The week in Fantasy Premier League: The psychology of dealing with player rotation

The week in Fantasy Premier League: The psychology of dealing with player rotation

As much we’d all like to believe otherwise, FPL managers are slaves to our emotions like everyone else – and rage transfers await those who allow their frustration to get the better of them.

Concepts like recency bias and gambler’s fallacy should never be far from an FPL manager’s mind – but this season, in particular, we could all benefit from a generous helping of “radical acceptance”. 

At its simplest, it’s about accepting what you don’t want to be true, before taking a step back, and working with it as best you can.

One advocate even encourages us to “embrace ourselves with all our pain, fear and anxieties” – there’s certainly plenty of that to go around among new owners of Raheem Sterling (MCI, 8.2) and Gabriel Jesus (MCI, 10.6) this week.

The “reality”, in this case, is simple. Pep Guardiola – and, to a lesser extent, other managers of Champions League teams – will rotate their squad. There’s nothing we can do about it, little we can do to predict it, and no benefit to us from lamenting it.

Any strategy that involves continually hopping from one rotation risk to another, as you slowly watch the rest of your squad decay from weeks of neglect, is almost certainly doomed to failure.

So – what’s the solution?

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Rotation

A traditional, straightforward approach could be to simply limit your selections to players who tend to avoid rotation and injury altogether.

It’s more feasible option than you may think – and you’ll have fewer grey hairs by season’s end.


The obvious problem with this, of course, is how it limits your selection of players. We may only be at GW10, but already this is not looking like a “traditional” season, and although some City players may not play every game, the stats tell us that when they do, they are outscoring their nailed-on rivals.

So far this season, Leroy Sané (MCI, 8.6) has scored an FPL point every eight minutes on average. Sergio Aguero (MCI, 11.7) takes nine minutes, with Jesus and Sterling not far behind on 10.

By comparison, high-fliers like Kane (12), Eriksen/Salah (13) and Lukaku (14) have taken longer to score their points.

Dealing with their occasional absence is maddening, but spending that extra £1m or so on upgrading your fourth or fifth midfielder could be an effective way to offset the kind of risk that comes with these explosive, but ultimately unreliable, assets.


Beefing up your bench

It may take some getting used to, but knowing you have a value player like Pascal Groß (BRI, 5.8), Eric Choupo-Moting (STO, 5.7) or Aaron Mooy (HUD, 5.8) on hand when Pep’s latest tactical flight of fancy emerges should help keep you on an even keel.


The idea of “leaving money on the bench” may rankle some, but downgrading expensive defenders like Alonso and Kolasinac, or even a premium midfielder, could free up funds.


Henrikh Mkhitaryan (MUN, 8.3) is an obvious candidate for the chopping block. His already limited minutes have been on a downward spiral lately – a situation unlikely to be helped by his decision not to vote for The Special One in FIFA’s recent Best Coach poll.


Players like Xhaka, Willian and Redmond can be eased out too, but for those already rid of them, who is there left to sacrifice? Well, whisper it quietly, but with trips to Man United and Arsenal approaching, now could be a shrewd time to cash in on Christian Eriksen (TOT, 9.7).

The Spurs midfielder has been a solid performer so far this season, but his average position has been steadily dropping back in recent weeks – and his touches heatmap against Liverpool is not what you’d hope to see from your £9m+ attacking midfielder.

Comparison courtesy of


However you get there, once that strong first sub is in place, look to clear out any £4.5m deadwood further down your bench – you’ll be glad to see the back of them when another debacle like GW9 arrives in the not-too-distant future.

Players like Ward (BUR, 4.7), Lascelles (NEW, 4.7), Femenía (WAT, 4.5), Dunk (BRI, 4.4) and Dann (CRY, 4.7) are all solid starters and at least offer the possibility of occasional attacking and bonus-point returns.



The captaincy is a classic risk-reward scenario this week. An injury-hit West Brom defence will struggle to offer much resistance against the Man City juggernaut, but that line-up is more uncertain than ever after their extra-time exploits in the Carabao Cup.

 Although injury fears around the new default captain Harry Kane (TOT, 12.7) seem to have ruled him out.

Players like Mohamed Salah (LIV, 9.1), as well as sleeping giants like Eden Hazard (10.6) and Alexis Sánchez (ARS, 11.8), are being touted.



Some are calling Richarlison (WAT, 6.3) this season’s Josh King – and with attacking returns in his last four matches, it’s easy to see why.

The out-of-position midfielder looks a steal at £6.3m as he prepares to face Stoke defence that has already conceded 20 goals.


All those shots on goal have seen him move out of the reckoning when it comes to bonus points, but it’s a small price to pay for value like this.


Maybe it’s the pre-World Cup qualifier patriotism talking, but Shane Duffy (BRI, 4.5) seems to be growing in stature with every game.

An integral part of a Brighton defence that’s kept three clean sheets in their last four, he has some set-piece threat too, as seen by his seven headed goal attempts so far.




It’s a tough call, but it’s just not the best time to own Romelu Lukaku (MUN, 11.7) right now.

Never the most clinical finisher, his habit of scoring one of the many chances that came his way always kept his FPL points ticking over.

But now a combination of Pogba’s absence, Mkhitaryan’s loss of form and United’s more defensive approach have seen those chances dry up dramatically.

Comparison courtesy of


Losing any player with ownership this high is always a worry, but as we’ve seen, it’s hardly a cast-iron indicator of future points potential.


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