My Darwin dilemma and the ‘models’ debate

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Next up is two-time Indian FPL champion Lateriser, who shares his thoughts ahead of Gameweek 2.

How the unlimited World Cup transfers have changed Lateriser's strategy

It’s been a quiet week in the world of FPL, almost feeling like the calm before the storm. Most managers have either saved a transfer or made the shift from Harry Kane (£11.4m) to Erling Haaland (£11.6m) before that particular price change.

Firstly, if you haven’t already made that shift, I recommend doing it, even for a hit. Haaland looks inevitable to me and, until we know otherwise, don’t overthink it – get him in and enjoy the points. This particular conundrum honestly doesn’t deserve any more keyboard characters in my opinion, so let’s move forward.

DARWIN NUNEZ

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One player who has been messing with my head is Darwin Nunez (£9.1m). You know that feeling when you’re so close to picking an FPL player but didn’t end up doing so? He’s that guy for me, thinking he had a 40% chance of starting Gameweek 1 and a 60% chance of starting Gameweek 2.

I overreacted both after the Community Shield and following his cameo at Fulham. He impressed me so much in the former, that I had him in my squad for most of the final week before Gameweek 1.

Then, in that last hour, you’re grappling with yourself as an FPL manager.

“Be more disciplined with expected minutes (xMins), Pranil, the time to act on instinct is not now. You’re better in the second half of the season. No need for unnecessary risks.

“We have no problems using the early Wildcard anyway, go for it.

“You need to risk balance your team, Pranil. Going without Gabriel Jesus, starting Ivan Perisic. Are you sure you want to roll the dice on Darwin as well?

“He has a floor of 30 minutes anyway. That should be enough. Why take the risk now? Get 70 minutes of Luis Diaz and then you have transfers to get him in later!”

Obviously, Darwin’s display last Saturday did send me on a little bit of a tilt afterwards. I was even contemplating a Wildcard on Sunday. There were many reasons for that but the main one, I’ll admit, was to reverse the Darwin decision.

I wanted three forwards, namely Haaland, Gabriel Jesus (£8.0m) and Darwin. None were in my team. I also thought that while we’re always going to pick eight to nine players from the top teams due to the way the game is priced, I wasn’t afraid of making too many mistakes, even on such an early Wildcard.

I won’t take you through my full internal debate (some of which you can see here) but my conclusion was that, outside of these forwards decisions, there were a few other big calls to make. I’ve decided to hold for now but, as FPL managers, we need to ask ourselves the ‘do I need to Wildcard?’ question almost every week to remain proactive.

In the meantime, I want to see some more of Chelsea and Spurs from their great run of upcoming fixtures, whilst I also need to see how Darwin starting a game for Liverpool impacts those playing alongside him.

THE ‘MODELS’ DEBATE

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There has been a lot of debate about predictive models and creativity stifling for FPL content creators and managers on Twitter this week. I thought giving my two cents might be worthwhile.

It was an interesting first 20 minutes from Mark on this week’s Black Box. If you’re reading this Mark, most of us old-school managers enjoyed your risk-taking back in the day. It is your instinctive way of being an FPL manager.

There were so many weeks where we were surprised watching Mark’s creative move, only to see it often come through. Mark has been playing creatively for years and shouldn’t need to justify his moves in the world of content creation. If there’s a particular way in which you feel like playing these early stages, do it. It just requires keeping a check on ourselves to make sure we’re not being stubborn.

I went through a similar journey during my poor season but it almost helped rip the plaster off. What I found was that, despite my bad ranks, FPL managers are actually very interested in creative thought processes. As long as it is well-researched, I feel there will always be an open-minded audience and conversation for the idea because it provides great food for thought.

When assessing Darwin before Gameweek 1, debating whether to do ‘the right thing or the right thing’ is so subjective based on which narrative you take.

I could tell myself:

He didn’t start, so you got that right. Diaz could have easily scored a brace. You made the right choice because he didn’t start.”

Or I could say:

You knew he was not likely to start but is capable of doing damage from the bench and establishing himself as first-choice. You’re losing your identity as an FPL manager. Five years ago, you’d have started with Darwin.”

Based on who you ask, both of the above statements are right. For me, the subjectivity of FPL is what makes it a beautiful game.

A lot of managers like myself seem to be undergoing an FPL identity shift and these debates will become a weekly occurrence. Honestly, a lot of these decisions aren’t even about identity – many FPL moves make themselves and shouldn’t be overcomplicated.

At the end of the day, as long as you get to interact with like-minded people, learn interesting things and make new friendships, that’s all you really need. It doesn’t matter what your process is.

Even if you’re only logging in to make a transfer on Saturdays, it’s great, isn’t it? This game gives us a lot, in many ways. More than you’d think.

Live and let live, whilst enjoying this beautiful game that gives us so much.

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