Usually I save an article like this for the end of the season, as I look back on the season, the highlights and failures over a 38 week season. However, I feel like I need to justify my position, if not to the community, to myself. While I am still green to FPL, playing in just my 5th year, fantasy sports is nothing new. I have spent 37 years playing NFL fantasy football and the goals are the same. Score the most points. Win. Have fun.
Yet when I look back on the season to date, there have been certain crossroads I have arrived at, only to make the incorrect decision. Now, this is common in ANY fantasy game. Setting a weekly lineup, playing form versus fixture when it comes to certain players can be a frustrating task. Captaincy selections play a very important roll, as your team goes the way of your captain. Usually. As I seem to be testing that theory and it’s been frustrating to see the string of red arrows when my captain hits for the gameweek.
The current season can be summed with a few decisions that were made, having an adverse effect on my squad, my weekly points and overall rank.
Harry Kane in August
Why I did not heed the warning signs ahead of the season that Harry Kane doesn’t perform well, I won’t know. Some call it a curse or just a run of bad luck, the “hoodoo voodoo” of August and the “Kane Curse” is real. In 9 seasons, he’s notched ZERO goals in August. However this season, his underlying stats were amazing but resulted in nothing notable.
Worse was the fact I trusted him with the captaincy in 5 of the first 8 gameweeks. Those 5 games resulted in just 44 points (avg 5.5 PPW), 26 of which came in Gameweek 7 when he hit for a brace away to Huddersfield. Maybe this was foreshadowing of things to come, but his poor start resulted in just 4 green arrows and a lowly overall rank of 634k, achieved in Gameweek 8.
Gameweek 9 Free Hit Chip
This year FPL Towers introduced the Free Hit chip, replacing the All Out Attack chip, with no precedence on how or when to use it. Pundits would point towards a DGW or BGW as the best opportunity to activate this chip in order to maximize weekly points.
Putting my faith in Twitter, I followed a popular approach based on fixtures and form and decided that activation of the Free Hit chip was warranted, when I used it in Gameweek 9.
“For the week, I have decided to activate my Free Hit Chip to bring in, what I feel are a solid group of fantasy options that should hopefully provide a strong return for the gameweek” is what I wrote in my Premier League: GW9 Starting XI.
The top six clubs all had favorable fixtures; CHE v WAT, HUD v MUN, MCI v BUR, EVE v ARS and the notable exception, TOT v LIV. Aside from scoring a season low, 3 points, the chip did not factor in a positive contribution to my overall score. It was a -4 overall, with Raheem Sterling not even featuring. It was a red blemish in an otherwise good run of fixtures between GW7 and GW15. The FH chip saw me drop 495k in a single week, my largest red arrow of the 2017-18 FPL season. However I did rebound the following week and put together my best run of the season.
Before Jay Egersdorf brought forth the #KANEXIT plan I had been considering making a move away from the Spurs forward based on his lackluster performance as GW14 approached. I had not captained him since GW8 and he just a single good return in the 5 weeks leading up to GW14.
Kane, in conjunction with Christian Eriksen were dropped for Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard. Needless to say, it did not go as planned. While it was looking positive the first few weeks, supported by 30 points from Hazard in GW15, the retuns for the Chelsea duo dried up, while the Spurs players went on to pummel me. From GW14 to GW19, I was down 78 points without Kane and Eriksen. That was before Kane’s second hat trick in two weeks. However, the data was very conclusive, as were the fixtures, so while it didn’t work out, the numbers led me to believe I could make up some points and places in the overall ranking.
This fact cannot be stated enough and I catch myself now saying it, as I look back. Starting the season I had Antonio Valencia, Kevin De Bruyne, Robert Firmino and Harry Kane. Of this group, I only remained on KDB for 2 gameweeks, returns of 3 and 2 points before giving up on “baby boy” (as the Cheaters call him) before moving to Eriksen.
Firmino is more of a streaky player and I moved him after GW5, which appeared to be the right now, as he returned 1 goal, 1 assist over the next 9 gameweeks. However, I didn’t buy back into him when Liverpool started their offensive onslaught in the EPL. Since GW15 he’s scored 99 points (6.6/ppw)! Firmino is ranked in the top, behind Kane and Aguero.
Aside from a spell on the sidelines from GW19-22, Valencia has been doing what he does best for United down that right side. He’s put together 14 clean sheets, but his offensive statistics are down from last season, as he’s yet to record an assists, but has netted 3 goals, his best total since 2011-12. He’s currently the 5th best defender.
As for Kane, I have already mentioned him at length. Would I have captained him during his hat trick period? I can’t say, as I had Hazard, Salah and Coutinho in my midfield. Regardless, I lost my ass by moving him out for 9 weeks, which has negatively impacted my overall rank this season.
All four of these players should never have been transferred out, as each are key at their respective position. There is a reason we buy premium players to build around, because we know, come the end of the season they will each be at near the top of their respective position based on overall points. I can play the “what if” game all day, but what I need to do is play boring and not take take undo risks.
KDB is a prime example this season. With the players Man City had put together, fantasy managers were drooling with the amount of goals and points that City could potentially put up to start the season.