FISO’s Crack The Code (CTC) aims to predict player price changes in the very popular Fantasy Premier League (FPL) game. CTC is live for the 2014/15 season which is proving a more difficult season to predict due to behind-the-scenes changes by FPL. CTC was first developed during the 2006/07 Fantasy Premier League season by a group of FISO members (‘The Boffins’) and took a big step forward when FISO member, diamondplus, automated the stats gathering process. His continued efforts collating and publishing the results enable FPL Fantasy Football managers to benefit from predicted price rises and drops for the Premier League footballers used in the FPL game.
Below are Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about FISO’s Crack The Code. The FAQs were written by FISO member stuboy in 2009/10. To join in discussions about the FPL game, go to FISO’s FPL forum where there will be a ‘stickied’ topic about the current season’s Crack The Code.
Q: Hi, I’m kind of new to this Crack the Code site. How does it work?
A: Crack the Code, known as CTC, is a site that predicts which players will either increase or decrease in value based on the Fantasy Premier League (FPL). It has been developed by FISO member Diamondplus who tries to work out the formula that the FPL uses in order to determine these increases & decreases.
Q: Interesting, so when do these price increases/decreases happen?
A: We’re not 100% sure but it is sometime between 00.30 and 03.30 every day.
Q: Does that mean a player can only increase/decrease once in day?
A: Exactly, they can’t increase/decrease more than £0.1m in one day. They can however increase/decrease every day in a week, but I’ll cover that shortly.
Q: And how often does CTC get updated?
A: This one we are sure of! It’s updated at 09:00, 13:00, 16:00, 18:00, 19:00, 20:00, 22:00 every day.
Q: Alright, so I’m looking at the CTC page for rises, what does everything mean?
A: Let’s start from the right hand side. You’ll see Target NTI. NTI stands for Net Transfers In. This number is calculated by taking all the teams that buy a player and subtracting the number of teams that sell a player. In order for a player to increase in value, they need to hit the NTI Target.
Q: So how do you know what the NTI target is meant to be?
A: Truthfully we don’t. It’s a bit of a moving target as FPL don’t let us know but as the season continues and we see more players increase in value, we get a better idea of what an NTI target is meant to be. This is due to being able to see what player’s NTIs were when they increased and therefore can speculate with more accuracy. The swing can be approx 3% either direction.
Q: And how do you know how many teams have actually bought/sold a player?
A: That information is actually found on the FPL site – just not everyone knows about it. If you click on the transfers tab on FPL, on the right you’ll see that it is defaulted at Score (Total). Click on that tab and go down and you’ll see transfers in, transfers out, transfers in (Gameweek), transfers out (Gameweek).
Q: Wow, never knew that
A: Glad I could teach you something….
Q: So going back to the CTC, if a player hits their NTI target they automatically increase in value?
A: Without confusing you right now, yes that is correct. There are some situations this doesn’t happen but I’ll cover them later as they are few and far between. In general though, yes they do increase in value.
Q: So looking at CTC, I can see a player’s NTI Target. I presume the NTI is what they are currently on and NTI (Today) shows me what increase/decrease they’ve had today?
A: Spot on
Q: So if a player’s NTI target is 32,500 and they have an NTI of 36,500 when the price increase occurs, do 4000 NTI roll over for their next target?
A: Unfortunately not, no. When a player hits their target and the price increase happens, their NTI total get reset back to zero. This includes all additional NTIs above the target. They just get lost into the ether.
Q: You mentioned above that a player can increase more than once in a week. Does the NTI target just get reset as well?
A: This is where it differs. If a player increases in value because they hit their NTI target, then in order for them to increase again in the same GameWeek (GW) the NTI target gets doubled. If they happen to hit that NTI target, in order for them to get a third increase, their NTI target gets trebled. You with me?
Q: Think so, but can you show me some numbers to make it clearer?
A: Of course. So if the NTI target is 32,500, and the player hits this in a GW, remember their NTI total gets reset back to zero. If they are to increase again in the same GW, their NTI target is now 65,000 (32,500 x 2). If they manage to hit that increase again in the same GW, then their NTI target becomes 97,500 (32,500 x 3) and so on. Remember, each time they hit the NTI target in the same GW, they NTI total is reset to zero.
Q: So how many times can a player actually increase?
A: In truth, there are enough teams that a player can increase every day of a GW but this is highly unlikely. Players have managed to rise 3 times in the same week.
Q: What happens to that player’s NTI target at the end of the GW?
A: The NTI target gets brought back down to the original 1st level, in this case 32,500, at the end of a GW.
Q: But let’s say a player has hit their first NTI target and now are trying to hit 65,000 for NTI target 2. Let’s say the NTI total is 45,000 at the end of the GW, do they also get lost into the ether?
A: No – this is where it’s a bit different. In fact, end of GW NTI totals, get rolled over. The only time NTI totals get lost is on the night of an increase.
Q: So if I’m getting this right, if 45,000 NTI total gets rolled on to the next GW and the NTI target is reset to 32,500 then the first night they’ll have an automatic increase?
A: That is correct
Q: But the additional 12,500 (45,000 minus 32,500) will be lost when that increase happens?
A: That’s perfect. Do you want my job??
Q: No, not really but I do want to understand how player’s prices dropping works?
A: Whereas price increases had to do with NTIs, price decreases have got to do with NTOs (Net Transfers Out). Each player has an NTO Threshold and when they reach this, their price drops.
Q: Is the NTO Threshold the same for each player?
A: The formula is the same but the actual NTO number is different. The way you work out (formula) a player’s NTO Threshold, is to calculate what approximately 10% of their actual ownership number is. Hitting this number causes the price drop.
Q: Ownership number? How do I find out what that is?
A: Firstly, looking back at the FPL site, if you go to transfer page and look at each individual player, you’ll see the (i) icon to the left of their name. If you click on that, you’ll see a small window pop up. In that window you can see the % of “Teams Selected By”.
Q: That gives me a % but how do I know how many teams are in the league?
A: Now go back to “My Team” on the FPL site. On the right hand side you’ll see “Points/Rankings”. Under that you will see “Total Players”. To prevent confusion I’m going to refer to them as Total Teams. Therefore if there are 2 million total teams and you know a player is owned by 20% of teams, then you know that player is owned by…..
Q: 400,000 teams.
A: Correct. And if their NTO Threshold to drop in price is approx. 10% of that …..?
Q: Then they’ll need 40,000 players to sell them for their price to fall.
A: Spot on!
Q: Why do you say it’s approximately 10%?
A: Similar to price increases, we don’t know the exact formula that FPL uses to decide on price decreases but our research shows it’s approximately 10%.
Q: So how does it work if a player has already reduced in price once in a week? Can they fall again?
A: A couple of things to mention here. Firstly, again, exactly like price increases, when a player’s price drops, any additional NTOs get lost into the ether and their NTO Threshold gets reset back to zero. Secondly, once a player reduces once in a GW, in order for them to reduce again in the same GW their NTO Threshold is double the original one. For a third decrease in the same GW, the NTO Threshold is 3 times the original and this goes on and on. However, once the GW is over, any outstanding NTOs are carried over to the next GW and the NTO Threshold is reset using the same formula above.
Q: So are there any times when the NTO Threshold can be different from how you’ve explained it above?
A: Yes – sorry, I know this gets a bit complicated but work with me on this.
1) When a player’s value is higher than their season-beginning value, then in order for them to have a price decrease, instead of an NTO Threshold, they just need to hit the negative NTI Threshold instead, if this is smaller than the 10% of manager’s that own him.
Q: You say what???
A: Take Drogba, let’s say his last price increase was an NTI Target of 31,000. His value is now above his season-beginning value. He now loses form and people want to sell him. His “Teams Selected By” number is 25%. On a game with 2 million teams he is owned by 500,000 teams. 10% of that would be 50,000 and that should be his NTO Threshold to drop. BUT, because he has risen already in the game, his NTO is now the 31,000 (original NTI target) as this is lower than the 10%.
Q: And any other differences on NTO Threshold?
A: 2) Any player who has less than 1% “Teams Selected By” work on a different scale. Unfortunately we’re not sure how this is calculated. Also worth noting that there is a slight margin in error for all NTO Thresholds as the “Teams Selected By” on the FPL site is rounded to the nearest decimal, therefore the NTO Threshold will not be completely accurate.
Q: So that’s it? I’m ready to use CTC?
A: Actually no. There are a couple of other things you should be aware of such as Flagging & Protection of players.
FLAGGING & PROTECTION OF PLAYERS
Q: Flagging & Protection of Players? Explain away….
A: When a player is either injured, doubtful, suspended or ineligible then the (i) next to their name on FPL will be flagged red or yellow.
Q: Does this mean the player is protected from any price drop?
A: NO – absolutely not and this is a major mistake many people make. Anyone who is flagged will still be able to increase and decrease in value. The increase NTI target stays the same. However the NTO Threshold for a price drop is approximately 2.5 times greater than the usual Threshold for price drops.
Q: Why is that?
A: The general thinking here is that when a player is injured or suspended, naturally a lot of people will want to sell that player. In order to ensure their price doesn’t fall dramatically, the Threshold is increased.
Q: So if a player’s NTO Threshold was 40,000, it’s now going to be 2.5 times greater than that when they are flagged – so 100,000?
Q: But their NTI target for increase doesn’t change?
A: Again correct
Q: Is it likely a player will increase in value or even people buying him in if they are flagged?
A: It could be. Let’s say a player got flagged red as they were being suspended for 1 game for receiving 5 yellow cards. This might not put people off from keeping this player, if they are in the knowledge that he will be back next game. Plus, if this player is already on a rise, there is no reason that more teams won’t buy him and bench him for one week.
Q: So what is protection all about?
A: If a player is red or yellow flagged for 2 days or more, once their (i) icon goes back to grey, they are protected for 8 days.
Q: What does that effectively mean?
A: It means that for the next 8 days their price is frozen. It can neither rise nor fall. Once the 8 days is up, the player’s NTI or NTO is reset to zero and the normal rules of increases/decreases kick in from there.
Q: So their price is only frozen once the flag is lifted, not whilst they are flagged?
Q: But what happens if they are only red/yellow flagged for 1 day?
A: Then there is no protection period – just their NTI/NTO target is reset to zero and the normal rules of increases/decreases start from there.
Q: So anything else I should know?
A: It’s important to remember that CTC will never be 100% accurate. It takes a lot of dedication from people who, in their spare time, are analysing the information we can gather from price rises and decreases and trying to accurately predict the formulas. Ultimately though, FPL will never reveal their formulas and therefore the CTC team will always be half a step behind. It’s bit like a game of cat and mouse. Sometimes we manage to paw the mouse and sometimes it manages to go left, when we’re still chasing right.
So if you notice something is wrong (or went wrong) try and help us understand why a player increased/decreased when we were not expecting him to or why a player DIDN’T increase/decrease when we were expecting it!
Q: Thanks for all the help
A: No problem at all
Q: So now I’m ready to use CTC?
A: You were always ready to use CTC, you just never knew it!