Oxford mathematician reveals how math can help you win fantasy football


An Oxford University mathematician has revealed how mathematical thinking can improve your Fantasy Football rankings.

The Fantasy Premier League is played by over eight million people and the coveted top prize for this year’s champion includes a seven-night UK break including VIP hospitality tickets for two premier league matches in 2022/23.

Oxford Mathematics genius Joshua Bull said the strategic thinking that mathematicians and chess champions possess can give them an edge when considering the weeks ahead.

Joshua is not only an Oxford mathematician, but he was also named the 2019/20 Fantasy Premier League champion.

Day to day Joshua uses mathematics solve complex problems by breaking them down into smaller, simpler examples.

“You can apply the exact same logic to fantasy football,” he wrote on the Oxford Blog. “So you have all of this data and you want to know how your choice of team will impact your points. It’s the kind of thing that you can very easily model mathematically. These are the things I was thinking about, even though I wasn’t writing equations.

When you first settle into Fantasy Football, you need to build an initial 15-player squad with a budget of £ 100million.

Before the Gameweek deadlines, you must select 11 players from your squad to make your squad. Your roster should include a goalie, at least three defenders, and at least one striker.

The price of players changes throughout the season based on their popularity. You can trade in your players and make transfers, but tweaking too much could cost you valuable points.

He explained: “All the teams play once and then you can make transfers. You can only make one or two changes per week. If you want to earn more than that, it starts costing you points – you have to pay a flat rate. So, there is a real optimization problem where there are players that we may want to bring in, but it’s not necessarily easy to say “I want them on my team, so I’m going to have them. in my team ”.

“Everyone knows at the start of the year which players are going to get the most points, but as a result, their price is calculated accordingly. [sic]

“So you ask yourself the question, do I have a few very dear people but do I have to compromise for the rest of my team?” Or do I have fewer expensive players and a more balanced team? In itself, this is a classic mathematical problem.

Joshua said that some people even write algorithms for Fantasy Football.

“Some of them are more successful than others,” he said. “But it’s not the case that this is a game where a computer is better than a person.”

While there is no equation that can tell mathematicians how exactly to adapt their Fantasy Football strategy, in a 2020 conference Joshua shared the strategy that helped him secure the league title in 2019/20.

Here they are:

  • Pick a few dear players and stick with them
  • Don’t immediately give up players after a bad week, give them a chance.
  • Don’t make transfers just to bring in someone who has had an amazing week. Instead, use transfers to get rid of underachievers.
  • When in doubt, make Mo Salah your captain

Ipswich Town fan Joshua also joked that you should avoid selecting players from Norwich, his favorite club’s biggest rival.

Its strategy for the past year, based on lessons learned from previous years, was to:

  • Keep making transfers to get rid of the underperformers, not to pick up the players who did well last week.
  • Think about devices rather than form when selecting a captain.
  • Think about form over devices when doing transfers.

While there are some strategies you can use, it seems like a little luck is needed as well, even if you are an Oxford mathematician.

For a more in-depth guide to everything you need to know about Fantasy Football, check out the Independentthe full explanation.

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