I’ve mentioned it before, but the FPL Draft game doesn’t hold the same excitement and thrill as the traditional game does. Maybe that was to be expected, this the inaugural year with fantasy mangers looking at the game from a different perspective. While I am not a fan of the draft, I have continued to actively participate, with weekly transactions, I am still pushing to finish at the top of my 8-man league.
Gameweek 12 saw the return of Philippe Coutinho and Dele Alli from injury, as I was finally able to field my strongest team to date. Unfortunately, Sergio Aguero started and finished on the bench, coming back from international duty, not sure if he fainting spell had anything to do with it or not. Then again, it could be Pep being Pep. Even with no Aguero, I finished the week on a season high, 66 points giving me 539 overall points, just 30 points off the top team.
Most notably this weekend was 33 points I left on the bench. A midweek transfer on Callum Wilson, saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic transferred out, While it was my intention to keep him, picking him up for GW10, in order to hold him for his return, the hectic winter period had me thinking, which is what facilitated the waiver move. In hindsight, it was a great addition, preventing another team from picking Wilson up. Unfortunately, he was in the 3rd bench spot behind Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (10) and Matthew Lowton (6). Instead of picking up more points, I got an additional 6 points when the non-playing Aguero was substituted out.
While I started the weekend with a 4-4-2 formation, it ended as a 5-4-1. With Burnley playing some outstanding football, I tripled up led by Nick Pope (8), Brent Mee (6) and Lowton (6). Charlie Daniels (6) and Bournemouth returned their second consecutive clean sheet as their run of good fixtures continue. Cesar Azpilicueta, while not providing any attacking returns, did pick up his third clean sheet in a row, now with 6 CS on the season for Chelsea. My defense totaled 35 points to lead the Go ‘Orns to their best weekend this season.
Dele Alli has been dreadful, missing GW10 and only playing 74 minutes in the NLD. It was his third no return game in a row and five out of six. While I don’t plan on dropping him, I could see him relegated to the bench for another forward option, if Spurs don’t pick things up. Yet, Alli did the same thing last year, as it wasn’t until GW17 he posted 6 returns in 5 games, hitting 3 braces in a row. Could we see the same thing this season?
The remaining three midfielders excelled! Coutinho returned after 2 games and hit for a goal, assist and the CS, picking up 2 bonus for 13 points against So’ton. His return to L’pool is just as important as that of Sadio Mane, however I see them enabling Mohammad Salah. As we knew going into this season, the Reds midfield could be dubbed the “Red Roulette” as touted by Tom and Nick at Who Got the Assist?
Watford’s, Richarlison proved to fantasy owners he can do it at Vicarage Road, posting his first home goal of the season. Now with 5 goals and 4 assists, he’s been “the one” to own this season, as he continue to post consistent returns. Wilfried Zaha, since returning from injury has been in good form, playing OOP as the lone forward to Crystal Palace. He picked up his 3rd goal in the last 5 games, giving him 3 on the season. As Palace sail into a sea of green, with the return of Benteke and behind Roy Hodgson, they could offer more points as the holiday period approaches.
Up front, Glenn Murray became the lone forward, after Aguero was moved out of my starting XI. While I should have paid more attention to the bench order, I make a conscious move to put Lowton in the #1 slot. With uncertainty surrounding Wilson, he was a punt, just returning from injury. As for Chuopo-Moting, I felt Brighton would keep a clean sheet. Lowton facing a toothless Swansea City, the decision was easy.
Moving forward, it’s quite possible there will be a 3-man front, depending on fixtures with Aguero, Murray and Wilson leading the attack. Murray is the question mark with Hemed returning from suspension and some tough fixtures interspersed with Palace and Huddersfield. I could be off the the waiver wire, but my watchlist only includes Joselu and Andre Gray as the forward options. Burnley’s Chris Wood might make the short list, if he returns to the starting XI, as the Clarets have a good run through Gameweek 18.
The draft team looks very competitive with good balance through my starting XI. Currently, I have 15 starters, which will benefit me as we head into the busy holiday period. One concern, the schedule of Brighton. While I know Shane Duffy will play, the chance for clean sheets could be few and far between, facing United, Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea through December. I have put a claim in for Scott Dann, as his offensive numbers have been positive, but more importantly, Palace is hitting on the best stretches of the season. He could be key at both ends of the pitch.