FPL Observations

Maybe we should rename this FPL season to WTF? Might be more fitting, as there is been no consistency in this young season after 11 Gameweeks. There has been a great deal of frustration for fantasy managers, just when you think you’ve made a great transfer, they get benched by Pep the following week or don’t return.  It’s been a very difficult year to read and we still have 28 weeks of games to come.

Now that the second international break is upon us we have time to sit back, relax (for some who had a favorable gameweek) and reflect on what’s taken place to date and what direction to go out when the EPL returns in 2 weeks. For some, unlike myself, have 2 FT in their pocket to help adjust their squad. I’ve seen managers considering activating their wild card to prepare for a busy holiday schedule. Wouldn’t that be nice to have at this juncture.

FPL NUMBERS COMPARED TO LAST SEASON

From a personal standpoint, the Go ‘Orns (#27599) are off to a stronger start than last season. Overall points are 581, which is 40 points better than this time last season. My overall rank of 766k, 54k higher than last season! I’ve recorded 6 green arrows compared to 5 last year. Currently I’m scoring an average of 58.1 points/week compared to 49.7 points/week last year, an improvement of 8.4 points/week! The only negative is a lower team value, £101.5 down £0.4 from last season.

CAPTAIN FAILURE

As I have eluded to all season, my overall score has suffered because of my captain selections. I posted an article this week titled, Captain’s Armband: GW 1-10, highlighting more failures this season, as I have only achieved double digits three times (10, 26, 14) for total captain points of 80. Compare this to 154 captain points last year and there’s a 51% decrease in the amount of points scored. Interpolating the data from FPL Statistico, an addition 74 points would give me 655 overall points and an overall rank in the top 17k!

Unfortunately, the “popular” option hasn’t always been the highest scoring option through 11 gameweeks when handing the captain’s armband out. Harry Kane leads my team being capped 5 times for just 40 points, of which 26 came in Gameweek 7. Richarlison is the only other player captained more than once, (2 times) totaling 16 points.

KEEPING IT CLEAN

Between the posts, as with each new season the decision on what keeper strategy to use is examined. This year, I went the cheap route with Ben Foster and Rob Elliot for £8.5. Foster lasted just 4 game weeks returning more points than Elliot just twice over the first 5 games that included 2 clean sheets. I missed out on a nice Newcastle run of 26 points for Elliot, as I moved Foster for Lukasz Fabianski after GW5 and he’s returned just 12 points, as Elliot impressed since. Activating my Free Hit Chip saw a disastrous move, bringing in Joe Hart, who returned a single point. Through 11 games I have started the higher scoring keeper just 5 times. Does lend some thought into backing a higher priced keeper like David DeGea, however Nick Pope is keeping it real with some great statistics and a bargain price. Burnley have a great run through GW18, facing only Arsenal in GW13.

FLIRTING WITH FORMATION

To start the year, I took a risk and rolled out a 5-2-3 formation, backing a #5mandefence to post good defensive numbers. Thankfully, the number of CS were up to start the season, compared to last year. Unfortunately, there were some teams (So’ton) with excellent fixtures, who continued to leak a single goal. Not bad when you have a single So’ton defender, but running out three defenders from the same team becomes feast or famine. However, that strategy did pay off a few times.

MIDFIELD MADNESS

In the back of mind, I told myself to remain flexible and not to get locked into any formation. It appeared I had things right with premium wing backs and 3 big fowards through the first 10 game weeks. The past few weeks with Alexis Sanchez and Eden Hazard returning to the pitch, Paul Pogba on the horizon, as well as great consistency from budget midfielders, 5 across the middle might be the way to line up.

The play of Watford’s Richarlison and that of Pascal Groß have turned the heads of fantasy managers. Both players have been rather consistent to start the season and lend a viability to a 4 or 5-man midfield. For my squad, I have two options. First, bring in Eden Hazard, which would give me three premium midfielders (other being Eriksen and Salah) with Richarlison and Groß. The other option, keep Tom Carroll as the fifth midfielder and spend my remaining budget up front on a second big forward.

FORWARD HO!

It’s been a crazy year up front for the forwards. Lots of speculation with Romelu Lukaku moving to Man United, the dynamic duo of Jesus and Sergio Aguero starting for Pep, as well as new boy, Alvaro Morata up top for Chelsea. Lest of all we forget what Harry Kane to end last season. Options and big price tags, knowing you can’t own them all. Lukaku was the most consistent early on, but heading into the break was scoreless in the last 7 (all competitions). At City it appears Aguero is the “go to guy” but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him benched occasionally, allowing Jesus to start. However a 30 minute cameo for Jesus could yield attacking returns, as we saw last weekend. Morata was consistent through 6 gameweeks before injury fell him. Now he’s back and he’s got a fit Hazard in the midfield to feed him. However, it’s been the play of Azpilicueta who’s assisted Morata 5 times!

Then there is Harry Kane. The August curse, playing home at Wembley, the lack of attacking returns against lower league opposition, but 4 double digit returns (all braces) through 11 weeks. What the hell Harry? In my opinion, I feel his explosiveness still makes him essential as a starter. As such, I have him leading my attack up front.

FIXTURES OVER FORM

While the 5-2-3 formation has fallen out of favor, I look to break down my high priced defense and select players who’s fixtures look favorable. Moving forward I plan on retaining Kyle Walker, as well as Stephen Ward, who was just introduced 2 weeks ago.

I’ve been very patient with Marcos Alonso, while Chelsea do have a favorable run, his £6.9 price is key to my plan. While I am on the fence with Sead Kolasinac, as I like the big Bosnian going forward, it appears I won’t be able to afford him at £6.0. Arsenal’s fixtures are mixed over the next 4 weeks, so he could make a future appearance. In their place I will introduce Charlie Daniels (HUD/swa/BUR/SOU/cry) and Phil Jones (NEW/BHA/wat). At £10.3 I have £2.9 to bolster my midfield or forward line.

The last piece of the defensive puzzle will be to move Aaron Cresswell. I am willing to ride him for the next 3 weeks (wat/LEI/eve) before West Ham’s fixtures turn. Scott Dann heads a short list, but it’s a risky play, as Palace hasn’t impressed anyone this season. Yet Dann has been an offensive threat, especially off set pieces. At £4.7, he could be worth a 5th spot in defense as Palace has a favorable run of games through GW19!

CONCLUSION

My plan is to wait until the international games are concluded before making any necessary transfers, for fear of potential injury. the drawback to this strategy, I miss out on potential price rises, but it’s a risk I am willing to take. Stephen Ward did see a rise overnight, so all isn’t lost at this point.

The decision I must finalize, do I want Eden hazard or Alvaro Morata? Leading up to the break my plan was to feature Hazard as the final premium midfielder, but I lacked £0.1 ITB. Moving on Morata gives me a strong front line, partnered with Kane, as well as a second captain option. More importantly it leaves me £1.1 ITB, which could be used to improve the midfield should Eriksen continue posting no attacking returns by GW14.

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