Fantasy Football Stats

FPL and the Expected Goals model

When we set up this site, it was on the back of creating “Points Per Game”, “Points Per Million” and “Points Per Million Per Game” statistics. These are very useful statistics for us FPL managers because they highlight the players who are in-form and are value for money, within the context of Fantasy Premier League.

However, I feel these stats are “indicators of past performance”. They tell is what has happened, not what is going to happen. Thankfully, we have the Predicted Points in the Rate My Team Machine and the Game Difficulty Checker to use as a crystal ball. These tools to me are “indicators of future performance”.

The power of using these stats in tandem is it allows us to identify the players with good “ppmpg”, a good set of fixtures and high “predicted points”, and thus narrow down our transfer targets really quickly.

We also talk in articles about other statistics that are useful in helping us plan our fantasy football teams. For example, “Shots in the box”, “Shots on target”, “Chances Created” amongst others. For sure, they are useful stats, but they also “indicators of past performance” and not “indicators of future performance”.

In this article I want to introduce you to a new “indicator of future performance” – the expected goals model.

What is expected goals?

Expected goals is a prediction of the number of goals a team or player will score.

Yes, it really is that simple.

Now you or I could make a prediction, so it goes without saying there is some statistical number crunching behind these models. I won’t go into how these models are calculated here, but I will post links at the foot of this article so you can investigate further, and I’ll name check the excellent statisticians Michael Caley (famous for baseball stats) and Paul Riley who are continuing to evolve the “expected goals” models in the public domain. Thank you both.

Is the expected goals model useful?

Yes, because it includes a measure for shot quality, and thus is an indication of repeatability. The excellent Joel Salamon explains it best in this video (set to autostart at the right point).

This is the image featured in the video:

Correlation between shots and goals

I now will assume you have watched the video.

How can I use expected goal stats?

I think there are two ways of using the Expected Goals stats.

The first way is to simply order the players in a list of who is expected to score the most goals. The top 10 is currently Kane, Vardy, Giroud, Mahrez, Aguero, Ighalo, D Costa, Wijnaldum and Defoe. This would be useful at the start of the season, when playing wild cards and when making large priced transfers.

The second way is to look at the difference between actual goals and expected goals, and identify the players who are massively behind or massively ahead of the expectation. For example,

  • Alderweireld has scored 2.43 fewer goals than expected which tells us that the model expected him to score more by now. This could be because he will shortly revert back to “normal” and score few goals before the end of the season (and thus is a player worth having in our FPL teams). It could equally be because he is unlucky.
  • van Aanholt is currently 3.9 goals ahead of his prediction. This could be because he is lucky and scoring more times that we would normally expect given his shooting positions, or because he is now due a dry spell to revert to “normal”.

So these stats can give us indications on who to buy and sell, and as Joel Salamon explains, expected goals is a better model than past goals at predicting future goals.

So how do I find expected goal stats?

Look on the top “Player Help” menu, you will see an option called “Shots On Target”.

Expected goal stats for each team

You will see “xG For”, “xG Against”, “xG GD”. These mean “expected goals for the team”, “expected goals against the team”, “difference in expected goals”.

Expected goal stats for each player

Click on the link next to “Get the xG data here”. Total xG is the Expected Goals for a player, while Total Goals is the total goals to-date of each player.

So what are your tips, Chorley, so we don’t have to do any work?

It seems to me that your front three should be from a shortlist of Kane, Vardy, Giroud, Lukaku, Aguero and Ighalo because these strikers have the highest Expected Goals value.

Your middle five should come from a shortlist of Mahrez, Wijnaldum, Dele Alli, A Sanchez, Barkley, Ramsey, A Ayew and Sigurdsson because these midfielders have the highest Expected Goals value.

Redmond, Lanzini, Tadic, Martial, Defoe, Perez, Payet and van Aanholt are all beating the expected goals model, so managers thinking of buying these players should beware.

Mame Diouf, Fellaini, Alderweireld, Mane, Ramsey, Fernando, Lovren, Otamendi, Cazorla and Ivanovic are all under-performing in the expected goals model, so owners should expect a bounceback or sell up.

So how do I find out more?

You can read about Paul Riley’s Expected Shots model here and Michael Caley’s expected shots model here. This is a good read too, but do read it to the end, as it’s a warning about some of the expected shot models out there.

I hope this helps. Let me know your thoughts.

Authors

  • Bio
  • Latest posts

ChorleyRocks

Site founder, first used stats to try to win his work mini-league. Now helps other managers win theirs.

23 thoughts on “FPL and the Expected Goals model

    • @ChorleyRocks great article! :thumbup: michael caley’s model was easy to understand than the other one imo, btw the top football clubs hire the data analysis companies to buy the players!!
      e.g arsenal hired statdna and bought gabriel after seeing his stats

      will try this definitely :fingerscrossed:

      • @zombiejay I’m going to try to find trustworthy models, and hopefully with RD’s help, do some correlation analysis to find the models that work the best for FPL. Should be an interesting Summer.

    • @Afaris, no problem.

      Expected goal stats for each team:
      You will see “xG For”, “xG Against”, “xG GD”. These mean “expected goals for the team”, “expected goals against the team”, “difference in expected goals”.

      Expected goal stats for each player:
      Click on the link next to “Get the xG data here”. Total xG is the Expected Goals for a player, while Total Goals is the total goals to-date of each player.

  1. Really interesting – and helpful – data here. Fascinating. A few surprises in there (Giroud so high, Payet relatively low). Will be very useful with the looming wildcard. Thanks very much – a lot of work has gone into this collaborative project.

  2. @Chorley “Redmond, Lanzini, Tadic, Martial, Defoe, Perez, Payet and van Aanholt are all beating the expected goals model, so managers thinking of buying these players should beware.” Beware or be aware?

    • @Secret Zorro Beware.. basically they are scoring more goals than their performance suggest they should. So you would expect them to score less than than their current rate going forward

        • @Secret Zorro “Mame Diouf, Fellaini, Alderweireld, Mane, Ramsey, Fernando, Lovren, Otamendi, Cazorla and Ivanovic are all under-performing in the expected goals model, so owners should expect a bounceback or sell up.” These are the ones you’re looking for then. Don’t really fancy any of them though. I can see Alder and Ivanovic getting a haul, but am shifting all my money to the front 8 with clean sheets so hard to call..

        • @Abraham22 Alderweireld, Ramsey and Cazorla stand out for me. The others feel too risky. However, as with all stats, they are clues to help us make a short list of candidates. They are not a defacto list of people to buy.

    • @Secret Zorro beware – as in they are over performing against the model, so if the model is to be believed we should expect a dry spell at some point as they regress back to the mean.

  3. @ChorleyRocks Thanks a bunch Chorley! I’ve been searching and looking for something like this for ages! not realizing its right here as nearly everything I need always is :D

    Great Article :thumbup:

  4. Under the heading, “How to use the expected goal stats”, is Lukaku missing from your list of the top 10 expected scorers? There are only 9 names, and he pops up later in your tips…

Comments are closed.