If you ask any Fantasy Premier League (FPL) player on Twitter about what word has been beaten to death last season, they’d likely respond with “optimal”. I must admit that I played a part in starting or fuelling more than my fair share of these discussions… There are optimal ways to play FPL. — Sertalp B. Çay (@sertalpbilal) March 29, 2021 It might come as a suprise to some that I had never heard of FPL before August of 2020, just a week before I went on vacation.
Taking a serious interest in sports analytics was probably the best thing I did during the pandemic. Not only is it fun to play with and analyze, but it’s also easy to make connections with ongoing events while also providing you with a broader understanding of the sports. There are, however, a few roadblocks. Reaching to the data, especially on-pitch data, is very difficult. You can find summarized stats but more granular specifics such as tracking data is treated as a premium commodity and understandably so.
If you know little about football analytics, I can safely assume that you have heard of expected goals (xG). For those who don’t know, xG is a metric showing the probability of a shot to be successful with the information we have, such as position, body part, and defender positions.1 Another of such metrics is expected assists (xA) which can measure the probability that a pass leads to a goal.