Fantasy Premier League

FPL champion: How to pick the right captain

By The Scout 23 May 2024
Haaland, Man City

Jonas Sand Labakk on the no-risk armband strategy that propelled him to success in 2023/24 Fantasy

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The 2023/24 Fantasy Premier League champion Jonas Sand Labakk continues to explain the secrets to his success and offer advice to FPL managers. Here, he reveals his approach to the all-important captaincy decision in each Gameweek.

Using analytics to back decisions

“I often make a team on Mondays, where I also choose a captain,” says Labakk.

“More often than not, I end up with that player as a captain. That's based off my own thoughts - based off form - and if I'm in doubt I usually trust the Expected Value [statistics] and go with the captain that is suggested, which usually is the same as most managers are on.”

See: Labakk's secrets to becoming world no 1

This is the same approach Labakk adopted when making transfers, with the Norwegian turning to the statistics later in the week in order to fine-tune his selections.

“Usually I come up with something like two, three or four players or something that I want to get into my team. That’s on Sunday or Monday,” says Labakk. 

“And then I leave it until Friday or Saturday, because I just don't like to think too much about it, as I think the more you think about it, the more you might... Well, the decision might get worse. 

“Often the first thought may be is the best thought. And if I'm stuck and don't know what to do, I will often look into the models, which often seem to agree with my own thoughts this season.”

Playing safe

“This season I have adopted a very risk-averse playing style,” says Labakk.

“Because I don't think you need to take tons of risks in order to do well at the game. I don't think the captain is the place where you need to take a risk. Just go with the safe captain, because there might be very huge swings.

“I can't emphasise it enough. I think you should rather go with a few differentials that's not your captain, for example in the third defender spot or fifth midfielder spot.”

A quick glance at the Norwegian’s campaign underlines his point; he entrusted just eight different players with the armband, selecting either Erling Haaland or Mohamed Salah in 28 of the 38 Gameweeks.

Labakk’s compatriot Haaland was certainly the most effective of the pair, producing attacking returns (a goal or an assist) in 12 of his 15 armband outings, or 80 per cent.

Salah, by contrast, had attacking returns in eight of his 13 appearances as captain, which equates to a 61.5 per cent success rate.

The Egyptian was responsible for five of Labakk’s 12 captaincy blanks and there’s no doubt the Liverpool fan’s faith in Salah did drop as the season unfolded.  

After captaining him in nine of the opening 19 Gameweeks, Labakk went on to hand Salah the armband in just four of the final 19 Gameweeks. 

Despite Salah's drop-off, Labakk's no-risk policy meant he handed the armband to Cole Palmer, the top-scoring player in 2023/24 Fantasy, just once over his breakout season in Fantasy. That was in Double Gameweek 35, when Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur were the only two clubs to play twice.

How Labakk fared with captain picks
  GWs captain Successful GWs Total captain pts Captain pts per appearance
Haaland 15 12 268 17.9
Salah 13 8 178 13.7
Son 3 1 30 10
Watkins 2 1 40 20
Saka 2 1 26 13
Alvarez 1 1 26 26
Palmer 1 1 16 16
Solanke 1 1 16 16

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