Fantasy Premier League

FPL champion’s tips: Differential captains can pay off

By The Scout 3 Jun 2023

2022/23 winner Ali Jahangirov on why going against popular armband picks is worth the risk

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The Scout analyses the strategies of 2022/23 Fantasy Premier League champion Ali Jahangirov, so other managers can learn from the best.

Captaining the right player

A superb captaincy record was key in helping Jahangirov to the title. 

The Arsenal fan earned 758 points from his armband selections, an average of 20.5 points per Gameweek, and 42 more than his closest rival, Abdullah Amr.

“Captaincy is absolutely crucial because if you end up captaining the wrong player, you're basically losing 10 to 15 points each Gameweek,” says Jahangirov.

“Your team might do well but some of the captain decisions, if they go wrong, you can really be playing catch up for a lot of the season.”

According to Jahangirov, your position in the overall ranks or in mini-leagues can have a bearing on which player you give the armband to.

“If you're chasing, go for a different captain that could really boost your rank, if you're just protecting rank, don’t overthink it, just go with the popular pick. The captaincy pick really defines your strategy.”

When Jahangirov saw an opportunity, however, he went for it. 

Risking it with Wilson

Heading into Double Gameweek 36, the captaincy debate centred on Alexander Isak’s security of starts versus Callum Wilson’s explosiveness. Ranked No 1 in the world at the time, the safe option would have been to entrust the armband to Isak.

“I captained Wilson in Double Gameweek 36, which gave me 48 points. All of the top 10 captained Isak and I went for a differential. I knew it was going to be the case but I had to take a risk,” he explains.

“It's one thing that you play safe, and another thing to take risks. And when those risks are paying off, it’s just really, really satisfying.”

Alternating the armband

In total, Jahangirov gave the armband to 10 different players. As with most Fantasy managers, Erling Haaland was the top pick, receiving the armband on 19 occasions. But Jahangirov was frequently rewarded when he deviated from the norm. 

Kaoru Mitoma returned 24 captain points in DGW27, and in the following round Bukayo Saka registered his career-best score for a 36-point captain haul.

“Going with the template captain each Gameweek doesn't get you anywhere, to be honest. Even Haaland, he would blank a few times, he’s not scoring every week. Every Gameweek there's a conversation to be had.”

Jahangirov suffered just seven captain blanks all year and received over 40 points on three occasions.

In addition to Wilson’s outstanding DGW36, he backed Haaland with the armband for his season-high haul of 23 points against Manchester United in Gameweek 9. And he then earned 60 points when he Triple Captained Marcus Rashford in DGW22.

The value of these decisions is highlighted if we were to remove captain points from each manager’s total score. In such a scenario, Jahangirov would have finished 21st in the overall standings.

Although he captained Haaland in half of the 38 Gameweeks, Jahangirov wasn’t afraid to go against the popular picks with his armband decisions.

With his captains delivering 27 per cent of his total points, that strategy proved decisive on his way to the Fantasy title.

Next: Limit points hits to Blank and Double Gameweeks

Also in this series

Part 1: FPL champion: I thought I'd lost it on the final day
Part 2: FPL champion: The one thing I changed to win title
Part 3: FPL champion's tips: Be flexible with your Gameweek 1 squad
Part 4: FPL champion's tips: Play first Wildcard late
Part 5: FPL champion's tips: Getting the most from budget enablers
Part 7: FPL champion’s tips: Limit hits to Blanks and Double Gameweeks

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