Bulking Up

It appears my transfer plan continues to evolve weekly. What appeared to be the best course of action last week, looks different this week. Players I was considering just a few games ago, are no longer in favor. It’s amazing how our allegiance to players can shift, as quickly as one game.
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Gameweek 12 Transfer

FPL continues to throw us curves out of the international break. Are you one of those managers who’s held their FT or burned it early in anticipation of a price rise? With only a single FT, I have stopped chasing prices in an attempt to roll a transfer as we head towards the hectic holiday period, with 10 game weeks over 7 weeks. The key to this period, having a squad of 15 players who actually see pitch time.
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Midfield Differentials

Fantasy managers always want to be a step ahead of the trending players. Last year, it was Etienne Capoue who started the season with 4 goals and 1 assist in the first 5 games, but the law of fantasy averages caught up, ending with just 3 more goals on the season. This season we’ve seen a few budget midfielders hit stride and begin to pay dividends to fantasy managers. Topping the list, Watford’s Richarlison (58) with 4 goals, 4 assist and 4 bonus points. Brighton’s Pascal Groß (58) has put up 2 goals, 5 assists and 8 bonus points through 11 gameweeks. Other notables include Abdoulaye Doucouré (52) and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (44).
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Holiday Planning

It’s with mixed emotions we come out of the second international break, but 2018 World Cup will be without European powerhouse, Italy. They were defeated on aggregate 1-0 by Sweden. Dark days for the Azzurri who miss out on the World Cup for the first time since 1958, a former shadow of a team who won the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The image of Gigi Buffon as the curtain comes down on a stellar career for Juventus and the Italian National Team. Guess I won’t worry too much about watching Russia 2018 next year.
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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.

FPL: Shell Shocked

It’s Monday morning in the states and I am looking forward to the Leicester City fixture, as I have a vested interested in the match since introducing Janie Vardy to my starting XI. Figured I would hold off one more day before providing my retrospect commentary, but it was weekend that shell shocked MANY fantasy managers. Aside from the failure of “Captain Kane” to deliver, as well as Blankaku, Palace impressed in their 2-1 victory home against Chelsea, while the juggernaut that is Man City rolled to a 7-2 win over Stoke City. The oddity that is the 2017/18 EPL season continues, we it’s not too early to look at what potential moves to make.

This is the first week I am considering taking a -4 point hit to make an additional transfer. It was my intention to limit taking point hits, but I do believe the form that City is in, that -4 could be made up very quickly, as nearly every offensive player is currently in form. Since Saturday I am have considering my options, as I have a plan in place. Eden Hazard blanking in his first full 90 minutes since returning has me concerned, especially with cheaper midfielder options at Man City. It’s just a matter of time before Hazard becomes a mainstay in fantasy squads, but that could hinge on the return of Alvaro Morata to the Blues starting XI. In fact, I was targeting him before I entertained thoughts of starting Hazard.

Of all the positions, midfield has many questions marks. Current starters in my 5-2-3 include Christian Eriksen, who is in form and Pascal Groß, who was brought in this week (in place of Mkhitaryan) as the first of a series of moves. Thankfully be returned 6 points and Huddersfield has a favorable schedule through GW11. However his stay could be short lived with the likes of Wilfried Zaha starting OOP as the lone forward for Palace. His play against Chelsea was crisp and dynamic and left the Blues defense standing still. Palace has new/WHU in their next two fixtures, before an away fixture to Spurs, followed by a nice run of games through GW19.

Eriksen’s status is up in the air, as Spurs continue to look dismay at Wembley (home) against BUR/SWA/BOU, just 3 goals in those games. Spurs hit a challenging group of fixtures, LIV/mnu/CRY/ars. Based on what we have seen from Spurs at home, I don’t expect big returns. Scoreless draws against Liverpool and United, a goal against Palace and another, no return or single goal against the Gunners. Not the best run, even with an in form Eriksen. The Palace game looks tempting, but overall their home form doesn’t warrant keeping him for this 4-game run. I suspect I will still move Eriksen heading into GW9.

Currently I have two Man City players in my starting XI, Kyle Walker, who was transferred in for GW8 and Jesus, who has been my third forward since the start of the year. Walker contributed with an assist against Stoke, but also gave up an own goal, which negated a return. His place in my starting XI is not in jeopardy at this time, but Jesus even hitting a brace on Saturday could be. Sergio Aguero impending return will send one player to the bench, its yet to be seen how Pep will play all these fantasy producing players. Many fantasy owners already brought in Raheem Sterling (15 points) before the price rise, but a strong case can also be made for Leroy Sane (10 points), David Silva (7 points) and Kevin De Bruyne (9 points). A strong run of fixtures and an unrelenting offense means tripling up on City could be a must!

My starting XI for GW9 weighs in the balance, with Jamie Vardy yet to play. At 8.5m he’s returned 5 goals on the season and 3 out of the last 4 games. With the likes of Alvaro Morata and Sergio Aguero returning from injury, Vardy’s spot could be up for grabs. With no rotation risk, Morata probably edges out Aguero, as it would be very risky to start both Jesus and Aguero, but it’s not out of the question. Continuing to back Harry Kane has been rewarding, but only when away from Wembley, his numbers at home have been terrible, 7 points in 4 games. These next 4 games could be critical, as I continue to keep the faith that Kane will deliver, home and away, especially when captained, but I have started looking at other options IF the decision to move Kane for 4 weeks becomes reality.

Defensively there are two concerns; Ben Davies and Sead Kolsanic. With Danny Rose nearly fitness, it’s yet to be seen what will happen to Davies, who’s been a very productive fantasy asset with 49 points on the season, bested only by Antonio Valencia (53 points). If it were not for CHE/tot in the next 2 of 3 for United, I would be boasting defensive coverage, but I recently move Phil Jones because of Liverpool and the upcoming unfavorable fixtures. A budget option could be in the works, but with more viable midfielders providing offensive returns, a change in formation could be warranted. I am more inclined to stick with Kolasinac, who didn’t have a great offensive game and really didn’t feature much in the box.

On the week I have a green arrow and hope that is strengthens my GW8 performance as we wait for Leicester hosting WBA later today. Vardy is the piece that could dictate my upcoming moves.