Premier League: GW11 Draft Retrospect

It was a mixed performance for the draft squad this week as we continue to look up at the top spot in the 8-team league. A final score of 53 points saw my move 19 points close to the top spot, now trailing by 49 overall points, I feel confident I have a good squad to make that ground up. As for Gameweek 11, we enter the break in form and will look to make a few transfers to shore up a questionable defense. I might have to look at swapping out my bench, as I got caught with 2 players who didn’t start this weekend, but only one available off the bench.
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Premier League: GW11 Retrospect

From a fantasy manager’s  viewpoint, Saturday wasn’t supposed to generate many points. The top EPL teams were poised to play Sunday with Spurs hosting Palace, while Arsenal visited City and Jose returned to The Bridge to face Chelsea. However, Saturday did set the tone for the weekend and points were tough to come by. Much like GW10, I made the decision to take another -4 point hit, as I am in the process of moving to a 5-man midfield with premiums Eden Hazard, Christian Eriksen and Mohammad Salad. Risking the potential of a big return, I did not captain Harry Kane, which turned out to be a good move. I finished the game week with a green arrow on 57 points and moved up 188k to 766k in the overall rankings.
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Premier League: GW11 Starting XI

With Friday in full swing, it’s time to take a look at the starting XI for Gameweek 11 before heading into the international break. For my squad, it’s been a series of highs and lows through 10 weeks.  Currently riding a green arrow (3 out of the last 4 weeks)l, I finally crept back inside 954k. Earlier in the week I put together a plan to get me through the holiday madness. This is the second week of that plan shifting my formation to include 5 midfielders.
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Premier League: Hit Me!

It took just 10 weeks before I made the decision to take a -4 point hit last week. Looking ahead, the 5-2-3 formation is morphing into a 5-man midfielder, but it’s going to cost me a few points. Last week started the dominoes toppling, which should continue through the international break, into GW11. Ideally, this would have been a great time to activate the wild card, but that played out in GW5. By shifting players now, I feel I am setting myself up for a run through December.
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FPL: 4-5-1 Viability?

It was another weekend that didn’t allow me the luxury of watching any EPL games. Maybe that was a blessing in disguise, as overall scores appeared way down. I still laugh at all those managers who knee jerked, bringing in Aguero to over the nicked, Harry Kane. Talk about a tragic failure! Then captain him to boot! Double whammy! Thankfully, I kept faith in Harry, using an last minute idea from, Dave from Burnley. I started Kane, just on the off chance he made a short cameo. We know that didn’t happen, but will be pleased to get some points off the bench.
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Premier League: Formation Change?

As I eluded to yesterday in Premier League: What next?, it appears FPL is at a crossroad in the season. The budget midfielder is now on the rise, coupled with the fall of the premium wing back, fantasy managers appear to be shifting their players to take advantage. Using a 5-2-3 formation, it could potentially take me 3-4 weeks to right the ship, shuffling players in order to get a viable 4 or 5 man midfield. Sure, it could be resolved with a single swoop taking a big hit, but not sure that is the answer to my conundrum.
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Premier League: What next?

As we approach Gameweek 10, I feel my squad is in complete disarray. Off the activation of my Free Hit Chip last weekend, I feel as I was the one who got hit, resulting in a season low, 36 points. In hindsight, I should have held the chip and rode out the mixed fixtures with the starting XI I had in place. It doesn’t help that Kane posted a season high, 16 points, a player I had been tossing the armband to on a regular basis. Add to that, the fact Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling started on the bench only made the weekend worse. Somewhere in there must be a silver lining. But where?

The backbone of many fantasy teams, the midfield. Opting for a 5-2-3 formation has limited my midfield selections to date. Christian Eriksen has been the mainstay for the last 7 gameweeks, averaging 5.6/PPG. To date, Eriksen has been one of the most consistent performers in the EPL this season, sitting second with 58 points among all midfielders.
Pascal Groß was brought in for Gameweek 8, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan made way due to his lack of involvement after injuries to Pogba and Fellaini. Back to back 6 point returns for Groß with favorable fixtures; SOU/swa/STO, has played his way into my starting XI.

Heading into GW10 I have £1.2m ITB, unfortunately it’s £0.6m short to secure the services of Watford’s starlet, Richarlison. Returns in the last 4 games has many fantasy managers eying the Brasilian through GW13; STO/eve/WHM/new. This would require a change in my defensive philosophy, shifting away from the premium wing back to a bargain or mid-priced defender, the options are plenty! Currently my 5-man defence consists of:

Priced at £30.1m, I didn’t skip out on going big to complement my big 3-man forward line. Kyle Walker is the only defender who is currently returning points. Ben Davies appears to have gone from “hero to zero” with the return to fitness of Danny Rose. Marcos Alonso is currently being outplayed by his defensive partner, Caesar Azpilicueta. Sead Kolasinac isn’t getting the marauding runs into the opponents box like we saw when Alexis Sanchez wasn’t starting for the Gunners. Aaron Cresswell, has returned just one CS in his last 4 games and was sidelined in GW9 due to a gametime illness. A fixture against Palace SHOULD be favorable for the Hammers defense. Should. Yet this season, things haven’t actually fallen into place as expected.

Up front Harry Kane anchors the forward line, now consider essential in my book, will be the default captain the remainder of the season. Gabriel Jesus continues to occupy the number two spot, but at £10.5m with Pep managing playing time, I might have to look elsewhere. Lastly, Jamie Vardy, who’s fill in role since GW6 has yielded just 9 points.

By all appearance the “power three” forward line is losing momentum and fantasy managers are looking at a 4 or 5-man midfield, especially with budget players now performing. We can’t overlook the return of Alexis Sanchez (2.3 TSB%), who bagged his first double digit return and a now fit, in form Eden Hazard (4.9 TSB%). Both carry a pricey premium, £10.6m and £11.8m respectively, but could be major differentials, considering they were template players last season.

For my squad, I am not ready to take a -4 point hit to bring in new talent, least of all a defender. With £1.2m ITB a single move for a new midfielder is going to be limited. Richarlison currently tops the list, but come up £0.6m short. That means I need to drip into the defense to free up the necessary budget. The single move option I h include, Abdoulaye Doucouré (£5.4m) and Eric Maxim Chuopo-Moting (£5.7m).

Given I only have one FT for the week, it would be wiser to move Kolasinac or Alonso in order to free up necessary budget for future moves. With a poor run of fixtures upcoming, Kolasinac could make way for £5.4m (or less defender). If it weren’t for the next two fixtures; TOT/che, Phil Jones would top the list. Elsewhere Kiko Femenia (£4.5m) and a Duffy/Dunk (£4.5m) are the other considerations based on upcoming fixtures. Maya Yoshida continues to prove good value, not at £5.1m and So’ton still has bha/BUR in the next 2 fixtures. He’s been a BPS magnet this season, totaling 6 points, as well a goal/assist and 4 clean sheets.

Finally, I need to look at the formation, which I still back but looking at where points are coming from, I am lacking quality returns from the high priced wing back. Could I continue to practice patience? Or does it demand a shift in formation to a 5-3-2, reducing the wing back options or moving to a 4-3-3 one of the more conventional formations, 3-4-3 or 3-5-2. Regardless of the direction I select, it will be a 3-4 week process to put the pieces in place.

Premier League: GW9 Draft Retrospect

Unlike the traditional FPL game, many of the moves I have made in FPL Draft have worked to my advantage. On the week I finished with 54 points, which took my up to second place, just 32 off the top spot. Prior to GW9 I claimed John Stones, Wilfried Zaha and Tammy Abraham, all of whom took their place in my starting XI.

There has been no set formation for my draft squad, this week I ran out a 3-5-2 with the addition of Zaha and Abraham. Initially Aaron Cresswell got the nod, but illness sidelined up and Alderweireld took up the third defender spot for the weekend. Defensively, my squad fared well, led by Azpilicueta and his second goal of the season (7 points). I’ve doubled up with Man City, John Stones and Ederson recorded the clean sheet, combining for 12 points. It was the Spurs leaky defense at Wembley against Liverpool that saw Alderweireld with no return. Overall, I am pleased with my defense. If Chelsea can turn things around I will double up with David Luiz.

On paper, my 5-man midfield looks solid. Although Dele Alli has been under performing, but this year has mirrored last year in terms of performance. Maybe this 9 point return is what he needed to kick start his run of returns. Still pleased to have Coutinho back, but he played uninspired football in their Sunday loss, but still expect solid numbers to come. Last week’s transfers, Richarlison and Chuopo-Moting combined for 10 points, while newcomer, Zaha finished with 3 points. Not great, but really need Coutinho to up the offensive game.

Up front I introduced Abraham to partner with Aguero, who got off the mark with a successful spot kick and bonus point. Depending on fixtures, I could see Abraham moved to the bench in favor of a 4 man defense as part of a 4-5-1 formation.

On the week I have already put in a claim for Rooney, not sure he will remain part of my squad for any length of time, but in the short term Everton appear to have some good fixtures; lei/WAT/cry. Will have to wait and see if a new manager can reverse the poor start Everton has had this season.

Premier League: GW9 Retrospect

Preach patience. Don’t knee jerk. Save your chips. None of this sage advice was followed hours before the Friday kickoff of West Ham hosting Brighton. All the Man City talk, the return of Morata and big attacking returns had me seeing points pouring in Gameweek 9. Unfortunately, Pep struck, defenders didn’t deliver and not surprisingly, Harry Kane delivered a season high at home. It all equated to my worst point total of the season and knocked me 600k down the overall rankings.

On the back of two successive green arrows, I should have used my own advice and practiced patience. In fact hours before Friday’s fixture I was inclined to roll the transfer and double dip ahead of GW10. Twitter and pundits I follow got the better of me and in a moment of madness I activated the Free Hit Chip.

All the talk leading up the the gameweek had centered on the play of Man City, the attack (without Aguero) had been lethal. The play of Silva, De Bruyne, Sterling, Sane, Jesus, Otamendi and to a lesser extent, Walker had been posting great points in the past 6 weeks. Maybe I was lulled into a false sense of security, forgetting Pep’s penchant for rotation, because it hit big for Gameweek 9 as Jesus and Sterling were both left out of the starting XI.

Put bluntly, the Free Hit Chip failed. UP front, I went with the popular Twitter selections of Jesus, Lukaku and Morata, all who had good match ups. As mentioned, Jesus failed to see the pitch, Morata was pulled in favor of Batshuayi after 60 minutes and Lukaku blanked for his second game in a row. I will be thankful he picked up an assist, coupled with the armband he scored 10 points. Well off the pace of Kane’s 16 points.

With Sterling not starting or featuring, Tom Carroll was substituted and he was no better than my other two starters, Zaha and Eriksen who netted 5 points. Both players were coming off spectacular games the previous weeks, but failed to produce this gameweek.

Defensively, my week was foreshadowed by Joe Hart failing to keep his previous 4-week form, conceding 3 goals to Brighton. Doubling up on Jones, who exited after 22 minutes and Smalling, didn’t help as Man United failed to keep a CS, only the second time in the last 7 games. One bright spot was Maya Yoshida with a CS and 2 bonus points, he continues to post solid numbers for the So’ton defense. Kyle Walker kept it clean as well for another 6 points.

At weekend’s end, it was just 36 points, on a week that averaged 50 points. I lose nearly 600k spots, falling to 1.1m on 476 overall points. Thankfully my team has reverted back to  my GW8 lineup and while I continue to have some problems with my squad I will be looking to make some changes. If I would have heeded my own advice, I would have scored 58 points, on the back of Kane and his 16 point performance (most likely captained).

One thing is for certain, Harry Kane will be locked every weekend and captained from this gameweek out. His performance against Liverpool should have been expected based on previous performances at Wembley, the fact his underlying numbers have been very strong, but no returns to Burnley, Swansea and Bournemouth had me questioning the star forward. Those thoughts are now erased and he’s now a template starter for me.

While I didn’t use my GW9 advice, I am not going to make any rage transfers before Friday. Ben Davies is my biggest concern at the moment, for the second week in a row, he missed out on a fixture. Other concerns with my 5-man defense, the lack of output from 7.0M, Marcos Alonso. No returns since Chelsea’s last CS in GW5 and no goals or attacking returns since GW2, currently being outplayed by “Dave.” Kolansinac is another big wingback I was banking on for offensive returns, but the fact Alexis Sanchez plays on the left has Sead limited in his advances forward. At just 2 assists on the season, his 6.0m price tag is becoming unsustainable.

The midfield will be dependent on what I do with my 3-forward set. Vardy hasn’t been the answer, no returns in the last 4 games. Firmino had fallen out of favor for Liverpool with no returns in 6 weeks I can’t see him in my starting XI. Alvaro Morata was on my shortlist, for this week, but introduced him a week sooner. The result didn’t work out in my favor, but he’s still near the top of my list as Chelsea has great fixtures through GW21. Then there is Jesus. Jesus, what do I do with Jesus? We know Jesus and Aguero will have games in which they don’t play or feature off the bench. Are there enough points to shell out 10.5m or 11.6m for players who may not feature every game for 90 minutes? Looking like Silva and KDB are the only reliable attacking players.

Finally, my 2-man midfield, which I was high on 2 weeks ago and actually Pascal Groß is still in favor with another 6 point return in GW9. I don’t plan on moving Eriksen either, calling him “fixture proof,” this coming off a blank against Liverpool in which he featured in a deeper roll with Alli and Son playing the advanced positions. I don’t believe this will be the norm for Spurs and their attack.

As for the #5mandefence, my 5-2-3 formation might be coming to an end. As we have seen leading up to this week, the wing backs just aren’t producing, which has me looking at retaining a 5-man defense, but moving a forward to the midfield and running with a 5-3-2 with the introduction of Richarlison. Don’t want to jump the gun too early, so I will see how this week plays out before making necessary changes.