Yesterday I took a 4 point hit.
Yeah, I really wanted Lukaku badly, and in order to beat his price rise, got rid of Deeney for him. However, I didn’t have enough cash, so I had to cannibalize from somewhere. With Spurs having a relatively testing run of fixtures and with Pochettino showing he isn’t afraid to rotate his pack to keep them fresh for the Champions League, I showed Verthongen the door. In came the cheaper Lovren to facilitate the Lukaku purchase.
Was it worth it? In the long run, hopefully. Was it wise, doing it so early? Not really, as I did it before the Champions League and Europa fixtures have been played. Any serious injuries to my other regulars and I would be looking at the prospect of spending more than just -4 points. Did I feel good about it, considering I had just used the wildcard last gameweek? Of course not, -4 hits generally don’t make you feel good. It is like getting cut or punched before even jumping into the fight. But sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do.
Many who are adverse to risk or hits would definitely advise me against doing so. In fact, many consider taking hits to be a cardinal sin, an act to be indulged in only when you are absolutely staring down the barrel of a gun. Such is the negative connotation of the hit.
Which brings me to today’s musing: what is the cost of a -4 actually?
To its detractors, -4 hits can accumulate over time and sneak up on you and smack you down the rankings in painful ways. They do have a point. If you took -4 for 10 gameweeks, that is -40 points. Over 20 gameweeks, it is -80 points. If you took -4 every week on average, by the end of the season you would have set yourself back by 152 points. That is a whopping lot of points, if you look at it in that context. I can understand why the obsession not to take -4 hits.
However, to simply view a hit as merely -4 points is too superficial. That is skimming the surface and not analysing it from a deeper perspective. In truth, the value of a well-timed -4 hit can be immeasurable. It could mean grabbing a player about to begin a red-hot run of form and catching his hauls and price rises early. It could mean stealing a sure-fire large captain haul if, say for example, you don’t have Kun, and he is coming up against a depleted basement team who has lost all their first choice centrebacks and an ageing keeper with a wrist problem. Only a fool would save 4 points and stand to lose out on a potential Kun hattrick and maximum bonus points with the captain’s armband on.
In such scenarios, a hit, or multiple hits, are worth far more than just the -4 that they lose you. A lot of times, if you are more than 50% sure that the hit will bring you a haul far more than just the -4 you have lost, it becomes greatly advisable to do so.
Hits can also be a good way to contain your losses to just -4. For example, you have a player who has just gotten suspended, dropped or injured. The alternative to this player has a plum home tie where he is poised to grab at least more than just 4 points. A hit becomes the logical move. If you had not done the hit, you would have scored 0 points with that player. As such, whenever you take a hit to replace a 0 scoring player, you are only losing 2 points even if your transferred in player does nothing but play and give you 2 points.
Further, a hit can also be used as a defensive move if you are leading a mini league. Say your team is almost the same as your chasing rival, and you know that one of his key player has an easy game where he is likely to score big. You don’t have this key player and you have already made your transfers. You would and SHOULD still make the -4 hit, if only just to block him from being able to overtake you too much. If you didn’t take the hit, and if his alternate player goes on a rampage with the captain’s armband, you could see your lead being cut by 20 over points. However, by taking a hit to mirror him, your loss would have a ceiling of -4 only.
Hits are also used as roll of the dice whenever you are chasing. In the last few gameweeks where it is guts or glory time, if you so happen to be closely chasing someone, they are sure to try to mirror your team to block you. This is the time where being hit-happy could make you overtake your rival. Without the hits, you would be close to him but definitely hard to catch up. With multiple hits, you can purposely go for maverick or alternative punts from your rival’s players, putting you in a do or die scenario. If your punts fail, it would be no different than if you had lost to your rival by just a few poitns. However, if your punts bear fruit, you would be reaping the benefits of a simple -4.
In summary, the cost of taking a -4 hit varies from situation to situation. It’s value is definitely not only 4 points but rather the context in which the hit is taken. Sometimes, a -4 point hit can be the difference between winning or losing a mini-league.