aSITB: Player v Opposition: Introduction

By Matthew Milton aka @LeafyDragon_FPL

Let me introduce myself. I’m Matt aka @LeafyDragon_FPL on Twitter. I am one of the #FPLCommunity and I have watched in awe for years as podcast legends, notably “Who Got the Assist”,  have used data to such a terrific advantage to back up their captaincy picks and future transfers; specifically, their Talisman Theory, is spectacular. Statistics are everywhere and are a key parameter when judging whether to bring in the current bandwagon or try to start one yourself. Long story short; I love FPL. From a plainly football perspective, I like greedy shot merchants, the “fox in the box” types. The ones like Shearer (aka GOD), Rooney and, more currently, Raul Jimenez.

I come to you now, writing my first ever FPL article (kudos to Whitebeard for providing this platform) and I’d like to share something I’ve been working on [note: I am not claiming this is an amazing/revolutionary tool with 100% accuracy, this is simply something that’s helped me, which I want to share with anyone prepared to take the time to read this]. As stated previously, I love shot merchants. If my FPL assets are regularly shooting, I’m a happy manager and even happier if those shots are in the box. 

So here we are. Early last season, I found myself looking at players who, over the course of six games, had amassed the highest amounts of shots in the box and tried to bring them in with my free transfers. I also targeted teams, who had conceded the highest number of shots in the box in their last six games to maximise the chances of my players getting lucky in the box. This led me to captaining Danny Ings in GW18 for his 13 pointer (x2), before that bandwagon was in full flow. I then decided to open a spreadsheet and created a formula to try and score a player based on their shots in the box (last 6) and their opponents shots in the box conceded (last 6). And voila, a fun, nerdy habit was made more fun and nerdy. Who knew that could happen?

Below is an example of the table I produced at the end of the season (last 6 games) with some “made up fixtures” and real shots in the box data to provide better examples of scoring. The formula creates a basic (VERY basic) score based on the shots the player has had in the box and the shots his opposition has conceded (last 6 games). An average is calculated and then divided by the 6 games played (or however many games have been played, if the season has just begun) to get an average score for the for and against average across those games. The closer the score to ten and above, the more desirable the asset is to captain/transfer in. 

6 – 10+ – green (good)

3 – 5.99 – orange (OK)

0 – 2.99 – red (poor)

As you can see, Jesus (v NOR) is the most attractive captaincy option based on aSITBPvO. Which seems obvious right? Then, you look at the likes of Soucek, a very popular option coming into the new season, is predicted to perform quite highly in a fixture against ARS. I add shot conversion rate and xG in order to help evaluate the scores further and judge for outliers.

As we enter a new season, I will be providing an article, using this metric, to tip 6 players who love a shot in the box and play against teams who love to give them away (LeafyDragon’s Half Dozen). As my metric uses historical data, there are clearly some complexities early on (promoted teams, new signings etc) therefore the scores I use until GW7 will be slightly different. The smaller the sample, means less shots and ultimately a less reliable data spread. 

I hope you continue to read my stuff in the future and this “getting to know me” article hasn’t put you off. I will be releasing my first “LeafyDragon’s Half Dozen” article in September, when the season draws nearer and managers have decided their 56,547th draft is their favourite. Also, feel free to give any feedback so I can improve going forward. I’m fully aware this could be a snoozefest in comparison to more dynamic, humorous article writing accounts like Rob Pick (CMFPL Scout) who discusses team ID, milestone tweets and racist FPL winners (top article by the way) but I hope to give you something different each gameweek for as long as you’ll have me.

Until next time 👍,

Matt 🌿🐲 @LeafyDragon_FPL