Today, I want to address 2 schools of thoughts, which appear to be diametrically opposed from one another. It concerns our approach to transfers, taking hits and chasing bandwagons. This is especially prominent in the early stages of the game where everyone is in a mad scramble to find form players to replace their non-performers.

One school of thought encourages aggressive value accumulation, at this stage of the game. Proponents of this strategy believe that building up team value is very important in the later stages of the game, particularly when the 2nd wildcard is wielded or the chips are used for bench boost during a profitable double gameweek. A healthy team value could make a difference between getting a premium player on red hot form or having to settle for his 1.0 cheaper teammate because you simply do not have the funds to get him. We can all agree to this, team value is indeed important.

Now, proponents of this strategy would tell you that prices are the most volatile at this early stage of the season, for various reasons. One of such reason is because this is usually the period in time where the most amount of players are still active in the game. Usually, the casuals will be very motivated in the first few gameweeks or months, and interest will slowly taper off, naturally. People who don’t do well will also lose interest or drop off from the game sometime in January or February. By the time the game heads into its penultimate stages, only serious players and those chasing things in mini leagues would still be playing. Thus, this is the time where active participation is at an all-time high.

How does active participation relate to prices? Everything. Price changes are affected by the real-time sales of players. Obviously, player prices would move faster if more people are dumping / snapping them up. As we have seen in the case of Ibrahimovic and Negredo, both of them have risen by 0.4 and 0.3, respectively, after just 3 gameweeks.

As such, proponents of the aggressive game will argue that it pays off, in the long run, to burn -4 points chasing or protecting values. Of course, they are also not encouraging one to get trigger-happy, but the generally accepted amount of points that can be reasonably burnt to chase price rises or avoid price drops is -4 or -8.  They don’t mind radically ripping up their carefully planned team structure in order to accomodate the latest must-haves or avoid the players who they feel are dropping like stones (or Stones).

Now, for the counter-argument…

The other school of thought says it is never wise to chase yesterday’s points. Many a time, a player may go on a red hot streak and get a brace, an assist and 3 bonus points and suddenly become the next gameweek’s must-have. This may blind many players from analysing more critical data like whether he was just extremely lucky, whether upcoming fixtures are good or whether there could be any external factor that could affect his gametime (e.g. a long flight abroad for a gruelling international game). This may, and has in the past, result in players excitedly trading in their non-performing player for the latest shiny new toy, only to see the player they sold getting in among the points and their new player dissapointing with a single point cameo.

Proponents of this school of thought are generally those who believe in the traditional concept of slow and steady wins the race. They will tell you that taking one or 2 hits per gameweek may seem not a lot, but over time, can amount to an incredibly large amount of points lost. For example, taking -4 per week can result in you losing 40 points after 10 gameweeks, 80 points after 20 gameweeks and 120 points after 30 gameweeks!

Also, they will also point out to the principle of letting your team “settle”. There is always an underlying reason you brought a particular player in. Maybe it was his stats pointing to imminent returns, or an out of position prospect or a good run of upcoming fixtures. Whatever it is, unless you were selecting players randomly, there must be some basis for owning your players. Therefore, is it worth ignoring your own research, abandoning your initial reasons and suppressing your instincts simply because someone else seem hot at the moment? Proponents of this school of thought say it would be foolish to do so. Proponents of this school of thought would say give your player a few weeks and he will deliver eventually, sometimes far more than that bandwagon you have been chasing.

So, which is the right approach? Which school attracts you the most? Aggressive and risky or safe and calculated?

There is, sadly, no right or wrong answer. I find it very comforting, and boring, to adopt a sort of middle ground; acknowledging the pros and cons of both schools of thought. Timing is very crucial. At the early stages of the game, I would perhaps lean a bit more towards aggressive when it comes to building team value. However, I would keep the principles of the conservative school of thought at the back of my mind, and really question myself before I go chasing that bandwagon.

Adopting this measured approach has seen me benefit from Zlatan, Lamela and Negredo’s price rises, but it resulted in me losing Vardy’s goal after I sold him in exchange for Zlatan getting a blank and Andre Gray’s goal and assist after I sold him for Negredo, who only got 2 assists. So, hits and misses, all at once.

With the international break and Aguero’s ban, the divisiveness of these schools of thought have become even more apparent, and has pushed many to wield their first wildcard.

Will do a separate article on that. As for now, my answer is: go to both schools. Attend the good classes and skip the bad ones from both.