Monday, January 6, 2014

A brief update

Happy holidays everyone; it's been a while. For those not on Twitter, I was away in Costa Rica over the break without much - if any - internet access hence the lack of posts around these electronic pages. Well, actually, that's only the main reason, not the only one. In truth I've become a bit disillusioned with the fantasy game the past couple of months, partly due to my other commitments which make copying data at 2am somewhat less appealing, partly due to a lack of excitement in this year's game and finally due to the constant frustration I have with today's internet culture.

This blog is a labour of love and aside from the small amount of money I made from the pre-season guide many of you graciously purchased, I don't get much out of this beyond the enjoyment of interacting with readers and hopefully helping a few of you to gain a couple of extra fantasy points every now and then. While some of that enjoyment remains, I feel it has waned over time and there's only so many posts you can write whose only comments are nit-picking spelling mistakes or challenging your whole approach without any kind of factual basis before you start to question why exactly you are doing what you do.

I like to consider myself a man of science (particularly that of a dismal nature) yet in reality I lack the discipline of a true scientist who can keep going with failure after failure in pursuit of some defined goal. Though I'm somewhat old fashioned compared to some of my peers, one miserable attribute I have inherited on my Generation Y chromosome is the need for 'results' and while the current iteration of the model is reasonably good in this area, pushing it to the next level of accuracy is going to take a significant amount of work (if indeed it's even possible). The development of such a model follows the path of many other projects where the returns of the initial investment are vast but then diminish over time. As a clunky analogy, I've picked up the gold nuggets lying on a river bed, or drilled the top layer of oil, and all that remains is to get very dirty with heavy machinery that will take years to get even a fraction of the progress enjoyed in the early days. This probably also follows something of the 80/20 principle where 80% accuracy was achieved with 20% work and now I'm faced with doing 80% of the work for only a 20% improvement (and in reality it's probably more extreme than that).

Anyway, this all won't mean much as things will essentially carry on as they have over the past couple of weeks. I will continue to update the data tables every week and post a gameweek preview but I'm taking a break from the research side and thus the number of extra posts will decline. I might suddenly be inspired and rattle off a post every day for a week but right now that looks unlikely and I wanted to be honest with you all, most of whom have been incredibly generous with your support of this site over the years.

I will continue to be somewhat active on Twitter so please feel free to get in touch there (@plfantasy), though if it's to criticize the results of the model, I'm almost certain to not respond (again, I'm not a real scientist so no peer review here).

Thanks for your continued support and hopefully I'll be back with a vengeance when I feel I have something worth saying.


Josh Hanson said...

Glad to have you back. While I don't comment on blogs much, know that what you do is greatly appreciated, and I've found your blog to be the most valuable of all EPL fantasy websites I've encountered. It can be a thankless job, but it's one you're very good at. That said, despite my love for this blog, I only hope that none of my fantasy league competitors ever find it. :)

Jon Gray said...

Cheers for the update Chris. For what it's worth, your efforts are massively appreciated by me.

Why would anyone complain about a fee resource?

Nick Howden-Steenstra said...

Thank you for everything over the years Chris. This is the third (or fourth?) season I've frequented your blog, your numbers based approach is exactly what I've needed and it's helped me to be in atleast the top 20k each season and win my private leagues.

Your posts are informative and well backed up, the research you've done in the past has been fascinating, the keeper (/defender) rotation and attack/defence forecasts for teams have also been invaluable. Along with your game week previews and the eBook I bought at the beginning of this season which I refer to week in and out. I have to admit to spending far too much looking at your stats and analysis if I'm honest and my better half will happily confirm that for me.

Regardless of whether the result comes off everytime for the method, overall and overtime it seems to be incredibly accurate and I've certainly never found problem with it.

Thanks again Chris, I look forward to reading more previews in the future!


Tony S said...

Hi Chris,
I'd just like to say thanks for all the effort and free information over the last 2 years. Your blog is without doubt the best source of meaningful data available for FF managers.
I think the majority of us do appreciate the effort that goes into your analysis but unfortunately statistics just cannot predict something as random as football on a weekly basis (which is what we all eally want).

Happy New Year and I hope the love and hunger for FF returns one day. She can be a cruel mistress :)

Cheers Tony

AB said...

Hi Chris,

I just want to echo some of the supportive comments above.

I am continually impressed at the high quality analysis that your blog provides.

I haven't left a comment previously (I probably should have by now!) but I 'check in' on a regular basis and I always consult your work before making transfers.

No doubt there are many other 'silent' followers of this blog who, like me, find your work a very valuable resource and who are greatly appreciative of your efforts.


Matt Stone said...

Thanks for everything over the past few years Chris, always a pleasure to see your posts popup in my RSS reader.

Keep it up mate.

Sean H said...

Have enjoyed your blog, enthusiasm & stats for a coupe of years now, and thoroughly appreciate your input over this time. Hope to read more from you if/when that happens again. Thanks a mill Chris.

gurka said...

Hi Chris,

Thank you for putting the time into your blog

Some great insight which changed the way I played the game and even viewed the real game at times

We have to remember its the game and the 80-20 rule makes a lot of sense, there is a limit with a certain amount of effort.

Unknown said...

Hi Chris,

just wanted to say, like the others, that i really like this blog. I hope you continue with it.


Rimieca said...




sirbottom mcarse said...


I've never commented on your posts before but have been an avid follower for the last 2 years. I consider your blog to be the best on the net and I would never make transfers without gazing at it. Im gutted to hear that things may be coming to the end. Just wanted to let you know that there are probably lots of us out there that appreciate your work quietly.

I hope you see this and realise your work has not gone unappreciated. (Fanning the flames on particular was my favourite)


Sexpionage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Billy Bennett said...

I believe I'm echoing a lot of the sentiments here when I say you've been my go-to blog for the past few years of playing fantasy footy. I'm very thankful for the time you put in to this site and I hope you'll feel inspired to continue! Thank s for everything and may you and your wife have a very happy new year!!

Jan-Erik Brundell said...

Echoing others: great blog, very valuable and fun reading. Obviously hoping for continuation, anyway great thanks for everything so far. All the best!

Gummi said...

Just wanted to chime in with my appreciation for your work over the years. It's your blog that first sparked a real interest in the FPL game, as I saw there could be some method to the madness.

Anything you post is appreciated. If you ever want to monetize the blog, I'll be the first one to sign up for a membership or a regular donation package.

J-man said...

I'd like to copy @sirbottom mcarse's post in my name and also add that I never took your work for granted.

Perhaps one path from this point is to find a way to make it possible for people to contribute to your work?

Thanks for everytning! Peace.

Jamie McCarthy said...

Hi Chris,

Been following your blog for 2 and a half seasons and now seems as good a time as any just to say thanks.

I do believe this season in fantasy is a weird one, where safe bets haven't performed (i.e. Chelsea defence under Mourinho, Berbatov and RVP)this makes a moneyball approach difficult. Whilst at the same time people whom any sane statistician would expect a drop off just continue to bring home the points (i.e. Ramsay, Yaya, Remy and Suarez). To which end, I have been in the top 50k the last three seasons (largely on the back of your advice), but find myself at 1.3m at the momement. So, maybe we should all just write off this season and look forward to the world cup.

You are also the best thing I've never recommended to anyone. Your blog is my little secret and I hope no-one in my fantasy blog ever finds you as your advice is invaluable. (I've had girlfriends see me reading your blog whom I have had to beg not to tell my friends about you and let me thrive in peace)

Kind Regards,
Jamie McCarthy

Greg Frost said...

You've always provided sound analysis. Perhaps the end of the transfer window will bring new insight. Thanks for your help thus far.

Eddy said...

HI Chris, I've very much enjoyed your statistical approach, and although I've only been following you for about a year, it has made me pick up a lot more points, and as such become a lot more involved and get more enjoyment out of the game.
I only hope that you manage to get more enjoyment out of the game (selfishly speaking!), as I follow a lot of blogs now, but I always hopefully check yours first before anyone else's!
I hope things are going well in your life away from FPL though, all the best!

Ally Whitfield said...

Hi Chris,

I've been reading your posts for the last 3 seasons and I think you do a fantastic job.

It has been fascinating to be able to look deeper into patterns and likely trends thanks to your statistical analysis which is still provided in an easy to read way.

I'm sorry you're feeling a bit disenchanted currently, I can well appreciate that you can feel there are more important things to be doing, especially when you do get unappreciative people venting at you and probably blaming you for their captain coming up with a 4 point haul!

Just remember there are a vast majority of people that love your work and I look forward to reading anything you provide going forward.


Kyle Shaughnessy said...

Mate, fellow Canadian here & I've mentioned this before but, you & the FFS are now the only two sources I consult now.

You've helped me go from a 400k rookie-scrub a few years ago to sitting around the 15k mark this year.

Many, many thanks & I hope to see a "Fanning the Flames" article sooner rather than later... They are simply invaluable!


Anonymous said...

Chris -

I can certainly empathize with your thoughts here. I do appreciate all that you have provided through the years and wish you the very best.


CDI said...

Just wanna say your hard work doesn't go unappreciated here. You helped me win my money league a season ago which I hope brings you some comfort :)

All kidding aside I'm sorry some people make you feel this way but I can assure you from reading the comments you know its not how most of us view you and this blog. Please continue to post not just your data but your thoughts as well. I especially love the 'Dousing the fire, fanning the flames' article you use to post.

Ben Alderton said...

Bring back "Fanning the Flames, Dousing the Fire".

It used to be my favourite article of the week. Better than anything produced by FFS.

Charge readers $5 for a season subscription to the articles and at least make some pocket money. Would be well worth it.

Ben Alderton said...

Bring back "Fanning the Flames, Dousing the Fire".

It used to be my favourite article of the week. Better than anything produced by FFS.

Charge readers $5 for a season subscription to the articles and at least make some pocket money. Would be well worth it.

TheD said...

No man. Please come back. You are my favorite blogger. Your work is wonderful, I can not described with words. You changed my way of thinking. If you want this to be paid off in long term, I believe you have a chance to work for some sport team as analyst. I really do. They could pay millions if needed. Of course the model isn't perfect we are taking about football and ball rolling god damn it. We don't expect u to be exact. This isn't exact science anyway.

Man please please come back.
We love your work.

All the best and if there is anything I/ we could do, please let me / us know.


stooshermadness said...

Chris - your blog is and has been invaluable. The model is what it is, it is your thinking about the model's output which has had me (and probably all of us) hooked. The "Fanning the Flames" posts were excellent and more importantly, thought-provoking. If you do nothing else I would hope you continue those posts. My chief rival turned me on to your blog 2 years ago and I think I can say for both of us, we hope you continue even if in a reduced capacity.

Ton the Don said...

Chris, you're the man and have made the game a lot more fun for so many. Do what you need to do, your fans will be here.

Unknown said...

Just want to say, if these predictions were such an easy job, websites for match betting would be long bankrupt by now. These things are extremely hard to assess due to the insane amount of variables and all one can do to quantify it is to try to offer a reductionist model like you are, trying to figure out which are the main variables and taking them into account. Now (unlike you :) ) I am a scientist, and I have to say that your work on quantifying something I previously thought to be a completely "hunch based" phenomena is really outstanding with the depth of detail you've invested in it. But, fortunately for the thrill of the game, your model is only probabilistic (like quantum mechanics for example :) ) so any misses in individual forecasts are expected! In my view, your big picture predictions were usually spot-on.

Having said that, while I do enjoy the cold numbers, I took most of the pleasure from reading your blog from your personal inputs like Fanning the flames for example. I really, really, hope you wont give up on these just because of some random internet trolls. You've produced something great here and I think established your own fan club among us who read your blog regularly. Best, S.

Johan Nord said...

You have the best FPL blog out there. I really like what you do and appreciate it a lot. Always check your blog before I do a transfer and before settling on a line up.

I would be happy to pay in order to be able to continue to access the blog.

Have you considered finding someone to help with some of the work you do here? Sharing some of the workload might be a way forward, enabling you to focus more on more interesting things than copy/paste.

On a separate note, it would be interesting to discuss team value and the importance of this. (This is me trying to be helpful and contribute).. Your team value is currently 103, which is quite low. It would be interesting to simulate expected points going forward depending on team value. This might not be (that) helpful this season but there are many more to come. How many more points would you expect to collect if your team value was 110 instead of 103? Should you be more focused on price increases in the first half of the season? I see you making transfers and selection that does not come 100% from the model so it is obvious you do some thinking outside the model.

Btw, speaking of men of science. Have you seen SquadGuru and the paper that was written on artificial intelligence competing in Fantasy Football. Some scientists (“Dr Ramchurn and his co-authors, Tim Matthews, Georgios Chalkiadakis”) made “An artificial intelligence computer programme” that when backtracking, beat almost all of us in the FPL. This year they entered for real and I think they are +1M. You are beating the real scientists by far!

Mark Prichard said...

Dear Chris,

Thank you for all your invaluable inputs over the years. From all the FPL sites out there - I've gradually narrowed it down to three and I always validate my long term approach with your views.

I do hope you wont stop just because of some numbskull trolls and I hope you rekindle your love of ff to come back to the blog. Maybe some time away won't be such a bad idea!

Thanks again!

DTH said...

This is my 4th season following your brilliant blog. Won my mini league the last 2 years, thanks in no small part to this site - the best Fantasy Football resource going in my opinion. Have missed it the last few weeks - hope to see you back soon.

ryan sanderson said...

Hi Chris,

I've never commented on your blog but I am an avid reader. I found your blog two years ago and check every week to see what insights you have before I make any transfers.

Like others have mentioned, its a thankless job but know that it is greatly appreciated. I personally think your site in the best PL fantasy site on the web. I hope you find the motivation to continue blogging but completely understand if you don't.

Thanks again,

Michael Whitley said...


Like many on here, I have quietly enjoyed this blog for a couple of years. Your data has at times supported something I could see with my eyes - an emerging talent, a trend, or a false return that can not be sustained - and helped me make good decisions. I really enjoy your work, and your analysis and data have helped me enjoy the game more by seeing it a different way. We (I co-manage a team) won our league the last two years with support from your blog.

And I am sure sorry the internet trolls get you down. I wish I had spoken up sooner and more often about my enjoyment of your work. Some of us are smart enough to understand the data says heads will come up 50% of the even thought the result was tails.

If you never write another post, it has been a joy for me to read your work.

Best, Michael

pitt_AO said...

Another supportive comment to add to the list Chris - forget fantasy football blogs, this is one of my favourite blogs full stop!

I think my poor FPL performance this season is at least partly to do with the fact you haven't been able to put out so many articles this year. Yours is the voice of reason which prevents my knee from jerking.

I always eagerly await new articles from you and have to read them at the first available moment. It's not just the excellent statistical analysis that hooks me; I also find your writing style very engaging.

I sincerely hope you make a full return to blogging at some point as it's something you have great talent for, and my team's in a mess without you. :D

Thanks for all the hard work.


Brad H said...

Gday Chris, I'm an internet journalist and am constantly disheartened by how vicious feedback can be over an occasional spelling mistake or other error. But remember, the angry idiots are always the loudest, and for every one whinger there are 1000 happy, silent readers.

For what it's worth, I've been reading your blog for three years and am constantly impressed by how useful the information is, and how concise, clean (editorially speaking) and entertaining the team summaries etc are.


Jason said...

Hi Chris,

I found your blog around the same time I was sucked in to the world of fantasy football.

This blog and the approach to decision making used for team selection and analysis have heavily contributed to my now well developed love of the game.

Thank you sir.