier and Sven Botman canceled each other out, as did my Arsenal defender Ben White to my opponent’s William Saliba. Strong returns from Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli (10 points) and Eddie Nketiah (8 pts) along with Fulham’s Andreas Pereira (5 pts) allowed me to eke out a 60-55 win as my opponent instead featured the Gunners’ Bukayo Saka (6 pts) along with Manchester United stars Bruno Fernandes (6 pts) and Marcus Rashford (5 pts). My first upset triumph!
Fourth Match: GW19 (Round of 1,048,576)
Moving up to within the top 2.7M, I returned to facing a near-even opponent, s.lamaofficial13 fc, who was just inside the top 3.0M. I had two free transfers, and I really wanted to add Marcus Rashford who was in a purple patch of form and enjoyed a home fixture against struggling Bournemouth. I jettisoned Christian Eriksen in midfield to create space, but in order to afford Rashford, I needed to free up funds elsewhere. Should I... could I... drop João Cancelo, who had barely featured in the past two games following the World Cup? It sure seemed like he was becoming yet another dead weight pricey attacking defender along the lines of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson and Reese James, but it was still difficult to pull the trigger. Would I regret that decision?
Heck no! I solidly outperformed the global average of 49 points and came away with a 78-43 victory thanks to the exploits of my two Manchester United transfers, Cancelo replacement Luke Shaw (15 points) along with captain Rashford (8 pts doubled to 16). Interestingly, both my opponent and I captained someone other than Haaland given his tough match-up at Chelsea, but thankfully Rashford worked out better than my opponent’s pick of Mo Salah who finished with 2 points doubled to 4.
Fifth Match: GW20 (Round of 524,288)
While my rank jumped into the top 2M, I went back to facing a superior team, Anfield Roar who was inside the top 500K. Could I pull off the upset? I wasn’t so sure. What made my prospects even more daunting was that my opponent played a chip while I did not. Even though I had Haaland captained, I actually needed to hope for him not to do too well in the DGW for Man City since my opponent used the Triple Captain chip on the Sky Blue striker.
As it turned out, Haaland scored 8 extra points with the chip, but since my opponent took a -4 hit for an extra transfer, on balance that left merely a 4 point disadvantage to overcome. I felt foolish for leaving two defensive clean sheets on the bench (Ben White’s 8 points and Hugo Bueno’s 6 points), but at least newcomer Kevin De Bruyne (5 points) outperformed Salah (3 points) who I dropped using my free transfer. Among unshared players, Kepa Arrizabalaga (10 pts) and Botman (6 pts) made the difference for me in a 76-69 win, as my opponent suffered poor performances from Phil Foden (1 pt) and Aleksandar Mitrović (0 pts) who flubbed a penalty kick. Phew!
Sixth Match: GW21 (Round of 262,144)
While my rank rose into the top 1.7M, this time I found myself facing a true juggernaut, jack spanar, who was in the top 4K. Honestly, I was expecting my run to end here, and I would not have felt bad about it at all. Not only was my opponent in rarefied air with respect to brilliant performance covering the first half of the season, that manager was coming off an absolutely smashing show with 99 points in GW20. Highlighting another form of luck, had I faced jack spanar in GW20 instead of GW21, I would not only have lost, I would have been absolutely hammered, 99-76. As the saying goes, timing is everything!
I held one free transfer at my disposal, but I decided to keep it in my pocket with the announcement of a possible DGW22 featuring Manchester United and Leeds United. Between the two teams, I only had two players (Rashford and Shaw), and I decided I’d sure like to double that allotment to four players.
While I sat on my hands, my opponent made one transfer, dropping Bruno Fernandes for Pascal Groß. However, that actually turned out nicely for me, since the Brighton midfielder only returned 2 points while Fernandes actually delivered 5 pts. Our teams were largely the same, with both of us featuring Trippier, Almirón, Rashford, Kane and captain Haaland, while Arsenal defenders (Ben White and William Saliba) and midfielders (Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Ødegaard) pretty much canceled each other out.
Among unshared players, it was the third forward and keeper positions which paved the way for my 94-79 victory, with Eddie Nketiah (13 points) outdelivering Ivan Toney (1 pt) and Kepa (9 pts) likewise outperforming Eddie Pope (6 pts). My sixth victory, and third upset win, felt by far the most gratifying given how unexpected it was based on the Grand Canyon-esque gulf in global ranking combined with my lack of transfer activity.
Upcoming Seventh Match: GW22 (Round of 126,073)
Unsurprisingly given my success so far in the FPL Cup, I am in a strong run of form. In the half dozen match-ups of this competition so far I have averaged a 75-58 victory, compared to a global average of 56 points. But of course everybody who remains has also won six straight, so nothing will come easy. There are more than 11M teams playing FPL, so with just over 125K remaining, it has whittled down to roughly the top 1% left at this point. Fun!
My seventh tilt coming in GW22 brings a match-up with AL GHAZI TEAM who is ranked just outside the top 1.5M. With me being just inside the top 1.2M, it goes back to being a very even match-up, so it should be a coin toss. What makes it insanely ridiculously even? We actually have practically the same team, with 12 of the 15 spots being identical! The only differences are at keeper (Danny Ward for me v. Nick Pope for my opponent), defender (Botman v. Neco Williams) and forward (Nketiah v. Mitrović). On top of that, just like me, my opponent also did not use any transfers in GW21, so both of us will have a pair of freebies to utilize. This tilt will surely be decided by the slimmest of margins! (Including the possibility of a tie and the resultant tie-breaker, of course, which could end being an actual — well, virtual — coin toss.)
With a mini-DGW22 featuring Manchester United and Leeds United as mentioned, I am planning on using both of my free transfers, likely adding one player from each team. I hold an unusually large amount of money (£2.1m) sitting in the bank, so it feels that my options are pretty open. The questions I find myself asking:
- Should I use both of my free transfers? If so, which players should I add (and drop)?
- Should I use more than two transfers? In single game weeks I am usually loath to take a points penalty for an additional transfer unless there are extenuating circumstances. But since this is a DGW, is it worth going beyond my free transfers, taking a -4 (or -8) hit and really loading up with an extra third (or fourth) player swap?
- Should I play a chip? There is a bit of logic to using the Triple Captain chip on a Manchester United player such as Rashford with two home games against teams in the lower half of the table. However, given the Red Devils’ fixture congestion, I’m a bit wary. Additionally, while Rashford is certainly a star player, generally you want to hold it for a true superstar such as Haaland, Kane, KDB or Salah with at least one favorable match-up in a DGW. (Hence why I did not use it with Haaland or KDB in mini-DGW20 when Man City faced a pair of top five opponents in Man United and Tottenham.)
I already have Manchester United’s best attacker in Marcus Rashford (108 points) and the Red Devils’ best defender in Luke Shaw (66 points). As much as I would theoretically love to drop KDB (£12.5m) for their other seeming must-have star Bruno Fernandes (£9.9m), Manchester City and Arsenal have a mini-DGW23 coming up, so it would be foolish to drop any Citizens or Gunners. Given the cost of Bruno Fernandes, without dropping KDB that makes it impossible to add Bruno without dropping Harry Kane, but the problem is that I don’t want to add a Man United or Leeds United forward in Kane’s place.
Instead, I could add keeper David De Gea (£4.9m) who has 77 points in 1,800 minutes (3.85 points per 90’), but I’ve already got Kepa Arrizabalaga (4.5m) who has 63 points in 1,035’ (5.48 points per 90’) and the “upgrade” doesn’t quite seem worth it. After all, with a severely limited number of free transfers, we have to be picky.
But I also need to consider Leeds United. Since I have to put Bruno Fernandes on the back burner, I should really start with Leeds’ most attractive fantasy asset by far, midfielder Rodrigo (92 points at a cost of £6.4m). Miguel Almiron (£5.8m) has failed to register a goal or assist in his past four games, seemingly reverting to past lackluster form. So let’s start by dropping Almiron for Rodrigo, which leaves me £1.5m left in the bank for my second free transfer.
As mentioned, it would be foolish to drop any of my Man City or Arsenal players ahead of their mini-DGW23. I’m also loath to drop Harry Kane, Kieran Trippier or Kepa due to their valuable outstanding production this season. That leaves the following options for my second free transfer:
- Upgrade at keeper from Danny Ward (£4.0m) to David De Gea (£4.9m). (The downside: I would be wasting money on back-up keeper afterward unless I used another transfer. Would I use another transfer to Ederson in DGW23? Maybe, put probably not ideal.)
- Upgrade at defender from Sven Botman (£4.4m) to Raphaël Varane (£4.8m). (The downside: It would be a temporary upgrade for mini-DGW22, and thereafter I’d really want to use another transfer. That said, I could possibly see using another transfer to a Man City defender for DGW23. Then again, maybe MF would be better...
- Upgrade at midfield from Andreas Pereira (£4.5m) to Casemiro (£4.9m). Unfortunately, I can’t afford Bruno Fernandes (£9.9m), Antony (£7.3m) or even Christian Eriksen (£6.3m). That leaves me with Casemiro who has 57 points in 1,158’ which isn’t anything special per se. But he has two games, which means he really brings the equivalent of 114 points for DGW22 (and really more since he only got his first start in GW10). Just one midfielder has scored as well on the season thus far (Martin Ødegaard with 117 points) to offer as much appeal in a single game week. And while I don’t think I’ll be able to afford Riyad Mahrez (£7.7m) in DGW23, I could simply swap Casemiro for Man City’s Rodri (£5.6m) in a similar venture.
At the moment, I am considering this team, getting up to three Manchester United players and one from Leeds United:
As mentioned, I’m thinking I should have Rashford as my captain. The problem is, other than Bueno (v. Liverpool) and Ward (at Villa), who do I relegate to the bench? I’ll start Kepa (home v. Fulham) at keeper. In defense, I’ll start Shaw (DGW) along with Trippier and Botman (home v. West Ham). In midfield, I’ll be obligated to start Rashford, Rodrigo, and Casemiro (all DGW players). At forward, I have to start the game’s true superstar Haaland (at Tottenham).
That leaves three spots to give among my Arsenal players White, Martinelli and Nketiah (at Everton) along with De Bruyne (at Tottenham) and Kane (v. Man City). Thus, I have to leave two of those five stars on my bench. Talk about tough choices!
I think I have to start Kane since he’s the game’s second most prolific player. After that, I don’t reckon I can leave out Martinelli and Nketiah given the appealing match-up and the fact that attackers on average score better than defenders. So that means I’m actually leaning toward leaving Man City superstar KDB (given his tough game at Spurs) and Arsenal’s White who has a very favorable fixture on my bench. Wow! Pretty crazy, but hey, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles some weeks (particularly double game weeks as this happens to be).
Given those tough choices resulting in leaving two high quality producers on the bench, I really don’t see the need to take an extra -4 (or -8) point hit for an extra hit (or two) since it’s hard to see any further DGW player “upgrade” being worth the penalty. Also, as mentioned, I’m leaning against using the Triple Captain chip due to Manchester United’s extreme fixture congestion which brings the risk of Rashford being rested one of the games and/or being pulled early in either/both fixtures. As always, there’s plenty of time left before the deadline, so we’ll see...
Other Cup Competitions
While it may be the most prominent, the FPL Overall Cup is not the only FPL tournament going on. There are actually loads of others! Some (the league cups) have not even started yet. Of the tournaments in progress in which I am entered, I am still dancing in all of them. Due to a strong GW19 score, thankfully I earned a GW20 bye and then posted GW21 wins of 94-74 in the NBC Sports League Cup, 94-55 in the Spurs Cup and 94-50 in the USA Cup.
[CUP NOTE: If you are unsure of whether you are still alive in the FPL Cup or any other tournaments, go to the main FPL fantasy page, select the “Leagues and Cups” tab, then click on “Cups.”]
[SOURCE NOTE: All statistics, prices and screen grabs from this post come via official Fantasy Premier League.]
What do you think of my prospects heading into the 7th round? Would you make any different decisions for my team? And how about you, is your team still alive in the FPL Cup? If not, how far did you get before you crashed out? Or did you miss out on qualification? Let us know by answering the poll and then join in the comments section below!
How far did you get in the FPL Overall Cup?
This poll is closed
Stayin’ Alive (tell us who you are in the Comments section so we can root you on!)
Did Not Qualify