Crowd Sourcing my Fantasy Football Team

Right, so the time has come around again. The summer isn’t even over, and it’s time for the Premier League to start again, which means my humiliation is soon to begin.

No, not Arsenal Arsenaling it up again, I mean my fantasy football humiliation. A terrible combination of bad decisions, inflexibility and anger usually means my teams are awful. Sure one or two weeks I’ll pull off some managerial masterclass, but then I’ll spend the rest of the year cursing my team, and hoping against hope that if Arsenal are going to beat Stoke, that some clumsy oaf of a defender I made the mistake of leaving in the squad will at least score against my own team.

So, this year I’ve decided to do something different. I’m not going to pick a team; everyone else is. Recently there was a Cracked podcast talking about The Wisdom of Crowds. The premise of which is that as a group the median is best, and that individually we’re all just idiots.

There are a few things which are crucial to effectively crowd-sourcing a team.

  1. You need people to independently choose.

    Social influence can affect crowd choices, and it is easy to
    Well you hardly find anything more independent than fantasy football. Everyone wants to win, and if other people have your players then they can beat you, so you keep it all a secret. Admittedly, you can very clearly see how many teams have chosen players, and there is advice from “experts” almost everywhere, so this may complicate matters. So, I’m hoping that the variation in the game players will help me, which brings me to my next point…

  2. People must be diverse

    A study (that I can’t actually get proper access to, so apologies if this all lies. But once you hear (read) what I’m trying to say (write) I think you’ll let me off) claimed that American football fans are terrible at predicting scores. Shockingly this is because fans are biased, believe it or not! Apparently fans are over-confident in predicting certain results based on which teams they support. Crazy, hey?
    Luckily with almost 500 there should be a lot of diversity; contestants from all over the world, and more importantly those who support different teams. I mean I’m a fully fledged adult but I still struggle picking players I don’t like. I am 29 with a PhD, I own a house and almost a woman, and I think I’m being a good person by picking more than one Spurs player. Although I still loath putting Chelsea players in my team.
    But with this level of irrational hatred my population should provide me with enough variation.

  1. Add random, independent people to the group

    Again, not a problem for Fantasy Football. As the format allows you to simply reactivate your league from previous seasons, people you are no longer in contact with are automatically added to your new league, assuming they make a new team. Bearing in mind this is only a small scale example, and that new people join every year I think it’s a good place to start.

Right, so before I start choosing the players I’ll just explain the format of our league. You have £100 million to spend on 15 players; 2 goalkeepers, 5 defender, 5 midfielders and 3 strikers. Out of these 15, you pick 11 to make up the team you actually get points on. Of these 11, you select a captain, who gets double points, and a vice-captain, who gets double points if the captain doesn’t play. And you can only choose 3 players from a single team. Hope that makes sense.

Team One
Let’s start choosing the most chosen players. As I write this the 15 most selected players are

David De Gea
Petr Cech

Hector Bellerin
Toby Alderweireld
Wes Morgan
Luke Shaw
Laurent Koscielny

Dimitri Payet
Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Riyad Mahrez
N’Golo Kante
Mesut Ozil

Sergio Aguero
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Romelu Lukaku

Which I think you’ll all agree is a pretty awesome team.

Unfortunately, this leaves me with a few problems. First I have overspent by £17 million, and secondly I have 4 Manchester United players and 4 Arsenal players. So let’s think about this. In order to keep with as many of the most popularly chosen players as possible I’ll get rid of the 4th choices from Manchester United and Arsenal, so bye bye Lolo and Lukey Boy. The next most popular defenders are Juan Carlos Paredas and Kyle Walker. So boom, there’s my team.

Almost. I am still £15 million over. So how do I pick my players?..

Team Two
I decided to simply divide my £100 by 15 to allow me to pick a team of valid players. So I have a maximum value of £6.66 million per player. As all players are valued as either a round number, or a half, I’ve rounded down to £6.5 million. Here we go;

David De Gea
Petr Cech

Hector Bellerin
Toby Alderweireld
Wes Morgan
Luke Shaw
Laurent Koscielny

N’Golo Kante
Eric Dier
Darren Fletcher
Danny Drinkwater
Andros Townsend

Shane Long
Andre Gray
Alvaro Negredo

Not bad hey? I keep under £100 million, and don’t have any problems with picking too many players from a single team. It’s not even that bad a team; my defence is identical to my spenny team. However, my midfield is definitely geared towards defending so not many points there, and my forwards definitely leave something to be desired. As an Arsenal fan I know more than most that without a world class striker it makes it very hard to actually win anything. Furthermore, I’m left with £13 million which seems an inefficient way of really selecting my squad.

Maybe this will be more complicated than I thought..

Team Three
How about eliminating the need for picking my starting 11? I can choose the top 11 players (that make a valid formation) and then make up the rest of my squad with cheap dross. So here goes, my top 11 are

David De Gea

Hector Bellerin
Toby Alderweireld
Wes Morgan

Dimitri Payet
Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Riyad Mahrez
N’Golo Kante

Sergio Aguero
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Romelu Lukaku

You’ll notice as well that this instantly removed my Arsenal and Manchester United problems. Unfortunately this team leaves me with only £9.5 million to fill four positions, so is not a real solution. I’ll have to think a bit harder.

Teams Four and Five
I decide to choose my crappy players first, adding the most popular players with the cheapest values (i.e. £4 million) that still allow me to pick a valid team 11 players. Welcome to the team Eldin Jakupovic, Jordi Amat and welcome back Juan Carlos Paredas. Unfortunately, midfielders and forwards tend to cost more, so I have to up my minimum value to £4.5 million. So get back here Darren Fletcher, I hope the colitis is in check. Increasing my minimum to £4.5 million does open the door to Gareth McAuley, Federico Fernandez, George Friend, Erik Pieters and Jonny Evans to my defence. However, in keeping with my cheap plan I decide to keep Jordi knocking about.

This gives me a grand total of £83.5 million. So, how do I do this then?.. Divide the rest by 11? Let’s give that a go, giving me just over £7.5 million a player. De Gea keeps his place, as does Bellerin, Alderweireld and Morgan. My midfield becomes Kante, Dier, Michail Antonio and Erik Lamela. Up top we have Long, Odion Ighalo and Gray.

Leaving me with £15 million spare!

Maybe I get rid of the least popular and trade up? Sorry Jordi, you’re going to have to sit this out, Lukey Boy you’re back in. So £13.5 million left, next least popular? See you later Andre, I’ve just signed Aguero. £7 million to go, Erik time to leave. No, not you Erik, other Erik. Lamela, get out, Payet is back in. £4.5 million to go, can I stick with this system? Who’s next for the chopping block? Ighalo see you later, time for Zlatan. (Time to Zlatan?). And with only £500,000 left this makes sense right?

So my squad is

David De Gea
Eldin Jakupovic

Hector Bellerin
Toby Alderweireld
Wes Morgan
Luke Shaw
Juan Carlos Paredas

Dimitri Payet
N’Golo Kante
Eric Dier
Darren Fletcher
Michail Antonio

Sergio Aguero
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Shane Long

However, am I valid to select my team this way? It still involves me having to pick my starting 11, so why not take a step back literally. To Team Two and spend my excess money in the same way.

Team Six
Well this got instantly more complicated. After swapping out Negredo for Aguero, and Townsend for Payet I ended up having to break my rules. I removed Gray and and was left with £10 million, but the next most popular choice was Ibrahimovic, who at £11.5 million was out of my price range. However, the third choice of Lukaku wasn’t.

I’m in the weird position now, where I have players to choose from, but how can I justify not choosing Ibrahimovic, whose selection percentage is higher than 10 of the 14 other players?

This is getting a bit tedious, and very difficult. In the back of my head I can remember doing something like this in A Levels maths. I’m sure it involved having multiple “teams” though.

So, next plan. Bearing in mind this is the most effort I think I have ever put into fantasy football

Team Seven
So, why not put more effort in. I have developed a system; similar to how a horse racing addict might. I have created an Excel spreadsheet with some information about the players, namely their price and the percentage of teams who have chosen them. This gives me an opportunity to normalise the data (percent selected) to their value, giving me a value I have called “Fantasy Football Superhero Status”, so let’s see how this goes. At the time of writing my team is

David De Gea
Eldin Jakupovic

Hector Bellerin
Wes Morgan
Juan Carlos Paredas
Toby Alderweireld
Luke Shaw

N’Golo Kante
Dimitri Payet
Eric Dier
Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Darren Fletcher

Sergio Aguero
Romelu Lukaku
Shane Long

As more and more people choose their team, Shane Long and Zlatan keep swapping places. However, adding Zlatan to my team gives me four Manchester United players, and De Gea, Shaw and Mkhitaryan all have higher Superhero Statuses, so that makes it easy for me, and my team equals a smooth £99.5 million. Take that fantasy football!

Starting Lineup
In keeping with my rules I guess I have to choose those with the highest percentage chosen. FFSS isn’t really relevant here as some players – I’m looking at you Darren and Juan – may well have been chosen as they are cheap to act as benchwarmers. So with that in mind, my starting 11 becomes;

David De Gea
Hector Bellerin
Wes Morgan
Toby Alderweireld
Luke Shaw

N’Golo Kante
Dimitri Payet
Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Sergio Aguero
Romelu Lukaku
Shane Long

So, 4-3-3 is my formation. For now, anyway, there is a very real chance all of this will change over the next two weeks before the season starts.

 

Changes

Two weeks to go, and let’s see if I have to change owt.

Wow Kasper Schmeichel has leapt from 3.3% of team all the way to 11.3%. I think I’m going to have to do some tinkering. It’s also important to note that Walcott is chosen in less teams now that he had a terrible game against the MLS All Star, but Cesc has been chosen by more folks after his red card. It’s strange that both Sagna and Zabaleta, as well as Clichy and Kolarov, are now chosen by more teams. Gomis is still Swansea’s most chosen forward, despite going on loan for the season. Chris Brunt is now chosen by 0% of teams, and people still trust an injured Smalling over Phil Jones.

Damn you other people choosing players! Cech is now ahead of Jakupovic costing me another £1.5 million; Shaw is swapped for John Stones, saving me £500,000, Riyad Mahrez in a straight for Mkhitaryan, and then Zlatan now have greater Superhero Status than Shane Long, taking my grand total to £105.5 million, so I’m over.

I’m leaving it until later.

 

3 Days to go

Updating my spreadsheet is throwing up some interesting information. Mostly that everyone is dropping Arsenal players like nobody’s business. Koscielny is injured, but Ozil, Monreal and Giroud are all getting dropped. Although Chuba Akpom has been added to the game, so way to go Chuba…

Wow, in the amount of time it’s taken me to write that Bailly’s stock has gone up by 0.1%. Is the right way to say that? From 9.9-10%, technically that’s a 1% increase, I guess.

Zlatan has risen crazily as well after the Community Shield. 38.2% of teams have him. There’s only 2 players chosen in more teams; De Gea and Aguero.

Making all of these changes is killing me to my spreadsheet is killing me. I really don’t think it matters is no-one has chosen Carl Jenkinson. I think I’ll only choose from the top 15 chosen players in each position.

De Bruyne and Mkhitaryan have been brutally dropped; 18 to 8.6% and 21.1-10.6% respectively. Lallana, Coutinho and Firminho have also been selected in less teams, but Mane has been picked up by a whole bunch of folks. That move must have done wonders for him, or Liverpool fans are just a bit fickle.

 

0 days to go

Right so it’s Saturday morning, football starts this afternoon. That’s right I said it! I don’t care about the rest of the football league or foreign countries. The Premier League starts today, and as such football is back again.

And the website is down…

Luckily I sorted my team last night, so here it is; my final team (using my FFSS).

Player Cost % of teams FFSS
David de Gea 5.5 42.7 7.76
Hector Bellerin 6.5 31.2 4.86
Wes Morgan 5.0 25.4 4.86
Toby Alderweireld 6.5 25.7 4.05
John Stones 5.0 29.9 4.80
Juan Carlos Paredas 4.0 19.0 4.78
N’Golo Kante 5.0 25.5 5.10
Dimitri Payet 9.5 26.2 3.14
Eric Dier 5.5 16.5 3.00
Zlatan Ibrahimovic 11.5 39.4 3.43
Sergio Aguero 13.0 40.8 3.14
Subs
Eldin Jakupovic 4.0 13.6 3.40
Shane Long 6.5 15.1 2.32
Darren Fletcher 4.5 15.7 3.49
Danny Drinkwater 5.5 10.4 1.89

 

I chose my starting 11 from the highest picked players of my 15, and De Gea became my captain as the most chosen player. I only had to make one compromise from my system. The 13th valid player with a FFSS of 2.76 was actually Riyad Mahrez, but he cost too much to fit into my team, especially as the lowest ranked midfielder. Admittedly he would get into my starting 11 as the 7th most chosen player, but I can’t justify spending so much on him. So that means Danny Drinkwater became my 5th midfielder. They’re basically the same right?..

So there’s my team. Fingers crossed everything works out for me!

 

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